Why Failure Is an Option During Meditation

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You’ve decided that meditation is something you’d like to start. You’ve heard numerous people talk about its scientific benefits and read about how it makes so many people happy. Who wouldn’t you want to have something like that in their lives, right?

And then you try it for the first time and what seems like an easy process turns out to be far from it.

Most people experience a rush of thoughts during the first sessions of meditation. It can be almost overwhelming. Instead of feeling focused and happy, you feel confused and exhausted. In these times, it feels like we have “failed” at our efforts to meditate.

Instead of shrugging your shoulders and giving up, consider this: even the masters of meditation find that they have a rush of thoughts and a wandering mind up to 90% of the time. So what if your meditation wasn’t perfect?

Humans are imperfect. Don’t give up. Failure is an option and here is why.

Moments of Clarity Mean More Than You Think

In the average meditation session for someone who meditates hours per day, every day, they might have about 2-5 minutes of complete clarity. Imagine seeking out 120 seconds of complete clarity in 1-2 hours of meditating. Now when you take 5-20 minutes to meditate, it seems more understandable that there would only be brief, momentary windows of clarity.

The fact is that the human brain is one of the most active and efficient computers in existence today. It doesn’t really ever shut off. Instead of trying to modify how it operates, we should learn how to make it even more efficient at what it does. That is how meditation helps.

Through practice we are able to achieve more. Perfection may come in moments, but it will not magically appear every time we meditate. Some may call that failure. You should call it progress.

8 Simple Tricks to Help Calm Your Mind for Meditation

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Meditation can be a frustrating experience when you first get started. One of the most difficult issues that many beginners face is being able to calm their minds down enough to begin meditating in the first place. Although you don’t need a clear mind to meditate, being in a calm state can help you find more success with this practice. Here are some simple tricks you can start using today.

#1. Stick to a routine. Even if you can only meditate for 5 minutes today instead of your usual 20 minutes, it’s better to meditate at the same time every day to establish a routine. Your mind will automatically associate this time with meditation and begin to calm itself.

#2. Have a specific place. Although you can meditate virtually anywhere, it can be helpful to meditate in a specific place every time. Just as your mind associates a specific time with a feeling of calmness, a specific location can do the same thing.

#3. Think about your triggers. Minds aren’t calm because they’ve been triggered by some sort of stressful situation or moment of anxiety. Write down your before and after moments while meditating to explore these triggers so you can initiate coping mechanisms if necessary to calm down.

#4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of yourself. Are you actually in a place where you can meditate right now? Sometimes we get so amped up with our responsibilities in this busy world that we need some extra time to slow down. It’s ok to ask yourself if you’re ready to go… and it’s ok to have the answer be “no.”

#5. It’s not about others. No one meditates in the exact same way. It can be helpful to have a mentor guide you when you first start meditating, but follow your instincts. Assume that what you’re doing is the right method of meditation for you. This can eliminate much of the self-doubt that tends to stop people cold in their tracks.

#6. Try something new. And if you feel like what you’re doing isn’t working, then don’t be afraid to try something else. A different technique could unlock the calm environment your mind is wanting to experience.

#7. Connect with others. A community of people who are focusing on improving their calmness is a supportive network that can help lift each other up when needed. There are numerous ways to connect today, from social networks to community meet-ups to online forums – you can even start your own trusted circle if you wish.

#8. Record your most powerful insights. Even if your mind does not remain calm, there is still good that can come from each meditation session. Record each insight that you glean from your sessions so you can look back on each one as a success. Stress comes when failure is what is perceived, but calm comes from seeing these insights.

Calming your mind for meditation can be a challenge. With every success, however, you will be able to build up your ability to create calm and stay in that peaceful place with every meditation session. These tricks will help you get started on that journey today.

5 Meditation Mistakes We All Make From Time to Time

How To Not Turn Meditation Time Into Thinking Time

Meditation doesn’t have to be perfect to be beneficial. Yet there are times when we make some common mistakes while meditating that can hold us back from the full potential each session has to offer. You can make these mistakes and still find meditating to be peaceful, relaxing, and invigorating, but imagine what it would feel like if you could limit or eliminate them? Here are the 5 most common mistakes we all make from time to time while meditation.

#1. Trying to create your own mood.

