Imogen’s guide to a Stress-Free Summer, in 3 easy steps
Meditation is something we can all, and should all, do. It is proven to boost beneficial genes involved in the health and efficiency of cells and lower levels of cortisol – the stress hormone. A daily, short meditation practice is an effective and easy way of looking after both your physical and mental wellbeing. If daily commitment is too much, set an intention for a bi-weekly or tri-weekly practice and make sure you fulfil it.
Here’s how to establish this new habit for a Stress-Free Summer:
1/ Find the Time
The fact is everyone has a spare 5/10 minutes at some point in the day that is commonly spent on mobile phones. Turn this wasted time into meaningful moments by turning your focus inwards and being with yourself for a few minutes. See what arises. Aim to establish a rhythm where a short meditation happens every day. You can build up to longer than 10 minutes, but make sure you start off with a realistic and easily attainable time period. Before you begin, set a timer on your phone so you can fully commit to the meditation without wondering how long you have been sitting there.
2/ Find the Place
Finding a quiet spot where you won’t be interrupted is often the biggest challenge. If you are struggling, it might be that solitude can be found more easily right before you go to bed or after you wake up. Sit comfortably on the floor or in a chair. You want to be supporting yourself enough so that you remain alert and don’t get drowsy, but be able to easily maintain the same posture for the full time – so feel free to prop yourself up with a pillow or lean back a bit in the chair.
3/ Find Yourself
Close your eyes. Notice your breath moving in and out and tune into any other physical sensations. Begin to run your attention slowly up and down from to the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Observe what is happening internally like a passenger of your own experience. Try to keep your attention with your physical body, as this is what will pull you out of thought and into awareness. The human brain is naturally very slippery and your thoughts will inevitably wander all over the place. As soon as you catch yourself going off on a tangent, return your focus to your breath and your body, and do not berate yourself for losing concentration. Let go of any desired outcomes, such as trying to empty your head, and surrender to the passivity of slowing down and sitting still. Sometimes it will be challenging to sit through the meditation, and remember it’s ok to feel bored, frustrated or agitated. Experiencing these feelings and learning to accept them is part of the process. If you try and fight them, you will be stuck with them. With consistent practice, it will start to get easier and very soon you will start to feel a greater sense of stillness and peace in your daily life.
Embarking on this new routine does require a little bit of discipline, but affirming new intentions by completing what you set out to do, leads to a wonderful sense of empowerment. Over time, meditation can allow you to transform the mind, so you can begin to overcome destructive thought patterns and suffer less stress.
Wishing you a serene summer,