The way to do is to be

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Meditation is now something that most people are aware of and would like to try, but never actually manage to find any time for it. This is exactly how I used to be, until I started dedicating 5-10mins per day and turned it into a habit. To me it is now just as normal as having a tea or coffee, eating dinner or taking a shower. It is an integral part of my daily routine. Having tried many various methods both aided and un-aided I thought I would detail what I’ve had the most success with.

Morning Meditation/Rountine

I set my alarm 15 minutes earlier than needed and get up and make a nice cup of tea (normally English breakfast or long jing green tea). While the kettle is boiling I will often stretch a little, which feels nice after 7+ hours of lying down! I will take it back to my room sit cross legged and close my eyes holding the cup in my hands. I find this helps me to concentrate on the present moment and be more aware of the temperature, smell of the tea and my breathing. I normally set a timer on my iPhone and do this for 5 minutes. It may not seem like much but having a few quiet minutes before starting the day really is very nice. It’s surprising how long 5 minutes takes to pass while you are just sitting still not doing anything.

Alongside the above I have recently started using a counting method throughout the day. This is something I picked up from Kevin Rose (http://kevinrose.com/100-breath-meditation). The idea is that every inhale/exhale is counted as one and you continue until you reach 100. This can be split up into segments throughout the day if you are busy.

100 Breath Meditation.

Start by finding somewhere quiet without distractions. I have been able to do this while on the train going to work with headphones in and some white noise playing. You shouldn’t have any trouble in finding a private calm place for a couple of minutes during the day.

Sit down, relax your body and slow your breathing.

Inhale – Exhale – 1
Inhale – Exhale – 2
Inhale – Exhale – 3…..100

If you get disturbed stop and then restart again from where you got to, until you manage to count to 100. The idea is to just let your breath flow and focus but relax on the feeling and pattern of your breath.

It may not sound like much but I have found the above to be very calming in my daily routine and I hope it can be helpful to you.

Sen Cha Naturals Green Tea Mints

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Just thought I would do a quick post on something I came across while in Holland & Barrett last week. Ive been meaning to write a couple of posts reviewing the iPhone 5, PS Vita and Kindle Paperwhite but haven’t found the motivation to do so. The Internet is awash with reviews on those products anyway!

So my first review is of, yep you’ve guessed it, a box of mints! Boring I hear you say. These are no ordinary mints though. They are green tea leaf mints. 3 mints = 1 cup of tea antioxidants.

The mints are from a company called SenCha Naturals in the US. The website claims that the founder David Kerdoon noticed that in the West the consumption of green tea is limited to a beverage, whereas in Asia it is infused into a wide range of edible and personal care products.

Looking at the ingredients they don’t appear to have any additives and are also sugar free. The flavour I’m currently trying is called ‘Bombay Chai’ and is very warming. You can really taste the cinnamon, cardamom and also the hint of vanilla. They are fairly strong but not too overpowering. Perfect for the winter months I think.

Overall I’ve been very impressed with the product and like how the company has set themselves apart from other companies. At the moment they seem to be the only company offering a product like this in the UK.

Go ahead and try them! 3 mints = 5 calories, 0 grams of sugar and the same amount if antioxidants as a cup of tea!

Why I started sleeping on the floor and what I found out.

To many people sleeping on the floor may seem very strange. The thought of sleeping on a cold hard floor, surely it would cause many restless nights and back pain etc. I used to think all of the above, although my opinion has now completely been turned around.

I began sleeping on the floor while looking for a new mattress, as I found mine had become too soft and wasn’t supporting me correctly around my hips and lower back, where most of your body weight is. Below are my thoughts after 9 months of sleeping on the floor.

I started by putting a memory foam mattress topper on the floor and then a duvet, which I folded in half to give me a bit more cushioning and warmth. It looks pretty much like a sleeping bag and is very cosy, especially during the winter months.

At first it did feel very hard, although not in a painful way. I suppose it just took a bit of getting used to as we are all used to sleeping on big soft mattresses. Sleeping on your side while on a firm surface is fairly uncomfortable, which has forced me to sleep on my back more. Previously when sleeping in a bed I often found myself waking up on my front/side feeling twisted and stiff. Sleeping on the floor has the opposite effect and I regularly wake up having spent the night fast asleep lying on my back, something that rarely happened before.

