We are what we think

How many times have you heard it said “If you keep thinking about that..… it’s going to happen”? Usually it’s about something bad that might happen to us – never seems to be a positive! I just wondered whether there is any actual truth in the statement “we are what we think” and if so could a more constructive mind-set lead to a happier and more fulfilled life.

In my article ‘Just What is Gratitude About then!’ I finished with a wonderful quote by Canadian writer Robin S. Sharma who said “What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell on determines your destiny.” Powerful words indeed but is there substance in all of this?

When did this notion all start?

We tend to assume (or at least I did) that this is a relatively new concept but I’ve been having a look and find references dating back over 2,500 years: “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” – Buddha. Or how about Socrates from a similar period – “The mind is everything; what you think you become.”

So what’s happening in our head then?

You’ve probably heard the saying in neuroscience: “neurons that fire together wire together.” Simply put, the more you run a neural-circuit in your brain, the stronger that circuit becomes. Most of the firing for our thinking occurs in the frontal lobe of the cerebrum – the outer bit separated into two hemispheres.

  • It is widely accepted that the average person has around 70,000 thoughts per day – a staggering statistic which I struggle to get my head round. (Some scientists estimate a lower figure of up to 60,000 – but still!!)
  • Of those 70,000 thoughts it is said that 95% are the same as yesterday *
  • Up to 80% of them are negative.*

*National Science Foundation published article, 2005.

The Scientifically proven benefits of a healthy mind-set

So you see, there’s a lot going on in those heads of ours and you may agree with me that if somehow we could swing the balance of all those negative thoughts over to a few more positive ones, it’s really going to give us an advantage in so many ways – and here are a few:

  • Positive Thinking can reduce Anxiety – Researchers from Kings College in London instructed 102 subjects diagnosed with general anxiety disorder (GAD) to replace their excessive worrying with potential positive outcomes over the period of a week. After this period participants showed significant reductions in their anxiety.
  • Enjoy better health – There are numerous studies revealing that a positive outlook can improve overall health. There reason is quite simple; by disengaging with the negative our bodies are not weighed down with stress, anxiety or frustration. Less stress in the body leads to a stronger immune system.
  • You Brain is always building – This one can go either way! Whether we like it or not our brains are constantly changing – that old firing and wiring thing again. We can control what we allow ourselves to think about. Don’t let other people control you. I love this quote from Jim Rohn “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” It all starts in the mind.
  • More Health Benefits – Researchers are continually exploring the benefits of the impact our thoughts have on our overall health. These may include: Increased life span, lower rates of depression, lower levels of distress, greater resistance to the common cold, better psychological and physical well-being, better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Healthy mind-set hacks

Yep, a lot of what I’m going to say here is plain common sense. That said, it’s good to stay mindful and practice some of these little techniques that all add up to make the day better.

Take stock, Identify areas you may want to change. Have a think about what occupies your mind a lot that is not serving you. There may be several areas, maybe something major like your finances or a relationship to smaller more trivial things like the frustration of the rush hour traffic. We might not be able to change the situation at that moment in time but we could re-frame it by turning the problem into a potential opportunity.

A Bright Start – Start as you mean to go on – Get out of bed, plant your feet on the floor and tell yourself that it’s going to be a great day. You’ve just signaled to the brain your intention and you’re gaining momentum right from the off.

Do what feels comfortable – don’t feel you have to look in the mirror, high 5 yourself and make some great proclamation. If you want to and it helps great – but you may wish to be a little more conservative!

Have a laugh – Allow yourself to laugh a little, particularly when things seem tough. Laughing in the face of adversity is a great way to take some stress out of a situation.

Don’t hang around with Negative people – easier said than done at times I know, but if you have option, steer yourself away from people constantly on a downer. Some people are only happy when they’re moaning about something – avoid them if you can.

Think gratitude. Finally, whatever comes our way, there is always something we can genuinely give thanks for.

Final thoughts

Personally, I believe that mind is matter, and matter is mind and that as long as we continue to wait for circumstances outside of us to change, we are missing a trick. If we can focus our minds on what we want to happen rather think constantly about what we have experienced in the past, we give ourselves a much better chance to think better and just maybe, improve our lives going forward as a result.

