How to use your vacation to find inner peace with mindfulness practice

BEING on vacation is a great time to get some much-needed rest and recharge the batteries. However, if you can set new healthy habits while away it can also help you maintain a feeling of relaxation even when you return to the regular routine.

Regular meditation is one of the ways to improve mental health and cope with whatever life throws at you, and being on holiday and away from the stress of work and the day-to-day is a great time to put a mindfulness practice into place.

Here we round up three ways to help you get started with meditation – which can all be done with minimal props and in the comfort and privacy of your own hotel room.

Mindful breathing

One of the easiest ways to meditate and bring your attention to the present moment is just to practice simple, mindful breathing.

Benjamin Blasco, co-founder of French meditation app Petit Bambou, believes that creating just a 10-minute daily routine is a good start to setting a practice, and adds that you don't need any special clothes or gear; just focus your attention on yourself and your breathing.

Easy to do in your hotel room, or when relaxing in nature on the beach or in the mountains, sit comfortably and simply take a deep breath in, Blasco advises, then let the air out slowly, marking a short pause before the next breath.

Be mindful of the environment around you, the birds singing, the breeze through your hotel window, or the soft lapping of waves on the beach.

Blasco adds that it's ok to bring your attention back to your breathing once, ten times or 1,000 times if necessary to keep your mind focused on the present.

Once you have mastered this the next step is to become conscious, or "mindful," of the different parts of your body in contact with the floor or the chair on which you're sitting.

Candle-gazing meditation

In her book Yogalosophy for Inner Strength, Mandy Ingber, yoga teacher to Jennifer Aniston, suggests various ways to try meditation.

One of her recommendations is candle-gazing meditation, which can help strengthen your focus and bring the mind to a place of stillness.

Dim the lights, get ready to take some time for yourself, and light a candle on a table three feet in front of you, at eye level.

Sit in an upright, comfortable position, either in a chair with the soles of your feet on the floor, or on the floor in a cross-legged position.

Take some deep breaths, and focus your gaze on the candle flame. Try not to blink for as long as you can, and as your mind starts to wander try to focus your attention back on the candle flame.

Try five minutes to begin with, and later you can increase the time up to 30 minutes.

If you've planned some self-care on holiday, a good time to do this style of meditation could be just before a quiet evening in with a bath, a book, and some essential oils for extra tranquility and relaxation.

Yoga nidra

Yoga nidra, sometimes called yogic sleep, is a practice in which yogis use the savasana relaxation stage to practice a guided meditation in class. However, it can also be done alone whether at home or away on vacation.

Start by lying down in a comfortable spot in savasana, also known as corpse pose.

If you're in your hotel room a blanket can also be used for extra warmth, and pillows for propping your head and as a bolster for under your knees.

If you're trying this on the beach lying on your towel you can instead enjoy the warmth of the sun.

Next, become aware of each of your body parts – arms, legs, fingers, toes, and so on – spending 15 to 20 seconds on each.

Feel your whole body relaxing and getting lighter, be aware of your thoughts, and remember to also be aware of your breath.

When ready, bring yourself back from your relaxed state to waking life and your surroundings. You may fall asleep but don't worry, you will still benefit from this restorative practice. — AFP Relaxnews