‘Breath is the life force, it is our first experience, observe its flow’
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice that trains attention and concentration, builds self-awareness, and nurtures our health and wellbeing. By training our attention we can see we can choose what thoughts we get hooked up in and where our focus is. We can become comfortable with discomfort, allowing difficult thoughts or sensations to be in the background without getting hooked into story. It helps us learn to be more self-compassionate which we can extend out to others.
A byproduct of meditation is that it calms the nervous system, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-digest response). It helps us look after our health and wellbeing.
There are many different forms of meditation, which can be formal seated or laying practices with a focus (often the breath), and the informal practice of mindfulness. It usually has a point of inward focus, for example the breath, a word or phrase, or a sensation. It is an awareness state, where the mind is calm yet alert, which trains our concentration and attention. Breathing is part of any practice, it is important to be able to sit with the breath, without judgement and observe it under its usual unconscious control before bringing it into conscious control if practicing breath modulation.
A common misconception is that you have to be able to stop thinking, this is not the case the mind is meant to think though can become over active and our self-talk in our thoughts may not be helpful. Our language is something we cover in physio-coaching sessions. With practice we can learn to choose which thoughts to interact with and which to allow to pass by, breaking the chain of everyday thoughts and taking the attention to the present moment. Your thoughts can be considered to be like waves in an ocean and can be observed with all their changing tides.
How long & how often to practice
There are no set guidelines for duration of practice based on current research, one study found a minimum of 10 minutes makes changes in brain function & attention. We learn by repetition, so alongside the longer daily practice it may be helpful to consider using moments of stillness by using short bursts of meditation, maybe a minute whilst the kettle boils or even 30 seconds before a presentation could be helpful. This is also a helpful way to start practicing if you struggle sustaining attention for more than a few minutes.
Meditation is like exercise, you start at the level that is right for you and gradually build things up, like exercise it needs daily practice. Meditation can be part of an overall plan to help you manage pain and stress, and ultimately look after your health and wellbeing.
Ann integrates meditation into 1:1 physio and coaching sessions.
Links to Ann’s meditations on SoundCloud, free for you to use
Breath & Body Awareness https://soundcloud.com/user-103516027/breath-body-awareness
Golden Thread Breath (extended exhale practice) https://soundcloud.com/user-103516027/golden-thread-breath
Compassion Meditation https://soundcloud.com/user-103516027/compassion-meditation
Brook & Mountain Meditation https://soundcloud.com/user-103516027/brook-mountain-meditation
Loving Kindness Meditation https://soundcloud.com/user-103516027/loving-kindness-meditation