You sit down. You breathe deeply and begin to focus on the rhythms of your breath. Then you begin to expect that you should feel a certain way simply because you’re meditating. The truth is that some meditation sessions can make you feel tired. Coping with emotions, difficult thoughts, and other issues takes a mental toll, which can result in physical symptoms. Instead of trying to create your own mood, let the energies around you create the mood for you.

#2. Attempting to stop all thought.

This is admittedly a mistake that is often promoted as something that should be attempted by other meditation advice columnists and bloggers. “Blank out your mind,” they’ll say. “Focus on one clear point.” Thoughts come at random, which means you can’t blank out your mind 100%. Don’t try to stop all thought because that will remove the observational components of meditation. Label the thoughts you experience instead, file them into an appropriate section for further review, and repeat.

#3. Allowing distractions to interrupt your meditation.

People meditate in many different ways. There’s no one “set” of rules that must be followed. Some people meditate with music. Others use nature sounds. There’s people who turn on the shower in their bathroom to meditate because the sound of the water acts as white noise for them. Distractions will pull you out of a meditation session, but what is a distraction for one person could be what is needed to meditate for another.

You should make sure your phone is turned off or set on silent. Don’t leave your email notifications up. Turn off any notifications you might receive on your tablet. Then just experiment with ways to limit other distractions so you can get the most out of your meditation time.

#4. Skipping meditation for a day or two.

Meditation has to become a priority for it to be helpful. If you feel like its ok to skip meditation for a couple of days, then what you’re really doing is establishing a new routine that doesn’t include meditating. It’s better to meditate for 5 minutes if you can fit in a 20-30 minute session rather than skip it completely. If you skip meditation enough, you might find it difficult to re-establish your routines when you do feel like you’ve got time.

#5. There is no support or accountability.

Having a trusted mentor support your efforts at meditation can really keep you on point. If you know that you’ll have to tell this mentor that you missed meditation, it can be the prompt needed to start meditating. Mentors can also answer personal questions you may have, encourage new ways to meditate, or help you avoid the common mistakes that everyone tends to make from time to time when they try to meditate regularly.

These common mistakes happen. Don’t judge yourself harshly simply because you made one. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back into your routines. When you do, you will find that it is much easier to avoid future mistakes.

7 Steps To Loving Life Every Day

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Far too often, we treat our lives as if it were a ship passing by the world blindly at night. Instead of looking at the twinkling lights on the shore, it is possible to be actively involved in the daily events of our lives. Instead of waking up one day and wondering what happened to your life, you can wake up every day and look forward to what might happen.

These 7 steps are proven to help you love life more every day.

#1. Disconnect

3 out of 4 kids sleep with electronics on in their room. For adults, the figure is closer to 90%. Electronic devices are nice to have as they connect us to a wealth of information and entertainment, but they can also disrupt sleep patterns. Texts, calls, or notifications at night can even wake you up. Disconnect the electronics overnight and give yourself time to breathe.

#2. Embrace

Our senses help us to experience the world in unique ways. Sights, smells, and sounds can help us to embrace new cultures, learn new things, or find new favorites. Touch helps us to be in contact with one another. Taste, which includes the sixth sense umami, has elements of all the other senses. Slow down, experience what each sense has to offer, and you will find a world of possibilities is open to you.

#3. Perfection

Each moment we experience has a small piece of perfection to it. In good times or in tragic times, there is always something good that can be taken out of each moment, although sometimes we don’t recognize those moments until they have passed us by. Actively engage each moment, seek out its perfection, and you will find that there is much more to love about life.

#4. Passion

Being busy is a state of mind. You don’t always have to be busy. You can choose to make time to pursue a passion. Include a new hobby as part of your daily routine for the next several weeks. Do something you’ve always wanted to do. As you explore your passion, you’ll be exploring a bit of yourself at the same time.

#5. Engage

What has happened in the past is history. What will happen in the future is unknown. What we have is a moment, right now, that we can control. Anxiety and worry are always going to be part of our lives, but they don’t have to be a controlling part of our lives. Take control, engage your worries, and then resolve anything that might be bothersome. You are in control of where your ship sails, but only if you’re steering.

#6. Delegate

Power comes from control. In today’s world, this leads many people to want to control the world around them. This causes people to eventually burn out because the only thing in this world that each person can control is themselves. By learning to delegate the control we feel we must have over others, we can embrace the joy that is often surrounding us at any given moment. This allows us to love what life has to offer.

