Meditation was first acknowledged 1500 years ago but it has only become popular in the western world over the last decade.
It is a practice which is independent of any religious belief and an integral part of daily life for many practitioners.
Our lives are dictated by material pursuits and we are on a treadmill of financial fulfilment. We are so busy with our digital lives and social media that we have neglected the need to be spiritually abundant. Financial comfort and personal pleasure are important, however, in themselves, without a spiritual anchor they are empty and meaningless.
I have been asked countless times what meditation consists of and how to go about doing it. In itself, meditation is such an expansive subject that it is not possible to go into great detail in a short post.
What I can say is that regular practice will profoundly change your life.
How can it do this?
Well, it changes the chemicals in the brain and how the brain functions. Meditation helps to shift negative emotions like anger, fear and self doubt into more positive and stable ones. It increases self worth and confidence and promotes a more compassionate nature. It calms the mind and helps you connect with your higher self. Whilst it may not change your immediate challenges, it certainly changes your attitude to them. Surely that, in itself, is a miracle.
Meditation not only enriches our emotional and spiritual wellbeing but it has a significant impact on our physical health. Mainstream universities, Harvard included, and the health system in many countries have shown a great interest in meditation and conducted research into the changes meditation can bring.
They have shown that meditation can:
It is important to clarify there is no single way to meditate. There are many forms of meditation.
For the sake of simplicity and to assist beginners, I have created an easy 3-minute guided meditation which is suitable for children and adults. It requires no fancy tools, just a personal promise to practice it on a daily basis for the best and long lasting results.
In order to experience the benefits mentioned above, it is important to calm and relax the mind. If your mind is flooded with thoughts, let them pass and know that with practice the thoughts will occur less. Try to bring your focus back to your breath if your mind wanders.
I welcome you to commit to an 11 day meditation challenge starting on 3rd February. Once you have successfully completed the 11 days please try to make it a part of your daily routine and build up the time from 3 minutes to 11 minutes.
There are many days that give me joy, but one day in particular every year brings with it a smile of happiness, a sense of achievement and a feeling of inspiration.
It is the day we do the 10-mile walk to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust and Cancer Research for the incredible care, help & support they gave Amreen during her stay at the teenage cancer trust. This year on the 13th of September, a day that was predicted to be rainy and gloomy, we basked in bright sunshine and clear skies reinforcing our faith in the divine and our daughter Amreen’s motto “Live in Faith and Positive Attitude. ”
The most rewarding moments in our lives are when we make a positive difference to another life. In this particular instance, this walk and what it represents touches many lives and benefits millions. We have been doing our fundraising walk for the last 3 years and have collectively raised around £55,000 with the help of friends and family in loving memory of our dearest Amreen.
Our beautiful walk began from Regents Park, through canals to Greenford with over 110 participants from all ages and abilities encouraging and cheering each other on. The youngest participant was a 3-month old baby, with the children as young as 8yrs being some of the earliest to complete the 10 mile walk. They were truly inspirational. The energy, buzz and adrenalin created was uplifting and motivated us to push ourselves. The experience of oneness and everyone coming together for a single cause created an atmosphere of fun and camaraderie and brought about a great sense of joy.
Charities such as Teenage Cancer trust rely on public contributions and donations and need as much support and patronage they can get. We feel a deep sense of gratitude towards them as they were there, supporting us every step of the way during a difficult time. It is with this sense of deep gratitude that we do this walk every year in loving memory of Amreen.
Amreen often mentioned that everyone working there seemed to be angels helping her make her journey easier. She lived her life with faith and a positive attitude and we all wore tshirts with her message.
We collectively raised £20,000 this year to make a difference to all who are going through Cancer, patients and their families. The page is still open so if you have missed out, it is still not too late just click on the link below:
It feels good to be part of this noble cause and to be able to give back.
Feel grateful for the blessings you have and make a difference where ever you can.
God bless all.
