Silence: The Best New Year’s Resolution You Could Make?

sitting in silence

As 2014 became a reality around the world, millions of people used the new year as an opportunity to create a fresh start. Resolutions were made to lose weight, find more joy and happiness, work harder, spend more time with the family, and so forth. What if, however, the most powerful resolution that someone could make is to give themselves the gift of silence?

Instead of working hard at doing more, what if we worked hard to create a stillness around us and within us to maintain calm and harmony?

Can You Even Exist in the Realm of Silence?

It’s tough to go to bed at night sometimes because of all the racing thoughts. From strategies being implemented to replaying the day’s events to see if correct decisions were made, it doesn’t take long for these loud thoughts to seep into our bones and become part of the very fabric of us. By focusing on silence, it is possible to carve out a space in the loudness and make peace. Without quiet, we can never truly be aware.

We get so used to the noise that quiet becomes uncomfortable, doesn’t it? We feel like we always need to be doing something here or there! If you can get past that initial level of discomfort that comes with a goal of adding more silence to your daily routine, then you’ll find that there are many great rewards awaiting you on the other side of quietness!

Why is Silence So Difficult To Implement?

The problem that many of us have with silence is that a focus on maintaining harmony and peace requires a disassembly of the ego to some extent. We must focus on others more and ourselves less. Instead of pursuing all of our wants and wishes and using all of the time in the day to do so, we carve out spaces of time for stillness where the wants and wishes of others become a higher priority. This softens the ego, brings us each deeper inside ourselves, and the silence here allows us to better understand what we truly want out of life.

In effect, it’s about creating the condition of inner surrender. Instead of putting up walls to defend ourselves against the outside world so we can achieve everything that we believe we must, we let down those walls and let the world come into our hearts. Instead of striving for personal happiness, the goal to make others happy becomes a priority. There are no boundaries on this landscape of silence! There must simply be a willingness on a personal level to embrace it.

Silence Helps To Focus Our Own Goals

What silence ultimately provides is the chance to look at ourselves with an outsider’s perspective. By taking a different look at our lives or even just a difficult situation, our strengths can become stronger and goals can become easier to achieve because there is a greater long-term perspective that is able to be seen. If you’re looking for a unique way to make 2014 the year where everything comes together for you, then why not set your own resolution for more silence in your life?

It’s never too late to start!


The Importance of Making Mindfulness a Habit


Take a moment and think about some of your favorite times in life. Go ahead – do it right now. What do all of these moments have in common with each other? You were present in that moment to create that specifically wonderful memory. Most people don’t remember the countless hours they spent commuting to work or waiting in line to check out at the grocery store. They do remember the moments where they were mindful of the moments that were passing!

How Can I Make Mindfulness a Habit?

We’re not going to be mindful of every moment of every day. That’s a pretty tall task and one that will most certainly burn out the average person! What we can do, however, is work on becoming more mindful of passing moments that we might normally just slide right on by. It’s easy to start working on the skill of mindfulness too – here’s how you do it:

  • Commit to remembering when you open a door.
  • Commit to remembering when you sit down in a chair.

Mindfulness happens with these commitments because we’re making a conscious effort to be in more moments each day. That conscious effort is really all it takes to begin making more out of each and every day!

Observe Your Surrounding Environment Each Time

As you open each door or sit down in a chair, don’t just rush through the process of it. Take a few moments and be aware of what is going on in the environment around you. Are the kids playing and you can hear their laughter? Is there a dog barking like crazy? What kind of music do you hear playing? It is in the fine details of life that we find ourselves remembering the good times. By training ourselves to find the fine details, we’ll create more mindfulness!

Won’t I Interrupt My Life By Doing This?

Here’s a strange thing: most of the time, when you’re either walking through a door or sitting down in a chair, your thought pattern is more about accomplishing the goal of walking through the door or sitting in the chair. By adding in the fine details of these encounters, you’re not subtracting from the experience whatsoever. You’re adding to the experience because you’re more focused, being more observational about your environment.

