The hot summer sun.
The heat shimmered across the sand as the sun rose in the sky baking everything beneath it, including me as I lay on the sand reading.
My favourite way to relax. Well, back then before I reconnected with meditation and yoga.
On the beach that day, I suddenly realised I had read a complete chapter of my book and I could not recall one sentence.
So hectic was the busyness of my mind.
So much activity, so much mind chatter – I couldn’t even focus for long enough to absorb a single sentence from my favourite book.
What was wrong with me?
At the time, I did not realise it but my busy mind, or ‘monkey mind’ as it is often referred to, was taking over my life.
My thoughts were jumbled, diverse, obscure, random and worst of all, completely unwholesome. I had let my mind get the better of me and it was ruining my life.
Mind chatter is one of the most common reasons people seek meditation – to ‘slow’ their mind or calm their thoughts, to seek peace.
Meditation is a simple and valuable tool that is easily accessible, easy to master and is a completely free way to access your breath – the cheapest form of therapy on this earth.
Accessing your breath can help you trigger the body’s natural relaxation response and the parasympathetic nervous system which helps to slow down your pulse rate and your thoughts. It can transport you to a calm and relaxed state when practised regularly.
To access your breath and help calm your mind, try this simple exercise:
· Sit comfortably in a quiet location where your distractions may be limited.
· Allow yourself about 10 minutes for this practice. You can always extend the time later when you become more experienced.
· Gently close your eyes or keep your gaze low to the ground.
· Take a moment to tune in to your body and simply notice your natural breath. The sound it makes as you breathe through your nostrils and the physical movement of your body as you breathe.
· After a few moments begin to deepen your breath as you breathe through your nostrils, drawing the breath deep into your belly, into the diaphragm.
· Feel the belly rise before the chest with this deep inhale and feel the chest fall before the belly as you breathe out.
· Begin to add a count to three on your inhale and as you exhale, count to six.
· The extended exhalation will help trigger the relaxation response in your body.
· Continue to breathe and count, bringing your mind back to the breath each time it is distracted by thought.
· After ten minutes or so return to your natural flow of breath, noticing any changes within your mind, body and spirit.
· Gently open your eyes and rest peacefully for a few moments before returning to the world.
It is important to observe your meditation practice without expectation or judgement – allow it to be what it will be and enjoy being fully present in that moment.
Over time and with regular practice you can learn to free that cheeky monkey from your mind and discover more wholesome thought patterns.
Author Angelique Pratten