Simar, an 18 year olds perspective…
“Participating in the annual charity walk for Teenage Cancer Trust is something I look forward to. There is always positive energy and walking for 10 miles gives me the opportunity to catch up with family friends. Not only do you feel a great sense of achievement once completed; but it is lovely knowing that so many generations, from grandmas to baby's in prams are participating in order to raise money for such a worthy cause.”
I have been practising Kundalini yoga for 15 years. Little did I know that all that I had gained from my yoga practise would one day save my life and keep me a float.
From the very beginning I felt yoga brought an instant change within me on a physical, mental and spiritual level. Physically I felt healthier, more centred and a sense of calm giving me the extra energy and time to invest in the more important things in life. As my consciousness increased through the practice of meditation, I started observing miracles on a regular basis, which strengthened my belief in the divine. It led to unwavering faith and gratitude for everything in life. Yoga unfolded the strength that was in me and gave me the awareness to recognize who I truly was 'A Soul'.
Blessed with a beautiful family, I was able to enjoy time with my husband and two adorable daughters, whilst also sharing the gift of Yoga with others. In 2012 my eldest daughter and best friend Amreen, aged sixteen passed away. I have no doubt that without Yoga and God's grace I would have been unable to accept the loss of my child and inevitably gone into a state of depression. However, surprisingly what could have been an unbearable period in my life was made to feel divine and blissful with a calm acceptance of god's will. It gave me the understanding that I am not the physical body. I suffer and feel the pain when I think I am the physical body. In reality I am a soul, here to balance my Karmic accounts and evolve through new experiences.
I feel truly grateful and experience love and light because of Kundalini Yoga despite all that I have been through. I highly recommend yoga to stay healthy and above all experience inner happiness and peace.
In memory of our Inspiring Angel - Amreen, our family will be participating in a Fundraising Walk on Sunday 13th September 2015 to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust and Cancer Research.
It would be lovely if you could join us for the walk. Please request your friends and family to sponsor us at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/AmreensWalk3.
If you are unable to walk with us you can still make a difference by spreading the word and sharing this page.
Did you wonder why your mother insisted you soak your almonds before consuming them? Here’s why… It has nothing to do with taste; it is simply the healthier option.
The brown peel of almonds contains tannin that inhibits nutrient absorption. Once you soak almonds the peel comes off easily and allows the nut to release all nutrients easily.
Soak a handful of almonds in half a cup of water. Cover them and allow them to soak for 8 hours. Drain the water, peel off the skin and store them in plastic container. These soaked almonds will last you for about a week.
Benefits of soaked almonds:
1. Help with digestion - Soaking almonds helps to release enzymes such as lipase that in turn help with digestion of fats.
2. Help with weight-loss - The monounsaturated fats in almonds curb your appetite and keep you full. So feel free to snack on them because they'll help you avoid binge-eating and trigger weight-loss.
3. Almonds keep your heart healthy, reduce bad cholesterol (low density lipoprotein) and increase good cholesterol (high density lipoprotein).
4. They are a good source of antioxidants: Vitamin E present in soaked almonds works as an antioxidant that inhibits free radical damage that prevents ageing and inflammation.
5. Fight Cancer: Soaked almonds contain Vitamin B17 that is vital for fighting cancer.
6. Flavonoid, present in almonds suppresses tumour growth.
7. Help in lowering and maintaining glucose levels and regulating high blood pressure.
8. Soaked almonds contain folic acid that reduces birth defects.
Vitamin D is perhaps the single most underrated nutrient in the world of nutrition. That's probably because it's free: your body makes it when sunlight touches your skin.
Vitamin D prevents osteoporosis, depression, prostrate cancer, breast cancer and even has an impact on diabetes and obesity.
Vitamin D facts…
1. The healing rays of natural sunlight (that generate vitamin D in your skin) cannot penetrate glass. So you don't generate vitamin D when sitting in your car or home.
2. It is nearly impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from your diet. Sunlight exposure is the only reliable way to generate vitamin D in your own body.
3. A person would have to drink ten tall glasses of vitamin D fortified milk each day just to get minimum levels of vitamin D into their diet.
