It’s a new day. Does it feel like it?
The start of the year is always rich with potential and intention. We make resolutions, decisions, and commit to letting go of old habits. We’re going to get fit this year. We’re going to learn more; read more; drink less; love the people in our lives better.
And then a couple of weeks pass. And we crash. The high of getting through the last year and partying our way into the new one has gone. Faced with tight wallets post-holidays and the realization that 2019 isn’t all that different from 2018, we hit the January blues.
But 2019 can be different. Open your eyes to your own power. Understand that you have a choice in every moment; the choice to sleepwalk from one minute to the next or to step into consciousness and act from present moment awareness. Start now.
The words “I understand” are used frequently in intimate relationships. But it’s worth considering whether you really do understand before you tell your partner that you do.
Instead of saying “I understand”, try this: repeat back what the other person has told you, in your own words, and then ask them if you’ve got it right. Accept that you have not understood them unless they feel that you have.
And it works both ways. If you don’t feel that you’ve been understood, you can gently say “I don’t think you understand me — can you tell me what you think I’m saying?”
Cultivating open communication and the freedom for each person to speak until they know they’ve been heard will maintain curiosity, humility and love within your relationship.
Let’s talk about yoga. We get it — you look at the people walking into a yoga class in the gym or at that studio down the road, and they’re all women. You see images of yoga poses all over the Internet — and they’re all women. If you feel intimated by the yoga class setting because you think you’ll be the only guy, you’re not alone.
But yoga is a powerful physical and mental practice. It holds an opportunity to train, strengthen and open the body; to prevent injury and promote longevity. And it could be your key to learning how to regulate emotions and gain a deeper understanding of yourself.
Thing is, when you go to a yoga class no one but the teacher cares that you’re there. That’s a good thing: everyone is focused on their own practice, and you can focus on yours.
Have you ever used essential oils? These highly concentrated plant oils aren’t overwhelmingly popular among the majority of men — but they’re worth your attention. If you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, certain essential oils can be incorporated into your evening to promote deep and peaceful rest that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and energized.
Studies show that essential oils are effective for promoting good quality sleep. Smells bypass the brain processes that other senses require and travel directly to the brain’s limbic system, making them powerful tools for accessing emotions and peaceful mental states in an intentional way.
You can use oils like lavender and Ylang Ylang in burners or under your pillow to slow down your mind and body. Drift into deep sleep with ease.
Source [included for reference only; need not be included in social media posts]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24720812
Did you ever climb trees when you were a kid? Remember that feeling of strength and adrenaline rushing as you climbed higher and higher. Hands reaching, legs pushing, the texture of rough bark against your skin and then rich scent of green and wood and nature.
And then you’d find that perfect spot — the place to stop. The branch with the curve that seemed to ask you to sit still and lean back and take in the height and the view and the moment.
And as you sat there your mind would settle. The closeness of the natural world would calm your mind. The steady solid presence of that ancient tree would support you and for a few moments, nothing else mattered in the world.
That was meditation. As a kid, you were doing what we’re trying so hard to do now that we’re grown up. So do that again; climb a tree. Why not?
Did you know that reading a book can physically relax your body? It’s been proven to lower your heart rate and ease muscle tension, and a study at the University of Sussex in 2009 found that reading can reduce stress by as much as 68%. And we need that kind of stress relief. We’re living lives of endless demands and zero downtime which will have long-term implications for our health.
Make reading a part of your daily routine. Maybe you have 30 minutes in the morning or 30 minutes before you go to bed when you could sit down with a novel or a non-fiction book and absorb some knowledge while your stress levels simmer down. And you know, reading makes you more interesting too, so…win win!
Your body is your temple. We’ve all heard it. But does it really mean anything? It’s easy to see the body as nothing more than a vessel for life — to be used and abused. But ancient wisdom from a number of traditions tells us that the body is more than that. It is a part of our experience of life; it informs the way we move and behave in the world, and in turn the things we do change the way our body moves and works.
