10 Ways to Improve Your Heart Rate Variability

how to improve heart rate variabilityHeart rate variability is a biometric measurement that can be used as a way to assess the current state of your body’s autonomic nervous system. Tracking your hrv can help you to improve your health and wellbeing. Monitoring your hrv daily will give you a baseline score. A low hrv baseline can mean you have inflammation and higher stress levels. The good news is you can improve heart rate variability scores with a few lifestyle changes. 


If you want to know more about heart rate variability and how to measure it, you should start with our guide to hrv.


Once you have decided to track your HRV you may find your score is a little on the low side, or a bit inconsistent. There are a few things you can do to try to increase it.

1. Sleep

It affects all aspects of our lives and health, so it is not surprising that it can affect our heart rate variability as well. So, what can help you improve your sleep quality?

  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Try getting 7 to 9 hours sleep a night.
  • Be more consistent with your bedtime. Going to sleep at the same time each night will help with the quality of your sleep.
  • Turn off all screens at least an hour before bedtime. Bright screens before bed can have a detrimental effect on your sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine after 2pm, or earlier if you are more sensitive to it.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark. The more artificial light you are exposed to at night, the greater the impact on your sleep quality.
  • Avoid alcohol at least 3 hours before sleep. It can act as a sedative to start with and help you get to sleep faster. But during the night it becomes a stimulant and will prevent you from getting good quality sleep.

2. Regular exercise

You know you should be doing it. The more sedentary you are, the lower your hrv is likely to be. Try to get a at least 20-25 minutes of exercise a day (150 minutes a week) for aerobic fitness. Then add in 2 light weights sessions for strength.

3. Relaxation

Relaxation and downtime are important for our bodies. Don’t overtrain or over work yourself as this can lead to more stress and a lower heart rate variability. Allow days off for relaxation. Dial back the intensity of your exercise with slow walks on the beach, or try some yoga or Tai Chi.  Relax by reading a book, taking a nap, or sitting and talking with family or friends.

4. Breathing

Breathing can have a direct impact on your hrv. The more you can even out your breath and take fewer breaths per minute, the more your hrv can improve. Aim for around 6 breaths a minute to help increase your hrv. Your breath should feel natural and not forced, not deep or shallow. Try to breathe with your diaphragm, not in the chest. Practice paced breathing a few times a week and try to be mindful of your breathing throughout the day.

5. Meditation

Meditation can help because it relaxes the body and slows down your breathing at the same time. Start a daily meditation practice to help improve your hrv. As an added bonus, there are many other benefits to meditating as well.

6. Cold therapy

Cold Therapy can help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This will help your body relax and be less stressed, and less stress can lead to a higher hrv. Spend a few minutes in the shower with the cold water running, or take a quick dip in the pool or ocean for a few minutes a day.

7. Healthy foods

Certain foods can have an inflammatory effect on your body, creating a sympathetic nervous system response. The more time your body spends in a sympathetic response, the lower your hrv will be. To counter this, you should try to avoid known inflammatory foods whenever possible. The most common are gluten, dairy, sweets, processed meats, and refined oils. You can go another step further and add some anti-inflammatory foods into your diet. Common ones are ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions, green veggies, berries, green tea, and olive oil. The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to help protect the heart, and is likely to help improve your heart rate variability.

8. Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting can aid the body’s nervous system response and

. You can try fasting for 16 or 24 hours, once or twice a week. This can be as simple as not eating until lunchtime or dinner. Or you can try a longer fast every few months. For more on this see Intermittent Fasting 101, or The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting by James Clear.

9. Alcohol

Alcohol has been found to suppress hrv and impair your stress tolerance. If you can keep your alcohol consumption to moderate levels it may help your hrv score improve over the long term. While small amounts of red wine have been shown to improve hrv, more than that can decrease it.

10. Acupuncture

Acupuncture may help to synchronize the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. A balanced nervous system can help improve your heart rate variability.


You don’t have to take on of all these at once. Just pick one or two and give them a go. Track your hrv daily and look for signs of improvement to your baseline score. You will always have variations to your baseline on a day to day basis, but you should look for a gradual upward trend over time. If something works keep it up. If not, try something else. Be patient and stick with what works for you.


Further Reading:

Heart Rate Variability. What Is It and Why Should You Care?

How to Meditate Daily

What is Mindfulness? A Beginner’s Guide

Guided Meditation for Sleep


The Science:

How to Live a Long, Healthy and Happy Life

how to live a happy life

“There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.” – Mark Twain.


A TED talk by Robert Waldinger on a 75-year-long study of adult life teaches us the secret to a long, healthy and happy life.


The Harvard Study of Adult Development followed 724 men for 75 years. There were two groups of men. The first group were sophomores from Harvard College, most of whom went off to fight in the war. The second group were boys from Boston’s poorest neighbourhoods, most were troubled and disadvantaged. Every two years they were asked questions about their work, home lives and health.


Here are some of the lessons learned:


  • Most of the men started out thinking that in order to have a good life you had to become rich and famous. Later in life, it was learned that happiness was not about wealth, fame or working harder.
  • It was found that good relationships keep us happier and healthier.
  • Social connections are really good for us, and loneliness kills. Those people who had good relationships with their family, friends and community are happier, physically healthier and live longer than people who are less connected.
  • It’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you are in a committed relationship, but it is the quality of your close relationships that matters. Living in the midst of conflict is really bad for our health.
  • The people who were most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. Good, close relationships seem to buffer us from the slings and arrows of getting old.
  • Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains. The people who are in relationships where they really feel they can count on the other person in times of need, those people’s memories stayed sharper longer.
  • The people who fared the best in life were the people who leaned into relationships with family, with friends, and with community.


