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5 Tips for a Deeper Meditation Practice

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

Want to dive deeper into your meditation practice? In this blog post, we’ll talk about five different ways to take your meditation practice deeper and further. These five tips will assume that you already have a meditation practice. If you don’t yet have a meditation practice, we recommend reading our earlier post titled “Keeping a Consistent Meditation Practice.”

Deepen your meditation practice.

You can deliberately deepen your meditation practice.

1) Think About Your Intention Before Each Meditation

As you sit down to begin your meditation, spend just a few moments on what your intention is for this meditation. Even a daily meditation can become autopilot if you’re not deliberate about how you use it. Remind yourself – why are you doing this meditation in the first place?

Is it to improve your focus? Reduce stress? Build emotional awareness? Having that in mind as you begin your meditation can help you guide your mind as you meditate.

2) Maintain Momentum with the “1 Minute Meditation”

A big part of having a deep and rewarding meditation practice is consistency. Meditation builds on itself over time. Each sit increases your ability to focus, to be present and to explore your mind.

Yet, sometimes life gets in the way. Perhaps it’s an early morning meeting, or an ill-timed layover. Missing meditations can interrupt your momentum and prevent your meditation practice from deepening.

How can you avoid this? One way to do it is to commit to a daily meditation – even if it’s just for one minute. If you’re truly in a rush, spend just one minute meditating. That way, you can keep your “momentum” until you’re able to sit for a longer period of time.

3) Be Mindful of Your Interest Level

One of the most common ways the mind resists meditation is by losing interest. After a time, you might find yourself getting bored, lethargic or disinterested in meditating. It’s important to notice this when it happens. The best way to treat this kind of resistance is to treat it like any other kind of resistance that surfaces during meditation.

First, notice it and be aware of it. Let it be and don’t resist the resistance. Acknowledge it compassionately, and simply let it pass. Observe the emotion, but don’t let it dictate your actions. As you put your attention on it, without resistance, it’ll slowly fade away, allowing you to explore the next layer of your mind.

4) Use a Regular Meditation Spot to “Anchor In”

Anchoring is a term from Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a field of study that examines how the mind encodes experiences. One thing that researchers have found is that people tend to associate strong emotional states with objects, places and people that were around when they experienced that emotional state.

One way we can use this with meditation is by “anchoring” states of mindfulness, peace, depth, focus, etc. to a specific location. All you need to do to do this is to pick a consistent place to meditate in.

Over time, this specific spot will become associated in your mind with those deep mindful states. Then, whenever you sit down to meditate, your mind will automatically start to calm itself down and tune into mindfulness.

5) Mix Things Up

Finally, remember to experiment with different kinds of meditation. Different kinds of meditations can have different kinds of effects on the mind.

Once you’ve been meditating for a while, consider going back to meditations that you’ve already tried in the past. Doing the body scan meditation after you’ve spent a year doing breathing meditation will yield a very different experience than when you tried it for the first time with no meditation experience.

These five tips will help you take your meditation deeper and further. Give them a try – and we’d love to hear how it goes!

To your happiness and success,

— Search Inside Yourself

Posted in Meditation and Mindfulness | Tagged , ,

Training and Developing Your Compassion

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

We often think of compassion as an innate trait. You’re either compassionate, or you’re not. But what if compassion was actually more like confidence, happiness, or tranquility – all traits that we can develop if we put our mind to it?

Compassion is a trait that can be developed

Developing more compassion will help you improve your relationships with others, both personally and professionally. Have you ever met someone who was so warm and compassionate that you couldn’t help but respond in kind? When others sense that you care about them, they’ll naturally care about you in return.

Moreover, a compassionate life is simply more enjoyable to live than a self-centered one. It’s counter-intuitive, but one of the best things you could do for your own wellbeing is develop your sense of care for others.

So how does one develop compassion?

Developing Compassion with the Multiplying Goodness Meditation

This meditation comes from the Search Inside Yourself book, page 204.

