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How Do You Find Time to Meditate?

how do you find time to meditate

 

Recently, we’ve been thinking about the barriers to meditation. Many people intend to make meditation a habit, but sometimes even the most motivated of us can find our practice slipping – despite quickly feeling the benefits.

We explored in a blog post last week some of the common stumbling blocks people can encounter, but we’ve come to conclusion that the biggest issue is a perceived lack of time. So how do you find time to meditate in our busy modern world?

 

Why Do We Feel So Short of Time?

 

In a Facebook survey, we asked our little community (Like our page here!) what has stopped them from meditating every day, even when they wanted to. We picked the two things people tend to report as a problem most often, and the results are pretty clear!

 

finding time to meditate

 

Not having enough time to do the things we most want to do isn’t something that only impacts a meditation practice – it’s a pervasive obstacle across our whole lives. Between rushing to work, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, sleeping at night (if we’re lucky!), taking the kids to school, catching up with life admin, seeing friends; it’s easy to become lost in the hurry.

A major benefit of meditation is that, when practised regularly, it slows us down and helps us exist in the present moment. Think of it like baking – we are constantly whisking away, moving as quickly as possible to keep everything on track and making sure the mixture turns out right. Meditation is like pouring in melted chocolate, you get to stop whisking at a mile-a-minute and fold it in slowly, taking the time to appreciate everything coming together. And what’s more, the addition makes your efforts richer and more deeply enjoyable.

By meditating, it’s as if we actually make more time – even if it takes up 20-40 minutes every day. We become more efficient, more aware of the “now”, and are filled with energy and motivation. However, it is easy to de-prioritise meditation when we first begin our practice, falling instead into old habits. We humans are very prone to repeating patterns of behaviour and we can cling to a way of life that we are used to, even if it isn’t ideal.

Here’s find tips on finding the time to meditate, allowing you to cement your habit and start reaping the rewards.

 

How to Find Time To Meditate

 

Be Opportunistic – When you are a very busy person, you have to grab slices of “dead time” where you can. Waiting at the doctor’s, the commute to work, that twenty minutes while dinner is cooking, your lunch break at work, the time you spend scrolling through social media before bed: it can all be utilised as space in the day to meditate.

Meditating twice a day for twenty minutes is ideal, but if you can only squeeze in one meditation that’s vastly better than none – and once you’ve got used to meditating every day for a month or two, you’ll find keeping up the habit comes naturally to you.

Minimise distractions – The wonderful thing about Vedic meditation is that you can do it anywhere, no matter how busy or noisy. From the morning tube to a bustling coffee shop, Vedic meditation can help you transcend the everyday no matter your surroundings. Therefore, noise and activity aren’t distractions you need to worry about too deeply; but having a pet jumping in your lap, your child tugging at your hair, or a phone that just keeps buzzing might be just that little more noticeable!

Allocating points in the day where there are few other demands for your attention (such as your commute) and turning off your phone can make getting into the flow of daily meditation far easier, and will help the habit stick.

Set a reminder – Setting a reminder ten minutes before you want to meditate on your phone is a great way to remind yourself that this is a practice that – no matter what is occupying you at that moment – that you want to prioritize. It’s easy to get caught up in tiny diversions through the day and keep putting meditation off. No matter how inconsequential a current activity actually is – whether that’s seeing who unfollowed you on Instagram or organising your spice rack – if we’re more in the habit of doing it, it’s going to seem compelling.

A reminder brings us back to the moment and our broader intentions for life, allowing us to put meditation first amongst everything that clamours for our attention.

This entry was posted in blog.

Difficulty Meditating: The Barriers To Meditation & How To Overcome Them

difficulty meditating

 

The benefits of meditation are something that, in recent years, have become very well known. From managing anxiety to increasing our levels of productivity, there are scores of reasons why we may want to make meditation a daily habit. Vedic meditation is an effortless technique that can seamlessly fit into modern life, but there are times when we experience difficulty meditating and making this amazing practice part of our day.

As meditation teachers, at Will Williams Meditation we’ve either experienced personally or witnessed through our students pretty much every stumbling block to meditation there is. Sometimes even the best of intentions can’t stop us from falling off the meditation wagon, and you may have found that despite your sincere desire to practice meditation it’s been days, weeks or months since you last meditated.

There are various reasons why this might be. This guide is here to take you through the most barriers to meditation and help you to overcome any difficulty meditating that you may be experiencing.

Falling Asleep During Meditation

Everyone’s done it – you sit down somewhere comfy for a meditation session and before you know where you are, you’ve drifted off. Not every meditation is going to be an amazing, transcendent experience (although each one is important) and sometimes reaching for that lovely space between focus and relaxation can be pretty soporific!