Respect the body and it can teach us more than we might think. It is our connection with all physicality. The place in which we feel sensations and the keeper of our experience. It is much more important than the way it looks and if we listen, the body’s knowledge and intuition runs deep.
In a well known Zen story, a horse came galloping at high speed down the road — as if the rider had somewhere very important to go. Another man standing at the side of the road shouted out “Where are you going?” and the man on the horse answered,
“I don’t know! Ask the horse!”
The horse symbolizes the energy of habit, carrying us along without us really knowing where we’re going, or why. But all of that running is for nothing if we don’t have any intention or control. Sound familiar? Then take the reigns. Pay attention to the habitual behavior that carries you along without conscious direction. And make the decision to take charge and direct your energy towards what you really want.
Clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson says you shouldn’t compare yourself to other people. Instead, “compare yourself to who you were yesterday.” Instead of trying to defeat others, try to defeat your former self — become better than him/her.
And Peterson suggests that you should constantly be trying to do that. Perpetually working to be a better man/woman than the one you were yesterday, and last week, and last year. There’s no end point. There’s no finished ‘you’. By understanding that this is lifelong work you can become the person you want to be — and then become the person you want to be after that, too.
Eye contact. Do you make it? And how often? And for how long?
Looking into someone’s eyes is a powerful way to connect quickly and deeply. In fact, Eye Gazing is used as a relational therapy because it allows us to have a profound experience of connection which satisfies our physiological need to be seen and understood.
Lots of us don’t make enough eye contact. We make a little and then look away; we divert our gaze to our hands or our phones or something over there on the wall. But what would happen if you held your gaze? How might you, and the person opposite you, feel? And would it change the content of your conversations?
Almost definitely. It can be really hard to make and keep eye contact. And for some people it feels almost impossible. But work on it — you will not regret it.
“Nothing happens unless first we dream.” Carl Sandburg may have been talking about dreams in an aspirational sense but this is true of your actual during-the-night-while-you’re-asleep dreams too.
Nothing happens unless we dream — or at least, unless we have time to dream. Sleep is crucial for our physical and mental health but it’s also incredibly important for our ability to generate ideas, follow up on them, and stay motivated.
Not only that, but dreams actually give us an opportunity to see things from a different perspective. That thing that’s been weighing on your mind for days suddenly presents itself in some fantastical formation while you’re asleep and suddenly you understand it, or can see through it, or you realise that it’s not so heavy after all. Relax and look forward to those hours of rest. You never know what you might discover!
Yesterday we touched on taking care of yourself to stop short term stressors leading to poor health in the long term. So today we’re giving you a simple meditation exercise for stress relief that you can integrate into almost any moment in the day.
Sit down on a chair. Shift your weight into your seat bones and feel grounded and heavy and solid. Allow your feet to become lighter and lighter — until they float up away from the ground.
Hold here and notice the way your muscles contract and shift and pull to keep your feet away from the ground.
And then shift the weight forwards and let your feet float to touch the ground again. Notice the connection between feet and floor — how it feels. How the muscles change.
And repeat as many times as you wish. This can be a really subtle practice to play with, even when there are other people around — taking the feet an inch off the ground is as effective as lifting them higher.
What’s the difference between a short-term problem and long-term stress? Challenges, failures and losses don’t have to lead to poor mental, physical and emotional health. But they often do. When we don’t take care of ourselves during times of immediate stress, that stress can build — and before we know it we’re suffering from real conditions that have come about as a result of exposure to extended stress.
But what does it mean to take care of yourself? Unfortunately there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. But give yourself time to breathe and think. Get outside and walk or run. Talk — seriously. Talk. And listen to those voices in your head that tell you “I need a break!” or “I need a little help to get through this one.”
Male bodies in the mainstream media are…confusing. Our bodies are less sexualized and less criticized than female bodies, and yet still sexualized and criticized a lot. And at the same time there are less messages out there encouraging us to love our bodies — to appreciate them for what they are, and not to buy into false perceptions of how we should and shouldn’t look.
