Meditation is one of the best tools to balance our emotions and let go of stress and tension…that is until you get so frustrated with the incessant thoughts running through your head that it defeats the purpose of meditating.
I have always struggled to meditate. My brain goes a million miles an hour and I used to get really frustrated when I tried to slow it down. I would get agitated because I could not stop the thoughts flying into my head. The more agitated I got, the more I started to think. I started to feel as though I was just not capable of meditating and the elusive concept of being completely at peace and in the present moment seemed completely out of reach. Then I discovered the beauty of guided meditation.
For those of you with busy minds who struggle to stop the noise on your own, a guided meditation is the way to go. It gives you something to focus on and takes you on a journey, guiding you through the meditation.
My mum teaches meditation and runs really lovely guided meditations. She had encouraged me to give it a go but never pushed me as she is adamant that it has to be something you are ready for and go into willingly. If you are not completely willing, you will resist the process, fight the feeling of letting go of the mental chatter and get frustrated, just like I always had before. I got to a point, however, where I knew if I was going to be the best version of me, I needed to give this a go. Many of the most successful people are advocates of meditation including some really inspiring, young entrepreneurs like Tim Ferris of the 4 Hour Work Week and Nathan Chan of Foundr, and if these guys can find time to slow down and be present then we all can.
My Mum has a beautiful soothing voice and a very calming energy which is precisely what you want when you are trying relax into a meditation. She taught me that the struggle is natural, that we are so used to our minds being busy that it takes time and persistence and when a thought comes into our heads, acknowledge it, forgive yourself and let it go.
She ran a guided meditation one night with me and one of my girlfriends. I sat there with thoughts racing around in my head and they slowly dissipated as I tuned into her voice and let the sounds of nature take over. Having relaxing sounds, whether it be the sounds of birds, waves crashing or the sacred sound of ‘Aum’ is really helpful.
This particular meditation session was a prime example of how different each person’s experience can be. I started to relax when all of a sudden my neck started to ache. My head felt so heavy and my neck just couldn’t hold it up. I feel like there was so much pressure in my head and it just couldn’t escape. I had no thoughts that I was aware of at the time other than ‘my head weighs a tonne’. There was so much pent up energy in my seventh chakra, or my crown chakra. Meanwhile, my friend was fast asleep. She was so relaxed that she fell asleep, while I am sitting there feeling like my head is about explode. When she woke, it was like she was on another planet, feeling completely at peace. I was so jealous of her experience – yet I recognised the need for me to persist in order to really reap the benefits.
Mum explained it this way: my friend’s body was always in such a state of tension that the only time that she was completely relaxed was when she was asleep and the moment her body relaxed it automatically when into sleep mode because it was the only function it knew, when in a relaxed state. This also happened to said friend when she had massage with another dear friend of ours – she snored her head off. I, on the other hand, had so many files open in my mind and they continued to operate in the background, despite me feeling that had cleared my mind of chatter. I was so uncomfortable with the concept of cutting through the thoughts and slowing down my mind that I was virtually fighting it, because it was unnatural for me, and there was an oversupply of head energy hence the feeling of heaviness.
On another occasion, a number of years later, my mum did a spontaneous guided meditation with me. It was during a period of time when I was feeling incredibly conflicted over things in my personal life and I was clearly irritable and snappy. Mum told me to shut my eyes and breathe. She guided me through a meditation designed to get me in touch with my body and identify where I was feeling the most tension. I stopped half way through and said ‘does colour mean anything?’ ‘Of course it does,’ she said. All I could see was swirling green and purple through the middle of my body. She pointed out that the heart chakra is green, the crown chakra is purple, indicating the head and the heart were completely in conflict – precisely my predicament at that moment. We continued the meditation by focusing on the colours, moving through each chakra I watched the colours spin until each was pure and clean. After about 10 minutes, which went surprisingly quickly, I felt so much lighter. The tension in my chest has dissipated. I felt a sense of calm.
Now, each night before bed, I replicate this meditation. It works for me as it gives me something to focus on visually and it calms my mind before bed. If I am feeling tension in a particular chakra, or two feel out of balance, then I focus on them.
Learning to meditate is a process and it can take time. Even people who meditate on a regular basis and are able to go deep into a meditation can experience strange things. When you go into a deep meditation, it can be like being in a deep sleep. My mum has explained that when she has been in this state and she has been snapped out of it by a loud noise – a door slamming or something similar – it has felt as though she was jolted out of her body. Apparently this is not uncommon, I am yet to experience this, but she says that it can take a really long time to become totally aware of your surroundings again.
Mum’s advice is to ground yourself after these experiences or after any kind of meditation experience. Have a glass of warm water with lemon, stand on the soil or the grass in bare feet and ground. Imagine drawing the divine light up through the soles of the feet and through the head. This is a really beautiful way to finish your meditation.
The most important thing to remember is there is no right or wrong way to meditate, it is an individual experience and only being kind to yourself, practice and patience will reap the rewards.