Why Meditation Is Your #1 Must Have As an Entrepreneur

Businessman-Meditating

The need to stay focused has never been greater than it is today. I know when I’m online, I’ve generally got 6 tabs up on my internet browser, maybe some music playing, and the email chime going off on a regular basis. It’s nice to be so connected, but not so nice when I’m trying to meditate. As an entrepreneur, I need to have some “me” time to keep my sanity.

This is why I’ve really come to embrace meditation as my #1 “must have” item every day. It has provided me with numerous benefits that I believe have helped my bottom line.

#1. Meditation helps me think. I’ve lost count of the many times that someone has said meditation has helped them to be more creative. Creativity is needed for a start-up business, of course, but there are times when a good thinking session is also needed. There is a definite difference in my cognitive thoughts after I meditate when compared to the times when I might miss a meditation session or two. It helps me be able to think on my feet.

#2. Meditation gives me more energy. Before I embraced meditation, the first thought on my mind when I woke up was “caffeine.” It started with one cup of coffee during breakfast. Then it moved to three cups of coffee per day. Then I moved to energy drinks. Pretty soon, I found myself having two or three energy drinks per day. On a long day in Las Vegas during an entrepreneurial convention, I had 5 energy drinks and couldn’t sleep for 3 days. That’s when I knew something had to change.

Meditation was the answer. It helped me break my addiction to caffeine over a couple of weeks. Now I wake up, feel energized after meditating, and that lets me conquer whatever challenges may come my way.

#3. Meditation helps me sleep better. Maybe this is because it helped me to kick caffeine to the curb, but honestly I never did sleep very well before I started to meditate. Even as a kid, I’d be listening to my radio under my pillow for hours after everyone went to bed. Now I have a more consistent circadian rhythm where I can lie down, relax immediately, and fall asleep within minutes.

#4. Meditation helps my feelings of good health. I had an English professor back in college who liked to say this one phrase over and over: “Your health is what you decide it will be. If you decide that you are well, then you will be well. If you decide to be unwell, then you will feel like you are sick all of the time.”

That has really stuck with me over the years, but it never really made sense to me until I started meditating. During meditation, all of the stress triggers I face during the day disappear for awhile. There’s not as much anxiety, worry, or even anger – and trust me, if things don’t go my way, the first thing I feel is anger! Meditation has helped find moments of clarity, which then creates more stability throughout the day for me.

#5. Meditation helps me stay productive. Because I’m more focused, I can ignore the distractions that might be trying to get my attention so I can get my work done every day. There were times in the past where I couldn’t work for more than 5 minutes without needing to do something else. Now I’ll sit down to work and before I know it, 2-3 hours have passed and my output surprises even me.

There are many things that are important to have as an entrepreneur, but I believe meditation is the one “must have” part of your routine that must be there. Have you embraced meditation as an entrepreneur? I’d love to hear about what has happened to you since you started meditating on a regular basis.

4 Ways to Find Happiness In Chaos

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It’s tough these days to find a place of contentment unless you’re truly seeking it out. Phones ring at all hours of the day. Facebook notifications draw us back toward the computer even when we’ve got other things we’d rather be doing. E-mail notifications at 2 am can ring, making it difficult to get back to sleep. In the midst of all this chaos, is it really possible to find a happy place where contentment reigns supreme?

It is possible if you are willing to make four potential changes in your life:

Find time to step away from it all. There’s only so much that your mind can take. It might be a sponge that can absorb a lot of data, but even a sponge can become overflow and leak out liquid! Find time to step back from all the distractions every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes, so you can find some peace from it all. You’d reset your computer when it begins to get errors, right? Take the time to restart your mind once and awhile too.

Find a place that you can breathe in some fresh air. There’s something that causes the air in my office to plug up my nose every day. If I’m in the office for too long, I start getting this creeping headache that sets in, right around the upper part of my sinuses. Add in the tension from a tough day and a full blown migraine isn’t out of the question! By finding fresh air and breathing it in deeply, the extra oxygen can literally recharge your system, much like you’d recharge your iPhone when the battery is low.

