Happy belated Valentine’s Day! At this time of year, we often use Valentine’s as a chance to reflect on the important relationships in our life, romantic or otherwise. But sometimes, we can forget to think about the most important relationship of all – the one we have with ourselves! One of our Positive Peers and meditation aficionado has written this blog post with exactly that in mind and shares here the benefits of meditation for general wellbeing and as a gateway to self-care and self-love!
I initially perceived meditation as an abstract concept and associated it with peaceful monks amidst the Himalayas and those 50 times the level of “zen” I would ever be. However, to my surprise it’s more practical and accessible than I first imagined.
I first encountered meditation when I participated in a 5-week Mindfulness course that investigated whether it can influence your interactions with patients and service users in clinical practice. It encouraged me to incorporate formal and informal mediation practices into my daily routine and although I was initially apprehensive, the benefits became apparent quite quickly and eventually I started looking forward to the time I took out of my day to meditate.
I found that by being less engrossed by the running commentary that existed within my head, I was able to do the things I was supposed to be doing more efficiently. It also enabled me to be a little less critical towards myself as I was less reactive to the thoughts that created doubt and worry and hence more able to face stressful or intimidating situations and just deal with them. This changed the way I responded to my own actions and enabled me to be less judgmental, improving relationships I had with myself and others.
So how can you give it a go? What you should know is that when doing any activity whether that’s eating, washing your hands or running, by being more attentive towards the processes and sensations associated with it you are in fact meditating and the more you practice doing so, the easier it becomes. Be aware that you are not going to become a pro meditator straight away, it is a slow burner and it does take a while to reap the benefits but it’s worth it when you get there!
There are also a lot of resources out there that can introduce you to meditation. Some that I found useful were these free audio clips: http://franticworld.com/free-meditations-from-mindfulness/- taken from an 8 week Mindfulness course pioneered at Oxford which fyi you can actually find in book form at some KCL libraries. I also thoroughly enjoyed using the app Headspace, this lets you try out a basic 10 day introduction to meditation for FREE and what’s great is that you can do it anywhere and choose the duration which can range from 3-10 minutes. There is also great accompanying animations that make it a bit more relative. The founder of the app discusses his experiences of meditations in this TED talk here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzR62JJCMBQ-.
There are also lots of Mindfulness books out there, some of them are discussed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwtg6kN83i4 and Just Breathe London, London’s first Mindfulness initiative which aims to make meditation more accessible to everyone, runs frequent events that discuss its basic concepts . More info can be found here: http://www.justbreatheproject.com/ .
So take a little time out of your day and give it ago, there’s no harm in trying and it may help you foster a bit more self-love.
This post was written by a Positive Peer. The Positive Peers are health students who support other health students through wellbeing initiatives. Find out more about them here!