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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.

7 Ways You Hold Yourself Back From Meditating

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So here it is: I don’t always feel like meditating. There are other things I’d rather be doing. Sometimes it’s just an excuse, but sometimes the need to do something else is very real. Yet if I let this become a new daily habit, I find that the only thing holding me back from meditating is myself.

Here are some of the habits that I’ve found that can hold me back. By identifying them, I can stop them and hopefully you can as well.

#1. The Power Struggle

Instead of meditating, I could be watching Netflix. I could take a walk. I could go to the store. I could even clean the house. Instead of focusing on my breathing, I find myself thinking about many other things. Resisting this struggle makes it even worse. Try to acknowledge the thoughts and move on.

#2. I Give Myself an “F”

Do you grade your actions and decisions every day? I know I sure do. That includes grading my meditation time. If I feel like I’ve failed, then I give myself an “F.” The problem with this is that consistently bad grades make me feel like I should just give up. No one is perfect, so no meditation session will be completely perfect. Forgive and keep moving forward.

#3. Practice the Preaching

I’ve talked a lot about meditation to others over the years. Sometimes I feel like that is more important than actually meditating. Sometimes the best way to practice what is being preached is to just sit down and do it. Let others see you meditating and they can learn just as much as when you talk about meditating.

#4. That Moment of Awesomeness

That moment when I achieve total clarity is a feeling beyond compare. It’s also a dangerous trap. Not every meditation session brings clarity. If I compare those moments with my moments of complete success, it makes me feel like I’m inadequate in some way. Try to take every day as it comes and embrace what it provides to avoid the unhealthy comparisons.

#5. The Environment

The truth is that there isn’t a perfect environment for meditation. There will always be a distraction. I’ve found that purposely meditating in noisy, imperfect places can help me to avoid the distractions that can stop me when I’m in my preferred location.

#6. The Bandage

I’m feeling stressed out, so I’m going to meditate. Ever had that thought? I sure have. It’s that type of meditation that robs us of the real benefits we can achieve. Meditation is not designed to be 100% reactive. It’s a proactive stress reducing creativity enhancer.

 #7. Scheduling an Agenda

Because of the benefits that meditation can provide, it’s easy to approach my meditation time with a to-do list. I might want to plan out some new content here or schedule out my evening so I have an itinerary of fun. Yet, strangely enough, these checklists hinder what meditation can accomplish because it requires judgment. I’m telling my subconscious what I think is best instead of listening to what I’m actually trying to tell myself.

There’s nothing wrong with avoiding meditation for a day or two. You can meditate in whatever way best suits you. What I’ve found is more important to focus on are the ways I hold myself back from my full potential. These are the things I’ve identified in myself. What about you? I’d love to hear about how you hold yourself back during your times of meditation and what you do to solve that issue.

5 Ways You Can Make Meditation Easier Today

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The problem I have with meditation is this: there always seems like I could be doing something better. I won’t lie. Meditation can be incredibly challenging for beginners, long-time practitioners, and even experts. I often wonder if I’m making things harder than they need to be, even if it’s unintentionally.

To counter this issue, I’ve been exploring ways to make meditation become a little easier. If the whole point of meditating is to find clarity and work on the various aspects of personal health, then there must be a few ways to stop the daily fighting I have with my mind to make that happen, right?

Maybe you’re feeling the same way and would like to find some ways to make meditation be a little easier to do on a daily basis. Here are 5 ways that I have found to be helpful and hopefully they will help you as well.

#1. Prioritize It

We make time for the most important things in our lives every day. Think about it. If you have time to check Facebook for 15 minutes every day, then there is time to make 10 minutes for meditation and save 5 minutes for social sites. I’ve found a few pockets of time where I felt like I was being productive, but what I was really doing was wasting my time doing next to nothing. Once I made meditation a priority, I found there was much more time for it.

#2. Take the Pressure Off

There’s a lot of meditation advice out there. I find a lot of it comes flooding back to me while I’m trying to meditate. It makes me feel inferior because I’m not meditating in the same way the advice is recommending. Once I decided to find my own road instead of trying to travel along the journey of another, the anxieties began to ease. Being yourself while meditating really takes the pressure off.

#3. Smile.

I used to look at meditation as a “task” that needed to be completed. Instead of treating it like a fun activity. I decided to kick back and relax more during each meditation session. If a funny thought came my way, I’d smile. There is something beautiful about a world of silence if you give it half a chance. I’ve found a few moments of no emails, no texts, and no Facebook notifications is very refreshing.

