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How You Can Meditate Even When You’re Busy

How many times have you heard that you should meditate for at least 20 minutes per day? And how many times have you laughed at that?

I’m often reminded of the old saying about meditation that goes something like this. “You should meditate for 20 minutes each day, unless you feel you’re too busy. Then you should meditate for an hour.”

Although we all live busy lives in our own way, we can find time to meditate. Here are some of the methods I’ve used to make sure I find my 20 minutes per day.

#1. Become a morning person.

I’ve found that the best time of day for me to meditate is in the morning. I’m not a morning person, but I could never really find time at the end of the day to squeeze in some meditation. By making sure that I meditate right away every morning, it gets done. Worst case scenario: you set the alarm clock for 20 minutes earlier.

That’s doable, right?

#2. Keep a timer.

When I first started to meditate in the morning, the first thing my mind would always think about was, “How long do I have to be meditating. I have things to do!”

So I started to set a timer. That relieved my mind of the “burden” of reminding me how much time I might have left to meditate. In return, it made the process of finding my focus faster and easier, making my meditation time more rewarding.

#3. Don’t feel bad if you think about your to-do list.

Ever been told that your mind should be blank? That you must always focus on one point only? And then what happens when you start to think about what needs to get done during the rest of the day?

You feel bad. I know that I sure did.

I’ve learned over time that my mind likes to wander a little. I’ll think about the tasks or chores that need to get done. This is okay as long as I acknowledge them and then let them drift away. If I refuse to acknowledge a thought, it becomes a screaming menace that will not be ignored.

#4. Deep breathing will be your best friend.

Even on the days when I really can’t find a good focus during meditation, I feel better if I’ve been able to do some deep breathing. If your thoughts stay focused on your to-do list and won’t let go, then just breathe deeply for as long as you can. There’s a good chance that you’ll get back into the rhythms of meditation.

If not, you’ll still feel better afterwards.

#5. Be forgiving of yourself.

Mistakes are going to be made. I had many days where I felt terrible because I tried to meditate and it didn’t feel like I accomplished anything. Or there were days when I didn’t hear my alarm and I had to power through my morning routine just to make it to work.

As with any new habit, there will be hiccups along the way. Forgive yourself if a mistake is made and just try again the next day.

When you stick to it, meditation can happen even when the days seem super busy. Follow these steps and you may just be able to successfully meditate.

How do you make sure to fit in some meditation time when you get busy? What tips have worked the best for you?

Here’s What Will Happen To Your Body, Mind & Soul When You Meditate

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For most people, meditation is a practice to help calm the busy mind. While this is true, we often overlook the other useful benefits that meditation has on our body. So what really happens to the body when one meditates? Our meditators at BookMeditationRetreats.com share with you 5 amazing things that will happen to you when you meditate!

Your Immune System Strengthens

Regular meditation practice will increase your body’s immune system by boosting the presence of antibodies in your bloodstream. This increase in antibodies helps the body better neutralize viruses and bacteria that attack. A study by UCLA showed that HIV positive patients who meditated regularly better maintained their level of CD-4 cells – white blood cells that protect the body from infections – than those who didn’t.

You Improve Your Breathing

As you meditate, you quiet the mind and focus on the breath.  This helps you come into the present moment instead of focusing on your challenges and stress. As you focus on your breath, your breathing becomes slower and more regulated. Your resting heart rate also slows down. A slower heart rate and regulated breathing will lower the risk of a great number of diseases including high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. There are many breath-focused meditation practices that you can try out to attain this benefit!

You Get Better Sleep 

With the constant stress in our fast-paced world, many of us suffer from insomnia and our lack of sleep has become detrimental to our overall health and well being. Meditation will help you get better sleep as it brings about relaxation, which will enable the body to sleep. Stress inhibits the production of melatonin hormones – a neurochemical that is essential for sleep – making it difficult for us to sleep at night. As meditation brings about relaxation and reduces stress, our bodies will be able to produce melatonin naturally, helping us to get that deep, invigorating slumber we all crave for!

You Actually Want Healthy Food

A big part of meditation is mindfulness and understanding how your body works and what nourishments it needs. When you begin practicing mindfulness, you will slowly see that your mindfulness practice will encompass all aspect of your life, including your diet. Instead of junk food, you will opt for healthier options. As they say “The body is the temple where the soul resides in”.

