So it is week three of your cleanse and your body cleanse should be well underway. Now it's time to step it up and give your mind a holiday. The best way? Learn to meditate.
Many of us find it hard to switch off, and so meditation can be seen as a challenge rather than a method of relaxation. First attempts can often be difficult, as people worry that they aren't ‘doing it correctly'. It is generally considered that there isn't really a right or wrong way to meditate, in fact there are lots of different ways to meditate. The most important thing is to find what works for you without getting caught up in too many details. After all it's not referred to as ‘the practice of meditation' for no reason. It is the art of practice that we need to focus on - not a definitive end goal.
To get you started I am going to share with you some simple tips and techniques that you can try to get you on your way:
Are you sitting comfortably?
When you first start to meditate, find a comfortable position to sit in, lying down tends to make some people fall asleep which isn't meditating! Ideally you are aiming for a good 30 minutes of meditation a day - longer if you like, but no one is expecting you to be able to sit cross-legged on the floor for this amount of time.
As westerners most of us are not used to sitting in this position for long periods of time. If you are not comfortable you will be prone to fidgeting and distraction. Therefore use cushions, blankets, a chair or mat to aid comfort. Then make sure you are not too hot or cold, and that you are in a relatively quiet and relaxed space. The more you meditate the easier it is to shut out other people's noise, but for now try and find as calm a space as possible. If sitting in a chair try to have your feet flat on the floor so that you are connected with the earth, and if you like, have your palms up to receive energy.
Try not to get too caught up on the time that you meditate for, whilst 30mins a day is ideal sometimes I can only manage a couple of minutes a day - it all adds up and it all counts. Try to start by just doing a few minutes a day. For most of us with our hectic schedules and constant bombardment of texts and emails the act of just sitting down and taking a few deep breaths can in its-self be very therapeutic.
If you find your mind is wandering one simple trick I use is to focus on my breathing. To begin with take a few deep breaths in and out - maybe give your body a quick shake out, then once you are sitting comfortably start breathing in and out through your nose, making the exhale slightly longer than the inhale. Focus on the tip of your nose - you should be able to feel a slight vibration as air goes in and out of your body. Focusing your attention on that point and that feeling tends to calm the mind quickly. Try to feel this sensation spreading throughout the rest of your body.
Using your voice as you meditate can be a very powerful aid to relaxation.
OHMs are a good way to start. Take a deep breath in and on the out breath sound a long OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMMMMMM - the vibration should be felt in your abdomen, your mouth and your lips as you finish. Make sure you open your mouth properly to let the sound out. Try doing this about 10 times, whatever feels comfortable. It is an excellent way to release tension.
Don't Get Caught In Your Thoughts
You may find as you try to meditate that thoughts will just come and go. The trick is not to get too caught up - just notice them and let them go. If you find that you have been thinking about work instead of switching off, don't beat your self up just use some of the tips here to get you back into the zone. The more you meditate the easier this becomes and if you can't relax then just stop, go and do something else, and come back to it later, even if it's tomorrow it's ok.
Mindful meditations can be helpful for those who really struggle to switch off - this is done with the breath. Try breathing in and repeating ‘Breathing in, I calm my body' and as you breathe out, ‘Breathing Out, I release all tension'. You can do this for any emotion or feeling you have just find a phrase that suits you and how you are feeling. This can be done as you are walking, sitting on the train - anywhere or anytime you feel tense.
As you can see there are many different ways to meditate. Start now and detox your mind!