You'll have definitely heard that mindfulness and meditation brings a wealth of benefits. But sometimes we struggle with what it actually entails or the impact it really has. We got hold of our meditation expert from The Box Of Calm Men's, Charlie Yoga to talk us through it. Charlie went from the world of corporate law to a life of teaching meditation. Here, he shares a few wise nuggets on how simple practices can improve overall balance and mind health. And why a little more spiritual stillness can lead to a more manageable, richer life.
How would you explain your mission for wellbeing in a nutshell?
My mission for wellbeing is to support people in exploring the powerful innate resources that dwell inside each of us: namely, our breath and our bodily awareness. Through yoga and meditation, we treat the mind, body and breath as one whole, which helps tap into our truer selves - and with this comes wisdom, resilience and growth.
How does your practice help people to become less stressed in today's busy world?
Our society is so focused on splitting the mind from the body - and so yoga and meditation helps us to reconnect these parts into one whole. We move and breath in unity, which helps to relax and harmonise the nervous system. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the key component for our resting state, our digestion and our internal repair. It’s incredible how modern neuroscience studies are reinforcing the teachings of ancient practices! In turn, we can then be more grounded, efficient and grow in our everyday lives.
What are some of the particular challenges with men and mental health?
Society places a huge burden on men to always be strong (or at least show a strong front!), without giving us the balanced resources to do that in a consistent, and mindful way. It’s an ideal that is challenging, if not impossible, to fulfil. It harms men and sometimes the people around them. It’s about giving ourselves permission to see our mental wellbeing as a vital part of growth and success - and so it’s essential to invest accordingly - there are some amazing opportunities for yoga, meditation (including apps), and some great talking therapies out there. Let’s be honest, many of us have preconceptions that for yoga you need to be flexible and coordinated before you even arrive. I want to dispel that myth. Through yoga, I see so many men growing in their strength, stability, confidence and flexibility. It’s about giving the practise a chance and giving it a go, or two.
What motivates you to do what you do?
I can see the massive benefits of improved physical and mental wellbeing - and to see people grow and develop. Heading along to yoga or meditation classes, eating good food and forming connections with our own bodies and with people around us is such a vital part of life, and once we start, it can be easier to integrate this into the way we are.
What kind of results have you seen from people working with you?
People develop a sense of calm, ease and a curiosity for what’s going on around them. My students grow in their strength and flexibility. Some of the guys who come into class can be so tight around the typical areas like hamstrings, lower back, shoulders. Over time, each and every person’s body starts to transform and open up - it just takes the time and then it’s something for life. People also find themselves opening up to opportunities as they’re more willing to try different options out.
What do you think are the barriers to having more mindful practices?
Our modern way of life can be amazing and bring many advantages and opportunities, but it can also exhaust us. It can be relentless and often keeps us in a kind of overdrive. That’s one of the biggest barriers. Being mindful through yoga or meditation doesn’t mean you suddenly have to act all zen, or change who you are - it just gives you some more space, clarity and choice. It simply makes you healthier.
What's the best piece of advice anyone has given you?
Explore, experiment and don’t be afraid to try different things. We hold ourselves back, when actually we all have somewhere inside of us a strong desire for exploring and experiencing great things with the people and world around us.
How do YOU get into a good headspace space daily by re-focussing?
My yoga practice and my meditation. I also think hanging out with good friends is a great way to ground. As is reading, and taking time for yourself. But most of all, I feel best when I enjoy myself - I guess it’s almost a daily reminder to me to make sure I do things I enjoy and have fun. We lose that part of us as adults when really it’s the part that can give us great energy, for whatever we want to achieve. There’s always at least once in the day when I ask or expect to much of myself - I have to sometimes know that sometimes things can be just good enough.
Thanks Charlie, we're off for a little pause.
Charlie's top tips feature in the Calm Men's Box.
If you’re interested in private sessions, classes for your work place, or attending his London based classes, or just have some questions, you can contact him or follow him on social media IG: @yoga_charlie FB: facebook.com/yogacharlie