Furthermore, much of our over-eating habits stem from emotional eating. We tend to overindulge when stressed or anxious. Meditation practice calms the mind, allowing it to enter into a state of calm and quiet. Eliminating stress will inadvertently eliminate our unhealthy eating habits, leading to a healthier lifestyle!

Your Outlook on Life Changes for The Better

By being present and focused on the here and the now, you learn to let go of the past and the negative emotions associated with it. You also learn to not worry about the future and all that might be. You start living your life in the now, appreciating and enjoying your environment as it is.

Meditation also teaches us to take note of our emotions, and let it come – not suppressing them. While we allow our emotions through, meditation also teaches us to not react extremely to them. It gives us the ability to experience but not grasp onto our emotions.

About

Elaine Clara Mah

Elaine is a Contributing Writer for BookMeditationRetreats.com. She is a firm believer in meditation and sets aside at least an hour a day for silence.

Why Meditation Is Your #1 Must Have As an Entrepreneur

Businessman-Meditating

The need to stay focused has never been greater than it is today. I know when I’m online, I’ve generally got 6 tabs up on my internet browser, maybe some music playing, and the email chime going off on a regular basis. It’s nice to be so connected, but not so nice when I’m trying to meditate. As an entrepreneur, I need to have some “me” time to keep my sanity.

This is why I’ve really come to embrace meditation as my #1 “must have” item every day. It has provided me with numerous benefits that I believe have helped my bottom line.

#1. Meditation helps me think. I’ve lost count of the many times that someone has said meditation has helped them to be more creative. Creativity is needed for a start-up business, of course, but there are times when a good thinking session is also needed. There is a definite difference in my cognitive thoughts after I meditate when compared to the times when I might miss a meditation session or two. It helps me be able to think on my feet.

#2. Meditation gives me more energy. Before I embraced meditation, the first thought on my mind when I woke up was “caffeine.” It started with one cup of coffee during breakfast. Then it moved to three cups of coffee per day. Then I moved to energy drinks. Pretty soon, I found myself having two or three energy drinks per day. On a long day in Las Vegas during an entrepreneurial convention, I had 5 energy drinks and couldn’t sleep for 3 days. That’s when I knew something had to change.

Meditation was the answer. It helped me break my addiction to caffeine over a couple of weeks. Now I wake up, feel energized after meditating, and that lets me conquer whatever challenges may come my way.

#3. Meditation helps me sleep better. Maybe this is because it helped me to kick caffeine to the curb, but honestly I never did sleep very well before I started to meditate. Even as a kid, I’d be listening to my radio under my pillow for hours after everyone went to bed. Now I have a more consistent circadian rhythm where I can lie down, relax immediately, and fall asleep within minutes.

#4. Meditation helps my feelings of good health. I had an English professor back in college who liked to say this one phrase over and over: “Your health is what you decide it will be. If you decide that you are well, then you will be well. If you decide to be unwell, then you will feel like you are sick all of the time.”

That has really stuck with me over the years, but it never really made sense to me until I started meditating. During meditation, all of the stress triggers I face during the day disappear for awhile. There’s not as much anxiety, worry, or even anger – and trust me, if things don’t go my way, the first thing I feel is anger! Meditation has helped find moments of clarity, which then creates more stability throughout the day for me.

#5. Meditation helps me stay productive. Because I’m more focused, I can ignore the distractions that might be trying to get my attention so I can get my work done every day. There were times in the past where I couldn’t work for more than 5 minutes without needing to do something else. Now I’ll sit down to work and before I know it, 2-3 hours have passed and my output surprises even me.

There are many things that are important to have as an entrepreneur, but I believe meditation is the one “must have” part of your routine that must be there. Have you embraced meditation as an entrepreneur? I’d love to hear about what has happened to you since you started meditating on a regular basis.

3 Scientific Benefits To Begin Meditating Today

Meditating man having checkup from doctor

Meditation is a buzzword that seems to be everywhere these days. There also seems to be an emphasis on mindfulness meditation. I’ve been encouraged by this push to increase one’s personal well-being, but there is a difference between meditating just to do it and meditating well.

You can’t just sit in a studio during a meditation session and expect to experience several physical and mental benefits because you’re there. It takes hard work, consistent practice, and a willingness to forgive yourself when you fail at it.

Trust me. I know. More than once I’ll catch myself going over the emails I need to get a reply sent on while meditating instead of focusing on my breath or some other single point of focus.

Yet if you can push through those initial struggles, I think you’ll find that these 3 scientifically proven benefits of meditation could be something that could change your life. Now here’s the best part: you really only need to meditate for 10 minutes per day to start seeing these benefits over time.

