Don't worry, be happy
Mornings can be a tense part of the day. Rolling out of bed, frantically dressing, scalding your tongue on hot tea, then slamming the door shut and rushing to the nearest traffic jam.
But does it need to be that way?
Today, I was going to do it differently. I was going to start my day with a peaceful meditative half hour at the Nagarjuna Kadampa Buddhist Centre.
Arriving at the conspicuous large black door on Guildhall Lane, Leicester, I didn't really know what to expect.
But my vision of an incense-filled corridor, with monks draped in saffron robes, chanting ancient mantras couldn't have been more wrong.
The centre has a playful mix of warm natural colours, wood furnishings and an airy fresh smell. I was almost instantly calmed – there was definitely something about this place.
A magnificent 6ft golden Buddha statue welcomed me into the clean white meditation room.
Surrounded by intricate paintings on Buddhism, comfy pillows and the sweet aroma of lilies, I was ready.
Meditation began within minutes and was led by Kadam (teacher) Chris Heyes, 52, the resident tutor at the centre.
"The mission is to stop thinking," says Chris.
How do you stop thinking? The truth is that you don't, well not straight away anyway.
"The purpose of meditation is to make our mind calm and peaceful," says Chris. "If our mind is peaceful, we shall be free from worries and from discomfort."
Chris begins by asking the group to clear their minds and "forget about the world outside".
Having dabbled in meditation before, I was shocked by how many thoughts ran through my mind.
Have I put a ticket on my car? I want some coffee. My back hurts. I must exercise more. I wonder what this building used to be?
The thoughts were endless and useless.
Chris pushed the meditation deeper. "Bring the attention and focus to your body" and shortly after "bring the attention to your breath".
The trick was to breath in and out, at a natural pace and keep the focus on breathing, nothing else.
Concentrating on something we inherently take for granted was a tough task, but nevertheless it gave something to focus on, away from the mundane thoughts hurtling through my mind.
After several minutes of complete silence, there was an "aha!" moment.
With no distractions and no noise, I found myself plummeting into a calm and thoughtless place. It was bliss. No thoughts; just deep breath and an almost trance-like state.
Chris softly ended the 30 minute session and I finally got that coffee over a chat.
Chris has been practicing Buddhist meditation for more than 20 years and is committed to teaching and helping the community to relieve anxiety and create balance.
"Our aim is not to turn people into Buddhists," he laughs. "The practice of meditation is to replace negative with positive thoughts.
"People come here to learn simple methods and gain balance in their lives."
Chris's quick three-step daily meditation guide is as follows:
The best time for meditation is as soon as the alarm goes and you roll out of bed. Your mind is peaceful and at its calmest.
Sit with your back straight, in a comfortable position.
Close your eyes and concentrate on breathing through your nose for 10 minutes.
"We all have a Buddha nature in us and we all can be enlightened," says Chris.
So did I enjoy my meditation? Well, I plan to go again on Monday.
The Nagarjuna Kadampa Buddhist Centre is based at 17, Guildhall Lane, Leicester.
The drop-in sessions run from Monday, February 6, at 7.30pm.
For more info / costs, phone 0116 262 0317 or visit: