Being present is switching off the chatter in your head and experiencing what is happening to you, around you, the sights, the sounds, the smells, your emotions.

Edit 8/12/2016: It's my blog and I can edit it if I want to. Just a note here about those ubiquitous terms such as be at one, be present, be in the moment and mindfulness that for me seem to lose their meaning the more they are trotted out. Maybe you feel the same way too. Being present is simple - emptying your mind of thoughts, that incessant chat you are having with yourself inside your head, or at least being aware of this chatter. Mindfulness? Being aware of your mind and it's devious tricks, and therefore your ego. A Buddhist teacher was asked if he could sum up Buddhism in one word. His answer? 'Awareness'. /end of edit

‘Meditate for twenty minutes a day, unless you are really busy, then meditate for an hour’ Zen teaching

Right let’s go. An exercise. Time to wake up! First Instatool. A little micro-meditation that I do anywhere.

Sit up straight. Hands on your knees facing up. If you’re on the tube, you don’t have to do this bit!  It doesn’t really matter. But I find if I do this it puts the idea in my mind that I’m going to do a little meditation. A bit like how you take off your clothes before getting in the shower. Prep. Change your mindset.

Meditation is so simple. It’s simply stopping your thoughts. That internal chatter. Your chuntering inner monologue. So, close your eyes. (Don’t do this bit if you’re driving!)

We are going to use a little mantra here. Uh-oh - he said mantra! You promised no eastern mysticism! Shut it. ‘A mantra is a sacred utterance, a sound, a syllable, word or group of words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and spiritual powers.’

Ok well, maybe. Right now this doesn’t matter to us. Actually, my buddhist mentor believes that they have a different energy or vibration that can help you in different ways.  There’s one called a Tara, for example, that is a call to help. In Transcendental Meditation, the teacher gives you a word that’s just for you and you’re not allowed to tell anyone it or it will lose its powers. Hmmm. I guess whatever works. For the purposes of the MENTAL operating system, we are going to use a mantra to distract your thoughts. To stop your chattering inner-monologue.

First, let's focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Become aware of your breath entering and leaving your body. There! You are already meditating, you've given your monkey brain something to think about. You've distracted it from chatting.

Here’s a very basic mantra I use, purely to stop the inner chatter. ‘slow my thoughts down slow my thoughts down slow my thoughts doooowwn' - you realise that you have an empty mind and you are at one with the universe. Even if it’s just a few seconds at a time. If a thought pops up, acknowledge it and let it drift away and use the mantra again if you need to. It doesn’t matter what the mantra or word or sound you use is. Ok, eyes closed, and say this phrase over and over to yourself. We’ll do this for a few minutes. If a sideways thought pops in, then acknowledge it, and let it drift away. You don’t have to engage it in conversation with yourself. You can stop the mantra if you like, if you’ve emptied your mind of thoughts, and restart it when your inner monologue starts chatting again.

Sometimes when I explain what meditation is I get a response along the lines of ‘Oh I can’t do that. My mind is racing off in different directions all the time.’ Well, this what I would call a limiting belief. How do you get better at something? … yes - that’s right - by doing it.

The only limits that exist are those that we set ourselves.

This is not rocket science. No - it’s neuroscience. What we’ve just done is a very basic meditation technique you can use at any time. Remember, I’m giving you a toolset here. There is nothing to stop you developing your own methods from this basic toolset. Not only are you the technician of your own happiness, but you’re the software developer too.

You’ll find, when you allow this space in your brain that answers to problems you have or creative ideas pop in. Make a mental note of them, do a little metaphorical jig if you like, and continue with your meditation.

‘Oh I’m not creative at all.’

The only limits that exist are those that we set ourselves.

If you tell yourself you’re not creative, what’s going to happen? Everyone is endlessly creative, if you allow yourself. Mediate for a few weeks as I’ve described, and see how creative you feel..