Tag: anxiety

Meditation Experiences – Uno

This is my first (Uno) post regarding my recent meditation experiences. `It is not so much my intention to teach about meditation, but I am more interested in explaining my own journey. However, with that said there are a couple basics that you may want to consider such as the sitting position and the benefits of having some kind of seating cushion often referred to as a Zafu. There are a number of different sitting positions, but I would say most of the world uses either full lotus, half-lotus, or Burmese. These are pictured below:

Full Lotus

Note both feet are resting on the thighs, this takes a fair amount of flexibility and is not for everyone.

Half Lotus

In the half-lotus only one foot is on the thigh, this is easier than full lotus for most people.

Burmese

Another popular position and probably the easiest when first getting started.

When I started meditating I tried the full lotus position, but I’m not that flexible and was unable to get into the correct position, so I used the half-lotus position most of the time and even tried the Burmese position. One thing I like about the Burmese sitting position is that your knees are at the same level, where when sitting in half-lotus one is higher than the other. This comes in handy when you put your hands on your knees, you feel that your arms are completely balanced.

If you already meditate, you are probably saying stop you are boring me to death. Ok enough about sitting positions, just choose one that works best for you and get on with it.

Once I got serious about meditating, meaning doing it every day the question was for how long should I sit? I started out with sitting for 10 minutes, then 15, and now I am sitting 20 minutes at each session. With each successive increase in time came benefits as it seemed like the first 10 minutes or so was still a battle of fighting with my monkey mind, which was mostly focused on challenges at work. So while 10 minutes of meditation was better than nothing I didn’t really get a whole lot of benefit out of it, but when I moved to 15 and then 20 minutes things started to change. I’m speculating that I could probably get even more out of my practice if I extended the time to say 30 or 45 minutes, but I’m not there yet. Most of my meditation sessions occur fairly early in the morning after I have completed my yoga practice, which by itself takes about 30 minutes, so, all in all, I’m spending about 1 hour in the morning practicing yoga and meditation.

I have tried Zen (Zazen) meditation with your eyes open and the mudra hand position (see below). I did this for some time but was never really comfortable having my eyes open and eventually changed to meditating with my eyes closed, but I still use the mudra hand position from time to time.

When I started meditating about two months ago, I used the technique of counting breaths, which helped me drown out the monkey mind a bit, but I rarely do that now. Most of the time I will focus on just watching my breathing and trying to stay present.

If you are not currently meditating you might ask, why in the hell are you doing this? For me the answer was easy, I was very unhappy, experiencing a lot of anxiety and worry in my life, and I knew if I gave meditation a fair try I might be able to alleviate some of this angst. I will be honest I was fucking miserable and dreading each day and knew this was no way to live. In my next post, I will explain what meditation is doing for me and cover some of the benefits you can also expect during your own journey.

Namaste

 

Note: I wrote this post using Grammarly, which really helps. Give it a try, it works with WordPress and Google Docs.

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You Care too Much

I contend that most of the anxiety and unhappiness you experience comes from giving a shit about things that don’t warrant your attention. Every day you agonize over whether I will get that project done on time, or will I accomplish that ever-growing list of to-do items. Let me be clear, I’m not saying you don’t need to accomplish things in your life, but you’re playing this game as if it were life and death and it’s eating you up inside. You give all this shit that you feel must get done a high priority, in effect you care too much. Every project, every endeavor you undertake is not intended to be done as if it were some kind of death march. You not someone else is sucking the fucking joy out of everything by taking it all too seriously. 

We perceive what we do as so important when in the grand scheme of things the shit we are doing is just stuff that we feel needs to be done and we are going to bust our ass to make sure it is accomplished regardless of how it affects our well being. I work as a consultant and on a daily basis, issues are being escalated. The end result is that 90% of the work that needs to be done is considered high priority and only 10% can wait. These escalations are not self-imposed but instead, the priority is being dictated by the customer or my leadership. Is it any wonder that we care too much?

