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Meditation: Cultivate Inner Peace and Mindfulness for a Life of Health and Happiness

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Mayfly Maven Woman sitting in meditation pose

Meditation is a practice that involves training the mind and focusing one's attention to achieve a state of mental clarity and inner peace.

Meditation is not about escaping reality or indulging in fantasy. It is not a means to attain supernatural powers or achieve instant enlightenment.

Meditation is a mindfulness-based practice that enables us to be fully present in the moment. It is acknowledging and accepting our thoughts and emotions without judgment.

Meditation is a transformative practice that promotes mental and emotional well-being, cultivates mindfulness, and facilitates personal growth.

“Meditation — because some questions can’t be answered by Google.” — Wandering Yogi

Meditation offers a pathway to personal growth and spiritual development. It provides a space for introspection, self-reflection, and connecting with a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Diagram of inner bliss = outer calm as description of purpose and outcome of meditation
The Mayfly Model states when we achieve Inner Bliss; we exhibit Outer Calm

Outer calm means fewer reactions to difficult situations. Less anger, less anxiety, and a move to a more Zen state. Peaceful and calm.

By incorporating meditation into our lives, we can experience its profound benefits and embark on a journey of self-discovery and inner peace.


Starting Your Journey

Let’s take some of the pressure off your first steps on the journey and remove the two core myths related to meditation.

  1. It is difficult to meditate.

  2. To be successful at meditation, you must reach enlightenment

That’s simply not true.

Meditation is primarily about finding time to sit silently and with yourself to release long-held stress. It is important to find the right method that works for you, and then ultimately, it comes down to practice.

Step 1: Find a Quiet and Comfortable Space

Begin by finding a peaceful and quiet space where you can sit comfortably. It could be a dedicated meditation room, a corner of your home, or any serene place that allows you to relax and focus.

Step 2: Sit Comfortably

This means both literally and physically in your body. Sit in a posture that is comfortable for you, cross-legged on a cushion or, if that is uncomfortable, in a chair. Some suggest that you lie down, but it is easier to fall asleep lying down, and sleeping is not meditating!

Ensure your spine is upright, jaw relaxed and face relaxed. Symbolically be at ease in your mind, don’t try to force anything special to happen, relax and be at ease.

Step 3: Close Your Eyes

Gently close your eyes and feel whatever sensations are in the body. Don’t try to resist anything. We are letting everything just be as it is. Take a moment to allow the body to settle down. Softly release any tension or tightness you may feel.

Step 4: Focus on Your Breath

Shift your attention to your breath. Feel the sensation of each inhale and exhale, the gentle rise and fall of your abdomen or the coolness of the air entering your nostrils. Use your breath to anchor your mind into the present moment.

If the breath is long, let it be long. If the breath is short, let it be short. Let it be natural. Let it be normal.

Step 5: Cultivate Mindfulness

As thoughts, sensations, or sounds arise, simply observe them without judgment. Acknowledge their presence, but don't get carried away by them. Bring your attention back to your breath or any other chosen focal point, such as a word or phrase (mantra) that resonates with you. Start with a seed mantra such as So Hum (“I am”). Repeat it gently.

Step 6: Embrace Stillness

Allow yourself to settle into the stillness of the present moment. Don’t resist the silence. Allow yourself to move into it. Be aware of your body, sensations, and emotions that arise.

If there is noise, let there be noise. If there is sensation, let there be sensation. If there is thought, let there be thought. Thought is just the stress leaving your body. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself as you settle into the meditation.

Step 7: Practice Letting Go

During meditation, thoughts and distractions may arise. Instead of getting caught up in them, practice non-attachment by observing them and gently letting them go.

Imagine they are in a cloud or bubble above your head, and you gently reach up, poke them with your index finger, and watch them gently bounce away. Return to your breath or mantra, anchoring your attention.

Step 8: End Your Meditation Gently

When you feel ready to conclude your meditation, do so gently and take your time. Keeping your eyes closed, let go of the mantra or the attention to the breath.

Allow the sensations in your body to settle down and expand your breath to notice your body. Gently wiggle the fingers and toes, lengthen the spine, and take your time to slowly open your eyes.

Step 9: Affirmation of Practice

As you slowly bring your awareness back to your surroundings, remember this is how we meditate at home. We don’t worry if the mind wanders while meditating. It’s okay. It’s normal. Every time we practice this technique, we strengthen our capacity to be in the present moment.

Congratulations, you just meditated!

