So what are the benefits of meditating? Of course there are the overall benefits such as sleeping better, calming anxiety and positive well-being, but for me meditating is a complete bubble of other worldliness.
I meditate all the time – in fact we all do believe it or not. When you brush your teeth and you’re staring into space that’s a form of meditating especially when you’re right there in the moment – that’s mindfulness. We do it all the time without even realising it. It’s not all weird chanting and incense stick-burning or find-yourself-trouser-wearing – although that’s perfectly acceptable; it can be a very natural state of being.
What’s the best time to meditate…
I really can’t answer that because it’s different for everyone. The keys to meditating are to do it regularly and to not make it a chore! I meditate almost every evening before I settle down for the night. Not only does it aid my sleep (and I am particularly rubbish at sleeping because I hate the dark); but I find the perfect way to ‘close‘ down my day. Closing your day is an important way of stopping today spilling over into tomorrow. I also like to shower in the evening – not just to be clean – but to ‘wash off‘ the day. Seeing the water going down the plughole is (for me) a very good way of getting rid of today, for a fresh start tomorrow.
Where can I meditate…
Again, there is no right or wrong place to meditate, so where you meditate is entirely up to you. I’ve already said I meditate in the evening, but what I also LOVE doing is meditating in my car. Now, I am not talking about closing my eyes and sitting in the Lotus Position you understand, that would be plain crazy and super dangerous! What I’m talking about is instead of your usual radio station or banging tunes, try something different and listen to some meditative music or ambient sounds*. These are easy to access on most music app providers. If I’m stuck in traffic in the car and I’m feeling stressed by the situation, then doing this immediately puts me in that lovely little bubble I talked about earlier. I make sure I have the windows up, so if it’s hot I put on the air con, and sit back and listen. This FEELS incredible to me. I’m there on the motorway, or stuck in traffic in my pure bubble of calm. It sets me up to take on anything!
What does the research say about meditating…
There’s much documented research, and anecdotal storied, about the positive benefits of meditating. The likes of Russell Brand attribute his daily meditation practice with his ongoing recovery from addiction.
In fact research carried out by John Hopkins University found that regular meditation apps and programmes can helped to ease psychological symptoms of depression, anxiety and pain-related stress, and support the promotion of well-being within the user.
Sarah’s meditation and mindfulness fave apps
There are a couple of apps I love to use when meditating or when my anxiety takes over; BreatheLuv by Tru Luv Inc and loona: calm, relax and sleep by loona Inc.
Both of the apps are interactive, the Breathe Luv app is free to use. It’s based on a bedroom with you asleep in the room. You can click on various items in the room, which will the provide you with a mindful activity to do; this might be regulating your breathing for example. You can literally have hours of calm and relaxing fun with it. And if your panic attacks are anything like mine, having something to my mind wandering is what I need to calm down.
The loona app does come with a price tag after the free trial period, but it also comes with activities based on how you’re feeling at the time. So if you have trouble calming down during or post panic attack there are activities for that, amongst other things. You can choose the type of voice you like to listen to and the ambient sounds you want to here too. I recently coloured in a Chinese Dragon Shrine, with the calming voice giving me instructions along the way. Once the activity is over you have the ambient sounds playing for a time to help you get to sleep, for example.
You can download them on both Apple App Store and Google Play (or your usual app store).
How does meditating help me…
With the world being in current state of flux what with the Covid pandemic and the ecological issues facing us all, external factors can have a deep impact on our lives, and meditation can act as an antidote. In my world I have been through a stressful time recently with the loss of a parent and I have found that mediating – connecting to source energy has made all the difference. My mind has been the equivalent of a tangled ball of wool, but the bubble of calm have made the most incredible difference to my woolly noggin!
Finally, I’ve put together a Spotify meditation playlist below which you might like to try; perfect to “tune in and zen out“.
* Please be aware of your surroundings and do not use guided meditation downloads etc. whilst driving or operating machinery. Only use them when you are in a non-hazardous environment.