Setting aside just 10 minutes a day to clear your mind might not sound like a lot, but as editor Holly found out, it can bring big rewards
I love the idea of meditation: feeling cool, calm and collected and ridding my brain of unhelpful whirrings sounds ideal, especially when deadlines are tight, the calendar packed and a good night’s sleep is elusive. However, scheduling time for this wellness practice is easier said than done. Raise your hand if you’ve ever got home from a tough day at work and numbed out with a Netflix binge or calmed down with a few squares (whole bar) of dark chocolate? Yep, it can be tough to reach for the meditation cushion instead of that glass of red – instant gratification can be much more seductive than having to work for inner zen. However, us Brits aren’t afraid to put the work in, as in 2019 the United Kingdom saw a 42.6 percent rise in search interest of meditation* (*Beeja Meditation). So, when a new local yoga class popped up just minutes from my house, I decided this would be the perfect place to kick off my week of mindfulness – under the guidance of someone else! I’m not going to lie, part of the appeal of yoga is ending up in Shavasana, especially when you’re handed a lavender scented eye pillow and cosy blanket, but I used this guided meditation to set an intention for the week – to make a commitment to myself to show up, without fail, for at least 10 minutes a day.
My first day consisted of an evening session using the Calm app. So, once ready for bed, I climbed into fresh bed linen, spritzed my pillow with a lavender mist and lay down to begin my bedtime practice. But, I didn’t even make it to the end of the recording, as I was asleep faster than you can chant ‘om’.
Keen to not let this challenge fall at the first hurdle, I caught up with meditation expert Will Williams who advised: “Learn to meditate anywhere you can find a seat. Being opportunistic is key to developing the consistency that makes meditation so powerful. Being laissez faire with your practice is crucial to being able to make the most of opportunities that arise in public spaces.”
So, the next day I opted for a lunch time session with the Headspace app. I tried the 10-minute happiness course, which involved plenty of deep breaths, body scans and visualisation techniques. During this guided meditation, I was encouraged to notice the sounds around me, which seems like a simple and obvious task, but once I tuned into my surroundings, I was amazed by how much I picked up on: the clock ticking, a microwave dinging, footsteps from the office above me, the coughs from a colleague next door and the continuous rumble from people typing on keyboards. These sounds will have filled most days at the office, but when rushing from task-to-task, I realised most of us go about our days in a mindless busyness. As I completed my meditation, a final thought popped up on screen: “As you go through the day today, notice which experiences leave you with a genuine feeling of contentment.”
Surprisingly, I found that I returned to my desk refreshed, less stressed and in a more positive frame of mind for the remainder of the day.
Two days in and I still wanted to make my practice easier, so I turned to Will once more: “Get your first one in before work,” he said. “Once your working day starts, it’s not your own anymore, and starting the day in a great frame of mind puts you in a better place to keep the habit going.” With this in mind, I chose a five-minute morning session the very next day. This was by far the easiest meditation I’ve tried thus far, as it was quick and consisted of various stretches and breathing techniques to really wake up the body – all from the comfort of my bed. By the time I hit the shower, I felt more bright-eyed than usual and with an overarching optimism to begin the day.
By the end of the week, I was a little tired, hormonal and deflated after a few personal disappointments. So, feeling more emotional than usual, this was the perfect time to turn to meditation instead of comfort food. I tuned into how I was feeling and sought out a meditation for sadness from Headspace. As I completed my body scan I noted a tight chest, shallow breathing, and it felt like something was blocking my throat, but I stayed with the breath to the end of the session. When I finally opened my eyes, I looked out onto a stunning sunset, and as I took one last breath, I felt a sense of grounding. We will all have to endure disappointments and change throughout our lives, but it’s not about silencing these thoughts or getting rid of these feelings, it’s about shifting our perspective so that we can see them in a different way.
My main takeaway from my week of meditation? There is power in the breath; whatever you are feeling this week, be it sadness, anger, anxiety, loneliness, fatigue – take a few deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth and notice your mindset shift from frenetic to settled. And, if we can all bring a few more settled moments into our lives, for just 10 minutes a day, imagine what we could achieve from a place of calm.
Christi-an Slomka, Calm’s Community Manager and mindful movement teacher shares her top tips
Anyone can incorporate meditation into their daily lives, and after all, practise makes perfect. As our lives seem to get busier, it’s harder to stick to habits. These tips will hopefully show you just how easy it is to ensure you find your inner calm to the best of your ability.
Immerse yourself in nature
Whether it be taking in the sounds of nature or positioning yourself near an open window, listening to the sweet sounds of children playing or water trickling from a nearby fountain can help foster relaxation by soothing the senses and calming the mind. Nature is the perfect inspiration for your meditation practice.
To help combat everyday stress, Calm has introduced a new ‘Mood Check-In’ tool to help us be more mindful of our feelings. A visual representation of our moods can help reveal a lot more about our mental wellbeing than we might have thought. Check-in with yourself by logging and setting mindful reminders. If you find yourself feeling extra-stressed, the app feature reacts to your needs by suggesting which particular meditation practices would benefit you most at this anxious time.
Incorporate it into your daily commute
If you feel like you’re too busy to set time aside, why not use those hours whiled away zoning out on the bus or train to use this precious time more productively. Sneak in more time for meditation, and arrive at work feeling rejuvenated and ready for the day ahead – not only will you feel great mentally but you’ll also find yourself more productive and creative!
Don’t just switch on Do Not Disturb mode - turn your phone off. In order to become fully present with the mindful task at hand, you need to give yourself a break from distractions that you can control.
Calm is a leading global health and wellness brand with an app for sleep, meditation and relaxation. With hundreds of hours of original audio content, the Calm app helps users cope with some of the most important mental health issues of modern living including anxiety, stress and insomnia. See calm.com for more details.
Save over £11
when you subscribe today
Exclusive prizes from our Heaven Skincare, Senspa, Green People and more...