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Tag: meditation

It’s Snowing

In the winter it’s always snowing – in inch here, an inch there. We grab our shovels and set to work. But the snow doesn’t leave. We just push it around so it is in a more convenient place for us. It’s not until the rising temperatures of Spring that the snow finally melts and flows off, seeking ever lower ground until eventually joining the vastness of the sea. Or it simply evaporates away for another try at it.

I think our thoughts can act as a similar phenomenon. They constantly rain down, and we have to push them aside to get done what needs to be done in any given moment. But they are still there. Nagging at us from just outside our lines of vision. Or maybe they are too overwhelming to even push them aside at all – ever piling on, one atop the other.

We need a mental Springtime – a time to clear away these worries, thoughts, and fears. For good.

Here’s what works for me. I grab a notepad and find a quiet spot. Sitting there, I focus on my breathing. I count my breaths, one through ten and back again, and I try to clear my mind. One by one those nagging thoughts pop into my head. When that happens, I pause my count, write the thought down on my notepad, and consider it cleared. Back to the breath, rinse, and repeat. Soon the entirety of those noisy thoughts are contained in front of me on that notepad, and now I have something I can work with. I don’t have to worry about forgetting something important because I have it all right here. I can act on it, schedule it, or just throw it away.

I Love Meditating

I love meditating. It calms me down. It wakes me up. It organizes my thoughts and focuses my mind. In this post I’ll be sharing my specific meditation practice. I don’t personally come at meditation from a spiritual viewpoint – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with meditative spiritual experiences, but I just use it as a tool for my mind and mood.

The thing to keep in mind when practicing meditation is that there is no failure. Hell, taking one intentional deep breath leaves you better off than you were before. There is no reason to not try.

When I meditate, I try to sit full-lotus (cross-legged with each foot resting atop the opposite thigh). If I’m not limber enough that day, I’ll sit half-lotus (same thing, except only one foot is atop the opposite thigh). Holding my body in these semi-stressful positions really helps keep me alert. If you can’t pull off a lotus, try it kneeling down or sitting in a chair.

I face a blank wall (no visual distractions), and I don’t close my eyes. I don’t really focus my eyes on anything though – more just middle-distance gazing. I keep a notepad or my phone next to me, and I set a timer for fifteen minutes. Here we go…

All you do is focus on your breaths. Breathe deeply. I count to ten – breathe in (one), breathe out (two), breathe in (three), etc. (going back to one after getting to ten). Focus ONLY on your breath. Feel it fill your lungs. Other thoughts will come to mind. When they do, try to ignore them. Push them aside and concentrate on counting those breaths. Sometimes I will remember important things that I had forgotten about, or maybe a great idea will pop into my mind. That’s why I have the notepad. I write it down so I don’t have to worry about pushing the thought aside as I meditate and possibly losing it again!

After the fifteen minutes elapse, I stand up, stretch a bit, and get on with my day – refreshed, renewed, and rarin’ to go! I know that fifteen minutes can seem like a long time to sit still like this. When starting out, just shoot for five. Or three, even. Any little bit will help clear your mind and focus your thoughts. Give it a shot!

-Josh

How did you do? Any tricks you use while meditating? Obstacles? Share them in the comments!

Spare Time

There is a certain resource that all of us have some of, we have no choice but to constantly spend it, and there are not really many ways of getting more of it. That thing of course is time. Time is our most precious resource, and so much of it is already committed elsewhere – be it work, our obligations, or asleep in bed. Think about how much of your time is actually yours to spend how you choose. Not as much as you might have hoped for, huh? So ask yourself – when you find yourself with extra time, are you spending it wisely?

There are a few categories of activity that I think of as worthwhile spare-time expenditure. These are self-healing, self-improvement, and altruism. Let’s take a look at the possibilities.

  1. Self-healing – You gotta take care of you. If you are sick or exhausted, this is a no-brainer, but it is also relevant when you’re feeling okay. Take a power nap. Meditate. Make some soup or tea. Attend to yourself! If you are not feeling your best, you cannot hope to be your best.
  2. Self-Improvement – When you find yourself with free time in your home, what is your default action? Is it finding the remote control? Could you be doing something that may be just as enjoyable, but also is feeding your mind, spirit, or body? Could you read a couple chapters and then check Facebook? How about a quick workout before queueing up the “Doctor Who” you’ve been meaning to catch up on? I’m not suggesting you give up those pure feel-good comforts of life – just keep in mind that every moment you put into bettering your self will make every moment after feel richer and more alive.
  3. Altruism – This is the number one in my book. I believe we have a responsibility to everyone who came before us and to everyone who is going to come after us to take this universe that we have inherited and give it a little shove toward the next group of folks coming along – paying it forward. This can be as grand or as modest a gesture as you want – it all feeds the soul. It can be as resource-intensive as a full-day investment in building homes for the homeless or feeding the hungry, but it can also be as easy as simply bringing something to Goodwill once a week. Anything you do will spark those special receptors in your psyche that light up whenever you give without the expectation of receiving. Take it from me – the ROI is without parallel. [sidenote – if there is an ROI, is it truly altruism? Probably not. Whatever.] Careful though – keep it up and you may just get addicted!

For me, the easiest actions are (in the same order as above): 1) a quick workout – either the “7-minute workout” or some yoga sun salutations and push-ups, 2) reading fiction for pleasure in the late afternoon (nonfiction is usually something buisinessy for work – not the same), and 3) running a couple things over to Goodwill (and it can be a part of your simplification ritual – more in a later post).

I hope this post doesn’t come across as too preachy. I simply think it’s a good idea to stop and think a little bit about how we spend our free time and if it is really how we want to be spending it.

Now go – I hope you didn’t waste too much of your spare time reading this! Me? I’m going to go catch up on my “Doctor Who” 😉

-Josh

How do you spend your free time? Comment below!

The Nods

A previous post was about starting the day off with a productive morning routine (here), but as the day chugs along, energy drops. Big time. It happens to me somewhere around 2 or 2:30pm. I hit a wall. Here are a few things I do to help get through the dip.

  1. Make some tea. The shift from doing work to the ritual of making tea helps shake the clouds from my mind a bit. The hot tea wakes up my senses. Plus, if I’m going to be up all night at a show, I’ll make a caffeinated tea.
  2. Meditate. This can really focus my thoughts and wake up my senses. I try to go full lotus when I meditate so that my body doesn’t relax too much. Fifteen minutes is a perfect amount of time to get recharged for the rest of the day. I’ll have a post later on about the specific process I use to meditate.
  3. Take a power nap. This is the big one! If you have the luxury of working from home, or are able to slip away from work without reprisal, grab a nap. I set the timer on my phone for twenty minutes and lie in the bed and relax. It usually takes me anywhere from five to ten minutes to fall asleep, and I awaken really charged up. CAUTION: nap for too long and you run the risk of feeling drowsy when you wake up – twenty minutes is perfect for me.

We all hate getting “the nods” in the afternoon and feeling like we can’t be productive. Take the hint. Get up (or lie down) and do something about it.

-Josh

What do you do to make it over the afternoon hump? Let everyone know in the comments.