The Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

MEDITATION

“Remain calm, serene, always in command of yourself. You will then find out how easy it is to get along.” -Paramahansa Yogananda

What is meditation?

If you haven’t tried or don’t know of anyone that meditates, then you’re probably thinking meditating is being alone on a mountain and chanting Ooooommmmm for hours. But in a more toned down sense of the definition, it is just clearing your mind or concentrating your mind on something specific for even just 5-10 minutes.

Why meditate?

Ok so now whyyyy would we want to sit quietly and do nothing for periods of time? Sounds boring doesn’t it?

It is actually quite hard to do!

So what  meditating is really doing is training your brain, kinda like exercising it. And it is good for it just like exercise is good for your body!

It improves concentration, improves mood (even to the point of combating depression), reduces anxiety, improves creativity, and even helps reduce pain!

And I think we could all use some help with at least one of those things!

Therefore, meditating is just as important as exercising for health and well being. It’s something to add to the list of daily must-do’s!

Ok So How Do I Do this Thing That I’ve Only Seen in Japanese Movies???

To start, simply find a quiet place, sit, relax, set a timer (start with 5 minutes if you haven’t tried this before), close your eyes, and try to clear your mind. Continue trying until the timer goes off – don’t check it and disrupt yourself!

Tips

There are apps for smart phones that have timers, background music or natural sounds that help to relax and block out background noise.

There are also videos on YouTube with music to listen to and that guide you through a meditation session.

You can try multiple times per day instead of once if you get disrupted or a time doesn’t work out. Experts meditate for hours so there’s no time limit on this! Though many studies show that meditating in blocks of 20 minutes per day shows the benefits, there are many others that show that even 5 minutes per day gives benefits! Therefore, start where you can and go from there.

Many people also combine meditation with Yoga, so if you’re already a Yoga fan, that may help you!

Next Steps

  • Find the best time of day for at least five to ten minutes of solitude

  • Find an appropriate, quiet setting

  • Start with 5 minutes per day

  • Relax

  • Patience, practice makes perfect and it gets easier!
   

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7 Steps to Being a Happy Person

happy cat
“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” -Abraham Lincoln

 

We all want to be happier than we are now, but what does it take? What does “being happy” actually look like? Here are some tips that will help you be happier than you are right now!

Be Grateful

One of the best ways to combat any unhappiness to negativity is to be grateful for what is going right in your life. Good friends, family members, jobs, homes, even just the simple things in life like nice weather and flowers in the lawn. Appreciating and focusing on all of these things makes the bad things fade away. Don’t focus on the bad, train your mind to focus on the good!

Stop the Hatin’

Have you ever noticed that some people in life are just always negative? There’s always something wrong, there’s always something happening to prevent them from doing what they want, and nothing is good enough? Well those are just perspectives. To be happier sometimes, you have to change your perspective about life. For one, don’t try to “keep up with the Joneses”. Evern research shows that it negatively impacts your life and well being if you compare yourself to others. No one’s lives are going to be the same, but that doesn’t mean yours isn’t as good as others!

 Comparing yourself to others breeds jealousy which is a complete opposite to the whole happiness factor in life which is what we’re going for, right??

On the same note, don’t allow yourself to think negative thoughts about yourself either. It’s hard when society pushes so many expectations on us but really, being down on yourself about anything never helps. What helps is positive thinking, and making a plan. If there’s something you need to fix in life, then make a plan to accomplish it, and follow the plan! Don’t be harsh on yourself. No one is perfect and all we can do is try the best we can!

Reach Out to Your Loved Ones

Close, positive relationships with others helps provide a sense of belonging, combats loneliness, and helps us feel a sense of security.

Especially if you’re struggling with something in life, reach out to friends and family and get out of the house. Reach out to them for support. Remember that they care about you and often have good advice and would love to help you cope and get through the tough times.

On a similar note, pay attention to those that aren’t supportive or that make you feel bad or stressed. Those are detrimental to your life and well being. You don’t need that! Make sure that everyone you spend time with make you feel good, not bad. If you feel bad, they are not your real friends and try to avoid them if possible.