This is old wisdom that deep down we already know, but sometimes we can find it difficult to prioritise. Relationships are messy and hard work, and we seem to want a quick fix for our health and happiness.


Robert suggests these first steps towards your happy life:


  • Replace screen time with people time.
  • Liven up a stale relationship by doing something new together, like long walks or date night.
  • Reaching out to that family member who you haven’t spoken to in a while.


“The good life is built with good relationships”.


Don’t wait. Start now. This is important for your health and happiness. 


For more about Robert Waldinger:


For further reading on the Harvard Study:

Watch the TED Talk here:


Further Reading:

How to Meditate

What is Mindfulness?

Improve Your Health With Heart Rate Variability


Change Your Life with The Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hansen

The Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom by Rick Hanson with Richard Mendius.

If you change your brain, you can change your life. By combining breakthroughs in neuroscience with insights from thousands of years of mindfulness practice, you too can use your mind to shape your brain for greater happiness, love, and wisdom. This book presents an unprecedented intersection of psychology, neurology, and contemplative practice, and is filled with practical tools and skills that you can use every day to tap the unused potential of your brain and rewire it over time for greater well-being and peace of mind.


This book further supports for me, the overwhelmingly strong indication that regular meditation and mindfulness are essential if you want more joy and happiness in your life. Along with some great insights on equanimity, empathy and compassion, it gave me some practical actions to take to develop my daily practice.


It is often easy to let the mind talk me into quitting my daily practice because, “what’s it really doing anyway”. Great books like this not only help to reaffirm my intention to meditate and practice mindfulness daily, but also give me more tools to keep me learning and growing.


Here’s what I learned from Buddha’s Brain:


  • The mind is what the brain does.
  • Our suffering, which is the result of our unhappiness and dissatisfaction, is entirely made up by the brain.
  • If the brain causes our suffering, we can also use the brain to cure it.
  • Nurturing your own development is a great gift to the people around you.
  • Small positive actions every day will add up to large changes over time. You can gradually build new neural pathways with these small steps.
  • “Wholesome changes in the brains of many people could help tip the world in a better direction”.
  • Equanimity means “even mind”. What passes through your mind is held with spaciousness so you stay even-keeled and aren’t thrown off balance. Equanimity is neither apathy nor indifference, you are warmly engaged with the world but not troubled by it. The spaciousness of equanimity is a great support for compassion, kindness and joy at the happiness of others.
  • ACTION: Set aside some time in your day – even just a minute long – to consciously release preferences for or against anything. Then extend this practice to more and more of your day. You will find yourself being guided increasingly by your values and virtues, instead of simply reacting to positive or negative feeling tones.
  • Empathy is the foundation of any meaningful relationship. Inadequate empathy erodes trust and makes it harder to solve interpersonal problems.
  • ACTION: Bring conscious intention to being empathic. Take a few seconds to remind yourself to be empathic and that it feels good to be empathic. Next, relax your body and mind and open to the other person as much as feels right to you. Notice the other person’s movements, stance, gestures and actions. What would it feel like, in your own body, to do them? Watch the other person’s face and eyes closely for facial micro expressions. Actively imaging what the other person could be thinking and wanting.
  • Cultivate compassion deliberately
  • ACTION: Kindness is expressed mainly in small, every-day ways. Throughout the day, deliberately and actively bring kindness into your actions, your speech, and most of all, your thoughts.
  • ACTION: Look for things to be happy about, and take in the good whenever possible. Positive feelings calm the body, quiet the mind, create a buffer against stress, and foster supportive relationships, all of which reduce ill will. See the video below for a practical way to hardwire happiness.
  • Meditation strengthens intention.
  • When your attention is steady, so is your mind. Attention is like a spotlight, and what it illuminates streams into your mind and shapes your brain. Consequently, developing a better control over your attention is perhaps the single most powerful way to reshape your brain and thus your mind.
  • ACTION: Set your intentions. Establish a deliberate intention at the beginning of any activity that requires focus. “May my mind be steady”. Keep reestablishing your intentions. Make the intention to be attentive the default setting of your life by developing the habit of everyday mindfulnessUse routine events – phone ringing, going to the bathroom, drinking water – as ‘temple bells’ to return you to a sense of centeredness.
  • When you relax the sense of self and flow with life, you feel happy and satisfied.

“All joy in this world comes from wanting others to be happy, and all suffering in this world comes from wanting only oneself to be happy” – Shantideva

Buy it now:

Watch Rick’s TED Talk on Hardwiring Happiness:


More Book Reviews:

Tame the Voice in Your Head: A Review of 10% Happier by Dan Harris

How to Let Go: A Review of The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer


Using Guided Meditation for Sleep Can Improve Sleep Quality

meditation for sleepA good night’s sleep can be elusive for many of us. My quest for good quality sleep on a regular basis has always seemed a bit hit and miss. One night may be great and I will wake up feeling refreshed and energised. Then the next night I am awake several times during the night, and in the morning i feel exhausted and lethargic.


There are a variety of factors that can affect our sleep quality each night, from the types of food we eat and how late we eat them, to how much, if any, exercise we got during the day, and how much we are on our electronic devices before bed. Of the many techniques we can introduce into our daily routine to help improve our sleep, meditation may be one of the most helpful.


