Tips on meditation from three teachers at the Headspace Health App

OK, Melburnians: deep breath in, deep breath out. The last few years have been pretty rocky, with lowlights including that pesky pandemic, multiple lockdowns and record-high inflation rates. Everybody’s mental health has taken a serious hit, and while it’s easy to opt for instant dopamine boosts like retail therapy or comfort food, there’s no quick long-term fix for emotional wellness. Instead, managing your mental health should be a daily personal investment – and one of the most popular and effective methods is meditation

If you’re a bit unsure of where to begin, aren’t quite sold on the merits of meditation or have struggled to achieve results, you’re in the right place. We’ve enlisted the help of three experts over at the Headspace App to share their meditation journeys and their top three tips. 

Photograph: Supplied | Headspace

Dora Kamau, a teacher at Headspace Health

What brought you to meditation? 
“I came to the practice of meditation in 2010 after being in a tumultuous relationship and struggling with my mental health,” says Kamau. “I wish I could say I stuck with it the first time I tried it, but like most people, I was impatient with my results and it took me a while to understand that the process is more important than the destination.”

1. Keep it playful, fun and fresh

“Oftentimes when we come to the practice of meditation, we arrive so serious and stern and don’t leave any room for play or lightheartedness. This can make our practice feel more like a chore and less like a hobby. So for those just starting their meditation journey, have fun with it!” 

2. Be kind to yourself

“Taking the time to meditate or even the time to slow down and pause can be daunting. Take into account how many years you’ve built certain habits, and recognise that it will take some time to undo any habits that are unhelpful or unhealthy. It won’t always be easy, you may miss a few days or find that ‘nothing is happening.’ These things are normal!”

3. Be mindful of comparison and judgement

“With the influx of mindfulness on social media platforms, we may compare our journeys to those we see online, and we may start to doubt ourselves and feel discouraged. When we compare ourselves to others, it’s like we’ll never be good enough. Trust your journey, and honour wherever you’re at.” 

Eve Lewis Prieto, a mindfulness meditation teacher at Headspace Health

What brought you to meditation? 
“The short answer is chronic anxiety, and the long answer is that I struggled immensely in my twenties with my mental health,” says Prieto. “I wasn’t sleeping properly and I was coping in very unhelpful ways, and I finally realised that I needed some help. I was pretty sceptical about trying meditation, and even a little judgy about it, believing that it was only for those who wanted to take a religious or spiritual path. I could not have been more wrong, and for the first time in my life, I saw a way to tame my anxious mind.” 

1. You don’t have to clear your mind to meditate

“This is the biggest misconception. Folks think they have to stop their thoughts and clear their mind, but what this does is create a lot of tension and frustration. The mind is designed to think, so we’re never going to be able to stop thoughts; what we’re doing in meditation is strengthening our attention so that we start to notice when we do get distracted.”

2. Start small

“Even if you’re just doing five minutes a day, you’re giving yourself a chance to get used to sitting with the mind. It’s much better to be consistent, steadily training the mindfulness muscles and giving you a better chance of making it a habit. You can always build from there.”

3. Obstacles are normal

“More often than not, folks are coming to meditation because of things like stress, anxiety, depression and sleep issues. Try not to put too many expectations that things will change overnight, because meditation is a practice. It can be hard facing our challenges and sometimes it can be quite unpleasant. Trust the process; it won’t always be easy, but it may just change your life.”

Kessonga Giscombe, a teacher at Headspace Health

What brought you to meditation? 
“Long story short, it was my wife. I grew up in NYC, and fought a lot as a kid. As a result, I think I carried a bit of a chip on my shoulder. Even into my adult years, I still had a bit of this chip lingering about,” says Giscombe. “One night, my wife and I had an incident where I completely lost my temper and overreacted to a situation. It wasn’t pretty, and the following week, my wife gently placed a book [on meditation] in my hand. That book changed everything for me, and I immediately started a personal meditation practice. The rest is history.”

1. Be patient

“Just like with riding a bike for the first time, there will be ‘falls’ and ‘bumps’ and ‘bruises’. But just like you get right back up on that bike, allow yourself to do the same with your meditation journey. Remember that there’s no such thing as a right or wrong meditation.”

2. Keep it simple

“In the beginning, it may be tempting to try and do an hour-long meditation because that’s what you see or hear other people doing. But this can be extremely daunting for a novice, so in the beginning, start with three to five minutes and know that every little bit counts.” 

3. Be consistent

“In my humble opinion, this is the most important tip. You didn’t learn to ride a bike overnight, or by just practising once a week. The same goes with meditation, and to reap the benefits of this lifestyle, consistent everyday practice is in order. And to reference tip number two, a few minutes every day is better than an hour on Mondays.” 

Keen to give meditation a go? Visit the Headspace App website to access a wide range of mindfulness and meditation offerings. 

After relaxing spots in Melbourne where you can meditate outside? Here are ten of our city’s most peaceful locations. In need of some hands-on stress relief? Here are six fun ways to let off steam in Melbourne.

https://www.timeout.com/melbourne/health-and-beauty/three-headspace-teachers-give-their-top-tips-for-mindfulness-and-meditation