6 Easy-to-Do Meditations to Unwind After a Stressful Day

Photo credit: Dingzeyu Li

Stress is inevitable. As humans, we encounter different forms of stress on a daily basis, and how we choose to handle them can determine our long-term physical and emotional wellbeing.

Studies show that over 97 percent of employees across UK and Ireland report feeling stressed. Meditation has become increasingly popular in the modern world. This ancient wisdom technique that has been practiced by yogis and Buddhists for centuries has a profound effect on reducing stress throughout the body. Here are six easy-to-do meditation techniques, all of which can be done sitting or lying down. Try them out and see which one is right for you:

1. So Hum Meditation

So Hum Meditation

Photo credit: Aubin A Sadiki

When you inhale, silently chant So. When you exhale, silently chant Hum. The sound So means “I’m that” and the sound Hum means “That I’m.” When repeating these words, they can help us find calmness and focus.

2. Breath Meditation

Breath Meditation

Photo credit: Jared Rice

Keep your breath deep and relaxed. Notice the beginning, the end and the pauses between your inhales and exhales. Each pair of inhale and exhale is considered one round. Work your way up to ten rounds. If you’ve lost count, start again from the beginning.

3. Visualization

Visualization

Photo credit: Daiwei Lu

An easy meditation technique is to picture a peaceful being, image or setting in your mind. It can be your spiritual teacher, the Om symbol, a quiet place, a person you feel comfortable and at ease with. Focus on the picture and let yourself embellish it as much or as little as you need to.

4. Japa Om

Japa Om

Photo credit: Ben White

Japa means recitation. You can either verbally or mentally recite the Om mantra. You will be immersed in the spiritual vibration of this sound or mantra. The sound of Om is considered the highest mantra of all; it represents the sound of the divine.

5. Third Eye Meditation

Third Eye Meditation

Photo credit: Felipe Luiz

Sit comfortably and bring all of your attention to the space between the eyebrows. This area is known as the Third Eye or the Seat of the Mind. You may see brilliant lights, colors or mental images. Remain calm and unconcerned. Maintain a steady inner gaze fixed on the space between the eyebrows behind the forehead.

6. Compassionate Meditation

Photo credit: Natalia Figueredo

This is a Tibetan Buddhist meditation technique called Tonglen or Giving and Receiving. It helps us develop compassion and the ability to be present for our own suffering as well as others’. Bring to your mind someone with whom you feel a deep connection: a parent, child, pet, your dearest friend – someone who is suffering.

As you inhale, visualize the suffering of your beloved as dark, hot smoke and breathe it in through your whole body. As the breath touches your heart, the black smoke spontaneously vaporizes into your heart space and transforms into an outbreath of mercy and healing.

You can also apply this to your own life. Think of a time when you have been hurt, angry, depressed, frustrated or afraid. Remember the feeling as vividly as you can, breathe it in as heavy, black, polluted hot fumes and let it out as cool, light and spacious healing breath. This meditation helps us embrace the truth that others are suffering just as we are. With this understanding, we can cultivate more compassion for those around us.

Meditation, when done consistently, can yield tremendous health benefits. Even if it is only five minutes per day, after a while, you’ll feel much calmer and experience a heightened mental clarity.

Author’s bio:

Annie Au

Annie Au

Annie is an avid Yin Yoga and Dharma Yoga teacher. Throughout the year, Annie travels around the world leading workshops, classes, trainings and retreats. She has certified over 190 yoga teachers worldwide. Annie is also a contributor at BookMeditationRetreats.com.

6 Scientific Studies Prove the Benefits of Mindfulness

Many of you have heard of the transformative effects and benefits of mindfulness practices. Here are 4 scientific studies that prove the positive, beneficial effects of mindfulness on health, wellbeing, and quality of life.

Mindfulness Significantly Reduces Pain and Anxiety

A study in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that mindfulness meditation reduces pain through multiple brain mechanisms. Just 4 days of mindfulness meditation, pain unpleasantness was reduced by more than half and pain intensity ratings by 40%, compared to those who did not practice.

Another study conducted at the University of Montreal analyzed 209 studies involving more than 12,000 participants, showed large and clinically significant effects in treating anxiety and depression, and the gains were maintained at follow-up.

Since our fast-paced lifestyles are often full of stress, practicing mindfulness may help with stress, anxiety and chronic pain.

