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Meditation

Meditation – Maybe you associate that with a bald, Buddhist monk sitting cross-legged in a temple making “Ooooom” sounds, surrounded by a bunch of candles, maybe your first though of is a new age hipster trying to fit in, someone trying to escape their reality or maybe of someone trying to clear and let go of thoughts as a way of check-in with oneself. All of them could be correct. It doesn’t matter.

I’m not here to tell you that meditation has to be this or that, or that you have to meditate because it’s the solution for everything. I’m simply want to share my meditation process, why I’m doing it, what the research says about it and finally some easy and short tips if you feel that it’s something you want to try.

Meditation could be defined as:

A state in which one is paying full attention to the present moment experienced with openness and non-judgmental acceptance

This says nothing about sitting cross-legged, candles or escaping reality, but the key here is paying attention. To take it even further, to pay attention to your attention.

We are constantly being exposed to external stimuli from the outside world. Screens, phones, commercial etc. As soon as we are going somewhere we are plugging our ears with headphones because what if I have to listen to my own thoughts for too long? Horrible!

And yes, being alone with your own thoughts can be a scary place. Your mind can be your worst enemy, but also your greatest ally, depending on how you treat it.

We are usually good at doing things to fill our mind, but generally I think we are quite bad at doing nothing. By “doing nothing” does not, in this sense, mean relaxing in the couch and watching TV, while you are getting constant notifications on your phone since all your friends are texting and you are playing a game on your iPad.

What I refer to is active stillness and detached observation. Think about it like a computer hard-drive. As it get full it full it works slower and does’t have space to store more, and you as a user will probably get super pissed because your computer works slow, doesn’t have more storage space and you can’t find the files you need in all the mess. What do you do? You clean the hard-drive, get rid of all the old files that no longer serves you and sort the files you do need into clear folders and finally you can work in peace again. Meditation can do the same for your mind and has the potential to be a treatment for anxiety, depression and pain as well as improving your sleep and promote emotional regulation . Meditation is therefore not a way to escape the reality, but rather a way to become more aware, both of yourself, but also your surrounding world and improve your reality.

Meditation has been part of my practice for a couple of years. It has changed a lot during this time, mainly from me “Doing meditation” to just “Meditation”. What I mean by this it that in the beginning I had a lot of expectations that it should be done and felt in a certain way. I was looking for the end goal by doing meditation.

What I later realized is that meditation is a process. Just like a dance or a song, we are enjoying the process of it rather than waiting for it to be over. Meditation is a way for me to sit in silence and let my thoughts wander away without putting any attachment to them. It makes me feel more calm and more at peace, both with myself and others. There is no ambition or performance, simply just finding peace in the chaos of thoughts.

The beauty with meditation is that you can’t really fail at it. Because if you notice that your thoughts are wandering away, that is not a failure but a win, because that gives you the chance to let them go again – and this is an important key in the process. Compare this to riding a bike. If you are about to fall to the left you will correct this by leaning a bit more to the right and vice versa. All together all these small corrections makes us stay in balance on the bike. Our attention works in the same way and with time you will be able to correct faster and easier when your thoughts are wandering away. Still there are no such thing as being “Good” at meditation. It’s not a competition where the one who meditates the best gets the prize. It’s about your own process and we can all get the prize.

To finish this post I want to share some concrete, small tips and advice based on my experience on how you could get started (or continue) with meditation.

  • I usually like to do this in the morning as soon as I get up, but it can of course be done at any time
  • Find a place in private, but sometimes it can also be nice to just close your eyes for a while on the bus rather than scrolling on your phone. Being outside in nature is for sure the most peaceful place to be
  • Find a quiet space, but listening to some soft, calming music also works, preferably without to much lyrics
  • Light a candle
  • Sit comfortably, but lying down is also fine. Just remember there is a difference between meditation and falling asleep
  • Use an app to guide you through the meditation. A study found that workers who used an app to meditate during workdays lowered their work related stress as well as their blood pressure

Personally I usually differentiate between meditation and breathing practice. The difference here for me is that in breathing practices I focus on a specific breathing pattern such as Box breathing or the Wim Hof-method. This could of course also be seen as meditation in a way, but for me when I meditate, even though I sometimes focus on the breathing I like to just let it happen rather than have it predefined. I’d like to think that practicing different breathing techniques gives me better conditions to just breath whilst meditating.

Other methods you could try are:

  • Counting your breaths (and maybe set a specific number as a goal, such as 10, 20, 100)
  • Use a timer and start with 1 minute. Every day you add on one minute until you reach your desired time limit such as 10, 20 or 30 minutes. If you would miss a day or stop before your time limit you stay at the same time until you have “completed” it
  • Focus on your breath. Where do you feel it? The tip of your nose? Your chest? Your belly?
  • Stop anytime during the day. Observe what you see, take a few deep breaths before you move on. Sort of like a mini-meditation

//Viktor

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