The word meditation can conjure up visions of elderly gurus sitting cross-legged and for many people it does link in to their spiritual and religious lives. However, it is no longer restricted to those realms and is now commonly used by people to keep a sense of peace and calm in their lives.
Many people who meditate regularly also maintain that it helps them to become more focused on tasks and improves their relationships with others.
There are many different types of meditation but we will detail just one which is perhaps the simplest and most widely used. It is called 'Mindfulness' and focuses on breathing.
Choose a quiet place without distractions. The time of the day must obviously suit your activities, but if you meditate early in the day, then it will set you up for whatever lies ahead.
Meditation stools and cushions are available commercially, but an ordinary upright chair is fine. If you do use a chair, you might find that it helps to tilt it forward a little by putting something under the back legs. Alternatively, you could sit on the sort of wedge shaped cushion commonly available for office chairs.
We will assume that you are sitting on a chair. Try not to slouch. It is preferable to have your back straight but not rigid. Uncross your legs and have your feet flat and firmly on the floor. Sit a little forward so that your back does not touch the chair. Allow your hands to rest on your lap so that they are supported.
When you are sitting comfortably just close your eyes, feel a general sense of relaxation and take a couple of slow deep breaths.
Then allow your mind to be aware of your breathing. Breathe in and out through your nose if possible or in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Any time that your mind wanders away and you become aware that this has happened, just bring it back to awareness of your breathing. Do this in a relaxed way This is not an exercise in concentration.
If thoughts crop up then just accept them and move your mind back to your breathing.
The normal length of a meditation session is between 10 and 20 minutes though it can be longer if you wish. One or two sessions each day can make a big difference to how you feel and perform.
If you find this difficult to practise on your own, joining a meditation group could help.
Meditation is also an important aspect of some kinds of yoga, so you might like to practise both exercise and meditation by joining a yoga group.