How To Meditate Even If You Hate It And Have Tried Unsuccessfully

Written by: Griselda Togobo

According to Mind 1 in 6 people will report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England. 

Stress is at an all-time high due to the pandemic, and as a community, we want to do our bit to support our members because we believe we are in this together. 

We announced our walk 5k daily challenge, which has seen a lot of our members committing to improving their self-care during these times. 

We understand that due to physiological challenges, some people may not always be able to walk or run, so we’ve come back with an alternative initiative to help those unable to move physically. 

We are committed to inclusion as one of our values, so we are always looking for ways to engage with the whole community – leaving no one behind.

Meditation is proven to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, enhance clarity, improve memory and help you to be more focused.

We all know meditation is good for us, but few of us practice it consistently enough to reap the benefits. 

Most of us believe that we do not have the time to meditate regularly. 

To that I will reference the old Zen saying: 

You should meditate 20 minutes a day unless you are too busy: then you should sit for an hour.” 

Mindfulness expert, Andi Puddicombe asks us to take a minute to reflect on when we last took the time to do nothing. 

Doing nothing means – no emailing, texting, no Internet, no TV, no chatting, no eating, no reading—not even sitting there reminiscing about the past or planning for the future. 

When was the last time you had 10 minutes of quiet time and did nothing? We may be stuck in our homes but might not always make the time to do nothing. Our minds are either lost in thought about 47 per cent of the time busy making sense of whatever we place in front of it. 

So we need to train our minds to focus on the task at hand and also give it a break from all that concentration. Mediation allows us to do this as a form of attention control training. 

I struggled to meditate until I grasped the simple concept that meditation can be done anywhere at any time after reading the Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. 

I do not need to sit yoga-style on the floor or lock myself away uninterrupted for hours to meditate. I don’t need incense or mantras or guided meditative songs to meditate. It doesn’t even need to be part of religious practice, although most religions incorporate meditation in their traditions. 

There are many ways and styles of meditating. 

Scientific researchers group them into two main categories: 

  1. Focused attention meditation – this is where you focus your attention on a word, mantra, picture, candle, beads etc. 
  2. Open awareness or open-monitoring meditation is the opposite of focused attention meditation and involves a deep understanding of yourself and all that is happening around you. 

The way I have been able to incorporate meditation is to pause periodically to: 

  1. Take a deep breath and relax 
  2. Focus my attention on my breath
  3. Observe the thoughts as they come and bring my thoughts back to my breath whenever I become lost in the past or the future. 
  4. I need to persevere and do this for 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes uninterrupted at a time. 

You can schedule this into your morning, lunchtime or bedtime routine. 

We women pride ourselves in our ability to multitask, but multitasking prohibiting mindfulness and the meditative practice. 

You can do these four steps as I have done when walking, eating, laying in bed, or sitting down, but that is the ONLY thing you should be doing – focusing on your breath and observing your thoughts in a non-judgemental way. 

Now it is your turn

When was the last time you took 10 mins to do nothing? 

Can you commit the about 4 steps into your daily routine? 

Next week we’ll share some apps that will support your meditative practice. 

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