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Despite meditation having become, dare we say it, “mainstream” in recent years, its hippy’ish image continues. And that’s a real shame for everyone. Not only because it has nothing to do with illegal substances or “peace, love and panpipes man.” 
But because there are huge benefits from doing it regularly AND it’s much easier to do than you ever imagined. You’ve probably been doing it for years in your own unique way without having realised it. 
Every time you’ve “gone into your own little world”. Or zoned out while stuck in a traffic jam or some tedious meeting; brought back to reality with a jolt when someone asked if you were paying attention (!). Or simply stared out of the window, watching the clouds while you waited for the kettle to boil. 
It’s just that you haven’t been doing it deliberately. Or regularly. Or in one of the traditional ways, many of which are guaranteed to put the beginner off. 
Meditation is not about sitting in the most uncomfortable position you could imagine for hours on end. It’s simply about learning to quieten your so called “monkey mind”. To give you a little peace – a mini break, if you prefer – from the constant noise and nonsense in your head. 
How you do it is up to you. There are so many different ways. The more traditional cross legged poses. Using mantras – a repeated word or sentence – to give you something to concentrate on, so helping to quieten the mind. Walking meditations or those focusing on the breath. Guided meditations on CD or downloaded from the internet. 
Some people like the discipline of going to a class, while others prefer to do it on their own. It can’t be emphasised enough that there is no “right” way to meditate. Different people just find different ways to quieten their mind. 
Regardless of how you do it, regular meditation is consistently linked to feelings of well being and happiness. At the same time it helps to reduce anxiety, stress and depression; as well as improving sleep. 
However it doesn’t stop there, with research adding a huge list of physical benefits. These include: 
• A stronger immune system. 
• Improved blood flow around the body, reduced blood pressure, respiratory and heart rates. 
• Lower pain levels in those with ongoing pain issues. 
• Improving blood flow to the brain, helping to build brain cells and improve cognitive function 
• Slowing down the process of ageing both mentally and physically. 
• Speeding up post operative healing. 
• Reducing the levels of free radicals and the progression of chronic diseases. 
• Balancing the endocrine system, so improving hormonal problems such as PMT. 
• Providing significant relief in Asthma patients. 
And the best bit is that these benefits only require a few minutes of meditation every day. Research has found that as little as 15 to 20 minutes every day is hugely beneficial. 
So, please, don’t be put off by all that hippy’ish nonsense. Meditation is nothing like its detractors would have you believe. And more people make it a regular part of their lives than you would ever believe. They just don’t talk about it. It’s simply a case of finding out which method works best for you or developing one of your own. 
As always, the choice is yours. 
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