Can You Fall Asleep In Just One Minute?

Having a good night’s sleep helps to regulate your blood pressure, but sleeplessness affects many people.

One survey found that more than 50% suffer from insomnia and most blame stress. Stress switches on your body’s fight or flight response so your muscles tense, heart rate rises, blood pressure increases and your breathing quickens in anticipation of action.

While this may be useful at times during the day, it’s counter-productive when trying to get to sleep. A simple exercise known as the 4-7-8 breath technique can switch off the stress response and help you drift off more quickly. It works on the principle that breathing influences physiology and thought processes, including moods. Done at least twice a day, the results improve with practice.

Simply breathe in for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds and exhale completely to a count of eight. Repeat up to four times. Some users have reported being able to get to sleep within a minute using the technique.

The benefits of basil

Basil is a delicious and versatile herb that has been cultivated all over the world for thousands of years.

Native to India, it was revered as a sacred plant, often planted around temples and placed in graves. Basil can be used in a variety of ways.

The leaves and ground seeds may be added to food, and the leaves used to make tea. It is believed to confer health benefits, such as reducing stress and helping to lift depression. Rubbing the leaves on an insect bite relieves itching and it has antiseptic properties.

It’s easy to grow, so if you want to keep fresh basil on hand, keep a pot on a sunny windowsill and pick the leaves as and when you need them.

The Importance Of Pilates Principles

Concentrating or ‘being mindful’ in each and every moment and understanding and executing the Pilates principles in each and every exercise.

This will ensure both maximum physical gains and enjoyment, leading to improvements in overall well-being and happiness !

There were six main principles of Pilates:

Concentration

You cannot ensure correct muscle activation and exercise execution for maximum gain and minimum injury risk, if you do not pay attention to your own body and its capabilities.

Centering
Both in mind and in body, centering refers both to the connection of the central stabilising muscles and a steadying of the mind in preparation for movement.

Control
Each exercise requires consideration in order to balance the muscles and protect other areas of the body from becoming overused and fatigued.

Breathing
A deep exhalation initiates contraction of the deep, stabilising abdominal muscles, which then makes it easier for you to connect with them and maintain the connection whilst executing an exercise.

Precision
From the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes, every muscle should be conscious and in balance in order to ensure fluidity and functionality to each exercise.

Flow
Initially, this referred to flow within each exercise. That is, each series of exercises should be executed smoothly and with grace. In more recent years the concept of ‘flow’ has been further added to the choreography of transitions between exercises.

Mindfulness extends from only thinking about the present time and not the future, to the very action one is taking in that present moment i.e. making a cup of tea or eating a chocolate. Mindfulness teaches us to appreciate the present moment because once that moment has passed you can never get it back. Enjoy the sounds made by the kettle boiling, notice smells and noises; enjoy the texture and flavour of your chocolate and so on. It’s almost meditative, in the sense that in that moment; you are only focussed on the one ‘thing’, your mind cannot be occupied by stresses and worries.

7 Reasons Why Meditation is Good for Your Health

By tapping into an abundance of creative energy, meditation can enrich both our emotional and physical health. Makes you happier…

Reduces stress

Endorphins also act as a means of reducing stress levels in the brain; so by meditating you can stop worrying about the little things in life and concentrate on the exploration of yourself and the promotion of positive feelings.

Helps you focus
Meditating allows you to learn how to discipline yourself and this will reflect in your everyday lifestyle. When you address tasks, your mind will focus more naturally and you will experience an increased efficiency.

Improves sleep
Scientific studies have shown that those who meditate enhance their slow wave sleep pattern, which can help fight insomnia. Furthermore, focussing the mind on mental and physical processes will aid relaxation and consequently, sleep.

Lowers blood Pressure
Research has also shown that meditation can reduce blood pressure, both in the short term and later in life. By decreasing psychological stress and increasing coping ability, blood pressure decreases, helping you pursue a healthier life.

Relieves Pain
Long term practice of meditation can lead to physical changes in the brain that help alter the perception of pain. Those who meditate will experience lower pain sensitivity. Mindfulness, a result of meditation, can also help those who suffer chronic pain come to terms with it.

Connects you with others
While it’s true that meditation is mostly concentrated on self-growth, it also improves your social interaction. The mind becomes more sharply focussed on compassionate feelings that are directed towards others. As little as a few minutes of meditation practise can increase positive feelings towards strangers.

Makes you happier
Meditation causes the pituitary gland in your brain to secrete endorphins that help elevatemood and have a positive effect on the whole body. It also alters brain activity to enhance the area associated with positive emotional experiences.

Fed Up With Dry Skin?

Ideally, your skin should retain a moisture level of around 30%.

When hydration falls, the skin starts to feel dry and itchy, and the normal process of skin cell shedding is reduced so skin cells build up. By the time skin feels rough, dry, and develops scaling, the water level in your skin may be as low as 10%.

This can result from environmental factors such as exposure to harsh soaps, irritants or adverse weather, but can also be due to a lack of dietary essential fatty acids and vitamin A deficiency.