#7. Contentedness

There will be good times. There will be bad times. Instead of going on the rollercoaster ride of hills and valleys, find a way to be content every day in some way. Certainly there will be challenges and stresses which will create moments of doubt in our contentedness, but these can be overcome. Accept life as it is and you may discover that it is already amazing!

Loving life every day isn’t always easy. With these steps in mind, however, life doesn’t have to be something that just sails by one day and you discover it is gone. Allow yourself the opportunity to experience everything that this universe has to offer you and you will find that falling in love with life in new ways every day is one of the best adventures we have.

8 Life Changing Resolutions For 2016

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Resolutions are something that many people make every year. We attempt to set goals that can create meaningful changes in our lives, but 90% of people will give up on their resolution by the end of the first month. Here are 8 life changing resolutions to make for this year, which can be started at any time throughout the year, so that you can reach your goals consistently.

#1. Embrace the differences of other people.

What makes us different as humans can make us stronger. Unfortunately far too many people try to make others be just like them instead of embracing those differences. Instead of making assumptions, experience the many ethnicity and cultures this world has to offer. The end result? There will be much more compassion in your life.

#2. Make the most out of your emotions.

Anger isn’t a bad thing. It is the choices that get made when angry that lead to negative life experiences. Fuel your emotional energy into positive things. Take time to calm down if you experience anger that is overwhelming. Catch yourself before you lose control and you’ll have fewer emotional icebergs to navigate.

#3. Build bridges with people.

It’s easy to carry a grudge, especially if someone has wronged you on purpose. Righteous anger is one of the most difficult emotions to handle. This year, try to build bridges with others instead of burning them if you feel you’ve been wronged.

#4. Focus on appreciating what others do around you.

On the other end of the spectrum is the random compliment from a stranger. Appreciation from people we don’t know lifts up the spirit as much as righteous anger brings it down. If you see someone doing something great, then appreciate them in that moment. You may just start a chain reaction of appreciation.

#5. Be happy when others succeed.

We’re “always keeping up with the Jones’ family” in today’s world, it seems. We want that promotion. That raise. That new house. The fancy iPhone. When other people get these things, it can feel like a punch to the gut. This year, try to choose happiness when you see others succeed instead. If we think of humanity as a community, we all succeed when one person experiences success.

#6. Meditate.

If you can meditate for 20 minutes every day this year, you’ll change everything. Maybe you can’t start at 20 minutes right away, but you could build up to it. Try adding 1 minute per day to increase your time. You won’t believe the difference it could make.

#7. Find a way to be content.

Gratitude isn’t looking at others who don’t have it as good as you and trying to feel blessed. It is an attitude of contentment in both the good and the bad that life has to offer. When we can accept our circumstances in life, then we can begin to change them. Every moment has something perfect to find within it, so try to find those perfect moments this year.

#8. Stop playing the blame game.

One of the hardest lessons to learn in life is that when we blame other people for what we think is wrong in this world, there’s a good chance that what we’re really doing is shirking our own responsibilities for what is going on. Take ownership. Take a good, hard, and long look at yourself. Pointing fingers only works if you’re pointing at the truth.

For the next year, self-reflection will lead to self-confidence. Diversity will lead to strength. Being content will lead to happiness. What are your resolutions for the coming year?

5 Ways to Reduce Stress in 2016

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Around the first of the year, most of us begin turning our attention to ways we can improve our lives. That is why January is considered one of the most stressful months of the year. Just trying to set and keep our New Year’s resolutions can be quite stressful. However, stress can happen at any time. Maybe it’s the meeting you’ve got with your boss at work tomorrow. It might be the roast that you just burned that has you dealing with stress. Whatever the cause of your stress might be, these 5 methods are proven to help you reduce the amount of stress you have in your life on a daily basis.

#1. Follow Your Passion

When your career path follows something you’re passionate about, it is a lot easier to combat the stress which comes with any type of work we do for a living. The love you have for what you do makes you mentally more resilient than if you’re just working to earn a paycheck. It’s also important to include habits you’re passionate about outside of work as well so you don’t feel like you’re 100% on call for professional demands.

#2. Avoid Toxic People

Toxic people are around you every day. Unfortunately we can’t always avoid these people because they might be our family or friends. What you can do, however, is take a vacation from that toxicity. Take a break and allow yourself to decompress. Don’t let them talk to you, comment on your Facebook posts, or interact with you in some other way. Once you’ve had a chance to get away from that negativity, you can make a better decision about how often you wish to interact with these folks in the future.

