Meditation, an invitation
Some are fully present in each and every moment, others have just started practicing mindfulness and are already hooked. And then there are those who don’t know that meditation is in the cards for them. In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, finding your center has become essential! In your bed, in the bus, or between two meetings, you can bring together the ingredients you need for a perfect meditation retreat: a pinch of pure freedom blended with a dash of mindfulness.
Sure, everybody’s talking about it, but how does it work exactly?
Let’s just say that it works! But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves…
We would like to preface this by mentioning that even though more and more people are meditating and talking about its benefits, but it’s not just a fad. It’s not just another trend that will disappear after one season. And the reason for that is simple: so many people are reaping the benefits of meditation that they’re convincing their friends to try it too. Through word-of-mouth, meditation is becoming a household habit, and the multitude of books, videos, classes, and apps that we see popping up everywhere is just making it easier to get on board. So, there you go, we’re jumping on the bandwagon that will actually do us some good!
There are different types of meditation, but the most common (and easiest for beginners) is to practice mindfulness. Basically, by focusing on the present moment, you can free yourself from the (often toxic) thoughts that constantly inundate our mind, without us really realizing it’s happening. So what’s the point? To find serenity and harmony. “Meditation is a deep, inner path towards self-awareness,” explains Violaine Verlet, meditation and yoga teacher for more than 15 years. In existence for thousands of years, mindfulness meditation originated in Buddhists traditions. In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn, an American biologist, created a stress reduction program that was relevant to the times and separated meditation from its Buddhist roots. Since then, a number of other specialists have followed in his footsteps.
5 things you should know about meditation
1/ It’s not about trying to think about nothing; it’s about choosing what to think about
While we meditate, our brain is far from being in a resting state. It’s not about relaxing – and even less about falling asleep – but moving towards awakening to the “here” and the “now”. We take deliberate action on our thoughts in order to stop harping on about the past or worrying about the future. Your mind will focus on what you have decided and will stay there as long as you like. As soon as the before and after stop interfering, we can enjoy the present moment and let go. Finally!
2/ Awaken your senses
No matter which method you use to focus your attention on the present moment, it will evoke your senses. For example, during a body scan meditation (focusing on each part of the body, one after another), we feel touch through the contact between the ground and our body. Touch is also in action in breathing meditation during which we focus on the air going in and out of our lungs. Hearing and smell come into play during sessions that include sounds and scents, such as a gong, a singing bowl, or incense. And sight? It’s used when we stare at a fixed point or a candle’s flame. Let’s not forget about taste! Once we’ve been practicing mindfulness regularly, we also tend to eat our meals mindfully.
3/ It’s a truly personalized experience
You have to be settled to meditate. That doesn’t mean you have to be tucked comfortably into bed. Feel free to choose the moment, place and position that works best for you. Some are able to meditate in the metro with headphones on, while others feel the need to be alone in a separate room. And while the majority of those who meditate do so with their eyes closed, some prefer to keep their eyes semi-closed or to stare at a fixed object or point. Sitting on the floor in the lotus position, in an armchair, kneeling, or on a chair in the kitchen…wherever you feel comfortable enough to stay for a while, is perfect! A mantra, mudras or Sankalpa ** can also be adapted to your needs.
4/ Observe without judgement
In our achievement-based society we have to remember that mediation is not about attaining a goal at all costs. The only thing that counts is the intention to live in harmony with oneself and the universe around us. Therefore, it’s so important to objectively observe what’s happening, without adding any judgement. Are you overcome with emotion? Did you forget to count your breaths because you were thinking about tomorrow’s meeting? No regrets, no shame: take notice and being again peacefully. “What makes meditation (and yoga) so special is that everything is possible. We strive for something without saying ‘I must…’ While we meditate, if a thought comes up, we acknowledge it and let it go, just like a train,” explains Violaine.
5/ Frequent meditation is better than longer meditation
Don’t wait until you clear out an hour in your schedule to start meditating. You’ll never get started because you’ll never find the time! Those who mediate concentrate on meditating regularly instead of concentrating on meditating for long periods at one time. If too much time goes by between two sessions, you’ll lose the benefits and new habits you created during the previous session. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, it’s worth it, and it’s also much easier to squeeze into a packed schedule. This is what Violaine has to say to those who are still hesitant: “Every morning, breathe deeply into your belly and put your hands on it. For 10 breaths, be one with each breath and listen as you breath in, and then breathe out. After you’ve done this relaxing exercise for a few days and have been in the present moment, you will definitely want to take it further.”
Backed by research
This paragraph is for you if you only believe in what has been proven. Since the early 2000s, researches have conducted a number of studies in the US, France and around the world, to prove the physiological advantages of meditation. They use MRIs to observe what happens in the brain when people meditate compared to those who don’t. This is how neuroscientists have been able to pinpoint a clear link between the psychological and physical experiences.
Studies*** on stress have shown that those who meditated reported much lower levels of stress compared to those (with comparable lifestyles) who didn’t mediate.
Meditation’s list of benefits continues to grow…
Some of the benefits include an easier time handling stress along with the different psychological and physical symptoms it brings with it, better sleep, better pain management for long-term illnesses, a calmed mind, increased emotional control, and the list goes on.
So, now that meditation is available to anyone, with the simple constraint of making time to do it, why not give it a try and be on your way to a happier you?
Løv in Mind : the drink that pairs perfectly with your meditation sessions
Inspired by the world of meditation and mindfulness, we came up with a new, original and healthy blend: Løv in Mind. This organic and sugar-free herbal tea brings together 101 flavors that come to light, one by one! Lemon, spiced notes of turmeric and ginger, dragon fruit (a tropical fruit that comes from a cactus), moringa, and a final kick with a pinch of chili pepper! The mix of ingredients is sure to awaken your spirit and your senses!
This blend will be along for the ride during your quest for balance and fulfillment in your meditation sessions.
To help you get started, we recommend giving the Mind App a try, an app exclusively dedicated to meditation. This simple and fun app strives to make meditation more accessible and understandable for everyone. Download it (for free) and let yourself be guided by the expert advice. You can use it anywhere: on the metro, while you’re walking, and even at work. You’ll see soon enough that this app is a great way to get meditating!
** Mantras are words or phrases that can be repeated out loud or in your head. Mudras are symbolic gestures, most often made with the hands, but can be done with other parts of the body such as the tongue. Sankalpas are a positive intention or will that fills our body and mind or that is repeated before a session.
*** See the University of Cambridge study published in 2017 in The Lancet Public Health, the Georgetown University study published in 2017 in Psychiatry Research, as well as the Harvard University findings published in 2015, just to name a few.