Remember, the key to effective meditation is regular practice and patience. Start with shorter sessions and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable. Allow meditation to be a nourishing and rejuvenating experience, bringing peace and clarity to your mind, body, and soul.

Daily actions mean changed habits and lead to big change!
Mayfly goal setting through daily actions and habits to instigate big change

Final thoughts

Simple and succinct is best.

Start by simply focusing on the breath, and we breathe in and out about 22,000 times a day without even noticing—time to pay attention.

Schedule mediation into your everyday life.

We commit great amounts of time to physical health, such as running, walking, and working out, so committing small increments of 10 minutes a day to our mental health should also be a priority.

Activate a simple practice and start.

Connect mediation to an existing habit you already have. Do you have a morning or pre-dinner ritual? Like morning stretches? Then do the meditation directly before or after that. Eventually, you will create an association and do it without thinking.

Never meditate before bedtime.

Meditation activates our mind and our emotions; it can unlock trauma or stress, so it is best not to meditate before bedtime. Before breakfast or before dinner is best.

Practice makes perfect.

Do it for at least 21 days straight. It takes time to create a habit. So make sure you continue through the tough days and good days, and only then start increasing your time sitting with mediation.

Use guided meditation to start.

If you feel really stuck, the best thing to do is to use a coach and a teacher to make your journey into the practice of meditation easier. You're guided through the meditations from beginning to end to ensure you learn the best practices and go easy on yourself.

In the Mayfly Maven Meditation Course, I teach you how meditation can be used at different times for different needs throughout our lives when you need to remain calm, increase focus, or merely increase energy in your body through breath.

Women sitting on beach meditating with caption regain your calm, focus and energy
Regain Your Calm, Focus and Energy

Once you know the techniques, you can shift into them as needed and use meditation to:

  1. Embody Calm using Present Moment Awareness Meditations

  2. Create Focus using Calm Focus Meditations

  3. Increase Energy using Energised Body and Mind Meditations

  4. Manifest Bliss using Transcendence and Self-Discovery Meditations

Read more about Meditation as a Daily Practice here.


Eliminating the Barriers

There are many barriers we need to overcome when it comes to our meditation journey. As a meditation teacher, I have personally encountered them and continue guiding my students through them.

The best way to eliminate or overcome barriers is to recognise and acknowledge them so you can let them go.

Tower bridge with the caption In a Restless World
Time in a Restless World

1. Lack of Time

Finding time for meditation can be a significant barrier in our fast-paced lives. You may feel overwhelmed by your daily responsibilities and struggle to carve out dedicated time for meditation. However, it's important to remember that even a few minutes of meditation each day can make an exponential difference in your life.

Start with small increments, like 10 minutes a day, and gradually increase the duration.

Cityscape with caption A Restless Mind
Calm the Restless Mind

2. Restless Mind

A restless mind is another common obstacle. Sitting still and quieting the incessant flow of thoughts can be challenging. It's natural for the mind to wander, especially when starting a meditation practice. However, observing thoughts without getting caught up in them becomes easier with patience and perseverance.

Guided meditations, using mantras or focusing on the breath, can help anchor the mind and cultivate focus.

3. Expectations and Judgment

You may struggle with expectations and self-judgment during meditation, as in life. You may anticipate immediate results or feel frustrated when you don't experience instant tranquillity. It's important to approach meditation with an open mind and without judgment. If you are sitting still and being silent, you are halfway there.

Accept that each meditation session is unique, and progress may unfold gradually over time.

4. Physical Discomfort

Physical discomfort, such as back pain or discomfort in the legs or the feet becoming numb when you sit crosslegged, can hinder meditation practice. Finding a comfortable and supportive posture that works for you is important. Experiment with different positions, such as sitting on a cushion or using a chair, but I promise that eventually, you won’t even notice the discomfort over time.

Gentle stretching or yoga before and after meditation can help alleviate physical tension.

5. Lack of Discipline and Consistency

Maintaining a consistent meditation practice can be challenging, especially when motivation wanes, or life gets busy. Overcoming this barrier requires discipline and commitment. Set realistic goals, create a routine and connect it to an existing habit, or find accountability measures that work for you, such as joining a meditation group or using meditation apps that provide reminders and tracking.

Create accountability with a teacher or an app/tool to help you create and sustain the habit.

