May 21st marks World Meditation Day for 2019, so we wanted to share our take on meditation here at 3b and hopefully inspire you to give it a try if you haven’t before, or perhaps help you build on your practice if you’re already a devotee. While there are various definitions of meditation, they all share the one core aspect – that it’s an approach to training or transforming the mind; but what does this mean and why might we need to do this?
One of the biggest misconceptions about meditation is that it is about emptying the mind and being clear of all thoughts. In fact, the opposite is true! When we meditate we stop doing and we place our busy lives on hold. And so, as we press that pause button and calm the noise and movement and chatter of the outside world, our attention is drawn inward; often resulting in lots more noise and chatter, this time coming from within us.
“One’s brain is constantly chattering, constantly planning, designing; what it will do, what it has done, the past impinging itself on the present. It is everlasting chattering, chattering, chattering.” (Jiddu Krishnamurti.)
And this is what can be so challenging about meditation. Basically it’s about sitting with yourself and just being. Allowing those thoughts to come into your mind and not trying desperately to suppress them or change them, simply noticing them. However, this process does not necessarily fit with our programming. We are, after all measured by what we do, and what others see of us – focusing on our achievements and how we present ourselves to the world. Doing is how we are used to being. So when we stop doing, this is when it can become tricky. Apart from the fact that we are not really used to being still, the inner chatter is hard to calm, and yet it also connects us to our truth, presenting us with stuff that we might have pushed down or don’t want to think about and this can be uncomfortable. And this is actually ok. Our natural instinct is to resist a feeling of discomfort, and so it feels strange to allow it and to welcome it in. Yet when we do this and simply accept that it is there, we begin the process of freeing ourselves from it and start to view it as just a thought or a feeling and not as something that defines or embodies us.
Notice what you notice
So what do we do? The good news is that meditation is not a call to action. The idea is that we welcome those thoughts and we allow them to come into our mind and then we simply let them go. We remove the need to take action and most importantly, we are not there to pass judgement. In mindfulness meditation we come back instead to noticing what’s happening within our body and our breath and when the mind wanders again – because it will, we return once more to our breath and so on. And the more we practice this, the easier it becomes. In fact, the more we practice the more we start to experience the benefits. Studies show that after just eight weeks of even a short daily meditation practice, changes happen within the brain such as, increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and in certain areas of the brain that relate to emotion regulation. Plus it can decrease the brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress.
At 3b our work is focused on wellness and supporting people with their mental well-being. Meditation is just one of the range of tools and techniques we use in our workshops and sessions with organisations and individuals, and often we find that even participants who come along feeling a little sceptical, usually leave convinced. Because even just taking a few minutes to pause and to notice and to breathe can have an instant impact on calming the mind. “When your mind rests, the world also rests.” (Haemin Sunim.) When we practice meditation we reclaim time back for ourselves – something so many of us feel is a luxury and that we need to work hard for first and deserve. Again, the opposite is true. Taking time for ourselves is a necessity because this is how we get to know ourselves better and understand what we need. By practising this as a type of self-care, we become more resourceful and more able to respond to what’s happening around us and to attend to the needs of others.
So, why not join us and allow the 3bs to guide you…
Be – just being still with yourself and noticing. No action, no judgement.
Believe – opening yourself up to new possibilities or to rediscover what’s deep within you. Believing in the process of meditation and the benefits it can bring.
Breathe – practising mindful breathing and enabling yourself to breathe more fully.
If you’re short of time, or not too sure – try our mini-meditation to help you get started.
If you’re ready for a longer pause – find a comfortable spot and let us take you on a journey with our guided meditation.