Meditation is good for us. We all know that. But actually getting around to doing it seems like a daunting task. I have tried to meditate but often find myself wondering if I am doing it right, instead of meditating, and that becomes my meditation!
As I have found out, meditation is not about controlling your mind. That actually undermines the point. It’s only normal to have all sorts of thoughts while you’re trying to calm your mind. Instead of trying to control or repress these thoughts, it is better to be attentive and observant. Your thoughts will come and go; observe that you are thinking but don’t try to analyse your thoughts.
Gift, an ACU student from Zimbabwe, says, “As a Catholic, most of my meditation comes from prayers. A couple of times a week, I spend time in the chapel or in a quiet spot to have a silent or reflective meditation. ACU Brisbane is full of quiet spots to meditate in!”
If you’re doing yoga, that encompasses meditation and physical exercise as well. I’ve been told that the main point to remember with yoga is to have both stability and relaxation, equally balanced. If there is too much relaxation, you will be slack and if there is too much stability, then you will be tense which defeats the purpose of yoga.
With yoga, you can take what you learn off the mat and apply it to every aspect of your life. That makes it different from other forms of exercise. Everyone can do it, it relaxes you, reduces stress levels and your fight and flight response.
We all know that it is essential to take a break every hour or so when we are studying. If your body needs a break, so does your mind! I spoke with a yoga instructor, who is also a student at ACU, about meditating in the ‘right way’. Here’s what he said:
1. Go to a nice quiet place. At ACU, I like the library or a quiet spot in the garden.
2. Sit in a comfortable position, with your back straight, neither slouched nor collapsed. Keep your back tall.
3. Set an alarm so that you don’t worry about the time while you meditate. If not, you can also count a number of breaths (say 30) as your timer.
4. Start your mediation with an affirmation: “I am meditating because….” or “By meditating I will….”
5. There are a number of ways meditate. One popular way is to start observing your breath, without trying to control it. You can also do a body awareness process, paying attention to parts of your body in sequence. Another way is to choose a mantra and repeat it over and over in your mind. The point is to yoke your mind onto something.
6. When you are done, end with another affirmation: “By meditating I have….”
7. Making it pleasant and regular turns this into a habit.
So when the assignments start clamouring for attention, take a break and meditate. You will feel better!
Note: At ACU Brisbane, there are yoga classes every week on campus. Students are charged a fee of $5 (about one fourth the usual fee for a yoga class).
Have you tried meditation before?
Share with us your meditation tips!