Listen whether this sense of urgency is self-imposed or being imposed upon you, really doesn’t matter, either way, you are screwed if you continue to react in the same way you always do. So what can you do about this overwhelming avalanche of high priority shit on your plate? There are several things to consider:

  1. Choose carefully from the list of things everyone thinks must be done right now and prioritize 3 to 5 things you can do today and defer the rest. This may not make you more popular, but it will improve the quality of your life by providing some much-needed focus and strangely enough your productivity will actually increase. Not being burdened by a list of 15 things and instead focusing on just a few things allows you to be more present and take back a little bit of control over your life.
  2. While those around you will think the world will come to an end if this or that is not done you can rest assured that this stuff they deem so important just isn’t and not nearly as time-sensitive as everyone makes it out to be. Sometimes you have to push back and ask for more time to accomplish something or even ask why in the fuck are we doing this in the first place? Stop believing in this insane idea that working more is a badge of honor, or makes you more productive. Don’t buy into all the memes that say you won’t achieve anything unless your working 18 hours a day, it’s is just bullshit and unsustainable. 
  3. Finally and this is maybe the most empowering, which is why I wrote the quote above. You cannot and should not take all this shit so seriously, hell you shouldn’t even take your own life so seriously. You can’t spend your life making everything a high priority, in fact, this thing you call your life is really just a journey, yet we make it into some fucking project. Once our life has become a project it is just a series of milestones and tasks that get checked off, never stopping to enjoy the process. I love this quote by Kurt Vonnegut “We are here on earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different”.

This thing you call your life is not a series of goals to achieve or some fucking death march. Start today by taking things less seriously, living in the moment, and stop making all things you are compelled to do of equal priority. Years from now you will thank yourself.

Namaste

 

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If you would like to support this blog, check out the awesome selection of eBooks at:

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Yoga + Meditation = Mindfulness

Do you ever feel like a hamster running on a wheel in a cage? Of course, you do we all are running a fast as we can to do all the things required to make a living, take care of our families, and just survive on this earth. The problem is we are full of anxiety about getting shit done on time and in the end we are just plain tired out. Years ago I started doing yoga, primarily to help me function better physically and to cope with the demand of sitting all day to accomplish my work. Over time I found yoga practice provided much more than just improved flexibility, but also allowed me to relax and approach my day in a more calm state.

More recently I started meditating after my yoga session and I found the combination of the two provided an even higher level of awareness. At first, I found it difficult to meditate, but by performing my yoga practice first, it made it easier to sit for meditation. One of the reasons for doing the yoga first is that it made it easier to sit for meditation because I had stretched my back and hips, which just made the physical part of sitting much easier. The second reason was that the yoga relaxed me, and made it easy to move into an even deeper state of awareness as I began to meditate. When you put them together Yoga + Meditation you have this powerful combination that helps you become more mindful and ultimately jump off the hamster wheel.

This new-found mindfulness allows you to approach each day with a positive mindset no longer filled with anxiety and worry. You now have an opportunity to look at your work more realistically. As you increase your level of mindfulness you begin putting your work and obligations in perspective and they no longer torment you. The increased awareness of the world allows you to look at your work as just one aspect of your life, in effect it becomes less important than your peace of mind.

Change your paradigm and make the investment of an hour or so every morning. Make this a priority and this investment will pay tremendous dividends that will enrich all aspects of your life.

 

Yoga + Meditation = Mindfulness

Namaste

 

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If you would like to support this blog, check out the awesome selection of eBooks at:

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Driven

Random Thoughts / Poetry

Driven

We make so much of every situation

It all seems so important

A heightened level of anxiety becomes our natural state

We are told to escalate for every issue

Everything becomes critical

Our life is one of hyperactivity

Driven to achieve by ourselves and others we are exhausted

Is it any wonder we are so unhappy?

We are asked to do more and more with the same amount of limited time

Our life is now dominated by schedules and to-do lists

The pace we set for our life cannot be sustained

We seek the answer in meditation, yoga, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and any other number of ways to calm our mind and give our life meaning

The days become a blur as they pass us by

You tell yourself someday I will jump off this hamster wheel, once I earn a little more money

That day never happens and you die never having really lived

Is that really what you want from your life?

Stop deferring your fucking life

Today I will jump off the hamster wheel even if for an hour or two

Once I taste freedom I will cease to jump back on the wheel

Remember the world will always try to pull you back into the vortex

Only you can save yourself

 

Namaste

 

If you would like to support this blog, check out the awesome selection of eBooks at:

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Visit my other blog Inspirational Book Reviews where I review some incredible literature.

Taking life to seriously

I sat around this morning drinking coffee, and playing my To-Do list in my head over and over like I typically do wondering if I would ever get it all done on time and how all these future events would transpire. Does any of this sound familiar? Anyone with a modicum of drive and determination falls victim to this kind of routine, and quite frankly it sucks. Here’s the thing we all take life too seriously and we suffer because of that. Sometimes I have to remind myself that a year from now I probably won’t remember all the shit I worried about today, and ironically no one else will either.

