6 Things You Can Do Before You Meditate

 

what to do before meditating

If you take the time to prepare for your meditation, you will have a better meditation experience. You might be thinking to yourself, “I barely have enough time to meditate. Now I need to set aside additional time before I can meditate!” The truth is that it doesn’t have to take more than a few minutes. Below are a few things that you can do to prepare for your meditation.

1. Exercise. When we exercise, we release a lot of toxins that is stored in our body. You will notice that your meditation tends to be better when you have done some physical exercise. Exercise has the power to alter your mood and make you feel elated. You will experience a natural high similar to a drug high but without any of the negative side effects. You will have greater mental clarity, feel more relaxed, have more energy and a stronger focus.

2. Take a shower or bath. Water has an amazing ability to purify your body and mind. It also helps to keep us alert and relives stress. After a shower or bath, we feel better, refreshed and calm. Bathing can bring you the restful solitude you need to reflect and relax. You can literally close the door on the outside world and disappear for a while.

3. Yoga. Yoga has a calming effect on the mind. Even doing some simple stretches will allow you to release any tension and stress that has accumulated in your body. Physical and mental tension blocks the free flow of energy in the body and draws our awareness outward. We are trying to redirect our energy inward in meditation, so tension of any kind hinders our efforts. Practicing yoga postures before meditation is a marvelous way to release these energy blocks.

4. Read. Reading has the ability to soothe the mind like no other. Reading forces us to be still. This stillness will carry over to our meditation practice. Read something inspirational or spiritual that will turn your mind towards matters of the soul before you begin to meditate. It’s a good idea to spend 5 or 10 minutes just reading and absorbing the lessons of what you’ve read.

5.Write. If your mind can’t slow down before you meditate, try writing down everything that is in your head. When you do a mental brain dump, it has the effect of calming yourself down. When we put thoughts to paper—or type them—we are able to clear our mind and and gain perspective on any given situation

6. Breathe. Take a few deep breaths before you begin your meditation. You will find your whole body and mind will slow down, which makes it very easy  to enter into a meditative state. By focusing on the breath you become aware of the mind’s tendency to jump from one thing to another. The simple discipline of concentration brings us back to the present moment.

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5 Ways Meditation Can Change Your Physical Body

benefits of yoga and meditation

Most people are aware of the many benefits of meditation. Meditation is now commonly used to treat mental health disorders, addiction, and everyday stress, as well as to heal physical ailments and promote better sleep. It is a practice that has many backers because there is a clear physical component to this ancient form of connecting the mind, body and spirit. Here are 5 ways meditation can change your physical body.

#1. Meditation helps the body reduces pain. Many people practice meditation because it provides a good balance for their hectic world, but did you know that it can also help people tolerate more pain? In research on meditation and pain, scientists discovered that by activating and reinforcing some areas of the brain used in pain processing, meditation has the overall effect of helping to reduce pain intensity in people. The reduction in pain ratings was substantially greater than those seen in similar studies involving placebo pills, hypnosis, and even morphine and other painkilling drugs.

#2. Meditation increases memory retention. Research proves that meditation changes the physical structure of the brain in remarkable and positive ways – including improving attention and memory. Meditation causes the brain’s cerebral cortex to thicken. The brain’s cerebal cortex is responsible for higher mental functions such as concentration, learning, and memory.

#3. Meditation helps you become more social. One of the most unique changes that happens with this practice happens with the brainwaves. The brain actually increases the ability for a person to stay in a state of wakeful relaxation and this ultimately reduces negative moods and helps you get along with others because of increase empathy. Even if you don’t feel like being in a social mood, meditation has also shown an ability to control anger more efficiently, which naturally makes people want to be around you more. By flexing your memory muscle in meditation, your information storage mechanisms multiply, ensuring that your brain retains the ability to store new memories now, and as you age.

#4. Meditation reduces the risks of hypertension. In as little as 8 weeks, some of the physical side effects of meditation can be experienced. One of the most beneficial experiences is a natural reduction of blood pressure that occurs. Because hypertension is lower, it is also believed that inflammation and other physical problems that may be associated to cortisol may also be reduced or eliminated as well. It might not stop that boost of blood pressure you get with your morning coffee, but it can bring you back to a better baseline afterward.

#5. Meditation boosts the immune system and could prevent genetic damage. Specific research studies that have tracked immune responses and genetic influences with meditation have come up with some amazing results. In one study, people who meditated were compared to others who did not after receiving an influenza vaccine. The people meditated had a stronger immune system response. In another, the genetic telomeres that are directly associated with certain aging diseases were also compared to non-meditators and found to be better preserved.

