Poppy Cross resisted meditation years. A new convert, she now credits it with a wealth of positive effects, from helping her to run a marathon to bringing peace and grounded self-awareness

“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.” It’s hard to deny the towering wisdom of this succinct Buddhist philosophy. From experience I can attest to the fact that a person has the power to create their own reality. To that end, it’s a good idea to be careful what you wish for.

According to The World Health Organisation stress has become “the epidemic of the 21st century”. So it’s no surprise that practises like mindfulness and meditation are growing exponentially in direct correlation to soaring stress levels in an effort to counterbalance the crisis. For some time I’d been thinking about meditation and its multitude of benefits for the mind, body and soul and how it can powerfully reduce stress and anxiety. I’d remained however, firmly in the thinking zone without considering the actual becoming part. I wasn’t alone. Many of my friends had also mentioned that they too were struggling to actually find the motivation to meditate despite having heard the same plethora of positives that come through practising it. But perhaps this fence-sititng was due to the fact that we weren’t in crisis mode. Sure, we all have our moments, especially when tired but during these times the last thing we want to do is sit down and make ourselves meditate, was the way we saw it. We agreed that meditation seemed like a discipline (it is) and work (it is) that we could do without (we could but we were worse off) and we didn’t fully understand its great payoffs.

As time went on I thought about meditation more. I read articles and listened to podcasts where world thought leaders like Tim Ferris, Sam Harris and Oprah Winfrey praised meditation and its power to make themselves and others happier, healthier, more productive and less stressed. It shouldn’t just be thought of as a crisis management practise but as something that can optimise even the happiest days. I then started to attract invitations to become involved in meditation. The efficacy of the practise seemed undeniable and the universe was signalling that the time was now for me to start meditating.

A literal dictionary definition describes meditation as the “Focus of one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.” It is up to you which method you use. There is no right, wrong or better way to meditate. It is simply about what works for you. Founder of Just Breathe, Michael Wong, also emphasises that there is never a bad meditation. “Expect thoughts to come and go and know that this is natural”, he encourages. As he stresses, it is fundamental not to judge your thoughts.

 

Once I had a better understanding of what I was supposed to be doing, I began to meditate daily. For me, this means choosing a space outside in nature to sit comfortably, close my eyes, set a 20-minute timer and repeat a mantra given to me on the course. Sometimes, I want to listen to music and I love the soothing guidance of Michael’s voice on the Just Breathe app, so I do this frequently too. Each meditation always leaves me feeling more grounded and self-aware. It’s a reminder to take stock of what’s going on in your internal and external environment and ensure you are optimising your time and energy. Done regularly over time, these little assessments can lead to big outcomes.

 

This year I ran the Berlin marathon. It was my first ever 26.2 miles and I believe that my meditation practise helped me overcome the pain I felt in the second half. I was able to focus, think positively, be in the moment and just run each step at a time. If you’re waiting for “the right time” to start, do yourself a favour and take this as your formal invitation. Start today.

 

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