While working as a psychologist in a federal institution, I got sick and had to take time off. Being away from work and staying at home was traumatic. I lost structure to my day and soon started having sleepless nights.  

One day after waking up at noon time, I realized that I had to take control of my situation. I decided to follow the advice I gave my clients. I started meditating but found it challenging to stay still.

  For most of us, meditating means sitting in a quiet place, eyes closed and listening to some soothing music. In an ideal world, this may be possible. But, where each day is full of activities, we can’t find the “extra” time for meditation. 

  Still, you persist as you know that meditation brings a state of relaxation that makes you feel calm, with minimal intrusive thoughts. This state of mental calm occurs when you are wholly focused on the present moment, for example, on your breathing. 

  Such mindfulness, therefore, helps with meditation. 

  Mindfulness means being in the present moment and accepting all your thoughts as they are, without judgement.

 During your search, you have found varied information on ways to meditate. Trying to find the “correct” way makes your task more difficult. Here, I’ll mention the various ways to meditate:

. Concentration meditation concentrates on your breathing; needed when you feel overwhelmed and unable to think clearly. 

. Mindfulness meditation is concentrating only on the present moment. 

. Other forms include mindfulness breathing meditation, body scan breathing meditation, walking meditation.

To make it easier to meditate, you can practice relaxation and progressive muscle relaxation.

  Relaxation means concentrating on breathing in and breathing out while letting go of tension at the same time. As you allow your hands to relax, you let go, making the pressure-flow out from the fingertips. With practice, you can feel a tingling sensation in the fingers and tension merely flowing out of the body.

  Progressive muscle relaxation is tensing and relaxing each muscle in succession.

There is hope for all, as it’s impossible to have a “beginner” in a relaxation or meditation class. Its because we already have our tried and tested ways of staying calm. We know what actions we have to take for relaxation purposes.

   However, we may find that at times that our coping skills may not be enough to deal with the stressors life may throw at us. Therefore, we are looking for ways to enhance our coping skills. All of us have healthy and not-so-healthy ways of relaxing. For some, smoking helps them get ready for the day. 

   I usually listen to a hymn when I get into a mental fog. I find I will “doze off” for a few minutes and feel refreshed and rejuvenated upon waking up. In this instance, I am practicing mindfulness as I am concentrating on my chosen tune.

Handy tips:

  Meditation is a learned skill. It’s an active process where the individual is engaged in acquiring a new skill. Therefore, meditation can be said to be a conditioned or learned response. 

  It means that you learn to relax to a previously neutral stimulus. Meditation can also get better with each attempt. By taking small, measured steps such as setting a timer when beginning a meditation session, it will help keep you motivated. So, a few minutes of practicing meditation will eventually gradually increase to five minutes, and so forth.

For those on the go, ‘action yoga’ gives you the same benefits of meditation and tension reduction, as regular yoga. In action yoga, you do activities you enjoy without the expectations of any overt rewards. For instance, I can relax and get rid of mental fog while cleaning my house. Some people relax while they cook after a hectic day at work. When you’re involved in every day and pleasure-giving activities, your behavior acts as a mood elevator, as per cognitive behavior therapy.

   Having a repertoire of such activities, maybe the answer to doing “meditation on the go.”


My article was published in the Times and Telegraph newspaper.