Welcome to the meditation zone! This is my (Michael’s) personal favourite zone. The reason it is my favourite is that meditation helped me become the man I am today. I was very lost for a long time, overly stressed, tired, depressed, unmotivated, lethargic and stuck in this vicious circle of wanting to change but had no idea how. I thought I needed some miracle, or medication or someone else to pull me out, but once I was shown meditation, it helped me climb out on my own and after twenty years, I can tell you, the view from climbing out of that hole was amazing!
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To begin with, here is some information you might find helpful...
Put simply, meditation is a way of telling your subconscious mind that you are safe. When you are safe your body can run all its systems to their full potential. Stress, anxiety, worry, depression, debts, unhappy relationships at home or at work etc can all trick your mind into thinking you are in immediate danger. When your mind thinks you are in danger it saves energy needed to keep you alive by slowing down other systems, like your immune system, digestive system, growth etc. This is to give you the energy to survive the life-threatening situation your mind thinks you are in.
This system fails because very few of us are actually in life-threatening situations, we are stressed, not about to die. This long term stress leads to our systems running at a reduced speed for weeks, months or even years, and this has a cumulative effect on our health. If your car starts to cough and splutter and run poorly you take it to get fixed, if you don’t it will get worse to the point that it might not be able to get fixed, or it will be very expensive. Well, your body is no different, if you don’t address the issues they won’t go away on their own.
I can happily tell you that you can fix an amazing amount of potential issues related to long term stress by simply telling your mind you are safe, and you can do this by meditating.
Meditation is simply the act of breathing slowly and steadily, whilst at the same time learning to manage your thoughts, note I said ‘manage’ your thoughts, not ‘switch off your brain’! That is a common misconception in meditation and where lots of people think they are failing because they cannot stop their thoughts. You are not trying to stop yourself from thinking, that is impossible, you are learning to control your thoughts, to see them coming and then deciding which ones you want to entertain and which you do not. This takes time and practice, just like any other new skill you want to learn, but it can have a huge effect on your health and happiness.
Think of it like this, your mind knows you cannot sit calmly and breathe slowly if you are in immediate danger, so by making yourself do it, you are telling your subconscious that you are safe, it can then start running your bodily systems at full speed again. Meaning your digestive system will be more efficient and you’ll get more out of your food. Your immune system will fight off illness better, your muscles will get more nutrients from your food and therefore you’ll get more energy, and your mind will think clearer because it is not looking for danger. Doing this every day tells your mind you are safe every day. Over time your mind will stop looking for these invisible dangers and you’ll naturally become more pre dispositioned to be calmer, happier and more rational. All this from breathing!!!
You don't have to sit cross-legged to meditate, this is a media portrayal. Any comfortable position is good to meditate, anywhere you feel comfortable doing it, you can meditate on the train, in bed, on your lunch break, in the bath...anywhere!!
The trickier part of meditation is learning to manage your thoughts. My favourite way to explain it is to imagine you are floating high above a network of rivers, all meeting in the middle and heading off in different directions. The central point where all the rivers meet is a small pond, this is your attention point where active thoughts in your mind gather, it can only hold so many thoughts and if it gets full then we cannot think straight. As you begin to meditate, visualise that the pond is empty and the idea is to keep it that way. As the water flows beneath you it carries in your thoughts on little bamboo rafts. From your vantage point above the water, you can see these thoughts coming in and heading towards the centre. From where you are you can see what the thought on the raft is and whilst it travels towards your attention pond, you have time to decide if you want to entertain that thought, choose not to. Follow the thought as it travels towards the pond at the centre, and then when it gets there let it carry on and watch it leave via another river, do not try and fight its arrival, you cannot stop the river, only go with the flow, but you can easily let the thought pass by and carry on till it is out of view. Once it has passed you can go back to enjoying the calm and peace in the pond at the centre.
Repeat this process over and over again whilst you breathe long and slow. It is difficult at first, you can often find your mind has wandered as a thought got into the central pond without you even realising, but that’s ok. Do not worry about it, as soon as you realise, give the thought a gentle push down the river and return to the empty pond. Again, repeat this each time you have found your mind has wandered and like any skill, it will get easier and with time, fewer rafts will be able to sneak in under the radar, just remember you will never be able to stop them all and that’s ok, you just keep practising.
So that is meditation in a simple form. It really can be as simple as that and the benefits you will feel with time are amazing.
To begin with, you can expect to feel a lot calmer and peaceful within a few minutes.
With prolonged practise, you will start to notice that things do not stress you out as much as they used to. As your experience grows you’ll become more generous, kind, resilient and have a more positive disposition and whilst all this is going on, your internal health and wellbeing will be growing stronger and more resilient, meaning you’ll be less prone to illness and reduce your risk of other chronic illnesses linked to long term suppression of vital bodily systems. With such amazing results from so little effort, it is amazing that it is not taught in schools! This is why we at Pure Turtle go into schools to teach meditation to as many people as possible from young to old, if you can start this habit early enough it can have a profoundly positive effect on everyone’s lives!
Here are our guided meditations which we have written and recorded for you to use at your leisure.