You may totally disagree with me here but either way, I’d love to know your thoughts on the old adage “you are what you think”.

Thank you for taking the time out, I really appreciate it.

Have a fantastic day!


Just What is Gratitude About then!

Ever remember complaining as a kid when your friend had the latest bike and yours was the poor relation – that familiar phrase from Mum and Dad ringing in your ear…. ”you should be grateful for what you’ve got!” Wise words indeed but not always the ones we wanted to hear. A trivial example I know, but really, what is gratitude about and is there merit in having a mindset of gratitude?

What’s in a word

It seems they’ve been doing it for a while, apparently the original word comes from the Latin ‘gratus’ but I love the medieval Latin translation of ‘gratitudo’ – has a bit of a ring to it don’t you think? The Cambridge English Dictionary describes the word as ‘a strong feeling of appreciation to someone or something’. There’s been a lot of research done on the subject and it turns out that by adopting this outlook, it can lead to significant physical and mental improvements in our daily lives. If you’ll come with me, I’d like to take a look at a few of them and then look at some habits the ‘Gratitude Ninjas’ cultivate.

Gratitude improves your physical health – Yeah right!!!!

Now I like to think I’m cautiously skeptical about a lot of stuff I read – I don’t think it’s a bad stance given some garbage out there these days but a lot of studies have looked into gratitude. According to the peer reviewed academic journal Personality and Individual Differences, a study carried out in 2012 concluded that grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and reported feeling healthier than others. They are more likely to take care of their health and exercise more often. In addition, when something is up, grateful people are also more likely to check in with their doctor and attend regular health check-ups. All of which is a likely contributor to further longevity and perhaps more importantly, the quality of our years on this earth.

Gratitude improves psychological health

A leading gratitude researcher, Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research shows that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression. In his book The Little Book of Gratitude he states, “Gratitude is fertilizer for the mind, spreading connections and improving its function in nearly every realm of experience.”

A Better Nights Sleep

Studies by A.M. Wood of the University of Manchester UK and colleagues established a strong correlation to gratitude and improved sleep quality. Other studies have found that noting down a few things we are grateful for can improve both the length and quality of our sleep. Some folks keep a gratitude journal. Personally, I keep a journal that I complete (most days!) and finish off by writing 3 things that l’ve been grateful for that day.

There’s lots more….

Many more in fact, backed by numerous scientific studies. Here are some of them: Gratitude makes people like us, it strengthens our positive emotions, it makes us more optimistic, it increases self-esteem whilst making us less self-centered. Other benefits include improved decision-making, improved productivity, deeper friendships – so its clear why so much research has gone into this simple act – it’s a big deal and has a very positive impact on our health and well being.

Six Habits of Highly Grateful People

The play on the Steven Covey title above I’m afraid I can’t take credit for! Jeremy Adam Smith is somewhat of an expert when it comes to the science behind gratitude and has written an excellent article of the same title in the online magazine “The Greater Good”. Below are the 6 habits in a condensed version but I do recommend you checkout the online original.

  • Occasional thoughts about death and loss.

Apparently, considering endings does make you more grateful for life, specifically your own. Several studies have been conducted where participants have been asked to visualize their own deaths and their gratitude levels measurably increased. Similarly, people envisioning the sudden disappearance of their romantic partners from their lives, they became more grateful towards them. Interestingly the same is true for imagining some positive event, like a job promotion that never happened.

  • They take time to smell the coffee.

Taking the time to smell the bread baking in the oven, the essence of new car interior, whatever they find pleasurable. Psychologist Fred Bryant finds that savoring positive experiences makes them stickier in the brain and increases their benefits to your psyche. The key to it, he says, is expressing gratitude for the experience.

  • They take the good things as gifts, not birthrights.

