Here we are at article 4 of the practical guide for activating Self-Care.
The last 3 articles were about using actively our mind. So after all the hard work, we now give our mind a nice treat and invite some relaxation into our Self-Care journey.
Say hello to Meditation! Meditation is becoming more part of our modern-day lifestyle and is a great add-on to your life to enhance Self-Care. It is a great tool to train your mind to become conscious of your attention and how to manage it. It also teaches you to be more in contact with your body. The awareness you gain out of practising meditation will help in your daily life to feel calmer and mentally strong.
So how does meditating feels like?
Picture this, it’s a nice summer day and you enjoy a refreshing drink at your favourite cafe situated in a corner of a busy square in town. You feel here at home. You are comfortable and relaxed. From your corner spot, you have the best view on the square on who is coming and going. You see all kinds of people. Some are in a rush and passing by quickly, clustered together, playing games, excited while some others may look gloomy. From your cosy corner, you don't engage but just observe without judgement. Sometimes you might be caught staring at somebody, but you will not walk over and start a conversation. You simply come back to your quiet self in the now. You enjoy the moment and the sun that warms up your body, how the drink is quenching your thirst, and the wind tickles your skin.
The busy square is your mind and the people are your thoughts. When meditating you just let everything be and observe. If some thought is trying to get more of your attention, you calmly acknowledge it and watch it subside. You will come back to the moment and feel your body. You can focus on your breath and how it fills your lungs with oxygen, just as you would experience the body sensation of the wind tickling your skin.
In our daily life, we are often in the middle of that square engaging with all the thoughts which are passing by. By taking a moment to meditate you will train your mind to become the observer from a quiet angle. To calmly acknowledge them without any engagement. Here your mind can relax, just be in the moment, and enjoy the stillness. Just with anything else, the more you practice the easier it will get to find this stillness within you and let your mind rest.
The good thing is that meditation can be practised almost anywhere. You don't always need a quiet space for yourself. At first, it may feel uncomfortable and hard to give into stillness while meditating. Especially when you are new to meditation or after a peak of a busy moment such as when you just finished work. This is where "movement meditation" comes in very handy. Your body can be a great tool to get you started with the practice of meditating and help in the most hectic moments.
How does movement meditation work?
Movement meditation can be implemented in any activity you do, using your body to shift into stillness. Let's take the example of going out for a walk. For starters, you might want to tell yourself what you are going to do and what you want to get out of it. Such as, "I am going out for a meditative walk where I can relax my mind and make it quiet". I find these little statements helpful as you prepare your mind to what is about to happen and create a smooth transition into it.
Your gaze is softly on your surroundings and your attention will be on the movements of your body. Kindly scan each part of it, feel your pace. Try to slow it down to bring more stillness. Are your arms following your movements? How does that feel? Deepen your breath and expand your breath. How is your posture? Does it feel cramped from a day's work behind the desk? Give it a nice stretch and straighten up. Feel your legs with every step you take.If you feel any form of resistance, such as 'this is not working, this is ridiculous and so on'. Remind yourself this is just an experiment and this moment is not forever.
You can gain a lot while practising movement meditation. Some examples that I find valuable to enhance Self-Care.
1. Clarity and Perspective When meditating, you observe and let go of anything but "now". Observing your thoughts will help gain clarity. You get to see which thoughts have a purpose and which are noise. It will help you to see different perspectives on matters. Being able to detect this is a great help to make well-informed decisions. To keep track of your observations and insights it is helpful to keep a journal. Have a look into the article I wrote about Journaling to see what else it can offer you.
2. Reducing stress We can experience stress from almost anything, it just comes down to how much importance we give to it. By meditating we take a moment for ourselves to step away from the chaos and create calmness. From here the answers will start to take the shape of what is important in that particular moment and it's going to be much easier to define what to dedicate your time on. This empowerment will help you to reduce stress by breaking down what is necessary for you.
3. Self-Awareness Each practice will be different and from this, we learn a lot about ourselves. We get a better understanding of how we deal with our thoughts, emotions and how our body is responding under different circumstances. These are key-points to increase our self-awareness.
4. Being present in the moment Meditating builds your skills to be present and in the moment. Often we get caught in the past or in the future with our thoughts. Nothing can be done from these moments as they have already happened or they will potentially happen but they do not exist anymore, or yet. This makes it so valuable to become aware of our being present in the moment. From here you truly get to experience your life, build your most desired future and make change happen.
Bonus tip - meditation can be practised at any time
You can do movement meditation while you are working out or practising activities such as yoga, running, cardio exercises and so on. Notice how your body moves, how does each part of it feels during the practice, or simply focus on your breath. But that's not only reserved to sport and physical activities, you can also practice while you're cooking a meal, folding up laundry, waiting for the kettle to be ready, waiting for public transportation to arrive or taking the dog out for a walk. These and so many other situations can be all great moments to check-in with yourself to give your mind some peace. Remember practice is the key. So doing it on a regular basis, for example during your morning routine, will help you to enjoy all the benefits. Check out my previous article in this series about 5 remarkable benefits of having a dedicated morning routine.
Meditation is a lovely and helpful tool to implement in your daily life and increase the level of Self-Care. You get to know yourself better, learn about the triggers that are causing you stress and skills to reduce them, the importance of being present and how to create the best version of your life. All these wins by just taking a moment for yourself. What are you waiting for?
Do you feel you could use a good talk out of this and reflect how meditation can be an addition to your life? Feel encouraged to book a Free Consultation!