Does it go against your masculine instincts to appreciate and love your body? Do you have a tendency to push and punish and force? That’s fine, to a degree. But if you can bring it into balance and appreciate as much as you push; love as much as you challenge and train; and accept that your body will change with the seasons, with external stressors and influences; then those hours of pushing will be for personal improvement and not personal punishment.
Do you aspire to a creative career? Three words: Hone Your Craft. The people who can help you make a good living out of your passion will be interested in working with you if that passion is blindingly visible to them — and your skill is unmissable, too.
So take the time. Put the work in. Dedicate every minute you can to getting better at what you do, and learning everything you can about your work and its history and intricacies, and developing yourself.
Boundaries are important, of course. But an intense period of immersion into your craft will drive you forwards and set you apart from the crowd. You’ll learn exponentially and set yourself on the path to creating the career you want; the one that allows you to spend the rest of your life exploring the thing that inspires you the most.
What can you do to hone your craft today?
When you have a new idea — or when someone suggests an idea to you — look at how it could work before you think about why it might not work.
Lots of us are programmed to look at the negatives first; to be cynical about new ideas and reject them with the assumption that they’re doomed to failure. But what if they’re not?
Practice focusing on why an idea is good before you start exploring why it might be bad. Approach it with an attitude of curiosity and see how you could make it work. What would you need to do? What would you need to change? Who could you get to help? Not all ideas will lead to success, but having an open mind will lead to more and more good opportunities.
Love and sex are intertwined, but they don’t always go together. The difference between love and sex lies in acceptance. Genuine love is complete acceptance of another person. Sex — particularly the deeper attraction — is about polarity; the masculine and the feminine coming together in a powerful way.
This polarity is something to respect and protect. Masculinity and femininity, when they interact with respect and love — with acceptance — can change the world. Masculine energy cannot be complete without feminine energy, and vice versa. But together they are balanced.
When those two energies come together in a relationship, each person can become who they really are. Instead of fighting to fulfill every role in life, each person can develop in the areas they’re drawn to and trust, unconditionally, that the other half of their partnership will take responsibility for their part in the whole.
Struggling to sleep? You could be deficient in magnesium. This essential mineral helps you to fall asleep, as well improving the quality of sleep. It aids the function of a number of other physical processes too, and it known to lower blood pressure and lift low moods.
Magnesium is an ingredient in lots of the foods we eat every day, and it’s one of the most common minerals on the planet — and yet many of us don’t have enough of it in our bodies. Try picking up a magnesium supplement to top up your levels. It balances melatonin levels and supports the nervous system in settling down so that you feel relaxed and sleepy before you drift off.
No time to meditate today? Not true! Do this right now to incorporate a moment of meditative work into your day:
Place the palm of your hands again a textured surface. It could be a tree, the fabric of your chair or clothing, a wall, or any other surface available to you.
If possible, close your eyes — but if you’re doing this practice with other people around, it’s fine to keep them open. In that case just allow your vision to soften and become slightly hazy.
Focus your awareness on the sensations you feel in the palm of the hand. The connection between the hand and that surface, and the different elements of texture that you can identify. Become aware of the landscape of the texture beneath the hand. And keep this focus for 30 seconds.
After 30 seconds, take the hand away from that surface and rest it on something with a smoother texture, like your desk or even the back of your phone. Notice the change in sensation.
And then take one deep breath and carry on with your day.
In a good relationship you don’t have to feel restricted. You don’t have to feel as though you’re sacrificing your freedom in order to be with that person. In fact, it’s the opposite.
The support of a loving and trusting relationship makes you free. It gives you the space to pursue your dreams and to seek meaning in life with the knowledge that this person — this amazing, beautiful, strong, nurturing and inspiring person — is there to back you up.