The opposite of gratitude? Entitlement – the notion that people owe you just because you’re so very special. Expert Robert Emmons argues that the antidote to entitlement, is to note that we did not create ourselves – at some level we were created. Whether we consider by evolution, by God or by our parents is not important but the fact that we are never truly self-sufficient. Humans need other people for food, to heal our injuries, for love. Emmons goes on to say that “The humble person says that life is a gift to be grateful for, not a right to be claimed”.

  • They’re grateful to people, not just things.

It’s great to look around and appreciate the beauty of nature, the bright sunlight on a warm Summers day or the rolling green grassy hills of the countryside – but the sunshine or the grass don’t care whether we appreciate them or not. Not so for people – people glow in gratitude according to J A Smith. Saying thanks to a family member of friend can strengthen the emotional bond. He goes on to say that thanking the guy who makes our coffee can strengthen social bonds—in part by deepening our understanding of how we’re interconnected with other people.

  • They mention the brownies.

Grateful people are habitually specific. They wouldn’t say, “I love you just for being you!” A highly effective grateful person would say: “I love you for the brownies you make when you see I’m hungry and how you give me a hug when I’m feeling down even though you may not be feeling great yourself!” Smith asserts that this makes the expression of gratitude feel more authentic, showing the thanker was genuinely paying attention. Gratitude thrives on specificity.

  • Finally – They thank outside the box.

That’s the easy bit, but the final one is a little more of a challenge. According to Smith the really tough-minded grateful person thanks: the girlfriend who dumped him, the homeless person who asked for change, the boss who laid him off. He says that in such moments, gratitude becomes a critical cognitive process – a way of thinking about the world that can help us turn disaster into a stepping stone. So, we can thank that girlfriend for being brave enough end a relationship that wasn’t working; the homeless person for reminding us of our advantages and vulnerability; the boss, for forcing us to face new challenges. Phew!!!

To quote Smith in his summing up: “…telling people simply to buck up, count their blessings, and remember how much they still have to be grateful for can certainly do much harm. Processing a life experience through a grateful lens does not mean denying negativity. It is not a form of superficial happiology. Instead, it means realizing the power you have to transform an obstacle into an opportunity.”

What is gratitude about – final thoughts

There is so much out there that’s wrong with our world, suffering and pain, wars, famine, natural disasters…. the list goes on. We should never forget this and do whatever we can where we are on our own personal journey through life. And maybe, when we reflect on what’s not right with the world, including our own personal struggles we could give thanks for what we do have and turn some of those negatives into positives.

I’d like to wrap up with this Robin S. Sharma Quote: “What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny.”

A little gratitude wouldn’t be a bad place to start would it?

I’d love to hear what you think about this subject, thank you for taking the time out to read this article and please leave a comment below.


Does Breathing Reduce Stress?

Stating the obvious or what – it’s the very thing that keeps us moving along our allotted span! Yep, you’ve probably heard it said us humans can last about 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water but a mere 3 minutes without breath. Often referred to as ‘Conscious’ or ‘Controlled’ breathing, this wonderful gift of life we take for granted has so much more to offer us if we could take the time to explore. In this article I’d like to discuss some interesting facts about the breath and attempt to answer the question – does breathing reduce stress? That said, in this article, I’ll share a simple technique commonly used that I’ve found really helpful.

Did You Know

  • The average person breathes in the equivalent of 13 pints of air every minute
  • Breathing has very little to do with oxygen. Air has 21 percent oxygen and the body only needs 5 percent. The rest comes from carbon dioxide.
  • Seventy percent of waste is eliminated through your lungs just by breathing.
  • If the lungs were open flat they would cover the size of a tennis court!
  • Free Divers can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes.
  • The Amygdala is the part of the brain that controls our “fight or flight” response.
  • Breathing is one of the few bodily processes that can either be voluntary or involuntary.

Too Much Stress

To our ancestors, thousands of years ago, the fight or flight response was literally a matter of life or death and the surge of adrenalin when the stress hormones kicked in was for good reason. That temporary increase in heart rate and blood pressure soon abated once the threat of that looming large predator had gone. Fast forward a few millennia and for many of us that same fight or flight response unfortunately stays with us for not just minutes but hours, days, weeks, even months. The job, the mortgage, the bills, the fast pace of life – all have replaced the leopards and the wolves but sadly, in modern times, for extended periods. Here’s just a tiny sample of what living in a constant state of stress can lead to:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Abnormal Heart Rhythms
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Serious mental and cognitive issues

You get the picture, it’s clearly not the best state to exist in.