Finding yourself snoring in your favourite meditation spot isn’t anything to worry about on the odd occasion, but you may have found that snoozing when you want to meditate has become a big barrier between you and your practice. A few practical tips to keep yourself firmly away from the land of nod are:

 

  • Get some fresh air: Now, this isn’t to say you should meditate in Arctic conditions (you will want to stay comfortable), but opening a window or heading outside to meditate so you are just on the other side of “sleepily warm” can be a big help in keeping you alert.
  • Mix up your routine: We think, generally speaking, that meditating at the beginning of the day is a good idea. However, if you get out of bed, sit down to meditate and immediately doze off, there’s no reason not to mix it up a bit. You might be too sleepy at the beginning or end of the day to meditate effectively, so meditate in your lunch break and before cooking dinner instead – anytime when you feel at your most awake. It’s also a good idea to avoid meditating immediately after a big meal, as the energy expended in digestion can make us feel sluggish.
  • Don’t get too comfy: One of the most wonderful things about Vedic meditation is that it doesn’t require any special poses or physical discomfort – something which some meditation techniques rely on. But if you are falling asleep with bothersome regularity, you might want to take a look at your favourite meditation spots, and make sure they are as unconnected to your “sleep spaces” as possible. This may mean eschewing blankets and your squishiest armchair, but there are plenty of ways to be comfortable in meditation without the danger of getting that bit too comfortable.

 

If you’ve tried all of the above and are still falling asleep during lots of meditation sessions, you may want to assess what it might be that is making you so tired. Meditation can help amazingly with sleep and energy levels, but if you are chronically overworked or living with an underlying health issue you may still struggle with fatigue and find it difficult to meditate (and therefore feel the benefits) until you address the problem.

Struggling With Feelings of Frustration

Vedic meditation is, in our opinion, the most effortless form of meditation. You simply repeat your mantra, and when your attention wanders, gently redirect to your mantra once more. You really can’t go wrong! However, it is possible to get yourself in a bit of a rut if you start beating yourself up for not meditating “properly”, becoming frustrated with the chattering thoughts that, really, are natural and unavoidable.

Putting yourself under too much pressure can make meditation an exacerbating experience, especially if you have lots of expectations for yourself and are rushing to feel the benefits. For instance, if you want to start meditating to offset working an extra couple of hours every day, you may become annoyed with yourself for not becoming instantly more productive and begin battling your mind rather than relaxing naturally into a meditative state.

In Vedic meditation, you just need to let the mantra – effortlessly – do it’s work. The key thing is to make sure you don’t start labelling your own wandering attention as the enemy and pour lots of mental energy into suppressing your thoughts. This can make meditation unenjoyable, becoming less about “flow” and more about “fight”, and sitting down to meditate with goals in mind can be a barrier to actually achieving them.

Experiencing Discomfort – Both Physically and Mentally

The things we experience when we go into a meditative state aren’t necessarily going to be pleasant. Meditation brings us to the very root of our beings in an extremely powerful way, and it helps us untangle a lifetime of stresses, hurts and even psychological trauma. As Brigid Moss reports in The Pool, this isn’t always going to be easy. While many of our meditation experiences will be beautiful and dreamy, and a few rather unremarkable, we are sometimes going to encounter long-buried emotional wounds.

This is all part of the process and ultimately extremely healing, allowing us to break free from unconscious patterns determined by fears and bad memories. However, it can also be off-putting for some people, especially if they are reluctant to seek out guidance and discuss their experiences. Another discomfort some meditators report are aches and pains during meditation, which are distracting and annoying – but generally short-lived.

To understand more about the psychological disquiet we might face when working through the traumas which are encoded deeply in our nervous system, we recommend reading Will William’s The Effortless Mind, which explores the science and psychology this phenomenon. But in the meantime, letting yourself meditate through these experiences will be a major step towards moving on from them, and if you learnt with us, you can get in touch with our teachers at any time for advice and support.

Final thoughts

These are, in our opinion, some of the major stumbling blocks to meditation, and if you get through these niggles it’s likely your meditation practice will last a lifetime!

However, there is one influencing factor which perhaps trumps them all when it comes to making meditation part of our day – and that is feeling as though we lack the necessary time. This is something we thought warrants a blog post of its own, so watch this space to find out more!

 

This entry was posted in blog.

How Meditation Can Help New Families

how meditation can help new families

 

One of the things you notice, as you advance through your early life, is a marked changed in the content of your Facebook feed. Photos of neon-waving nights out start slowly disappearing, to be replaced by squishy newborns, perfect and glow-worm like in blankets.

It would be easy to think, looking at such benign little beings, that they don’t have it in them to utterly transform someone’s life from top to bottom, but that’s exactly what they do – barging into the world in perhaps the least considerate of manners before demanding all the love and attention that their precious and beautiful little souls deserve.

