Calm Your Mind
A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO MEDITATION
While I am writing this introduction to meditation, I can’t help but smile. I used to work for a large financial corporation in Amsterdam (about 15 years ago) and the last thing that was on my mind was meditation. At that time, I thought I had more important tasks to focus on, despite the fact that I was often quite stressed – I worked long hours, against tight deadlines and the pressure on my performance as an executive didn’t make my life much easier.
It would be easy for me now to look back on my life and think: “I wish I had known more about meditation during a time that it could serve me so well”. I could have known all about it, because meditation is not new, it has been practiced for thousands of years. I just very well know that I wasn’t ready for this. I perceived myself, and the world around me, in a very different way than I do today – from feeling separate from most people around me, to feeling deeply connected to myself, to humanity in general and to the universe.
During a difficult time in my life, when I lost three of my close family members in a relatively short period of time, I was looking to find a way of relaxation and stress reduction. Many things in life, like grief, are beyond our control, but it is possible to calm our state of mind so that we can deal with our emotions in a more healthy way and truly process all that we feel, without being terrorized by the mind. In fact, the daily practice of meditation has not only supported me through this traumatizing time, it has offered me deep insights of who I truly am and helped me to express my deeper feelings and emotions.
ANYONE CAN PRACTICE MEDITATION
If stress has you anxious, tense and worried, consider trying meditation. Spending even a couple of minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace. Many people around the world meditate for a variety of reasons, ranging from religious practice to a stress management technique. It’s not just the Buddhist monks who are devoted to their meditation as a spiritual practice. World-class athletes and many CEO’s of today’s world for example, use visualization and meditation to enhance their performances and Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan meditates every morning and has become a major advocate of mindfulness and meditation, as he describes in his book, A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit.
HOW DO I MEDITATE?
There are a number of different ways to meditate (see below), and finding the method that works most effectively can have many benefits for you. For me, one of the most fun ways of getting in ‘the zone’ is when I am riding my mountain bike. I’ve always felt at my best when I can spend time in nature. Nature just offers me so many insights – in how I connect with my deeper self and with the world around me. And being on my bike, I don’t have time to think because I need to focus on where I am riding (not hitting any rocks) and simply enjoying the pristine nature around me. It’s like the gaps in between all the thoughts that I have, begin to widen and that feels so amazing, so free and joyous.
I give you this example, because I believe it’s a great way to start your meditation practice in a way that means something to you because it’s now part of your passion!
What you think you become – What you feel you attract – What you imagine you create
BELOW ARE SOME WAYS TO DEEPER CONNECT WITH YOURSELF:
♥ CONNECT WITH NATURE
I often hear people say how much they love spending time in nature – just being there without doing anything in particular. It’s no wonder that we love that because we are nature! We come from the same source as all the plants, birds and flowers. And if you find that hard to believe or you just find it fascinating, I invite you to join one of my
work funshops, because we’ll go over this wisdom in detail. It’s at the basis of who we are.
Just get out there. Go for a walk, run or bike ride and notice how perfect nature actually is. Take the time and stop to look at a flower or touch the bark of a tree or a rock and simply feel the connection. This experience will not just make you feel calm and connected, but you will also feel very grateful and your thinking will disappear to the background. How cool is this, that we can feel so great without having to do anything. Happiness is a state of mind!
♥ CALM THE MIND
Find yourself a comfortable and quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed and make an agreement with yourself that there’s nothing to achieve. You might want to play some soft instrumental music in the background. Close your eyes and notice your natural breathing through your nose. You can even observe how the air that comes in through your nose is cooler than the air that is leaving your nose. How fascinating! You can also try to focus on a specific body part like your foot. Maybe you even feel the blood pumping through that part, and that’s normal because science explains that ‘where attention goes, energy flows’. When thoughts are coming up (and they will), just notice them and don’t pay much attention to them (don’t try to stop them). Just enjoy this time with yourself and notice how you’re feeling.
♥ HEART CONNECTION
Our heart is much more than an organ, pumping the blood through our body. Emotions such as love, care, compassion, forgiveness and non-judgment are all generated by the heart. When we are able to use these emotional qualities more in our daily activities, we increase the inner knowingness we have about ourselves. It will also change how we relate to others and how we perform in the world.
I encourage you to practice the ‘heart focused breathing exercise’ which I explain on the page about HeartMath.
I don’t need to remind you that we live in a fast paced world and everyone, in some way, experiences the effects of this. Because we are so used to all the external stimulation, we’ve become desensitized and it seems almost ridiculous to become quiet and listen to the subtle feelings and stillness within us. But once you take some time for yourself, on a daily basis, you will start noticing a shift in how you connect to yourself, to those around you and to life in general. But never forget – do it your way and enjoy the process!
Shift from reacting to creating!
Secret to Life
I believe that the secret to life lies in hitting the brakes, really slowing down and learning to understand ourselves better. You can only be at peace and feel fulfilled, when you are honest with yourself and start closing the gap between who you appear to be and who you really are. You will then discover that you are beautiful.
– Dirk Terpstra