  1. Begin by connecting with the goodness within you. Connect with your inner sense of love, care for others, joy and of course compassion. Sometimes imagining these emotions as white light emanating from your body can help you intensify your connection to these emotions.
  2. As you inhale, imagine breathing all this innate goodness into your heart. In the brief moment between inhale and exhale, imagine this innate goodness multiplying by a factor of 10. Now exhale and imagine yourself blowing this innate goodness out into the world. It can help to imagine this as blowing white light out into the world. Repeat this visualization for about 2 minutes.
  3. Now, connect with the sense of goodness within everyone that you know. It might help to imagine specific people. All those emotions you just experienced – love, care, joy, compassion – also exist in others. It can help to imagine those emotions as a white on top of their body. Now when you inhale, imagine you’re breathing their sense of goodness into your heart. Repeat this visualization for 2 minutes.
  4. Now expand this visualization to everyone in the world. Everyone in the world has these innate positive qualities as well. Connect with those emotions. Again, it can help to visualize this as white light. Breathe in this innate sense of goodness from everyone in the world. Repeat this visualization for 2 minutes.
  5. Finish the meditation by meditating on your breath for 1 minute.

This meditation can help you tap into your own sense of compassion, as well as develop more of a felt connection with the rest of the world. This in turn will also help you develop more care for others, as well as help improve your empathy.

To your happiness and success,

- Search Inside Yourself

Posted in Habits and Practices

What is Resistance (in Meditation?)

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

In the mindfulness community, the term “resistance” is commonly used word. But what does this term really mean? And how does it affect your meditation – and your life? Let’s take a deeper look.

What is resistance?

What is resistance (in meditation?)

What is Resistance?

Resistance is simply any way in which you’re not embracing the present moment, exactly the way it is. Resistance can be very obvious or very subtle. Here are a few examples:

  • “I wish I was less tired” (more obvious)
  • “I wish my back doesn’t hurt when I meditate” (more obvious)
  • “I should be more present” (more subtle)
  • “I need to stop resisting” (more suble)

Why Avoid Resistance?

Resistance fundamentally means you’re saying to the world, “I don’t like it the way it is.” However, the world is exactly the way it is – which means the more you resist, the more unhappiness you create.

Accepting things the way they are will not only allow you to enjoy life more, but also helps you facilitate change. When you accept something, it becomes more fluid and malleable. The first step to losing weight is accepting your body the way it is. The first step to ending a dispute is accepting where both parties are at. The first step to feeling more energized is to not resist your tiredness.

A Common Misconception

Meditation teachers often put resistance into two broad categories: craving and aversion. Craving is wanting something that isn’t here (e.g. “I wish I had more money.”) Aversion is wanting something that is here to not be here (e.g. “I wish I didn’t have to do today’s presentation.”)

Because meditation teachings advocating non-craving are so common, this often creates a misconception that desire itself is bad. And that part of mindful thinking is getting rid of desire. That’s not the case.

Part of mindfulness thinking is getting rid of resistance. Resistance combined with desire creates craving – in other words, you want the world to be different. This creates unhappiness and more resistance. However, on the other hand, desire can exist without resistance.

Instead of fighting the present moment, desire can be an enjoyable experience in and of itself. You can want to have financial success, and allow that desire to drive you further in life. Yet that desire doesn’t have to mean you resist the way your life really is. You can have both. Desire without resistance can actually be very healthy.

A Practice in Non-Resistance

Why not spend a few minutes getting to know your own tendencies towards resistance? Just give this short meditation a try.

  1. Find a place to sit and meditate. Set aside 5 to 10 minutes for this exercise.
  2. Bring your attention to your breath. Spend 1-2 minutes on whatever meditation works best for you. Once you feel present and grounded, move on to step #3.
  3. Start paying attention to how you’re embracing or resisting the present moment. Whenever you notice resistance, just smile and compassionately shift your attention to accepting that experience. Don’t resist the experience of having resistance.

With experienced meditators, resistance can often be more subtle. It might be the desire to feel more present, or a subconscious notion of how meditation is “supposed” to be. Notice these tendencies as well, and just smile, embrace it and continue your meditation.

To your happiness and success,

  • Search Inside Yourself
Posted in Meditation and Mindfulness | Tagged , , , ,

How to Mindfully Navigate Disagreements and Arguments

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

Disagreements and arguments can be either a source of frustration and anger, or a source of growth and understanding. Poorly navigated disagreements can create animosity and distance between all parties involved. On the other hand, a good disagreement can actually help move the organization forward, while bringing everyone involved closer together.

How to navigate disagreements mindfully.

How to navigate disagreements mindfully.

