I hear this ALL the time!

“I just don’t know how to meditate.”

“I find it really hard to think of nothing…”

“I don’t like sitting still…I get bored and distracted.”

“I haven’t got time to meditate!”

STOP!!!!

Stop overthinking it people!

Meditation doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult. And it definitely doesn’t always need to involve sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed.

There are so many different ways to meditate and not one of them is “right” or “wrong”. As long as you are feeling the benefits from it, then it has to be worthwhile right?

My first introduction to meditation was when I started going to Yoga classes when I was at University.

At the end of the class the teacher would have us lie down on our mats (what I now know to be Shavasana)…

…and she simply guided us through some lovely slow breaths before leaving us to simply listen to some gentle, relaxing music for a few minutes.

It was heavenly!

That was a few (a lot!) of years ago now, but it really sparked something within me. I instantly fell in love with the calmness that those few moments on the mat brought me.

So there is one myth already debunked – you don’t have to sit cross-legged to meditate!

It can be very difficult to find a comfortable seated position, especially in your early stages of mediation practice. Your legs might get sore or uncomfortable, or your back might feel awkward… All these little niggles will distract you from your mediation and distraction prevents you from getting the full relaxation and de-stressing benefits.

So, if you find it really difficult to sit down, try lying down. Just don’t get too cosy as you will probably fall asleep!

The next myth is that meditating is all about thinking of NOTHING. No wonder so many people are put off meditating if this is what they believe it to be!

It is exactly at the moment that you are told to think of “nothing” that suddenly “EVERYTHING” comes into your head! Am I right? If I was to say to you now “Think of anything in the world, except for a tree”, I bet that all you can see in your mind is a tree!

It is very very difficult to tell your mind NOT to think of something!

So, instead of trying so hard to clear the mind, an easier way to meditate can be to focus all your attention on just one thing. Even this can be challenging, but it is definitely more accessible than thinking of nothing!

My favourite thing to think of and focus on is my breath. I use this a lot when leading groups in meditation and in my Serenity program and workshops.

The breath is perfect because we always have it with us. This means we can literally meditate anywhere and at any time!

When you are just starting out, I suggest that you simply close your eyes and concentrate on your breath for as long as you can manage.

You can try to elongate the inhale for the count of 4, hold it for 2 and then exhale for the count of 4. Or whatever number you like! By keeping the inhale and the exhale the same length, you are actually helping to bring the nervous systems of your body into sync and equilibrium. In doing this, you will enjoy a lovely feeling of calm start to sweep over you. This is a great technique to use during particularly stressful moments in your day and it is the first step we focus on in the Serenity program: http://emilyclifford.com/portfolio-item/serenity/

As you get more into meditation, there is so much more that you can do with your breath, but I will save that for another post.

I read (or watched) a lovely blog from one of my own meditation teachers recently where he talks about the importance of celebrating small successes rather than dwelling on failures.

It really spoke to me so I thought I would share it with you too – https://www.skillfulmind.com.au/blog/returning-to-the-breath.html

The basic premise is that, when you are meditating on the breath, you should celebrate and congratulate yourself every time you recognise that you mind has wandered. It is in these moments that you are returning to your meditation and that you are actually mastering and developing your technique!

So don’t feel bad or annoyed with yourself for losing focus, instead celebrate that you are in-tune enough to realise that you have drifted away and gently bring your focus back to your breath.

Sometimes people tell me that they just can’t sit still long enough to mediate, or that they simply don’t have the time.

I challenge both these statements!

If you don’t enjoy sitting still, you can try walking meditation! This is when you simply concentrate intently on each step that you take. Notice how your foot lands on the ground and how your body moves as you walk… take a moment to notice everything around you using all your senses. I recorded a video on this for my Serenity program where I go into a lot more detail about how to do this. You can find it here: https://youtu.be/uW-bVxzvdO0

And for those who believe they don’t have time to meditate, I suggest that you start out with the goal of simply slowing down and breathing for just ONE minute. Don’t stress yourself trying to allocate time to do it, or scheduling it into your already packed diary. Just use your breath, and grab a minute whenever you can.