4. People with dark skin pigmentation may need 20 - 30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people to generate the same amount of vitamin D. That's why prostate cancer is epidemic among black men - it's a simple, but widespread, sunlight deficiency.
5. Sufficient levels of vitamin D are crucial for calcium absorption in your intestines. Without sufficient vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium, rendering calcium supplements useless.
6. Chronic vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight: it takes months of vitamin D supplementation and sunlight exposure to rebuild the body's bones and nervous system.
7. Even weak sunscreens (SPF=8) block your body's ability to generate vitamin D by 95%. This is how sunscreen products actually cause disease -by creating a critical vitamin deficiency in the body.
8. It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D in your body from sunlight exposure: your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs.
9. If it hurts to press firmly on your sternum, you may be suffering from chronic vitamin D deficiency right now.
10. Vitamin D is "activated" in your body by your kidneys and liver before it can be used and kidney disease or liver damage can greatly impair your body's ability to activate circulating vitamin D.
11. On the issue of sunlight exposure it turns out that super antioxidants greatly boost your body's ability to handle sunlight without burning. Astaxanthin is one of the most powerful "internal sunscreens" and can allow you to stay under the sun twice as long without burning.
Do you need to calm down? Are you finding it difficult to sleep? Try this simple breathing exercise and notice the difference.
Have you ever wondered why you have two nostrils instead of one big one?
Our body is a finely tuned machine operating on positive and negative electrical currents. In the ancient science of Kundalini Yoga we are taught that there are two energies called Ida and Pingala that intertwine up the sides of the spine and that unite to form the Sushmana, the central channel.
The Ida energy, on the left, is the moon energy: reflective, calming, cooling, female. The right is Pingala and has the energy of the sun; bright, fiery, awakening and male.
We compare these systems in our Western terminology as the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic system, Pingala, is the fight or flight system and charges you up in times of danger. The parasympathetic system, Ida, slows you down and helps your body automatically run its day-to-day jobs of digestion, elimination, sleep cycles and more.
When you need to calm down, when your mind is racing very fast, or when you can’t go to sleep, try left nostril (Ida) breathing.
Simply take your right hand and, with your fingers outstretched, block off your right nostril by putting gentle pressure on it with your right thumb. Be sure to keep the rest of your fingers straight and pointing up towards the sky; the fingers act like antennas for the “cosmic” energy that surrounds us all. Inhale and exhale deeply through the left nostril.
Visualize the moon and feel the moon energy flowing in your body, cooling you down.
Consciously relax with every new breath. As you exhale breathe out all tension, all stress and all disease.
Enjoy being calm and relaxed.
We know that nuts are considered to be a super food i.e. food that is rich in nutrients and beneficial for our health and well being. In addition to nuts, seeds also have tremendous health benefits. Rich in energy, protein, packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and the all important omega-3 fatty acids, nuts and seeds almost seem to be complete foods.
Just 1 ounce a day of nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and peanuts can diminish inflammation and provide satiating fiber, protein and immune-boosting minerals.
Nuts and seeds contain healthful mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These fats are essential to health by managing inflammation and maintaining the normal structure of every cell in our bodies.
Nuts and seeds provide our bodies with fiber, key to the digestion process. The "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" published research that found an additional 25 percent reduction in cholesterol levels after nut consumption that could not be explained from the composition of healthy fat alone. Researchers speculated that fiber and mineral content in nuts were responsible.
Nuts and seeds contain minerals such as magnesium, zinc, calcium and phosphorus needed for bone development, immunity and energy production. One ounce of sunflower seed kernels contains 100 mg of magnesium. Calcium is a mineral needed for bone development, but it is also needed to send signals to cells and produce energy.
Including nuts and seeds in your diet promotes a healthy and balanced mind and body. A healthy body and a healthy mind are in co-existent. When either one is off balance we need to realign them to restore the balance. We need to ensure that all the food groups are adequately represented in our diet with nuts and seeds being an integral part.