Why Sleep Matters?


Your body uses the time you are sleeping to perform a number of essential functions. It stores and catalogues events and memories from your day, eliminates toxins from your system and also performs the vast majority of healing and cell repair that your body needs. If your sleep time is reduced, or the quality of your sleep is poor, then you could be missing out on the deep, restorative sleep your body needs to function at its best.


Improving your sleep is one of the many benefits of a regular meditation practice. Let’s take a look at some basic sleep meditation techniques.


Meditation Techniques for Sleep


The best sleep meditation is one that is simple and will relax your body and allow you to fall asleep quickly. These three meditations are a great place to start. Do them just before you are ready to go to sleep.


Breath Meditation


  1. Lie down on your back and get comfortable.
  2. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  3. As you breathe out, relax your body and release any tension.
  4. Focus on your breath as it goes into and out of your body.
  5. Follow it all the way in and all the way out.
  6. When your mind wanders, simply notice and return to the breath.
  7. Do this for 5 or 10 minutes, or however long you need to.


Body Scan for Sleep


  1. Lie down on your back and get comfortable.
  2. Take a couple of deep relaxing breaths.
  3. Start at the top of your head and bring your attention to it, looking for any tension.
  4. Release and relax any tension you find before moving on to the next part of your body, your eyes, face, jaw, neck, etc. all the way down to your toes.
  5. You should now be completely relaxed and ready for sleep.


Mindfulness Sleep Meditation


  1. Lie down and get comfortable.
  2. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  3. Start by bringing attention to your breath as it goes in and out of your body.
  4. Open up your senses, what do you feel, smell, hear around you.
  5. Bring your attention to your thoughts, noticing what comes up.
  6. Name your thought, “thinking”, “planning”, “worrying”.
  7. Then let the thought go, release it, and return to your senses.
  8. Continue to do this for 5 or 10 minutes.


Guided Meditations for Sleep


Another good way to help is to use guided meditations for sleep. This will involve using your phone or music player to play a pre-recorded track that will guide you through your chosen meditation. You can use a guided meditation on audio cd or mp3, or find one on YouTube or one of the many free online websites that offer free guided meditations. Or you can use a meditation app on your phone or tablet. Just a tip if you are using a site like YouTube, make sure you turn off autoplay so that it doesn’t start playing a new track.


A sleep chakra meditation


YouTube has a large number of chakra meditations for sleep, ranging in length from about half an hour up to over 9 hours. Here is a good introductory one to start with.


Guided visualization for sleep


Guided imagery involves imagining a peaceful image, a place you know or can imagine that makes you feel relaxed. You use your imagination to explore this image or place.


Try this free guided meditation for sleep:


If you are looking for something quick and easy to relax you before sleep try these:

A 5 minute sleep meditation.

A 10 minute guided meditation for sleep.

Meditation Music for Sleep

If you just want some meditation music to help you sleep there are plenty of cds or mp3s you can buy. Here are a few you can try for yourself.

Guided audio meditations for sleep.

Guided meditation CDs for sleep.


Sleep Meditation Apps


The best sleep meditation app is one that will relax you in as little time as possible and then turn off when the meditation ends so you can go straight to sleep.


Insight Timer is a great free app that has a number of guided meditations for sleep.

Whil has an expansive library with several sleep meditations to choose from.

Buddhify also has a section on meditations for sleep.


Next Steps

There are a few other things you can do during the day to help you sleep better at night.

  1. Practice mindfulness throughout your day.
  2. Learn to  meditate daily.
  3. Practice breathing techniques to improve your heart rate variability.
  4. Eat a healthy diet, full of fruits and vegetables.
  5. Exercise daily.


Better sleep leads to better health, more energy and an improved mindset.


Resources for free audio meditations:








The Science of Meditation for Sleep

Meditation training as a treatment for insomnia:


Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances:



Further Reading

Meditate at Home

How to Practice Mindfulness

Easy Mindfulness Exercises

Mindful Eating


What is Mindful Eating and Can it Make Your Life Better?

How often do you get to the end of a meal and don’t even remember if you enjoyed what you were eating? Do you shovel the food into your mouth without noticing how it tastes, smells or feels? Most of the time we eat without thinking. We are too busy talking or watching TV or checking our phones for the latest update, and before we know it the meal has finished. It has passed by in a blur without you really enjoying it. Practicing mindful eating is a great way to bring your attention back to your food so that you can savor it again.

What is Mindful Eating?

Mindfulness is about bringing your attention to the present moment. Conscious eating involves focusing on your thoughts, feelings and sensations while you are eating. Many of us would like to change something about the types of food we eat or how often or how much we eat. Changing your eating habits can be difficult. Eating mindfully is a great way to begin changing your eating habits and building on your mindfulness practice at the same time.

How to Eat Mindfully

Do this for one meal a day for a week.