How can you turn a destructive disagreement into a constructive one? Mindfulness is the key.

Disagreements Are Essential for Growth

Researchers have found that a lack of disagreements is actually a huge red flag in organizations. An often cited example is in the medical field. In hospitals where nurses are afraid to point out mistakes made by doctors, avoidable mistakes happen far more frequently. Surgeons end up performing the wrong procedure on patients, because the culture in the organization forbade nurses from speaking up.

More efficient – and safer – hospitals cultivate an atmosphere where nurses are encouraged to point out any concerns they have before a procedure. In fact, in these hospitals, the whole operating team gets together before any procedure to walk through the process and to walk through any potential problems. Hospitals who manage to cultivate a culture of open dialogue often find their “medical mistakes” rates drop dramatically.

Destructive Disagreements vs. Constructive Disagreements

A destructive disagreement is one that’s based on emotion. It might be one person lashing out at another, one person being defensive towards the other, one person exerting power over another, or any number of other reactive situations. The core driver of the conversation is emotional.

A constructive disagreement on the other hand is based on a foundation of shared values. You both care about the same thing, and are disagreeing over the specific method of getting there. The nurse and the doctor both care about the patient’s health, but the nurse has a concern about the procedure. The CEO and the CFO both want the best for the company, but the CFO has concerns about how the books are kept. The writer and the editor both want the piece to be the best it can be, but the editor is insisting on a top to bottom rewrite.

All of these examples stem from a foundation of a shared goal, even if both participants have lost sight of that. The key to changing conversations from destructive to constructive is to move from focusing on the reactive emotions in the conversation to focusing on the shared values in the conversation.

Mindfully Moving Towards Constructive Disagreements

So, if you’re having a disagreement with someone, how do you mindfully steer that disagreement in a more constructive direction?

  1. Take a break if possible. Getting distance will help you calm your emotions and be able to get more perspective.
  2. Examine your emotions. What are you feeling? What emotions are you experiencing? Which parts of you are feeling reactive? Look below the surface. Is any part of you feeling hurt, disregarded or undervalued?
  3. Listen to what they’re saying verbally. Acknowledge any emotions you might be experiencing as you listen, but don’t let them get in the way of really hearing what they’re saying. Mindfulness practice really helps with this. Just being aware of your emotions removes much of the power they have over you. You’ll start driving the conversation from a place of values instead of reactiveness.
  4. Listen to what’s unsaid. Understand where they’re coming from. Try to feel out what emotions they’re experiencing in the disagreement, and try to understand why they’re having that reaction. What concerns haven’t been aired? What’s causing the tension in the conversation?
  5. Then, look below the emotions and re-focus on the values they share with you. Mentally focus on your shared values and then verbally acknowledge it. Acknowledge that you both want the same thing. Talk through any of the disagreements you’ve had, but approach it as if you’re on the same side of the table instead of on opposite ends.

Mindfulness allows you to bring yourself out of a reactive or emotional state. Use mindfulness to return yourself to emotional equilibrium. As you become less reactive, they will as well. Once the heated emotions start to diffuse, you can focus your attention on the content of the issue, with a foundation of shared values.

To your happiness and success,

-          Search Inside Yourself Team

Posted in Better Relationships | Tagged , , , , ,

What to Focus on During Meditation: 20 Ideas

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

Most types of meditation involve paying attention to your mind, then gently bringing your attention back to a chosen focal point if your mind wanders. The focal point itself varies from meditation to meditation. What you focus on can make a big difference on your meditation experience.

Time to Focus

Try shifting your meditation’s focus to
one of these 20 ideas

So why not experiment with what you focus on? Here are 20 ideas for things to try. See which one(s) create the most powerful experience for you.

1. The Breath. This is perhaps the most common type of meditation. Focus your attention on your breath, and simply bring it back to the breath whenever your mind wanders.

2. The Body Scan. Pay attention to the physical sensations in your body. Start from the top of your head and slowly move your attention down. When you get to the floor, change directions and slowly move back up.

3. The Present Moment. Instead of focusing on something specific externally, simply focus your attention on being in the present moment. Experience what’s happening right now, moment by moment.

