Paige Harris’s meditation journey began when she was just seven years old. Her father would play her and her sister a qi gong CD (a Chinese practice combining movement, breath and meditation) in the evenings to help them fall asleep, and the breathing techniques she learned through listening night after night left a lasting impression.
“That practice stuck with me for a long time,” she says. “I ended up having what I describe as a very colourful life. Life presented me with a lot of challenges. And I leant towards meditation … as part of my survival.”
Harris believes the power of meditation lies in “the ability to create a resilient and intimate relationship with your nervous system”. Modern life can leave us overstimulated, feeling anxious and fatigued, she says. Through meditation, “you begin to create a more regulated state, where your nervous system is resilient enough to be in a chaotic situation or have a bad few days and still feel balanced and grounded”.
Today, Harris runs Amavi Meditation, a business based in Melbourne and Byron Bay that offers immersive meditation workshops and, more recently, an online platform where users can listen to guided meditations on demand.
Meditation remains an integral part of Harris’ day. “I’ve worked it into my routine in a way that I actually take it with me wherever I go,” she says. “I may be having a meeting, and I’ll breathe into my diaphragm and visualise light clearing my body to enhance a healing and relaxation response. I’m always aware of what my nervous system is experiencing. Can I drop the shoulders lower? Can I breathe into my belly a little deeper? Can I extend my exhale a little longer? These are all things that are nurturing for our nervous system. You’ll find that if you’re doing that, you’re not going to experience as much fatigue or brain fog throughout the day.”
Tips and tricks for beginners
Harris says the “number one thing” she wants people to understand is “you can’t be good or bad” at meditation. “Just sitting in stillness for a few moments, connecting to the breath, connecting to what you’re experiencing at this time is very profound for your health.”
Don’t be deterred if you don’t experience an epiphany straight up. “I like people to think of it as a muscle they’re exercising,” says Harris. “You’re going to get better each time. It will ebb and flow.”
When it works best
Meditation delivers the biggest bang for buck in the first hour of the day, when “our brain waves are in a state known as alpha, which means our brain is most malleable”, says Harris. “This is why I really push against people checking their phones when they wake up – they’ve got that harmful light hitting their eyes and affecting their circadian rhythm. They’re also taking in this broad array of information which isn’t helpful for having an empowering day.”
Put your phone away
Harris says rather than reaching for your phone in the morning, try listening to an “empowering and transformative” guided meditation instead. “That’s the first thing your brain hears, which means … we’re going to have a better chance of rewiring neural pathways that may be having a negative effect on us.” Just making a start will pave the way for more. “Make it the first thing you do … and you’ll feel the call to dive into it more and more.”
Keep a ritual
A trick for incorporating meditation into your daily routine is to set “an anchor” to your practice, such as the ritual of drinking tea. Begin your day with a hot herbal infusion like Twinings Focus, a blend of peppermint, green tea and guarana, and “take a few moments of breath, a few moments of gratitude, and be in stillness even for just a few seconds”, suggests Harris. “That anchor through the tea is a really powerful way to trigger that meditation routine for people.”
Meditation shouldn’t be a chore. Harris says she’s constantly inspired by her clients who are intrigued by the growing connection between body and their mind. “They feel as though it’s joyful,” she says. “It’s something exciting, even creative.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with new Twinings Live Well Focus: Peppermint, Green Tea & Guarana herbal infusion.