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Benefits of meditation

More than 100 scientific studies have shown the benefits of meditation, from lowering blood pressure to restoring energy to improving sleep to helping people give up smoking.

It’s all about trying to quieten the internal dialogue that goes on inside our heads most of the time. You can learn this at a yoga class or by listening to a meditation CD or you can give it a go yourself by sitting comfortably with your eyes closed and trying to quieten your mind.

A good way to try this is to count as high as you can before your thoughts distract you. Most people rarely get above three so try not to feel frustrated. It’s normal to have thoughts floating in. Just allow them to come in and out, pushing them away if necessary and start again. Tonight when you brush your teeth, instead of letting your mind wander, spend some time focusing on the brushing, the sensations you feel and the sounds around you. This is a technique called mindfulness. It is simply being present in the moment and engaging the senses. You can try this whenever you are doing anything routine, from washing up to having a shower.


Energising meditation

Here is an example of an energising meditation that you can try right now to boost your energy. It can sometimes take a couple of weeks of regular practice to feel the full benefits of this. In this meditation, you use a combination of relaxation and mindfulness to lift your mood and energy levels.

1. Adopt an upright position.

2. Ensure that your back is relatively straight and your chest is open with shoulders back. Having a particularly open, erect, dignified posture can really help to energise you.

3. Take three deep in-and out-breaths. Really feel those breaths moving in and out of your body.

4. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. On your next in-breath, ensure that you breathe into your belly. The hand on your chest needs to remain relatively still, if possible. Breathe out slowly from your mouth.

5. Feel the physical sensation as you do so.

6. Imagine yourself being energised as you breathe in. If you’re a visual person, imagine light entering into your body, nourishing all your cells with soothing, uplifting energy. If this isn’t working for you, choose whatever image does work –there is no right or wrong.

7. Keep a light smile on your face throughout this energising breath meditation, even if you don’t really feel that happy, Doing so can help to boost your energy. Guide your attention back each time your mind wanders. Do so with kindness and gentleness and try not to get angry or frustrated with yourself.

8. Bring the meditation to a close after ten minutes or so. Slowly open your eyes.

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