So can breathing reduce stress?

Well, don’t take my word for it, here is what Professor Paul Grossman – one of the foremost experts on breathing research – had to say in his paper “Respiration, Stress and Cardiovascular Function” way back in 1983: “Several experiments show that voluntary control of certain respiratory parameters can modify the level of subjective anxiety felt under stressful conditions” I’d say that’s a YES then! It’s true, the act of breathing slower and more deeply from your stomach, signals your nervous system to calm down. Enabling more air flow into the body helps calm the nerves, reducing stress and anxiety. There are essentially two types of breathing – chest breathing and abdominal (or diaphragmatic) breathing. Chest breathing is most commonly used during vigorous exercise or emergency situations. Abdominal breathing is in itself relaxing and is typical of the regenerating processes such as when you are asleep, digesting food or the body is at peace. Most deep breathing exercises are based on the latter.

Take a deep breath. Let out all the stress. You deserve to be OK.

The beauty of breathing techniques is that they’re easy to do, can be done anywhere and cost nothing. It’s a good habit to include them as part of your daily routine as well as those moments when you face challenging situations and need a shot of calm. There are literally hundreds of techniques out there but its about finding those that are right for you. For simplicity I’d like to offer a very well-known and effective stress reliever that can be performed virtually anywhere you’re seated – at home, in the office, even in the car. It’s called “Progressive Muscle Relaxation” and is a great, quick way to relieve stress and tension in the body. It’s the practice of tensing one muscle group at a time followed by relaxing and releasing the tension whilst performing steady in and out breaths. (Always check with your doctor should you have any medical concerns or taking any form of medication.)

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Inhale whilst contracting one muscle group (for example your feet and lower leg by curling your toes under and tensing) for as long as is comfortable- 5 maybe 10 seconds but don’t force your breath making the process uncomfortable. Next exhale and suddenly release the tension in that muscle group.
  2. Just relax for 10 to 20 seconds and then progress to the next muscle group (for example your thighs).
  3. As you release the tension, notice the changes you feel when the muscle group is relaxed. You may find it helpful whilst releasing the tension to imagine those stressful feelings flowing out of your body. Do this as you relax each muscle group.
  4. Progress all the way up the body contracting and relaxing muscle groups as in steps 1-3 above.

What do you think, does breathing reduce stress?

So that’s it, just one simple breathing and relaxation technique. Breathing techniques are a wonderful area to explore as a practice on their own or in conjunction with other routines such as mindfulness, meditation and yoga. The more time you’re able to devote to conscious breathing, the more you will benefit, leading to a calmer and healthier you.

“For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth.” – Sanskrit Proverb

I hope you have at least enjoyed my ramblings here and maybe tried this simple technique. If you have (or haven’t) I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below and thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read this post.

Have a fantastic day


How to be Present in the Moment

Mark Twain couldn’t have put it better when he said, “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” As I write it’s New Years Eve 2019 and if you’re anything like me your mind is spinning, reflecting on the good and the bad of the year we’ve just had and thinking about the prospect of the one ahead. And we thinking creatures, more often than not, focus on the not so good! That’s why I love Mr Twain’s quote above and refer to it often. So I thought December 31st might be a fitting time to talk about how to be present in the moment.

Being in the what…????

In our instant interconnected global community, we’re aware of every buzzword, fad, craze out there or at least it’s just one Google away. If you’ve gotten here, no doubt you’ve heard all the phrases – staying present, being in the moment, living in the moment …etc etc. So is all of this just another passing phase or is there some real substance to it and can it make a difference in our daily lives?


Simply put, it’s all about our ability to pay attention to the present, to be aware of it without dwelling in the past or worrying about the future and it has stood the test of time – people have been for hundreds of years, thousands if we consider the great meditators from the early eastern traditions.