But despite the fact that our friends – and often our own parents – do their best to warn us about the realities of having kids, few people are truly prepared for the profound change that is unleashed when they start a family. For most, the transition can be a bit of a shock.

Add to this the pressure and worry that comes with having children, and the situation can become a strange and exhausting mixture of stress and elation. Once upon a time you could leave the house without so much as a second thought, but now you need an accessories bag roughly the size of Bermuda and a hefty dose of steely determination. Sleep also becomes a newly fraught activity – mainly in the fact that you’ll never actually get to do it

And it’s not like the never ending advice you can find on the Internet is much help either. Even he most innocuous of activities seems to be met with a chorus of “you shouldn’t be doing that! Do it this way!” and many people seem keen to parent from a distance, with the barrage of advice often becoming confusing and contradictory.

In all the maelstrom, meditation can be one way to find your place of calm, and give you the confidence to forge ahead in the way you think is best.

During Pregnancy

The benefits of meditation and pregnancy can positively influence both mother and baby, as meditation reduces stress hormones which can be picked up on by an unborn child, and it also makes you feel calmer and happier.

Any woman who’s been pregnant will know that hormones and moods can get – well, it’s probably best to say “distinctive” – during pregnancy. Meditation can balance you out, lessening the understandable stresses and worries that come with the prospect of motherhood.

And meditation can be a big help for expectant dads too. It isn’t always easy for soon-to-be fathers and their concerns can often be overlooked. The prospect of a huge life change looms large over every parent, and for men there’s the additional anxiety of seeing their partner and unborn child at this most vulnerable of moments – without being able to do much to help. Meditation can help you keep a lid on their fears, while also giving you the inner strength and stability needed to support your partner.

It Needn’t Take Up Too Much Time

In the hectic weeks after a birth there’s it can be hard to find the time to brush your teeth or wash shampoo out of your hair, so taking out time for meditation seems impossible. However, much like exercise, however much you can do will help. If the baby is off your hands for a little while, 20 minutes of meditation here and there can work wonders.

Feeling Calmer

The “fight or flight” response is our bodies’ evolutionary method for dealing with life-threatening situations, and it sets off in times of stress. However, in the modern world this response is triggered more often than your body is designed to cope with, making your heart beat faster, flooding your system with stress hormones and neglecting non-essential functioning such as digestion to go into emergency mode.

This happens with even small stresses, and there are fewer times in life more stressful than new parenthood. Meditation calms down the area of the brain that initiates the fight or flight response so it reacts more appropriately, and lets you feel more serene.

Your Kids Can Join In

Once your kids get older, meditation is a great habit for them to practice. The ways in which it makes adults calmer and happier works for children too, and picking up such a healthy and beneficial practise early can stand them in good stead throughout their lives.

 

This entry was posted in blog.

Meditation in the Workplace: The Companies Embracing Corporate Wellbeing

Which companies have embraced meditation?

 

For a long time, the tough and competitive world of business wasn’t a place you’d expect meditation to flourish. In an environment where results are key and time is of the essence, the idea of sitting down in the apparently unproductive activity of meditation (although, in reality, it is of course anything but!) could appear to be an alien one. However, as executives, CEOs and media moguls increasingly discuss the virtues of a meditation practice, scepticism is dissipating, and meditation is becoming a growing part of people’s working lives.

Many business leaders are now offering their employees the opportunity to practice Transcendental meditation (otherwise known as Vedic meditation) in the workplace, while others have wholeheartedly embraced mindfulness meditation in an effort to make their companies happier and healthier places to be.

Why are businesses interested in meditation?

There are various reasons for this phenomenon. Perhaps most importantly for the corporate world, there has been increasing scientific evidence for the benefits of meditation, as well as measurable improvements in absenteeism, staff turnover and performance for companies implementing corporate wellbeing programs.

Favourable numbers and proven facts are always going to have more of an impact in the minds of business people than anecdotal evidence, so the fact that the benefits of meditation are becoming ever more quantifiable is perhaps a major factor in its integration into the corporate world.

However, it isn’t only the bottom line which is influencing the wellbeing-based decisions of those within business. There has been increasing awareness both of mental health issues, and of employers corporate responsibility towards the society they operate in. With one in four people now experiencing mental health issues within their lifetime, this is something both business leaders and the people working for them are ever more conscious of.

Which companies have embraced meditation?

Google’s Chade-Meng Tan (who is one of the company’s earliest engineers) runs meditation classes to improve the health and happiness of Google’s employees. He is an avid meditator and claims it facilitates in him inner peace and happiness. His goal is to see every workplace in the world become ‘a drinking fountain for happiness and enlightenment’. Google also launched gPause, an internal online community where employees can share information on meditation books, resources and retreats.