Foods that can help

Omega-3s provide building blocks for making skin cell membranes that retain moisture more readily. They also suppress the inflammatory response that leads to itching and reduced skin cell shedding. Aim to eat oily fish like sardines, salmon, tuna, mackerel or herring at least twice a week. Walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia and hemp are also good sources. Higher intakes of foods rich in vitamin C such as berries and mango, are associated with better skin appearance due to improved collagen production and moisture retention. Wheat germ oil is particularly valuable for treating dry skin – apply topically to leave it feeling soft and smooth.

Foods to avoid

Follow a low glycaemic diet by avoiding refined grains such as white rice, white flour breads, pasta and cakes, which raise insulin levels and promote inflammation.

Useful Supplements

Evening primrose oil provides essential fatty acids that moisturise skin when taken by mouth, producing significant improvements in scaliness and itching. You can also apply evening primrose oil directly onto patches of dry skin.

Wake Early To Enjoy The Dawn Chorus

The dawn chorus reaches it’s peak around this time of year.

Every morning from March to July, the finest sopranos, tenors and baritones warm up their voices for the greatest concert on earth.

As breeding season gets underway, birds will sing at their best and with some practice you can learn to identify the dawn chorus singers. Dunnocks and robins are among the earliest to start singing about an hour before sunrise.

Then blackbirds and song thrushes join in as the ground warms and worms become more active. Finally, contributing to the crescendo, wrens, tits and warblers come in, with the tiny call of the goldcrest on stage too. These later arrivals to the choral scene eat insects and are perhaps more sensitive to the coldness of dawn

Be awakened

Don’t be lazy. We have been lazy and ignorant for millions of years, and we are now lucky to hear the bell of Buddha.

Meditate all day and night while lying, sitting, standing and walking. Always be awakened and mindful. That is the message from Zen Master Vien Hoc. But how can the lazy body be conquered? It is a hard work, and only you can do it to save yourself. You should observe your body carefully. Eat healthy, eat little. Work and exercise everyday.

Always remember that the law of impermanence is drifting us swiftly all day and night, and we have very little time in this life to practice Buddha Dharma to reach the shore. So don’t be lazy.

That doesn’t mean that you have to punish your body. The body is a raft, a vehicle; you have to take good care of it for a really hard trip.

Observe all your bodily movement; that’s a part of meditation. In a certain way, this kind of meditation might have originated some forms of martial arts. Also, you can have your own style Tai Chi Chuan for fun while meditating.

Try this: breath in and out gently, move your right hand very slowly in any way you want while you observe and feel all the bodily movements. Then, with both hands. Then, with eyes open, stand up and move gently while you observe and feel all the bodily movements. It is so much fun for the children to practice their own style Tai Chi Chuan while meditating.

Ask them to try it around five minutes a day. The practitioner would some time see that the mind and body become one.

Like an Echo

Live yourself a simple life.

Only the morality is your duty. If you want to say the good words, just insistingly tell others one saying: When you see there is no self and others, the dust stops blowing; Day and night, up and down, there is no form to settle; Like a reflection, like an echo, there is no trace to point out.

All things are playing in your mind. But when you look around and you can not see the mind. You can not say there is no mind, because the consciousness arises and vanishes. You can not say there is something called mind, because there is no trace of it. Thoughts come and go just like illusions.

Now try this: Keep silent for a day, or even one hour, and feel the environment around. You would feel that all the sounds you hear are not the normal sounds anymore; you feel that they are all echoes in your mind.

The Mind of Emptiness

Life is too short. If you attain the mind of emptiness and formlessness, you will be free from the world of coming and going.

You can feel the frailness of your body now, even when you are healthy and strong. Try this: breathe in and out, gently and naturally; feel the breathing in and out; feel your whole body breathing; feel your whole body becoming one with the breath. Then you will see that your breath is so fragile and your body is so vulnerable.

The more you experience the bliss from meditation, the more you feel sorrowful for the plight of humankind.
Recalling the Buddha’s words saying that we have born and died countless times, you will feel grateful to countless parents, and will see all people around as your dear parents in past lives. Then you will feel your whole body deeply resonate with the Zen vow to save all sentient beings. How can we save others if we are not free yet?

Zen master Vien Chieu said that learners must attain the mind of emptiness and formlessness. Indeed, you will see that the mind essence is empty and formless. So all things in the world appear and disappear in the mind just like the clouds formed and dissolved in the sky, just like the images emerged and vanished in a mirror.

So all the forms you see, all the sounds your hear, all the odors you smell, all the flavors you taste, all the senses you feel, all the thoughts you have are changing swiftly. So nothing has a self. So all things come and go, governed by the principle of dependent arising. Realizing the mind essence will free you from the world of coming and going.

The Present

The present is not the past; the past is not the present.

That means past thoughts vanished and the present thought is not the previous thought. That means every act in past lives and now has its own merit. That means the good deed now is not the bad act done before. That means the breath now is not the breath earlier, and the breath felt previously was not the breath sensed presently.

Live with the present. Every act has its own merit, so you should not worry about the past. Just sit with eyes half open, feel your breath now, feel your body breathing now, feel your thought now arising and vanishing. Can you see this interval: while the previous thought vanished and the next thought does not arise yet?

Try to gently stare that interval for all times in a day, or in two days, even when you are lying, sitting, standing and walking. Later, you can use this stare to cut off all wandering thoughts.