Don’t assume responsibility for everything. The reason why so many people begin to feel overwhelmed is because they try to do everything on their own. This on its own creates chaos, but when it becomes combined with all the other chaotic moments of a busy modern life, you can give yourself a hurricane force storm of chaos that is difficult to move through. Reach a hand out, grab a lifeline, and allow others to help you out. Have confidence in them, have faith in yourself, and take on only the things that you know you can handle every day.

Don’t forget to smile! What smiling does is it forces the mind to look at something in a different way. It’s not one of those ridiculous fake smiles that you see plastered on everyone’s stressed-out faces at the office I’m talking about here. No – a genuine smile that reflects the fact that there is a silver lining in even the darkest of clouds that could be drenching you right now, making you trudge through mud puddles!

If you are willing to make these 4 potential changes to your daily routine, then no matter how chaotic your environment may become, there will always be a tranquil place for you to go. Finding contentment in even the busiest of lives really is possible!

3 Scientific Benefits To Begin Meditating Today

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Meditation is a buzzword that seems to be everywhere these days. There also seems to be an emphasis on mindfulness meditation. I’ve been encouraged by this push to increase one’s personal well-being, but there is a difference between meditating just to do it and meditating well.

You can’t just sit in a studio during a meditation session and expect to experience several physical and mental benefits because you’re there. It takes hard work, consistent practice, and a willingness to forgive yourself when you fail at it.

Trust me. I know. More than once I’ll catch myself going over the emails I need to get a reply sent on while meditating instead of focusing on my breath or some other single point of focus.

Yet if you can push through those initial struggles, I think you’ll find that these 3 scientifically proven benefits of meditation could be something that could change your life. Now here’s the best part: you really only need to meditate for 10 minutes per day to start seeing these benefits over time.

Do you have 10 minutes you could spare today? If so, these benefits could be yours.

#1. Meditation helps to stabilize your emotional mind.

There are some articles floating around the internet right now that advocate the practice of mindfulness meditation as a replacement for anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, other other mood stabilizers. Meditation is a good addition to a treatment plan, but it can’t solve every problem.

What you can expect from daily meditation is a reduction in anxiety attacks and a lessening of depression-related symptoms. Some people feel a complete withdrawal of these symptoms over time. Because mindfulness meditation forces you to be in this present moment at all times, there are fewer worries about the past or the future.

I’ve found this has really helped me to focus on what I can do today instead of worrying about what I didn’t do yesterday or what I might have to do tomorrow.

#2. Meditation helps to reduce “comfort” habits.

It’s easy to turn to food when you’re feeling down. It wasn’t that long ago that I’d turn to a bowl of cereal or a cookie or something to make myself feel better. Self-soothing is a very real necessity, especially in a world where we are all connected to one another almost constantly. Food gives us some quiet time, but it also can contribute to a larger waist line and other health issues if self-soothing eating becomes binge eating.

Meditation helps to reduce the need for self-soothing from other habits because it does the same thing. It’s tough in the first few days of mindfulness meditation because you must confront those negative feelings. When you do, there is a world of clarity awaiting you on the other side. It’s something so powerful that I really just can’t put the experience into words. You have to reach it yourself to understand.

#3. Meditation creates positivity.

I can say that I feel like I’m more consistently happy these days with my daily practice of . What’s nice about this benefit, however, is that it is always there. Even at the end of your first meditation session, you’ll experience a unique happiness that only mindfulness can provide.

As this joy expands, you’ll notice that it becomes easier to set negative thinking aside. There are fewer instances of negative self-talk that happen. Dare I say it – your frown gets turned upside down.

Putting meditation into practice can be difficult, especially in the first few days of starting. Give yourself plenty of space, budget 30 minutes if you can so you can put 10 minutes of meditation into practice, and then adapt or move as circumstances require. You cannot fail when it comes to meditation. You must simply practice.

Have you experienced the benefits of meditation in your life in some way? I’d love to hear about some of your experiences, both positive or negative, and what you learned from them.