Apple provide meditation rooms and classes for employees. The late Steve Jobs was a massive advocate for meditation and famously allowed workers half an hour each day to meditate as a result of its positive effects on his productivity and well-being.

Ken Powell, former CEO at General Mills, a US-based food company behind products including Cheerios, introduced internal meditation classes for all of its employees. In every building a meditation room can be found.

Yahoo offer employees free meditation classes for in their meditation rooms, in order to improve general well-being of staff and to reduce stress in the workplace. Yahoo were one of the early adopters of meditation for staff.

Procter and Gamble was also an early adopter of meditation, offering workers mediation spaces and a meditation instruction programme. This was thanks to former CEO, Alan Lafley, who stated you have to ‘out-meditation’ a problem.

Twitter co-founder Evan Williams created Medium and dedicated a room in the middle of the office to meditation and yoga. He brought in Will Kabat-Zinn to run several meditation classes each week.

Bridgewater Associates an investment firm run by founder Ray Dalio introduced a four month course in TM for employees who had been at the organisation for six months or longer.  It was more popular than anticipated with many employees meditating twice a day at work. Dalio often attributes much of the success of the company to transcendental meditation.

Nike run meditation courses and workshops for employees, and in particular the innovation team who focus on leading the brand in new directions. These courses are one of the major benefits of working for the global brand. The company also offers relaxation rooms where employees are able to meditate and classes are run to improve the health of its staff.

Medtronic (a medical device company based in the US) also created a room dedicated to meditation. This was a vision of founder Earl Brakken and became a symbol of the company’s dedication to creativity.

TV Production company HBO run weekly meditation and yoga classes for employees to ensure they stay healthy both mentally and physically.

If the above wasn’t striking enough, The BBC, Channel 4, Sony, HSBC, Spotify, IBM, Uber, Toyota, Goldman Sachs and Universal have also embraced meditation within the workplace in an attempt to ensure workers are happy, healthy and well-balanced.

With so many companies embracing meditation, it may be that in the future a huge number of people are introduced to this amazing practice through their workplace – something which can only be a good thing both for the business world and beyond.

This entry was posted in blog.

Five Ways to Regain Lost Confidence

Five Ways to Regain Lost Confidence

 

While impossible to prove scientifically, it’s pretty much taken as fact of life that, when things go wrong, they all go wrong at once. Generally, positive and negative influences all coexist as you go from one day to the next, neither one massively outweighing the other, but every now and then the negatives grow monster-sized and leave your confidence on the floor.

During these times self-belief dissipates and pulling yourself out of the situation seems about as likely as cracking the secrets to alchemy. However, feeling better about yourself is half the battle when you want to improve your circumstances, so it’s a good idea to focus inwards when life has taken a wrong turn. When it comes to bouncing back, there are practical steps you can take – these five ways to regain lost confidence will help you move onwards and upwards with renewed determination.

Self Care

When you feel terrible the last thing you need to do is punish yourself. Also, it’s important to remember that while a few booze-soaked evenings or retreating under the duvet for days may well be inevitable when you feel at your absolute worst (and nothing to beat yourself up over), this can’t go on forever. Finding sustainable ways to feel better can help you avoid triggering self-destruct mode, where relief is temporary and the consequences long-term.

Self care means all kinds of different things to different people but, in general terms, it’s about looking after yourself. This means allowing time to rest, doing the things you enjoy, and ultimately giving yourself a break. When we feel bad about ourselves, it can be difficult to convince ourselves that we are even worth the effort, but simply getting up, showering, dressing up a little and taking the time to eat well can make a big difference.

Meditate

As far as habits go, few have the restorative powers of meditation. Stress, poor sleep and hormonal imbalances are all exacerbated in times when external influences are negative, and meditation can help to counteract these. By allowing people to rest more deeply than is achieved in the deepest cycle of sleep, meditation helps people become energised and refreshed.

You can also combat stress with meditation, as the effects of our innate “fight or flight” stress response are lessened by the habit. Harmful stress hormones are reduced and meditators find themselves becoming calmer in general, which allows them to think clearly and become happier.

Reach Out

People can be surprisingly helpful and supportive when you allow yourself to ask for help and with the internet breaking down barriers such as distance, it’s nearly always possible to find a community that suits you.

As there are very few people who haven’t experienced the sort of situation you may have found yourself in, from losing your job to breaking up with a partner, they can give advice on how they got through difficult times, and just be there to listen. People often feel they need to present a capable and unemotional front to the world, but in showing some vulnerability you can gain the support you need.

Work on Your Own Projects

When you confidence has been shaken away to nothing you can regain some self-belief by rediscovering what it is you are passionate about and enjoy. Throwing yourself into an endeavour of your choice can provide some much-needed distraction, as well as building up your confidence again as you complete tasks that you are proud of.

