The ultimate aim of this practice is to meditate twice a day, as this is the best way to systematically reduce the stress, tension and fatigue that bogs us down and stops us being at our best more of the time. We all know what it’s like to be on form – relaxed, productive, energised. The only thing keeping us from accessing that state is the stress that we’ve not managed to process through sleep and other relaxation activities.
Meditating twice a day can seem daunting at first and one thing is for sure – the only way we're going to be able to do it is by being prepared to sit down whenever and wherever we are when there’s 20 minutes to spare and close our eyes. What we don't want are any dependencies on certain surroundings or timings that will limit our opportunities.
The best places to meditate
While a perfectly quiet room with soft cushions, candles and gentle music might sound ideal, you quickly learn that it’s the technique that allows us to access that peace and comfort on the inside. Where we happen to be in the outside world is irrelevant. The only pre-requisites for somewhere to meditate are:
You can sit comfortably with your back supported. Meditation is a mental technique and there’s nothing to be gained by sitting cross legged with your back straight grinning and bearing it like a martyr. By all means sit in your favourite chair at home, but don’t be afraid to try the bus or train, a park bench, the passenger seat of a car, an empty meeting room at work etc
You can close your eyes and not expect to be interrupted. While we don’t need silence, we do want somewhere away from our usual demands. Ideally it will be somewhere away from colleagues or family members who might be tempted to ask you something. In public places, people will generally leave you alone if you have your eyes closed, and if you want to draw less attention you can wear sunglasses or pull a hat down over your eyes
But what about the noise?
You might think that it would be almost impossible to reach a state of deep relaxation in a busy public place, but what meditation teaches you is to move your awareness away from your senses and instead gently focus it inwards. Instead of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell, we bring our attention to a meditation anchor such as a mantra or the breath.
I remember my surprise the first time I successfully meditated in a busy train station with all the hustle and bustle around. For the first few minutes I was hyper self-conscious that people would be pointing and staring at the strange man with his eyes closed but when I turned my attention to my mantra I was soon away and barely noticed the next fifteen minutes pass, emerging 20 minutes later refreshed in time to catch my train.