7 Success Habits of Great Meditators

Learning how to meditate can be a rewarding experience. Meditation helps to reduce anxiety by teaching us to switch off from the worries that can plague us throughout the day. Meditation has the benefit of affecting your entire life, giving you the ability to better handle stressful emotions. Meditation allows us to be in tune with our inner self. When we live in the heart we can experience a sense of oneness with others, this brings a happiness that does not depend upon outer events.

Below are seven habits of successful meditators. Learning these seven habits will help your meditation practice to deepen and grow.

1. Make time.

Time should be set aside for your practice everyday. Twice a day (once in the morning and again in the evening) is preferred. Meditation can be done anytime, but it’s better to do it when arising and before that evening meal. Make a commitment to meditate at the same time each and everyday. After a while, your body will automatically want to meditate during those times. When you get into the habit of meditating everyday, it will be much easier for you to make progress in your practice. Developing a schedule not only helps to get you into a rhythm, but it also signals to the Universe your intent to meditate.

2. Pick a spot.

Equally as important as meditating the same time everyday is the need to meditate in the same place. If you plan to make meditation a part of your daily practice, you should have a meditation spot. Your meditation spot should be clean and uncluttered. The place you meditate should be quiet and free of distractions. It doesn’t matter where it is in your house, just as long as you are able find peace of mind there and can get access to it regularly. If you meditate in the same place every day it builds up a meditative atmosphere. When you sit down on that spot, your body will be ready for meditation. Your meditation place will develop a power of its own which will make it easier to meditate.

3. Be comfortable.

Meditation does not have to be an uncomfortable experience. You want to be comfortable, relaxed and focused when you meditate. While many people feel aches and pains when they sit cross-legged, with regular practice and stretching that discomfort can be completely alleviated for most people. Another option is to sit on a padded chair with a straight back. Since you want to clear your mind of all distractions when you meditate, you will need to find positions that are comfortable, yet not so comfortable that you might fall asleep. This is why you don’t want to meditate while lying down. Make sure the room temperature feels good. The room should not have extremely bright light since this can be distracting. The light in your room can affect your mood.

4. Learn to let go.

Meditation is the art of doing nothing. In today’s hectic, achievement-focused world we are almost always doing something. This “doing” mode is fueled by the belief that if only we did enough of the right things, had enough of the right experiences, earned enough money, or owned enough possessions we would be happy. As a result our minds are seldom, if ever, still. Instead we are busy fretting about what we should have done or said, planning what we should do or not do, say or not say, in the future, and worrying whether or not we will obtain the things and experiences we think we need to be happy. During meditation as the mind begins to settle down it discovers an inner calm and peace. The habitual mental chatter begins to fade away.

5. Sit with it.

After you finish your practice, give yourself at least 5 minutes in which to readjust to the normal world. Allow yourself the opportunity to begin to integrate the material that came into consciousness. Just sit and be still. Be in the present moment. If you start to think a lot of thoughts and become very active, you can prevent some of the meditative awareness from coming into your mind. You should not jump up from your meditation spot and run to your computer to check your email or the news. This is time for yourself to soak up the meditation experience you just had. While not all thoughts and feelings are going to be rosy when meditating, it’s important to not judge or criticize your experience. There is no bad meditation.

6. Be patient.

Patience is one of the key ingredients in meditation. There will be days when it seems like we are not making any progress in our practice. In times like these, it takes patience and perseverance to not quit and be discouraged. If we practice sincerely, we will progress. There is really no time factor. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Meditation takes time and patience. Don’t be in too big a hurry to get some kind of results. Learning how to meditate is a gradual process that takes time.

7. Enjoy it.

Meditation is taken very seriously by many people. Sure it should be held with a certain amount of reverence. However, it is also a source of great joy and lightness. A thing that can elevate the soul and spirit. Raise people up from dark spaces and bring them happiness again. Being able to take things lightly is a strong skill to have, one that can pay great dividends. By allowing yourself to enjoy a lighter element you can bring a strong and powerful source of energy into your life. Every time you allow yourself to feel joy you have a profound source of stress relief on tap. Opening up to joy can bring dimensions to life. Allow the wonder of life to flow through you and reconnect with the powerful forces that runs through the universe and bring the life that we are fortunate to be able to have.

