As someone who has been into yoga and meditation for a few years now, I should perhaps know more than most how important it is to approach both as you would any other practice – with discipline. So after a couple of months of letting them slide (especially the meditation part), I shouldn’t be surprised that I am a little bit uncomfortable in my body, and feeling slightly…tetchy.
Cornwall in the Summer
Is exhausting. August in Cornwall is an empathy drainer, capable of turning the most helpful and polite of us into short-tempered, people-hating automatons. Or maybe it’s just me.
I always begin the summer season full of promises to myself that I will enjoy the energy that the tourists bring, greeting people with a smile, and answering their silly questions with grace and patience. This lasts approximately 4.5 seconds, before pre-yoga Rachel takes over and ruins everything.
Here is a secret I must share with you. Yoga teachers are not always calm, blissful angels who levitate through life with a knowing smile and permanently contracted glutes. They feel irritation and impatience like everyone else, pushing the rage down into that small corner that causes stomach ulcers. They may just be better at letting it go before if does any serious damage.
But I struggle to maintain a decent level of equanimity in August, perhaps because I am VERY BUSY and don’t make enough time to practice yoga, see my friends, run or surf as much as I would like. I am far too busy dealing out withering comments to tourists and booking in far too much work, blindly panicking that I will have to live off of August’s earnings until next year. Winter is coming! There is no work! Etcetc. This is a very pre-yoga Rachel attitude, and it makes me feel guilty, because usually, yoga helps me to not be such a twat.
What is also not ideal is my default to a passive aggressive, sarcastic answer when someone asks me why the car park is so expensive, why there is no cash machine at the beach, why the weather is bad, or why we don’t sell bread in the surf school. They are stupid questions, yes, but a big part of yoga is self-reflection, so I think it’s about time I try and work out how to temper that flare of August rage.
Meditation, not irritation!
To this end, I have set myself a GOAL. This goal is to meditate every morning, before I zombie-stagger out of bed to inhale coffee. Just for two minutes, to start off with, aiming to make it longer as I get into a routine. I find that when I mediate I am much calmer for the rest of the day, and the sarky, gobby Rachel stays in her box. Who knows, I might even be more pleasant to strangers! I recently attended a guided mediation, hosted by the AMAZING and gorgeous and generally very lovely Joey from Horizon Inspired (seriously, if you can, check her out – she’s brilliant), and I left feeling excellent.
Five Good things that meditation does
- Meditation, when practised regularly, prompts the pituitary gland to secrete endorphins, giving you that same feeling of well-being that exercise does.
- It reduces stress. Meditation nudges our nervous system into its parasympathetic state, or ‘rest and digest’. Our body starts to heal, and allows our mind to stop worrying about the small things.
- Improves sleep, and makes falling asleep easier. Ever lay in bed for hours, getting more irritated because you JUST CAN’T FALL ASLEEP BUT YOU’RE REALLY TIRED SO IT SHOULD BE REALLY EASY? Yeah, me too. Instead of doing that thing, which is horrible, take some time to concentrate on your breathing, slow down that silly brain, and you might just find you fall asleep without realising.
- Lowers blood pressure. Next time you feel a bit brain-fidgety, lie down on the floor, take some deep breaths, close your eyes, and focus only on your breath for a few minutes. Every time your mind starts to start a fight with you, just gently ignore it, and come back to the concentration on breathing. Feel that blood pressure slow right down.
- Helps focus. As I mentioned before, mediation is a discipline, and setting aside some time every day to practice it sets you in good stead for other disciplines. Studies on meditation suggest that it can sharpen mental focus and improve cognitive performance. Monks have known this for ages, we are only just starting to catch up.
But I am rubbish at meditation! How do i possibly do it?
Watch this guy below, he explains it much better than I ever could.
Meditation really is something we can all do, if we just give ourselves those few minutes of space and quiet. We are already equipped with the tools to calm ourselves down, and sometimes we just need a little reminder of how to do it. I know this, but stuff just gets in the way sometimes, so I am going to try these apps, Headspace and Buddhify to see if they help me stick to a routine.
Do feel free to comment if you know of any other good ones you’ve tried, or if you’ve had any luck with meditation!