How to reset and strengthen our minds in this fast-paced world.
Words Rachel Grunwell. Illustration Janelle Barone, Makers MGMT
We live on a stressful and sped-up planet. Everything is getting faster and more efficient.
But going faster isn’t always better. It can lead to burn-out. So, it’s important to be mindful to prioritise time to feel calmer and have more clarity.
There is power in pausing and doing meditation. We can then re-set and strengthen.
When I teach yoga and meditation, I share with students that meditation is like music. You know those pause moments in a song? They can be as powerful as the lyrics. Those pause moments help us to appreciate the loud, powerful notes too and beauty of the piece. If all the notes were loud, the piece wouldn’t have the same impact. Those pauses can also be like a piece of art. The softer, finer strokes in a painting are as beautiful as the darker more intense shades.
Meditation slows us down, so we can speed up. It can help cast aside the mind clutter.
Bob Roth’s new book on transcendental meditation is Strength in Stillness. It’s an apt title. He raves that this style of meditation boosts your wellbeing. He says it improves focus, sleep, resilience, memory, cognitive functioning and cardiovascular health. He prescribes 20 minutes twice daily.
The book has lots of celebrity endorsements. This includes Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Jackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ellen DeGeneres and Stella McCartney.
Paltrow states in the book that this meditation technique is something she has come “to rely on”.
Winfrey states “I am one thousand per cent better when I do it”.
Roth explains in the book that meditation affects our brain waves. It allows us to be more present and centred during stressful experiences. We have more “restful alertness” during meditation. It also makes us smarter, happier and more relaxed.
“It’s powerful for reducing stress,” Roth writes. He adds that the technique can be effortless and is also non-religious.
Roth says you can learn transcendental meditation in a few sittings. He gives people a mantra unique to them which is “a vehicle for transcending”.
When I run health retreats at the Polynesian Spa, lots of clients ask, “how do I start meditating?”
I teach them to start with two minutes daily, which is easy for any busy individual. There’s true power in meditating even for two minutes. You can build on this time if you wish.
I tell my clients to find a space where you feel comfortable – it could be outside or inside. If it’s outside, you might like to observe the clouds and their colour and their movement in the sky. Next, notice the swaying of the tree branches and listen to bird song and notice the warmth of the sun on your skin. While doing this, breathe slow and deep belly breaths. These moments of stillness can help you feel more present. It’s an antidote to stress.
I now know how to use this technique and use it often. I even feel like my running is moving meditation a lot now. It’s so uplifting.
It’s normal for your mind to wander when you first start meditation by the way. Roth calls it the “gotta-gotta-gotta mind”.
He writes we often have a hyperactive mind that’s always thinking “I gotta do this. I gotta do that. I gotta call him. I gotta call her. I gotta make a list. Then I gotta slow down. I gotta get going. I gotta get to sleep. I gotta get up.” Sound familiar?
I felt this way when I started too. I was the worst fidget. Everything was a distraction: Non-stop thoughts, sounds and I felt self-conscious. But I have learned how to enjoy these pause moments. They give me a powerful re-set.
Rachel is a writer, PT, yoga and mindfulness teacher.