#3. Simplify

Having clutter is a guarantee that stress will be lurking around the corner. Clutter comes in many forms. You might have far too many clothes in your closet to maintain. You might have dozens of emails that are cluttering up your account. There might be a handful of voicemails you’ve been putting off hearing. Simplify your life, take out the clutter, and there won’t be as many worries that can cause you stress in the future.

#4. Embrace Your Creativity

We often judge our own efforts at creativity against those who are better than us. Maybe you won’t be the next James Patterson or the next Picasso, but your creative efforts are just as important as theirs are. The goal isn’t to stress yourself out over the fact that you’re not making millions of dollars from your creative endeavors. You should be having a creative outlet simply because it is an easy way to deal with difficult emotions that can be the foundation for stress to build upon.

#5. Learn To Say No

It’s hard sometimes to tell people “No” when they need a favor, but you’ve got to think of yourself first and them second. You can’t really help someone if you aren’t at your best. You’ve got enough stress to handle without trying to bear the stressful burdens of others at the same time.

These methods are proven to help you remove stress from your life. It takes time to develop these habits, so get started today and you’ll begin building a wall of resiliency that helps you refuse to have more stress in your life from now on.

How Leadership Improves With Mindfulness Meditation

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Executives are embracing mindfulness meditation in droves because they are seeing real benefits from this ancient practice in their lives. Not only does it make stress levels manageable for them, but it provides them with a number of additional advantages which are able to make them more effective at what they do for a living.

These same benefits and advantages also apply to everyone who may be in a leadership position. Here is why mindfulness meditation is quickly becoming a billion dollar industry and why you should consider adding this to your lifestyle in 2016.

#1: It makes you resilient. Mindfulness helps people to center themselves. When people are able to stay balanced, then anxiety levels are naturally reduced. Consistent balance makes people become more resilient against circumstances that can cause others to lose their composure. It gives people an outlet to find their own place of peace. Just 20 minutes of calm can make a world of difference.

#2: It boosts emotional intelligence levels. Have you ever had a co-worker or a supervisor who always seemed to know what you were thinking or feeling? There’s a good chance that this person was regularly practicing mindfulness meditation. Being mindful of each moment in each day brings us an awareness of how others are feeling around us. This allows us to work better in teams together because we can focus on our strengths and not be stepping on sensitive emotional cues.

#3: It enhances creativity. Mindfulness meditation taps directly into the creative centers of the brain. When the mind becomes bogged down by stress, anxiety, or responsibilities, then one of the first things that shuts down is the creative parts of the mind. Even fatigue can be enough to stop creativity. Mindfulness brings creativity back because it gives the mind a real chance to rest.

#4: It can improve your relationships. Stress creates tunnel-vision. It makes people miss all of the things that are happening around them because they’re so focused on one solitary negative element. When your mood is boosted because of mindfulness meditation, then the connections you have with others are increased as well. The end result is a stronger connection that is focused on compassion instead of self-preservation.

#5: It improves your focus. During the average day, you face an average of 20,000 decisions. Many of these choices wind up being distractions that take you away from work that needs to get done. Mindfulness meditation helps you choose to stay focused instead of checking Facebook for status updates or reading through your list of emails again.

So why is mindfulness meditation so difficult to include in the modern lifestyle? Because it is often seen as another task which needs to be completed. We refused to find time for it because we see life as already being “too busy.” Why add another responsibility? Yet when mindfulness meditation is embraced, the results can begin to be experienced in as little as 4 days with 20 minutes of daily meditation.

This is why mindfulness meditation enhances a person’s leadership qualities and abilities. If you’re not including this practice into your daily routine, then give it a try this week. You might just find the results you experience to be life-changing.

5 Essential Habits That Help You Find Your Zen

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There are days when it seems like peace can never be found. Forget about finding your zen. You’re just trying to get through your day without letting your stress completely overwhelm you, right? These essential habits, when added to your daily routines, really do help you find your zen in even the most stressful of situations.

1. Just Do One Thing

Today we multi-task without even realizing what we’re doing. I’m listening to Billy Joel as I’m writing this. Although Uptown Girl is a great song, I’m actually doing 3 things at once. I’m listening to the music, writing these words, and singing along to the song in my head. Finding your zen means doing just one thing at a time. Pick a task, do that task, then move onto the next task. It is an elegant form of time management.

