Sitting Still is the New Move: On Meditation (She Leads Africa)

I'm excited to be working for She Leads Africa as a contributing writer. She Leads Africa is a  community that helps young African women achieve their professional dreams by delivering business and career advice, support, and access to a network of driven young women.

I'll be writing for SLA on a bi-monthly basis about a variety of topics. Visit the She Leads Africa website to learn more about their resources.

First up? Learn why "Sitting Still is the New Move."

Almost everyone I know is either busy or tired. In this age of hyperconnectivity, we’re always “on.” In the race to stay on top of work, news, and friendships, it’s difficult to find time for self-care. By creating the space to embrace the present, meditation gives us the time to tune out the noise and listen to our inner voices

I first learned the importance of meditation at my Quaker high school. Silence is a unique features of a Quaker worship service. Through silence, Quakers believe they can listen, reflect, and deepen their connection with God, their community, and themselves. For forty-five minutes once a week, teachers and students met in a sunlit room to sit in silence. In such a competitive, Type A environment, the fact that we came together weekly to affirm the time to reflect and to dream is extraordinary. Taking the time for mindfulness helped me listen to my inner self rather than follow the crowd.

As a teenager trying to figure out life, that space was essential. But as a young woman in the digital age, I find the need for silent reflection even more essential. It was easy to meditate in high school when the time was carved out for me—it’s harder to accomplish now as an adult with a hectic schedule. But according to experts, meditation one of the best ways to focus and be present rather than in “react” mode.

Ready to start meditating? Here are a few tips for incorporating it into your life:

– Start small. Sit for just five minutes a few days a week, and gradually build upwards.

– Check in with yourself. How do you feel—tired, anxious, energized? Focus on your state of being and you’ll learn more about yourself.

– Don’t worry about doing it right. For some people, meditation is about clearing the mind or avoiding all thought. While that can happen during meditation, that’s not the point. It’s normal to have thoughts, and meditation can help you better focus the direction of your attention.

– Create a space. When you’re meditating for short periods of time, your location might not matter as much, but as you increase your time spent meditating, you should be comfortable. What does your soothing environment look like? Do you need a pillow? Do you prefer sitting in the sunlight or an evening session with candles? Design a calming space that helps you clear your mind.

– Make it part of your daily routine. Set a reminder to meditate each morning to help get your day off to the right start. Switch off your phone and find a quiet space. Can’t take the time before the morning commute? Try carving out a little bit of your lunch break or use meditation as a strategy to unwind before bed.

– Join a community. There are Meditation Meetups in thousands of cities worldwide. If you can’t find a group that suits you, create one with family, friends or colleagues. Depending on where you are, you can look into your company benefits—many employers now provide meditation training to promote wellness and productivity.

– Try an app. Some crowd favorites include HeadspaceBuddhify, and Mind.

Every morning, I take half an hour to meditate. The silence helps me cope with the deluge of information I receive everyday in my full-time job as a Communications Manager at multi-stakeholder industry association and my night-owl assignments as a freelance writer and editor. In the words of Buddha, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”


Akinyi OchiengComment