Mindful Eating Exercise

  • Sit comfortably and leave the food in front of you.
  • Take a few deep breaths and feel your body sitting on the chair.
  • Bring your attention to what you are eating. Look at the food on your plate, really see it.
  • Explore with curiosity. How does it look and smell? Look at the colors, shapes and textures.
  • If you can, pick it up. How does it feel in your hand?
  • Put some into your mouth and then put down your fork. Pay attention to the sensations you feel. Is it hot or cold, hard or soft? How does it taste and feel in your mouth? Is it sweet or sour, mild or strong in flavor?
  • Chew slowly as you pay attention to these sensations. What does it feel like on your tongue and teeth. Has the flavor changed? How does it make you feel emotionally. How do you feel as you chew and swallow it?
  • Swallow your food and notice how it feels as it goes down your throat and into your stomach. Can you feel it all the way down? How does it make you feel?
  • Do you notice any leftover flavors in your mouth?
  • Pause during your meal to breathe mindfully and then start again with the next bite.
  • Repeat this practice until you are no longer hungry. It is important to only eat until you are satiated, not full.

How to Practice Mindful Eating

Then move on to paying attention to other thoughts and feelings:

  • Notice your urges to eat, are they motivated by hunger or emotion?
  • Notice your emotions during and after eating. Do you feel different?
  • Think about where your food is coming from and the people involved in the process of getting it to your plate.
  • Then you can introduce mindfulness into your food preparation as well.
  • Another mindful eating activity you can also try is when you are in social occasions. This can be more difficult but not impossible.

If all of that sounds too difficult for you to tackle at once, then try this mindful eating exercise. Start with just one mindful bite a day, or one mindful sip of tea or coffee. Anyone can do that. Then build on your practice over time. Take small steps to ensure your success. It takes time, but with regular practice you can introduce mindful eating into your life.

Benefits of Mindful Eating

The benefits of practicing mindfulness in your daily life include reduced levels of stress, improved immune system and improved general wellbeing. Bring mindfulness and eating together and you gain some added benefits.

  • Learn to really enjoy and savor your food.
  • Make healthier choices because you are paying attention to your food and what your body needs.
  • You may discover any emotional issues you have with food.
  • You will be less inclined to overeat and as a result may lose weight if you are currently overweight. While mindful eating for weight loss should not be your primary motivation, it can be a pleasant side effect.
  • Reduce or eliminate any digestive issues you may have.
  • You can use it as a tool to help with chronic eating problems.
  • Learn how different foods affect your energy levels and mood throughout the day.
  • As a result, you can learn what foods are best for your body.

Like with meditation and mindfulness, you don’t need years of practice to see some of these benefits. You will start to notice them right away.

Quick Mindful Eating Tips for Success

  1. Start small, with one bit or one sip.
  2. Put a reminder where you will see it to “eat mindfully”. On the fridge, the kitchen bench or table.
  3. Try eating mindfully with different types of foods, a strawberry or grape, a piece of chocolate, a glass of wine. Even try foods you don’t like. Pick something different each day.
  4. If you forget, don’t worry about it, just start again when you remember.
  5. Slow down. Eating slowly

Mindful eating is a form of meditation. It is about slowing down, being present and savoring life. Remember to practice when you can and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Mindful Eating Books

If you want to explore further you can try some of these books on mindful eating.

Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung.

Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food by Susan Albers.

Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food by Jan Chozen Bays.

Mindful Eating Apps

If you think you may need some help to encourage you to practice you can try a mindful eating app to help with reminders and advice.

The Mindful Meal Timer for Android will help you to practice mindful and intuitive eating. You will be guided to slow down your eating to engage your senses. It will help you focus on being present with your food, and allow you to feel your fullness as it sets in so you do not overeat. Free.

In The Moment on iOS is a light-hearted app that will help guide you to better food choices when your hunger hits and quick options are needed. It helps you to create some space between your urges and the choices you make. $1.99.

Mindful Bite on iOS is a simple app that will help you slow down between bites, and remind you to stop eating when you are no longer hungry. $1.49.

Mindful Eating Research

Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating concluded that mindful eating can reduce the amount of food you eat.

The effect of a mindful restaurant eating intervention on weight management in women concluded that eating mindfully was effective in promoting weight management in perimenopausal women.

Mindfulness-based eating awareness training for treating binge eating disorder: the conceptual foundation shows that evidence to date supports the use of mindful eating in decreasing binge episodes, improving one’s sense of self-control with regard to eating, and diminishing depressive symptoms.

Further Reading:

How to Practice Mindfulness in Daily Life

Easy Mindfulness Exercises

How to Let Go: A Review of The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer

Tame the Voice in Your Head: A Review of 10% Happier by Dan Harris

Tame the Voice in Your Head: A Review of 10% Happier by Dan Harris

10% Happier by Dan Harris is part memoir part practical guide to mindfulness and meditation. Dan, a TV news anchor, talks about his on air meltdown and drug abuse and how meditation helped him. It is a great primer for understanding mindfulness and meditation and how to use them in your daily life.


What I learned from this book:

  • We all have a voice in our head. Some of us don’t even realise it.
  • This voice is fixated on the past and the future. If we give in to it, it prevents us from living in the present moment.
  • We can all learn a skill that helps us to quiet this voice – meditation.
  • You can meditate anywhere. Anyone can do it. It is free.
  • With practice, we can better at it.
  • Meditation practice creates a space or gap in the voice which allows us to see our negative emotional response to situations, like annoyance, fear and anger, and allows us to choose how we respond to them, instead of simply reacting.
  • Science shows us that meditation actually rewires the brain.
  • The Buddhists analogy: “Picture the mind like a waterfall, they said: the water is the torrent of thoughts and emotions; mindfulness is the space behind the waterfall”.
  • Continuous stress is living each moment as if it is never quite good enough, that it will be better in the next one (some later moment in time). To be somewhere else, to have something else, to be someone else, to never have enough, to never be good enough. This all creates stress and worry and prevents us from being happy.
  • Meditation won’t solve all your problems, but it will help you handle them better, which will lead to less stress.
  • Happiness is a skill.
  • Practice non-attachment, if you are not attached to results or outcomes you won’t fall apart when things don’t turn out.
  • Practice self-compassion to improve resilience.
  • Everyone’s mind is out of control. You can never entirely ‘clear your mind’.
  • You can’t control what comes up, only how you respond to it.
  • We can all be 10% happier with a little effort.


