This week we’re thinking all about meditation and the positive effects it can have on our mental well-being. Afterall, the mind can be a weird place at times and it is easy to let stress get the better of you – but introducing a meditation practice into your routine can really help you think clearer and calmer – and all at the low cost of a little bit of patience and a comfortable place to sit.
What is meditation?
Meditation has been long practised throughout history, by spiritual and non-religious people alike. It’s popularity is linked to the psychological benefits that improve well-being. It can be described as a set of techniques that help you achieve a heightened state of awareness and focused attention.
It isn’t about becoming a new, better or different person, or even turning off your thoughts, instead it’s about observing your feelings without judgement. By doing so it enables you to understand yourself better and obtain a healthier sense of perception.
With patience and practice, mediation can help people cope with mental health conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety, by increasing calmness and clarity. The beauty of it is that it is accessible by all and won’t cost you the earth to practice it. So take a deep breath, and get ready to relax, as we guide you through the power of meditation.
Why learn to meditate
Meditation is a tool that you can use anytime and everyday throughout your life, not just on the cushion when you’re practising. Whilst it isn’t a cure-all solution to any problems you may have, it provides the space and clarity we all need in life.
Think of meditation as a way to clear the information overload that stacks up in your mind during the day. It removes all of your brain chatter, so you can lower your stress levels, improve your focus, and ultimately, understand your thoughts and feelings better so you can make better choices.
It is also an excellent way to manage some medical conditions, especially ones that worsen with stress, such as anxiety, depression, chronic pain, tension headaches, insomnia, IBS, high blood pressure, asthma and cancer. Meditation isn’t a replacement treatment for these conditions, but it can work alongside treatments. It is always recommended you talk to your doctor beforehand to see if they think meditation is suitable for you.
Types of meditation
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to different types of meditation, luckily there are many ways to get yourself into a state of relaxation – the trick is to find the method that suits you best.
You will firstly want to determine if you feel more comfortable with guided or unguided meditation. Guided is where a teacher talks you through each stage and explains what is happening in your mind, whereas unguided is known as silent meditation alone. We recommend as a beginner, to use guided meditation.
In general there are two different categories which meditation can fall into: concentrative and mindfulness meditation.
Concentrative meditation is where you calmly focus entirely on one thought, object, sound or entity, whilst letting everything else fade away. If your mind begins to wander you actively return to the object of your concentration. The goal is to experience what you’re focusing on and still the body. This method can build patience and mental acuity and a great example is breath concentration.
Mindfulness meditation is the ability to be fully engaged with the present moment and offers you an insight into the here and now. The goal is to have an open awareness, to observe your thoughts and feelings that arise. This type of meditation reduces stress and improves mental health.
These two types are often combined, as to some degree both meditation styles depend on each other, you need mindfulness to realise that your mind has wandered from concentration meditation, and some concentration to observe your thoughts in mindfulness meditation. Therefore you never need to restrict yourself to practising just one type!
In fact, there are lots of ways to practice both. For beginners we recommend you try either of these exercises: reflection meditation, resting awareness meditation, loving kindness meditation, visualization meditation, mental noting meditation, body scan meditation, walking meditation and focused attention meditation.
Tips for meditation
There is no right or wrong or perfect way to meditate, you just have to start somewhere and show up for yourself, so what better time to start than now! That’s right, now! Stop reading (after you’ve read the stages below), turn off your electronics and relax!
- Set a time limit (even a few minutes can make a difference)
- Turn off any distractions and find a space and seated position that is comfortable to you
- Stay stable in your position and notice your body
- Chose a breathing method you want to practice
- Follow the sensation of your breath
- Your mind will wander! Notice it, be kind to it and bring your attention back to your breath
Let us know how you get on, we know meditation can be both simple and hard at the same time. As a beginner, if you want to progress you might be interested in trying out mediation apps such as Headspace or videos on youtube to guide you. The best advice we can give you is to actively schedule in and dedicate time each day to practice it. Even if it’s for five minutes.
Using CBD oils to enhance meditation
Recently, a lot of people have begun to take CBD and hemp oils before meditation and yoga sessions, as it is reported that they enhance the experience. This might be due to it’s stress-relieving effects that balances the mind and body making it easier to achieve an all body calm. However, rather than seeing CBD as a way to reach complete calmness alone, think of it as a tool to help you feel calm alongside meditation.
Unlike its counterpart, THC, CBD does not get you high and doesn’t have the same negative side effects of marijuana. Instead, it can increase your ability to concentrate and help relax tense muscles and reduce inflammation, which are the secrets to being able to sit still comfortably. It is also thought that CBD stabilizes moods and decreases anxiety, therefore contributing to an overall more pleasant experience.
If you’re considering using CBD alongside a meditation practice, there are many ways to include it in your daily routine, from taking a CBD tincture under your tongue for 60 seconds and swallowing, to adding it to some tea or even your skincare regime. Before you combine it with your meditation class, we advise that you discover which application you find more comfortable and understand how your body responds to it.
It’s important to note that CBD works slowly with your endoccanabinoid system so might take several weeks or months to see benefits. In addition, those calming effects don’t kick in right away, they can take anywhere between 15-60 minutes. So plan your dosage ahead, rather than taking a couple of CBD drops a minute before meditating.
Whether you opt for guided or non-guided, concentrative or mindfulness, with the addition of CBD oil or not – we hope that you’re able to find calm through meditation. It really can be a life-changing tool to have under your belt, so we would love to hear from you about your experiences. Drop us an email!