What will it do for me?

Here are just some of the benefits you can expect from continued practice of being present in the moment – there are many more but I can personally vouch for these:

  • Eating Less- quite apt at this time with the holiday celebrations and new year upon us. If there’s one time we tend to over-indulge it’s around now! But, by paying attention to what we eat and savoring our food we eat more slowly and tend to eat less.
  • Work Smarter not Harder – when our minds are present in any situation, be it work or at home, we naturally focus on the task in hand, we gain the ability to do things more efficiently with the same amount of effort.
  • The Cloud Hanging over you disappears – although just staying focused in the present moment won’t solve all of our life problems, it frees us up to concentrate and enjoy what we are doing now. Interestingly, the ability to do this on a consistent basis may just help us to solve some of those issues when we have to think about them at the appropriate time. Don’t feel guilty for not always thinking about your problems – it’s ok to do that.
  • You’re no different than me – I know, I know we are all different but how often have you walked into a room at work or some social occasion and felt overawed and inferior by some of the people standing before you? Staying in the moment helps you to focus on the human aspect of people rather than their business or social status. They have times of joy, sadness, fear, love and compassion just like you.

Focus on something, I mean really observe it.

I was walking the dogs this morning and took the time to observe the skyline in the distance, the rolling hills slightly hazed by the morning mist, the summit of each little hill that I’ve run up over the years for as far back as I care to remember. I could have thought about the emails I need to send urgently back in the office, the job that needs doing on the car or that sarcastic comment from the guy in the supermarket queue yesterday. But instead, I felt alive and connected, full of gratitude for the beauty that is all around me. And now I’m in such a better frame of mind.

The beauty of being mindful in the moment is that it doesn’t matter much where you are or what you’re doing. We are a nation of queuers – in the traffic, in the store, at the bar and the list goes on…. How about waiting at the checkout – turn that frustrating 5 minutes into a steady flow of in and out breaths focusing on the sound of air rising through your nostrils and the gentle compression of your belly as you exhale. You can even thank the cashier for facilitating the time for your magic moment!

Do it little, often and with feeling.

Repetition is the mother of mastery as the saying goes so try each day to focus for just a couple of minutes starting as soon as you wake. Have many mini successes over the course of the day knowing that with each repeat a very positive habit is forming in your brain – keep adding lanes to those neural highways! Before long, you’ll find your attention span lengthen until this wonderful state of being consumes much of your waking day.

Bring together all the senses of sight, sound, touch, feeling and smell as you connect with your activity. Focus on just that, and when the mind wanders, remember it’s normal – don’t judge it, acknowledge your brief excursion and gently bring yourself back to the moment.just-breathe

This moment is all we have.

Rather than repeat those mantras in my head or saying them out loud, when instead I completely immerse myself in the moment, it feels liberating knowing that it’s enough, I’m content, calm and having a great day. So next time your doing a routine chore like washing the dishes or taking a shower, bring your awareness to that event, just that event, nothing else, not the rest of life’s baggage. It may be mundane but in that moment nothing else matters, you can’t alter the past or shape the future, you can just be, worry free! Give it a go and please let me know how you get on by leaving a comment below.

All the best,


Founder of magicmotives.com

Does Meditation Help with Sleep?

sleep-meditationThere’s no getting round it, a good nights sleep is essential for nearly everyone on the planet. Most of us should be getting 7,8,9 hours sleep on a regular basis. For the younger ones it’s even more. I’m personally not the best sleeper, so any edge I can get is a big fat bonus! So here’s my question. Does meditation help with sleep?

A few things you may not know about sleep

  • Dependent on age we humans spend (or should!) one third of our lives asleep.
  • According to some studies, sleep deprivation will kill you more quickly than food deprivation.
  • Sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet.
  • Exercising is good for sleep but is definitely not just before going to bed.
  • We naturally feel tired at two different times in the day: around 2:00 AM and 2:00 PM


Why is sleep good for you?

