I discovered meditation two years ago, at a time when I wasn’t in the best of places. Stress had taken over my life to the point I started to suffer from anxiety attacks, and I realised I had to make some changes in my life.
It was my mum who suggested I look into meditation. Initially I thought it was something hippies or monks did, and when I mentioned it to others, I tended to get a similar reaction. But I thought I’d give it a go for just one session, and I couldn’t believe how good I felt afterwards. I’ve meditated every day since.
It just makes sense – City life can be overwhelming: work, deadlines, troublesome staff, long days, lack of sleep. We’re constantly worrying about things in the past or future. Meditation helps you to take a rain check and focus on what’s happening right now. It’s helped me to improve my listening and memory skills and get rid of negative thoughts.
A recent study calculated that we process over 70,000 thoughts a day, and the number is increasing year-on-year. It becomes hard to function to our full potential and make good decisions, which can increase anxiety and eventually lead to depression. Indeed, a quarter of people have been diagnosed with a mental health illness and depression is at an all time high. If you’re one of these people, I’d advise you to give the following a go.
Meditation can take many forms, including breath, guided, sound, movement, silence and visualisation. Some of these you can do in three or four minutes. All you have to do is put aside your phone, switch off your computer and spend some time alone with your thoughts.
You don’t have to clear your mind of thoughts, you can just allow it to wander. It’s amazing where your mind goes during that time. The key is to be aware of where your thoughts take you, and then bring it back to where you left off. It’s a skill, and it will improve over time.
Meditation before bed is one of the easiest ways to improve your sleep. Being able to calm your brain before bed is essential for optimal sleep. It’s also great for productivity. If you’re like me, you’ll have a big to-do list. I used to stress out and procrastinate, putting off important tasks and making myself miserable. Now I make a deal with myself: I will meditate for eight minutes, then complete a task. Once I’ve finished the meditation, I avoid distractions and I find myself flying through my list.
There are a number of different apps you can use to get yourself started, and it’s important to find the ones that work for you. Deepak Chopra, Headspace and – my current favourite – Insight Timer are all great. If you’re feeling stressed, depressed or anxious, it could change your life.
• Harry is co-owner of No1 Fitness gym in the City. To book go to no1fitness.co.uk