Those stray thoughts about politics, problems you might be trying to solve, or even the meaning of life that might occur during these activities will still be there when you’ve finished your observational tasks. The difference is that you’ll remember these thoughts more than you normally would because you’re making an effort at mindfulness!

Mindfulness Is An Easy Way To Love Yourself More

In order to love others as ourself, we must first find a way to love ourselves completely. When we’re sailing through a day, ignoring the world around us, that’s not really love. True love comes from enjoying the fine details of life that are always occurring! When we can pay more attention to those details, then we are showing more love and contentment to our lives. When we can do that, we can love others more thoroughly as well.

The key to changing a life could very well be being more mindful. Practice your mindfulness today and see what details you might be missing!


Can You Experience Meditation Through Writing?

joy of writing

The beautiful thing about meditation is that you really can practice this ancient form of contemplation in virtually any task that you are doing. Some people choose to meditate while they take a shower. Others might meditate while doing some household chores. There are even people who can meditate while they’re driving to work!

As a writer, I’ve found that my mind is constantly racing to come up with new ideas, new characters to invent, and new plots that could entertain others. It’s hard to shut down my mind sometimes because as soon as one thought gets pushed back, there’s another one there to fill the gap… and it’s a good thought that needs to be written down! As I was writing down these fresh ideas one day while trying to meditate, I realized that I was able to just be there in the moment as I wrote.

I began to wonder… could you really experience meditation while writing. And the truth is that you can! You don’t have to be a professional writer to engage in meditative writing. Here’s how you can try out meditation through writing to see if it could work for you:

1. Get Yourself Into the Right State of Mind

In order for your mind to be able to begin meditative writing, you’ve got to bring some structure to the thought chaos that is going on inside your head. The easiest way to do this is through the use of deep breaths. Most people having a resting breathing rate of 12-15 breaths per minute, so take at least a couple minutes to just practice deep breathing. Pay attention to how you’re feeling during those moments as that will become the cornerstone of your upcoming work.

2. Give Yourself 10 Minutes To Write

Once you’ve relaxed your mind, it is time to sit down and write. You could use a diary, a journal, or your computer’s word processing software. What matters is that you go into the process with a blank canvas. You’re not trying to write something with fully developed characters or a plot – you’re simply writing whatever comes into your mind! There is no “right” or “wrong” thing to write during this process – allow yourself to be surprised!

3. Read What You’ve Written

After your 10 minutes are up [and make sure you set a timer or alarm to go off so you don't just keep writing!], take a few moments to read what you’ve written aloud. Try to experience the words as your mind experiences them: emotions, excitement, judgments, and expectations tend to come flooding in. Let yourself experience these things!

4. Highlight Items That Are of Particular Value

I’ve noticed that there are often phrases that have an incredible impact as I read them. By taking the time to highlight these phrases in some way, you can have them stay with you throughout the day. These really are your core wants, ideas, and desires.

Don’t expect perfection the first time you try meditative writing. There is value in practicing this form of meditation on a daily basis. Try it for yourself today and see if this form of meditation can help you better understand your mind!


How Would You Rate Your Mindfulness?


Mindfulness is an interesting concept and one that is often ignored. It is the unique ability to stay in the present, in any given situation, so that we can truly appreciate each moment for what it brings. Thanks to the busyness of the modern lifestyle, it is easy to forget that each moment in time has something special to offer each one of us. Instead of enjoy the perfection of that moment, we’re stressed out about what happened yesterday, what could happen tomorrow, and how we will manage to make it through this current day!

What If You Could Change Your Perspective?

Mindfulness doesn’t have to be something that happens all the time. With a few changes, however, you could increase your level of mindfulness as you go about the routine tasks of the day where you may just end up spacing out, daydreaming, or thinking about things that stress you out. Could you make just one of these changes to experience a higher level of mindfulness?

