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Free your mind!

Health Psychology

Written by:
Birgitte Nymann ( www.nymanns.dk)
Forfatter, foredragsholder og kursusunderviser indenfor træning, sundhed, ernæring og motivation. Koncept – og kursusudvikler ved Pro Academy. Idrætsuddannet fra Københavns universitet.

Those are the words of Sanna Ehdin, immunologist and writer of The Self-Healing Human, among other books. If you need a break in your daily life, or to get new energy or focus on yourself only, meditation can give your mind peace and space to fill up your energy and be present. To many people, meditation is a very alternative thing and only for people with inclination for Flower Power. But the fact is that more and more people use meditation in their daily lives as a break to get in touch with their bodies and feelings, to handle stress, to be present in the moment and boost their energy.

Just as you shower to keep your body clean, you can meditate to keep your mind clear and attentive. Regular meditation can be very beneficial to your body and mind and has many stimulating effects. It counteracts stress, disease and depression. Half an hour of meditation is said to reduce your stress level just as efficiently as half an hour of fast walking or jogging.

  • Meditation is focusing your attention inwards, towards the roots of your being.
  • Meditation is to be quiet. Instead of letting your consciousness wander restlessly from thought to thought, you let it focus on one single subject.

What is meditation?

By meditating, you get in touch with an inner space, a neutral place to be or a refuge. By getting in touch with this inner space, you increase your possibility of not losing yourself in details, it gets easier to prioritise what is important. By meditating, you practise being attentive which can help you pay more attention to your actual needs, among other things. Meditation makes it possible to achieve an "inner tranquillity" that may also be called "peace of mind". You can achieve a greater self-insight, for instance a greater consciousness about decision-making. Have you ever thought about whether you control your thoughts and feelings - or whether you are controlled by your thoughts and feelings?

Many people are scared at the many thoughts that start crowding in on them when they start meditating. The point is that all those thousands of disturbing thoughts have been there all along, but we do not pay attention to them in our busy and stressful everyday lives. We do not notice them until we sit down to meditate.

The many thoughts are often about worries, anxiety, doubt, sense of guilt, misunderstandings, hatred, anger, jealousy, poverty, pity and thousands of other sad subjects. At best, the thoughts disturb our peace of mind. At worst, they may negatively influence our health.

The essence of meditation is to learn to do nothing! A normal human being uses 10 % of his or her brain capacity while the rest is unused in the unconscious. The problem is that those 10 % have a tendency of creating a mess in your body and your life. A meditating person practises not interfering, but letting his or her mind rule on its own, and in general, your mind will tell you what is best for you. To many people that sounds very odd but once you have tried it, it does make sense.

How do you meditate?

If you seriously want to learn how to meditate, you will need to attend a course. There are lots of different courses at night schools, fitness centres and special yoga and meditation centres. You can also learn something from reading books on the subject. But - if your knowledge about the subject is so limited that you have to ask, you can do fine with less effort as a start. So here is a tiny crash course of meditation for beginners:

  • Find a place as quiet as possible.
  • Find a place where you are not disturbed by telephones ringing.
  • Find a place where you are not disturbed by others "dropping by".
  • Place yourself in a comfortable position, sitting or lying.
  • Close your eyes, shut your mind to external impressions and focus your attention on your breath.
  • Breathe in through your nose and blow out through your nose or your mouth.
  • Let a wave of relaxation flow through your body for each exhalation.
  • Count down from 10 and let each number and exhalation take you deeper into yourself and make you more and more relaxed.
  • Let thoughts, pictures, ideas and feelings flow unnoticed. It is difficult at first but remember: practice makes perfect.

There are many different forms of meditation. Here are a couple of easy ways:

Breath meditation: Breathe in gently while slowly counting 1.. 2.. 3.. 4. Hold your breath without exerting yourself while slowly counting 1.. 2.. 3.. 4. Exhale gently while slowly counting 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.

Zen meditation: Keep your eyes a little open, focusing on a candle, a flower or another "comfortable" object in front of you.

Meditative walking: Walk in super slow motion while focusing on your walk.

When you walk in a relaxed state of meditation you are no longer limited by time and space - it compares with what most people have experienced: "being lost in one's own thoughts". You shut your mind to all sounds and lights, just being inside yourself. With a little practice, you can produce this state of mind whenever you want to and your thoughts can focus on what is important to you.

Meditation is a discipline and like with all other disciplines, its outcome improves as you practise it regularly and in a state of concentration.

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