Find the Positives

A positive frame of mind can seem like an impossibility when life isn’t playing along as it should, but it’s something that it’s absolutely worth putting some effort into. Tides of optimism are much more likely to deliver you to somewhere you want to be than pessimism, and much of this can be achieved by small changes in attitude.

You can take what seems like a disaster and turn it into an opportunity – because one of the things about your life being shaken up is that it offers the chance for change. Focus on success rather than setbacks, and see every positive, no matter how small, as a growing bank of evidence that everything is going to go brilliantly. The more you think this, the more it will become true, and soon you’ll be on top form once again.

If you’ve found yourself in the midsts of a challenging period in life, from divorce to redundancy, meditation could help you cope. Get in touch anytime to discuss how we might be able to help you.

This entry was posted in blog.

The Best Meditation Quotes

the best meditation quotes

 

Sometimes, the most relatable, wise and inspiring ideas are condensed into a perfect collection of words, formed into poetic phrases that we can’t help wonder over. Here at Will Williams Meditations, we have many favourite quotes from exceptional individuals across the world, but it’s the quotes that relate (whether intentionally or not) to the experience, philosophy and spirit of meditation that we are most fond of. While this list is by no means exhaustive, we have gathered together the best meditation quotes for you to enjoy.

Including words from scientists, meditation masters, campaigners for social justice and more, these quotes aren’t necessarily things that pertain exclusively to meditation, but that we feel resonates with the experiences we have through meditation.

For instance, when Martin Luther King Jr discussed how injustices targeted at any group go on to impact humanity as a whole, he was talking (with his usual power and eloquence) about the experiences of black people in America and their struggle against institutional racism and the hangovers of slavery. However, he also touched upon the interconnected nature of humanity and universality of the human experience – something which can feel so tangible through regular meditation.

Similarly, the words of poet Maya Angelou in our collection of the best meditation quotes describes how we are the outcome of a lifetime of experiences, even if we don’t remember them. Easing out the knots of difficult moments and old hurts which have become part of our being is a key part of a meditation practice, replacing all those negative aspects of life’s adventure with new and positive ones.

But we’ll stop going on now and let you take a look for yourself!

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We would absolutely love to know what your favourite quotes are, and whether you found any in this selection particularly inspiring! Get in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

This entry was posted in blog.

How Meditation Can Make You Look Amazing

how meditation can make you look amazing

 

Most of the time, we tend to associate meditation with our emotional and intellectual life. From changing our perspectives to making us kinder, meditation is very much an “internal” thing – and it goes without saying that when it comes to we humans, the most important things lie beneath the surface. But while it’s pretty awesome that meditation offers lots of health and wellbeing benefits, what’s even awesomer is that as well as making us feel amazing, meditation can make us look amazing too.

This may all sound a little shallow, but we’re sure even very serious and important people like to wink at themselves in the mirror occasionally, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look at our best. So the fact that meditation can unleash the handsome devil within all of us is a brilliant bonus on top of all those other benefits we get to enjoy.

But how exactly does meditation make us look great? Read on to find out more!

Ageing

One of the biggest factors in our appearance is our age, and one of the biggest contributors to premature ageing is stress. The stress hormone cortisol is thought to break down skin collagen and even make our cells age faster, while the lack of sleep and poor diet that can accompany a high-stress lifestyle also take their toll.

Lots of sunscreen, quitting cigarettes and eating well can go a long way in keeping our skin looking healthy, but stress is undeniably harder to keep at bay. The modern world is full of pressures and demands, and few of us can afford to escape from it for any meaningful length of time.

This is where meditation steps in. Because meditating every day provides such a profound rest (much deeper even than sleep) it can help us find islands of calm even in the busiest of days. It also reduces that pesky hormone cortisol by up to a third, giving it far less of a chance to do damage.

Other stress-related problems with our appearance, such as thinning hair and acne, can also be alleviated with meditation, and as it helps us sleep well, the physical signs of tiredness can be erased. Feeling bright, well rested and happy, meditation can give us that oh-so-illusive touch of authentic radiance that beauty products never quite manage to provide.

Bloating

When we are stressed, our digestion is often the one of the first things which is noticeably affected. When we are in fight or flight mode, the energy used in general bodily maintenance – like quietly digesting our lunch – is redirected to emergency functioning to ensure we have the reserves needed to escape from danger. One result of this, along with other digestive trouble, is uncomfortable bloating.

Having our stomachs swell up beyond all sense is especially annoying when that favourite pair of jeans suddenly don’t fit as well as they usually do. However, meditation can help us avoid this situation by calming down our hair-trigger fight or flight response, leaving our digestive system undisturbed and able to perform at its best.

