Meditation is an age-old practice that has been around for thousands of years in numerous cultures. In more recent times, its popularity has skyrocketed, becoming one of the fastest-growing wellness trends in Australia and worldwide.
The word meditation comes from the Latin term meditatio, which means ‘to ponder’, ‘to think’ or ‘to contemplate’. Meditation is about cultivating a stronger connection between our mind, body and spirit. Its focus lies in recognising how our thoughts and emotions can influence our behaviours, and to simply observe them.
In Buddhism, meditation is pursued on the path to awakening, enlightenment and Nirvana. Today, people practice meditation for its numerous mental health benefits including reducing anxiety, stress, and depression, and it has even been found to have healing and physical health benefits.
If you’re finding it hard to focus during meditation, here are simple tips that can help you find and enjoy your inner zen.
Take it easy and simply breathe
Meditation can be challenging for beginners. Often, your first few sessions are difficult to sit through. You might find yourself feeling uncomfortable as you sit and wait for the minutes to go by, or you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by your thoughts and emotions.
Start by simply becoming aware of your breathing—take a slow, deep breath in, hold it then exhale slowly. Deep breathing exercises are the foundation of mindfulness and meditation and should be your starting point as a beginner. Every time you find yourself being taken away by your thoughts, simply bring your focus back to your breathing. Over time, you’ll find that it’ll become easier to observe your thoughts and let them pass as you build your awareness muscle.
Join a group or club
Meditation is usually thought of as a solo activity, but it doesn’t have to be. A great way to enjoy meditation is to join a meditation group or club, or attend a wellness retreat. Group meditations allow you to enjoy the activity while also connecting with fellow beginners, like-minded individuals and experts who can guide you.
Drinking matcha green tea has long been integrated into meditation practice thanks to its calming and soothing effects on the mind and body. Japanese Zen Buddhist monks drank matcha as an aid for long periods of meditation, to not only sustain their energy levels but to keep their minds clear and focused.
The combination of caffeine and L-theanine in matcha causes a slow, sustained release of caffeine into the body, resulting in a calm state of alertness and alpha wave production in the brain—think of it as 'zenergy'. Drink matcha a few minutes before your session to help you get into the zone.
Use guided meditation apps
Sticking to a daily routine of meditation can be challenging. If you live in a busy city or have a demanding schedule, it can feel like you can never find a moment of peace and stillness.
Thankfully, there are now plenty of meditation apps available to help you start on your meditation journey, or to help you achieve better and more effective sessions, while also tracking your sessions. Apps like Breethe, Smiling Mind, and Calm offer hundreds of guided meditations, soothing binaural beats for sleep, anxiety and stressful life situations, and all kinds of meditative techniques, including hypnotherapy, visualisations and nature sounds, to suit your individual needs.