“Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life around it.” – Brian Tracy
I’ve been practicing meditation for a few years now. And at first it was a private thing; private as in, I didn’t tell anyone. Nobody I knew did it and I worried about what others would think. Only eccentric hippies or kookie people meditate, right?
But my mind was on constant overdrive. Often I would worry about things that may or may not happen in the future. I held on to stories of the past replaying them in my head to justify the way I felt. My mind was in chaos all the time. And sometimes I would find myself wishing I could take a holiday from myself and all the overthinking. My mind was so active it would wake me up in the middle of the night still worrying, still playing movies of the past… It was exhausting!
I was constantly stressed at work, I felt lonely. And so I would get blind drunk every weekend just to escape from the life I was leading and the mind that would never rest. So I burnt out.
Now, years later after regular practice, I still feel all those things. I still experience all the emotions and thoughts I used to, but now with a curious fascination;
3 Simple Ways to Increase Your Peace of Mind
1. Stay Present
Our minds are AMAZING.
Fear and stress were quite handy when we were on constant alert to stay away from danger, find shelter, hunt for dinner. Today, where none of those threats get featured in our daily concerns, we misinterpret modern day stimuli as stressors.
There weren’t any avocados in Tesco, a Kn*b in the flashier car than yours cut you up at the traffic lights, that presentation you have to deliver at work next week…. Ahhhh!
Through practicing mindfulness and meditation you can free yourself from all that unnecessary stress. By staying present in the moment – experiencing the now, you understand it is the only thing that is real. The past no longer exists, the future you can’t predict. Right now is the only reality; a reality affected by the thoughts going on in your head. If your thoughts are in the past or future (made up misinterpretations or fantasies), then no wonder life is stressful and chaotic! Holding on to the past or worrying about the future only negatively affect you in the present.
Meditation is a vehicle to help you let go of the past. It helps to let go of the worry of the future and start to experience the beauty of living in the present moment.
2. There is Always Time
I emailed someone recently about a taster mediation session and the reply I received was ‘I am far too stressed to meditate right now’.
We undeniably live in a paradoxical world and that was absolute proof.
People are too busy, too stressed, their minds are too busy to meditate; when the remedy to all those things lies in their own hands… or minds.
Finding just a few moments is possible for everyone.
We find time for all the habits we are conditioned to deem necessary; we find time to brush our teeth morning and night, we find time to drink a morning coffee, shower, walk the dog.
Meditating can be as simple as you stopping for a few moments each day to just breathe. You could even do it whilst you boil the kettle, doing the dishes. Or just plonk yourself on the floor of the bathroom just before taking a shower. Or you could carve out ten minutes before you jump into bed each night or find ten minutes on your lunch break.
The benefits of doing so far outweigh running round like a headless chicken, feel stressed or out of control!
3. Thinking is Normal
The first time I sat down to meditate my mind wandered off almost immediately. And so I thought I had failed, that I hadn’t done it correctly, that it wasn’t for me.
I remember thinking, a few moments in – I wonder if I’m doing it right, I wonder if by wondering if I doing it right I am now no longer doing it!
Thinking is completely normal, it would be weird if you didn’t think at all. If you sat down with a completely blank mind you’d either be a monk living up some remote mountain or ill.
When you get distracted just come back to your focus – that is the art of meditation. Don’t aim for just sitting there with a completely blank mind.
There is no right or wrong way to meditate. There are different schools of thought, philosophies, traditions, approaches. No matter the approach, what is undeniable is the positive effects meditation has on a regular meditator.
For some meditation is a practice to reach enlightenment, for others it’s to reduce stress levels and help them stay balanced. For others, it’s scientific and for others it’s spiritual. In my opinion, we are all beautifully different and whatever reason for you choosing to meditate, whatever outcome you hope to get– is all fine.
Your meditation practice, your mind, your life doesn’t belong to anyone else but you.