The art of meditation, have you mastered it yet?

Magazine articles, apps, documentaries, wellness books, basically everywhere you turn nowadays people are talking about the benefits of meditation.

So I ask are you meditating?

The chances are you fall into one of 3 categories; those who are nailing meditation, those who are thinking yeah sure but it doesn’t sound like my thing and those who have tried it and just cannot make it work. If you are in the last two categories, and let’s face it most of us are, stay with me I am about to change your perspective.

I am a sceptical person, so before believing that I wanted to go down a meditation route in my life I did ALL of the reading, and then I read some more. I tried several different methods of meditation and they just weren’t working for me. I did what any self-respecting sceptic does, I read some more and I found out why it wasn’t working and then I figured out a way to make it work and now I can share this with you. You can calm your monkey mind without meditating.

Meditation has grown in popularity around the globe in recent years but is there any real science behind its effectiveness?

Over the past two decades there have been numerous scientific studies around the effects of meditation but let’s look first at brain in general. For hundreds of years the brain was commonly understood as a non-renewable organ we now know, due to studies; Karl Lashley and his work with rhesus monkeys in the 1920’s, Justo Gonzalo and his work in the 1940’s that looked at inverted perception disorder and brain plasticity, we know that the brain is not a fixed organ.  Marian Diamond produced the first scientific evidence of anatomical brain plasticity in her published works in 1964. We know that neuroplasticity is a real and it has huge implications not only in physiological benefits such as cochlear implants but this also means that we can transfer this knowledge to psychological aspects of the brain. This is demonstrated in multiple studies into neuro linguistic programming (NLP), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or the multiple papers written by Eleanor Maguire on hippocampal formation.

Many studies have investigated meditation for different conditions;

  • For Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • For Ulcerative Colitis
  • For High Blood Pressure
  • For Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia
  • For Smoking Cessation

I suffer with chronic mental illness. I know it is not on trend to say suffer with but it is in fact the truth. It makes my life harder, every day. I also manage chronic illness and a disability. Many people with long term health conditions and disability are more prone to depression and anxiety. They may also face some very practical issues that hinder traditional meditation methods. For instance I have both PoTS and Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome. Both of these conditions cause irregularities in my breathing and heart rhythm, a little bit of a hindrance when you are focussing on breath and heart rate to meditate

That is only one issue that the traditional methods of meditation throw up for me. I am also neurodivergent, that is a whole other ball game to navigate.

Meditation & mindfulness can cause harm in some people.

Meditation practice is not about stopping your thoughts, it is about finding peace with them, recognising what is happening in your brain and not judging. This is can be a huge problem for the vast majority of people as quiet time alone with your thoughts can be hugely damaging if your thoughts are very negative. So many of us have trauma in our past of varying degrees and being alone with those thoughts can send a person into a downwards spiral. It takes an incredibly well trained mind to not descend into despair at times. By offering your mind a conscious focus you are better able to find clarity and deal with those thoughts that are swimming around aimlessly and offer them direction.

Doodling, (a form of fidgeting), actually helps to focus the mind. How many times as a child you were told to stop fidgeting and concentrate? In fact people who doodle have far better memory retention. Continuous thought or concentration actually puts your brain under strain. Guess what meditation can cause strain. What if I could tell you that you can harness the power of the doodle and creative activity to aide your mental well-being.

Before I developed this method of creative meditation the only thing that I had at my disposal to help calm me was a walk alone in nature. That was all well and good but in reality when the children are in bed and it is late at night and anxiety hits I could hardly go out and take a walk. After speaking with people and reading articles about those who struggle I knew I needed to make this into a course that others could follow and out it out into the world.

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