Do you have 10 minutes you could spare today? If so, these benefits could be yours.

#1. Meditation helps to stabilize your emotional mind.

There are some articles floating around the internet right now that advocate the practice of mindfulness meditation as a replacement for anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, other other mood stabilizers. Meditation is a good addition to a treatment plan, but it can’t solve every problem.

What you can expect from daily meditation is a reduction in anxiety attacks and a lessening of depression-related symptoms. Some people feel a complete withdrawal of these symptoms over time. Because mindfulness meditation forces you to be in this present moment at all times, there are fewer worries about the past or the future.

I’ve found this has really helped me to focus on what I can do today instead of worrying about what I didn’t do yesterday or what I might have to do tomorrow.

#2. Meditation helps to reduce “comfort” habits.

It’s easy to turn to food when you’re feeling down. It wasn’t that long ago that I’d turn to a bowl of cereal or a cookie or something to make myself feel better. Self-soothing is a very real necessity, especially in a world where we are all connected to one another almost constantly. Food gives us some quiet time, but it also can contribute to a larger waist line and other health issues if self-soothing eating becomes binge eating.

Meditation helps to reduce the need for self-soothing from other habits because it does the same thing. It’s tough in the first few days of mindfulness meditation because you must confront those negative feelings. When you do, there is a world of clarity awaiting you on the other side. It’s something so powerful that I really just can’t put the experience into words. You have to reach it yourself to understand.

#3. Meditation creates positivity.

I can say that I feel like I’m more consistently happy these days with my daily practice of . What’s nice about this benefit, however, is that it is always there. Even at the end of your first meditation session, you’ll experience a unique happiness that only mindfulness can provide.

As this joy expands, you’ll notice that it becomes easier to set negative thinking aside. There are fewer instances of negative self-talk that happen. Dare I say it – your frown gets turned upside down.

Putting meditation into practice can be difficult, especially in the first few days of starting. Give yourself plenty of space, budget 30 minutes if you can so you can put 10 minutes of meditation into practice, and then adapt or move as circumstances require. You cannot fail when it comes to meditation. You must simply practice.

Have you experienced the benefits of meditation in your life in some way? I’d love to hear about some of your experiences, both positive or negative, and what you learned from them.

Problems with Negative Thoughts? Think Meditation!

running-meditation

How effective can meditation be in preventing negative thoughts? In young adults with a depression diagnosis, when meditation was combined with aerobic exercise just 2x per week, there was a 40% reduction in negative thinking patterns and other symptoms related to their diagnosis.

What the findings show is that when mental and physical training is given to people with depression or those who suffer from depression-like symptoms, the skills they learn allow them to prevent negative thinking from overwhelming their consciousness.

It has been widely known that both meditation and exercise on their own have been able to provide people with these benefits. By combining them, researchers have discovered that not only does brain activity begin to synchronize, but there is a striking improvement in their symptoms. These results are even seen with individuals who have been diagnosed with a major depressive disorder.

What Happens When Meditation and Exercise Are Combined?

Participants in the study started with 30 minutes of focused meditation. This was then followed by 30 minutes of exercise. To maintain their focus, participants were instructed to focus on their breathing only if they felt like their mind was drifting to either the past or the future. When practiced over a lifetime, these therapies can therefore improve a person’s mental and cognitive health.

And here’s the best part: it doesn’t cost you anything to meditate or get some exercise.

On a practical level, you won’t be having someone in your ear directing you to refocus your attention. When your mind begins to wander, you’ll have to consciously direct it back to the present so it registers your breathing. If you’ve just started to meditate, you’ll quickly realize this can be difficult to do.

The mind is a rebellious thing. It doesn’t like change. It craves distraction. You will hear sounds, smell things, and even visualize things when you first start meditating when there are no other distractions present. This happens because you are tuning into the rest of the world around you – perhaps for the first time. It’s a lot of information and the mind can refuse.

How To Stay Focused On Your Breathing

If you feel like your mind is wandering, the first thing to do is acknowledge this fact. Give your mind permission to be looking toward the past or the future. Understand that memories or forecasting is a natural part of the human experience. Then direct your attention back to your breathing.

Over a period of 2-3 weeks, you’ll find that it becomes easier to direct your attention back to the present. The mind begins to accept its environment and doesn’t look for distractions. You’ll begin to experience moments of clarity. As the research shows, when you can follow up meditation with aerobic exercise, you’ll be able to take control instead of letting your negative symptoms take control of you.

This Is the Problem To Work On During Meditation

PeacefulMeditation

You’ve finally gotten the kids to bed. The house is quiet, the world seems to be at peace, and you’ve got the chance to meditate. You settle down into a comfortable position, begin to let your body relax, and you get control of your breathing like you’ve been taught to do. Your mind begins to wander around a bit and you start to explore. Then BOOM! You remember that you’ve got to get the dishwasher started and – oh yeah – there’s still lunch to make for the kids tomorrow and did you remember to add fabric softener in with the last load?

You get frustrated at the thoughts that begin to race and for the fact you forget to do a couple things. Your mood is gone. The peace and tranquility aren’t coming back! This is where most people find themselves in the world of meditation… and it doesn’t need to be that way.

Having Thoughts During Meditation Is Natural

The issue of this frustration that can shatter a mood comes from the expectation that people are taught during the beginning of their journey toward meditation. Many teachers, articles, and books encourage people to eliminate all thoughts so they can explore the subconscious in a pure state. This might be the end goal of the journey, of course, but who begins a journey of a 1,000 steps on step #998? No one.

To expect thoughts not to creep in during a meditation is an unreasonable expectation. It’s ok to have thoughts about making lunch or wondering about the fabric softener. How you react to these thoughts is what is important.

Instead of Frustration, Look For Resolution

If you’ve got racing thoughts during a meditation session, the first thing to do is to just take another deep breath and relax. It’s your brain doing what it does naturally! It’s really ok. What you need to do is work on finding a resolution to these thoughts so that they will go away. If you forgot to make lunch for the kids, create a plan of action that will quickly resolve the thought. If you don’t remember putting fabric softener in, will it really be the end of the world?

Thoughts that bring on self-doubt are really thoughts that generate negative self-talk. The frustration isn’t aimed at the tasks. The emotion is geared inward because you are considering yourself a failure. This is what causes the meditation cycle to break, which just reinforces the negative stereotype that is developing.

Stay open to the thoughts. Listen to them. Resolve them if you believe they could lead you into a negative state of mind. Be casual about the entire experience, but most importantly, be honest about it with yourself as well. If you are accepting of yourself, then you will create more stability in each meditation session over time as you continue to build up your mental strength.

Your journey will take time. Allow yourself to develop, grow, and explore and you’ll experience even new depths as you continue to meditate!

Book Recommendation: Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier

Thanks!

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – G. K. Chesterton

A few years ago, I came across Dr. Robert A. Emmons’ research, which states practicing gratitude can make you happier. I was very intrigued by the link between gratitude and happiness. So, I got a copy of his book, Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, for further study.

Why do I like about this book?

1.    This book is supported by scientific research that proves practicing gratitude can make you happier as much as 25 percent

2.    This book includes a list of useful tips to practice gratitude.

The last chapter of this book is dedicated to the practice of gratitude. If you truly want to embrace gratitude as a way of life, apply 10 simple ways to practice gratitude outlined in this book. For example,

  • Keep a gratitude journal: spend a few minutes every day to write down things and people that you are grateful for. The study shows keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks can result in better sleep and more energy.
  • Remember the bad: remind yourself a particular trying time that you went through. Remind yourself things could be worst.
  • Use visual reminders: you can write a note with “GIVE THANKS” on it. Post this note at a visible place in your house to remind yourself to be grateful throughout the day.

3. Exercise gratitude in trying times

One chapter of this book is dedicated to describe how some of 9/11 survivors and hurricane Katrina survivors endured these trying times by embracing grace and gratitude.

How has practicing gratitude changed my life?

By keeping a gratitude journal, I focus on counting the blessings in my life.

I recognize my life is not perfect. However, I am overwhelmed by blessings life has bestowed on me. Gratitude journal also reminds me to focus on counting the blessings in my life instead of focusing on the things I don’t have in my life.

Practicing gratitude makes me happy.

One of my life purposes is to be happy. It is encouraging to know happiness can be easily attained by keeping a gratitude journal.

Writing thank you emails makes me and others happy.

I love sending thank you emails to my colleagues to congratulate them on a job well done, or to thank them for helping me with my work. I enjoy writing thank you emails because I feel the goodness radiating from my being when I write them. And the recipients of thank you emails always find a way to reciprocate in a relative short time.

In Summary

I sincerely hope you will enjoy this book as much as I do. It is an easy read. Please leave us a comment and let us know how you like this book and how practicing gratitude changes your life.