#4. Take It Slow

I like good things to just happen for me. This is the nature of our world today. Like everyone else, I love instant gratification. If I want a snack, I get it. If I want to watch a movie, I stream it. This is the attitude I brought to meditation. I expected stress to melt away instantly… but that didn’t happen. Sometimes I felt even more stressed out after meditating then I did going into the session. Learning to take it slow took a lot of time for me, but it was an investment that has paid off well for me.

#5. Staple the Pants

Good intentions never helped me to meditate for a single minute. There must be some willpower behind the desire to meditate. This means you’ve got to ignore the other pressing engagement you might have and just staple your pants to the floor and do it. I fought this for a long time. Then I realized something one day: my negative thoughts were just thoughts. I was so focused on what was negative or what was positive that I lost sight of the fact that a thought doesn’t have to be acted upon. It can be recognized, categorized, and then filed away.

Meditation still isn’t easy for me some days. There are times I’d rather be outside enjoying a beautiful day, watching a favorite movie, or doing anything else but meditating. Yet with these 5 methods helping me out, I’ve found it has become a lot easier to focus on meditation and I hope they can help you as well.

How My Life Changed After 2 Months of Meditation

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Meditation has always been a bit of a struggle for me. I can always find an excuse as to why I can’t meditate. There might be a project at work that is due. There are distractions outside which are ruining my focus. I might be hungry because I missed lunch. I guess I justified these excuses because I thought that everyone was doing the same thing as me.

One day I decided that I’d had enough of the excuses. I was going to knuckle-down, be consistent, and start justifying why I needed to meditate every day instead of figuring out ways to tamper down the guilt I was feeling about not meditating.

This helped me to successfully meditate every day for 2 months straight and here’s what I learned from that time.

#1. Meditation is about quality, not quantity. I used to think that you had to hit a 15-20 minute threshold for meditation for it to be beneficial. This was one of my main struggles. I’d feel like I had failed if I didn’t make it long enough. As I started meditating every day, however, I discovered that some days I could meditate for 5-10 minutes and feel just as good, if not better, than longer meditation sessions.

#2. My way is the best way. I also used to read a lot of meditation advice blogs. Many of them would talk about this way to meditate or that way and how those methods would provide the most benefits. After 2 months of meditation, I can safely say that my way to meditate is the best way. Your way to meditate is the best way. It is impossible to define a correct method of meditation because you and I may be very different people with different needs.

#3. Every reward matters. To encourage myself to make it each day, I started a good old-fashioned sticker chart. Every day I successfully meditated, I’d put a sticker on the calendar to indicate my success. Once I’d hit 3 days in a row, this type of reward started to having some meaning to it. After 14 successful days, I started feeling good about myself. Two straight months of stickers is better than any trophy I could have received. Find your motivation and reward yourself after every success and it will change everything.

#4. Clarity can be fleeting and that’s okay. There were days when I felt like the clarity I was receiving through meditation would never end. Then there were days when clarity might appear, but flirt deceptively just out of my reach. Not every meditation session is going to be perfect. I learned that the ability to forgive myself for my perceived meditation failures was one of the most important things I could do. Instead of giving up hope and feeling guilty about it, I could focus on finding my meditation groove once again.

#5. Habits are more important than I ever thought they were. Showing up to meditate every day became a habit. It’s a routine that I now feel empty without. I discovered that there is power in not giving up, in staying the course, no matter how challenging it may feel on any given day.

Meditating for 2 months straight when I first started seemed like a daunting task. Sometimes it felt like it would be impossible to complete successfully. I even contemplated about how I could write something about how I had failed and turn it into some kind of positive experience. Now I know that if you can get past the excuses, the guilt, and the negative self-talk, meditation can be very rewarding.

Did You Know That Mindfulness Actually Changes Your Brain?

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Mindfulness has become more than just a buzz word in the business world. It is one of those things that busy managers and executives must do in order to keep their brains healthy and sharp. Not only does it help to purge toxic stress from the body, but mindfulness also helps to support self-regulation, promote decision-making capabilities, and provide better overall resilience.

It is a unique practice as it can merge spiritual or religious preferences into our regular daily life habits and all it takes is a commitment to the process. When you follow through with that commitment, research shows that you can literally change your bran thanks to mindfulness. Here’s what happens.

Your ACC Demonstrates Superior Performance Levels

Compared to people who do not regularly meditate, mindfulness provides the anterior cingulate cortex [ACC] with higher levels of control. It is this region of the brain, located just behind the frontal lobe, which controls impulsiveness, aggression, and decision-making. By having a superior performance in this area of the brain, people are able to stay more calm, more level-headed, and make consistent decisions.

