When we meditate there are two fundamental and key elements at play. Firstly, the body relaxing and secondly, the mind settling, or calming.
When your body relaxes, your mind follows. Next time you relax your body, notice what happens to the thoughts in your head. When your body is relaxed, whether through movement, a sensory experience or by activating the relaxation response, your mind begins to calm down. This is a good example of the mind/body connection at play. When your body is tight and tense (often in response to stress in your life) your mind tends to be busy and unsettled. When you go for a walk in nature, to the beach to watch the sunset, or have a relaxing spa treatment, the effect of being attuned to your senses has a relaxation effect on your body. This stimulation of your sensory experience has a flow-on effect to the mind…. There are fewer thoughts…. And the thoughts you do have don’t have are more in the background.
Activating a relaxation response through breathing:
One simple way to activate the relaxation response, that you can do anywhere, anytime, is by extending your out-breath. There are many variations on ways to practice this using the breath.
The simplest breath practice is to tune in to your breath and simply make your exhale longer than your inhale. Some people find using a count to be helpful. For example, breathing in for a count of 3 and out for a count of 4.
Activating a relaxation response through PMR:
Another way to activate the relaxation response is through Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) where you contract and release various muscle groups in the body. This works to reduce muscle tension and can be particularly helpful for people who have built up muscle tension associated with stress.
In our 5 week Introduction to Meditation course we practice and experience the activation of the relaxation response in week one as a first step to meditating. We explore and practice a variety of ways to do this and participants find one practice they enjoy, and can easily do, to take into their week.
The aim of our Meditation Course is for you to learn to meditate on your own, anywhere, anytime. Over the 5 weeks we cover:
Week 1 - What is Meditation? Dispelling the myths.
Week 2 - How it works. Thoughts aren't the enemy.
Week 3 - What happens when we meditate? The process & useful attitudes to apply.
Week 4 - Thoughts & different ways we can meditate.
Week 5 - Integrating meditation into our busy lives.