Meditate

Meditation is a method for either clearing your mind for a period of time, or of focusing your thoughts for a period of time, depending on your goals. Daily meditation has a tremendous number of benefits encompassing mental, emotional, and physical.

 Meditation reduces stress, improves clarity of thought and concentration, and enhances emotional well being.

I will be posting a more in depth article next week on meditation, but to start just find a quiet, relaxing environment and close your eyes and practice clearing your thoughts for at least five minutes per day. It feels really hard at first, but only with practice does it get easier!

Exercise

Exercise is one of those things that we see and hear a hundred times of day that it’s good and to do it and I’m not going to say anything different. We’ve all heard every reason why, so I’m going to focus on the actual doing!

 Find a good time of day (first thing in the morning is usually the best time) and just get started. Take a walk, lift some weights, drag out that DVD that hasn’t been used for ages. Your choice! The most important thing is do do it though.

You’ll better when you’re done!

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Lastly, don’t worry, be happy about the future. You never know what’s really gong to happen, and worrying about what might happen can ruin your whole present. Which becomes your past! So son’t let anything uncertain sour your memories. Stop and smell the roses, enjoy your current surroundings, and stay focused on hat’s currently going on in your life.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it provides some basic building blocks to start on improving quality and happiness of life. There are many things to do from here which I will continue to post about but for now, follow the next steps. And join the newsletter where you will get notified of the upcoming 21 Days to Happiness free e-course!

Next Steps:

Create a daily journal to document everything you did or experienced that was positive that day. Anything from this post, or anything at all in life!

Also document negative thoughts and where they are coming from, and what you can do to try to counter them.

And finally write down what you’re grateful for every day. This journal will turn into the greatest resource for figuring out life problems (and what you need to do about them) and a continuous log of everything that is wonderful in your life which is invaluable!

   

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The #1 Way to Accomplish Your Goals

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”

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-Tony Robbins

 

Do you have goals?

Most people have goals – what we want, what we desire, what we know would be just be plain good for us, for our family, our community…

Exercise, organize the house, wake up earlier, learn something new,  etc.

 

Do you actively work towards them?

Do we always accomplish them? Not likely.

If goals were always accomplished, the human race would be productive mo fo’s!

But we’re not usually that way…

 

Why Not?

We all have our reasons. Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough resources. Not enough support. Not enough sleep. Not enough coffee.

 

The super-duper secret to working towards your goals?

Work towards your goal first. First time of the day, first before doing anything else, first first first!

I’ve had many aspirations in my life, and I’m pretty hard on myself when I don’t work towards them. So much so that I  get discouraged and feel bad about myself, and the whole thing actually starts inhibiting me in other areas of my life.

However, we can’t all accomplish every single whim that crosses our minds! There’s not enough hours in the day!

BUT what we can do, is prioritize, pick the biggest most important one, and work towards that. First thing in the day. Every day. Even if your don’t have much time, it’s still better than no time!

But what good does that do??

Because it creates progress. It creates momentum. It creates a daily ritual and habit of working on your goals. And I’m all about momentum and habit!

Once you get the habit of working daily on goals, it becomes automatic and it keeps it in your sites. Your mind stays focused on it, and whatever it is that you want so bad doesn’t fall by the wayside. Slow progress is still progress. Don’t put unnecessary or unrealistic time limits on anything (that just discourages progress). Just get into the habit of doing something every day.

Then guess what happens when we start doing that? We start meeting our goals. We start feeling better. We feel more accomplished. We feel motivated. We want to do more. We feel confident. We get more aspirations. Life gets grand!

 

Next Steps:

  1. Prioritize your goals (or make one if you don’t have one!)
  2. Choose which one would be the most beneficial in your life. Something that makes you feel ecstatic just thinking about
  3. Plan a time slot for working on it into your day. First thing in the morning is best, that way no matter what happens during the day, your goal doesn’t end up being cut out!
  4. Plaster motivational and reminder memos and pictures in places you see all the time. I’m talking monitors, fridges, mirrors and such
  5. Monitor your progress. If something isn’t working for you and you’re missing your daily goal times, review what’s happening and adjust as necessary!