The ACC is also believed to be associated with learning. When we make decisions, whether right or wrong, there are lessons that can be taken from the events which occur. With mindfulness, more knowledge about each event can be maintained, allowing for people to better adapt to conditions that may rapidly change. This is why managers and executives are adopting mindfulness more every day. It allows them to “think on their feet.”

Mindfulness Also Affects the Hippocampus

The issue we all face with the hippocampus is that it is literally covered in receptors for cortisol. That’s the stress hormone which is produced when there’s something that is really bothering us. Constant exposure to cortisol can lead to chronic stress, which can have a devastating effect on the body. Depression, PTSD, and other physical symptoms can all be present, which makes it difficult to continuing functioning in a high-demand environment.

Yet with mindfulness practiced on a regular basis, those cortisol receptors get a break. Because there is less of the stress hormone, there are fewer bothersome symptoms produced by the hippocampus. You’re able to regulate emotions better, have higher levels of pain tolerance, and even have a more developed sense of self.

Now here’s the good news: you can practice mindfulness wherever the day happens to take you. Being aware in the present moment in a non-judgmental way can help you be “you” when you’re at your very best. The evidence for this is quite strong.

Research still continues to occur within this field about mindfulness and the results continue to be compelling. As we understand more about the underlying functions of our brain, we’re discovering that mindfulness is a strong foundation to build our future upon. If you’re struggling at work, at home, or in other areas of life and have not tried mindfulness, then look into what it could do for you today.

The results may be quite surprising.

How To Make Meditation More Fun

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 Here’s an undeniable fact: we were born to meditate. Just look at all of the different positions a toddler utilizes as they play and you’ll see this is true. Through their giggles and innocence, there is a moment of perfection that can still provide us with clarity to use in our own meditation sessions we attempt as adults.

We can bring the fun back to meditation so it becomes easier and more effortless than ever before. These are the 7 ways you can make that happen starting today.

#1. Think about what you have instead of what you want.

We’re always focused on things that we want. It’d be nice to have some extra cash or to have a better job, right? Yet so many of us already have so much and we never even think about it. A loving home, food on the table, clothes on your back, and a chance to earn a paycheck are some things that not everyone has the chance to have. Try to find a way to be more content in what you have.

#2. Don’t force yourself into a specific meditation position.

The Lotus position is just one way you can meditate. It is important for you to be comfortable and in an environment that limits distractions above anything else. Close your eyes when you’re in the shower. Sit back in your office chair and take some deep breaths. Any inward attention is a form of beneficial meditation.

#3. Identify thoughts instead of trying to suppress them.

The brain doesn’t just shut down as you start to meditate. It continues to flood thoughts to your consciousness, eager for some attention. Ignoring those thoughts just causes them to become louder. Identify each thought, label them if necessary, and then go back to seeking clarity. In time, those racing thoughts do slow down.

#4. Don’t force it.

Meditation just happens, but we must be willing to allow it. So often we find that meditation isn’t fun because we’re trying to create a specific outcome. Let the experience flow naturally and do your best to remove any personal expectations about your experience. Be at peace with whatever happens and you may find more moments of clarity start coming your way when you’re not trying to force yourself into a specific model of meditation.

#5. Get into a rhythm.

The point of focusing on our breathing during meditation is to establish a metronome for the experience. Once the rhythm is established, it becomes easier to focus on connecting the conscious and subconscious mind so they can talk to one another. Take a few gentle breaths, let the distractions fade away, and then listen to what your body has to say.

#6. Take care of yourself.

If you’re not treating your body with respect, then it isn’t going to respect you when you’re trying to meditate. Simple things, like brushing your teeth 2x per day or getting a little extra exercise, can really help your mind to maintain its focus during a meditation session.

#7. Make sure there is a purpose to what you are doing.

Meditating for the sake of doing meditation isn’t really a purpose, but that’s what so many people are doing today and that’s why they’re not having any fun. Think about a specific goal you’d like to achieve by meditating. It could be lower stress levels, better clarity, or a chance to ponder thoughts you normally don’t get a chance to think about. Find your purpose and you’ll find your fun.

Meditation can be difficult. There may be days when you don’t want to meditate at all. This is going to happen. Yet when you’re following these 7 methods to make meditation more fun, you’ll find that there is a desire to make more time for it. Get started today and you’ll be able to open up brand new worlds within your mind.

7 Proven Ways to Still a Racing Mind

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One of the most frustrating aspects of meditation is trying to calm down a mind that prefers to stay active. It is the main reason why many choose to just give up on meditating altogether. Before you call it quits, you might be surprised at how fast your mind adapts to a calmer experience by incorporating these tips into each meditation session.

