This evening I delivered a mindfulness session to 34 very warm child care professionals. I had no idea that so many of them would come along, I was delighted but also a little apprehensive about how they would all be comfortable in one room on the hottest day this decade!
Well it turns out they were all amazing and very keen to have a go. They settled down in their own space and enjoyed a session of meditation. To most it was something completely new and they certainly had challenging conditions for their first go. Crossed legs on the floor and an amazingly warm day.
It got me thinking about how important getting your surroundings right is for meditation. Comfort and the right approach helps you to focus and concentrate to the full. Get it wrong and you can simply make the whole experience less enjoyable and less beneficial. That said, I would never let a lack of perfect surroundings put me off, so try to be flexible!
Here are my top 5 tips…
1) How to sit. You want your spine straight but relaxed. Achieving this will mean different things for everyone. My hamstrings are too tight for me to sit cross legged comfortably for any period of time. A failsafe is to sit on a dining-type chair. Try popping a cushion in the small of your back for support, see if it is comfortable, you really don’t want your back to be straining. Make sure you push your bottom right to the back of your chair as this will encourage a straight back. Don’t let yourself slump as this will inhibit your breathing.
2) What to wear. Well don’t let the fact that you are in your work clothes be an excuse for not meditating! They will be fine! When I am at home I like to wear something comfortable though. Stretchy running leggings with a not to tight waist band are my best option. Again you want to make sure you can breathe freely.
3) Temperature. Usually my top tip here would be to have a blanket to put round your shoulders to keep you cozy whilst you meditate. Your body temperature does drop as you sit still. However, as I sit here boiling in barely any clothes it reminds me that at times you need to avoid being too hot! Cotton is great for keeping you cool. A fan might help in the heat too.
4) In peace. Your room does not need to be absolutely silent, if there is some noise outside the building that you are in don’t let it put you off. Peace and quiet is nice but not essential. If a bee buzzes into your space whilst you are meditating treat it as a reminder to be mindful. Every time your mind wanders to the bee notice and then bring your attention back to your exercise.
5) Without interruption. If you can meditate at a time and in a place where you will not be interrupted that is ideal. It will allow you to relax fully, you won’t spend your time worrying about someone coming in. Again though don’t be put off by that risk. Sometimes I sit for a quick meditation if I am waiting for Martyn or Noah to arrive home. It is still well worth doing. Just don’t get frustrated when you are interrupted, be kind to yourself and kind to the person interrupting you. This will make you feel good. If you get wound up and snap you will probably feel worse than if you hadn’t bothered. Make a kind welcome your challenge to any interruption!
So if you are starting out keep in mind the best conditions possible and have a go in good circumstances as often as you can. As you get used to meditating you will find that you can have a go anywhere, the doctors waiting room, your coffee break at work, whilst driving, there will be no limits. Even when you feel adaptable with it you will still appreciate the difference the right surroundings make.
Come on a Revitalise Day and you will have the opportunity to meditate in a beautiful calming environment. The whole day is one of peace and tranquility and it really will get you in the mood for great meditation. The day retreats are suitable for everyone, whether you have meditated for years or whether you are new to it all. Come along and give it a go.