Sunday 25 September 2016

This 10-minute morning exercise will transform your day

Sasha Brady

Published 24/09/2015 | 13:52

Taking time out for yourself, perhaps through activities like meditating, can help build emotional resilience
Taking time out for yourself, perhaps through activities like meditating, can help build emotional resilience

Some of the most successful people in the world credit meditation with helping them to stay focused throughout the day.

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Oprah claims she spends 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening detaching from the chaos of the day with some quiet time.

Comedian and actor Russell Brand also begins each day with what he himself calls “a shower for the brain.”

“It changes consciousness,” the actor said about his daily session of meditation.

Irish rugby legend Rob Kearney is also a big fan of meditation (through yoga) and admits the Irish team take some time out during the week to connect with their thoughts.

"It's 15 to 20 minutes twice a week, it gives guys a chance to chill out, be reflective of what's gone on that day, the previous few days, and how you're going to attack the rest of the week," says Kearney.

"There's not a huge amount to it, it's very easy to do and it's very easy to practice, but it has shown a few little results for us."

Even supermodel Elle McPherson starts her day with meditation.

“I try to meditate every morning. It relaxes me, clears my mind, and sets my day off on the right foot before things get too manic," the mother-of-two revealed to Shape magazine.

Ethan Nichtern, a Buddhist teacher and author of "The Road Home," agrees that meditating in the morning sets the right tone and can help you stay focused for the rest of the day.

"We get up freaking out about our day, so it's a great way to settle the mind and gain perspective," Nichtern says.

For starters, it helps you set out your goals for the day.

"There's a relationship between mindfulness and intention," he says. "Meditating first thing in the morning can connect what you're doing and the intentions behind it.

"Practicing mindfulness meditation also connects you to your body, allowing you to create a sense of muscle memory to intensely focus on what you're doing

Speaking to Independent.ie Mary Jennings of The Sanctuary in Dublin says that meditation is essential for reducing stress and helping you gain control of your thoughts and emotions - which helps you start the day in the right frame of mind.

"Meditation allows you to see you're more than your thoughts, you're more than what you're feeling. When you have the capacity to stop and relax, you can watch the thoughts go by and notice what you're feeling rather than acting angry or stressed," she said.

Start by setting your alarm ten minutes before you usually wake up. It's important to resist the urge to hit the snooze button - it won't help you feel more rested and instead contributes to a tired morning.

Then, follow Nichtern's simple, four-step meditation tutorial:

  • Take your seat. Find a clear, comfortable, and quiet place where you can stay focused and alert.
  • Check in. Take about 30 seconds to think about what's on your mind and just let it all sink in.
  • Mindfulness of breath. Don't treat it as a breathing exercise, but use peaceful and deep breaths as the anchor to your meditation.
  • Awareness of thoughts. Focus on your thoughts, and when your mind gets lost, be sure to bring it back.

It's important to be patient and understand that it takes time to master the art of meditation.

Mary Jennings points out that not getting distracted is the hardest part.

"Pay attention to your breath. When you notice yourself getting distracted just bring your attention back to your breathing."

There may be some immediate benefits, but the long-term benefits like better health and improved focus come with practice.

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