6. Resistance to Stillness and Inner Exploration

You may resist stillness and the introspective nature of meditation. You may find it uncomfortable to face your thoughts, emotions, or unresolved issues that arise during the practice. It's important to approach these experiences with compassion and non-judgment. This is your trauma and stress leaving your body; embrace it.

Women sitting on beach meditating
Meditation anywhere anytime

Meditation provides an opportunity for growth and healing, but it's essential to honour your pace and seek support when needed.

Now you know the barriers you might face, you are better prepared to deal with them head-on, navigate your meditation journey with greater ease and reap the transformative benefits it offers.

Meditation is a journey; each step contributes to personal growth and inner well-being regardless of the challenges encountered.


Meditation and the Four Pillars

Meditation has profound effects on one's overall well-being. It promotes self-compassion, self-acceptance, and a positive outlook on life.

Meditation can improve sleep quality, boost creativity, and enhance interpersonal relationships by fostering empathy and compassion towards others.

Stephen R. Covey writes about four principles of balanced self-renewal, but I have always known them as the four pillars of health — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

Graphic of the The Four Pillars of Health, Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual
The Mayfly Four Pillars of Health: Physical, Emotional, Mental, Spiritual

In recent years I have stringently built habits to incorporate the four pillars, being physically active, mentally stimulated, and emotionally connected every day. I had always believed the fourth pillar of spirituality was elusive to someone who identifies as agnostic, but meditation was the missing link.

Meditation has become a pathway to fulfilling that spiritual pillar, enabling me to enhance all four pillars in tandem.

Physical Health

Physically, it has taught me to focus on my breathing and be present in my body and the moment.

Emotional Health

Emotionally it has brought about patience, calm, and balance, giving me the emotional strength to withstand stressful moments.

Mental Health

Mentally it has reduced my worry and stress exponentially and opened my mind to more creative pursuits.

Spiritual Health

Spiritually it removes me from my surroundings and the pressures of everyday life to a peaceful inner sanctum.

“In meditation, I can let go of everything. I’m not Hugh Jackman. I’m not a dad. I’m not a husband. I’m just dipping into that powerful source that creates everything. I take a little bath in it.” — Hugh Jackman

If you can learn to meditate, you can enhance your inner peace and exhibit outer calm: no more reactionary behaviour or regrets, just calm focus and balance.

Learn more about How Meditation Influences the Four Pillars of Health here.


Enjoy the Benefits

The benefits of meditation are profound and far-reaching. It is a tool like any other that helps us get control of our reactions and reduces our anxiety, anger or the feeling of vulnerability.

Meditation helps to reduce stress and anxiety by calming the mind and promoting relaxation. Regular practice allows you to develop greater emotional resilience and more effectively cope with life's challenges.

More importantly, it can influence success and help you achieve true happiness.

Women meditating at sunset for more success and happiness
Success and happiness can be achieved through consistent mindful meditation practice

Meditation also enhances focus, concentration, and mental clarity. It allows you to cultivate a heightened sense of awareness and improve your ability to sustain attention and engage in tasks with greater efficiency.

Research yields compelling evidence of its positive impact on mental, emotional, and physical well-being. As someone who values the transformative power of meditation but also likes statistics and studies, let me share some of that research with you.

1. Reduction of Stress and Anxiety

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014 found that mindfulness meditation programs had a moderate effect in reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and pain. (Reference: Goyal et al., 2014)

2. Emotional Well-being and Resilience

Research by Richard J. Davidson and colleagues demonstrated that long-term meditators exhibited increased activation in brain areas associated with positive emotions and improved emotional regulation. (Reference: Davidson et al., 2003)

Women meditating for more focus
More focus

3. Improved Attention and Concentration

A study published in PLOS Biology in 2011 reported that participants who underwent meditation training for several weeks showed significant improvements in their ability to sustain attention and ignore distractions. (Reference: Slagter et al., 2011)

4. Structural and Functional Changes in the Brain

Neuroimaging studies have indicated that meditation can increase cortical thickness in regions associated with attention and sensory processing, such as the prefrontal cortex. These structural changes may underlie the cognitive improvements observed in meditators. (Reference: Hölzel et al., 2011)

Women meditating at sunset to achieve more energy
More energy

5. Enhanced Overall Well-being and Quality of Life

Longitudinal studies have shown that regular meditation practice can enhance life satisfaction, increase self-compassion, and improve interpersonal relationships. It can also contribute to a sense of purpose and meaning in life. (Reference: Brown et al., 2016; Condon et al., 2013)

6. Physical Health Benefits

Research has found that long-term meditation practice can lead to reduced markers of inflammation, improved immune system functioning, lower blood pressure, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, and overall physical health benefits. (References: Tang et al., 2015; Innes et al., 2017; Schneider et al., 2012)

These studies show that research consistently supports the wide-ranging benefits of meditation over time.

