Category Archives: Meditation

How meditation reminded me to release the tension

As in my previous post – getting back into meditation has reminded me of two things. The first was addressing and working with the judgement of starting again. One of the types of meditation I do (and generally quite a common meditation) is simply focusing on my breath. And that’s never straightforward – I find that it takes me a while (weeks, if not months) to really get into the habit of it. And even then, it isn’t for a long period at all. But each time I refocus on my breath and start again; however, there has been something else that I noticed.

Even when I try and focus on my breathing, I might still feel tension in my shoulder or back or jaw. I’ve noticed that I actually have to focus, first, on consciously and purposely relaxing my muscles, starting with the main ones. And once I am physically relaxed (and I could always keep going with it) I then bring my attention to my breath. If I am able to do that, I find that the whole experience is more satisfying.

It reminds me that we carry a lot of tension in our body without even realising it. I could talk about the need to spend more time focusing on physical health and body posture, but for now it’s a simple reminder that tension needs to be actively addressed. We become so familiar with the tension that we don’t even recognise it until it grows into a headache or we become unwell.

Our emotional and physical states are so intimately connected. If we want to stand the best possible chance of feeling better emotionally, we need to remember to get ourselves into a physically calmer state. And if we can get into a habit of remembering to relax our shoulders, un-clench our jaw, un-furrow our eyebrows… we might notice that the emotions, too, become more relaxed. It is then that we can set our intentions – this could be focusing on the breath during a meditation, or it could be about addressing those other issues.

Don’t let the unconscious tension in your shoulders be a barrier to you meeting your needs and feeling better. When we are more aware of how we feel (physically and emotionally) we are more able to change our behaviour and bring attention to something more useful and more helpful.

Photo by Kelvin Valerio from Pexels

How Meditation Reminded Me We Can Start Again

I am a big advocate of meditation and have tried a number of apps over the years. I have settled on a couple that I use regularly, interchangeably, depending on which ‘narrator’ or theme I fancy that day or week. Sometimes I practice a Loving Kindness meditation (Metta); sometimes I find a great deal of usefulness in being guided to focus on my breath; sometimes I focus on the ticking of the large wall clock behind me.

Recently, when I have meditated I have been reminded of two things – one of which I will write about here. It is not a great epiphany, nor is it an original thought. But I have connected the dots between meditation and the idea of starting again.

One of the meditation apps includes discussions on meditation, and reiterated the idea that – if focusing on your breath – if your attention drifts to something else or you notice yourself thinking… you just bring your attention back to the breath. And, most importantly, start again with no judgement. Each time we find ourselves focusing on what to cook for dinner, or thinking about the deadline we have coming up, it is a reminder that we can simply bring our attention back to the breath. Each time we notice it, it is a chance to start again. No judgement.

This is a simple, yet overlooked mindset that we should apply to our personal lives. It is incredibly powerful to realise and remind ourselves that at any point we can start again. Or, arguably, we can simply start.

One of the common obstacles in the counselling room is the judgement that the person cannot start again with that goal they had; they can’t just change how things are; they do not allow themselves to do something differently; start again with a new project. The list is long. And I always notice – as does the person sitting opposite me – how much better things would be if it wasn’t for the judgement of starting again.

Yes – there might be practical elements to consider when starting again. And I do not minimise the struggle of doing so. What I argue for is challenging the idea that starting again is a negative thing, a sign that we have failed or that we are not good enough.

Some of the conversations that I have are about challenging the ideas and beliefs that someone might hold that prevents them from growing, moving forward, or being happy.

We create obstacles that, with a bit of prompting, we realise only we can remove. Counselling helps to challenge those beliefs and find a new way of being, and gives you permission to step into a new life – one that is free of judgement and constraint.

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash