“As part of my morning routine I try to spend 10 minutes daily meditating. This can be in the form of an app such as Buddhify or just 10 minutes of pranayama breathing. This sets me up for my day along with some exercise, reading and writing my journal. It helps to clear my mind and focus on the day ahead.”
Diane Nettleton, Gaia Skincare Founder
This past year has been one of turbulence and change. Not all change is bad, however, and for some, there may have been pockets of respite and reflection, certainly perspective and an appreciation for life’s small pleasures.
As we begin to ease out of the lockdowns, most will be relieved and excited at the prospect of a semblance of normality; others may feel apprehension. All of us will likely feel a spectrum of the above – and that’s perfectly natural.
One thing’s for sure, more people than ever before have been turning to meditation, and the mindfulness it nurtures within us, to find a sense of calm and balance.
World Meditation Day, which takes place each year on 21st May, was conceptualised fairly recently by meditation coach and founder of Beeja, Will Williams. The ancient practice dates back to as early as 5,000 BCE.
Meditation has been scientifically shown to reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can suppress the immune system and cause lasting mental and physical impacts. Not only that, but a small 2003 study found that meditating regularly for short periods may actually boost our antibodies too.
While the practice can feel intimidating at first, it really needn’t be. All you need is you and your breath. If boredom or lack of time is holding you back from giving meditation a try, have a read of our tips below this World Meditation Day and see if you can find a way to be kind to yourself.
“I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.”
Time for you – the best time of the day to meditate will depend on you. Make it work for your schedule. It can be a quick 5 minutes, or longer if you feel comfortable. First thing in the morning is great to set you up for the day ahead. Just before bed carves out a moment to put down the devices, unwind from the day and prepare the mind for sleep.
Why not set the scene and soothe the senses with our natural soya Gaia Awakening Candle?
Find what feels good – in the words of our favourite YouTube Yogi Adriene Mishler. Don’t feel you need to adopt the traditional Lotus position. Find a position – sat up or reclined – and relax.
Be kind to yourself – don’t judge yourself if you feel distracted. Try to avoid considering any element of your experience as “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “bad”. Meditation is about observation: observing how you feel and what thoughts arise, rather than resisting. Be less critical, consciously, and this will carry through as being kind to yourself subconsciously in daily life.
Ease in – start with 5-10 deep breaths to focus the mind before relaxing into a normal breathing rhythm. It can help to gently focus the mind by counting each inhale one at a time, starting again from one when you reach 11. But remember, your mind will wander and ruminate on the day thus far. Simply acknowledge this when you notice this happening, allow the thought to drift away and conscientiously bring the attention back to the breath.
Check-in with yourself – an alternative to counting the breath is to slowly scan through the body, starting from the top of the head, flowing like a warm wave through to the toes. Notice any dominant thoughts or feelings at certain parts of the body and rest here for a couple of breaths.
Ease out – when you feel ready to finish and continue with your day or evening, slowly bring your attention back to the sounds around you; the whir of the washing machine, the far-off laughter of a child playing, the breeze in the trees outside the window. Reacclimatise to your space before gently opening the eyes. Notice how you feel.
Embody mindfulness – you can incorporate mindfulness into your day with no additional time required. Simply be aware and notice the ritualistic activities you do usually without thinking, like making a cup of tea, brushing your teeth or treating yourself to a rejuvenating face mask like our award-winning Crystal Purifying Mask. Rather than thinking about what you need to do next, allow yourself to be in the moment and notice. Notice what you can hear, see, smell, and feel.
“There is no good or bad meditation — there is simply awareness or non-awareness. To begin with, we get distracted a lot. Over time, we get distracted less. Be gentle with your approach, be patient with the mind, and be kind to yourself along the way.”
-Andy Puddicombe, Headspace co-founder