How to find calm in a busy world – Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy

Meditation is often put forward as a cure all. There are many studies that claim it can do many things for us, it can lower our blood pressure, it can reduce stress, it can boost our immunity, it can improve our memory, it can make us more serene and easier to live with and yet there are many people, many people who don’t meditate, even though it is free and can bring us huge benefits, bother physical and mental.

A line of human skeletons revealed under X-rays. Meditation is said to many great things for the human body

But the truth is that many of us rather resist the idea of being still in our body and mind. We like to keep busy, rush here and there, with our mind full of thoughts. Often for many people, slowing down, tuning in, reconnecting with their bodies and mind can seem a little scary. But as life gets busier and busier, we need to find balance, by adding stillness to our life, and it can be done easily.

Meditation is not just for hippies, it’s not just new age. Business people, politicians, athletes and normal everyday people like you and me, these are the people who meditate. It need not be a religious or spiritual practice either unless you want it to be. It is simply a technique to calm the mind and find greater clarity.

hippie girl playing guitar. Mediation is not just new-age

Many people feel they don’t have the time, but these very people can give the time to train for a marathon, or give the same amount of time on the phone every day, just chatting. The key is not how long you meditate, but how regularly. Starting by putting five minutes a day aside. That’s the hardest part, just deciding I will put so much time aside. Find a time and a place that works for you.

Pedestrians at rush hour. People think they have no free time to mediate

Many people like to meditate soon after waking up or try it as they make their way to work. Meditation is not about emptying the mind, it is about quieting the mind, it is about observing our thoughts, emotions and sensations without judgement, it is about becoming more aware and gaining perspective.

man looking out over a cityscape, sometimes you need to find the right way to meditate for you

When we first start it can be incredibly challenging, our thoughts go on and on in all directions and it might be very frustrating. But if we stay with it the more we practice the more our mind is quietened. There is no right or wrong way to meditate, you can get help or get guidance, there are various aps that will often do free meditations. But don’t overcomplicate matters, don’t overthink matters, don’t overthink matters, just know that if you are taking the time out to meditate, you are already doing it right.

There are many techniques out there, some might suit you, some might not, but for now try this. Set a timer for five minutes, sit comfortably in a quiet place, close your eyes. Scan your body for any area of tension and feel a release.  Turn your attention to the breath, feel the gentle ebb and flow as you inhale and exhale. When your mind starts to wander which it inevitably will, gently note where it has gone and bring your attention back to your breath. Your breath is your anchor. If the mind wanders a thousand times, continue to bring it back to the anchor, the breath. Observe your breath as it moves in and out of the body, watch the breath as you would watch the river flow. In and out, in and out.  No matter how many times your mind wanders, just notice where it is gone and gently bring the mind back to the breath.  When you have finished, take a moment to slowly return to the natural breathing rhythm and open your eyes. Repeat that daily. It is really that simple. So now maybe it is time to put aside those five minutes and see what happens.

Sr Stan Kennedy is presenting a course which is an introduction to Mindfulness and Meditation at the Sanctuary this September. You can find out more information about the course, and book it, here.

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