I enjoyed reading about Dan’s journey and his discoveries when speaking to the self-help “gurus”. If you are skeptical in nature, like I am, then he will resonate with you.


Buy the book here:



More Book Reviews:

Change Your Life with The Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hansen

How to Let Go: A Review of The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer

These Easy Mindfulness Exercises will Calm Your Mind

easy mindfulness exercisesMindfulness has numerous benefits that make it a good practice to introduce and cultivate. It helps to give you some control over your mind, your thoughts and feelings. Practicing mindfulness techniques for just a few minutes a day can improve your health and wellbeing.

When you are starting out, it is better to keep it simple. Try some of these easy mindfulness exercises to help you find some calm in your day.

30 Seconds of Mindfulness

Take 10 deep, even breaths, counting to 3 or 4 on each inhale and the same on each exhale. Try to stay focused on your breath, and if your mind wanders just return your attention back to your breath. Then simply notice how you feel when you are done. Are you more relaxed and calmer than before? This is a great way to start your mindfulness practice exercises. You can do this anywhere you like and whenever you think of it.

Mindful breathing exercise.

This mindfulness technique can make you more centered and peaceful while you are doing it, and you can take that with you through your day. Build your practice with a minute or more each day to start with. Then each week, when you are comfortable, increase your time by a few minutes.

  • Set a timer for a minute.
  • Focus on your breath and try to make it even, in for 3 out for 3.
  • Bring your attention to where you feel the breath most, the nose, chest or stomach.
  • Let go of any thoughts you notice without judgement and return to the breath.
  • Do this until the timer goes off.

Mindful Body

Take a few minutes to scan your body for feelings and sensations. Start at the head or toes, and spend a moment on each part of your body looking for tension or other sensations. If you mind wanders simply bring it back to the body without judgement. When you have done each body part, you can then expand your awareness to encompass your whole body. This mindful meditation exercise can be short or long, it’s up to you.

Mindful Observation

Choose an object near you to be the focus of your mindfulness. This can be a piece of fruit, a flower or plant, a plate or glass, anything at all. Look at the object and try to remain focused on it for as long as you can. Try to notice it as if you were seeing it for the first time. What color is it? What shape is it? If your mind starts to wander, just notice and bring it back to your object. Really looking at something and giving it your full attention can enhance and improve your mindfulness.

Mindful Eating

Choose one meal a day to eat without distractions. No TV, radio, phone or reading. Focus your attention solely on what you are eating. How it looks, how it feels, smells and tastes. Savor each mouthful slowly and with purpose. Think about where your food came from and everyone who was involved in getting it to your plate. Give thanks to these people. How do you feel afterwards? Did you really enjoy your food? Many of us eat too quickly without really enjoying what we are eating. This simple mindful exercise can change that for us. Eating mindfully can help bring more calm to your day.

Mindful Awareness

Stop what you are doing and simply notice what you are experiencing right now, wherever you are. What can you hear? What can you see? What can you feel? What can you smell? Spend a few moments on each sense, noticing what you can. Being more aware of your surroundings will help you be more present in your life.

Mindful Walking

While you are walking, clear your mind and focus on your body and your breathing. Feel the ground beneath your feet. Feel the muscles in your legs. The wind on your skin. The fresh air in your lungs. Observe your surroundings as you walk, look at the sky and the view and other people around you. Enjoy being in the present moment.

Mindful Music

Put some music on and really listen to it. Give your awareness to the music without judging it as good or bad. Immerse yourself in the sound. Try to hear the different instruments that make up the music. Notice how it makes you feel. Is it relaxing or energising? Does it make you want to move or dance? Does it make you feel happy or sad? You can use this exercise to listen to your favorite music with a new appreciation, or to new music with curiosity and appreciation.

Mindful Immersion Activity

Choose an everyday routine activity, like washing the dishes, unloading the dishwasher, doing the vacuuming or brushing your teeth. Rather than thinking about something else, focus your attention on the what you are doing. Feel the sensations it creates in your body. These types of mindfulness activities can transform a mundane task into something you can enjoy. Choose one task each day to practice your mindfulness.

Mindful Sensing

Spend a few minutes during your day to focus on your senses.

  1. Sit comfortably with your back straight, or lay on the floor. Take a few deep breaths and relax your body.
  2. Start to focus your attention on your breath as it goes in and out of your body.
  3. When you notice your mind wandering, just observe without judgment and return to the breath.
  4. Then move your attention to any sounds you can hear around you. The sounds of your breath and body. Sounds in the room you are in. Then expand to what you can hear further away from you.
  5. Next, focus on what you can smell. Notice any strong scents you can pick up on. There may be faint smells or you may smell nothing at all. Notice that as well.
  6. Bring your attention to taste. Can you taste anything at all? Notice and be aware of what you may or may not be tasting right now.
  7. Now bring your attention to what you are feeling in your body. Feel where your skin is in contact with your clothes or the chair or the floor. Feel the air on your body. Are you warm or cool? Notice any sensations you feel inside your body, any warmth or tingling.
  8. With closed eyes, visualise the room you are in. The colors and shapes surrounding you. The pictures on the wall and furniture in the room.
  9. Spend a few moments noticing your thoughts and your mind. Are they racing around in the past or the future, or calmly floating by? Or are they completely in the present moment?
  10. When you time is up, gently open your eyes and look around you. How do you feel? Are you more relaxed and peaceful than before? You can take this relaxed, calm feeling into your day.