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How Not To Turn Meditation Time Into Thinking Time

How To Not Turn Meditation Time Into Thinking Time

“To meditate a short time with depth is better than to meditate for long hours with the mind running wild.” – Paramhansa Yogananda

I was recently asked how not turn one’s meditation (quiet) time into thinking time. What a great question. Isn’t it interesting you find yourself thinking more when you meditate? The truth is you notice you have a lot of thoughts during meditation is because you are going through the motion of trying to be quiet. All of a sudden, you realize there are so many thoughts on your mind. Here are a few suggestions to combat excessive thoughts during meditation.

Tip #1: Use a different meditation technique you haven’t used for the last 30 days.

Meditation should be fun. Meditation should be one of the most exciting things you look forward at the beginning or at the end of your day. It shouldn’t be just another task on your daily to-do list. Are you bored with the meditation technique you’re currently using? Do you find your meditation stale? If the answer is yes, use a different technique to change your daily meditation practice. If you practice meditation by listening to a guided meditation CD, try chakra meditation (meditating by focusing on energy centers), mantra meditation (meditating by focusing on a particular word or a phrase), meditating in the nature by watching ocean waves or listening to the sound of ocean waves.

Tip #2: Do a hard workout before you meditate.

You’ll find you will have a better meditation experience after a hard workout. Body, mind, and spirit are interrelated. Meditation is training for the mind. However, if you have not trained your body first, you won’t get much out of your meditation practice. You want to exercise to the point you’re soaked in sweat so the toxins accumulated in your energy body can be released. Monitor how you feel prior and after your workout. You will find yourself more relaxed and energized after a challenging physical workout. If you start your meditation practice with a relaxed and energized frame of mind, you’ll be amazed how easy it is to meditate.

Tip #3: Take a few minutes to write down thoughts on your mind before you meditate.

One tip to avoid thinking endlessly during your meditation is: prior to your meditation, sit down, take a pad of paper, and write down everything on your mind. Just write them all down from to-dos to things, people, and places that are on your mind at that point in time. There is no need to judge these thoughts. Just write them all down. The act of writing them down actually creates mental space. When these thoughts inevitably arise during your meditation, you can remind yourself they are on a piece of paper and you will take care of them after you meditate. Sounds simple? It really works.

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Meditation for Busy People

guy meditating

Meditation can be extremely beneficial. It allows us to reduce stress, find inner peace and provides a little break from the normal day-to-day work. A lot of people start out with good intentions to meditate every day, but they usually end up skipping it because of other priorities. The truth is that we’re all busy people, but there are some things we can do to ensure that we develop a regular meditation schedule. Let’s go over some of the things we can do to stay on track with our meditation.

The first thing you must do to ensure that you are practicing meditation regularly is create a schedule. You are going to want to set aside time each day that you will dedicate to meditation. You should make this around the same time every day, so keep that in mind when you’re putting together your schedule. You don’t need to spend an hour on meditation every day; 15 minutes will be a good amount if your daily schedule is very full. If you happen to be facing a busy day, keep that into consideration and try to move your meditation to a more appropriate time.

The truth of the matter is that you’re going to have to be disciplined if you want to get the most out of meditation. You are going to have to make a commitment and do everything you can not to break the routine. A few good ways to make sure you don’t go off track are marking a calendar with each day that you’ve meditated and keeping an alarm or reminder on your phone. This will give you a heads up and allows you to prepare for your meditation session. Another good habit to develop is meditating when you first wake up. Research has shown that you are more likely to stick to a habit when done early in the day than later in the day. Just something to think about.

Our lives can be very hectic, and this is one of the reasons why meditation is so important, but you’re going to have to make sure that you leave that hectic world behind when you are meditating. You should make an area for meditation that is very relaxing and free of clutter. Clutter can stick in our mind and it may interrupt your meditation because you’re busy thinking about what you will be doing this week or finishing that project for school or work. You’re also going to want to make sure that your meditation area is very comfortable and relaxing.

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7 Ways To Improve Your Meditation Today

Yoga exercises at the fitness club

It can be difficult to get into the habit of regular meditation. If you’re struggling to establish a routine that includes meditation or you’re finding that you just don’t seem to be getting much out of the time you are spending, then don’t give up hope. These 7 methods can help you quickly improve the quality of each meditation session you have.

#1. Mentally focus on staying relaxed. When meditation results aren’t coming out as expected, then the first reaction that many people have is to tense up. If your muscles are tense, then your meditation will be just as tense. Instead of breathing deeply, try focusing on relaxing each tense muscle, one at a time.

