When someone tells you to breathe, your usual reaction might be to mutter some choice words quietly to yourself or muster up a weak smile, depending on how stressed you feel at that particular moment.

But according to Stuart Bold of social enterprise the Meditation Foundation, meditation can become a key part of healthy living.

Meditation is not all about wearing flowers in your hair and saying "omm" over and over. It can actually improve cognitive function and brain power, reduce stress and give us a boost of energy right when we need it.

"Clearly meditation is known for its superb abilities to aid stress and anxiety reduction and management, and to engender a deep sense of calm and balance. The evidence-based benefits of meditation, however, go well beyond this regardless of whatever age one learns meditation," said Mr Bold.

These benefits include reduction of high blood pressure and risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, a stronger immune system and consistent weight loss, he mentioned.

"[Meditation also helps] better brain and cognitive function including enhanced memory, focus, concentration and learning ability; greatly improved sleep, including the management and reduction of insomnia, [and] help with addictions, including smoking and alcohol."

There is a "significant anti-ageing benefit derived from the regular practice of meditation", added Mr Bold.

So how do you meditate? The first thing to consider is where to practice, and you might find sitting on a Manduka Yoga mat is the best way to get comfortable, relax and perfect your posture.

It’s not necessary to sit cross-legged, but if you can bend your limbs this way you might find you sit up straighter as a result. Place your right hand in your left with the palms facing upwards and the thumbs just touching, holding them about four finger widths beneath your navel.

To get into a meditative state, breathe in deeply and be aware of all the thoughts in your head, acknowledging each one rather than dwelling on them. As you breathe out, imagine that you’re expelling all the negative thoughts in the form of black smoke that dissipates into the air. Fill your mind with white light instead and sit quietly for a few minutes. After you have finished, you will feel calmer and more in control for the rest of the day.

Posted by Sam Wallace