9 Unexpected Benefits of Meditation

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Many know about the common benefits of meditation. We’re talking stress reduction, better concentration, and higher levels of creativity which occur with repetitive practice. What many may not know about are these unexpected benefits that also come along for the ride.

#1. Meditation can boost your self-esteem. Negative self-talk happens to many without them even realizing that they’re doing it. Through meditation, even the most self-critical of people are able to reduce negative feelings toward themselves while increasing positive emotions.

#2. Your focus can improve as well. We’re going to define focus here as “information retention.” When meditating on a regular basis, the mind is more receptive to the information it is absorbing in the world around you. This helps you be able to recall this information when you may need to use it – like on a test at school.

#3. It changes the brain. There are several changes that happen in the brains of people who meditate frequently. Maybe the most exciting change is the slowing of the aging process. People who meditate regularly have thicker cortical walls in their brains compared to people who do not.

#4. Meditation can be an anti-depressant that also affects anxiety levels.  The practice of meditation has shown to be as effective as anti-depressant medication for those suffering from the signs and symptoms of depression. Anxiety can also be brought under control. Now the research into this benefit has only involved mindfulness meditation so far, but other forms may also bring about similar results.

#5. You feel more awake. Do you need to have some caffeine to get your body in gear for the morning routine? Are you at 1 cup, 3 cups, or more? Meditation has shown to help people be more alert during the day. This means your mind is actively engaged with the world around you as you go about the tasks of your day.

#6. It can help to manage adult ADHD. Notice that it doesn’t say “control” for this benefit. A highly personalized treatment plan is often necessary to help adults gain control over their core ADHD symptoms. For some with this attention disorder, the addition of meditation to their normal treatment plan was found to be beneficial in a reduction of core symptoms.

#7. Meditation helps with pain tolerance. It’s so effective, in fact, that some people who practice meditation frequently report feelings of complete relief, even when the pain has been chronic. Wake Forest Baptist University has studied the relationship between pain and meditation and found that with regular practice, pain can be reduced by up to 40%. Morphine, on the other hand, provides pain reduction levels of up to 25%.

#8. You give your immune system a boost. People who meditate frequently and regularly have been found to have higher levels of antibodies in their system compared to people who do not meditate at all. This is currently for those who practice mindfulness meditation, but there could be a similar benefit available for other meditation types as well.

#9. It can help you when you need to multitask. Every time you change a task during the day, you can lose up to 15 minutes of meaningful productivity. With meditation providing you with supports, you can reduce that down time to remain more consistent with your work, studying, or other chores.

These unexpected benefits of meditation begin to unlock the depths of what it really means to be human. You get to explore who you are, guard against the rigors of a bad day, and begin to create a level of positive consistency within your life. The good news? It only takes about 2 weeks of daily meditation to start seeing these benefits.

What unexpected benefits have you noticed that you attribute to meditation? I’d love to hear about your experiences and how meditation has helped you.

4 Easy Ways You Can Meditate Like a Pro

meditation mondays

You sit in your meditation spot, day after day, but clarity just keeps escaping you. No matter what you do, there’s a distraction that hampers your efforts. Maybe your legs begin to tingle. The old knee injury begins to ache again. There’s the smell of your favorite food hovering in the air.

I can sympathize with this problem. As much as I might try to seek clarity, if the smell of a cheeseburger is on the breeze, my mind and my stomach start having different thoughts. In the end, when I can’t find clarity, I feel more stressed out than I did before I started meditating.

For so long, this made me question my dedication. Why couldn’t I meditate like so many other people? Then I realized that maybe I needed to make some adjustments to what I was doing to improve each session. I hadn’t fallen out of love with meditation. I had simply evolved and my meditation practices needed to do so as well.