#2. Consider adding pre-meditation rituals to your routine. Many people have found that prayer to their preferred higher power helps to settle their soul and get them ready to meditate. Others may drink a cup of tea to relax. Take a few minutes, get yourself settled instead of diving right into meditation, and you may experience different results.

#3. Commit to staying in your preferred position. Many of us get very anxious when the world feels like it begins to pass us by. Meditation forces us to slow life down and take matters one thought or one breath at a time. In a world of instant gratification, this can be difficult to accept. Commit to staying in your preferred meditation position longer than you want to experience better results.

#4. Focus on your third eye. This ancient advice to prolong internal stamina really does work. Instead of focusing toward the negativity that the ground represents, lift your eyes towards the hills and the nearly infinite universe that lies beyond. The oldest discovered solar system is estimated to be 11 billion years old. That’s energy which flows through you right now. This realization helps to improve your overall concentration.

#5. Allow yourself to be still. It is so very hard to be still in the modern world. There always seems to be something that you could be doing. We even feel guilty sometimes if we’re not actively doing something. Sitting still feels like we are doing nothing, but we really are doing something profound. Stillness during meditation allows us the chance to find the perfection in any given moment. By allowing yourself to be still, you are changing the focus of activity from outward tasks to inward observations.

#6. Refuse to multitask. Every time you switch to a new activity, you lose time. In meditation, focus on one thing only and make it as perfect as possible. Slow your breathing and stay on that the entire session if necessary. Calm your racing thoughts. You’ll find that the results will be better because your focus will be directed toward the smaller details that make meditation better.

#7. Perfect practice makes perfect. You may begin to experience the benefits of meditation immediately, but it can take weeks to make new routines become a habit. The more you practice meditation in perfect ways, the more perfect this time will be for you.

Meditation has profound benefits, but it requires a series of conscious choices to take advantage of those benefits. Try these 7 tips today and you will be able to make the most out of the time you can commit to meditation in the future.

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6 Tips To Increase Your Happiness Right Now

Choose Happiness

Most people spend their lives waiting for happiness to happen to them. The truth is that you can choose to be happy at any moment. Happiness isn’t something that just happens though. It’s something you need to actively pursue. Below are 5 tips to help you find true happiness.

#1. Don’t be overly critical of yourself. It’s really easy to look around and feel like you’re missing out on something great. The only problem is that the grass really is never greener on the other side of the fence. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel like others might have better opportunities than you. Loving yourself means being content with your circumstances, no matter what they might be.

#2. Allow yourself to laugh. We all tend to take ourselves a little too seriously from time to time. Our thoughts sometimes demand that we take ourselves seriously. Instead of acting on each thought that you have or judging yourself on them, allow yourself to laugh at the sometimes ridiculous thoughts that you have. Life is supposed to be fun. You don’t always have to listen to the serious thoughts.

#3. Treat yourself right. It is easy to judge yourself harshly when you make a mistake. We all make mistakes. It’s going to happen. Instead of being your own worst critic, give yourself the opportunity to make things right by forgiving yourself. Being negative to the point where a person hates themselves does no one any good.

#4. Exist in each moment. It’s hard not to control everything around some days, but that’s what you’ve got to do. Let others drive the ship from time to time. This will allow you to focus more on the perfection of each moment and less on the tasks that are at hand.

#5. Make some time to meditate. Your body needs time to recharge. When you don’t get enough rest, then you start making decisions that are questionable at best. When your mind doesn’t get a break from stress and worry, then moods can become unstable and it may feel like you’re out of control. Just 20 minutes of meditation for 4 straight days can make a huge impact in your life.

#6. When in doubt, just breathe. A deep breath is always helpful. You can always come back to the task at hand after you’ve taken a moment or two. Focus on the process of the deep breath. Feel it fill your lungs and stay in control while you exhale. Keep focusing on this process and those tension knots in your back and neck might just release.

Happiness is really achievable for all of us. It is determined more by what we think than by what happens to us in life.  Start by developing good daily habits and positive thoughts to begin your journey to happiness now!

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7 New Year’s Resolutions for 2015

 

New-Years-Resolutions-2015

The beginning of the New Year is a great time to reflect on the changes we want to make and resolve to follow through on these changes. Below are 7 New Year’s resolutions that we recommend to our readers.

1. I will meditate everyday.

When you meditate everyday, you will begin to see positive changes in your life. A regular meditation practice can enhance your life in many ways, contributing to greater calmness and happiness, improving your health, enhancing your moods and even accelerating your spiritual development. Daily meditation can allow you to create peace within yourself, which then radiates outwards to others.