The Stoics especially Marcus Aurelius often thought about just how insignificant we are in the scheme of things. I can assure you that no matter how successful you are at work, once you move on and within a couple years or less you will be just a distant memory to those who remain. The company or organization you work for will march on without you because that’s what they do. So lesson one is stop taking your work or yourself so seriously, really in the scheme of things, it’s not that important. I know this is hard to hear because you put so much of yourself into your work, you have tied your identity to what you do, not who you are.

I can hear you now and I can hear myself saying, well that’s great, but I have a lot of shit to do, and if I want to keep earning a living I need to get it done. Most of us can’t just jump off the hamster wheel and join a Buddhist monastery, we need to provide for our families and all that other stuff. When I talk to myself and yes I talk to myself, I try to simplify and tell myself it will all get done, but only if you focus on one thing at a time and stay present. Being present not only makes you more productive so you can eradicate that to-do list, but it also reduces your anxiety as you are not focusing on the future.

Another benefit of focusing on the present moment is that you begin to find joy in what you are doing. Here’s my advice, fuck the productivity benefits, screw the fact that you are getting more done for others; focus on the present for yourself so you can gain some enjoyment from what you are doing.

Namaste

 

If you would like to support this blog, check out the awesome selection of eBooks at:

Mind, Body, Spirit books at eBooks.com

If eBooks aren’t your thing, check out my Resources page for additional ways to support this blog.

Visit my other blog Inspirational Book Reviews where I review some incredible literature.

How Yoga & Meditation saved my life

How Yoga & Meditation saved my life

Yes, this title is a bit dramatic, but there is more than a little truth to it. I am also somewhat ashamed that I haven’t posted any of my own writing for some time, and I’m working on getting something posted, once a week.

women doing cobra

After some time off work, I joined a company, and found myself more unhappy than I have ever been at work. It turned out to be a combination of extremely poor leadership at the company and work that I didn’t enjoy. My stress levels were skyrocketing, and I leaned on some familiar ways of coping including a lot of binge drinking, which of course did little to relieve the growing anxiety and displeasure with my situation. When I wasn’t medicating myself, I began delving into other ways to help control my emotions, including reading about Buddhism, adding yoga to my daily routine, and meditating in the morning. I even started to listen to things like The Law of Attraction or classical music on my way into work to prepare me for the mental war that was being waged in my mind while working.

My somewhat sporadic use of yoga and meditation, finally turned into a daily ritual, and then it replaced drinking as a way of coping with my situation. After a couple months I quit drinking all together. The stress at work only increased, but my negative reaction to it began to become less severe and the amount of time I was upset by it started decreasing. There have been other times in my life when stress and anxiety were my close companion, but never to this extent. I can honestly say that my utter dislike for this work situation was probably a blessing in disguise, and led me to making a really sincere effort to cope with it. I really had two choices at the time; quit the job or find a way to deal with the stress. While this job led me to a regular yoga and meditation practice, which allowed me to cope with this situation, it also made me more resolute to do something about it. This led to pursuing other opportunities and I recently landed a new job and resigned eliminating the stressor part of the equation, well at least that one.

The question is why do I credit yoga and meditation for allowing me to cope and even take action. I won’t go into all the physiological reasons why yoga and meditation seem to work so well, as you can Google that yourself, or read some of my earlier posts. What I can say is there is a synergy when combining yoga and meditation. Your yoga practice is the perfect precursor to meditation as it depends upon an awareness of your breath, relieves tension through stretching, and thus sets the stage for sitting in meditation for 10 – 20 minutes. I find it much easier to meditate after my yoga practice, allowing me to reach a calmer state of mind much sooner than without it.

I don’t think that my experience of dealing with stress, anxiety, and other forms of mental anguish is unique. In fact I’m not sure anyone is immune to the stimulus that manifests itself in negative thoughts, sleepless nights, and all the self torture that is often the result of how we decide to cope with it all. Notable exceptions might be monks, young children, and those of you in the 1% category that have your shit together. For the rest of us that might want to consider another way of coping; I can heartily recommend giving yoga, followed by 10 – 20 minutes of meditation a try. Be committed to your practice, and within a couple weeks you begin to the see results. Here a few things you can expect from your yoga and meditation practice:

  • You will be calmer, little things that really pissed you off just don’t anymore
  • Your ability to cope with stress improves
  • Having a new coping mechanism can free you from those habits that were destructive and didn’t really work
  • It is inexpensive or free to pursue a yoga and meditation practice
  • Your ability to think with a greater level of clarity will improve
  • You might even begin to be a little more tolerant of other human beings, act more compasionate, and be more empathetic
  • Last but not least you will be healthier as you do something good for your body and your mind

Namaste