After about a month my back stopped aching and my hips felt better. I know this because previously when squatting at the gym I had very tight hip flexors. They now appear to be getting better, along with my weight training I also do yoga once a week which has probably helped contribute to this.

Will I continue to sleep on the floor? At the current time no. I still have a bed in my room and the extra space it takes up is far too inconvenient. I will look to purchase a firm mattress though and in the future I will look at getting tatami mats (straw mats) and a traditional futon. The way Japanese people often used to and still do sleep.

For anyone that experiences trouble sleeping or any form of lumbar pain I would highly recommend giving sleeping on the floor a go.

Finally another unexpected upside is when I wake up in the morning I never feel the urge to snooze. I now literally jump up off the floor, refreshed and raring to go!

Feel free to comment if you have any questions about it :)

Sports Betting

Football and Cash

I first got into betting about 5 years ago. I had no real strategy and just used to bet a couple of pounds here and there as a bit of fun. I mainly used to bet on horse racing, of which I had no knowledge whatsoever! It was mainly just as horse racing is on almost every day of the year. Every now and then I’d have a small bet on football, but nothing serious. Football had always mean a big part of my life soto don’t know why I didn’t give it more consideration early on.

Fast forward to today and all my bets are placed to a staking plan and with a strategy in place. I still find it difficult to stay disciplined and always have the urge to take bigger risks but I have to remind myself that the goal is to make daily profits and build my bank over time.

I’ve recently been enjoying a little bit of success following a strategy called Lay The Draw. This is nothing new or special but if executed correctly and paired with other strategies can provide good success. My favourite current strategy is called Metaltone and enables you to “green up” in-play and guarantee a small profit, whatever the outcome of the match.

I do still have the occasional flutter when I think a certain team is at a good price! There are lots of very good tipsters on Twitter that are well worth following. If you follow myself on twitter you will be able to see some of them!

If you wish to give in-play betting a try and would like more info on how to register/get started with an exchange such as Betfair (and get a free bonus) then feel free to contact me below :)

 

 

Lucid Dreaming: A Beginner’s Guide

‘A lucid dream is any dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming.’

I had heard of the term lucid dreaming a few years ago, but never really looked in to it or gave it any thought. It is only since the film Inception that I’ve become more curious about it. This post will just talk about the basics of lucid dreaming and the steps which are required to achieve lucidity.

First though I would like to say I’m not really religious, don’t believe in spirits, souls, ghosts or anything unworldly. I am more of a logical person and prefer things that are explainable and able to be proven. I thought I would just mention this in case anyone is interested in lucid dreaming but put off due to the perception that it is a spiritual or mythical thing.

How to start.

1) Keep a dream diary.

I’m sure most people will think they have dreamless nights or maybe even don’t dream at all. If you tracked your REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep you would soon realise that this isn’t the case. Undeveloped dream recall is the problem.

Put a pen and paper next to your bed and record your dream upon waking. When I say upon waking, I mean as soon as you wake up! If you get up, check your e-mails or even just lay there for a minute or two you won’t be able to recall anything. At first it is likely you will only get a few lines or short paragraph at the most. After a few weeks though you will soon be able to fill a page, or much more with detail from your dream. Pretty cool huh!

2) Perform reality checks and identify dream cues.

Keeping a dream diary helps when it comes to identifying common elements in your dreams. Water is one element that often crops up. Once you’ve identified a common element you then can use it to perform “reality checks”: asking yourself if you are dreaming when you see these during waking hours. This is where you perform some sort of test to determine if you are dreaming or not. The other method is to look for certain things that appear different in a dream to reality. I have listed a few of the common things below:

A. Digital Clocks – In a dream the digits will appear all mixed up and you will not be able to tell the time.
B. Light switches – If you see a light switch and try turning it off in your dream it will not work.
C. Palm of your hand – If you press against your palm with the index finger of your opposite hand it will go straight through if you are dreaming.

There are many more if you Google “dream cues” or “reality checks”

3) Achieving Lucidity.