These activities for mindfulness are a great place to start as many of them are easy to introduce into your everyday life. Do one of them each day for a week and notice how you feel. You can keep practicing with your favorite ones each day, but you should always try to explore new mindfulness activities regularly to stretch yourself.


Other Mindful Breathing Exercises


Breath Counting

  1. Sit or lie comfortably with your back straight.
  2. Take a few deep breaths and relax your body.
  3. Let your breathing be natural and start to count on each exhale…
  4. Count to five and then start at one again.
  5. If your mind wanders return your focus to the breath and start from one again.
  6. Do this for a set amount of time, 5 or 10 minutes.

If you find yourself counting past five it probably means your attention has moved away from your breath. If so, start at one again.


Box Breathing

  1. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
  2. Sit comfortably and relax your body.
  3. Breathe in to a count of five seconds.
  4. Hold your breath for five seconds and continue to expand your chest upward and outward.
  5. Breathe out for five seconds.
  6. Hold your breath for five seconds.
  7. Repeat until your time is up.

If you cannot make five seconds you can start smaller. Just make sure the timing is the same. In for three, hold for three, out for three, hold for three. This will help improve your heart rate variability and improve your mindfulness.


Breath Matching Your Heartbeat

  1. Place two fingers against your pulse at the top of your neck just below your jaw.
  2. Breathe in for 10 heartbeats.
  3. Breathe out for 10 heartbeats.
  4. Repeat until your time is up.

You can start with fewer heartbeats and work your way up if you need to. See if you can increase to 20 heartbeats with regular practice.


Abdominal Breathing

  1. Sit comfortably and place one hand on your chest and one on your belly.
  2. Breathe fully into your diaphragm and feel your chest and belly rise .
  3. Exhale slowly.
  4. Keep each breath steady and even.
  5. Repeat for ten minutes.


Guided Mindfulness Exercises


When starting out with mindfulness and meditation, it can be easier using some guided audio to help keep you focused. There are plenty of great resources online with a variety of mindful activities you can try out. Here are a few to get you started:







Finding a good mindfulness exercise that you love to do can help you to cultivate your daily mindfulness practice.  


Practice a few of these techniques each week by incorporating some into your regular daily activities, and also by starting a formal meditation practice.


Further Reading:

How to Practice Mindfulness in Daily Life

What is Mindful Eating and Can it Make Your Life Better?

Change Your Life with The Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hansen

How to Let Go: A Review of The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer


How to Practice Mindfulness in Daily Life

how to practice mindfulnessBeing more mindful has so many positive benefits that it makes it a great practice to introduce into your daily life. You can improve both your physical and mental health with just a few minutes a day. Practicing mindfulness is like practicing any other new skill. The more you do it, the better you become and the more positive benefits you will see.


There are a number of ways you can introduce mindfulness into your daily life. We will go through a few basic ways to practice mindfulness and give you some tips on when and where to fit it into your routine.


What is Mindfulness Practice?


Mindfulness is focusing your mind on the present moment. Being aware, on purpose, of what you are doing right now. You are not thinking of the past or planning the future. You are simply noticing your feelings and sensations relating to right now, without any judgement or criticism.


The Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness.


So, what do you get out of it? If nothing else, mindfulness will allow you to truly enjoy something. Whether you are spending time with your kids, family or friends, visiting your favourite place or having a meal, you can be present for it. So much of our lives pass us by because we are thinking instead of being. If you let your monkey mind control your life, you will miss it.  Being able to enjoy your life is one of the best benefits of mindfulness practice. 


As well as this, there are many ways that mindfulness practice improves your health and wellbeing. Studies show (see the resources below for links) that the practice of mindfulness can:


  • Boost your immune system
  • Decrease your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Make measurable changes in your brain in regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress
  • Improve your enjoyment of music
  • Boost your compassion
  • Decrease loneliness in the elderly
  • Help treat a number of mental health problems including depression, anxiety and pain
  • Improve your sleep
  • Help with substance abuse and eating disorders


There are very few habits that can have such a great impact on your health with such a little effort on your part.


When to Use Mindfulness in Daily Life?


Surely with all of those benefits you are now ready to start practicing mindfulness in daily life. So, what is a good time for your practice? That depends on whether you are starting with a formal practice of mindful meditation, or an informal practice of simply bringing awareness to your everyday activities. Let’s take a look at both.


Formal: Daily Mindfulness Practice can look like this:

  1. First thing in the morning is best.
  2. Sit or lie comfortably with your back straight, close your eyes, and relax your body.
  3. Begin to focus on your breath as it goes in and out of your body.
  4. Find an anchor, a place where you feel the breath most, usually the nose, chest or stomach.
  5. When your mind wanders, notice it without judgement, let the thoughts go and return to your anchor.
  6. When finished, notice how your body feels compared to before you started.