Good Lifestyle Choices

When we are feeling a little low or stressed out, we can develop all kinds of bad habits. Smoking, drinking too much or eating a few too many treats are an almost inevitable consequence of a life that feels drained of other pleasure or comfort, as we search for quick fixes to relieve our stress.

With meditation, however, we feel more energetic, and begin to develop a naturally positive frame of mind – making it far easier to make the healthy lifestyle choices that seem so difficult otherwise.

Because meditation is a brilliant keystone habit (something in our lives which triggers further positive changes), we can find that being healthy becomes much less of a conscious effort. Looking after ourselves with lovely nourishing food, some fun and enjoyable exercise, and avoiding things that are bad for us is much easier when we feel good about ourselves.

What’s more, when we are positively glowing with health and happiness, it’ll be immediately evident in our appearance as half of the challenge with looking brilliant is feeling brilliant. It’s why brides and grooms glow on their wedding days (although the flush of bubbly probably plays a part too!) and there’s something captivating about the truly happy. So if you fancy becoming the best version of you, and a little bit sexier to boot, pop along to one of our intro talks!

This entry was posted in blog.

High Functioning Anxiety: How Do You Know When It’s Time to Get Help?

help for high functioning anxiety

 

It goes without saying that periods of sadness and anxiety are an inevitable part of life. Bad mental states can weigh on us for weeks or even months, and the stress of the modern world is something that is hard to avoid. But for those with high-functioning anxiety, these normal feelings have slipped into something more difficult and profound, and knowing when it’s time to get help for high functioning anxiety is vital to long-term wellbeing.

It isn’t always easy distinguishing exactly when our feelings, worries and experience of life indicate a mental health issue. When does grief slip over into depression? Can we say for sure when extreme tidiness is a sign of OCD? At what point does a “worrier” personality type become a person living with an anxiety disorder? Doctors may have diagnostic criteria, but it’s an undeniably complex issue – especially for the individual in the midst of it all.

What is High-Functioning Anxiety?

While high-functioning anxiety isn’t an official mental health condition, it an increasingly recognised phenomenon and something that many people identify with. Outwardly, those with high-functioning anxiety appear to cope well with life and are even very successful. On the inside, however, they experience a near-constant state of anxiety, feeling beset by catastrophic thinking and nagging worry. The clinical psychologist Inna Khazan, PhD, explains:

“People with high-functioning anxiety push themselves to get things done, with anxiety constantly holding a ‘stick’ over their heads,” adds Khazan. “Fear of what might happen if they don’t move forward keeps them moving forward. And because these people are often high achieving, no one thinks that there is anything ‘wrong’ with them.”

We tend to expect people with anxiety to be visibly paralysed with fear and to withdraw from the world. This is true of some people, but others respond to anxiety by becoming as busy as possible, working hard to maintain their public face. The likely result is that the problem becomes compounded – if a person seems fine, they are unlikely to be advised by friends or family to look after themselves, or seek help.

When Does It Become a Problem?

The topic of high-functioning anxiety is something that can prompt questions about how we define mental illness, and how much we put down to personality, circumstances or low mood. As we don’t have a window into other people’s minds, we can struggle to know what is “normal” everyday stress and worry, and what we should go to our doctors about. As philosophers, religious leaders and creatives have mused for centuries, life inevitably encompasses a certain amount of suffering – but at which point is that suffering indicative of illness?

By operating well in life – turning up to work, picking their kids up from school, navigating social events with apparent ease – the characteristics of anxiety disorder that high-functioning people experience are generally considered to be at “subclinical” levels. However, the fact they can maintain their professional and personal life with relative success doesn’t mean that their anxiety doesn’t have a great personal cost.

Constantly managing worries, having difficulty sleeping, pushing down fear, suffering with headaches and digestive problems – those with high-functioning anxiety may come to believe that feeling pretty awful for much of the time is simply the reality of life, forgetting what it’s like to live without that knot in their stomach. 

This can be pretty isolating, and extremely exhausting. It can even exacerbate other health issues, and people struggle through without outside support or proper self-care – because, of course, they’re “fine”, why should they need it?

Help for High Functioning Anxiety

So how do you know, if you’re a person with high-functioning anxiety, when it’s time to get help; and what kind of help might be best for you? Here are some ideas which could be the first steps towards a less anxious and stressful experience of life.

Trust your feelings 

Just because you don’t necessarily have a diagnosable mental health issue, (although only a doctor and/or psychiatrist could tell you for sure) and your life appears to be a successful and functional one on the surface, doesn’t mean that you should discount the feelings of fear, stress and worry you experience. If anxiety is something you experience a lot of the time over a period of months or years, it isn’t something you need to accept – and going to a health professional for a chat should be your first port of call.

