Meditation 

Meditation has been around for thousands of years and its benefits are well documented, especially with regard to lowering stress levels. But many people struggle with trying to incorporate it into their daily routine. They find that just sitting with their eyes closed thinking about nothing very hard to do. So, I thought I would share with you a couple of ideas to make it easier to try this brilliant exercise... 
First of all you don't have to sit like this! To be honest, this is one of the things which put me off meditation as I am really inflexible and there is no way I can comfortably sit with my legs in this position. It feels very uncomfortable for me and when I did try and meditate like this, all I could think about was how achy I felt! So, you can sit comfortably in a chair, or lay down on your back, sit on a cushion - whatever feels good for you, because you don't want to be distracted by feeling uncomfortable. Try and find somewhere where you are not going to be disturbed and switch off your phone (best leave it in another room if you can because even the vibration of a text coming through will prove really distracting). So, we have our position and the environment sorted - now, how do you sit and think about nothing for five, ten minutes or more? Well, the good news is that you don't have to! 
 
 
A candle meditiation is a great way to start. So, dim the lights, pull the curtains, get yourself comfortable and then light a candle. Place the candle in front of you and focus on that. Notice the way the flame moves, the colour of the flame and how it changes up and down the wick, the way the flame almost looks like it is dancing. As you are concentrating on the flame, try to slow down your breathing, perhaps trying the square breathing exercise mentioned in an earlier blog and at any time, if your attention starts to wander, just bring it back to thinking about the candle and the flame. 
 
The second type of mediatation to try is a sound meditation. Again, get yourself comfortable and somewhere you won't be distrubed and close your eyes. Now start to bring your attention to the sounds around you. When you start concentrating you will be amazed at how many sounds that you will hear that you normally filter out. The sound of the traffic in the distance, the gurgling of the central heating, the ticking of the clock and much more. Again, try to slow down your breathing and try the square breathing exercise as you focus on the sounds. If your mind starts to wander, just simply bring it back to thinking about the sounds you can hear. 
 
With both of these meditation exercises I would suggest starting off at 5 or 10 minutes and gradually build up the time until you can do 15 - 20 minutes or more. A great exercise to try and incorporate into your daily routine and once you do, you will be amazed at the benefits it will bring, reducing your stress levels and helping you to cope with the everyday challenges we all face. 
 
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