To make it easier if you are just starting out, find a good guided meditation or app and press play. Try thisTara Brach Basic Mindful Meditation.


Informal: How to Practice Mindfulness Throughout Your Day:


  • When you first wake up in the morning and before you get out of bed, take a minute to bring your attention to your body and how it feels. Take a few mindful breaths. Then get on with your day.
  • When you are eating, take a few minutes to notice, smell and taste your food. Eat slowly and savor each bite, without any distractions. Think about all the people involved in getting that food to your plate and offer them gratitude.
  • Take a few moments throughout your day to notice your surroundings. You can do this at home, at work, at school, on your commute, when stopped at a red light, or while you are waiting for an appointment. Even if it is a familiar place, stop and look around, and really take it in.
  • Use regular activities or cues to trigger mindful breathing practice throughout your day. The phone ringing, checking the time, opening a door, or picking up keys. Any of these can be used to remind you to focus mindfully on your breath for a minute or two.
  • As you are going to sleep, take a minute to focus on your breath again. Take 3 deep, even breaths before you close your eyes.


Mindfulness Practice Exercises.


These mindful awareness practices will train you to pay attention in the present moment and help you to disengage from your mental clutter and have a clear mind.


  1. Mindful breathing, as mentioned above, can be done anywhere and anytime you think of it. Still yourself and bring your attention to your breath.
  2. Tune in to your body. Take a moment to feel the sensations in and on your body when walking, or washing your hands or taking a shower. Do this at anytime during the day that you think of it.
  3. Mindful observation of an object. Choose something to observe with purpose. What color is it? What shape? Is there anything unusual about it? How does it feel? Something see everyday without a thought can become fascinating to look at.
  4. Mindfulness during routine activities, like brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, or doing the housework. Purposefully notice what you are sensing, sights, smells, sound and touch.
  5. Be curious about your life. It might seem mundane and repetitive at times, but purposeful awareness of your day can really make something seem like new again.


You can make anything or any activity the object of your mindfulness. Try different types of mindfulness to find what works for you. The more you practice mindfulness daily, the easier it will be.


Some Tips for a Successful Mindfulness Daily Practice:


  1. Set an intention the night before you want to start that you will be mindful tomorrow.
  2. Do it first thing in the morning upon waking. Starting the day with a positive action can make a big difference in your life.
  3. Start small, with just a few minutes a day, and build on that over time.
  4. Practice mindfulness anytime you are waiting during the day. When you are stuck in traffic, waiting in line at the shops or for an appointment. Focus on your breath or notice your surroundings.
  5. Find your cues or triggers to mindfulness. Opening a door, picking up keys, having a tea or coffee. Use these cues to remind yourself to be mindful for a few minutes.


Once you have built a consistent mindfulness practice into your daily life you can introduce a mindful meditation practice and experiment with other types of meditation to help improve your health and mindset.


Jon Kabat-Zinn on What is Mindfulness:


Further Reading

Easy Mindfulness Exercises

Tame the Voice in Your Head: A Review of 10% Happier by Dan Harris

Mindful Eating

How to Let Go: A Review of The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer


Scientific Studies on Mindfulness:


Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation

Self-reported mindfulness and cortisol during a Shamatha meditation retreat

Localized attention to body sensations enables subsequent gains in emotional and cognitive regulation by enhancing sensory information processing in the brain

Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure in 8 weeks

Mindfulness, attention, and flow during music listening

Can Meditation Make You a More Compassionate Person?

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction training reduces loneliness and pro-inflammatory gene expression in older adults

Meditation may help with anxiety, depression and pain

Effects of mindful-attention and compassion meditation training on amygdala response to emotional stimuli in an ordinary, non-meditative state

Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction for prehypertension

Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies

The Effects of mindfulness meditation training on anticipatory alpha modulation in primary somatosensory cortex

Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on medical and premedical students

How to Meditate Daily

how to meditate dailyWhen starting any new habit, building momentum can be difficult. Cultivating a daily meditation practice is no different. You know it is good for you, the benefits of meditation are overwhelmingly positive. So why is it so hard to introduce meditation in daily life? Probably because life is busy. You are already trying to work out how to fit everything else into your life without adding to it. If you want to learn how to meditate daily, the trick to success is to keep it simple.


Starting a Daily Meditation Practice


Let’s try to make it easier to get started. If you can stack the deck in your favor you will find it easier to stick with it over time. Here are a few quick tips to help you enjoy meditation daily.


1. Start small

Just 5 minutes will be enough. Set a timer. If you think you don’t even have time for that then start with 1 minute. Even that small amount of time will make a difference. Then you can build on your successes and gradually increase the time. When you can see, and feel, the benefits you will want to keep going.


2. Do it early in the day

First thing if possible. This is not a hard and fast rule, but when you are just starting a new habit it is a good one to stick to. Getting a win early in the day and ticking it off your list is a positive mental boost. And you will benefit from the effects of your meditation throughout the day. We all have a finite amount of willpower that is used up with each decision we make as we go through our day. You are less likely to make good decisions later in the day.


3. Do it wherever you are now

Don’t be worried about having the perfect environment for your meditation. You don’t need a completely private, dedicated room decorated with the right rugs and cushions, with candles and incense burning and the perfect music playing while you are wearing Buddhist robes. All you need is to be comfortable in a reasonably quiet place. That could be in your bedroom, bathroom, lounge room or garden. Even at the park or beach is ok. If you are tied to a special place for your meditation, that will give you an excuse if you are not near that place, or someone else is occupying it. Learning to meditate at home is a simple way to start.