Mindfulness Rewires your Brain

Did you know mindfulness can rewire your brain? In a study conducted at Harvard Medical School, 16 people who practiced mindfulness for about 30 minutes a day over a period of 8 weeks showed increases in the gray matter concentration in the part of brain responsible for learning and memory. It also showed a reduction of the gray matter in the region connected to anxiety and stress.

Another study by neuroscientist Sara Lazar showed that mindfulness meditation is involved in the integration of emotion and cognition. An awareness of the sensory stimuli during mindfulness practice can equip the practitioner to use this self-awareness to more successfully navigate through potentially stressful encounters throughout the day. It also suggested that mindfulness may be the key to fighting age-related declines in the brain.

Mindfulness Improves Decision Making

A 2012 UCLA study examined cortical gyrification in association with mindfulness practices. Gyrification refers to the increase in brain surface area and improves neural processing. The study found that long-term mindfulness practitioners have larger amounts of gyrification, implying regular mindfulness practice can lead to an improvement in the way the brain processes information, concentrates and makes decisions.

Mindfulness Boosts Creativity

Mindfulness helps you avoid distractions and become an unbiased observer of what happens around you. This improves your ability to gain insights. A 2011 study found direct evidence for the role of meditation in promoting insight. The study further suggested that watchfulness in meditation contributed to insight.

That means the next time you are stuck with a problem, simply relax and be mindful of the present for a few minutes. After a while, try solving the problem again. Practicing mindfulness in the long term helps boost creativity by helping you gain insight and new perspectives.

Stress Relief or Release – Which One Do You Want?

Given a choice, would you like to relieve stress or rather release it?

To relieve stress, different people resort to different ways – ranging from healthy, such as exercise to unhealthy, such as drugs and alcohol.

Regardless of how healthy a stress relief technique is, its effects are temporary.

Wouldn’t you rather release the stress – let it all go?

Most people aren’t aware that stress is a choice.

Surprised?

It is true, nevertheless.

Most of us are extremely conditioned in our responses that we automatically react in a certain way in a given situation and are also geared to visualize all negative outcomes first. For instance, what is the first thought that comes to your mind when someone cuts you off in traffic or your boss constantly makes unreasonable demands of you?

It is not that you are never able to handle it all. Some days you can simply shrug it off and go about your business. But there are days when even little things lead to a breakdown.

Remember that stress is a choice.

What would happen if you change the way you look at things?

The little things wouldn’t matter any longer.

Someone cuts you off in traffic. Applaud yourself for driving with awareness and possessing sharp reflexes and driving skills to save yourself.

Now, the boss situation. Try standing in your boss’s shoes one day. Are all his/her demands unreasonable? And if they truly are, focus on doing your best and how else can you manage your work. And maybe, be open to new opportunities, if you want to move on.

The above examples do not mean you deny what is happening around you. It just means that you choose not to let the situation overwhelm you.

YOU decide whether you would focus your energy on the solution or stay awake at night worrying about it.

To train your brain to do so, you can learn about mindfulness meditation that helps you focus on the present moment, preventing stress in the first place.

For stress management, mindfulness and yoga classes, get in touch with the leading stress management training school online, The Big Yogi by Nick Palladino, at nick@thebigyogi.com or call 707-293-5415. Nick inspires, teaches and leads others towards their own light and life purpose.

6 Techniques to Jump Start Your Meditation Practice

You have probably heard how an increasingly large number of people are learning to live healthier and happier with mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness meditation is an ancient meditation technique that reduces stress, relieves anxiety and depression, and helps you live a happier life.

Whether this is your first time meditating or you have a regular practice, the following tips will help you start your mindfulness meditation practice well.

Begin

Do not tell yourself that you would start the coming weekend or a certain day. It’s easy to get excited about beginning your practice but the real thing is to make the commitment and BEGIN.

Set a Time and Space

Set aside some time (about 10-15 minutes initially) for your meditation. It is not difficult to find 10 minutes in the busiest of days.

For beginners, it is important to set aside a separate space, without many distractions, for your mindfulness meditation. For best results, begin your practice in a quiet, solitary environment. Create a setting that is comfortable so that physical discomfort doesn’t distract you.

Stay with Your Breath

Begin by closing your eyes and just becoming aware of your breath, without forcing it. Focus on how you inhale and exhale and the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen with it.

Paying attention to your breath allows your brain to become calm and your body to relax.

Simply Observe

Do not try too hard to focus on something. During the meditation, you may feel distracted or bored, even anxious. Experiencing any thoughts and feelings is part of your mindfulness meditation.

By simply observing your thoughts and emotions allows you to detach from them instead of reacting to them.