4. Emotions. Focus on your emotions. What are you feeling? What are the layers and subtleties to those emotions?

5. Emotional Triggers. Trace an emotion back to its cause. What triggered that emotion? Are there unconscious emotional triggers at play? Don’t beat yourself up about anything – simply observe your emotional triggers with compassion and curiosity.

6. Compassion. Focus on your own sense of compassion. On your care and love for others around you. Allow this feeling to grow and expand.

7. Forgiveness. Bring to mind a person who has wronged you, or whom you perceive to have wronged you. Allow yourself to feel and experience all the emotions associated with that experience, then slowly let them go. Choose to forgive.

8. Your Core Values. Explore what your core values are. What do you really care about? What do you stand for? How are those core values present right now?

9. Inspiration. How inspired do you feel right now, in the present moment? Explore the intricacies of what makes you feel inspired, or why you don’t feel inspired.

10. Your Goals. Think about some of your most important goals. What comes up when you think of them? Do you feel excited? Pressured? Do they feel challenging or undemanding?

11. The Humanity of Others. Think of the people in your life. Remind yourself that they’re human, just like you. They’re a conscious, feeling, thinking being, just like you. Tap into a shared sense of humanity with the people around you.

12. The Suffering of Others. Becoming aware of the pain of those around you can be a potent way to develop more compassion. Think of people around you who are in pain – those you know personally, or people you see suffering who you don’t know personally (such as the homeless in your city.) Or you can even think of distant people in the world, like kids in Africa. Let their suffering in, and respond with love and compassion.

13. Happiness. Focus your attention on your own sense of happiness. How happy are you now? What does it feel like to put your attention on your happiness? How could you increase your sense of happiness in your life?

14. The Heart of the Rose. A simple meditation from “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.” Meditate in front of a rose, and simply focus on appreciating its beauty. Notice the color, the fragrance, the softness of the petals – even the dangers of the spikes. Fully appreciate the rose for what it is.

15. Breathe in Light, Breathe Out Stress. On your inhale, focus on breathing in positive emotions like love, compassion and inspiration. On your exhale, focus on expelling negative emotions from your body, such as stress, anger or resentment.

16. Soothing Music. Play a piece of soothing music in the background. Focus just on the music, on allowing yourself to really experience the music fully.

17. White Light. Meditators often find that visualizing white light is calming and rejuvenating. Visualize this light flowing into you through your breath, or emanating from your heart.

18. A Conversation. This meditation is useful when there’s a conversation that your mind is stuck on. First, let yourself think about that conversation for a few moments. Then, bring your attention back to the present. Now pay attention to the thoughts, emotions and physical sensations that arise. This can help dispel any lingering feelings related to that conversation.

19. Conscious Eating. Try meditating while you’re eating. Try to savor every bite, and really experience your meal as you’re eating it.

20. Space and Expansion. The vast majority of matter is made of space. See if you can feel a sense of vastness, to feel space itself. You are, after all, floating through space at this very moment. Can you experience what that’s like, not as a concept, but as a present moment experience?

These are 20 very different potential ways you can focus your meditation. Try out the ones that sound most interesting to you. Let us know how it goes!

To your happiness and success,

-          Search Inside Yourself

Posted in Meditation and Mindfulness | Tagged , , ,

How to Use Meditation to Improve Your Public Speaking

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

World-class public speakers generally have a few traits in common. They’re relaxed on stage. They’re spontaneous and often interact with the audience during their speech. They’re expressive and bright; the audience often feels uplifted, inspired or moved after the speech. They know how to “flow” on stage. While much of this comes with practice, meditation can help you cultivate all of these qualities much more quickly.

Use mindfulness to improve your public speaking

Use mindfulness to improve your public speaking

Most people have trouble with public peaking because they approach the subject from a place of fear. Their mind creates mental images of disaster scenarios, and those mental images further intensify their fear. In response, they try harder to memorize and recite the speech word for word – taking their attention away from the moment, and from the audience with whom they’re trying to create a connection.

Instead of trying to overcome fear by memorizing a speech word for word, meditation allows you to dissipate the fear in a natural way. It won’t completely get rid of nervousness, but it will allow you to have a positive relationship with the natural nervousness that comes with speaking. It’ll also allow you to be in the present moment – and allow you to be spontaneous, relaxed, and expressive.

So how can you use meditation to improve your public speaking?

