Updated: May 10, 2019

We all lead such busy lives these days that it can often be difficult to find time to recharge the mind but it's vital not to underestimate the importance of practising just 10 minutes of meditation per day.



It's not just rushing to get the kids ready for school or trying to prepare yourself for that big presentation at work but all that background noise that we endure on a daily basis. Modern day life consumes our minds with unnecessary distractions leaving us with no time to switch off. We all have mobile phones, tablets, laptops, TV's and it's all too easy to spend what little spare time we have lost to the virtual world. I often find myself picking up my phone first thing in the morning before I've even had a chance to properly wake up, catching up on what I might have missed during the night. Because as we all know too well Facebook, Instagram, Twitter never sleep!


But don't get me wrong, I'm an advocate of technology and social media, after all here I am writing a blog post, but there is a point at which it all becomes just too much, a distraction that deadens our senses, and blurs our focus. Today more than ever before it's crucial that we afford ourselves the time that our minds need to rest and recuperate.


Of course meditation isn't the only way to achieve this goal but it is one of the oldest and most effective according to its practitioners. Some of the earliest written records of meditation (Dhyana), come from the Hindu traditions of Vedantism around 1500 BCE and has been practised since antiquity in numerous religious traditions and beliefs, often as part of the path towards enlightenment and self realization.


"The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear". - Rumi

Since the 19th century, it has spread from its origins to other cultures. Today meditation is commonly practised throughout the world by people of all walks of life. With its surge in popularity hundreds of scientific studies have been carried out in order to identify and examine its health benefits. Studies have shown that meditation can positively impact both mental and physical health by reducing stress, controlling anxiety, promoting emotional well being, enhancing self awareness, decreasing blood pressure and age related memory loss, improving sleep and increasing mental focus.


Thankfully though you don't need to become a monk or devote your life to finding enlightenment to reap some of these benefits. A recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience found that even 10 minutes of meditation can increase a persons cognitive abilities. According to Hedy Kober, senior author and associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at Yale University, “We have known for a while that people who practice meditation for a few weeks or months tend to perform better on cognitive tests, but now we know you don't have to spend weeks practising to see improvement."


Personally I try to practice at least 20 minutes of meditation per day, 10 minutes in the morning to start my day and 10 minutes in the evening before going to bed. Whenever I have time I like to extend my practice for longer periods but don't worry if you can't, just 10 minutes per day or as often as you can is a great way to begin.



Simple steps for effective meditation:

  1. Find a peaceful space.

  2. Make yourself comfortable.

  3. Bring your awareness to the sounds outside the room.

  4. Draw the same awareness to the sounds inside the room.

  5. Guide that awareness to you body noticing the feeling of the air against your skin.

  6. Begin to draw your focus to your breath without changing it but just becoming aware.

  7. To deepen the breath, send the breath deep into your belly on the inhale before exhaling fully from the belly.

  8. Repeat this breathing cycle for approximately 10 minutes or for as long as you feel comfortable.



That's right, you read correctly... Vegan chocolate brownies, and best of all, they're delicious!



Vegan Chocolate Brownies

These gorgeous vegan brownies are a wholesome addition to your afternoon coffee. The recipe was created by Jonathan Beaton, the culinary mind behind the brilliantly creative "Lovely's, a vegan cookbook". This wonderfully foolproof recipe works perfectly for me every time and not only are they delicious but they're about as guilt free as chocolate brownies come. So why not give the recipe a try and let me know what you think!


Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil

  • ½ cup chickpeas

  • 2¾ cup powdered sugar

  • ⅓ cup strong black coffee

  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon white miso

  • ½ cup + ¼ cup coconut oil

  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ cup plain flour

  • 2 green cardamom pods

  • 2 tablespoons soy milk


Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F).

  2. Add the following to a food processor and blend until no lumps remain: the peanut oil, chickpeas, miso, coffee, just ¾ cup of the powdered sugar and ¼ cup of the coconut oil.

  3. Whisk the cocoa powder, flour and baking soda together in a mixing bowl.

  4. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl and mix with a spoon to create a thick batter.

  5. Pour the batter into a silicone loaf mould or parchment lined loaf tin. It will only fill a third of the mould.

  6. Bake for 20 minutes, then leave to cool completely (or it will melt the cardamom cream).

  7. In the meantime make the cardamom cream. Start by cracking open the cardamom pods and grinding the seeds (not the husk) into a very fine powder with a mortar and pestle.

  8. In a food processor, combine the cardamom powder, the soy milk, the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar and the remaining ¼ cup coconut oil. Keep the mixture chilled until you’re ready to assemble the dessert.

  9. Take a cup measure and press it into the brownie loaf to cut out two round shapes. Place the rounds into coffee cups, spread the cream on top and dust with cocoa powder.



This quick and easy avocado toast and poached egg recipe will fuel your morning whatever you have in store. It's a healthy, protein-packed breakfast that the whole family will love!



Avocado Toast with Poached Egg

Breakfast...My favourite meal of the day! Not only does it kick start my metabolism but it gives me that boost of energy I need to get going. This brilliantly straightforward three step recipe is quick and easy to make but packed full of nutritional goodness. Of course this tasty dish needn't be restricted to the breakfast table. I'll often have it for lunch or as an afternoon snack but regardless of when you choose to eat it, my top tip is to add some chilli flakes from time to time. It's a great way to introduce a little variety, not to mention a little added kick!



Ingredients:

  • 1/2 avocado peeled, seeded

  • salt & pepper to taste

  • 2 slices whole grain bread or bread of choice

  • 2 eggs

  • chilli flakes (optional)


Instructions:

  1. Mash the avocado in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.

  2. Toast 2 slices of whole grain in a toaster until golden and crispy, place the mashed avocado over the toast, top with the eggs, and sprinkle red pepper flakes, if desired.

  3. For poached eggs: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Crack one egg into a small bowl. Stir in the vinegar into the water and create a vortex with the boiling water. Lower the heat so the water creates a rolling boil at the bottom of the pot. Then, carefully add the egg to the middle of the pot and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and repeat for a second egg if desired.