It can be hard to avoid post-vacation blues following a summer getaway. To ease back into the swing of things and prolong the benefits of your break, now is an ideal time to take up meditation. Benjamin Blasco, co-founder of French meditation app Petit Bambou, shares seven key things to consider when taking up this ancient art, promoting mental relaxation and well-being.
1. Set aside 10 minutes a day
When getting started, it's important to set aside a small amount of time to meditate every day. Creating a 10 minute daily routine, at the office or at home, is a good start, advises Benjamin Blasco. "It's like signing a little contract with yourself," he shared. One major advantage of meditation is that it can be practiced anywhere. Don't bother trying to create a formal structure to your new activity with special clothes and gear, for example. The most important thing is to focus on yourself during this time.
2. Ask yourself why you want to meditate
Before taking the plunge, you should ask yourself why you've decided to take up meditation. If it's because all your friends are doing it or because it's a trendy topic in magazines, then don't bother. "Finding the real reason requires you to connect with yourself," explains Blasco. "You may feel that you want to start meditating because you are stressed at work, then, after digging deeper, you might realize that the real need is to be more in tune with yourself and others."
3. Don't get disheartened
Like any learning process, meditation isn't always easy to get to grips with. Thoughts and judgments can soon spring up and hinder the process. "The brain doesn't just switch off, everyone has an active mind," says Blasco. Try not to feel guilty or disheartened when faced with difficulties. Try instead to view the whole process with a kind of "pleasant curiosity." "It's the very definition of meditation," he explains.
4. Focus attention on breathing and the body
During your 10 minute sessions, focus your attention on your breathing. Follow the flow of air by taking a deep breath in, then letting the air out slowly, and be sure to mark a short pause before the next breath. "Bring your attention back to your breathing once, ten times or 1,000 times if necessary to keep your mind focused on the present," the specialist says. The next step is to become conscious, or "mindful," of the different parts of your body in contact with the floor or the chair on which you're sitting.
5. Don't set goals and don't give up
There doesn't need to be any kind of goal to meditation. It's by letting go of such pressures that the mind can truly relax. By force of repetition, you should soon come out of each session feeling calm, collected and like you've "shut down" your mind for a while.
6. Take every opportunity
Day-to-day life is the ideal arena for practicing your new art. Between sessions, every moment of the day can be lived mindfully, in full consciousness of the present moment. "This requires making choices and giving up certain habits," explains Blasco. "Whether walking, cooking, listening to your children or taking a shower, put down screens and tablets and connect fully with your environment, with yourself and with others."
7. Don't do too much research, just get started
Lots of books and articles about meditation are available these days. However, taking in too much information on meditation makes it all too easy to find yourself analyzing the process and keeping your mind "switched on." Instead, Blasco recommends taking the plunge straight away. Just jump in and get started to live and experience meditation for yourself.