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Be inspired to be still

Just being

Enjoying some peace and quiet

One of my favourite pictures in our Inside Out “Yoga on your holidays” competition (see our Facebook page “insideoutdruyoga” for more details) was this photo of 3 ladies sat meditating on a rock in the Yorkshire Dales. I love it not just because it is aesthetically pleasing, but because, for me, it encapsulates the very essence of yoga and meditation. It doesn’t matter where you are, it’s not about waiting for the right time and it’s not about having the latest gear. It’s about just being in the now, enjoying the moment.

A search on the web for pictures of meditators will throw up many images of people with blissful expressions, in serene spa like environments, generally in the beautiful (if largely unattainable!) lotus position. This is all lovely and inspiring, but it really doesn’t have to be like this for you to benefit. The best meditations are often those that are spontaneous, when it just feels right to sit and be still, no attachment to how you are sitting (although a good position can certainly help), where you are or how you think you should practice.

Let me break down those points.

Anyone who has tried meditation, will know that for every minute of true meditation, ie. that blissful feeling when everything slots into place, there are hours of fidgeting, mind chatter and discomfort. If you’re not giving off those blissful vibes when you meditate or sit quietly, please don’t let it put you off. Keep going and each time you sit, I promise it will get easier. There will still be internal and external distractions, but you never go quite back to where you started. Remember it’s practice not perfection and even if you sit and it’s wall to wall chatter and fidgeting, just keeping up with the habit of being still will have a massive impact on you. Every now and then, though, you do get those moments of freedom, and they are enough to keep us going, to keep us practicing, to keep us coming back to stillness.

Of course, in an ideal world it would be wonderful to be able to meditate in an environment totally dedicated to our peace, harmony and well being. That is rarely the reality though, and waiting for the perfect time or place to meditate really is just your ego trying to stop you being still. I often think that the best place to be still is out in nature, like the ladies in our photo. Take time to be still, focus on all your senses and be inspired by your environment. Remember true meditation can happen anywhere, regardless of what external distractions there are.

There are reasons why we sit cross legged for meditation, which I shall explore in a later blog, but you can sit, stand or lie down, wherever and however you feel comfortable, especially if you are just starting a meditation practice. You’re much more likely to experience stillness if you are not having to think about the pain in your ankles, knees, hips or back – take it from one who learned the hard way! It’s much more about attitude.

So, next time you feel inspired, just take a few moments to be still. No need to spend time getting into a perfect posture or waiting until you feel suitably chilled out, just do it and focus on all your senses. How does your body feel against the earth or whatever you are resting against? What can you hear? How does this place smell? What can you taste? Then allow your breath to take you deeper into that still place.

There really is no mystery to meditation. It’s just about being still and practicing. Ix

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