Meditation: It’s not about having any particular experience; the practice is about opening to whatever presents itself. — Joseph Goldstein

A lot of people have significant preconceived notions about meditation: what it is, what it represents and how the experience should be. This can be one of the greatest barriers for people beginning their meditation journey.

Meditation is a gradual journey and can be taken from many different roads. Beginners may feel as though they ought to master it first go, which is far from reality. Meditation is a practice — an ongoing, ever-changing experience. That said, the first time you try meditating it can be very eye-opening as to just how busy our minds are!

One of the simplest and yet most profound and life-changing aspects of meditation is the ability to simply check in. How do I feel now, right now, in this very moment, in my body, emotionally and in my mind? I have had times in my life where my relationship with myself has been that of a familiar stranger. I lived with myself everyday and yet I had no connection with my body, my emotional well-being — living at the whim of my mind.

Meditation teaches us to ask ourselves: How am I breathing? What is the nature of my breath?

Meditation can take many forms: walking on the beach; gardening; candle-gazing; practising Hail Mary prayers; Sufi dancing; guided Yoga Nidra and visualisation techniques; practicing Qi Gong; repeating mantras; and embarking on pilgrimages are just a few examples.

One of the keys to developing a meditation practice is consistency; committing to a definite, dedicated moment every day. It can be a moment of stillness as you sit by the fire at night, or a pause as you are rattling off your list of jobs to do for the day. Give yourself an acknowledgement of being here, right now.

Start slowly! Be patient with yourself. It can be quite confronting to see how busy we are and what lives below the surface. Practice kindness.

So where to begin? I recommend starting with a meditation group or course to find your feet so that you are guided into a practice. Which form your mediation practice takes depends on what inspires and works for you. Some guided practices can be accessed through the internet, and there are usually workshopsoffered around Bellingen throughout the year. Have fun, explore and don’t take yourself too seriously.

— Article by Damian Harrison, Naturopath from Chamomile Naturopathy, Bellingen