Meditate at Least 5 Minutes a Day the Week Before Your Speech

A big part of the nervousness that comes from speaking in public comes from a “buildup” of stressful self-talk. The week leading up to a talk, thoughts like these often pop up:

  • What will the audience think of me?
  • What questions might the audience ask? What if I don’t have an answer?
  • What if the projector breaks?
  • What will this mean for my career if I mess up this speech?

Over the week, this can create a buildup of stress that only gets worse. Meditation can not only help break you out of this cycle, but turn the cycle into a cycle of positive self-talk.

The first step to putting an end to this kind of mental imagery and self-talk is to become aware of it. With regular meditation, you’ll start to very quickly notice when your mind is creating unhelpful self-talk. You’ll also be able to practice stopping that kind of self-talk. Not through force, but through gently guiding your mind back to awareness – or to more positive and self-reinforcing thoughts.

Meditating every day leading up to a speech can work wonders for your nerves when you’re actually on stage. It’ll dispel the “buildup” of stressful thoughts leading up to the speech, which will have you much more relaxed when you’re actually on stage.

Being Relaxed and Spontaneous During Your Speech

Meditation can also be a powerful tool when you’re actually up on stage.

The first step starts as any other meditation starts: accepting the moment exactly as it is. If you’re feeling nervous, start by breathing and allowing that experience to exist, as it is. Stay in the present moment and accept whatever the moment brings.

In improv, one of the core tenants is the “yes, and” philosophy. Like meditation, improv actors are taught to accept the moment as it is, and to add on top of it. This philosophy can be very powerful when used on stage. Instead of stopping the flow of the moment, improv actors are able to take whatever is happening in the moment and turn it into an opportunity to connect with the audience. This concept applies not just with improv, but with all public speaking.

A great example of this is Google’s Gopi Kallayil’s mindfulness speech. During his speech, the projector broke down. Instead of letting anxiety about the situation detract from his speech, he used the situation spontaneously to create a mindfulness exercise. He shared with the group exactly what was going on in his mind, and how he was using his breath to calm himself down. He turned the situation into an educational moment and involved the audience. Instead of freezing up or apologizing, it became a valuable part of his speech.

The “right response” to these kinds of situations is different from speech to speech. But the key to being able to come up with a good response on the spot is to simply accept the moment as it is – to say “yes and” – and to add to it.

Meditation and mindfulness can help you make big improvements to your public speaking. Best of all? It only takes a few minutes of practice a day for it to make an impact. Why not give it a shot the next time you have a big speech?

To your happiness and success,

-          Search Inside Yourself Team

Posted in Job Performance | Tagged , , , , ,

Finding the Right Meditation Style for You

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

There are over a dozen different styles of meditation to choose from. Some are better at improving concentration, while others are better at relieving stress. Some are better at developing self-awareness, while others are better for developing communication skills. With so many options to choose from, how can you choose the right meditation style for you?

Why Not Try Each Style Once?

Before selecting the meditation style that you’ll use on an ongoing basis, it’s a good idea to give each meditation style a try first. For example, for one week, try doing a different kind of meditation every day.

A good place to start is the Search Inside Yourself book. In Search Inside Yourself, Chade-Meng Tan discusses over two dozen different kinds of meditations that you can try for yourself. These meditations are specifically designed to combine mental and emotional development with professional development.

Try experimenting with different meditation styles

Why not try each meditation style once?

5 Common Styles of Meditation

Here are some of the most common styles of meditation:

  • Visualization-Based. These meditations center around using visualizations to guide the meditation experience. For example, the “Tonglen” meditation in Search Inside Yourself uses the visualization of light to ease pain and develop compassion.
  • Auditory-Based. These meditations often center around a mantra or a question. It might be a question you’re reflecting on, or something you continually tell yourself throughout the meditation. For example, in Search Inside Yourself Meng talks about mentally saying “I want you to be happy” to others as a way of developing empathy.
  • Awareness-Based. These meditations focus solely on developing attention. These meditations are great for developing concentration and focus. For example, the breathing meditation taught in the beginning of Search Inside Yourself.
  • Physical Sensation Based. These meditations use the physical body as a gateway to understanding the mind. Most emotions are actually felt in the body as physical sensations. A good example of this is the “Body Scan” meditation, also found in the Search Inside Yourself book.
  • Guided Meditation. Some people find that they have better results with meditation when they’re being guided through the experience. Search Inside Yourself also provides free guided meditation mp3s, available at the top of the page.

