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Yoga teacher and wellness coach @cherishednomad on the benefits of meditation

Written by Fani Mari, beauty and lifestyle writer @fani_breakeven

Studies agree that meditation can successfully lower stress, help us sleep better, concentrate more and support our immune system. 

I spoke to Cecilia Rollén, a certified holistic wellness coach (specialising in yoga, Pilates, nutrition, mindset) who also collaborates with Hotel Metropole and their Spa by Givenchy, in Monte Carlo, offering holistic lifestyle body and nutrition coaching, to get her take on meditation and why she believes there’s an approach for everyone.

I was curious as to whether daily meditation made a bigger difference, than doing it every so often? Cecilia said; “How often can we meditate and get all the benefits without needing to do it daily? To answer that, there’s a zen proverb that says, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”” She explains that daily is the best, but also “the best amount of meditation is the one that you do. If you begin with 5 minutes every other day, you’re still getting some benefits of it.” As with everything, being consistent is the most important thing.

Cecilia says getting started really is the hardest part, so here are her top tips:

Use an app

These days there’s an app for everything! Cecilia recommends apps that offer guided meditations to get you started. An example she recommends is Insight Timer, which might seem a bit overwhelming due to the amount of choice for beginners. “I’d suggest you go to the category ‘learning to meditate’ and find a couple of audio sessions that you like,” Cecilia explains. Headspace and Calm (which is what I use) are also popular apps. Cecilia also mentions the Hay House Meditations Podcasts, which are a bit more spiritual if you’re that way inclined. 

Start small 

For a complete beginner, Cecilia recommends even 3 minutes per day for the first few days, then go to 5, and build it up from there. When you break it down like that, it seems like it could be something most people pop into their daily routines.

Schedule in a time in your phone 

That way, you will find it harder to forget or cancel, and it can be part of your schedule – this definitely works for me! Cecilia mentions you can meditate in the morning but stick to whatever works for you. I personally meditate before bed as I find it helps me relax and shush that voice in my head telling me to do more work! Cecilia told me about yoga nidra meditation, which is created to help you sleep. The sessions tend to be longer too, so this might be a good option if you also want to target your sleep. 

I personally meditate before bed as I find it helps me relax and shush that voice in my head telling me to do more work!

Find the style of meditation that works for you

The way you bring your mind to the present moment, which Cecilia describes as the meditation practice, can be very different for you. Finding out what works best is key though, so try out different things before you’re sure. Cecilia explains how the ashtanga yoga sequence is created in such a way to exhaust the body, so by the end of it during savasana (when you lie down doing nothing but breathing!) you are in the moment whether you realise it or not. 

The best meditation tool is your breath

I’ll add Cecilia’s direct quote on this as she can explain it much better than I do. Cecilia says: “Whenever you get the chance, just begin to focus on your breathing. Notice the inhale and the exhale and the associated movements in your body – the rise of the ribcage, the swelling of the abdomen as you inhale and the fall and softening of these areas as you exhale.

“Whenever I feel myself getting stressed, I like to do a mini round of box breathing. This is a style of breathing that’s meant to help switch on the parasympathetic nervous system (your “rest and digest” response as opposed to “fight or flight”) quickly.”

So, what’s box breathing and how to do it? It’s much easier than it sounds! “Take a breath in through your nose for a count of 4, then hold the breath for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, and then hold for another count of 4, before beginning all over. I like to do 3-5 of those, and you can literally feel your body start to unclench and relax a little. If you’re very new to it, skip the retentions and just count your inhale and exhale, and slowly add in the retention of the inhale. Finally, when you feel ready add the retention of the exhale as well.”

Written by Fani Mari, beauty and lifestyle writer @fani_breakeven

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