As humans, we are hard-wired to be alert, but this alertness can be detrimental to our own health in an increasingly busy world. The result is that for many people, it is becoming more and more difficult to switch off.
If you are finding yourself unable to unwind, worrying incessantly or juggling negative thoughts, then you may find it useful to consider meditation as an effective tool for dealing with these problems.
In fact, research has shown that regular meditation changes your brain in a positive way, because it encourages you to focus on how you are feeling, rather than what you are thinking.
Now, I know what you’re going to say. You’re picturing meditating on a yoga mat, eyes closed, some peaceful music in the background. Maybe you’re thinking that this is some kind of spiritual proceeding, which you are most definitely not interested in!
I’m here to tell you that meditation doesn’t have to involve any of those things in order to be effective. All you need is a quiet environment and a comfy sofa (not too comfy!).
Single-focus meditations are types of meditation in which the participant focusses their attention on one single thing in order to block out the rest of the world. For instance, you could focus on your breath, an object or even a sound.
Below are listed four very useful single-focus mediation techniques which can be used to help you de-clutter and de-stress your mind. Each of these techniques can be used to achieve great results by practicing them for no more than ten minutes a day.
The Breathing Technique
This technique is probably the most widely practiced. All you need to do is focus on your breath as you breathe in and out. Don’t be alarmed if you find your mind starts to wander and you become distracted. This is normal. Instead, accept the fact that your mind has wandered and let it. When you’re ready, try and bring your attention back to your breath.
The Walking Technique
This technique is all about sensations. As you walk around, you should choose a part of your body to focus on. This could be your feet, hands, or even your nose. Try and think about the impact each movement has on the body part, what temperature it is, what it feels like.
It probably goes without saying but you should keep your eyes open for this one!
The Sound Technique
For this technique, you’re going to focus on sounds. This could be anything at all – the sound of the kettle boiling, for instance, or the birds in the garden. Once again, you may notice whilst practicing this technique that your mind will start to wonder. You should let this happen and bring your focus back to the sound when you’re ready.
The Body Scan Technique
Whilst sitting down, try and focus your mind on the physical sensations of your body, scanning from one body part to the next. Starting with your feet and working up to your head, you should slowly ponder each area, assessing the way it feels. If you don’t feel anything in some areas, that’s completely normal, and you should move on to the next area of the body. You might want to set aside ten minutes for this practice so that you can give yourself enough time to complete a full body scan.
Remember, meditation allows you to stop worrying about the past and the future and enjoy being here in the present. By focusing on how you are feeling, rather than what you are thinking, you will improve your ability to handle stress for the long term.
My Mind Won’t Shut Up: Meditation for People Who Don’t Meditate by Marion and Linda Williamson is available for pre-order now (Trigger Publishing, £7.19).