Mary Linehan closes her eyes – and concentrates very, very hard
It’s amazing how few of the ‘New Age’ philosophies are actually New Age. Most have their roots in antiquity – and meditation is one such.
Meditation is much practised across many religions from Judaism, via Christianity in the form of prayer, to Buddhism and the Eastern faith traditions that encourage humanity to connect with a higher plane or divinity. The contemporary interpretation, it seems, is meditation as a form of self-healing, a stress-buster and an aid to achieving one’s personal goals.
As a (more than slightly stressed) novice, the best introduction seemed to me to be a guided meditation class. Watford-based Sally Trotman teaches guided visualisation, which she calls as Focused Mind Meditation. It is not based on any one religion, but combines an eclectic mix of approaches that help relax the body and mind and enable creative thinking – and a more motivated and optimistic approach to life.
According to Sally, “Meditation can help change thought processes so that you are able to view your life from a more optimistic perspective. Focused Mind Meditation gives you the tools to rise above challenges, encouraging you to manifest your desires by looking at your life objectively, positively and from a place of stillness.”
Coming at a particularly busy and stressful time for me, these classes must have been heaven sent. And, it has to be said, on meeting Sally there could hardly be a better advertisement for her philosophy and general world view.
She began by talking about meditation generally, and her own experiences in particular, preparing me a little for the content of the session. Switching on some soothing, evocative background chant, she invited me to sit straight… relax… close my eyes… and concentrate on breathing – in and out slowly and deeply and, starting with the feet, gently move my focus upwards to the various chakras (energy points) in the body.
Relaxing me more deeply, Sally guided me through suggested visualisations before encouraging me to develop my own and allowing me to focus on them in a calming blanket of silence. In what seemed to be no time at all, she gently brought me back to the present. I opened my eyes to find that I had, in fact, been meditating for almost an hour.
Rewarding and enriching though the experience was, my biggest challenge throughout all my sessions was maintaining concentration. I’m not alone in this.
“Finding your thoughts wandering is the most common problem,” Sally confirms. “If you find your mind wandering, try to think about your breathing. Or adopt a point of focus on a particular object or colour, or visualise yourself in a place in nature where you feel peaceful.”
There’s an air of exclusivity about the meditation process that can be off-putting to those of us who haven’t dived in yet.
“People often think they can't meditate, or that it’s some complicated exercise practised properly only by Buddhist monks! This is simply not true.” Sally recommends starting by setting aside a few minutes a day, keeping it simple, and building up over time.
Practice apparently makes perfect and, in due course, you should find that your meditations gain more power, enabling you to manifest your goals more easily. I need more, obviously, but I certainly benefited from the classes. After each session I was deeply relaxed, calm and somehow more rational in my approach to problem-solving.
I thoroughly enjoyed Sally’s manner of teaching – and I’ve learned to appreciate that meditation has a valuable place in today’s challenging world. Now, when the going gets tough, I take a few deep breaths, concentrate and find that a little mind-journey works wonders. And I’ll let you into a little secret – I’ve devised a set of personal goals to practise creative visualisation, because, according to Sally, “by practising creative visualisation on a regular basis your dreams can soon come true…”
Sally Trotman regularly holds workshops on meditation, tarot and reiki.
To contact her visit www.focusedmind.co.uk or call 07944 744 493.