Of course, there are dozens of other kinds of meditation as well. But these 5 styles of meditation are a great place to get started.

Test First, Then Build Consistency

Once you’ve had the chance to try out a variety of different meditation styles, ask yourself – which style made the biggest impact for you? In addition to paying attention to how you feel during the meditation, make sure you also pay attention to how you feel throughout the entire day after the meditation.

Once you’ve found a style that works for you, scale it down. Instead of meditating for 30 minutes a day, start with 5 or 10 minutes. Make it a consistent practice on a small scale, then slowly add more time once you build it into a habit.

What style of meditation works best for you? Share in the comments below!

Posted in Meditation and Mindfulness | Tagged , , , , ,

“The Tribe Bringing Mindfulness to the World” – A Personal Account of SIYLI’s Teacher Certification Program, Expand

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute
Laurie Cameron

By Laurie Cameron

I am half-way through the year-long mastery program to become a certified Search Inside Yourself Teacher.  I have been teaching executives and practicing mindfulness for two decades, so a number people in my life were surprised when I applied to join the first cohort of SIYLI teachers.   But I had a strong pull coming from that place of inner wisdom we all have – and I knew that the SIYLI experience was going to integrate well in my ongoing work.

Three Elements of the Journey

  1. The Tribe

When I walked into the serene yet buzzing room at Hotel Kabuki on the first day of session one, I could immediately tell I was home.  There was a gentleness in the smiles that greeted me near the breakfast buffet. A combination of anticipation, curiosity, depth, confidence and humility emanated from the faces of my cohort members who traveled from Singapore, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Portugal, Mexico, Maine and even Mill Valley, CA.  I am humbled and honored to be a part of this group. Our connections have deepened as we continue to experience masterful practices that cultivate  presence and connection with one another.  We have become a tribe.

  1. Our Shared Mission

I exhale with relief knowing that I am part of a global “we” in carrying out my own calling.  In our deep discussions, and sometimes debates, on the latest findings in neuroscience, mindfulness and emotional intelligence, what emerges is the realization that we are all arm-in-arm. We are unique but so alike in our passion and purpose. We share a commitment to develop ourselves and depend on each other as we forge new ground in mindful leadership in each of our geographies and business domains. Through global Google hangouts, Skype calls and emails- we send each other materials, ideas and encouragement as we do this work together.

  1. My Developmental Journey

As a confessed life-long learner, the SIYLI experience has been phenomenal. I carry with me a metaphorical string of learning moments from the masterful teachers we have had so far.

  • I have a bead for a session with Shauna Shapiro, as she gracefully walked into our circle, sat down in the middle of the room and embodied a compassionate presence that taught us more than anything on slides.
  • I have another bead for the morning when Chade Meng Tan personally challenged us to cultivate three qualities to become master teachers.
  • There is a bead for the breathtaking way Marc Lesser led an exercise took us into examining our own Ways of Being as teachers – the polarities of competencies that we need to master and integrate as go forward.
  • I have a bead for the moments that Meg Levy tuned in with wisdom and taught precisely what was needed in the moment.
  • I have one for Dan Siegel who spoke to us as a wise mentor, evoking in me a deeply charged, purposeful focus in how I go forward with the science and lessons that can help my clients become stronger, wiser leaders.
  • And I carry one for Elizabeth Lindsey’s wordless teaching.  She generously demonstrated that we are wise, loving and connected beings, and she did so in a way that affected most of us in the room at our core.

I look forward to our next two in-person retreats, and all of the connections in between. We will complete our SIYLI program with our shared mission as a tribe of Wayfinders building wise and compassionate leaders.

Posted in Uncategorized

How to Manage Your Body and Your Physical Space During Meditation

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

While the meditation is primarily about the mind and the spirit, the body also plays a key part. Because emotions are coded in physical sensations, the body is an essential gateway for gaining insight into those emotions. That’s why being physically comfortable and having a conducive physical space is an important part of a good meditation practice.

If you manage your body and your space well, you’ll be able to let the physical aspects go so you can fully immerse yourself into the meditative experience. Otherwise, aches, legs falling asleep and other physical ailments can distract you from your meditation.

Your body is an important part of the meditation experience

Your body is an important part of the meditation experience

So, how can you create a conducive physical space for meditation? Just follow these four tips:

Stretch Before Starting Your Meditation

If you plan on meditating for more than ten minutes, spend a few seconds stretching out your muscles first. This helps get more blood flow to your extremities, which reduces the chances of your legs falling asleep.

Have a Regular Meditation Space

Pick a space in your home or office to use for meditation. It shouldn’t be your bed and it shouldn’t be your desk. It could be a specific chair, a mat in the corner, a dedicated meditation room or even your favorite place to stand next to the window. Using the same space regularly will create a mental anchor to that space. Your mind will naturally start to drop into a mindful state of mind whenever you move into that space, simply through repeated conditioning.

Try Different Meditation Positions

Try meditating sitting down. Try meditating standing up. Try meditation lying down. Try meditation while walking. Try it while cross legged, try it in a chair, try it in half-lotus position and try it with your legs stretched out in front of you.

Different positions work best for different people. Try out different ones to see which one(s) work best for you.

Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference

Once you’ve found a posture that works for you, try out some small adjustments. For instance, crossing your legs just a little bit looser can prevent your legs from falling asleep. Sitting so your backbone lines up from top to bottom can prevent backache. Seemingly small and minute adjustments can make a big difference, especially in longer meditation sits.

Getting Physically Comfortable

By paying just a little bit of attention to how you manage your physical body, you’ll be able to free up a lot more attention for your meditation. Best of all, you don’t have to think about this all that often. Once you find something that works for you, it’ll pay off for weeks and months to come.

What posture works best for you? How do you manage your physical space during meditation? Share in the comments!

To your happiness and success,

-          Search Inside Yourself

Posted in Meditation and Mindfulness | Tagged , , , , ,

The Flow State: What It Is & How to Achieve It

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

You’ve probably felt it before. That state where time seems to stand still, where you just seem to know exactly what to do. You’re fully immersed in the experience, taking one action after another, without thinking or distracting yourself. That’s the flow state.

In many ways, the flow state is very much like a state of meditation. The chatter in the mind fades away, as does the ego. Instead, you’re left with just the present moment – just you and the task at hand.

Find flow at work, at home or at play!

Find flow at work, at home or at play!

This flow state was first examined and written about in detail by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a renowned psychologist. Since then, many studies have been done on the subject. Flow state has been observed in many different kinds of circumstances – from programming to surgery to all kinds of sports.

Why Cultivate a State of Flow?

There are a few key reasons to consciously cultivate this state:

  1. It’s a state of immense concentration. You’ll often get a lot done – and produce higher quality results – while in the flow state.
  2. It creates a powerful sense of clarity. You know exactly what needs to be done, without needing to think about it.
  3. Being in flow removes normal mental obstacles. Stress, worry, lack of concentration, self-doubt, all of that disappears during a flow state.
  4. The flow state is intrinsically ecstatic. Just being in the moment, facing a worthwhile challenge is highly pleasurable.

How to Create a State of Flow

A flow state cannot be forced. Instead, flow comes naturally when certain conditions are met. The primary conditions are:

  1. A challenge or task that is not too easy. Otherwise, apathy or boredom will prevent the flow state.
  2. A challenge or task that is not too difficult. Otherwise, anxiety, worry or stress will prevent the flow state.
  3. A clear goal. Flow is achieved when working towards something you care about.
  4. A focus on the process, not the goal. This may seem contrary to #3, yet is an essential part of flow. An athlete might have a goal of winning the gold medal. But the flow state is only achieved when the athlete focuses on playing the game, right now, in the moment – rather than thinking about winning the medal. Yet without the goal and the desire behind the goal, flow will not be achieved. Both the goal and the focus on the process are necessary.
  5. A lack of interruptions. The flow state is easily broken. For flow to be achieved and sustained, you need to be able to focus on the task at hand without interruption.

When these conditions are aligned, flow is a natural consequence.

Of course, meditation will also increase your natural ability to achieve flow. Meditation lets you deliberately practice going into states of concentration, as well as filtering out distractions. A consistent meditation practice, as well as the deliberate cultivation of these five flow factors, will help you achieve flow much more consistently.

What are your experiences with flow states? Are there any memorable experiences that you can share?

To your happiness and success,

-          Search Inside Yourself

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