  • In the shower. The shower is often thought of as a common place to relax, but how often do your thoughts race to other things while you’re there in the water? Instead of thinking about what might happen on your favorite television show, take time to enjoy how you feel right there, in the moment. Breathe in the warm water vapor, feel the water on your skin, and enjoy the one place where time actually does seem to stand still.
  • During your commute. Mindfulness is often in play during the morning commute, especially if you drive to work yourself. Being stressed out because that driver just cut you off and made you spill orange juice all over yourself won’t change your circumstances. Take a moment to be mindful and realize that each person in each vehicle around you is likely feeling stressed out. They aren’t looking forward to their work day either, they might be running even later than you are, and simply be grateful for the journey that you get to take every day.
  • While you’re doing chores. Household chores are a supreme, yet necessary annoyance. You could let that anger and stress of having to do chores fuel you, or you could take a few moments and enjoy the feeling of turning something dirty into something clean. Take a moment to look at how dish soap can soften your hands. How your laundry smells like sunshine, even though it came out of the dryer. There are always moments of perfection available – even in the mundane!
  • While you’re waiting in line. Being stuck in line at the grocery store can be painful. People bump into you all the time, the tabloids are worthless, and there’s usually at least one screaming child somewhere – and sometimes that screaming child is yours! Taking deep breaths, finding a moment to relax, and ignoring the hustle and bustle to focus on how you feel at that given moment can make a long wait seem awfully short!

How Could You Be More Mindful Today?

Mindfulness can come in any moment, but it won’t come unless we are each willing to change in our own unique way. Where could you make changes today that could help you enjoy more perfect moments in life? Use these suggestions today to see what moments you might be missing!


How To Meditate Without Doing It

washing dishes

In Happy Gilmore, Happy was encouraged to go to his “happy place” when he was feeling stressed out about specific situations. In the movie, it was used as a gimmick for a laugh, but in real life, there is a major benefit in being able to locate your own happy place during the day. In a way, this allows you to meditate without meditating – you simply let your mind go to a place where you can rest and relax for a few minutes.

Instead of daydreaming during these times, turn your attention to being able to focus and you’ll be using an informal meditation process yourself! Here are some common ways people can benefit from meditation without actually meditating:

Enjoy some nostalgia. The right song can bring back some great memories. So can browsing through someone’s photo album online. As you see these visual queues, you are automatically taken back to favorite times at that place or with that person. Try taking things a step further by conjuring up a mental image of that person or remembering vivid details of a past memory. The brain remembers more things than you can possibly imagine and it really is stored up there – it’s being able to access those memories that becomes an issue. The more you practice this technique, the more you’ll be able to remember, and the more you’ll be able to find your own happy places.

Write in a journal. Writing is an effective meditation skill because it helps someone process difficult emotions and put them into a tangible format. You don’t have to be good at writing to be good at keeping a journal – what is important is the mental process that turns intangible emotions into a language that everyone can understand. As long as you are making an effort at getting what you’re feeling put into words, you’ll accomplish some meditation without meditating.

Do some chores. Sometimes we’ve got to get out of our own heads in order to be more effective at what we each do. That might mean getting some other tasks done that need to be completed, such as washing dishes, vacuuming the carpet, or even just making the bed. When we’re in a quiet space doing things that put us on a kind of autopilot, our minds are able to better process the information we’ve sent it and cope with stress.

Look up at the sky. Whether you enjoy stargazing or trying to figure out what animal shapes are in the clouds, looking up at the sky is a great way to change the perspective of things. What seems important now, at this very moment, may seem inconsequential to someone else looking in on it without jaded eyes. In gaining a new perspective of a situation, you may also find a new way of solving a stressful issue too. Why does this technique work? Just like all the other techniques do – it’s all about taking the emotion out of any given situation so that you can impartially analyze what is actually going on.


