There is no question that having a regular massage is lovely. It’s good for your body and your mind and it’s something to really look forward to. But there is increasing evidence that suggests that it can actually have a significant and measurable impact on your immune system. With everything going on at the moment, making sure your body is fighting fit feels even more important than usual, so we wanted to explore how massage could be a critical part of staying fit and healthy.
Donna Wilkinson is an advanced clinical massage therapist and an experienced meditator, having attended three 10 day silent meditation retreats over the years. She has an interest in indigenous healing practices and has spent two years training with a traditional shaman from Ecuador, including a month spent living with indigenous tribes in the Amazon jungle. She currently lives in Lewes with her partner and her two pet sugar gliders.
What is meditation?
I would really consider meditation anything that allows you to come back to yourself where you are – something which allows you to become present in the moment. There are many different techniques that you can use, but in its simplest form it’s really just something that catches the attention of your mind and brings it closer to one place.
Why do you think people should meditate?
I think for a lot of us, our brains are constantly on over-drive, running through our ‘to-do’ lists and trying to sort out a million things at once. We often forget to be in the moment, and although ‘mindfulness’ is a bit of a buzzword right now, the truth is that we often don’t take the time to slow down and see right what’s in front of us. How often do you notice details such as the pictures that are hanging on a wall, or really focus on what someone in front of you is saying. These things could be considered a form of meditation – it’s just really bringing your attention back to yourself and your space, and what’s going on.
We live in an extremely busy world, and when your mind is in hyper-drive it can eventually lead to feelings of worry and anxiety. Through meditation, you can start to focus your attention on one thing, instead of spending hours going over a problem again and again in your mind, worrying about all the things that could go wrong. You find that often after meditating, the solutions to your problems come much more easily. And you realise that really, you just had to stop thinking so much.
It can be difficult to feel peaceful in today's fast-paced world. So often it feels that there is an insurmountable amount of things to do, and not enough time in the day to do them all. One great technique for helping to slow things down and bring you back into your body is mediation, but most people don't know where to begin, or how to fit it in with everything else that's going on in their lives.
There's an old Zen saying which goes 'You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you're too busy, then you should sit for an hour'. This may be easier said than done for most, but anything is better than nothing, and just sitting with your body for a few minutes in the middle of a particularly stressful part of the day can result in greater clarity, more productivity, and reduce the risk of burnout that juggling work, family, finances and everything else can bring.
To help with this, our therapist Donna has created a three minute meditation, which can be done at home or at your desk to quickly help with anxiety and stress. An experienced meditator herself (having done several ten day silent meditation retreats over the years), Donna knows first hand how powerful the benefits of meditation can be, and this short sequence will help bring you back into your body and feeling in control of your day again. So sit back, close your eyes, and enjoy!