Meditation: something that I thought seemed nice, but probably not for me. I was far too busy for that sort of thing, barely got time to grab a cuppa, and what do you even get out of sitting still for a bit – especially when you could be cracking through the to-do list? Well, if I could share a little insight with Me of the Past, I would tell her to stop being so sceptical and give it a try a lot sooner – because it’s not at all what I thought it would be, and the benefits are amazing. I discovered the wonders of meditation by working with Sonia Norman, whose business is RestoreU – and the magic she weaves through meditation and sound practice are the subject of this month’s BrandBlog.
Sonia is a meditation teacher, and a sound and AcuEnergetics practitioner (more about the Sound Bath I enjoyed later, which was remarkable). She has personal, life-changing experience of its benefits for mind, body and spirit, as well as observing its power in the many others she’s coached into the practice. But aside from her experience and track record as a teacher, the most striking thing about Sonia (for me) is the very real calming effect she has. Her voice is pure relaxation, her manner is unfailingly kind, and throughout her sessions there runs a thread of No Judgement – so if your mind wanders, she asks you not to berate yourself for it, just bring your attention back to your breathing; if you miss a meditation practice, don’t be hard on yourself, because these things happen. It’s quite a contrast to a world in which we are told to be a certain way, or be better – a massive draw for me from the start.
So What is Meditation?
I can tell you what it’s not – it isn’t sitting in deep contemplation of the world; it’s not diving deep into your inner thoughts; it’s not zooming around in your head thinking about the demands of everyday life that clutter it up. It’s simply taking a few minutes to just be – it’s a quick ‘feet up and a cuppa’ for your mind.
It sounds so simple, but just ‘being’ simply doesn’t happen in daily life unless you make the time to do it, just like having a real cup of tea. Normally I’m dashing – either physically or mentally – from one job or commitment or errand to the next, trying to keep everything in my head and remember all the stuff – the boys and their schedules, my business, the house, the dinner, the bl**dy food shopping (one of my most hated tasks) – and I’m never just still, until I’m flopped on the couch at 8:30 with my attention on the TV. Meditation is time to stop your mind as well as your body – and it really is that pure and simple.
Very good, you may say – nice that meditation gives you 10 minutes to do that. But what’s the point of just Being?
My guess is that it can be different for everyone – but for me, there have been several important benefits. They didn’t all come at once, but after completing Sonia’s RestoreU programme, I now notice the following on days I meditate:
- My focus for the rest of the day is clearer;
- My overall outlook is more positive – whether it’s new confidence in my ability to take on a challenge, or just facing a hectic day to come;
- My mind feels rested – like when you get to sit down after a crazy morning of being on your feet;
- I appreciate the miracle of being in this human body and how much it does for me – and I hadn’t realised how lovely it is to appreciate that properly every so often.
And the more I do it, the better I feel – and the more I look forward to the next session.
Sonia’s course, all carried out online, gives you a perfect introduction to this practice of stopping and just being. There are eight guided meditations, one per week, and all different. One of the ones I did focused on sound; another on a mantra; another on the sensation of sunlight. All of them involve the beauty of breathing, sitting still and just being there in your body. When you’ve completed the programme, it’s not over – you get a playlist of all eight meditations, so you can do them again whenever you want, with her calming voice to settle you and guide you through each one. She is a brilliant teacher – and she really cares that you are taking part, getting enjoyment and benefit from it, and that you’re supported in carrying on afterwards.
How amazing is to get results like this, from just a few minutes invested in myself here and there? This is the kind of power that marketing teams dream of.
The RestoreU Sound Bath
I had literally no idea what to expect from this – my son thought there might be actual bathtubs involved, and I wasn’t much the wiser – but having enjoyed the meditations so much, I knew I wanted to try it. It works on the basis that sound vibrations resonate through the body and have huge restorative powers, and I’d heard it highly recommended by others. Sonia uses a variety of gongs and other sound instruments throughout these sessions, which are best enjoyed from the comfort of your sleeping bag and warm woollens, cuddled up all cosily on the ground (not in a bathtub). My sister bought me a session for my birthday, which I booked for a beautiful day in May, at Place 8 Wellness in the Bucks countryside – a beautiful venue, which added rural peace and sweet birdsong to the whole experience.
So I settled down, snuggled into my sleeping bag, and just lay there with my thoughts as the sound washed over me. It’s not about letting your thoughts drift away, like meditation – although I’m sure you can do that if you want to – but it’s about letting your thoughts do what they want, while allowing the sound to envelope you, and the vibrations to flow through you. So many ideas and memories presented themselves unbidden, and I was even inspired to come up with a new retirement plan to do up a tumbledown cottage in the countryside one day – interesting news for Mr RLC, I’m sure!
I am pretty certain I went to sleep at one point, but at the end of the hour I felt as refreshed as I would after a full night, with my mind peaceful and rested – like the feeling you get when you’ve completed everything on the to-do list, and there’s nothing else to worry about for the day. Sonia promised an excellent night’s sleep to come as well, which was completely accurate. The whole experience was unique and, quite frankly, addictive. I can’t wait for another one!
If you’ve never tried meditation, or are curious about a Sound Bath, I can’t recommend Sonia and RestoreU highly enough. She has brought calm, focus and much-needed islands of rest to my life – which are very great gifts, especially for a meditation sceptic as I was. Perhaps the people who are the most sceptical are the ones who actually need it most…