When you are invested in the happiness of your partner, and they are invested in your happiness, something kind of incredible happens. You don’t feel insecure and neither does she. You don’t feel scared and you don’t feel limited, and neither does she. You feel as though nothing is beyond your reach and…life is good.
In the words of the Terminator himself, “training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body.”
What Arnie is getting at is that our spiritual health is improved through exercise just as our physical health is. When you don’t move your body your energy gets stuck. You feel slow, static and low. And training your body moves that energy so that you are lifted and revitalized.
A number of ancient traditions also suggest that a fundamental truth of spiritual progression is that the body must be trained along with the mind — and whether you’re listening to movie heroes or spiritual gurus, this wisdom should not be ignored.
As social creatures, humans crave — and thrive within — community. But many of us don’t think about this in relation to our careers. Actually, considering the kind of community that would give you the most motivation, support and inspiration and then figuring out how to create that for your self can have a huge impact on your success.
It could be that the community you need is within a company, or it could be broader than that. For example, a community of people who are connected because they share a trade or skillset, or an online community of freelancers who offer one another their advice, conversation and mentorship.
Whether you work alone or within an organization you can enter into, or build from scratch, a community of likeminded professionals who will lift you up on the tough days and celebrate your victories with you. It’s good for your mindset, your development, and for networking opportunities.
Admitting when you’ve made a mistake is important. And saying sorry when you’ve hurt someone is crucial for healthy and loving relationships. But apologizing when you haven’t done anything wrong, or saying sorry just to make yourself more likable, can have a negative impact on your self esteem.
Do you say “I’m sorry to bother you, but…” when you’re asking for help? Do you include get-out statements in your requests, such as saying “Don’t worry if you’re too busy, but…” or do you use body language that makes you smaller or places you outside of the centre of focus?
Practice asking for things without using any apologetic language or behavior. It might feel uncomfortable to start with. But persevere and you’ll experience a shift in the confidence and respect you feel and receive.
Philosopher Baruch Spinoza suggested that we should look at each other’s characteristics and perceived faults “not in the light of vices of human nature, but as properties…” — with all of those properties being part of the human organism as a whole. He argued that all actions have a cause which can be discovered if you look for it. Thinking of people in this way can help us to be a little bit more understanding when their actions don’t live up to our expectations!
Make your first steps into this new year with compassion and curiosity. The next 365 days are waiting to be filled with love, open communication and deep connection. This is the perfect time to let go of how you think your relationships should be, and embrace the potential of what they could become.
Sleep may not be at the forefront of your thoughts on the eve of the new year — but how about making 2019 your Year of Better Sleep? Actually, it’s an all around life hack. If you commit to improving the quality and duration of your sleep throughout the year, any other resolutions you want to stick to will become easier.
Because sleep makes you more productive, more resilient, and increases your chances of making good decisions. The effects of even mild sleep deprivation cannot be underestimated, but lots of us place the blame on other aspects of our lifestyle before we consider whether the hours we spend (or don’t spend) asleep might be responsible for some of our day to day problems. So — happy new year and happy snoozing!
Do you struggle with tense personal relationships, or find yourself getting frustrated frequently at work? If conflict and irritation is the norm for you, it’s worth considering that other people might not be to blame.
You don’t have to be impatient and irritable.
Research from Harvard University shows that a regular meditation practice — even for just a few minutes a day — can make you behave more kindly towards other people. This is because meditation heightens your sense of compassion and empathy; it becomes easier for you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and realize that they’re not trying to annoy you. And the more you meditate, the more likely you’ll be Teflon to negativity. The result for you? You’ll feel better about yourself and you’ll connect better with other people.
Feeling stressed? A lot? Every day? Every hour, even? Don’t worry — you’re not alone. But you don’t have to feel this way.
A simple solution for stress which works in the short term but can actually have long term positive implications for the levels of stress hormones in your body is: laughter!