When we sleep, our consciousness is altered, sensory and muscular activity is reduced and our interaction with the outside world is vastly reduced. In other words everything is getting a bit of a rest!

Did you know that sleep can help keep your heart healthy? Sleep deprivation can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary heart disease. The body’s sympathetic nervous system – responsible for our “fight or flight” response is thought to be stimulated by waking up too often. When our bodies physically react in this ‘sensing danger’ state our blood pressure surges- too much waking up too often and our body struggles to compensate for this rise and our levels can remain higher than expected. The risk factor for stroke and coronary heart disease is increased with high blood pressure.

As I mentioned before, sleep gives your body the time it needs to rest and repair. A good nights sleep can help to keep your immune system in great shape and keep those nasty germs at bay. Ever noticed when you’re unwell you want to sleep more? Sleep supports the proteins and cells of your immune system to detect and destroy any unwanted invaders your body might come into contact with, like the common cold – and sleep helps remember them too, so you’re better armed to fight those same germs off the next time. So don’t beat yourself up the next time you’re not feeling well with so much to do but all you want to do is sleep – it’s essential you do!

How about some help with maintaining a healthy weight! A lack of sleep can make it more difficult to control your appetite and cause you to gain weight. The body needs more energy if we’re awake longer and when tired we are more likely to choose unhealthy foods, particularly those high in sugar. Sleep has a big part to play in regulating how our bodies use food for energy, so getting enough sleep might just help control our weight.

And it’s not just the physical side, a good nights sleep can improve our mental health too, not to mention a reduction in our overall stress levels. Those pernicious stress hormones like Cortisol can keep you awake more than you’d like whereas a good night’s sleep can have the opposite effect and relax the systems in your body.

Add to the list, improved memory, improved mood, better relationships…… you get the picture!improved-mood

Ok – so just how does meditation help with sleep?

I couldn’t put it better than the Sleep Foundation who say: “Not only can meditation improve your sleep quality, but it may also help reduce blood pressure and ease pain, anxiety, and depression. It’s easy. Meditation is an accessible, budget-friendly practice that everyone can try—insomnia sufferers of different ages respond well to the practice, including older adults.”

What keeps most of us awake at night are worries – and we have lots of them. Worry affects our mental state, physically tenses our body up and can alter our mood. Not the best state to be in as our head hits the pillow! Taking a few minutes to meditate just before bed can create the right environment for a peaceful night of rest focusing on the present moment and not the accumulated concerns of the day.meditation-sleep

A simple way to meditate that will help you sleep.

So, there are several ways to meditate but 3 broad categories. Mindfulness, Concentration or Focus Meditation and Guided Meditation. Concentration or Focus Meditation is where you simply focus on one thing – it could be naked flame of a candle or the repetition of a mantra like “I am calm”. Guided meditation is just that – someone else leading you through a meditation process.

Might I suggest a Mindfulness Meditation to begin. This is probably the most popular form of meditation and involves simply paying attention to your body. It could be awareness of the sound of your breath or the feeling of the floor underneath you. If you’re not familiar with Mindfulness don’t worry when your mind wanders back to events of the day, just observe them, let them pass by without judging yourself and come back to your focus. So here goes:

1. Sit upright in a chair or cross-legged on the floor and rest your hands on your lap. If you find this uncomfortable don’t worry, just get yourself in a comfortable position otherwise you’ll be distracted even before you start. You may even want to sit in bed so you’ve less of a commute to sleeping quarters!!!

2. It will help to close your eyes.

3. If your place space is free from external noise, you may sit in silence or chose some relaxing music to play in the background. If sounds from the outside world disturb your quiet, music will really help.

4. Prepare to meditate. Take a few slow deep breaths, notice any tension areas around your body and try to relax them. Think of 3 things in your life to be thankful for and smile while your doing so. Gratitude is so effective in this process.

5. Now, just be still, focus on your breath or maybe your feet touching the floor and enjoy the calm and restful state you’re in. When the thoughts of the day come into your mind – and they will – acknowledge them and let them pass by.