 

   

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Is your life wasting away?

“If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality.” -Benjamin Franklin

 

How much time have you wasted today? Yesterday? Last week?

What have you been wanting to do? Has it gotten done?

Well, what’s stood in your way?

These are questions I ask myself daily. There is so much I always want to do and accomplish in life, yet many don’t get done for one reason or another!

Excuses will always abound.

However, we only have so much life to live before it’s over, so it’s critical we spend it wisely!

Spending it wisely is easier said than done. Motivation is temporary and it’s easy to feel guilty if we aren’t motivated 24/7. It’s especially easy to procrastinate what we should be doing in favor with whatever we feel like doing now.

Whether that be watching TV, looking at our friend’s latest eCards on Facebook, or any other time consumer.

And then days and weeks go by and we look back and think, “Gosh I still haven’t gotten around to doing (insert life fulfilling task here)”.

But what to do about it?

The first thing to do is to document your goals. Whether they are far-reaching (learn to paint) or short term (organize the kitchen).

Secondly, figure out when the best time to accomplish those tasks would be (in the morning before everyone wakes up), and break them down into smaller chunks if it’s a biggie (practice daily, sort through one cupboard at a time).

Thirdly, figure out where all of your time is going! Start a daily log of what you did and for how long. My log on a typical day would look something like this:

  • 5:00am-6:30am – drink coffee and cruise internet at computer
  • 6:30am-8:00am – get ready for and head to work
  • 8:00am-5:00pm – work
  • 5:00pm – 6:00pm – eat dinner
  • 6:00pm – 9:00pm – cruise internet/Facebook/blogs/read email
  • 9:00pm – get ready for bed and sleep rest of the day

Wow, I didn’t do anything on my ToDo list! I had an hour and a half in the morning of relaxing with my coffee, and three hours in front of my computer that night!

It’s usually around 8:00 that I start to realize “Hey! My day is almost over already!! Where did it go??”

That’s where applications like RescueTime (if you’re on the computer  a lot like me) will help, and raising self-awareness. After you create your log, you will start becoming more self-aware of what you’re doing instead of just doing it out of routine. Awareness is the first step. RescueTime helps by actually tracking what you’re doing on your computer and for how long. You can also set limits for yourself with it so you budget your time with specific applications and websites.

After awareness, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty of actually doing the things you want to do. And by this I mean starting on a task so that over time you’re making progress towards it getting done. This is probably the hardest step. It’s like how most of us want to exercise daily then don’t feel like it. It’s the starting that is the hardest part, so the key is to just get started!

What helps with this step is the 5-minute rule. Just tell yourself you’ll work on a task for five minutes during those periods of time that you thought would be best or easiest for you to work. Everyone has five minutes. Everyone has five minutes at any given point during the day to do something! Promise yourself you’ll just do it for five minutes, and see what happens.five-minutes

What this does is after your five minutes you’ll end up spending longer. You’re into it. You’re accomplishing something. And it’s feeling good!

So you spend longer on it.

And more gets done.

And so you spend more time…

And it becomes addicting.

It starts to feel so good over time, that it will start to bother you when you don’t spend a few minutes towards your goal. It’s the snowball effect and will build upon itself and build on itself and you’ll look back and be amazed at what you’ve accomplished!

And that’s the point at which you want to be!

 

So what to do now? Your next actions should be:

  1. Make your ToDo list
  2. Decide on a daily time period to work (break down big tasks into smaller chunks if necessary)
  3. Start your daily time log. Do this for about a week
  4. Start using preventative measures if need be to cut down on areas you think you are wasting time (RescueTime, turning the computer off, turning off your phone, closing yourself up alone in a room)
  5. Start doing it! Even if just for 5 minutes. Promise yourself 5 minutes per day. Everyone has 5 minutes to spend.
  6. Snowball effect time!!

 

   

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