2. I will live in the moment.

Living in the present is to be aware of what is happening to you, what you are doing and what you are feeling and thinking. Choosing to live in the past or the future not only robs you of enjoyment today, but also robs you of truly living. The only important moment is the present moment. When you begin to live in the present, you will notice that you will enjoy life more and you will be happy.

3. I will observe my thoughts.

When you become mindful, you realize that you are not your thoughts; you become an observer of your thoughts from moment to moment without judging them. Mindfulness involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away. You will become more conscious of the different states of mind that you will experience throughout the day based on the thoughts you have.

4. I will be kind to others.

When you show kindness to somebody you bring out the best in yourself. A side-effect of brightening up somebody else’s day is that you will feel happier. When you are kind, you not only get an immediate payback in terms of a feel-good factor, you will also receive kindness from others, and in completely unexpected and unrelated ways.

5. I will be kind to myself.

Many people make the error of trying to be kind to others while not focusing on being kind to themselves. Being kind to yourself means getting your needs met, being gentle with yourself instead of critical when you feel you’re not performing at your best, forgiving yourself when the need arises instead of beating yourself up. When you get into the habit of treating yourself with kindness, it will be easier to be kind to others.

6. I will be grateful everyday.

By being grateful, you will treasure the people and things in your life. You will learn to appreciate life in a better way. Being grateful has been shown to have a strong positive impact on how happy we feel on a daily basis. If you are grateful, you will see the world differently. You will see that there are always good things behind everything that happens. You will realize that your life is wonderful, and you will be joyful.

7. I will laugh more.

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. If people can laugh more, they will be a lot better off.

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Meditation Allows You To Choose Happiness

happiness

Happy 2015! This is a world where a fast pace of life is almost demanded. A fast pace of life might be monetarily rewarding, but money can’t buy happiness. Only slowing down and choosing happiness can do that.

If you’re ready to get out of the fast lane for some time every day and slow the pace of life down, then here are some ways that you can use meditation to allow yourself the chance to choose happiness.

#1. Change the Focus of Your Results

We all stress ourselves out every day by trying to meet deadlines. It creates an enormous amount of pressure that creates negative emotions as a side effective. What if you took the approach of meeting a time-sensitive deadline and applied it to your routine of daily meditation? It would give you more time to meditate daily because it would become a higher priority. This change in focus forces a slower pace of life and that allows more perfect moments to be experienced.

#2. Let Life Unfurl In Real Time

Have you ever been so busy with a project that you completely lost track of time? You start to feel hungry after awhile, think that it’s time to get some lunch, and you look up to find that the clock says it’s 8pm instead. By making a little time for meditation, even if it is only 10 minutes during the day, you can keep track of those missed moments and enjoy the happiness that unfurls with every passing moment. Just the experience of a deep breath can connect you to a perfect, happy moment.

#3. Eliminate the Idea of Boredom

The #1 reason why people say that they don’t slow down is because a slower life is viewed as boring. A slower pace of life is just as busy as any other pace of life. The difference is in the perspective. Would you rather be “busy” trying to juggle 3 different projects at once while trying to make time for family or friends? Or would you rather be “busy” exploring the peace and joy that each moment is able to provide? It’s difficult to slow down when a fast pace of life has become habit, but when you do, you’ll be able to see all of the components of life that you’ve been missing in the fast lane.

#4. Take Care of Yourself

Although slowing life down seems uncomfortable, true discomfort comes from living a life in the fast lane. A fast life relies on unhealthy habits and defines them as success. Instead of deep, meaningful relationships, quick hitting unhealthy relationships are relied upon. Instead of a home-cooked meal, a fast food hamburger and a 64 ounce soda are consumed during the commute. We have fooled ourselves into thinking that we’re too busy to care for ourselves. We’re not that busy. Take care of yourself and you will find that time for meditation will be readily available.

#5. Change Your Personal Dynamic

You can’t be happy if you’re always treating yourself in a negative way. Don’t call yourself “stupid” or some other name. Mistakes happen. Forgive yourself.

By choosing meditation and time for yourself, you’re also making the first choice to experience true happiness. If you are willing to choose a slower pace of life, then you may just find that the experiences of life are more incredible than you could have ever imagined.

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A 2015 Resolution: Slow Down And Enjoy Life

How To Not Turn Meditation Time Into Thinking Time

It’s easy to get lost in the ups and downs of life. Days can be filled with joy, anger, grief, or relief. Sometimes that can all happen in one day. When there are difficult emotions that must be handled, we will often distract ourselves by listening to music, watching television, or having a few beers before heading home after work.