There are a few different ways to enter a lucid dream but I will just mention one method which is probably the most common.

Dream Initiated Lucid Dream or DILD as it is commonly referred to is where you enter a lucid dream through a normal dream. To use this technique you must have an increased awareness and use this to question the reality presented in the dream. Dream words are very bizarre, but most people are often too wrapped up in the dream to realise it. Once you realise you are aware that you’re dreaming you are able to take control of it. This is when it it becomes a lucid dream.

I’ll leave it at that for now, but may update with a few further tips in the future.

Happy dreaming :)

New Years Resolutions for 2012

A new year, another set of resolutions.

Only this time I plan on sticking to them for the whole year, hopefully turning them into habits.  Normally most of mine are forgotten by the end of January, so I thought this year I would try something a bit different by making them public.  I’ve read numerous articles that suggest writing down goals, telling them to friends and family and keeping a diary to track your progress over the year.  Hopefully this post and blog will help me to do all of those.

Some of my past goals have been (just a bit) unrealisitc or overly ambitious such as qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, learning 2 languages at the same time while creating multiple revenue streams etc…needless to say I fell short.  So far so that I didn’t even get round to starting some of them!

Anyway this year I have decided to focus on 5 realistic goals that I hope I can stick to and acheive through 2012.

My Resolutions for the year of 2012 are:

1.  Invest more heavily in stocks.

I’ve been dabbling in the stock market for 7 years now, and feel that I have a good basic knowledge of how and why stock prices rise and fall.  I’ve been reading various books on investing and have made a set of critera that need to be fulfiled for myself to deem a company worth looking into further.  I intend to use this to pick out FTSE250 and FTSE100 companies to invest in over 2012.  Due to the nature of the economy and the outlook I intend these to be quite defensive stocks so as to limit the risk.

- Research stocks weekly and monitor with the aim of picking out 1 per month to invest in.

2.  Take more photos, update online portfolios and add to my stock library.

Photography has been one of my main interests for the past few years, but one that fades in and out.  Sometimes I have the desire to travel and take photos, complete projects at home and edit photos.  Over the second half of 2011 I’ve found myself taking less and less photos, apart from a trip to Thailand during the year.  I need to get into the habit of planning more projects and just carrying my camera with me more often, so as to not miss any opportunities that may arise.

- Every fortnight complete 1 home project, or set of photos of a high enough quality to be accepted by Alamy.

3.  Squat 1.5x, bench 1.5x and deadlift 2x bodyweight.

This goal is fairly simple.  The past year has been pretty good in terms of gym time, however it has been hampered by haphazad training and varying short term goals.  I intend to approach the start of 2012 with the above goals clearly in mind.  I will continue on Stronglifts 5×5 for the first couple of months, before changing to a RPT routine which I may talk about in a subsequent post.  I know if I can reach the above numbers i’ll likely reach my other goals along the way i.e low body fat, 6 pack abs, bigger arms and stronger core.

- Smash the numbers through strength training 3x per week.  Easy.

4.  Visit Tokyo or Taipei.

My love of Asia probably originated with Bruce Lee and martial arts.  Ever since I can remember I’ve been fascinated with the culture and history.  As I’ve grown up thats changed into the technology, food and sky scrapers!  For this reason I will make it a priority to visit friends in either Tokyo or Taipei before the end of the year.  Both places should also provide many photo opportunities, especially for street photography which I’ve not experimented with so far.

- Save up, fly there, eat, drink, take photos, see friends and fly home.

5.  Live for the whole of 2012 following IF Leangains.

Intermittent fasting has been around since the beginning of time (although not by choice) and has in recent years been making a comeback due to its many purported health benefits.  I’ve been roughly following the Leangains protocol by Martin Berkhan for the past few months and have noticed enough changes to want to carry on with it through 2012.  I found it fairly easy to stick to, although with a bit more planning and home cooking feel I would notice even better results with not much more work.

- Increase lean body mass, eat high protein, bake and make a cheesecake :-)

I’ll update this post as the year goes on, so I’m able to keep track of how I’m progressing and keep everyone updated.

Happy New Year to all!