Read more for a specific details on the benefits of different nuts and seeds (source: Joy Bauer)
Life is beautiful; it’s up to us what we make of it. Positive thoughts uplift us and allow us to overcome difficulties and challenges whilst negative thoughts pull us down and make us succumb to them, not rise above them. Being happy or sad is a choice we make; a choice that undoubtedly comes with consequences for which we must take responsibility. Negative thoughts are stepping stones and an opportunity to consciously make the right choice and decide that you want better. After all, it is our birthright to be happy.
Choosing happiness is simple. Find the silver lining in every situation especially when the going gets tough and appreciate all that is around you. If you feel yourself going down accept and acknowledge the feeling and recognise that it doesn't have to be that way. When you're ready, pick yourself up by doing something that uplifts you. No one knows you better than yourself. Something as easy as going for a walk, catching up with friends or spending time with loved ones will remind you of the blessings in your life. As you practise choosing to be positive and happy it will eventually become a habit and you will find that this wonderful quality will become a part of your character.
When we make a choice to be happy we also make a choice to be healthy. When we think positive things it naturally impacts our physiological state as well. By filtering out unnecessary thoughts that cause feelings of sadness and self-pity you manifest a healthy mind, body and soul. This creates an aura of vitality and draws people towards you… after all everyone wants to feel this way.
So start right now, unleash the power within and make the right choice.
We all know that drinking water is extremely important for the proper functioning of our bodies and all the organs working together.
The European Food Safety Authority recommends that women should drink about 1.6 litres of fluid and men should drink about 2.0 litres of fluid per day. That's about eight glasses of 200ml each for a woman, and 10 glasses of 200ml each for a man.
There are plenty of studies and articles explaining the benefits of drinking water but what is particularly interesting is that there are specific benefits based on when you drink water.
Drinking water at a certain time maximizes its effectiveness on the body:
2 glasses of water after waking up helps activate internal organs.
A glass of water 30 minutes before a meal - helps digestion. Drinking water before a meal helps you feel fuller, As a result you will be less likely to attack your meal like a starving person. Water helps prepare the stomach for the food that will follow; waking up taste buds on the tongue and moisturizing the stomach lining so brittle or acidic foods won’t be uncomfortable.
A glass of water before taking a bath helps lower blood pressure.
A glass of water before going to bed avoids stroke or heart attack.
A glass of water at bed- time will also help prevent nighttime leg cramps.
Your leg muscles cramp and wake you up when they seek hydration.
Drink more water to prevent illness following exposures. If you are around sick people in the hospital or at work and school, drink a little more water than usual to wash away germs and viruses that your body may have picked up from exposure to these people. A well-hydrated body helps to move along any invaders before they settle down and multiply in your system.
Have a glass of water when you’re tired. Feeling tired? Fatigued? Need a nap but can’t take one? Have a glass of water. Because of its ability to move quickly throughout the body, water can reach your brain and activate it right before a meeting or other situation where you need to pay attention.
Not only is water a vital element in maintaining good health and well being but knowing the right times to drink it adds to its effectiveness and ability to balance the various functions within our bodies. A hydrated healthy body in turn leads to peaceful and calm mind allowing our emotional and mental states to be centered and focused.
The Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is one of yoga’s most important asanas, comprising of 12 different postures in a single flow. Also known as the Mountain Story for the benefit of the children, it is one of the most enjoyable and energising exercises for them. The forward and backward bending postures help to stretch and flex their abdomen as well as spinal columns.
Best done in the morning, the Surya Namaskar is a simple exercise that you can do it at home with your children, engaging them in the activity through the use of the Mountain Story.
The Sun Salutation has a number of beneficial effects on the minds and bodies of children including boosting physical strength and muscle tone and enhancing the function of the nervous system, improving memory, concentration and learning capabilities, increasing energy levels in the body and keeping the mind calm and focused and regulating and promoting better sleep patterns amongst others.
Try it at home together with your children. Not only will it energise and invigorate them, but it is also a great way to bond and share quality time with them.