The Art of Doing Nothing: How Meditation Can Help Change Our Experience of Life
Updated: Aug 14, 2020
How many people when they hear the word meditation often think of the stereotypical image of someone sat cross legged on the floor, burning incense and feel slightly alienated thinking ‘this is just not my idea of self-care’? However, meditation does not have to come in this form and can be as simple as a ten-minute exercise you do daily to give yourself a sense of calm each day, ease any feelings of stress and allow you to really connect with yourself in the present moment. This may sound a bit wishy-washy for some, and make others want to run a mile. But it might be useful to shed some light on what mediation can be, and how it can be beneficial, particularly in times of stress where we may be worried about the future and find ourselves constantly in our own heads. I am a big fan of the app headspace and have found that using this ten minutes a day, to bring about a sense of calm before starting my working day, or to complete one of the many courses they have on offer if I am struggling in a certain area has been extremely beneficial and has enabled me to recognise when I may be caught up with thoughts in my head, reflecting on past experiences or worried about the future. Headspace has given me the tools to not only recognise when this is happening…but the ability to do something about it.
In the current circumstances of a global pandemic, many of us will be worried about loved ones, worried about what the future holds and when we recognise we’re worried….even begin to worry about our worry. This can feel like a non-stop cycle of negative thinking and over time really begin to bring us down.
Meditation may offer us a way of changing the way we experience life and the impact our thoughts can have on us. I came across this clip recently on Ted Talks where Andy Puddicombe – the founder of headspace and mindfulness expert talks about how we can use meditation in our lives and become more present. I really like his way of highlighting what it can be like when we are over thinking sometimes and helps the viewer visualise this using juggling balls. In his talk Andy offers a really down to earth explanation of meditation and how it can help us relieve stress and give us some perspective in our lives as well as being a preventative measure we can take against feelings of stress and anxiety.
Andy also goes on to say that research undertaken at Harvard University shows that we spend about 47% of the time lost in our own thoughts…..while at the same time this can be a direct cause of unhappiness. It can be useful then, to have the tools to help us live more in the present moment and reduce the risk of this unhappy state.
Headspace is extremely accessible and offers a wide variety of topics and courses that you can chose to help direct your meditation practice and support you with particular areas of your life. So, I wonder, when was the last time you did nothing? Taken tin minutes out of your day for you, to connect to the present moment and to reduce the amount of time you spend lost in your thoughts? Perhaps now of all times is a great time to give this a try…..and see if meditation could be the key to reducing the amount of time you spend ruminating on thoughts and worrying about uncertainties of the future.
“We can’t change everything that happens to us in life….but we can change the way that we experience it”
Puddicombe, A. (2012)
(Top Tip: Headspace is available for students in conjunction with Spotify premium for just £5 per month….allowing you access to all of its features, including a variety of meditation courses and sleep aids)
Student Wellbeing Advisor - Faculty of Arts & Humanities