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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Examining the Science Behind Meditation

science of meditation

Many people start the practice of meditation because they’re looking for ways to reduce stress. As they continue on their journey, they begin discovering that there are some numerous other health benefits that help to improve health, happiness, and even social activities. The science behind meditation is strong, so here are some of the top benefits that science has noticed over years of study.

#1. It decreases pain. In a study where participants were given just 4 days of meditation training, pain and unpleasantness was decreased by 57%. The intensity of the pain that was felt was 40% lower than normal. For the average person, this means being able to take control of that joint pain which comes along when the weather changes or those chronic injuries that cause pain every day. There is evidence that meditation can help with emotional pain as well.

#2. It increases the amount of the brain’s gray matter. Meditation has been known to alter the way the brain looks at various areas of life, but did you know that it can also increase the size of the gray matter you have? In a study that evaluated the minds 44 people who practiced meditation on a long-term basis, they found more than just physiological or psychological control being exhibited. Those who meditate regularly had larger volumes of material in their right hippocampus.

#3. It improves your memory. In a study that measured verbal fluency, working memory, and visual coding, people who had not meditated before were given just four sessions of meditation or guided assistance and then assessed from their measured baseline. Just 4 days of meditation were found to improve executive functioning, help people be able to enhance their ability to stay focused, and even improve spatial processing of the mind.

#4. It decreases inflammation at the cellular level. Did you know that stress could be the cause of your body’s inflammation? Science has shown that when people are experiencing stress, they have cellular inflammation at the neurological level that can create a large host of problems. By instituting a regular course of meditation over the course of 8 weeks, those who focused on mindfulness at least once per day were able to reduce the amount of inflammation that was in their bodies. This leads to a number of additional benefits, from emotional stability to better sleep at night.

#5. It increases compassion. It is widely known that when people are exposed to negative situations on a consistent basis, they will typically become immune to them. Sometimes this causes people to look out for themselves first and not bother having empathy for others. With the practice of meditation, however, there is evidence that with one daily session is enough to alter altruism and change the neural responses that occur when there is visual evidence of suffering.

The science behind meditation is profound. The benefits of meditation are clear. There’s only one question that remains: are you ready to start meditating today?

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Holiday Gratitude

Christmas decoration.Winter

Millions of mothers have been teaching some fundamental truths to their children for generations. Things like being content in what you already have and seeking to help out others who need it are much better ways to spend the holidays then partaking in a Black Friday quest to fight off four other people for the last toy on a shelf, right? Scientists have now confirmed what moms have already known: the key to making a happy holiday even happier is an attitude of gratitude.

Why Is Gratitude Such a Powerful Action?

Some might call gratitude an attitude or a perspective, but it really is a verb. The action of gratitude means that a person is actively involved in their personal contentment. Instead of wanting more or comparing themselves to others who have more things, joy comes from what is available around that person. In other words, one could say that gratitude comes from an attitude of giving thanks in all things.

It isn’t always easy to be thankful. Telling someone who is mourning because they lost a loved one 5 years ago during the holidays that they should be thankful is insensitive. Being thankful when there is not enough food to eat tends to get lost in hunger pains. People need to find their thankfulness on their own.

It isn’t your job to make sure that others are thankful. It is your job to pursue your own thankfulness and joy. That’s where gratitude tends to get lost. We all tend to get concerned when others don’t seem as grateful as we see ourselves as being.

How Can We Find More Gratitude?

Finding gratitude is important because a number of health benefits can be achieved. People who are content and grateful have lower blood pressure, lower levels of overall stress, and even lower overall levels of risk for cardiovascular disease development.

The problem that many people face is in finding how to become more grateful for their life circumstances. Times are still tough for families, even though the Great Recession ended in 2009 for most countries. Wages are static. Debt levels are fairly high. Homes are being lost. That’s why starting a journal that emphasizes gratitude can become an important tool to use.

Journaling at least one item that has caused you to be grateful over the course of the day can begin to change your perspective of things. It forces people to look at items throughout the day that they are grateful for having, experiencing, or knowing about. Soon the simple things of life tend to stand out more, like the heat from a working fireplace, the warmth of a sweater, or the joy of friends coming over to play games.

We can all accomplish more with just a little more gratitude. If you are looking to make happier holidays happen this year, then make gratitude the emphasis of your efforts and you will find great success.

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Here’s How You Can Meditate On Your Most Impatient of Days

meditation impatient

Did you know that only 1 out of every 10 Americans has meditated at least once in the last 12 months? It’s a practice that is pretty easy to ignore or forget about because of the busy lifestyles that so many people lead today. Who wants to take 20 minutes to sit on the floor and explore a quiet world when there is money to be made, movies to be watched, or video games to be played?

