Meditation isn’t all zen-like hippy shit. It’s actually very useful for your mind, mental health and focus. It’s something everyone should have a go at once or twice. I started looking into meditation for probably the same reason you did, it became fashionable and I thought ‘what the hell is this? Do I have to sit crossed legged up a mountain or something?!’. After a friend recommended me to the Headspace app, I used it a few times, felt good and then got bored. I think I worked through all ten recommended sessions but I didn't do them back to back like you're supposed to. Taking ten minutes out of my day was just too much - yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds but that was my thinking. And this is precisely the reason why you should meditate. This year I’ve been using the Calm app to give me guided meditation sessions and it’s made a big difference to my mind.

Relaxing sea

But firstly, what is meditation?

Wikipedia states that meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realise some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.

This is quite interesting as I’ve never actually looked up the definition before. For me I’d say meditation is a state of calm and relaxing which trains your mind to focus on the present moment. It can help your mind become more positive and focussed as you train to recognise when stress and negativity are trying to take over. It makes you turn off from the past and not worry about the future, it encourages you to be in the present moment and live in it, enjoy it.

How does it help?

Taking five or ten minutes of meditation each morning before going to work helps focus my mind on the tasks I have to do that day. Before I started meditating I’d have a million and one things running through my head and would very easily get distracted. Now, I can zone out from all of those thoughts and focus on one thing at a time. If a thought crops up about something I should do, I simply write it on a post-it to think about later. 

It’s also really enjoyable to do. A few times I’ve lit some incense, turned my lights onto blue and sat there silently for a while concentrating on my breathing. I’ve made my own little zen world (okay, maybe this is turning it more into the hippy-shit I mentioned it not being earlier). Thoughts come and go but my focus is on sitting still and enjoying the moment. When my life is pretty much rushing around from one thing to another, this chills me out and gives me time and space to zone out. 

Whatever big or small reason you have for trying out meditation for the first time is, just give it a go. if you’re eating healthily and going to the gym then you’re training your body. Why not take some time and train your mind too? One thing to remember whenever you meditate is that some days will be better than others. There’s some mornings when I sit there thinking about how I can’t concentrate and how I’m not turning off all the thoughts buzzing around my brain. This is fine too. Accept that this isn’t the best meditation session you’ve ever had and be okay with that. After all, at least you took the time out and that’s still better for you than nothing. 

Calm photo