Return to Your Breath

Whenever you realize you have become distracted or you are judging something, simply bring your focus back to your breath, just as you did in the beginning on your meditation, and start again.

Regular Practice

Mindfulness is rewiring your brain that is conditioned otherwise. This may take some time. So, be patient and practice every single day. It is a good idea to practice at the start and/or the end of your day.

To learn the best meditation techniques, get in touch with the leading stress coach online in San Francisco, The Big Yogi, Nick Palladino, at nick@thebigyogi.com or call 707-293-5415. Nick inspires, teaches and leads others towards their own light and life purpose.

4 Reasons to Salute the Sun

The Sun salutation is one of the most popular poses in Yoga. Most people love how it brings multiple benefits, from getting you warmed up quickly to grounding.

Here is a quick look at the 5 popular reasons to salute the Sun.

* You can do them anywhere. As long as you have space the size of a yoga mat, you can do some quick Sun salutes. You don’t need any gear and you can do them in your bedroom, a hotel room, even at the park.

* Sun salutes consist of a few poses that are easy to remember. After you have done them a few times, they are generally pretty easy to recall.

* They get you warmed up quickly. You move a lot and use several muscles when you do a sun salutation. This is why Sun salutes have remained one of the first things to do when practicing yoga. Sun salutations prepare you well to do all the other yoga poses.

* Sun salutations are incredibly grounding. They use your breath to make you more mindful. It may not always be possible to sit down and meditate. But a few Sun salutations can immediately bring you peace of mind and tranquility.

To know more, consult the leading health and wellness coach in San Francisco, call The Big Yogi, Nick Palladino, at nick@thebigyogi.com or call 707-293-5415. Nick inspires, teaches and leads others towards holistic health and wellness. You can choose from Nick’s one-on-one or on-site corporate classes as a wonderful way to reward your staff!

Beat A Tough Day at Work with Mid-Day Yoga

Many people work long hours nowadays. Deadlines, running around and conquering to-do lists has become the goal for many of us and all of this results in stress.

This stress takes a toll on physical and mental health, may even cause a panic attack or breakdown. You may have felt active during the first half of the day, but stress and the fast pace at work saps your energy halfway through the day. Sounds familiar?

This is where you need something instant to calm you and allow you to go on with your day. Mid-Day Yoga is the best solution to allow you to handle stressful situations with a calm and composed mind.

Mid-Day Yoga can be done in short sessions so that you can practice it during the lunch hour or the coffee break. It helps you de-stress in the middle of the day, find the right balance and more. Here are the biggest benefits of Mid-Day Yoga.

Improves mental clarity

You don’t always need a long Yoga workout. Short Yoga sessions can boost your focus, give you a much-needed break, and get a head start for the rest of the day.

Provides mini-workout

Mid-day Yoga offers breathing exercises and easy poses that you can do right at your desk without spending a lot of time and energy.

Opportunity for positive social time

A friend or Yoga partner can make your mid-day yoga time even more fun. Conversations become more meaningful.

Improves mood

From new policies to your boss’s remark, there are many things at the workplace that can easily upset you. Rather than letting it get the better of you, Yoga helps you get into a mindset where you can get back on track and work past the temporary setbacks.

To learn more about mindfulness and private yoga classes, get in touch with the best stress management activities center in San Francisco by The Big Yogi, Nick Palladino, at nick@thebigyogi.com or call 707-293-5415. Nick inspires, teaches and leads others towards their own light and life purpose. You can choose from Nick’s one-on-one or on-site corporate classes to bring mindfulness and stress-relief to your office as an advanced teacher comes to you. Think of it as a wonderful way to reward your staff!

3 Simple Steps to Find Your “Sweet Spot” and Create Success in Your Life and Career.

The teachings I throw down are meant to be tried, tested and then used, but only if they work.

The same goes for all spiritual teachings of the world; I’ve notice however, that we tend to not embody them, rather we tend to just quote them or stick them up on our social media accounts.

I always want to know as a student myself and always want all students to strive to understand how lessons or teachings apply to our daily lives. Everyone, especially in cities like San Francisco, L.A. or New York with fast paces, big lights and stressors galore need tools. Big tools.

Part of what I’m here to do and part of my expertise is to distill metaphysical teachings and put them into layman’s terms. This got me thinking, and got me excited to share a teaching I recently found in a business book.

In the book “The Real-Life MBA”, by Jack Welch, the author outlines what he calls the “Area of Destiny”. This is a cutting edge philosophy, where Welch delivers a framework to discover and create exactly what you want in your life and career.

