29/10/2015 8:48 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST

Take Time Out For Yourself

Seeking to find balance and calm in our lives is an ongoing quest in the 21st century. We are 'on' like never before and many of us believe that even if we did want to get off the "merry-go-round" that we couldn't or can't or don't know how.

As many organizations and government bodies are pointing out, mental health issues have risen and are continuing to rise. The attitude of being someone who does not need a break and can't afford to stop hurts everyone but the person it hurts the most is you.

I have seen many different cases of individuals who have pushed too hard for too long and by the time they come to me their world is often 'out of control'. The lack of balance that they are experiencing then leads them to feel that the very people they care the most about suffer because they can't be everything to everyone.

It's difficult to take care of everyone else if you do not have the ability to look after yourself. I know this feeling well as, in 1999, before I began meditating, this is what I was experiencing. Constantly feeling as if I was letting others down, not having enough energy, spread too thin, over-committed...

Learning to meditate and calm my mind not only created balance in my life but it allowed me to 'pause' everyday and rest. The benefits were many and I began to notice that many patterns of my life had changed effortlessly and for the better.

When others began noticing and commenting on the changes they were seeing in me I knew the only thing that I was doing differently was practicing meditation. Meditation has become my non-negotiable act every day. Just like brushing my teeth it is a practice that I engage in daily.

I'm incredibly passionate about the benefits of meditation and when talking to others I try to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions about meditation.

If you are someone whom desires to get off the merry-go-round and bring some balance and calm to your life I cannot recommend meditation enough. It is a game changer. It is simple, it is free, and any man, woman or child can learn to meditate.

Meditation: Myth vs Fact

Meditation is not a religion. Many people falsely believe that meditation is aligned with a particular religion and that in order to meditate you have to become a Buddhist, or change one's set of ideals and beliefs. Yes, you see people who follow Buddhism meditating. However, this does not make a meditator a Buddhist. Meditation is a tool that helps reduce stress and anxiety, brings about clarity of mind and increased well-being. Meditation is learning to relax the body and quiet the mind. It is a form of relaxation.

Cave-dwelling, chanting, dreadlocks, hippy clothing, sitting in full lotus position not required. Having taught meditation since 2003, I am aware of the number of stereotypes out there about meditation. Sitting like a yogi in a contortionist pose is the most common misconception. You do not need to be limber, practice yoga or be able to sit in full lotus position while meditating. Meditating with your feet flat on the ground or your legs straight out in front of you is absolutely fine.

Meditating does not mean that you will experience zero thoughts. Everyone of us will experience thoughts while meditating. The number of people who feel that they are 'no good at meditation' or that they 'can't do it' because they have thoughts while meditating has seriously hampered the practice of meditation becoming a habit for many people. Understand that you will experience thoughts and that it takes time and consistent practice to quiet the mind. I remind students to see their thoughts 'passing by' like clouds in the sky, not becoming attached or focused on them, and letting the breath help them relax and deepen the meditation.

Everyone has the ability to train the mind to relax. Every man, woman and child can learn to meditate. Excuses are what impedes a person's ability to meditate, not the practice of meditation itself. To hear people say they are 'too busy' to meditate, or they have 'too many thoughts' going through their mind to meditate are only excuses that their ego has come up with to give themselves an 'out'. Consistency is the key to developing a successful meditation practice. Routine practice is the key to success.

Meditation is easy and simple.Choosing to meditate is the only decision that you need to make in order to start benefiting from a practice that allows you to quiet the mind and relax the body.

There is no right, wrong or superior practice. As long as you meditate, you will reap the rewards. In as little as 5-10 minutes a day, you can benefit from the positive aspects of meditation and start increasing your sense of wellbeing and balance.


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