It really is that simple!

There is no need to overthink how to mediate. All you have to do is breathe!

I hope this encourages you to give mediation a go! Please feel free to get in touch if you have questions or comments… I love to hear from you!

This is a quick summary of what we have covered in the first 2 weeks of our Journaling January.

It’s never too late to get started!

You can take as much or as little time as you wish with each prompt, moving through them one day at a time or much quicker if you prefer.

The purpose of the first couple of weeks of questions is to get us really thinking about our lives. What we like, what we don’t like… What we are good at, what we need to work on…

The last couple of weeks is when we get really focussed in on our hopes and dreams for the year ahead.

I understand that not everyone is into writing goals… not everyone needs or wants a goal to work towards! However what I often hear is that people really do like to have a focus, but they find it difficult to define their goals. People struggle to get clear on what they really want to achieve, or what they realistically can work towards in a specific time frame.

If you are one of these people, then this month of journaling could help you figure it all out a bit more.

Also, by writing every day for a month, you will be closer to developing a HABIT of journaling, or even just of thinking a little deeper about your life…your dreams and your goals 🙂

So here is a summary of the first 13 days of prompts:

DAY 1 – What were the 5 BEST things that happened in 2018? 

Write lots of details about the 5 best thing from 2018. How did you feel? Why have you picked these things? Relive them and ENJOY them all over again!

DAY 2 – What did you start but not finish in 2018?  Why?

Reflect back on what you started but didn’t finish and try to figure out why you didn’t make it to the end. Was it a lack of time or motivation that got in your way? Do you want to try again this year or is it better to just let it go?

DAY 3 – How is your physical health and fitness right now?

Are you happy with where you are at right now? If so, is there anything you could improve on? If you aren’t happy, how can you start making some changes? What can you start doing NOW to get closer to where you want to be? Are you willing to make some sacrifices?

DAY 4 – Write down everything you have to be grateful for.

Gratitude helps us to see the positive in our lives and not dwell on the negative. Did you know that adopting a positive outlook on life actually attracts more positivity your way? All you have to do is open your eyes and be aware of all you have around you.

DAY 5 – What do you enjoy doing for fun & relaxation?

It’s vital to know how to relax. It’s not something that is just “nice to do”. As human beings, we NEED to relax and unwind. What do YOU like to do for fun and relaxation?

DAY 6 – How are you feeling today?

It is so important to stop and pay attention to how we are feeling. Tracking your mood is a great way to notice if there are any patterns in your life that may need adjusting. Similarly, if you are feeling great, take a moment to relish in that and enjoy it!

DAY 7 – What BAD habits would you like to quit this year? Why?

A Bad habit is something you do without thinking that negatively impacts your life in some way. What do you need to STOP doing?

DAY 8 – What GOOD habits would you like to start this year?  Why?

Think about the bad habits and see if you could replace any with some good ones? Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many – focus on a couple initially and then see what you can add in.

DAY 9 – Are you happy with your work/life balance?

Whether you love or loathe what you do to earn money, it is so important that it doesn’t take over your life and prevent you from doing the fun stuff!

DAY 10 – What did you find challenging in 2018?

Life will always throw challenges our way. But with every challenge there is a lesson to learn. What lessons can you learn from last year’s challenges? How can you be better equipped to deal with these things in the future?

DAY 11 – When do you feel best about yourself?

Think about when you really feel good! What are you good at? What do people compliment you on? When do you feel like you are really in control of things?

DAY 12 – What is your morning routine?  Are you happy with it?

All the self development books talk about the importance of a good morning routine. Take a few moments to think about yours and if you are happy with it. If not, what do you want to change?

DAY 13 – Do you get enough sleep?  If not, why not?

Think about how you feel when you wake each morning. If you wake feeling exhausted each day you probably aren’t getting enough sleep… Try changing your bedtime routine. Herbal teas, meditation, relaxing bath, go to bed EARLIER!

If you want to receive a new prompt each day for the rest of the month you can either sign up to the mailing list here: http://eepurl.com/gcHzcD 

Or join my Facebook closed group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/emilyclifford/

Happy Journaling!