Here are the 4 steps that I took to correct that process so that the chances to achieve clarity could return.

#1. Create a New Space

Your needs may evolve when you evolve. The fact is that we all change a little bit every day. Who you are today isn’t the same person who you were yesterday. Now multiply this effect over 1 year, 5 years, or even more and you might be a whole different person. I discovered that the meditation space I had chosen for myself wasn’t meeting my needs any more. It made me uncomfortable and there were bothersome distractions that I didn’t remember there being before. So I created a new space to inject some new life into each session.

#2. Change Your Expectations

When you’ve been meditating for awhile, you kind of expect your mind and body to react in certain ways. When that reaction doesn’t take place, then it bothers you. I know that if I couldn’t find any clarity at all, I would focus on that issue for the rest of the day. I wanted to figure out the issue so I could fix it.

Then one day I realized something. I had developed a certain expectation for meditation that I didn’t have when I had first started. In the beginning, I had no expectation of a positive outcome. Now, here I was, becoming frustrated because I wasn’t getting the positive outcome that I wanted.

#3. Be Willing to Forgive

It’s easy to judge yourself harshly when you feel like you haven’t met your meditation goals. I’ve discovered that sometimes you must be willing to forgive yourself for those times where you feel you have failed. Sometimes you even have to be willing to stop forcing your meditation sessions and just go with what feels natural at that given moment. Sometimes 5 minutes of meditation that is genuine is better than 30 minutes of forced meditation time.

#4. Find Your Anchor

Whenever there is something that feels bothersome during your meditation session, it is important to have a reliable anchor that you can come back to use to center yourself. My breathing has always been pretty reliable for me. Some might like to focus on a point of light, like a candle. Whatever it is, give yourself a reminder to use it so that you can begin rebuilding your awareness.

Even when you make changes like these, I’ve found that to meditate like a pro, you’ve got to stick to your core routines. Allow your meditation to evolve with you, but keep it on the schedule every day and keep infusing familiar elements into your practice. In doing so, the changes may be quite profound.

Have you worked to evolve your meditation sessions? I’d love to hear some of the ideas you’ve used to evolve your regular meditation practices into something even more beneficial.

How Meditation Helped Me Exercise Better

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 I don’t mind exercising. It’s not the first thing I might choose each day, but it isn’t something that I actively avoid either. Yet when I go out for a run or I’m at the gym on one of the machines, there are many negative thoughts that try to creep into my head.

People are staring at you.

They’re judging you.

You’re not good enough.

Some might describe those thoughts as “losing their mojo.” I call it a good excuse to go get a smoothiea, head home, and maybe watch a movie.

Thanks to meditation, I’ve been able to work on those negative thoughts during my workout. When I start listening to what my body has to say instead of the negative self-talk that starts heading my way, there’s a certain amount of energy which appears. It can fuel a longer run, a stronger finish, and better results.

Timothy Olson, an ultra-marathon runner, has said this: “Running is my art and the mountains are my canvas.”

I would adjust that quote just a little for myself. Exercise is my art and meditation is my canvas. That’s because meditation while I exercise has brought me these benefits.

#1. I’m happier when I’m exercising. Some mornings you just don’t feel like doing anything. Just thinking about a run can make me feel tense. By including meditation before and during whatever exercise I’m planning on doing, I feel happier because the negative thoughts have been muted.

#2. I have a lot more energy. I’ve found that when I’m listening more to what my body wants and less to what is going on around me, I have much less tension. I can adapt throughout the exercising process and this helps to ease the tension that tends to build up in my muscles as I’m giving them a workout.

#3. I have less overall soreness. I used to be one of those people who always seemed to pick up a slight injury. It would hamper me for a day or two and affect my workouts. I used to attribute that issue to my desire to go 100% at all times. Through meditation, I’ve realized that I can adapt what I’m doing before an injury occurs because I’m more in tune with what is going on.

