Just like lifting weights makes your muscles stronger, practicing meditation grows your ability to cultivate peace in your mind.
How many times have you heard someone say, I’m feeling so unfit, I really need to do some exercise? Majority of people readily identify with the connection between good physical health and physical exercise.
Now how many times have you heard someone say, I’m feeling so emotionally unsettled, I really need to meditate … any takers? Not so common. People often seek specialist advice or look to medication to alleviate feelings of depression, anxiety and stress without stopping to think that maybe they can help themselves.
Why is this so? I think it stems back to the fact that we teach Physical Education (PE) in our schools but not Mental Education (ME). For a lot of people, they have heard of meditation but not experienced it. It’s a foreign concept for many but once you start (just like regular physical exercise), regular mental exercise will have you in your best mental state.
In a world that is becoming so over stimulated by technology, it is more important than ever to slow down and take some time to sit with yourself and just be.
There are so many benefits to meditation some of which include, but are not limited to increased immunity, boosted memory, emotional balance, reduction in stress, improvement in sleep, increased compassion, lowering of blood pressure and enhancement of the way you experience your life.
So how do you start? How do you easily get your regular dose of mental exercise? I recommend either starting with a guided meditation app so that you can slowly build up mastering your mind, or going to a guided mediation class.
If you’re looking for an app, here’s the top three apps that I’ve tired
This is probably my favourite app. You choose your preferred background image and sound, selecting from options such as a beach with the sound of rolling waves or a forest with the sound of rustling trees, and then you can choose to listen to their seven steps to clam, which is a great guide for beginners. You can also choose to do a guided body scan meditation or timed meditation. For those who are strapped for time, you can select bite sized meditations that last for two to five minutes, which are ideal if you just need a mid-afternoon tune in and if you feel as though you want to get more connected with yourself, there are 60 minute sessions available. The best part about this app is that it’s completely free
Completely free again, 1 Giant Mind teaches you to meditate in three different levels. Meditations can last anywhere from 10 to30 minutes depending on how much meditation goodness you feel like you need. Whenever you begin a meditation, you will be asked how you are feeling (both emotionally and your actual feelings towards meditation) and then after the meditation, you will be asked how you are feeling and given a space to comment on the meditation. This will form an online meditation journal, where you can track your progress.
Headspace is the creation of the amazing Andy Puddicombe (if you haven’t watched his TED talk on mindfulness, do yourself a favour).Not only do you get a good variety of content to listen to, but the app is filled with fun features including being able to follow friends and receiving awards for meditating for a certain number of days in a row. When you first download the app, you get 10 free 10 minute sessions, along with some animations that introduce you to the basics of meditation. Once you’ve completed your 10 sessions, you can subscribe for unlimited access to guided meditations and mindfulness talks. Subscriptions cost $12.95 per month with no lock in or $7.99 per month with a one year sign up. For every subscription paid, Headspace will donate a subscription to someone in need.
If you’re in Melbourne and would prefer to practice in a group setting, here are some places to consider:
1/232 Bridge Rd Richmond, 3121
Sunday 6.30pm (yoga & meditation)
Nth Yoga 316 Napier Street Fitzroy, 3065
Tuesday 6pm & Wednesday 6pm
316 Toorak Road South Yarra, 3141
224B Bay Street Port Melbourne, 3207
Summer Healing Yoga
Wednesday 7.30pm, Friday 5.30pm(restorative yoga & meditation) & Sunday 6.30pm
Unit 2, 20-22 Kingsway Glen Waverley, 3150
Thursday 7.15pm (yoga & meditation)
Suite 3, 4 Williams Rd Prahran, 3181
437A Centre Road, Bentleigh, 3204
Like any form of exercise regular practice is the key to experiencing real benefits.