The accumulated evidence through these studies and research highlights the wide-ranging benefits of meditation over time. From reducing stress and anxiety to enhancing emotional well-being, attention, and overall quality of life, meditation offers profound and lasting effects.

Its positive impact on mental, emotional, and physical well-being contributes to a more fulfilling and balanced life.

As you continue meditation practice over the long term, you can experience these transformative benefits and cultivate a greater sense of well-being and inner peace.


Deepening Your Practice

If you have been consistently meditating for a long period of time, you are already aware that meditation is a tool that cannot be underestimated.

“Meditation can help us embrace our worries, our fear, our anger, and that is very healing. We let our own natural capacity of healing do the work.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

You may have already benefited from your practice. Of the benefits, studied in 2011 Dr Sara Lazar and her team at Harvard University, it was found that mindfulness meditation could actually change the brain's structure.

  • IN DAYS | Improvement in concentration and attention

  • IN WEEKS | Increased learning and memory

  • IN YEARS | Better-preserved brains than non-meditators at their age

Over twenty years of practice, and we increase the grey matter volume throughout their brain. Realising new connections in the brain allows people to snap out of previous thought patterns like mind-wandering, typically associated with being less happy and worrying about the future.

If you have been practising meditation for years and wish to deepen your practice, there are several approaches you can explore to enhance your practice.

Woman meditating on the beach to find focus and new energy
Meditation practice can be deepened and new methods learned to continue the journey to peace and happiness

1. Explore Different Meditation Techniques

Consider trying out different meditation techniques to deepen your practice. Explore mindfulness meditation, loving-kindness meditation, breath awareness, body scan, or transcendental meditation. Experimenting with various techniques can bring fresh insights and new dimensions to your practice.

I started with mantra meditation and only came to embrace compassion and loving kindness before going into difficult or conflict-ridden situations.

2. Lengthen Your Meditation Sessions

If you have been practising shorter meditation sessions, perhaps 20 minutes, gradually increase the duration of your practice up to an hour. Challenge yourself to sit for longer periods, allowing for deeper states of stillness and self-awareness. Set aside dedicated time each day for longer meditation sessions to cultivate a deeper sense of presence and tranquillity.

At the ashram, we started with an hour every morning and an hour before dinner every evening. It felt like an unrealistically long time, but it revealed the level of contentment possible when committing more time to the practice.

3. Engage in Retreats or Workshops

Participating in meditation retreats or workshops led by experienced teachers can provide a transformative experience and enhances the feeling of enhanced collective consciousness. Retreats offer an immersive environment that fosters deep introspection and focused practice. Engaging in a retreat can deepen your understanding of meditation and provide valuable guidance from experienced practitioners.

Every Mayfly Maven retreat, we start the day with a guided meditation and sit together in silence. This creates a deeper sense of community and sets us up for a wonderful experience of the day.

4. Deepen Your Mindfulness in Daily Life

Extend the practice of mindfulness beyond formal meditation sessions and integrate it into your daily life. Cultivate mindfulness during routine activities like walking, eating, or even washing dishes. Pay attention to the present moment, observe sensations, and engage in activities with full presence and awareness.

Periodically, during a walk, I will walk without music or a podcast in my ear so I can notice the environment around me, but I especially take meditation with me when flying as a practice to enhance balance, even as noise is omnipresent.

5. Seek Guidance from a Meditation Teacher

Consider seeking guidance from a meditation teacher or joining a meditation group. An experienced teacher can provide valuable insights, offer personalized guidance, and help you navigate any challenges or questions that arise in your practice. Being part of a community of meditators can also foster support, inspiration, and accountability.

Going through the process of becoming a meditation teacher myself deepened my practice and my understanding of meditation, and I highly recommend it if you are an experienced meditator.

6. Deepen Your Study and Understanding

Expand your knowledge by delving deeper into the philosophy and teachings behind meditation. Read books, listen to podcasts, or attend lectures on meditation and related spiritual traditions. Deepening your understanding of the underlying principles can enrich your practice and provide a broader perspective.

There are many books on meditation, energy, and transcendence; if you are a lifelong reader like me, you will find abundant material that can enhance practice. Sign up for our newsletter for monthly recommendations.

