Meditation for People who Can’t Stop Thinking!

Meditate by Frogarythm on FlickrHave you tried meditation but just feel that you don’t really ‘get it’? Do you sit there searching for a Zen-like calm but within seconds you’re planning your shopping list or analysing the plot of last night’s telly programme?
You are not alone!
I too am challenged in the Zen department!

The Zen Challenge

Although I have a lot of experience with hypnosis I have only got into meditation very recently. In January I began practicing mindfulness with Leo Babauta’s Sea Change program, including a brief mindful meditation each morning. His Zen Habits blog also has plenty of tips and info about meditation. The Sea Change program suggests starting small; meditate for 5 minutes – or 2! But make it a daily habit. I decided to make my habit something I do upon waking up.  I’ve tried breathing, staring at a candle and chanting.
My mind still wandered a little though so then I experimented with listening to guided meditations. Leonie Dawson has a free meditation to listen to here Meditation for Healing.
Then I began going to meditation sessions at my local Buddhist centre. The centre I go to is a big house, not a temple. There is a community of about 8 Buddhists living there. They have a public classroom for meditation and a separate public cafe. The weekly classes include a talk, each one with a different theme. I’ve found it to be very relaxed and informal and it gives me plenty to mull over on the bus home.

Have you got it yet?

Finally, this week I tried using the Headspace Meditation App (a guided meditation and mindfulness app.) Take10 is their free meditation programme that gives you a taste of meditation in just 10 minutes a day for 10 days. Andy from Headspace says, “That’s less than 1% of your day, so even the busiest person can squeeze it in.” The important thing that I learned from this app was that I was trying too hard to meditate. I was sooo concentrating on getting it right and achieving something and doing it correctly – my mind wasn’t relaxed at all! So the blue sky animation really helped me to understand that even on a cloudy day – the blue sky (clear mind) is still there… “Rather than trying to create blue sky, a state of happiness and calm, it’s more a question of sort of setting up a deck chair in the back garden, just sitting back and waiting for the clouds to pass.”

Why bother?

Yes it’s something you learn slowly and progress with over time. So is it worth the effort? I stumbled upon this article Should Meditation be included in the Education of Our Youth?

“Now these students are doing light-years better. In the first year of Quiet Time, the number of suspensions fell by 45 percent. Within four years, the suspension rate was among the lowest in the city. Daily attendance rates climbed to 98 percent, well above the citywide average. Grade point averages improved markedly.”

Meditation is not a quick-fix for my whole life, it is a new habit that I’m forming. But after years of not really ‘getting it’ I think it was Andy at Headspace who finally made me understand.

“Remember that idea of the blue sky, nothing to achieve, nothing to create, it’s all about stepping back and just allowing the mind to unwind, in it’s own time and in it’s own way.” Take 10 programme, from Headspace

Trying too hard

Are you trying too hard? Do you need to let go and just ‘be’? Who’da thought that chilling out could be this difficult?! What have you discovered when you tried meditation? Let me know in the comments below.

PS. I am not an affiliate of Headspace. I just like it!

Thanks to Frogarythm on Flickr for the meditation image.

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5 Inspirational Books for the Journey from Lover to Mother

Listography – My Life in Books


Different books may have accompanied you on this journey through life, sometimes just turning up with the right words at the right time. If you reminisce about the books that have made a difference to your life it can sometimes make you see how much you’ve changed over the years.

Today I’m joining in with Kate’s Listography and it was so hard to just pick five books!

1. Wuthering Heights

My passionate and dramatic teenage self was introduced to Heathcliffe and Cathy during one fateful English Literature class. It reassured me that romance should always be crazy and desperate, wild and destructive. I loved it it too much.

“I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they’ve gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.”

2.Women Who Love Too Much

A self-help book for women who think that romance should always be crazy and desperate, wild and destructive. I read this in my twenties and began to understand why so many of my relationships had made me unhappy!

3. The Prophet

If I was only allowed to own one book ever, this would be the one. It’s like a guidebook for life; and poetry for the soul. It makes everything alright and answers some of life’s big questions.

“When love beckons to you follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep.”

This book made Kahlil Gibran the third bestselling poet in the world after William Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu.

4.What Mothers Do: especially when it looks like nothing

When I gave birth to my first baby my entire perception of life as we know it completely collapsed and realigned itself into something different. There were a million guidebooks to this strange new territory and author Gina Ford wrestled in my mind with Sheila Kitzinger, Tracy Hogg and Janet Balaskas. Thank goodness for Naomi Stadlen whose sensible book reassured me that I myself was the best childcare guru for my own child. I think this book began to bring me back out of the depths of postnatal depression. It gave me confidence and reassurance.

5.Ramlin Rose: The Boatwoman’s Story

However, you need more than confidence and reassurance to bring up children on a narrowboat. Sheila Stewart’s fictional biography of Rose Ramlin is based on the stories of many real life narrowboat wives. It is a joyous story of struggle and triumph and a unique insight into a part of English culture that no longer exists. It inspired me, entertained me and reminded me what I loved about living on a narrowboat.

So what books defined you so far? If you’d like to take up the Listography challenge write your post with your 5 Books of your Life on your own site and then head to Kate Takes 5 blog to link up.

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