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20 December 2018

'Your goal is not to battle with the mind, but to witness the mind.' Swami Muktananda

Meditation is deeply rooted in humanity and the act has been around for centuries, so why the rise in popularity over the last decade? Taking ten minutes to do 'nothing' may seem like a luxury you can't afford. But it's essential when it comes to maintaining one of your greatest assets: your mind.

Gradvert’s Learning Specialist, Andrew Riley, is also the office wellbeing co-ordinator and wanted to share his top tips for meditating. The benefits of meditation are vast but the focus here on how easy it is to meditate – give it a go! Read the tips below and take ten minutes out of your day for a clearer mind.

If you've heard of meditation then you've most likely heard of Andy Puddicombe, founder of the app Headspace. Headspace is a guided meditation platform which is used by millions of people all over the world. Andy's insight on meditation has transformed the way people meditate today and he's got some advice for us all which I want to share with you.

“Don't think about it, just do it,” advises Andy, who swears by taking 10 minutes of time out each day. “It may sound obvious, but meditation only works if you actually do it.” So, find a quiet place where you can relax and set your timer for 10 minutes – you can try a free guided meditation for beginners by downloading the Headspace app!

Andy's top tips for Meditation:

1. Get settled. Find a quiet space where you can relax.  Commit to spending the full time on the meditation, whether you find it difficult or easy.

2.  Breathe deeply. Defocus your eyes, gazing softly into the middle distance. Take five deep, audible breaths: in through the nose and out through the mouth. On the last exhalation, let your eyes gently close.

3.  Check-in. Take a few moments to settle into your body. Gently observe your posture and notice the sensations where your body touches the chair and your feet meet the ground. Feel the weight of your arms and hands resting on your legs.
Acknowledge your senses: notice anything you can smell, hear or taste, sensations of heat or cold.

4.  Scan your body. Slowly turn your mind inwards. Scan your body from head to toe, observing any tension or discomfort. Don’t try to change what you find, simply take note of it. Now turn your awareness to your thoughts. Notice any thoughts that arise without attempting to alter them. Gently note your underlying mood, just becoming aware of what’s there without judgment. If there’s nothing obvious, that’s fine, too.

5.  Observe the breath. Bring your attention to your breathing. Don’t make any effort to change it, just observe the rising and falling sensation that it creates in the body. Notice where these sensations occur – be it your belly, your chest, your shoulders, or anywhere else.  Begin silently counting the breaths: 1 as you inhale, 2 as you exhale, 3 on the next inhalation, and so on, up to 10. Then start again at 1. While doing this, it’s completely normal for thoughts to bubble up. You don’t need to ‘do’ anything – just guide your attention back to the breath when you realise the mind has wandered off.

6. Allow your mind to be free. Spend 20-30 seconds just sitting. You might find yourself inundated with thoughts and plans, or feel calm and focused. Whatever happens is completely fine. Enjoy the rare chance to let your mind simply be.

7.  Prepare to finish. Become aware once more of the physical feelings: of the chair beneath you, where your feet make contact with the floor, your arms and your hands resting in your lap. Notice anything you can hear, smell, taste or feel. When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes.

8.  Congratulate yourself. Well done! You just meditated for a full 10 minutes. Recognize how you feel - is it different from when you first sat down to meditate? Remind yourself of this feeling the next time you feel stressed or worried, and know that with just 10 minutes of meditation, you might feel a little bit better.

That concludes our blog posts for 2018. We hope this brings you some support at such a busy time of year! See you in 2019. 



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