I write this blog post from a very healing place where a relative of mine lives- the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire in England. It is a place of nature, green fields, hills, farms, animals and I associate its beauty with rest and relaxation. (There are shops and cinemas here too though- I think I would miss that!). The Cotswolds are a great place for me to rest and recharge my batteries. I find that the pace of life is slower and quieter here and when I have been working hard and need a break, I visit here and come back rejuvenated.
So, this blog is about meditation, a form of relaxation and clarity of mind that I have found healing.
I discovered meditation a few years ago but didn’t really start doing it until about a year ago, when I downloaded a free app called Headspace. This allowed me to have 10 free sessions of 15 minute meditations. At the time, I was suffering from work anxiety and related panic attacks. I found that listening to a guided meditation, recorded so I could play it when lying on my bed before sleep, very helpful and relaxing. It centred me and made me focus less on my anxious thoughts and worries about my career and illness. I just had to breathe and relax for that minute, whatever else was happening outside of it.
Meditation is a guided visualisation, focusing on the breath and slowing down breathing for relaxation and clarity, through inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly. It also teaches you how to relax muscles in your body, if you choose a deep muscle relaxation meditation. The person guiding you may tell you to breathe in deeply then out slowly, clench or unclench muscles and focus on the breath and the present mindfully, in order to relax you and sharpen the senses.
Meditation is not about falling asleep, although I often do it before I go to sleep. It is about centring yourself in your present reality, clearing your mind and worries through focusing on deep breathing and /or guided visualisations or affirmations. This eventually relaxes your subconscious and keeps you grounded in the present, linked to mindfulness.
I recently listened to a fantastic meditation which included positive life affirmations ‘You can do it’, ‘You are strong and confident’, whilst breathing in and out. This was by the amazing practitioner Holly Matthews, at the Bossing It Academy. I listened to this twice and did the exercises the night before a job interview. It really works on the subconscious level and helps you feel strong and confident!
I first was introduced to meditation as a healing therapy through regular Day unit relaxation sessions when I came out of hospital. We were taken through a guided visualisation of a relaxed place eg a beach or a starry night and followed our breathing and relaxation of muscles. I then bought CDs of relaxation music to listen to at home. When I was a teenager, I had previously listened to similar relaxation music and I find it can be incredibly healing if suffering from anxiety disorders in particulat as it focuses you and permits relaxation.
Meditation is an ancient Eastern art, practised by Buddhists and others in Asia, which has come to us in the West. It is so unbelievably powerful at managing stress and anxiety and I would thoroughly recommend doing it, with a recording of professional guiding you through the process or listening to relaxation music. There are even meditation classes out there you can take as well as music on Youtube and other websites!
So remember to breathe, ground yourself in your present, listen to the sounds around you but bring it back to your breathing and your current reality. I have found meditation helps heal me and I hope it helps you too.