4 Ways to Be More Mindful


Most people can only devote a few minutes each day to meditation. This is a good start because a regular meditation practice will provide you with the foundation of being mindful during your waking hours. There are a few things you can do throughout the day to retain the meditative state that you picked up during your meditation.

1. Spend a few minutes monitoring your breathing.

The practice of paying attention to your breathing will help to center you during the day. Most of us are unaware of it. But once you notice it, it helps to calm the body and mind. It will help anchor you in the awareness of your body in the here and now. Throughout the day you can practice watching your breathing. When your mind starts to wander, bring it back to the breath. The more often you can do this the better you will feel.

2. Focus on the present.

People are thinking all the time. Most of our thoughts are about the past or the future. We get so lost in our thoughts that we are not enjoying the present moment. When you are mindful you realize that you are not your thoughts. When you focus on the present moment, it forces you to stop over thinking and to enjoy life. To practice mindfulness, you need to bring yourself to the present. Whenever you catch yourself with unproductive thoughts about the past or the future, you need to snap out of it and be aware of what is happening now.

3. Focus on happiness.

When we are thinking we have a tendency to focus on the negative or unhappy thoughts. When you find yourself doing this replace it with happy thoughts or emotions. Happiness is a moment-to-moment choice that you make everyday. You can be happy or unhappy. This is a personal decision you make everyday. When you focus on the positive aspects of your life, you will feel better about yourself. People who appreciate small moments of happiness, laughter and joy during the day are living life to the fullest. Remember, positive thinking is better than negative thinking. No thinking is better than positive thinking.

4. Take breaks during the day.

Even if it is for 5 minutes, get up from whatever you are doing and relax. You can use this time to practice on being present or focusing on your breath. During your break you shut off all distractions like your phones, computers, TV, etc. This is your moment to just do nothing. Sit at your chair and practice listening to the sounds around you. Be aware of everything that is happening in your environment. An important part of doing nothing is being able to completely relax. Being mindful is finding peace in the chaos of the day.


Live in the Moment

We are happiest when we are living in the moment. But researchers say we spend nearly half of our waking hours thinking instead of being present. This constant thinking also makes us unhappy. “A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind,” said psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard University in their article to Science magazine.

Human beings are possessed with a remarkable mind. But the way most people use it is for mundane and negative thinking. When we are thinking, our thoughts are about things that happen in the past, things that might happen in the future or things that will never happen. All of this thinking makes us unhappy.

When we are constantly thinking about past and future events, we are not living in the present. This mind wandering not only makes us unhappy but can rob us of the joy of being focused on what is happening now. “Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people’s happiness,” Killingsworth says. “In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.”

Below is a TED talk from Matt Killingsworth that is worth watching.


10 ways to clear your mind – part 2

This is a continuation of the previous article. It is difficult to know what you should do or be when you have so many competing thoughts in your mind. Below are more proven ways you can clear your mind.

6. Do something you enjoy

Sometimes the best thing you can do to clear your mind is to change your focus. Get involved with a project or hobby. Lose yourself in an activity that completely captivates you even for a few minutes. When we are doing something that we enjoy, we are living in the moment. We are the happiest when we are focused on the here and now. Everyone has things they enjoy to do. Some examples are gardening, reading, watching TV, cooking, and listening to music.

7. Exercise

Vigorous exercise has a great ability to clear the mind and keep us focused on what we are doing. It is amazing how good you can feel after a good workout. Any form of exercise will from swimming, running, yoga, tai chi, walking to biking. If you can exercise outdoors, it is even better.

8. Do something for someone else

The fastest way to be happy is to do something for someone else with no expectation that they will do anything for you in return. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen, give a homeless person a dollar or just give a warm smile to the cashier where you shop. There are countless ways to help others. By helping others, we feel good about ourselves. When we are feeling good, we tend not to ruminate on the past or worry about the future.

