By Luke McLeod
Meditation is like chicken soup for the soul.
One of Australia’s most popular thought leaders in mindfulness, Luke McLeod has been practicing meditation for more than 16 years.
Having trained in a variety of different meditation techniques including, Vedic, Kundalini, Zen, Vipassana, and Mindfulness, Luke aims to make meditation more relatable, accessible, and enjoyable in today’s modern world.
With a Monash University study launched to track the mental health effects of the coronavirus crisis already showing a rise in anxiety and depression in Australians, meditation could be a much needed crutch.
Surveying 1,200 Aussies about how they were coping during the pandemic, preliminary results showed the majority of participants registered mild levels of anxiety and depression while about 30% had moderate to high levels.
On that note, Luke aims to teach meditation and mindfulness to others, leading by example to show how the practice can be an effective companion to living a fulfilling life.
Far from “woo woo” and backed up by science, meditation is gaining in popularity due to people like Luke and celebrities such as Katy Perry, Paul McCartney, and Oprah Winfrey who also regularly meditate.
1. Beginners Mind
In Zen Buddhism Shoshin translates to ‘beginners mind’ and refers to the philosophy of approaching a subject as a beginner would.
Approaching meditation with a beginner’s mind refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions. This is helpful as it removes expectations of what should be happening, namely a state of deep concentration boarding on enlightenment, and may allow you to accept your here and now.
By letting go of attachments and judgements you may cultivate a mind that is free of the past and unattached to the future.
2. Get comfortable
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to meditation. Lying down, seated in a chair or cross legged on the floor are all acceptable positions to be in whilst meditating.
The most important thing is that you are comfortable. Be conscious of keeping a straight spine and proud chest as this leads to better posture which lends itself to easy and deep breathing.
3. Get Regular
Regularity is key when it comes to experiencing the positive effects of mediation.
The said effects include, “depression, chronic pain, and anxiety” according to Harvard Health, where, “well-designed, well-run studies have shown benefits for patients engaging in a mindfulness meditation program, with effects similar to other existing treatments.”
Consider setting aside time each day, even twice per day, to meditate. First thing in the morning and before bed are popular options as it allows the mind space to just be.
4. Keep it short and sweet
Contrary to popular belief you don’t need to sit for hours to cultivate an effective meditation practice. Consider keeping your sessions short and sweet. Anywhere from 5- 15 minutes is perfect especially if you are just starting out.
5. Embrace distractions
There are and will always be, distractions in life. Whilst a ticking clock or vibrating phone may be easy to put away or turn off, consider leaving these distractions and simply sitting with them.
By sitting with distractions and pulling your concentration back to your practice every time it wanders, you are strengthening the mind. Like a muscle, the more you work it the stronger it gets and the mind is no different.
Luke is the founder of Soul Alive, Australia’s first live streamed meditation service that aims to help introduce meditation in a convenient and relatable manner.
The service currently offers live guided classes throughout the week. The structure is designed to make it easier for people to stick-with meditation all from the comfort of your own home.