7. Embrace Self-Compassion and Non-Judgment

As you deepen your meditation practice, remember to cultivate self-compassion and non-judgment. Embrace any challenges or perceived setbacks with kindness and patience. Meditation is a journey, and it's natural to encounter ups and downs along the way. Be gentle with yourself and approach your practice with a sense of curiosity and openness.

I once fell out of the practice. Things were going well, and I felt non-reactive; I thought great, “job done and no need to spend my hours on meditation.” Of course, self-development is a never-ending journey; eventually, anxiety increased, and I realised meditation is a lifelong practice. I came back to it with renewed commitment. Self-compassion and non-judgement mean not feeling guilty or criticising ourselves, so go easy on yourself.

My first foray into meditation was a self-criticising, self-defeating conversation with “my brain”. I couldn’t stop this persistent dialogue every time I tried to meditate.

Thank goodness I stuck with it, and becoming a teacher only deepened my practice.

Continue to deepen your meditation practice. Embrace the journey with an open heart and a willingness to explore new avenues, allowing your practice to evolve and unfold uniquely.

Read more about my story with meditation, or as I like to call it, How to Sit Down, Sit Still and Silence the Mind here.


Our Collective Consciousness

Collective consciousness can be described as a unifying force within society, a set of common ideas, beliefs and morality, a shared understanding of how people want to live.

As related to meditation, collective consciousness refers to the idea that meditative practices can have a collective or shared impact on the consciousness of a group or even society as a whole.

It suggests that when we engage in meditation and cultivate inner peace, clarity, and compassion, it can contribute to a collective shift in consciousness and positively influence the world around us.

Meditation is often seen as a personal practice, but it is believed that the benefits of meditation can extend beyond the practitioner. Cultivating mindfulness and developing a deeper understanding of ourselves and our interconnectedness with others can ripple out and impact the collective consciousness.

When a group of people comes together to meditate, such as in group meditation sessions, the combined intention and focused energy can create a shared field of consciousness.

This collective meditation can amplify the individual benefits and create a sense of unity and coherence among the participants.

The idea of collective consciousness in relation to meditation is supported by scientific research on group meditation practices.

Studies have shown that when a significant number of people meditate together, it can have measurable effects on the surrounding environment, such as reduced crime rates, improved social harmony, and enhanced overall well-being in the community.

And Los Angeles is ahead of the game.

“Most people in LA meditate or practice some form of spirituality in their lives. You can’t have that many people meditating in proximity to each other and not change the energy and vibration of the city. You feel drawn to it.” – Beejan Land.

The concept of collective consciousness aligns with spiritual and philosophical traditions that emphasize the interconnectedness of all beings. It suggests that individuals' thoughts, emotions, and intentions can influence the larger field of consciousness, ultimately contributing to a more harmonious and compassionate world.

The potential for our meditative practices to influence and contribute to a shared or collective state of consciousness is possible if we consider they are changing their own consciousness, creating balance and peace in their own lives, and in turn, they are likely reacting more kindly to others they encounter within their lives.

Call it the "meditate-it-forward" scheme, where the power of meditation cannot be understated.

Read more about Meditation and the Collective Consciousness here.


Journey into Meditation

The benefits of meditation are profound and far-reaching.

Meditation is a tool like any other that helps us get control of our reactions and reduces our anxiety, anger or the feeling of vulnerability.

Meditation is a practice that involves training the mind and focusing one's attention to achieve a state of mental clarity and inner peace.

Meditation helps to reduce stress and anxiety by calming the mind and promoting relaxation.

Regular practice allows you to develop greater emotional resilience and more effectively cope with life's challenges.

Meditation is a transformative practice that promotes mental and emotional well-being, cultivates mindfulness, and facilitates personal growth.

Wishing you health and happiness always.

References & Sources

  • Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 822–848.

  • Condon, P., Desbordes, G., Miller, W. B., & DeSteno, D. (2013). Meditation increases compassionate responses to suffering. Psychological Science, 24(10), 2125–2127.

  • Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S. F., ... & Sheridan, J. F. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65(4), 564–570.

  • Goyal, M., et al. (2014). Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine, 174(3), 357–368.

  • Hölzel, B. K., et al. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain grey matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 191(1), 36–43.

  • Innes, K. E., Selfe, T. K., & Brown, C. J. (2017). Meditation as a therapeutic intervention for adults at risk for Alzheimer


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