FIT FIRST IN FEB
MIND FIT AND MEDITATIONS WITH ELIZA GILES
Getting ‘fit’ doesn’t just relate to the body. Your mind is a wonderous thing, to be preserved, to be heralded, to lead you through each minute of each day, each thought, each decision, each goal setting moment. But with so much distraction and diversion in front of us (it’s estimated the average person is now exposed to between 6000 and 10000 ads every single day) it’s no wonder we’re fatigued; our minds are relentlessly busied. This week, with the help of friend of the P.E. Nation brand Eliza Giles, we’re aiming to help you to adopt a healthier attitude towards your mind as well as your body. Again, we’re not suggesting a drastic overhaul to your routine; rather small changes which will do wonders for your frame of mind. Eliza’s pragmatic advice and carefully curated meditations around breath work and mental fitness are devised to help you on a gentle transformation. One where clarity leads, and calm prevails. Let’s get Mind Fit with Eliza Giles.
BY ELIZA GILES
The world doesn’t need more movement - it needs conscious action.
The science of yoga shows you that the potential of your vitality resides within your capacity to harness your conscious mind. Through the physical practice you experience how all challenges to your physical fitness in turn strengthen your mental capacity to dissolve the self-created confines of the psyche. Our ability to breathe through moments of discomfort and challenge are the mental training that enable us to move more graciously and powerfully within the world.
Just as we train our bodies, we need to train our minds.
Mental fitness is the training we undertake to strengthen the mental realm we experience the world through — and Meditation is the foundation of this practise. Meditation the key ingredient to feeling clear, vital and steady within yourself amongst all the chaos of life.
Cultivating a daily meditation practice is the most potent way to increase conscious awareness, release thought patterns and habits that are no longer serving us and has proven to be so effective it re-wires the stress responses in the brain, toning the whole nervous system. Modern science has proved this ancient art also
- Increase memory, brain function and stimulate new brain growth
- Regulates sleep & stimulus physical restoration
- Teach you stress management
- Improve your Self Esteem
- Give you more energy
For the first decade of my meditation practice I struggled, I thought my mind was too busy, I thought it was hard work and I could never seem to find the time to sit (sound familiar?).
It's well known that humans are creatures of habit. Good or bad, productive or destructive we tend to practise and repeat the same actions day in and day out whether we are conscious of it or not. The most effective way to cultivate a meditation practice is to make it a ritual.
Rituals infuse our daily lifestyles, actions, speech, and thoughts with our intention and here are the key steps to establishing your own.
Consistency is Key
Be clear about your personal practice, choose a method that works for you and stay consistent, so you have a set map of where to go and the path becomes familiar.
We are all busy, and ‘not finding the time’ is probably the biggest killer of all meditation practices so the key is to plan ahead & start small, 10-15 minutes a great place to start, then look at your schedule and create time in your day (the same time each day helps). It might mean waking up 15 minutes earlier, but you will notice a world of difference.
Starting with a 40-day commitment is the best way to build a habit so set yourself a challenge - Fit First Feb here we go.
Start with the breath (Pranayama)
Pranayama is the practise of harnessing and expanding the breath to calm the mind. By directing our attention to the breath, it helps us to untangle ourselves from all of our thoughts and ties to the external world and begins to settle the busyness of the brain so we can draw our awareness inwards. The breath is the gateway to the nervous system and the bridge between the body and the mind so starting your ritual with a few minutes of Pranayama will help curb the ‘my mind is too busy’ experience.
Sama Vritti Pranayama - Even breath
Counting the breath 6 in and 6 out, focus on breathing into your belly.
Nadi Shodhana - Alternate Nostril Breath
This is a simple practice to help harmonise the brain and the body as a foundational practice to add to the beginning of your meditation.
Here is a 10-minute meditation that teaches you alternate nostril breathing.
Create a Calm Space
Having a designated space to sit for your meditation/ritual will help generate consistency and devotion in your practice. One of the biggest shifts for me was creating a space I love coming to, so it doesn’t feel like a chore but a treat.
To create a sacred space, find somewhere in your house that you can dedicate to your practice and carry out your rituals in peace. You might create an altar here - an area you decorate with meaningful objects. The most important thing is it is somewhere you enjoy being so get creative and set your vibe.
If creating or keeping a permanent space doesn't work for you, you can invoke a sacred space by using essential oils or lighting incense, a candle, (or your fav set of active wear) to set the mood.
Drop the Judgment
Let go of the need to judge your practice. We live in an age and culture where we are conditioned to be constantly stimulated so it can take some time for the mind to down-regulate. One of the most helpful things I ever learnt about meditation was understanding that the mind will naturally move in cycles when we sit to practise and it is its own innately intelligent process of letting points of tension surface to be reviewed and understood so they can be released. Once I understood that it's natural for the mind to move through cycles of releasing and reviewing + rehearsing the future (this helps the nervous system imprint the calm state of being so when we are actually acting out the grocery shopping or conversation in real life we feel calmer) it became easier to allow the mind to flow while my awareness anchored into my meditation technique.
Guided meditations are also a wonderful tool to kick start your practice - here is a 10-minute morning clarity meditation you can start with.
By Eliza Giles