2. Always Give 100%

You hear athletes say all the time that they’re giving “110%” or “150%” or some other strange number to describe how they gave it their all in a game, during a play, or while at practice. It is an expression which really means you have 100% to give. If you’re only giving 80% of your passions to a project, step it up to give it everything you’ve got. By giving your all, you will focus your physical and mental energy to the task at hand.

3. Learn to Let Things Go

We must be willing to take care of ourselves before we try to complete our singular tasks throughout the day. A healthy mind and healthy body lead to more productivity and peace. To find your zen, you must be willing to let go of the extra tasks that can interfere with your well-being. Make sure that your schedule allows you to take time for your core needs. Have a cup of tea. Read a book. Go out with friends. This will allow you to see difficult tasks in a more creative way.

4. Make It Simple

Life doesn’t have to be complicated. We have many things we feel are necessary to complete every day, but far too often we confuse our wants and needs for the opposite. Simplify life so that you focus on only the essentials that are needed for a good quality of life. Eliminate the items in life that are non-essential, but rob you of precious time.

5. Feed Your Spiritual Life

You give yourself physical nourishment every day – even water counts. You take time to keep your mind healthy. Yet far too many people feel like there isn’t time to feed their spiritual life. We’re not talking about a specific religion here. We’re just talking about what your faith, your observations, your experiences, and your moral coding means to you. It is important to explore these aspects of life just as it is important to drink water or eat healthy foods.

Being able to find your zen can help you accomplish more every day. It can help you find peace in a world full of chaos. Adopt these habits into your daily routines and you may find that the stress which has bothered you for so long has finally melted away.

6 Tips To Give the Gift of Mindfulness This Year

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The holiday season is filled with plenty of stress. From finding the perfect gift to dealing with your uncle’s terrible jokes, there are multiple ways that the holiday season can break us down. This is why giving others the gift of mindfulness this year, even if they don’t know that they’re receiving it, can bring you a higher peace as you go about your day. Here are 6 easy tips to begin giving this gift.

#1. When Driving

You’re stuck in traffic during the morning commute. Some dude just cut you off and made you slam on your brakes. There’s a pedestrian in the crosswalk when you’ve got the green light and they’re just standing there, staring at you like it’s your fault that they can’t move out of the way. Driving can create a lot of stress. By giving these strangers the gift of mindfulness, you can let this moments of frustration go. Let’s face it – will you remember what happened on the road today even a month from now?

#2. While Eating

Grandma might be making her syrupy sweet tea. Your father might be camped out in front of the TV watching football, spreading cheesy puffs everywhere. Your plate might be full of turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, and everything else. Instead of inhaling the foods just so you can get through them, try to find one thing you appreciate about every meal, snack, and treat you get. There’s even something great about Grandma’s tea, even if you feel like you need a visit to the dentist afterward.

#3. While Speaking

One awesome way to give the gift of mindfulness is to practice active listening. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to try to interrupt someone because there is an important point you have to make “right now?” Hear what people are telling you, repeat it back to them so you know you’re on the same page, and you will have a delightful experience.

#4. While Relaxing

It’s fun to zone out sometimes in front of a favorite movie. You might be eating snacks during the big game without a second thought. Relaxing is the perfect time to give the gift of mindfulness. Enjoy how your body relaxes. Observe how others are relaxing around you. Take a few deep breaths if you’re in the middle of a football triple-header. It will bring everyone closer together.

#5. While Working

Your boss is giving you the stink eye. Your mother wants you to help wash all the holiday dishes even though you cooked most of the meal. You have a project that is overdue and your client is breathing down your neck. Mindfulness in this circumstance means putting yourself into the shoes of the other person. See life from their perspective. Feel what they are feeling. This understanding can then give you the boost of energy you need to get through any task.

#6. While in the Moment

There is no limit to your giving the gift of mindfulness. It can be extended at any time. If you feel stress, anger, sadness, or other difficult emotions or circumstances are close, then utilize what mindfulness can provide.

Of course you will be controlling and experiencing each moment when you give the gift of mindfulness. The end result is that your interactions with others will be calm and consistent. Don’t let the varying stressors of the holiday season get to you. Use mindfulness to get through the tough times and you will indeed have a happy holidays.

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