#4. I have less pain. Maybe it’s that I’m actually more tolerant of pain. I’m not talking about the pain cues you receive when an injury is about to occur. It’s that initial discomfort you have when you first start to exercise. Those moments when your body says, “Do I really have to do this?” Because I’m not fixating on that discomfort any more, it doesn’t seem so bad.

#5. It lets me do more. Thanks to meditation, my focus when exercising is now about moving forward.  In the past, I think it would be more accurate to say that my focus was on trying not to stop.

#6. I focus on me. I used to count calories, track mile times, and be able to tell you what my heart rate would be at almost any given time during my workout. Now those things matter less and how my body feels matters more. By listening to what my body wants, my mind takes a new satisfaction in the ability to exercise effectively.

Sometimes you can meditate right there while exercising. You may need to find a spot with minimal distractions if you’re at the gym. Clear your mind, quiet your brain, and take inventory of how you’re feeling. Don’t judge yourself. Just observe. Then take some deep breaths, build up your endurance, and you’ll find that meditation might help you exercise more effectively too.

Approaching Mindfulness With Mother Nature

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Meditation has always been something that I’ve prioritized in my life. Sometimes I let my priorities slide a little bit and put meditation on the back burner of life for a few days, but eventually I get back to it. Yet there are still days when I get into my comfort zone, begin to meditate, and struggle to find any clarity. Mindfulness? Forget about it.

To counter that problem, I’ve found that it can be highly beneficial to get back in touch with Mother Nature. Exploring the Great Outdoors really does unlock your mindfulness potential because there are so many small wonders that you can see if you allow yourself to slow down from the rigors of modern life. A cool breeze, the sound of the ocean, or even just the sunlight on my face is enough to change my perception.

Nature gets my attention.

Why Does Being Outside Unlock Mindfulness?

Human beings were born to be interactive with the outside. Our legs were built to explore. Our minds were built to observe. Our hands were made to interact with the perfect moments that surround us every day. There is a certain peace which comes when we’re on our own outside because our senses are always present. We get to engage our complete being in a way that riding the subway or commuting an hour to work in heavy freeway traffic just doesn’t allow.

But it’s more than that. It’s also about our relationships. People today are connected like never before. I can speak to a friend halfway around the world on a video call, talk to co-workers on Facebook, and check-in with my extended family at any time during the day. I can share my day with them and they can share theirs with me. This limits the amount of alone time we receive.

Going outside takes us away from the gossip and drama that relationships can provide. It takes us out of the city and into our hearts and minds. Instead of noise and movement, we receive quiet contemplation. When I struggle to find my clarity, this is why I make it a point of emphasis to get myself outside for my next meditation session.

How Can We Approach Nature in the City?

Living in the city makes it tough to have a conversation with Mother Nature every day. Tough, however, is not impossible. You might not be able to ascend to a mountain summit to meditate in the glory of the rising sun, but you could head down to your local park, kick off your shoes, and enjoy some time out there amongst the trees.

Many cities also have public gardens which make for wonderful meditation spots. If you share a building with others, maybe there’s a rooftop garden where you could find some moments of peace and clarity. If you’re willing to find a place where you can be still and listen to what your inner being and what Mother Nature are trying to tell you, then it becomes very possible to approach mindfulness even on the busiest of days.

Where do you go when you struggle to find clarity? I’d love to hear about some of your favorite places to meditate.

How You Can Use Meditation To Achieve Your Goals

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Does it seem like your goals are sometimes just out of your reach? I’ve had this struggle, probably more often than I’d admit in casual conversation. There are times when I feel like I can do anything, but then there are times when it seems like whatever I do, that final few steps needed to accomplish a goal remain tantalizingly out of reach. It’s a frustrating feeling to say the least!

Through meditation, there are some steps that can be taken to help make those goals a little easier to achieve. These steps have helped me, especially recently, and hopefully they’ll have a positive impact for you as well.

#1. Choose one specific goal to accomplish. We all have many goals that we’d like to make happen, but meditation works better when we can be specific about what we hope to accomplish. Choose one specific goal to work on and then keep working on it until you achieve it.