#1. Be consistent with your timing. Your mind likes a routine. It starts to complain if you do something outside of that routine. If you can meditate at the same time every day for 7-10 days, you’ll find that the complaints will begin to subside.

#2. Create a space that is yours. When your mind is in an unfamiliar environment, it wants to analyze it. This curiosity then creates racing thoughts and observations about what is going on. The opposite happens in a space that is inherently familiar. By creating a space for meditation that is yours, your mind is able to rest.

#3. Write down your thoughts before you start. The mind likes to worry a lot. It begins to think of other ways it could be productive besides meditation. It will start creating lists in your head of what you should be doing. If you can write down these things before you start to meditate, you’ll find that your mind becomes much more clear.

#4. Cut yourself some slack. Why do people stop meditating when their minds want to continuously race? Because they think they’re doing something wrong. The fact is that almost everyone experiences a racing mind at some point during a meditation session. Your goal is to experience moments of clarity instead of 20 straight minutes of pure bliss.

#5. Try something new. There are literally hundreds of different meditation styles that can be tried today. Don’t assume that you have to be in the lotus position chanting mantras because that’s what you’ve always pictured meditation as. You can meditate in any way that is comfortable to you.

#6. Take a moment after each session to be thankful. Review the insights you were able to glean from each meditation session. Look for periods of time that you would describe as being successful. Allow yourself to linger in whatever peacefulness you’re able to experience so that your mind will want to come back to these feelings once again. Most importantly, being thankful for the chance to renew your body, spirit, and heart in addition to the mind will help you to appreciate these moments of peace even more.

#7. Hold yourself accountable. Skipping one meditation session means you could be on the journey toward stopping it altogether. By holding yourself accountable, meditation becomes something you’ll do even on the days when you feel like skipping it. If you can do so through your own willpower, then great! If not, seek the counsel of trusted family and friends for the gentle reminders you may need.

If meditation was super easy to do, then everyone would be doing it every day without hesitation. Some days, it almost feels like torture to spend 20 minutes trying to meditate. If you can work to keep your mind comfortable and calm, then those racing thoughts will begin to disappear over time. You’ll then be able to discover more about yourself than you ever thought possible.

Having Trouble Meditating? Here Are 5 Tips To Get You Started

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You sit down in a quiet room, anticipating the joy that will come from a good meditation session. You settle into place, close your eyes, and begin to focus on your breathing. Then your stomach rumbles, telling you about the lunch you forgot to eat. The kids start arguing about who gets to be the first player today. Your phone rings somewhere. The neighbors start yelling at their dogs, who just found a squirrel to bark at.

Yeah. It’s going to be one of those days.

Everyone has trouble meditating every now and then. Distractions just enhance this trouble. Yet with these tips, you can get started on your next session no matter how much trouble you’re having right now to achieve your meditation goals.

#1. Give It Time

Set realistic goals that will help you build up some endurance against the distractions that threaten your meditation time. Give yourself a goal of 5 minutes of actual meditation each day when you first get started and then slowly build up the amount of time you allow yourself. Do your very best to meet this time even if the distractions are tough.

#2. The 10 Second Rule

It’s not about food that hits the ground. It’s about how long you allow yourself to feel guilty or experience regret as you begin to meditate. Everyone makes mistakes that they’d like a “do over” on. When the mind begins to calm down, these emotions surface because we’ve suppressed them for so long. Don’t ignore these difficult feelings. You also don’t want them to dominate your meditation session. The 10 second rule for each specific emotion will help you find some balance.

#3. It’s Not a Task

Meditation often fails because it’s something that gets put on a checklist of chores that need to get done. This is why so many feel like they can skip a meditation session. When meditating is put up against a deadline at work, cooking dinner for the family, and the other responsibilities that fill up a day, it will lose almost every time. Think of meditation as a source of contentment instead of a job and you’ll find that you can get much more out of each session.

#4. Priorities

People often make themselves become busy so they don’t have to think about the problems that are going on in their lives. Work becomes a distraction. Social sites like Facebook and Instagram, TV shows, or doing Netflix and chill for an evening are distractions. Meditation eliminates that distraction. If you are spending 45 minutes per day on Facebook, you’ve got time to meditate.

#5. Stay Motivated

There are times when people need to rest. There are also times when people need to find something that motivates them to keep going. Why do you want to meditate in the first place? What are the advantages you expect to receive when this habit becomes part of your life? When you can stay motivated and keep your focus on what meditation means to you, then it will one day become a habit that you’ll feel awkward without.

It’s easy to be skeptical about meditation when there are distractions aplenty in today’s world that split your mental focus. If you can commit to a specific time each day and practice these 5 tips, then the troubles you’re having with meditation today can begin to fade.

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.

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