The older I get the more responsibilities I have and it all seems to be with a lot less time to fit them in. Naturally, it can all be a little overwhelming and there are moments where I just want to roll up into a ball and hide under my bed sheets.
As a performer as well I have found that I seem to be falling victim to stage fright a lot more and there have been moments where my “Mean Girl” has taken over and tried to convince me to step away from the stage because there is no way the audience will enjoy my performance.
It was only a recent show where this really took over and I started to feel physically sick and a massive wave of self-doubt hit me and boy did my body hate it. I felt as though I was drowning and my chest was heavy and breathing was becoming a chore. Luckily, I have supportive friends and family so I got through with their cheering and also… with the help of meditation.
I’ve never been someone to meditate. I thought it was a waste of time and nothing beneficial would come out of sitting still and staring into a void. It makes sense to do it though. You exercise to keep your body in top physical form and you meditate to exercise your mind into feeling relaxed, clear and inspired. You don’t need to sit for hours on end in front of a Zen garden and chant until you’ve lost all feeling in your extremities. Just a few minutes is all you need to practice some self love.
At first it is hard so don’t beat yourself up about it. If you’re anything like me you have thoughts, ideas and even conversations with yourself going on all the time. After some time though you will feel comfortable with thinking nothing and embracing how peaceful you become.
Here are some tips to think about… and then not think about…
How you are sitting:
You don’t want to spend the whole time wriggling and fidgeting so make sure you sit on a chair or cross-legged on the floor with your spine upright. Keep your body well balanced and your mind will follow its lead.
Keep your eyes open:
I know it sounds weird however, if you have your eyes open this will in turn make you more present. As soon as you start to close your eyes your mind will drift and start creating problems that don’t exist and stories that you don’t want to hear. You may find it the complete opposite though so try both and see what suits you best.
Keep your focus:
Focus on your breath. It will keep you connected to your body and what’s going on inside and less likely to be distracted from the outside surroundings. Keep your breath natural, there is no need to choreograph it into a strict stream.
I found this part the hardest. I cannot focus on my breath without having my mind wander. A trick a friend of mine taught me was to silently count on your exhale, “one”, then “two”, “three” and “four.” If you notice your mind wandering go back to “one”. In this exercise, “One” acts as the grounding number bringing you back to concentrating on the relationship between your inner and outer body.
Keep an eye on your emotions:
It’s difficult to sleep when you are struggling with strong emotions and the same goes with meditation. Be aware of your emotions and acknowledge that they are there and bring your attention to how those emotions are affecting your body. In my case, the feeling of extreme nerves and anxiety causes my stomach to feel as though it’s on fire. Accept that your stomach is currently in turmoil but don’t feed the fire with more anxious thoughts. Bring your attention to your stomach and continue focusing on your breath.
Keep it quiet:
Try and meditate in a spot that is as close to silence as you can. When it is dead silent you and your mind start building a strong bond and you will begin to feel steady and calm. If silence isn’t for you, try playing some soft music or the sound of rain and thunder which is a personal favourite of mine.
Keep it short and simple:
You only need 10 minutes when first starting out and then as you become more comfortable you can extend that to a half an hour super session. You may only need 5 minutes. There are no restrictions or a specific amount of time that you need to meditate. As soon as you feel you have regathered your tattered thoughts and have centered yourself, stop and adopt that feeling throughout your whole day. You’ll be surprised how your calm demeanour can sometimes calm those around you. Sometimes…
Pick a place that suits you:
The more private the better. Try and escape to an area that is special to you or simply has no one around. This is your time so make it your space.
Love the experience:
The world today is hectic, stressful and surrounded by people. Enjoy the time that you set aside for meditation. This is alone time that is sacred to you. Love the experience of nourishing your mind and be thankful for bringing peace into your life and potentially those around you.
You can multitask when it comes to mediation though. How, you may ask? Whack on a super nourishing face mask and chill out, although it may be best to do that at home.