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Learn to meditate

Could you benefit from meditation? You might associate meditation with ancient religions, or as something a bit too ‘hippy’. However, fitting in a few minutes of simple meditation into your day could really help you to focus and think clearly. Some people gain mental energy from meditating, which helps them to concentrate on tasks at hand. Giving yourself a bit of ‘me time’ can also let you relax and unwind.

Recent research suggests regular meditation helps to protect brain connections and reduce age-related brain degeneration.1 Another study has also linked meditation with reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol.2 High levels of this hormone can lead to negative effects on the body, such as blood sugar imbalance, raised insulin levels, and weight gain.3

We asked Amisha Bhavsar, a meditation teacher with over 10 years’ experience, for some advice on getting started.

How do I meditate?

  1. Breath slowly and deeply, thinking about the air flowing in and out.
  2. Relax all the muscles in your body. Start with your feet, legs, and stomach muscles. Then your shoulders, and neck. Finish with the muscles in your face and scalp.
  3. Picture a relaxing scene. In your mind, walk on a deserted beach, travel in a hot-air balloon, or swim through a deep blue ocean – or remember a time and a place when you were at your most relaxed. Enjoy the scene you have created.
  4. Use the scene to move your mind away from what’s happening around you – away from any nagging thoughts and emotions.
  5. After a while bring yourself back by thinking about your surroundings. Then wiggle your toes, and begin to gently flex the muscles in your hands, feet, arms and legs.

How often?

Amisha recommends spending 5-10 minutes meditating first thing in the morning. This helps you start your day with a positive outlook. Meditation at the end of the day is helpful too for restful sleep. Also try to meditate for 30 seconds to a minute, a couple of times during the day.

You can meditate at your desk without it eating into your work time. Use moments like when your computer takes a while to boot up, or you’ve been put on hold on the phone, or while waiting for your coffee to get ready. If you take public transport you could meditate as you travel into and out of work. This will give you the head space to start and leave work with a clear mind. Remember to meditate at the weekend too – like everything, practice makes perfect.

Useful tips

Keep your eyes open; this allows you to meditate anytime, anywhere. It also means you stay awake and alert, without temptation to doze off.

Noise can be a challenge when you’re trying to switch off. Try using headphones to listen to soothing music, while blocking out external noise.

Meditation is about directing the flow of your thoughts – not stopping them. Don’t worry if your mind wanders onto other things. Just keep bringing your thoughts back to that relaxing scene. Make meditation something you enjoy, rather than something you need to remember to do every day.

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