Welch, challenges the reader to line their life up in a way the creates an intersection of what they are good at and what they like to do.

This is profound . This business man is offering sage advice.

Read more

Mindfulness for Beginners

Many people, new to mindfulness and meditation, think of it as a state of mind that is absolutely devoid of thoughts and emotions, or something that gives one psychic powers, and so on.

What to Expect

The truth is that mindfulness is simply a practical way to remain in the present without judging our thoughts or experiences. The best way to practice mindfulness for beginners is to start observing what is occurring, without judging it.

Mindfulness gives you a chance to look at your own mind and choosing what is really important, rather than getting swayed by one thing or the other. This gives you the power to stay more calm and flexible.

How to Begin

The simplest mindfulness meditation is a sitting or a walking meditation. You slowly become aware of the sensations in your body, the sounds and smells around you and your thoughts, without judging. Some people like to add chanting and visualization.

Here are some effective mindfulness meditation tips for beginners.

Find a quiet place in your home or a park where you can walk and won’t be disturbed. Relax. Sit or walk upright with open eyes.

Bring your focus on your breath. Feel the air when you inhale and exhale. Notice how your chest expands and contracts with each breath. The goal is to simply be aware of your breath. Acknowledge any thoughts that arise and return your focus to your breath.

Start with short sessions of 5 to 10 minutes a day. Once you are comfortable, gradually increase the duration. Morning is a good time to begin your practice.

To learn more about mindfulness and private yoga in San Francisco, The Big Yogi, Nick Palladino, at nick@thebigyogi.com or call 707-293-5415. Nick inspires, teaches and leads others towards their own light and life purpose. You can choose from Nick’s one-on-one or on-site corporate classes to bring mindfulness and stress-relief.

How Can Mindfulness Make Me Happy?

Do you think negative thoughts or inner voice prevents you from becoming or staying happy?

If yes, mindfulness can help. Research shows that we are born with a ‘negativity bias’. Negativity bias refers to the ability of our brains to be more sensitive to unpleasant news. It also retains negative experiences more strongly than positive ones.

Fortunately, we can overcome this bias. Mindfulness can help to rewire the brain, thereby enhancing our capacity for happiness.

Interrupts negative thinking

Mindfulness is all about staying in the present moment. This allows us to observe our thoughts. Gradually we become more skillful at noticing when our thoughts and this prevents our minds from getting caught up in a negative thought pattern.

Promotes gratitude

Mindfulness means being aware of what is happening within and around us. Awareness of what is going well in our lives, along with a daily gratitude practice prevents negativity and increases our capacity for happiness.

Rewires the brain

What we think and feel rewires our brain. Any thoughts can soon turn into a pattern. Mindfulness can be used as a tool to gradually disrupt negative thinking patterns and create new positive pathways. Mindfulness of positive experiences gradually establishes these pathways for happiness.

Inner Peace

Mindfulness brings a sense of inner calm and happiness. Anxiety and depression often arise due to spending too much time thinking about the future or the past. The simple act of staying mindful keeps us centered in the presence and helps us realize the futility of worrying about the past or future. We can then respond to situations without judgement and that is the shortest route to happiness.

For more stress reduction tips and to learn more about mindfulness, get in touch with the leading stress coach online in San Francisco, The Big Yogi, Nick Palladino, at nick@thebigyogi.com or call 707-293-5415. Nick inspires, teaches and leads others towards their own light and life purpose.

Can Meditation make me Happy?

Happiness is something all of us are striving for. All of us want to experience happiness and a sense of well-being. But most of us look for happiness in the wrong places.

External Focus

We often seek pleasure and happiness in things that outside us – success, wealth, possessions and relationships. These things fascinate most people.

But, once the situation changes or the novelty wears off, our minds experience varying degrees of dissatisfaction. We again try to relieve this by looking at other things that can bring us happiness. While the problem is inside, we keep looking outside.

Good relationships, meaningful work and health do provide comfort but what if the situation changes? Even what we’ve strived to achieve may not bring us the lasting satisfaction and happiness we expect.

This means happiness is an inner state of being, and not just a function of external conditions. The mind has inherent qualities of well-being that lie deeper.

Meditation can help us unlock and access our own happiness and well-being. The more we practice, the more we rely on our inner world rather than external situations for our happiness. But an access to this treasure requires an inward focus and training. A mindfulness meditation practice can bring more meaning and satisfaction to our lives.

If we can learn to access our internal happiness and well-being, it would be the greatest achievement no one can take from us.