4. Be kind to yourself

Don’t expect too much and don’t judge yourself. You won’t be perfect. It won’t be always go smoothly and it won’t always work for you. Some days your thoughts will be more scattered and intrusive than others. Some days you won’t even get through 5 minutes. Some days you won’t do it at all. Don’t let this deter you. We all have bad days. What counts is continuing on after them. There is no perfect practice. Just practice. It all adds up over time.


5. Be patient

It’s not a magic pill. Don’t rush it. You won’t automatically become the most relaxed zen person on the planet who does everything right and is in perfect health. But you will see benefits and you will get better with time and practice.


A meditation here or there, while great for the present moment, just won’t cut it for long term benefits. Cultivating a daily meditation practice is a great foundation to building a better mindset, and will help introduce other beneficial habits into your life. 

All you need to do is start the habit NOW.


Try this quick daily guided meditation to get you started.


There are some great resources for daily meditations online:

Fragrant Heart have some great free daily guided meditations for relaxation and stress relief. They have a variety of topics and lengths to choose from.

Tara Brach has a great page of guided audio meditations that I use on a regular basis. Her featured basic meditations are ideal for beginners.


Further Reading:

How to Meditate at Home

Guided Meditation for Sleep

Tame the Voice in Your Head: A Review of 10% Happier by Dan Harris

Change Your Life with The Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hansen


How to Meditate at Home

how to meditate at home

Your home is the best place to start meditating. You are comfortable here and you hopefully have a nice quiet place where you can be alone. We can show you how to meditate at home and provide some tips for preparation and building a successful daily habit.

If you are new to meditation you might want to start with our beginner’s guide to meditation here where we cover everything from the benefits to how to do it.

This is a quick guide for those that have already decided that meditation is beneficial and want to start the habit. Learning meditation at home is easy and there is no better time to get started than right now.

This looks like it might be a lot of preparation work, but we’ll try to make it really simple for you. The fewer barriers you create for yourself, the easier it will be to keep up your new meditation habit.


This is a common question beginners ask and the short answer is whatever time is convenient for you. If you want to make starting this new habit easy on yourself, I would suggest trying to pick a specific time and sticking to it at first.

For me that’s first thing in the morning. This is because I am more likely to forget about it later in the day or come up with the “I’m too busy” excuse. You may think you are short on time first thing in the morning. If so, then set your alarm for just 5 or 10 minutes earlier than normal. If you are already lacking in sleep then go to bed 5 or 10 minutes earlier (I have an answer for every excuse you can throw at me).  If you absolutely don’t have 5 minutes in the morning, then find another time during the day. You need to find a time that is right for you.

It doesn’t really matter when you meditate, just that you do.


Some people go to a lot of trouble to set up and prepare for their meditation session. Decorating a special room with cushions, elaborate mats, images and candles. They add music or chimes and burn incense to create an atmosphere. You don’t need to worry about going to that much trouble. Unless you already have a space like that ready to go it will just slow you down. As you get into your meditation practice you can add any of these things that you feel comfortable with. They are not necessary to practice meditation. Remember, keep it simple.

Think about what you want to achieve by starting your meditation. What are your goals? Most of the time, mine are to simply relax my body and mind, and take a moment to be in the now. You can meditate on a particular question or problem in your life. Or just use it as a time out to yourself. 

Find a quiet area where you won’t be disturbed and turn off all distractions, TV, computer, and phone.

Find a comfortable cushion or chair or simply lay on the floor if you prefer.

Set a timer to start with for 5 or 10 minutes.

Don’t make this too hard or create too many barriers or otherwise you will not get started. The simplest way to do this is to go into a quiet room, close the door, sit or lie down, relax, and start meditating. The rest you can build on as you develop your habit.


There are many different ways to meditate at home but as I said earlier, you need to keep it simple when you are first starting.

  1. Set your timer (here is a handy online one http://www.onlinemeditationtimer.com/).
  2. Get comfortable relaxed but upright (if you are sitting) with a straight spine and hands relaxed in your lap or by your side.
  3. Closing your eyes will help you to focus you can also have your eyes open, relaxed with a soft gaze. Keeping your eyes open can help with focus. Try it and see what you prefer.
  4. Keep your mouth closed and breathe through your nose if you can.
  5. Bring your attention to your breath, wherever you feel it the most.
  6. Observe your breath but try not to control it, just let it be, just experience it.
  7. You can count your breath if you want, a count to four on inhale and four on exhale works for me, or sometimes I will just count each breath (inhale plus exhale is 1) ten times and start again.
  8. If you notice your attention has wandered then gently, and without judgement, bring your focus back to your breath and restart your count.

If you would prefer to use a guided meditation to start with try this one by Tara Brach.


  1. Start small
  2. Practice every day
  3. Don’t worry about whether you are doing it right, you are
  4. Don’t worry if some days it feels like it is not working, it is
  5. Come to it with an open mind

Learning to meditate at home is a great introduction to a rewarding practice that you can build on as you develop your meditation skills. There are very few things in life that can provide you with so many benefits with so little time and effort put in. Get into the meditation mindset now, and complement your practice by adding some mindfulness to your daily life.

Further Reading:

How to Meditate Daily

Guided Meditation for Sleep

How to Let Go: A Review of The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer

How to Live a Long, Healthy and Happy Life