Take steps to understand your emotions

If anxiety is your default state, it may well have affected your perception and experience of life. You might have developed several coping mechanisms that you barely notice, or repeat patterns of behaviour because you are always in a vaguely panicked state of mind. Keeping a diary – even if it’s just a dry run-through of your day and how you were feeling at the time – can be a great way to gain more insight into your life and see patterns which otherwise may go unnoticed.

Give yourself permission to practice self-care

Even for those with a generally sunny outlook and who naturally don’t worry too much, life can be very difficult at times. If you are at the opposite end of the spectrum and tend to find yourself worrying about everything, it can be even more so. We all need to practice self-care, and it is especially important for those who tend to push down their feelings and work at 100% effort to keep everything in life running smoothly.

You may think that, compared to others, you are actually OK and should just get on with things. But you can vastly improve your experience of life simply by allocating a little more time away from professional concerns and looking after others to looking after yourself.

Whether it’s meditation, making more time to pursue your hobbies, doing less overtime at work – doing what you can to soothe and help yourself can transform your experience of high-functioning anxiety to something more manageable.

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Aren’t Our Meditation Courses Free?

why does it cost money to learn meditation

 

Meditation is a beautiful, empowering thing. Its power to change people’s lives and foster a mindset of openness, connectivity and compassion across communities is one of the many reasons why we are so inspired to teach this practice.

Recently, however, we have seen a few people ask a pointed question: “why does it cost money to learn meditation?” Some have remarked that asking for a fee is not in the spirit of meditation, or could be construed as cynical.  

We completely understand the line of thought that may lead people to this conclusion, and are open to everyone’s opinion. However, we felt this post would help to illuminate the issue.

Let’s use an analogy, albeit an imperfect one. You can argue that learning to dance is also a beautiful and empowering thing. It helps people to be healthier, express themselves and is a precious and sophisticated artform, something that should exist outside the base concerns of commerce. Like meditation, therefore, it would be possible to consider that ballet classes should always be free.

But the reality of our economic system is that ballet teachers provide a service. They must rent a studio, invest in teaching materials and contribute significant amounts of their time – not to mention the many years of their life it took to acquire their knowledge.

They can neither run their business or live at all comfortably in the world without some form of income; nor can they employ other teachers or rent a studio. It would be wonderful if a ballet teacher could pass on this gift with no recompense at all, and some occasionally have the capacity to do so. But for most teachers, this simply isn’t possible.

In an ideal world in which we aren’t so tied to the whims of an arbitrary economic resource – one which, we hesitate to add, is currently failing to serve genuine human need and potential, or reflect the availability of our globe’s natural resources – teachers wouldn’t have to make this compromise. We would happily instruct others with no greater expectation of reward than the pleasure we get in turn.

When it comes to learning to dance, taking art classes, or mastering any number of other skills, though, we are generally able to understand that an investment of time equals an investment of resources – and thus, the need to charge for classes. It’s because meditation is so close to people’s hearts, and often part of a profound spiritual journey, that we can find it harder to rationalise this necessity.

Here at Will Williams Meditation, we are motivated solely by our desire to pass on our knowledge and techniques; specific methodologies that have helped people lead more fulfilled and less anxious lives. But the economic reality of doing this (in London, no less) cannot be avoided.

In order to spread the message of meditation, we charge as little as we can for our courses and events. The economic reality of our location and situation dictate that without money to keep the wheels turning, we couldn’t realistically carry on teaching Vedic meditation, holding events, or spreading the word.

Our founder, Will Williams, hasn’t taken a wage for many years, and personally subsidises our meditation centre in order to bring Vedic meditation to as many people as he can. However, it would be deeply unfair to expect our other teachers and members of staff to work without a salary.

Volunteers only have very limited time to give, and with the ever-rising costs of essentials such as housing, food, and childcare, people cannot live on fresh air alone. We must also manage significant costs in our studio space, plus the hundreds of other hidden costs of running an organisation.

In order to reconcile this reality with the ideals of meditation, we take every step we can to make sure our students get the best teaching experience possible, and at the best value for money. We strive to ensure our prices remain as low as possible, and are more than happy to negotiate price plans for those who need it. In addition, we hold many free events throughout the year, including our recurring and well-loved Shavasana Disco.

After our courses, we hold regular free group meditations (which can be attended by people who have learnt Vedic/TM meditation elsewhere) and offer extensive complementary aftercare. A student can contact us any time they are looking for answers to their questions, or advice on how to develop their practice, and even if they are in need of emotional support.  

We are not in it for commercial success, we are here to help all those who really need and want help. We discuss this issue an awful lot as a team, and one day we would love to produce an app which is free or extremely cheap to buy that mimics the teaching experience. But to do so would require an investment which runs well into the hundreds of thousands of pounds. For this you need investors, and investors expect a return on investment – and once again the question of economics raises its head.

