Breathe In… Breathe Out…
If you read my previous piece on Witch Influencers and New Wellness Trends, then you know my thoughts on how essential it is to take time out for yourself and switch off from the social media age, in which we live.
In this week’s feature, I’m aiming to build on this notion of self-preservation and reflection. So I sat down with Matt Boyles from Fitter Confident You, to discuss the importance and benefits of meditation. If you’ve ever been curious about whether meditation is or isn’t for you? Then read on and I’m pretty sure we can convince you to give it a go. We promise you won’t regret it!
What is meditation?
Meditation is one of those things, that although I kind of understood the basic concept of what it was. I never really understood it. Essentially every time someone mentioned meditation to me, I just imagined myself cross-legged with my eyes closed humming. So I wasn’t really inspired to do it. Mainly because I thought it was a waste of time.
What Matt from Fitter Confident You explained to me though, is that meditation essentially is just the act of obtaining a moment of peace in your head. There’s no right or wrong way to do it and people achieve this moment of peace, in a way unique to them.
Being in 2019, he stressed that our lives are getting more and more hectic with every passing year and by taking 5 to 10 minutes a day to meditate, everything just seemed to be on a more even keel. This sense of stability would aid a sense of calm and wellbeing.
He started meditating about 18 months ago and he hasn’t looked back. Opting to stay away from apps like Headspace, he started noticing an overall sense of calm after the first week.
What are the benefits?
Apart from the sense of calm and wellbeing in ourselves, meditation does seem to lead to a whole range of other physical and emotional benefits. Physically it helps to maintain testosterone levels, by keeping our cortisol (stress hormone) level at bay and aids us in achieving a more regular sleeping pattern.
Apart from the physical manifestations/benefits of meditation, there is a whole range of emotional benefits to consider. As we said it helps regulate our cortisol levels and what this does is reduce the amount of stress and anxiety, that we experience on a day to day basis. It helps you concentrate and as such achieve what you want to, day by day, gaining perspective on situations where you would just normally react. All of which results in you being kinder not only to those around you but also yourself. Not beating yourself up over a deadline, that really could wait till tomorrow or worry about that email you sent rashly. You gain a sense of clarity in these situations and this results in an overall calmness in yourself.
As we said before, there really isn’t a right or wrong way to meditate. It is just the experience of achieving a moment of peace within your day and it’s entirely up to you how you do this. Matt did outline a few of the methods he uses though and so we’ll run through these now.
One of the ways in which Matt meditates, it by doing breathing exercises. This is basically the act of focusing on your breath and how the intake and exhaling of oxygen make your body feel.
A good way of doing this is counting the inhalation and exhalation of your breath. Roughly counting 5 seconds on the inhalation and 7 seconds on the exhalation. Focusing just on how your body feels and moves with the pressure of each breathe. Noticing any tension or aches/pains but not focusing on them, just letting them be and letting your body relax.
Eyes open, eyes closed it really doesn’t matter here. Tailor these exercises to yourself, in how you find it easiest to focus. If you’re a visual person, then close your eyes to aid the focus but by no means is it a requirement. These exercises are all about just noticing how your body feels and are an excellent starting point for meditation.
Another technique Matt incorporates into his daily life is guided meditation. Essentially this form of meditation, involves a soothing voice guiding you through various breathing and thought exercises. Kind of like a gym class for meditation.
So again similar to the breathing exercises we discussed before, there is a heavy focus on how your body is feeling but most guided meditation also employs some kind of thought exercise. A common example is letting your mind wander. To let it do what it wants and move your body how it wants but then to bring your focus back to your breathing. This type of exercise helps emphasise the importance of focus and being able to let go of outside thoughts. To just bring our attention back to our bodies and what they are telling us.
How long should I be meditating?
Similarly to the technique, there is no right or wrong answer here. It’s all about finding the right balance for yourself, in order to gain this moment of peace and clarity. As a starting point, Matt would recommend spending 5 to 10 minutes in the morning each day. Just taking some time out and seeing what works best for you. I recommend setting a timer too, as during my first couple sessions I did start to nod off. It definitely relaxed me for sure!
So what to take away from this? The general message is just to try and make time in your day for yourself. To just step back from the world and focus on your body, how it’s feeling and just gain some clarity for the coming day. Remember there’s no right or wrong way to do this but it’s important that we do.
If you’d be interested in seeing more of Matt and the amazing work he does with Fitter Confident You, then make sure to check out his socials linked below. We’ve also done a short audio clip to give you a little introduction into a guided meditation. Let us know how you find it and it would be great to hear, what works for you in finding that moment of peace in your day. Matt assures me, that my previous method of eating cake is probably not the best way of doing this.