Can you believe it, spring is already here? The days are getting longer, and many people are starting to come out of winter, hibernating, and then ready to charge through with the rest of 2018.
One of the things that can increase, however, is stress. Christmas is just around the corner and thinking of gifts, and beach time, vacations and kids and living life to the max, well it can all be overwhelming!
So how do we keep our lives in balance when there can be so many things causing us to be out of balance? There are a lot of different things people suggest, go for a walk, do something you're passionate about, go on a vacation, exercise more, eat healthier, get more "me" time. Yeah, these are all good suggestions and they all work on some level.
But how do you keep in balance so that you can do all those things and not get overwhelmed trying to get it all done and be awesome at the time? Drum roll, what is the million-dollar answer? Simple: Meditation.
There is a lot of information about all sorts of different techniques and ways to reset.
There is mindfulness, yoga nidra, iRest, Transcendental Meditation, and then there are the speakers like Deepak Chopra and Anthony Robbins and the techniques they are suggesting.
The great thing is that it is all good stuff and whatever you find that works for you, is what you should be doing.
If you have no clue where to begin, well that is even better because of all the things out there that will potentially improve your life, there are few that take 10 minutes or less a day and are free; yes, you read that right, free.
Meditation/mental skills/mindfulness, whatever you want to title it, is a simple concept that can seem difficult to implement.
The difficulty lies in being consistent and doing it every day instead of whenever you can fit it in.
Everyone has five minutes in a day to commit when they can stop everything, sit in silence and breath. But what about if "I don't do it right" or what if "I am thinking about everything that is happening in life"?
You can't do it wrong for starters, if you are sitting somewhere and observing the present moment and your breath, then you have started on the right path.
There are a lot of techniques you can do, some of which I mentioned earlier, that can provide a blueprint to make it easier to. Ultimately, it's squarely on your shoulders to just do it every day, no excuses.
Last month I gave a simple technique that I use called focused awareness and for me its my preferred way to unplug and unwind.
I take an inhale and count the breath in and then exhale and count how long the breath goes out.
A simple ratio to start is a count of four in and a count of six out. Every time my mind wanders, and trust me it will, you just realise it, come back to the present moment, and count the breath.
Other techniques to try are scanning your body, repeating a positive affirmation, or just sitting and being.
There are a lot of apps out there now that make this even easier like Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer, Smiling Mind, etc. and a lot of them have free material.
If you're finding it challenging to get started, or you need some sort of direction to go, there are so many resources out there.
Where the benefit comes into play is setting aside the time and committing to making it happen, no matter what. And if you forget, you don't fret, you just do it next time.
As the seasons change, and the year closes, don't let stress and trying to fit it all in overwhelm your good intentions.
Make a commitment to spend at least five to 10 minutes a day sitting in silence and focusing on you in the present moment.
Benefits like reduced blood pressure, stress reduction, resiliency when life gets hard, better focus, more creativity, anxiety reduction, keeping your mind young, adapting to life changes, dealing with depression, experiencing less pain, recovery from addictions, and developing contentment and happiness in life are all just waiting for you to access.
Try meditating every day for a month and see how this practice can help you find balance and help you live the life you've always wanted.
■ Tim Seutter is a firefighter, yoga teacher and manager at The Loft Yoga and Pilates Studio, Whangārei.