Head to YouTube and watch some standup — if no comedian springs to mind, we recommend Judah Friedlander or Dave Chapelle. Or download comedy podcasts to your phone and listen on your way to work. Studies show that laughter reduces stress, promotes good health and even helps to manage physical pain. It stimulates the production of chemicals in your brain which make you feel happier; and by laughing at least twice a day, even when you’re not feeling great, you can use these chemicals to counter the effects of stress hormones in your body.
It’s easy to think about health and fitness in terms of right now. In terms of how our bodies look, how attractive we are, and how much weight we can lift.
But what about the long term?
Thinking about your body in the future is less popular because…well, who wants to think about their bodies in 40 or 50 years time?! But actually, focusing on sustainable and long term health can motivate you to create habits which will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Is the food you’re eating now really giving you the fuel you need to function well long term? Are you focusing on a short, intense period of working out or dieting to achieve a short term goal — or do you want to build a diet and exercise regime that will make you feel and look good for years to come?
Billionaire entrepreneur Charlie Munger says that the “safest way to try and get what you want is to try and deserve what you want.” What does that mean? In essence, it means you need to give before you receive; be generous, share what you can with the world, and in doing so you’ll win the trust and respect of the people you come into contact with.
And that will come back to you. Those people you helped will be happy to help you when they can, and they’ll think of you when opportunities arise that they know you’d be perfect for.
Whether you call it karma, the law of attraction, reaping what you sow or just common sense — it doesn’t matter. Help where you can and you get back as much, if not more than you give.
What does clarity mean to you?
Clarity is important in a short term, micro sense and in a long term, macro sense. In this moment right now, conscious awareness helps you to see things as they are. It cuts through delusions and illusions and gives you the space to recognize what’s working and what isn’t. And in the long term, clarity allows you to see what you’re aiming for, what you want to achieve, and develop a solid plan for getting there.
Being clear about what you want means that you can take purposeful steps into the future. So get clear! Use the tools available to you, including meditation and writing, to identify what’s most important to you and plan your route to success in all areas of life.
Happy Holidays from Meditate.Awake! What is this time of year really about, if not love? Forget about the daily grind today. Relinquish responsibility for the pressures in your life, whatever they may be.
And love the people you’re with. This can be easier said than done — lots of us struggle as we reunite with rarely-seen relatives today and negotiate undercurrents of tension. But whether you are spending the day with people you get with easily, or whether you’re dealing with more difficult relationships; love them. Love the people you’re with. Drop the conditions and just love them.
Know that you can disagree with them and still love them. You can be the one who steps up and sees beyond past conflict and stress. You might find that you feel some of that love being directed right back at you.
You’ve probably heard that there are different stages of sleep — but do you know what those stages are and why each one of them is important?
The five stages are build one on another starting with light sleep; then deeper sleep, when eye movement reduces and the brain waves slow down; then even deeper delta sleep; then continued deep delta sleep; and finally, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
All of these stages make up a complete sleep cycle which usually takes between 90-120 minutes to complete. Good quality uninterrupted sleep is vital because each stage plays a unique part in restoring the body’s energy and promoting healing processes. A good night’s sleep typical include 4-5 complete cycles! Get to know your sleep cycles and give your body the time it needs to rest.
Studies which use brain imaging to look at what happens to the brain while meditating have shown that meditation can actually change the brain physically in a number of different ways. One such change is an increase in tissue in the brain region that regulates impulse control and concentration.
Seriously. The part of your brain that helps you focus and make good, considered decisions gets bigger when you meditate. That gives a whole new meaning to personal growth, doesn’t it? Meditation doesn’t just help you grow on an emotional level, it expands important brain areas physically too. If you struggle to commit to a meditation practice, there’s some concrete motivation straight from the research labs of neuroscientists!
Sometimes, to get out of a stressed, anxious headspace, the best thing to do is something completely out of your comfort zone.
