After a hectic (and frequently fraught – as those closest to me will testify) 2016, which included entering the realms of Self-Employment, planning our wedding (a 100% DIY project!) and our 2nd house move in 2 years, I decided to go into 2017 with a fresh outlook, and a commitment to learning new ways of staying calm and anxiety-free.
In the past, I would take to running to burn off stress and reintroduce myself to the world after a long day at my desk. However, I have to admit that these days I am more of a “fair-weather” athlete and the thought of heading out into the dark mornings and even darker nights leaves me, quite literally, cold! So I decided to look at alternatives to exercise to push my happiness button. But where to start? It had to be good for me (turning to chocolate or wine wasn’t an option!). I have dabbled in Yoga in the past, dipped my toe into Tai Chi, even purchased a few self-help books to try to “find my happy”. But nothing really stuck. For one reason or another, I never found the hook that made me truly want to keep it up long-term.
Then, towards the end of 2016 whilst looking for an online Digital Marketing training provider, I came across The Six Figure Mentors (more about them in another blog!) and their incredible educational program. The further I went through the training system and got to know the people, the more I started to realise that the successful leaders and members of this amazing community seemed to have one thing in common…Mindfulness! They even had an online group dedicated to helping every one of its members benefit from mindfulness. That made me stop and really think. If all of these successful, incredible leaders and entrepreneurs were doing it, there had to be something to this, right?
So What is Mindfulness Meditation?
The more I researched, the clearer the benefits of Mindfulness Meditation became. It’s a practice that’s been around for thousands of years, but it seems that now even the scientific world is interested in its benefits. An article publised on Forbes.com cites a number of scientific studies which have revealed, amongst others, increased focus and concentration, improved cognitive function, reduced anxiety, more positive feelings of self-worth, and even treatment of severe depression as proven benefits of this practice. I had to get started.
Most of us don’t have time to attend long workshops or take long-haul trips to ancient temples to learn from the masters. I took the 21st century approach and downloaded a meditation app to my phone (there are a lot out there, I suggest trying a few out until you find one that works for you). I started with some short, guided meditations, learning to breathe (I had no idea there was more than one way to do this!), to focus on and pay attention to the present moment without judgement. By simply focussing my attention wholly on my breathing, in just a few minutes a day I could drown out much of the chatter in my head. Some days are easier than others, I’ll admit, but just finding even a few seconds of real peace leaves an extremely positive feeling.
(Author’s note: since posting this article, a number of readers asked which App I’m using – I chose Insight Timer, a free app with a huge number of both guided and unguided recordings to choose from, of various lengths and “topics”, with a community of meditators who add reviews and who you can connect with. I think there’s something for everyone here).
One of the biggest challenges I have found is making it a daily habit. It’s not something that you can dip in and out of, if you really want to see long-term, lifelong benefits. It’s easy to let things get in the way or to find an excuse not to make that time. But by finding just a few minutes of quiet, every single day, I have started to see some significant changes in my life.
So Who’s Mindfulness Meditation For?
I would say that Mindfulness Meditation is absolutely right for everyone. Regardless of the reasons for doing it, if you want to make big improvements to your life, if you’re seeking your own clarity of purpose, if you just want to feel calmer and more in tune with yourself, or just need a few minutes of “Me” time each day, then my suggestion would be to give it a try. There are a plethora of books, YouTube videos, DVDs and apps out there – find what works for you and just get started. Keep at it for at least 10 days straight – I believe you’ll feel significantly better.
Go on. Find your happy!