Meditation: How To Keep Calm And Carry On
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There are lots of different ways to get through this lockdown. NCS Grad Ciara uses meditation to support her mental health during this time. Here are her top tips and techniques for perfecting your own meditation sessions...
During these unprecedented times, you might find yourself feeling slightly anxious, stressed or at an all-time low with your mental health. This is very normal, and you’re not alone. Your mental health is important and it’s useful to recognise and understand it rather than ignore it.
Whenever I’m having a mental block, I always try to take some time out of my day to sit down and meditate. Meditation is a simple method that’ll help you to remove any negative thoughts from your mind.
So what is meditation? Well, it’s a practice where you use mindfulness, or focus, to place your mind on a particular object, thought, or activity. It trains your brain in attention and awareness, and achieves a mentally clear, emotionally calm, and stable state.
It might feel tricky to get the hang of at first, but no need to worry, because the more you do it, the better and more fulfilling it will feel.
There are two different ways you can meditate. The first way is guided meditation and the second independent meditation.
Guided meditation is perfect for beginners, and uses a source such as an app or person to instruct you through the meditation session. A really good and popular app is HeadSpace. It’s a free app you can download from the app store and contains a variety of guided meditations suitable for any situation. Sessions range from having a restless mind, anxiety, confidence, sleep issues and breathing exercises. You name it, they’ve got it!
The sessions help you gradually learn how to meditate by focussing on your breathing, allowing thoughts to come and go out of your head, and building a resistance to any distractions around you. And they have the option to how long you would like to meditate for, whether it’s just five minutes, 15, or 20. You can decide depending on how you feel and how much time you have!
Independent meditation is a good choice for people who don’t have access to an app store, or who find guided meditation quite difficult. It requires a lot of focus, since you’ll only be listening to your own thoughts, and won’t have someone guiding you.
I prefer this method because you can come up with your own ways of getting through it. You can imagine yourself in a different location such as a field, a mountain, or a temple. Whenever you’re meditating - and in whichever way - it’s important to find somewhere quiet to do it. Sit upright in a chair or on the floor (try and avoid lying in bed because you might actually just fall asleep!), place your feet on the floor and the palms of your hands face down on your thighs. Slowly close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. And most importantly, have fun with it. And keep smiling.
Below is a meditation prompt I have written that you can read through a couple of times and then use for your own meditations. If you want to use it as a guided meditation, ask someone to read it out loud for you: