The benefits of meditation

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Sunday, 20 December 2020
Written by Sarah PJ White

Mediation is something often branded around as essential for a balanced, happy life. Those of us who practice it are well aware of the huge benefits that can be gleaned from it – but those who haven’t yet discovered it, often discount it as being ‘new age’ or something they simply can’t do.

So what are the perceived benefits of mediation and why do so many people think they can’t do it?

Mediation, in its various forms, has been around for thousands of years. The exact origins are unclear, however most of us immediate associate it to Tibet, India, China, Buddhism and Taoism, to name a few.

This brings to mind an image of sitting still, for hours and days, whilst you work at the art of clearing your mind of any thoughts it may have, forcing them to go away so you can empty your mind. But in reality, most of us are really busy – and the idea of trying to clear your mind, seems too much like hard work!

In reality however, you don’t force thoughts from your mind – you acknowledge them and let them gently go. And, you can benefit from meditation, in as little as a few minutes every day. (If you think you can’t meditate, why not check out our recent article, showing how mediation really is easier than you think!)

We mentioned benefits – so what are they exactly?

Meditation truly DOES have lots of benefits attached to it, from improving your overall physical health, to helping your emotional and mental wellbeing too. Here are a few of those benefits to get you started:

  • Clears your head
  • You feel more connected
  • Improves social connections and relationships
  • Lowers stress, worry and anxiety levels
  • Increases your attention span
  • Improves brain function
  • Increases happiness
  • Builds on your gratitude and appreciation
  • Reduces ageing
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Decreases tension and relaxes muscles
  • Increases creativity and intuition
  • Improves your immune system
  • Increases serotonin levels – so better moods and behaviour
  • Increase your energy levels
  • Gives you the time and space to get to know YOU

With so many benefits, meditation isn’t just a ‘new age’ thing, nor is it something you try once and then give up on – it’s something that you can easily fit into the busiest of schedules and for any age group – so why not give it a chance and see how quickly you can reap the rewards!

Want to know more? My Find Yourself Day Retreats are great places to start - check out the Medit ation and Relaxation ones. 

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How an elastic band can help you cut negativity

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Sunday, 20 December 2020
Written by Sarah PJ White

If you want a happier, healthier life, you need to limit and ultimately cut out the negative thoughts that run through your head. Often though, this is easier said than done! This is where the humble elastic band comes in handy.

Negative thoughts love having company. It’s really easy to start off with just one and, before you know it, you’ve downward spiralled on a helter-skelter ride of negativity. Have the same thought several times over – and you have a full-blown, newly created habit.

Changing your focus

It’s a lot easier to break a negative thought before it gets to the habit stage. You simply have to change your focus onto something more positive. You can stop straight after the initial thought, as you’ll often recognise that the thought itself isn’t best serving you.

However, if the habit is already formed, it’s a lot easier to repeat the spiral ride of negativity, before you’ve even noticed you’re on it. This is when it becomes more difficult to break the habit.

Using the band to reprogram your thought processes

Once you notice the negative thoughts you can ask yourself – is this thought helpful to me right now? If it is trying to draw your attention to something you need to address, then deal with the issue and appreciate that the thought has served you well . If however, the thought is just worry and noise – you need to consciously decide to break the thought pattern.

To do this, you need a short, sharp distraction to break the pattern. Often, mentally stating ‘STOP’ will suffice, as it brings your attention to the fact you don’t want this thought. However, you may need to bit more stimulus to draw your focus onto something else.

This is where the elastic band comes in handy. It literall y snaps your focus to the present – breaking the pattern of negativity that’s running in your head. You wear it on your wrist and snap it sharply, whilst you’re stating ‘STOP’. You attention will then instantly break from the negative thought pattern and onto your stinging wrist!

The band snap is only half of the solution

We’re looking to reprogram the negative thought patterns, not just alert ourselves to them – and this is why you need to follow the band snap through. Spend a minute or two thinking positive thoughts. Look to turn the negative thought into a positive one. You could also follow it up with a positive, calming affirmation too. The idea is to calm your mind and retrain it to think loving, positive and calming thoughts.

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Start and end your day right with these simple three-step habits

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Monday, 10 December 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

Do you wake up in the morning and drag yourself out of bed? Maybe you go to bed at the end of a day, feeling drained and worrying about what the morning will bring?

Whatever situation you’re in and whatever your circumstances, starting and ending your day right will ensure you’re feeling happier, will help build your positivity and guarantee a better night’s sleep.

Start your day right

This simple three-step habit is a great morning ritual. Carry out these steps as soon as you wake – and before you’ve got out of bed.

Give your body a good stretch – Stretching in bed gives your body a boost. It awakens your muscles, helps get the blood flowing around your body and leaves you feeling connected and ready to embrace the day ahead.

Ensure your first thoughts are positive – Getting into the habit of having positive thoughts begins with those very first thoughts you have when you wake up. This is essential, if you want to improve your general mood and wellbeing throughout the day. Make “I’m going to have a great day” your mantra every morning.

Clear your head – Whilst playing a favourite piece of music, write two pages of whatever is in your head. This helps to clear the mind fog associated with worry and anxiety, and also leaves room for more positive thoughts. The music will help to get you started and will, over time, serve as a key to allowing your thoughts to flow easily from head to paper.

End your day on a high

Carrying out this simple three-step evening ritual will enable you to end your day in a positive frame of mind, whilst clearing your head and easing yourself into a better night’s sleep.

Gratitude exercise – No ritual would be complete without a gratitude exercise. When you first start practising this exercise, start with writing down just three things – over time you can work up to ten a day. Be grateful for anything – from a great mug of tea to landing that promotion – and everything in between!

Write down your worries and reminders – Get down onto paper any worries you may have on your mind and/or things you need to remember for the next day. This gets them out of your head and allows you to have a clear mind, ready for switching off.

Focus on your breathing and happy things – Now your mind is clear, you can focus on taking slow, calm, deep and long breaths to allow you to fall off to sleep. Whilst you’re drifting off, think of all the happy things that have happened throughout the day. If you’re struggling to find happy things, focus on happy things that will be happening over the coming days and months.

Follow these two simple three-step habits and you’ll find it so much easier to switch off at the end of each day. You’ll also find your sleep pattern improves and, you’ll not only be looking forward to bedtime – you’ll also be embracing the coming day ahead too!

Image courtesy of nenadaksic/Dollar Photo Club

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An overview to the chakras

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Monday, 07 January 2019
Written by Sarah PJ White

Everything comprises of energy – including our bodies. This energy flows and moves around us and within us. This invisible energy (or life force) is called Prana and it is associated with the seven main chakra points within our body, all aligned along our spine.

Energy flows through and around us

You can picture these chakras as spinning wheels or discos of energy, each associated with a different colour and vibration. Each of these discs of energy correspond to specific areas of our body – along with the associated nerves, organs, psychological, emotional and spiritual states within that area. In turn, these seven chakras regulate the flow of energy throughout our entire being.

So what are the seven chakras, what areas do they relate to and what do they affect?

#1: The root chakra

This red chakra is located at base of your spine, in the tailbone area. It is emotionally associated with our foundation and grounding in the world, along with feelings of security, safety and survival.

#2: The sacral chakra

Located between the public bone and navel, this yellow chakra is associated with our connection to others and our ability to accept others and new experiences. Emotionally, the sacral chakra is linked to feelings of wellbeing, desire, creativity and pleasure.

#3: The solar plexus chakra

Coloured orange, the solar plexus chakra is located in your upper abdomen/stomach area. It’s associated with feelings of confidence and control, so affects your self-confidence and esteem, self-worth, emotional life, ambition, sensitivity and how powerful we feel as an individual.

#4: The heart chakra

The heart chakra is within the centre of chest. Coloured green, it needs little explanation – as it is emotionally aligned with our ability to love, along with feelings of inner peace, love and joy.

#5: The throat chakra

The throat chakra is coloured a pale blue/ turquoise colour and affects our ability to communicate with others – but also is responsible for our self-expression of feelings and our truth.

#6: Third eye chakra

This chakra is a beautiful indigo colour and is located on your forehead, between the eyes. It regulates our focus and ability to see the big picture, along with our intuition, imagination, feelings of knowing, perception, and ability to plan and make decisions.

#7: The crown chakra

This is the highest chakra, located at the very top of our head, and is coloured violet. It helps us to be fully connected spiritually. However it also emotionally enables us to see our inner and outer beauty, as well as our ability to connect to our higher purpose. The crown chakra also helps us find understanding and acceptance.

What happens if the energy flow through the chakras gets blocked?

We want these chakras to stay open and flowing, in order to help us feel positive, happy and energetic. But sometimes they do get slowed down and blocked, resulting in physical ailments, aches and pains and even negative thoughts and feelings.

Understandably, these blockages need to be dealt with – both the physical symptoms and the corresponding chakra energy block – in order to ensure the energy is allowed to flow throughout us. So next time you’re feeling out of sorts or unwell, take a look at the location and/or the emotional feelings involved, to see what chakra you need to work on and clear.

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The Tree Pose: simple, elegant AND important

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Wednesday, 25 April 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

The Tree Pose, or Vrikshasana, is a simple, elegant and important pose in yoga. Derived from the Sanskrit words ‘vriksha’, meaning tree and ‘asana’, meaning pose, the Tree pose is a basic yoga position, that teaches us all about stabi lity and balance.

It gives you the perfect opportunity to strengthen your body, whilst giving yourself a valuable time-out, in an otherwise busy day – enabling you to find your own inner peace and focus.

There are so many benefits that can be gleaned from this deceptively simple-looking pose, and some are detailed below.

Muscle toning and stretching

Vrikshasana builds inner and outer strength – especially the lower half of your body. Muscles, tendons and bones all benefit, including those in your feet, inner thighs, groin, calves and buttocks. It also strengthens the bones in your hips and pelvis.

It also stretches your back and arms. If you have high blood pressure however, you can still do the Tree Pose, but should avoid holding your arms above your head. Those with low blood pressure or suffering from insomnia or migraines, should avoid doing the Tree Pose altogether.

Focus and concentration

As with any yoga pose, the Tree Pose helps improve your focus and concentration. It brings your focus back to you and your body, as you feel it stretch those muscles and concentrate on not toppling to one side.

You can take the opportunity to have a valuable time-out, to let go of any physical and emotional worries and issues. You’ll feel your shoulders relax and can focus on getting your breathing even and regular.

Relieves sciatica

The Tree Pose can also benefit those suffering from sciatica, as it helps open the hips, relaxing and stretching the muscles in that area. As a side note, it is also said to help reduce flat feet too!

Get additional support

One thing to bear in mind is this pose isn’t as easy as it looks! It takes practice to balance steadily and gracefully on one leg! So, when you first attempt it , you may find it easier to stand with your back against a wall, until you have the strength and stability to carry out this pose independently.

As with many yoga poses, the Tree Pose isn’t about just getting into the position – it’s about maintaining it, long enough to allow it to benefit you. Take your time to get into this pose AND to stay there a while, to further build on those benefits!

Want to learn more about Yoga? Carry on your journey HERE.

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