Meditation has many benefits. It has served me in clearing my mind to access higher sources of intelligence, finding inner peace and relaxation, which resulted in me successfully completing my degree after initially dropping out with depression in 1996.
My method is self-taught and has been warmly received on the Museum of Happiness 6 week Stress Management & Self-Kindness course and public events, as well as my weekly Kind Co-Working sessions at Head Room Café, the social enterprise of JAMI, a Jewish Mental Health charity.
To book an online group meditation, or workshop centred around Gratitude or Self-Kindness, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are my top tips for an enjoyable and kindful (mindfully compassionate) meditation experience.
Do not practice meditation while driving or doing anything that requires your attention.
- There are various styles of meditation to suit different outcomes – in my experience, I find that, after taking a few calm, deep breaths, asking myself what I need most in this moment serves me best – I also invite you to accept that you are unique, and what works for others may not work for you, so be mindful of what feels good and what doesn’t throughout the practice
- Ensure you have quiet time and space (I appreciate this can be difficult for some, so perhaps put some ambient music on using your headphones – ideally on a device that does not receive incoming calls or messages, try this Solfeggio one)
- Make sure you’re in a comfortable position, whatever that means for you – allow yourself to move whenever you need to, even throughout the practice
- Go into the practice kindfully – set a simple, easy intention to start with, for example, “I am going to watch my thoughts for 30 seconds and notice how that feels”, or “I am going to choose a quality I want, and imagine I am breathing it in”
- Start with a short time goal, for example, 1 minute, or less if that feels difficult – you can always increase it when you feel comfortable
- Start by taking a deep breath, and as you breath out, relax and let go. Repeat this a few times until you start to notice your breathing and heart rate slowing down – this activates your Parasympathetic Nervous system (your “Soothe System”)
- As thoughts come up, allow them to float past, as if on a river in front of you, without judgement, just noticing as if you are a curious observer
- You can add an element of playfulness by waving at your thoughts as they float by – humour can help bring a lightness to the practice
- If you notice that you are thinking (engaging with your thoughts instead of watching them), it can help to smile at yourself and gently bring yourself back to watching
- When doing this kind of practice it is natural for trapped emotions to come up – be kind to yourself and see if you can allow and honour them. If they are too strong or difficult, seek help and support from a trusted professional or friend.
- Set a timer with a gentle sound in case you zone out completely – be kind to yourself if you find that you fall asleep – this just means you felt relaxed or really needed it!
- As you come out of the practice, bring yourself back into the present moment by feeling your body on the chair or floor, wiggling your toes and fingers, opening your eyes and taking a deep breath in and saying, “I’m back!”.