Meditation for clarity and calm
You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day, unless you are too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” – Old Zen saying
An ancient practice dating back thousands of years continues to benefit many people today who turn to meditation for its healing benefits. Someone who knows first-hand the benefits of meditation from her work with people with disability, and people who have complex needs or injuries, is adaptive yoga instructor and meditation teacher Lisa Bidgood. She says meditation is one of the best things you can do each day to relieve stress and maintain a healthy mind and body.
“The benefits of meditation are well-documented and backed by scientific research,” explains Lisa. “Many of my clients use meditation as a tool to quiet and calm the mind, to slow down and connect with the body through breath. For some, it can also help with sleep and more positive mental health.”
The impact of COVID-19
When the COVID-19 lockdown cancelled all face to face yoga and meditation classes, Lisa was unsure about moving to a virtual set up. “Clients were contacting me during lockdown to say they were missing their practice, so I trialed a couple of small group sessions with 45 minutes of yoga and 15 minutes of meditation online,” she says.
“I didn’t think it would work because my classes are so hands on, but I was surprised to see that people were still enjoying the class in the comfort of home.” For Lisa’s clients using wheelchairs there was also the added benefit of reducing the travel to and from practice and directing that energy to their practice.
“I’ve been practicing meditation since 2016 when I joined Lisa’s adaptive yoga class. I’d been doing yoga since the mid-1980s but just saw the bit at the end as a relaxation, not as meditation as such. Then I was knocked off my bicycle in 2016 and suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) which gave me hemiplegia, or paralysis down the right side, so that I had to work hard to get some sort of fluid mobility.
Lisa’s guided meditation at the end of the class gives me a chance to be in the moment and focus on my body in its entirety by focusing on my breath. I use my breathing as an anchor not only in meditation but throughout the day when I need to slow down my mind. The TBI means I can be very easily overstimulated but meditation and using the breath as an anchor helps me overcome this.”
“I started meditation as part of a yoga practice five years ago. The reason was to look after my body and mind. Meditation has always interested me but I had never had anyone guide me before.
The effects were immediate. I am long term disabled and my mind needed to rest and be calm. Something I struggle with every day. On the outside no one had a clue what my mind and demons were like. Meditation helped me to find peace and rest. To be able to stop my mind and focus on being calm and peaceful mentally. Each meditation session helping to strengthen and reinforce that.
This translated into each day being more peaceful and calm within my mind. Meditation also helps me when my mind does wander to negative thoughts in being able to focus my mind back to being peaceful and calm.”
If you want to give meditation a try, Lisa has a simple and short technique which can be practiced anytime, anywhere. “This meditation is known as ‘ghatika’. It uses a counting technique and gives the busy mind a job to do,” she explains. “If you have a spare 5 minutes, practice this each morning and night, or whenever you need to find a sense of calm in your day.”
- Find a comfortable place to sit and close your eyes.
- Breathe in, pause, breathe out, count 1.
- Breathe in, pause, breathe out, count 2.
- Continue breathing and counting in this way until you reach 21.
- Open your eyes and notice how you feel.
To learn more about meditation, access these free resources on YouTube or download the apps for a free trial: