MEDITATION IS NOT SPIRITUAL

So many people miss out on meditation because they think it is some flaky, mystical, woo-woo nonsense. Others think that meditation is strictly religious and might conflict with their own religious beliefs, (or lack thereof). The truth is that meditation is more sciency than all that. This is brain stuff. Meditation is more like lifting weights for your brain. When you lift weights your muscles get stronger; when you meditate you brain gets stronger. Meditation is really just a fancy name for awareness training. That’s all it is. My mission here is to introduce people to a practical, simple meditation, and to convince you that it is good for you, no matter who you are or what you are in to!

I think it is worth mentioning here that meditation is not prayer. Meditation is a tool that can be used to enhance prayer. It can enhance anything that requires attention and being present. Literally any human endeavor can be enhanced when meditation is practiced alongside it.

In sports, for example, it is widely accepted that the game is 90% mental and only 10% physical. Focus and clarity are what allow players to perform at their highest levels. It’s no wonder that top athletes are turning to meditation. Athletes who have been known to meditate range from basketball legends, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, to Olympic gold medal-winning volleyball players, Misty May-Trainor and Kerri Walsh, and even the entire University of Michigan basketball team, led by their coach! These top-performers are serious about their sport, and they realize that meditation is the key to reaching their full potential.

Some of the most successful and influential business leaders have also discovered the value of awareness training. From Ceo’s to top-level entrepreneurs, meditation has proven itself to be an integral key to success. In a world where numerous personal growth practices are debated, meditation is generally accepted as an effective tool. A small sample of this group includes: Marc Benioff of multi-billion dollar giant Salesforce, Arianna Huffington, the founder of Huffington Post who has been meditating since she was a teenager, and Jeff Weiner, former Yahoo exec and current Linkedin CEO, who meditates daily. The clarity of mind and reduction of stress are essential for success in the business world.

And as you can imagine, the world of entertainment is full of practicing meditators at the peak of their craft. Madonna, Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Brand, Katy Perry, Clint Eastwood, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Eva Mendez, Jerry Seinfeld, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, Martin Scorsese, and … All right, you get it. The list does go on and on. I could have made a similar list of meditating CEO’s and sports figures, but the CEO’s aren’t as recognizable, and the sports list would just be too long.

Whether you are learning a new language, raising your kids, or trying to make partner at your law firm. Meditation will get you further, quicker. If you want to be at the top of your game, whatever that may be, you may want to take note of what is working for other top-performers. The fact that you’ve read this far is a good indication that you are ready to give meditation a try. But you can’t just take my word on it, this is something you have to try for yourself to see if it works for you. Thanks for taking the time! And don’t forget to breathe!

Kenny J.

MEDITATION FOR WEIGHT LOSS

Wait, what?! Meditation for weight loss? Shut the front door! It’s true, meditation can absolutely help you lose weight. Have I got your attention? Well, here we go…

We all know how lose weight, right? Good ‘ol diet and exercise. Time and again, diet and exercise. It’s not a magic pill, not a fad diet, and for sure not those electric shocker-thingys that zap your belly in place of sit-ups, lol! So what’s missing? Why do so many of us still carry around extra pounds? It all hinges on our self-discipline, impulsive nature, and emotional state. That’s where meditation comes in.

Stress eating is something most of us are familiar with. When I’ve had a rough, stressful day and reach for a couple of pieces of pizza at midnight, that little voice in my head telling me not to do it is very quiet, if there at all. If I do hear it I dismiss it immediately with the justifying thought that, “I deserve this after the day I’ve had!” It’s not even a contest. Did I mention there was pizza involved? A meditation practice can give you that space to be able to hear the voice of reason and respond. I’ve been doing better about that myself, and I’ve lost almost fifteen pounds from watching what I eat and exercising, and finally meditating. Over the past several years I had fallen out of the practice of a daily sitting meditation, and now that I’m back at it, the impulses are much easier to say no to. Big time!

Anxiety and depression are also major players in the “bad food choices” game. Meditation helps to lessen depression and anxiety. There is an udisputed link between depression and obesity. These toxic twins feed on each other. Depressed people can become obese and obese people can become depressed. Meditation, please! And can I get that with a side of “take it easy on yourself?” When we practice mindfulness, we find that we are much less upset by the day-to-day things that would normally get us down. We begin to see the forest for the trees. The big picture is beautiful and so are you! People who meditate are less depressed and have lower levels of anxiety.

It is also worth mentioning that meditation stimulates the part of the brain where willpower lives, that’s the prefrontal cortex for you sciency-types! The stronger our willpower, the better choices we can make. We are all better off when we make better choices regarding our diet and exercise. Period.

I’m sure you know by now that I’m not saying that you can sit and meditate and just watch the pounds melt away. Shah! I wish!! But there is a lot at stake here. Carrying extra weight shortens your life expectancy, and can give you anxiety that can lead to depression. Wow. Let me rephrase that and say that meditation can not only extend your life, but you will then live that longer life in a healthier and happier way! Think about making the time to sit quietly for ten minutes every day. It can change your life.

HOW TO MEDITATE: 8 STEPS TO A MUCH HAPPIER YOU! A SIMPLE MEDITATION ANYONE CAN DO

Well, now you’ve done it! You’ve gone and clicked on the simple meditation article. Congratulations! And welcome to the very exclusive club of people who have taken their wellbeing into their own hands. With just ten minutes a day. (Yes, just ten.) You will see changes in your attitude and demeanor that you couldn’t have imagined. Not to mention the health benefits. So get comfy, grab a timer, and prepare yourself for the new life that is waiting just on the other side of those nagging doubts…

  1. Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably for ten minutes without interruption.
  2. Set a timer for ten minutes. Set it and forget it!
  3. Relax and close your eyes.
  4. Direct your attention to your breath. It is a good idea to either notice the feeling of the air moving in and out of your nostrils, or the feeling of your chest and belly rising and falling with each breath. Either way, you are only observing your natural breath, not controlling it in any way.
  5. Start to count your breaths. One exhale/inhale cycle is one. Pay close attention to where each exhale starts, how it continues, how it ends. Follow the inhale in the same way. Count one if you keep your attention focused for the entire breath.
  6. Count to only ten breaths and start over at one. This keeps you from getting distracted by how many breaths you count.
  7. When a thought pops into your head and distracts you, which it will, go back to the breath and start over at one. Just make a mental note and say to yourself, “thinking” or “remembering” or “planning”, and return to the breath.
  8. Repeat until your ten minutes is up.

At first you will notice that your thought are all over the place. You will think of something and your attention will cling to that thought and you will spend what seems like a long time thinking about it before you remember that you are meditating. Great! That’s what is supposed to happen! This is meditation! It’s funny how wrapped up you can get in a simple thought like, “After this I’m going to go to the grocery store.” You go over your list, think about what to cook for dinner, taco night? How you will need to stop for gas on the way, do I need an oil change yet? Then, BAM! Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be meditating! Return to your breath. Begin again.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Don’t beat yourself up when you realize that you forgot you were meditating. Being distracted by your thoughts is not only normal, it is the exercise of meditation!
  • When you realize that you have been distracted by a thought, begin again. Begin again without judgement, without a care in the world. This is your time. Enjoy it. Allow yourself to be amused by how distracting our thoughts can be. It’s funny.
  • Since ancient times, meditators have used the trick of placing the tongue into the roof of the mouth as a sort of reminder not to become attached to their thoughts. You will find that the more you meditate, the less thoughts arise during the practice. I use the tongue trick when I find that I’m having a challenging time and clinging to my thoughts for much too long. It seems to slow them down.
  • Try not to move around or fidget during a session. It can help sometimes to direct your attention to a part of your body that feels discomfort, like if your leg is uncomfortable where it is. Often time, placing awareness on the troubled spot will cause the discomfort to disappear. That being said, if your leg hurts, move it.
  • Just before starting a session, I like to mentally note that, “I am dedicating this meditation to the benefit of all beings.” This, for me, is a reminder that if I can better myself, I am benefitting the whole world. When you are happier and more balanced, the people around you sense it and benefit from your wellbeing. Then, in turn, the people who encounter them will benefit, and so on.
  • Ten minutes is great, but thirty minutes is mo betta! After you get a taste of what is possible from ten minutes of sitting quietly, I have to tell you that thirty minutes has an increased benefit well beyond tripling the time. Maybe try thirty minutes once a week and experience the difference yourself. Again, only ten minutes a day will change your life.

WHY DIET AND EXERCISE ARE NOT ENOUGH!

Everyone knows that diet and exercise are the way to lose weight. Period. For those among us who find the self-control and discipline to actually pull that off, the desired results can be stunning. Besides that, our bodies need to be cared for. Our health depends greatly on being fit. But this is only one piece of the puzzle. In order for us to be truly healthy, we must also focus on our mind. And here comes what you are hoping I’m not going to say…. Yup… You’ve got to meditate, bro.

When we practice meditation regularly, some interesting things start to happen. Life doesn’t seem as stressful. That jerk that cut you off in traffic doesn’t get the horn or the finger, they just pass right out of your life without pissing you off. You might even chuckle to yourself and wish them a safe trip to wherever it is that they need to get to so quickly. You begin to notice that there is a little space between a negative action and your reaction. In fact, you begin to act instead of react.

Physically, meditation is a game-changer, that’s right, a game-changer! It has been shown to lower blood pressure, slow aging, improve cardiovascular and immune health, as well as increasing happiness. And this is the very short list of the benefits of meditation. Wait, did I mention that it makes you happier?! I did.

Listen. Here’s the deal. Meditation has been called, “The new yoga.” That’s a good thing, it means it’s catching on. Just like going to the gym and making peace with eating right, people are starting to realize that sitting quietly for ten to twenty minutes a day is important, if not vital. Meditation is for everyone. And it doesn’t have anything to do with religion. You don’t have to believe in god or the Buddha or the afterlife; you will never have to hug a single tree. Promise. You can sit in a comfortable chair wearing normal clothes, it’s all good.

Best of all, meditation is super-easy to learn! The very next blog features easy instructions for the most basic-b meditation out there. It is really all you need to get started. And seriously, if this is the only one you ever practice, it will be all you need to live a happier and healthier life starting now. Namaste home and meditate!

Kenny J.