Think of it like this: our stress is relative. People who are financially secure, for example, might be more likely to worry about the details when people on the poverty line might be worried about how they’ll put the next meal on the table. This isn’t meant to minimize the validity of your stress, but just to point out that the things that get to us are relative to our overall security, health, and comfort in life.
So if you’re struggling with stress, do something that scares you. Gain perspective by going beyond your current level of comfort. You might have experienced this kind of perspective before; for example, traveling in a country where you don’t speak the language, and realizing that getting by at home in your own language is actually very simple in comparison.
A vast number of men try to exercise their way to fitness, thinking that by training hard they can override the importance of healthy eating. This was the preferred method of Kevin Curry — now a men’s nutrition guru — before he realized that it just wasn’t possible to get the body he wanted without changing what he ate.
“Our bodies are built in the kitchen,” he says, and “sculpted in the gym”. And if you avoid eating well because you think it won’t taste as good…you couldn’t be more wrong. By educating yourself on food, just as Curry did, you can enter into a whole new world of eating in which you can become healthy and fit and eat tasty, nourishing food — instead of tasty almost-but-not-quite-food devoid of nutritional value.
For those moments when you need to regain your focus and mental clarity quickly, use this practice — inspired by a traditional Indian technique called Trataka. You’ll need a flame; it could be a match, a lighter, or a candle.
Light the flame and then place it down or hold it at arms length in front of you. Focus your eyes on the flame. Don’t look away, and don’t blink. Keep your gaze on the flame until your eyes are watering and you really have to close them.
And then when you close your eyes spend a few moments noticing the colors and shapes that you see in the darkness behind the eyelids.
As well as improving concentration this technique is thought to help keep your eyes healthy, and it has a calming effect on an overstimulated mind.
Move on instead of holding on. When we’re stressed out we hold on tight to everything we can. We create more and more tension in our minds and bodies — it builds, and builds, and on and on; and we get wound up so tight that we can’t see anything clearly.
So instead of holding on, move on. Take a deep breath and make the conscious decision to let go of physical tension. The body relaxes. The chest opens and expands. Take another deep breath and make the conscious decision to let go of mental tension.
Moving on is very different from giving up. By deciding not to hold on to your stresses and struggles you move yourself into a more flexible state of mind and from there, you can assess the challenges you face with calm and clarity.
Shame is one of those things that can be underlying our limits. So whether we seek to have a better career, make more money, or find a deeper purpose that serves humanity - hear how shame can play it’s part to hold you back!
You were meditation practice is yours. Trying to fit yourself into somebody else’s habits and routines may not always work, that’s why you will benefit from finding the meditation practice that works for you. Meditating in the morning is often beneficial so see what time, what style and what way meditation can help support your life!
I was walking down the street and was practicing a technique I use quite often to soften my perspective and increase my awareness, so I thought I’d record it for you. Please forgive the background noise as I wanted to capture it in the moment, and at the moment I was walking through Santa Monica :)
Sleep is such an important part of a balanced & awake life. Here i touch on two things you can do today to help you unplug and fall asleep faster as well as wake up easier in the morning. Try it today!
We all get knocked off center sometimes. This is a quick and effective way to reset. Find a place where you have 2-3 minutes to not be bothered and give it a shot... what do you have to lose besides stress??
Malcolm Gladwell writes that “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” To get where you want to go in life you have to start practicing now. Today. If you save your dedication and focus for when you are successful, you’ll never be successful. Listen to hear more!
Often times I say “Bring meditation to life” and this story illustrates just how that looks like in life. Meditation is the foundation, one side of a triangle, with the other to sides being “insight” and “action”.
TIME SAVER is a series that brings you top passages from the best books so you can experience the highlights of some of the best authors. Passages will be thought provoking, motivational, funny, educational, and always with the purpose of supporting a positive, awake life.
Hungry Angry Lonely Tired... four filters to scan your experience and get calibrated during the your day. Get the extra support you need when you’re around family, friends, or coworkers by supporting yourself with the H.A.L.T. test.