9. Spend time alone

It is hard to clear your mind when you are constantly in the company of other people. It is difficult to separate your thoughts from others when you are in such close proximity. Time alone gives you the opportunity to clear your mind and to weed through a lot of thoughts. This allows you to get to the heart of what YOU really think as opposed to being told or influenced by others and their opinions. It gives you time to reflect on what is important in your life. You will be pleasantly surprised how quiet your mind can be when you start to spend time alone.

10. Write it down

If your mind is running a thousand miles an hour and you are just not clear in your thinking, I suggest you should write it down. Getting your thoughts out on paper is a great way to clear your mind. Through the act of writing it down, you will start to experience relieve and perhaps resolution on the things that have been on your mind.


10 ways to clear your mind – Part 1

It can be a real challenge to clear your mind living in today’s modern world. It is important to have a clear mind because it is one of the secrets to happiness. A clear mind is by nature tranquil, calm and quiet and exudes a great force of positive energy. Hence, it is not easily disturbed by negative thought patterns. That is one of the reasons why a clear mind is a perfect stranger to boredom, since boredom often stems from a lack of positive energy.

But there are other benefits as well. You will begin to notice an increase in your capacity to absorb information – a real help if you are studying or learning a new subject. You will get more satisfaction from your work and the various tasks you busy yourself with during the day, because your concentration allows you to be fully absorbed in the work itself without your mind distracting you with its usual worries and anxieties.

Indeed, you will discover that work itself is joy, activity is joy, movement is joy. Aside from that, you will also be able to accomplish much more in the span of a single day, for you will complete each task much faster if you are concentrated and focused.

In this blog, I will discuss the five things you can do to have a clear mind. In a future blog, I will write about the next five.

1. Practice meditation

Through the practice of meditation, you will find that you will have less and less random thoughts during your waking hours. Notice your thoughts before you meditate and after you have meditated.

2. Focus on your breath

This is a simple technique that you can do anywhere and at anytime. It requires no special tools or preparation. By focusing on your breath for a few minutes a few times throughout the day, you will have less stress and anxiety. Your mind will be clear and you will be more relaxed.

3. Live in the present moment

Most of our thoughts are about anything other than what we are doing right now. I am sure this has happened to you. You will be driving to some destination and not realize it until you have arrived. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to our thoughts. We might be thinking about what we are going to have for lunch and then all of a sudden be thinking about our upcoming vacation. You can play a game with yourself by bringing your mind back to the present every time it wanders away.

4. Focus on the positive

Most of our thoughts are negative and self-destructive. Whenever you have a negative thought, you must not ‘own’ it. You must try to disassociate yourself from these negative thoughts otherwise it will bring you down into a lower state of mind. An easy way to remove negative thoughts from your mind is to replace it with something positive and uplifting. If you have never done this before, it will take practice.

5. Spend time in nature

When you just can’t clear your mind, one of the best things you can do is to go for a walk in nature. Go to a place where there is not too many people. You will find that your thoughts will begin to slow down when you are surrounded by a natural environment. Nature also has an ability to rejuvenate and re energize us. We have lost our ability to get in touch with nature by living in this modern technological world. It is important to spend some time in nature as often as you can to connect yourself with your true spirit.


Capturing the moments of your life

Most people go through their day without being fully aware of this present moment. You can easily observe the mind’s habit of escaping from the present moment for yourself. Just try to keep your attention focused on any object for even a short period of time. You will find it is nearly impossible because your mind is wandering to some thought or image that has nothing to do with what you are focusing on.

The best way to capture the present moment is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It helps to have a focus for your attention, an anchor line to tether you to the present moment and to guide you back when the mind wanders.

The breath serves this purpose exceedingly well. Our breathing can help us in capturing our moments. To use your breath to nurture mindfulness, just pay attention to it as you breathe naturally. That is all that is required to snap us back to the present moment. Just keep on returning to the breath when the mind wanders. This simple breathing exercise will bring you inner peace and calm during your waking hours.