#2. Use positive visualizations. Instead of picturing life after you’ve accomplished your goal, use your meditation time to picture yourself working through each step that is necessary to make it to that goal in the first place. I’ve found that practicing these tasks mentally during a sessions of meditation can prepare me for the physical or emotional challenges that might lie ahead.

#3. Take a few deep breaths. If it was easy to accomplish your goals, we wouldn’t need to use meditation, would we? When you’re visualizing each step, if you’re anything like me, then you’ll feel more than a little stress settle in your chest. Doubts may even begin to flood through your mind. Remember the basics of meditation at this point, including your deep breathing, and catalog those feelings. They’re important. If you just dismiss them without acknowledging them, they may fester and be problematic for some time to come.

#4. Answer the “why” questions. Questions are a normal part of the learning process. You must ask questions to get answers. I’ve found that I tend to have a lot of what I call the “why” questions when I’m working on achieving a specific goal. Why is this important to me? Why do I need to even be working toward this goal? Why would life be different if I achieve this goal?

#5. Take action to keep your focus. Random thoughts aren’t really that random. They are observations that your mind is making to create the structure you’ll need to achieve your specific goal. I can’t say that every thought makes sense at first, but they do make more sense when you take actions to maintain your focus, both in meditating and with your goal vision. Every action you take is one step closer to your goal. It’s important to remember that.

I’ve found that repeating this process 1-2 times per week can be helpful without feeling like it is overwhelming.

How 10 Days of Meditation Changed My Life Forever

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Sometimes I just have to step back for a moment and let everything go. There’s a lot of stress this world is able to send my way every day. I’m sure the same could be said for each one of us. I’m not saying this to complain or hold my stress as being “more stressful” or anything like that. I just recently came to a place where something had to change. I was tired. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t happy. That’s when I decided to commit to 10 straight days of meditation.

It’s not like I haven’t been meditating in the past. I’ve just let it slip here and there and decided that it was time to make that practice stop. It was time to make sure meditation happened every day. So, for 10 straight days, I made sure my meditation routine was guaranteed.

Here’s what I learned from that commitment.

#1. There were issues I was blocking. You know how memories tend to fade over time? Wouldn’t it be nice if hurtful emotional wounds did the same thing? I discovered that there were some issues that were really bothering me and I had been choosing not to deal with them. So they sat there in my mind, festering away, and rotting out my happiness. Meditating each day helped to start the healing process.

#2. I put others first a LOT. The urge to answer a text or check my e-mail while meditating was almost overwhelming at times while I was meditating. As I pondered this, I discovered that instead of making time for myself, I was making more time for others. That’s not to say helping people isn’t a bad thing. It’s just there are times one must be willing to take care of themselves first instead.

#3. I can find clarity in other ways. For so long, I’ve worked on meditating because I’ve wanted to find some clarity with what happens in the world today. It’s been a way to discover peace in the midst of chaos for me. During this 10 day stretch, I discovered clarity could be found in other ways as well. Something as simple as going for a walk was a chance to reflect on things.

#4. Take advantage of each moment. There are unique moments that happen to each of us every day. If I’m not focused on those moments which happen to me, then some of life’s most interesting moments are passing me by. Meditation time is not the only time where powerful, life-changing reflections may happen. A random compliment from a stranger, an extra flavor shot in your coffee from a barista trying to be nice, or a simple word of thanks are all powerful moments as well. Not only should we watch for this, but I think we should provide them as much as we can as well.

#5. I really am a procrastination specialist. I discovered that part of the reason I wasn’t making meditation a priority was because I felt like I could face tomorrow without that time to myself. In some ways, I still even feel that way. The urge to not meditate sometimes is still strong, especially if there’s some chore or work issue which I feel needs to be accomplished. By recognizing this, I am working on changing this, and sometimes that’s the most important thing, I think.

Meditating for 10 days straight has changed my life not because I’m better at it or I get more out of it. It has changed me because I’ve started listening to myself. I’ve made myself a higher priority. In doing so, I am now much more able to be effective at work or help others when I can because I’ve brought life back into balance.

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