6. Try this for just 5 or longer if wish. Set a timer on your phone so that the clock is not a distraction. When you’re done, get into bed and reflect on how it felt and drift off to a wonderful nights sleep.


Sleepy final thoughts

There are so many ways to get the most from sleep with a little meditation and the method above is just one suggestion that I know works for me. We all need our sleep to rest, relax and rejuvenate our mind, body and spirit and as the saying goes “every little helps”. So to answer my question – does meditation help with sleep? – Try it and find out!

Thank you for taking time to read this article and if you have any experiences, thoughts or comments, I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below. Have a fantastic day!

All the best,


Founder of magicmotives.com

How to relax your mind and lose the stress

So much has been written about how to relax your mind and let go of the stress in our lives, and for good reason – it’s extremely beneficial for us. So with this in mind (excuse the pun) I’d like to offer a brief introduction and some simple but effective tips and techniques I have learnt to calm my world.

They’ve been doing it for thousands of years

…..so there must be something in it! It is commonly believed that meditation and mindfulness originate in prehistoric religions involving rhythmic chants or mantras. In ancient times the earliest evidence of meditation practice was from wall art in India showing people in meditative postures with half closed eyes – circa 5,000 to 3,500 BCE. The earliest textual records are found in the Hindu Vedas dating from 1700-1100 BCE. And so the practice has continued over thousands of years to the present day, from a predominantly religious and spiritual focus to include it’s use as a way to reduce stress and improve healthy living since being introduced to Western society in the 20th century.

Mindfulness or Meditation?

If you think about how to relax your mind and de-stress you may well be thinking mindfulness or meditation? We hear both of the terms used so often these days. Are they the same, do they overlap, does it matter? One very simple comparison is that  mindfulness is the awareness of “some-thing”, whereas meditation is the awareness of “no-thing”. But then it is also said that minduflness is a form of meditation. And what is awareness! It is such a vast subject and we can be forgiven for being totally confused before we even start and therefore maybe never start. So, let’s have a look why we should definitely start considering some of the many benefits of these practices and look at a simple technique.meditation or mindfulness

What’s in it for me?

Meditation really is the way to go, the benefits are numerous and scientifically proven – far too many to list here. Here are just a few you can expect if you take a little time to consistently get quiet:

  • Lower Stress levels 

The Daily Telegraph reported that “After meditation training of 20 minutes once a day for only 5 days, people, had measurably less anxiety and lower levels of the stress hormone “cortisol”. The paper also said that levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue had also gone down.”

  • Improve cognition. 

It’s well known too that meditation and mindfulness can boost our cognitive abilities – mental clarity, stability, creativity and an increase in the length of time we are able to focus. A few minutes of mindfulness meditation every day improves what is called “working memory”, the ability to keep information active in one’s mind. The brain does this by becoming more efficient needing fewer brain resources to complete its tasks.

  • Better attention span

A Harvard study carried out a few years ago reported that we spend a whopping 47% of our waking hours thinking about something other than what is happening right now. To help combat the wandering mind, the practice of meditation can improve focus similar – to the effect a physical workout has on your muscle tone. And in one California University study students who took a mindfulness class, meditating for 10-20 minutes four times a week for two weeks scored higher on memory tests and attention exercises than an alternative group who focused instead on healthy eating and nutrition for improvement.

  • A Healthier You

The health benefits of mindfulness and meditation are many fold and scientifically well documented. It is known to reduce blood pressure, improve the immune system, general energy levels, breathing and heart rate. Not only living healthier but longer too. So much research is now being conducted around this practice, there is evidence of a reduction in heart and brain problems, a lessening of inflamitory disorders and asthma. Imagine what even just one of these health benefits could do for our lives! That’s just a few, but don’t take my word for it, there are countless studies reported online documenting the health benefits.

Getting down to it

So, how to relax your mind and lose the stress. Now we’ve learnt a little more about it, let’s try it. I recommend taking just 5 minutes if it’s your first time and gradually build from there –  there will come a time when half an hour feels like 5 minutes. Find a place where you won’t be disturbed – where you can relax, feel secure and comfortable.

