The world many of us live in today is often a hectic roundabout of work and play. Long hours at the office and a busy social life can all too easily combine to increase your stress levels and throw your mind off balance.
Our tech-driven lifestyles force our brains to digest endless amounts of information; overloading them thanks to smartphones, tablets, and social media. We rarely switch off which in turn floods our nervous system with stress-induced chemicals.
Getting the balance right isn’t always easy but spending time relaxing can help the stresses and strains of everyday life ebb away. Using relaxation techniques, like meditation, can get your body and mind back on track and help your nervous system to find harmony once more.
The benefits of meditation are vast as it is proven to improve your emotional wellbeing and overall health.
Associated health benefits of meditation include:
Kris McIntyre, who runs the yoga retreats at Peppers Salt Resort & Spa at Kingscliff, says when she asks her attendees why they are joining the retreat the overwhelming response is “to feel less stressed”.
“At the end of a Yoga weekend, attendees definitely feel a lot more calm and relaxed than when they arrived,” she says. “For those who land on a technique that resonates they immediately experience a quieter mind, a sense of calm and profound feeling of relaxation. For those who haven’t yet found their style, they can feel distracted, frustrated and that they ‘don’t get it’. That’s why I encourage them to hang in there and keep exploring.”
According to The Australian Teachers of Meditation Association, meditation is ‘in its broadest and most universal definition, a discipline that involves turning the mind and attention inward and focusing on a single thought, image, object or feeling’.
If you’re used to multitasking and juggling competing diary appointments that might seem an almost impossible task. Focusing on a single thought is tricky but there are techniques to help you achieve the impossible.
Retreat to a place where you can shut off from the outside world and be free from disturbances. Meditation is particularly popular with short term retreats or holidaymakers that can avoid disruptions of everyday life.
If you choose to sit then make sure you have a straight back, pelvis forward and shoulders relaxed. Zen meditation, commonly practised by Buddhists, uses poses including the full-lotus and half-lotus.
Closing your eyes allows you to shut out the world and concentrate on clearing your mind. As a beginner to meditation you can choose to have your eyes open or closed.
Clear your mind and think about your breath as you breathe in and out. Do not think about anything else apart from your breathing.
Visualise a place that is a peaceful place in your mind. Picture somewhere that may remind you of a happy location in your life or think of an idyllic place or indulgence in your mind. You should think about the smells, sounds, and feelings of that place.
If your mind wanders then continue to concentrate on your breathing. You should feel calm and your mind clear.
Once almost the exclusive preserve of monks, meditation has gone mainstream in the last decade. The popularity of meditation has been growing steadily as more and more people, wanting to find more balance in their lives, see the benefits to their mind and body.
At her Kingscliff yoga retreat, Kris McIntyre has seen a rise in popularity of meditation as it becomes more mainstream and more accessible to people.
“It’s also due to the rise in popularity of Yoga. Although most people approach Yoga through the physical poses (asanas) initially, over time they become interested in the philosophy and the ultimate goal of Yoga practice: to be physically able to sit in meditation.”
Taking a break from a hectic lifestyle and considering your mindfulness, is a healthy approach to life.
Mindfulness is the concept of improving your mental well-being by considering your own thoughts and feelings, and thinking about the world around you.
To be mindful you become more aware of the present moment by noticing the sights, smells, sounds and tastes that you experience.
If you want to improve your mental well-being then the perfect remedy is to start your meditation journey while you are holidaying. Turning your holiday into a retreat is the ideal way to practise meditation and shut out all of life’s disruptions.
Heidi Horne, who runs weekend yoga retreats at Peppers Guest House, Hunter Valley, says their guests feel much more relaxed calm, and content after a meditation session.
“Meditation is training for the mind, like exercise is training for the body. So it sometimes takes exploring a few styles to find out what works the best for you,” she says.
Pepper’s weekend yoga retreats cover a variety of different types of meditation that are guided and easy to follow so perfect for beginners.
So if you feel like your emotional wellbeing needs to find some harmony then retreat away and find some time to begin your journey of exploring relaxation techniques and meditation.