Distraction has its place, but so does love. Not a love for others, which is something that is an integral part of life. A love for oneself so that there is time to just experience a perfect moment when it is discovered. If you’re tired of getting lost in distractions or find that you’re putting others at an unequal level to yourself, then here are some ways to make 2015 the year that you learn to love yourself once again.

#1. Allow yourself to slow down. The pace of life can be extraordinarily fast. We’re almost used to a rushed existence and feel awkward when we aren’t busy doing something. Being busy, however, is a choice. Choose to slow down sometimes so that you can create a buffer from the craziness of life and potentially discover more perfect moments.

#2. Experience the quiet. There are so many noises in today’s world that it can be hard to focus on oneself. Forget about the jets flying overhead or the coworker who tells the same stories 4 times per day. Facebook notifications, emails, and texting also produce noises that make us feel forced to pay attention to them. Shut it all down, experience a quiet room, and just be with yourself.

#3. Consider meditation. If you can find some time to experience the quiet, then try including a little meditation in with the time spent there. Meditation doesn’t have to be done in a certain way. Just focus on your breathing for a couple of minutes, try to still the mind, and just be there in that one moment for as long as you can.

#4. Be compassionate. We are so accustomed to being passionate about helping others or pursuing the next opportunity that we forget to be passionate about ourselves. Caring for yourself can mean an extended lunch break, a long bath, or a walk in the park after work. It also means a willingness to forgive yourself if you feel like you’ve made a mistake.

#5. Put the fullness into mindfulness. There are amazing things happening in the world today. We get lost in the hustle and bustle of life to notice them many days, but those amazing things are always there. A child’s first bicycle ride, a completed project, or even your ability to exercise 3 times this week. Stop for a minute and experience the sights, sounds, and smells of life.

2015 looks to be an incredible year. Make it be the year where your love for yourself equals the love you have for others and you may find that life is much more complex, interesting, and wonderful than you ever imagined.

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6 Ways To Be Happy

living an exceptional life

Does it seem like everyone else is happy, but you are stuck in misery? Rather than trying to find company for that misery, you can make the choice to be happy as well. Whether you are seeking a contented life, a meaningful life, or an engaged life where you can teach others how to make a difference in the world, happiness is something that can be yours… if you’re willing to give yourself the chance to achieve it. Here’s how those who are consistently happy are able to maintain their lives of happiness:

1. They keep the company of other happy people. People are always influenced by other people in everything they do, whether they realize it or not. When it comes to happiness, you have a greater chance of experiencing a higher level of overall happiness if the people around you are generally happy as well. Joy is as contagious as a yawn, so take a few moments and enjoy the company of some happy family and friends today.

2. They are authentic. How many times have you seen advice on how to help make other people happy? Fake smiles, working hard at appearances… this can help give an illusion of happiness, but people eventually see through an illusion. Genuine happiness and care for other people makes other people feel loved, which then makes them feel happy. A warm smile that you actually mean to give someone can go a long way towards mutual happiness.

3. They work for the good of others. Sometimes called a “helper’s high,” it feels good to lift someone else up. Some people who experience happiness routinely even have the perspective that life isn’t worth living if they aren’t helping someone else in some way every day! Volunteering time to help someone actually triggers parts of the brain that create joy, which means you feel rewarded when you sacrifice something of yourself to help someone else.

4. They don’t care about time… all the time. When an activity has clear goals for success, is engaging, and it is stimulating, it is easy to lose track of time. That’s why many people call the bathroom the only place where time truly stands still! When you’re taking a long bath with a book or a hot shower that helps you relax, you can let the world slip away for a while and it really doesn’t matter what happens during that time.

5. They actively listen to others. When you take a moment to really hear what others have to say, this helps to deepen whatever relationship you may have with that person. Actively listening is a skill that takes focus, memory, and attention in order to successfully complete. When done proactively, it communicates to people that you care for them and this makes them happy. Because happiness is so contagious, their joy can then become joy for you as well.

6. They embrace some form of spirituality. Of course every form of spirituality is going to claim that it is the one truth that must be embraced in this world, but a deeper truth is that you choose the spirituality that is right for you. There is no right or wrong answer, but people who find that their life has a deeper purpose to it in the long-term scheme of this universe are generally happier because there is meaning to their existence.

It’s true that you can be happier and it’s true that you can choose this happiness for yourself. Use these tips today to embrace more joy in your life and kick misery to the curb… for good!

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