What we often don’t realize about the modern lifestyle is that we are distracting ourselves from what really matters. By watching movies or playing video games, we’re not coping with inner feelings that can be rather difficult at times. Those frustrating moments with the boss or a customer who treats you like a second-rate citizen: those difficult emotions need to be explored and understood so they can stop causing stress.

Meditation might seem like it is for those who have great patience, but it benefits the impatient people of this world more than anyone else. Here’s how you can get started right now.

#1. Schedule 10 minutes for yourself. Meditation doesn’t require hours of searching for inner peace. Just 10 minutes of deep breathing in a quiet room without the distractions of modern life can bring profound changes to your day. That’s right – you’ve got to say no to Facebook and your phone for a little while.

#2. Pick your favorite spot. You don’t have to sit on a hardwood floor in a cross-legged position in order to meditate. You can sack out on your sofa in quietness, close your eyes, and allow yourself to get comfortable. Our favorite spots are a natural relaxation point as it is, so your mind will automatically be inclined to want to start meditating.

#3. Follow the mental highway.  An impatient mind is a mind that will begin to create lists, start plausible scenarios to examine, and begin to worry about what to make for dinner all at the same time when quiet comes along. Take a few moments and recognize where all this busyness originates and try to keep your mind on the task at hand – namely meditation. As you practice this, you’re also increasing your skill of concentration.

#4. Find a focus point. It can be very difficult to stay in the present when you first start to meditate. Picking a point of focus and then staying there can help you achieve a higher level of mindfulness that can only come from meditation. Even counting your breath or the ticks of the clock in the room can help you stay focused on the here and now.

#5. Allow yourself to be frustrated. Being impatient means you live in a perpetual state of frustration as it is, so meditation is not going to be any different. Allow yourself to be imperfect and encourage yourself to keep trying. You will plan a grocery list when you start meditating some days. You might focus on your boss and the 10 best ways to throttle that person when you see them. It’s natural.

When you make meditation part of your regular routine, even if just for 10 minutes, life tends to get a little easier, one step at a time. Start today and you might just be surprised at how quickly impatience can turn into mindfulness.

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Could Regular Meditation Slow Down the Aging Process?

Man Meditating on a Rock at the Beach

Entropy is a normal component of life. As processes are used, they begin to wear down, slow down, or age. From a cellular standpoint, entropy occurs because the protective caps of the cells, called telomeres, begin to shorten as they wear down. When the telomeres become too short, the cells malfunction and can no longer divide.

People have an enzyme that helps to slow down this process, much like enamel helps to slow down or even prevent tooth decay. Called “telomerase,” it protects the protective caps on the cells. If you have a lot of stress in your life, then there is a corresponding amount of lower telomerase in your body. The result is that up to 10 years of your life could be lost because stress has reduced the cellular protections your body needs.

Less Stress Means More Telomerase

It’s a logical progression: if there is less telomerase in people who have stress, then there will be more telomerase who have lower levels of stress. Research from Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn into this phenomenon proved that regular meditation actually slows down the aging process. When stress isn’t as present in a person’s life, their telomeres are better protected. This creates improved cognitive abilities, better overall health, and a longer potential for life.

Dr. Blackburn believes that if people had more knowledge about the essential functions of telomeres, they would be more willing to embrace meditation as part of their daily routine. Although environmental and situational factors still could create variations in the results, studies that Dr. Blackburn have conducted show that meditation does indeed have the power to change a life and slow down the aging process.

You Don’t Need To Meditate For Long Periods of Time

In a small pilot study that occurred in Northern Colorado over the course of 3 months, it was discovered that just 12 weeks of regular meditation could increase the amount of telomerase activity in the body by up to 30%. Another study that was conducted at UCLA showed that just 12 minutes of meditation per day for just 8 weeks showed a 43% increase in telomerase activity compared to those who chose not to mediate at all.

Listening to relaxing music or doing something you enjoy doesn’t count as meditation, according to the research of Dr. Blackburn. It has to be some form of meditation. It could come from chanting, mindfulness, or just regular traditional methods, but it needs to be conscious meditation.

If you can spare 12 minutes out of your day, then you could extend your life by up to 10 years. That one amazing fact is enough to inspire many toward the practice of regular meditation. If you haven’t gotten into a routine of meditating daily as of yet, then keep working at it. Don’t allow distractions to get in the way because the rewards, as Dr. Blackburn have shown, are well worth the effort.

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