#Meditation, Mindfulness, Journaling, and relaxing
The amazing things that happen when you put your intentions into the world are sometimes unimaginable. All you really have to do is just surround yourself with the ideas and cues of the things that you want in life. I like to think of it as a traveling dream board. The board you create with magazine clippings and photos and handwritten things that you are trying to accomplish in life. Making one of these and carrying it around with you such that it is constantly in front of you has this intense power over your thoughts. We do this subconsciously in our minds anyway. We think about something, usually something that consumes our thoughts, and then we begin the make it materialize. How will you create your “MENTAL DREAM BOARD“?
What keeps you up at night?
How does this really work? You have to really find the things that keep you up at night and the things that distract you from everything else in life. When you are bored or daydreaming these are the things that first pop into your mind. Once the seed is planted there really is no turning back unless it’s something that you really do not desire in life. Those not-so-desirable things tend to fade away over time. The things we really want are the things that stick after months and sometimes years.
Meditation as a toolset
How do you find these things? Well, they are usually a manifestation of thoughts and ideas. Figuring out how to fix a problem or solve some puzzle in life that has stumped you. These are usually the things that really take over your thoughts and force you to focus. One of the easiest ways to tap into these things is to do some real deep thinking. Meditation would be the word that comes to mind but its more complex than that. I like to use a combination of deep thought, meditation, and daily journaling. It seems like a lot of things to juggle just to be able to tap into your inner sub-conscious but it’s really not all that hard, complex but not hard. If I were to go back and try to teach myself the easiest path I would start with meditation. It doesn’t have to be some weird sitting position with fingers held a certain way chanting some mantra. It is simply finding a comfortable spot with some quiet and just focusing on your breath. I have tried many methods since my meditation practice started a couple years ago and I can say that it’s just like your preference in clothing or haircut. It is a very personal preference. I would recommend starting with something simple like an app for your mobile device or even a recording of a favorite song. The one song that just seems to put you in a trance. A song like this will put you 80% of the way into your meditation goal. The reason being meditation is more like a flow state than a religious practice only performed by monks in the Mongolian region of China. This flow state is easy to recognize. It’s this state of mind of being totally focused and the world around you slows down so much that you are able to complete whatever task easier than you could without the music. It will most likely be that song that you could run miles to if you are a runner. That song that, once you hear it, your “work” seems to melt away into a well-orchestrated symphony, one that you don’t even have to conduct. It just effortlessly works.
How I meditate
Personally, I like to do meditation laying down. It is the easiest way for me to get completely comfortable and makes my practice effortless. Many people will tell you that you have to sit in an upright posture with your hands lying in your lap or sit on a chair properly. This is not my jam at all. Again, find what works for you and do that. You can’t really go wrong in meditation, no matter what any guru wants to tell you. It’s not about doing the exact method, but rather to empty your mind and center yourself on your breath. These are the two most important things when meditating. I like to relate it to Yoga or any other exercise method. Yes, there are rules to keep you from hurting yourself, but fundamentally you just have to show up. You will figure the rest out as you practice. I would also say if you really want to put yourself in the ultimate relaxed position, try a device called the “Zero Gravity Chair”. Just look it up online or go to a decent store that sells outside furniture. These things are completely amazing. I would compare it to sitting in a dentist chair, without the drills and spit sink. How much more comfortable could you get than going into your local dentist office and just spending 20-30 mins in the dentist chair uninterrupted?
All the apps you can handle!
For my meditation practice, I started with two apps: Calm and Headspace. Both found in your favorite app store. These apps both have similar functionality with guided meditations that step you through the process. Both are created for beginners as well as veteran meditators. Each meditation consists of a 10-20 min ambient track with a meditation guide talking you through the entire process. Both are great gateway drugs into meditation. I found myself getting bored really fast with them and didn’t want to pay for the service so I searched a bit more.
I stumbled across an app called Omvana. This is a similar product that contains guided meditations coupled with ambient tracks. You are able to mix and match tracks to find the perfect fit for what you are trying to do. It is still one of my favorites because I can use the guided meditation or the ambient completely independent. I can fade the voice in or out depending how loud I want it to be. I can mute one or the other. They have a lot of free stuff on there you can download (good for offline meditation when you don’t have a network to connect to, ie on a plane). They also have meditations you can pay for and download. PRO TIP: Check out “Envisioning Method” by Vishen Larhiani and the “Laser Focus” ambient track. There is also a great track on there by Derek Sivers, founder of CD.
As I proceeded down my rabbit hole I searched for some podcasts that talk about meditation and ended up finding a meditation podcast. The one I found was amazing: Your 10 minute daily meditation with Adrian Cooke. There are over 100 “episodes” contained in the podcast and they cover all kinds of highlighted topics. There are also some special episodes that are a little longer, up to 30 min. This is also great for offline use as you can download all of the episodes or just the ones you want. PRO TIP: A couple of my favorites are: EP 55 “Grounding”, EP 85 “Calmness”, EP 88 “Sleep”, EP 95 “Key Words”, EP 104 “A Fresh Start”, and my all time favorite EP 126 “Peaceful Mind”.
A new project I have been helping out on and that will be released to the public very soon is an app called “Oak”. This is another guided meditation app with a bit of a twist. The premise is to create a community of like minded meditators who also like to track their progress and learn along the way. The app should be a free download, with some added extras at a small premium cost. I have watched this app being created and have also contributed to its progress. It has a beautiful interface and has been well thought out. It also includes some interesting insights about meditation and mindfulness.
Meditation good for your heart?
As you travel down the path of meditation you will find that you are enjoying it so much you may just sit there and listen to the ambient noise and continue until you feel you are done. I think the longest I have meditated has been around an hour. This is not a flaw. You will find that your mind will start to slow down over time as well as your resting heart rate. At one point I went in for an annual physical and my resting heart rate was recorded at 46 BPM. The practitioner had to stop and check all of the EKG connections and then ask me if I was ok. It was a little funny. The only other factor that played a part was that I was running a lot of miles at the time. I just laid down and let her put the electrodes all over my body. As she was doing this I was unconsciously preparing to meditate (because I meditate when I lay down). I suppose I just started to drift off into meditation without thinking about it. It was pretty incredible, to say the least. I will not say that it helps when I am trying to sleep as well, but I think it plays a part. I have conditioned myself to naturally just let my whole body relax when I lay down.
Whether you are just finding out about mindfulness or are an experienced meditator I would say to check out some of the new things coming to market that could possibly elevate your meditation practice. At a minimum, the tools I talked about can add different methods which could be helpful on the road or wherever life may lead you.
As far as turning your thoughts into things I will conclude with my favorite PRO TIP: Mindset/Intention. I include them together because I feel they go hand in hand. One without the other just doesn’t seem to work. If you have a quality mindset (notice I didn’t say positive or good) and align your intentions with this mindset the possibilities are pretty much endless. You may want to try this out with little tasks and ratchet up in order to get the method down. Understanding and implementing the method will take you much farther than not understanding and then trying to accomplish a moon shot. Those small wins will carry you much farther along your path.
Also published on Medium.