Funny how you don’t think about something much and then it seems to be everywhere. A colleague of mine at the college where I lecture suggested to me to start meditating in the New Year. I thought about it for a bit and then went back to eating my lunch. On the train home later I opened up a magazine and my eyes were immediately drawn to an article on meditation, by the time I got home I had seen the word meditation also in my freebie newspaper. Sometimes it just feels like the universe is trying to tell you something.
That evening I decided to give it a go, so I sat down quietly in my bedroom, closed my eyes to see what would happen. I started to think about my day and then I stopped myself. I started to think about the next day and I had to stop myself. I started to think about all sorts of things and time and again I had to stop myself. This was starting to feel a bit tricky. Then I remembered my self-hypnosis, a technique that my husband and I learnt when I was pregnant. You allow your mind to find a safe place (for me it’s a beach in Kephalonia), then you imagine yourself there, taking in all your senses and you start to relax and drift, there is a bit more to it then that but that’s the jist of it. The self hypnosis worked so well for me that I experienced two amazing natural births, with my mother administrating Homeopathy.
Back to the mediation, so, I started to concentrate on my body and my senses to try and reduce the pressure of thinking, to release the tension. I have tried meditation for a couple of weeks and I do feel a bit different, it is not hippy nonsense, it definitely feels real. To back up what the yogis have known for centuries there is growing scientific research that meditation has many health benefits. It can help with pain relief, reduce blood pressure, boost immunity and even slow down the ageing process. It is also a practical tool for dealing with stress, anxiety and depression.
In 2004 a form of meditation called ‘mindfulness’ was recommended as a treatment for recurrent depression by the National institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Mindfulness uses a combination of meditation, breathing and yoga techniques helping people to focus on the present moment and de-stress their thought process. American research has shown that people who meditate for 20 minutes a day had a higher pain threshold after just four days. And scans have proved that regularly meditating can shift activity from the pessimistic right side of our brain, which is associated with fear, anxiety and depression to the optimistic left side which is responsible for positive emotions. So I think this might just be one New Year’s resolution that I stick with.