  1. Sit upright in a chair or cross legged on the floor and rest your hands on your lap. If you find this uncomfortable don’t worry, just get yourself in a comfortable position otherwise you’ll be distracted even before you start.
  2. It will help to close your eyes however, you may prefer to focus on an object – the flickering flame of a lighted candle being one of the most popular.
  3. If your place space is free from external noise, you may sit in silence or chose some relaxing music to play in the background. If sounds from the outside world disturb your quiet, music will really help. I live by a main road with a fair amount of traffic passing by and find noise cancelling headphones really help.
  4. Prepare to meditate. Take a few slow deep breaths, notice any tension areas around your body and try to relax them. Think of 3 things in your life to be thankful for and smile while your doing so. Gratitude is so effective in this process.
  5. Now, just be still, focus on your breath or an object if you prefer and enjoy the calm and restful state you’re in. And just like the passing traffic on my road, when the thoughts come into your mind – and they will – acknowledge them and let them pass by.
  6. Try this for just 5 or longer if wish. If I’m taking a few minutes lunchtime at work, I set a timer on my phone so that the clock is not a distraction. When you’re done, sit for a moment and reflect on how it felt, hopefully you’ll have improved your mind and spirit and feel refreshed to some degree.

How was That?

Congratulations you’ve just made a little investment in your overall wellbeing. Hopefully you’ll want to go again soon. By sticking with it, making this a daily habit you will begin to notice positive changes in your life. Keep a notebook or journal handy to record how each session was (some are better than others) and any changes you notice generally in your outlook, temperament and health. Those few minutes are your time – precious moments out of busy lives.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts on how to relax your mind and lose the stress – a simple technique but one, amongst others I use regularly. There’s nothing new here but I hope that my thoughts may give you some encouragement to give it a go and enjoy the benefits getting quiet can bring. I would really appreciate your comments, so please, leave one below.


About Tim

Tim here at MagicMotives.com, a very warm welcome and thank you for visiting my site. I have a passion for life and a fascination about ways to enjoy every day and make everyone of them count. Living in the UK, I share my home with my wonderful partner, two beautiful Labradors and a larger than life cat!

I try to look after myself and love to run – my favourite place on the fells in England’s Lake District. The clean air, stunning views and peacefulness of the hills are something to behold – plus the occasional thunderstorm and deluge of torrential rain …..after all it is the northwest of England!

Before the day begins, I find there’s no better way to start than get quiet for a few minutes and work on the inner self – there are so many great ways to do this now – I’m sure many reading this will already be enjoying the benefits that relaxing the mind brings.

Sort Yourself Out!!!

Life is great but sometimes it can suck and I guess like me, you’ve had your moments and at times it feels like a roller coaster ride. Yep, we can’t be on a constant high but it wouldn’t do any harm to eliminate some of those lows – or at least when life throws one our way, have the tools to deal with them.

There are so many problems and crises facing our world (not to mention our own challenges in life!) and yes – we should never ignore them, but if we continually focus on just those things, we literally will feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. We need to invest time in ourselves, get a healthy balance and perspective on life.

As the saying goes, “You can’t help others until you first help yourself”

Keeping on Track

I don’t want to sound cliche but as we’re constantly told – the present moment is all we have. As we get older, time becomes even more precious. And so, to be happy and successful in whatever way that means to you personally, is surely not a bad place to start!

There is an army of people out there who believe that there has never been a better time to be alive, people with a positive outlook, but more importantly people who are harnessing the methods and techniques that are fast emerging to live, think and feel in ways never before thought possible.

And that is my goal to continue along this path and reach out to others along the way and share experiences. Living a happy life on your own terms is surely the best way to live. I love the quote from Jim Rohn:

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan, and guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

There’s more than one way to crack an egg!

So there we go. MagicMotives is all about staying motivated to enjoy life with a little help from a few people, tips, tools and tricks. Everyone is different – and we’re so fortunate these days to have access to information that will suit almost anyone. I hope you enjoy the content I’ll be posting here, so please, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below. Have a fantastic day!

All the best,


Founder of magicmotives.com