At Will Williams Meditation, we also don’t feel we can teach this technique with effectiveness or integrity if we were to carve up this ancient and holistic wisdom into bite-size “taster” packages, add-ons and other such deals. If we can’t teach Vedic meditation properly, and in the form which is most helpful to people, it would feel far too much like a corporatism and westernisation of something truly special – a fast-food-style “start with 30 minutes free today and double up for extra enlightenment!” that guts the original meaning out of the technique. And we don’t feel this is in the spirit of what we feel called to do.

Unless some amazing technology comes along that enables us to humanise the learning experience and generate sufficiently strong learning outcomes, or some even more genius technique is found that can be taught via such cost-effective platforms, it will always have to be taught live, in person, with staff, and and all the other crazy stuff that goes into it. And because you need teachers, a space to teach in, and many other hidden things, it simply isn’t possible for this to be free.

We aim to support everyone in the practice of meditation, and will continue to strive for the betterment of all our students. Please feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss any of these points further – we always love to hear from you, and enjoy discussing questions from enquiring minds.

Note: Those questioning cost sometimes point to Buddhist centres who teach meditation. Here, whatever donation you can afford is enough for you to learn. However, it is important to remember that Buddhism is a religion, and similar to how you can walk into a Catholic Church and enjoy Mass for free, their services do not rely on set charges, as they will have many generous and committed donors.

Volunteers and monks work extensively in religions such as Buddhism, making their staffing costs low. Churches and religious organizations are also generally exempt from income tax and receive other favorable treatment under the tax law. Finally (although this isn’t inherently a bad thing and leads to lots of good work) religions are ultimately motivated by guiding people to embrace their own particular belief system – whereas our organisation is entirely secular.

 

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Helping Staff Manage Stress During Tough Times

Helping Staff Manage Stress During Tough Times

 

Here at Will Williams Meditation, we think corporate wellbeing is really important. We spend so much of our lives working that making that time as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible should be a big priority across society. If you run a business or manage employees, helping staff manage stress during tough times could make a huge difference to their lives in general.

Employee stress (and its impact on both personal wellbeing and professional productivity) is a persistent concern for business and team leaders. According to the Health and Safety Executive 526,000 people suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17, and 12.5 million working days were lost.

When times are tough and businesses (or other organisations) experience commercial uncertainty, a difficult transition, or the sudden departure of a key member of staff, this stress can be compounded. Entrepreneurs and managers carry the responsibility of guiding the establishment out of the storm, while simultaneously protecting their employee’s health and wellbeing.

Leading your team back to stability and success is not without its challenges, but by following these tips you can keep a lid on employee stress.

Be Honest and Open

While the impulse to not worry your team is understandable, if you are dealing with profound and noticeable problems, a lack of communication on your part can foster atmosphere of speculation and fear. You don’t have to share every detail, but openness and honesty will bolster the trust employees have in you and your integrity, and will help them appreciate their place in the long term recovery.

Acknowledge the Problem, But Find the Positives

It’s important to acknowledge the difficulties your business is experiencing, but it is possible to find the positives even in very demanding situations; often by focusing on the opportunities that come with change.

For example, perhaps operational problems have made it clear that the business or organisation would benefit from some restructuring. In this case, you can use the change to actually benefit your employees by asking them where their skills are underutilised, and tailoring a job role that is more suited to them.

Help Your Staff Manage Their Workload

Whether you’ve been forced to downsize or have had an influx of business that’s left you with more clients or customers than you can currently cope with (one of those “good problems”), there are many moments in the working world where every member of the team sees an increase in workload.

Your key focus will be to resolve the issue as soon as possible, whether that’s by taking on new employees or streamlining your services so your team can cope with demand. But in the meantime, there are other ways you can keep stress at bay.

Firstly, make it clear that you completely understand that your staff are under extra pressure, and make sure – as the boss – that you are seen to be working just as hard as they are to keep everything together. Secondly, look into the areas where you can save people time. One solution is to cut back on meetings (the Harvard Business Review surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries, and found that 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work) and allow trusted members of staff to make executive decisions.

Don’t Let Workplace Wellbeing Practices Slip

It’s understandable, when you need everyone to be working efficiently, to let good practice in workplace wellness to slip. However, this can do more harm than good, as burnout and stress damage productivity and can even lead to extended sick leave.

Make sure staff take their breaks, don’t check emails outside of work hours, and if you simply cannot avoid a key deadline and you need staff to work late into the night/do consistent overtime, give them a couple of free days holiday when things calm down. It’s also helpful to encourage wellness habits like meditation, or get the team to leave their desks and go on walks during their breaks.

Even the smallest everyday actions can make a difference, and as a employer, you can make a real difference to people’s health, happiness and state of mind – even through challenges and tough times.

Check out our corporate wellbeing page to find out more.  

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