The motivation to meditate

I liken starting meditation to working out.

You know, we hit that boot camp a few months out of the Wedding Day. Get fit for Sydney to Surf, Pier to Pub, Tough Mudder. The first month of training is brutal, then we push past our personal best, hit turbo, collect all the praise from our peers on our changing appearance like a coin collecting Super Mario, smash the event and social media the crap out of it.

Then what happens is we hit regular Joe again. More pizzas on the couch, less time pounding the pavement, cause… meh…

I think I’ve worked out the reason why we do this. It’s because we anchor our purpose on events rather than just doing it for ourselves.

The same can be said of meditation. A lot of people are drawn to meditation to manage stress, get more energy, be more productive at work, to silence those not so helpful thoughts. And there’s also the lure to raise one’s IQ. All this is great but they are all natural by-products of meditation. Pretty awesome ones at that.

The real reason why we should be motivated to meditate is because we deserve time for calm, mindful rest at least once a day. All that other stuff will just happen because of it. A win/win.

Why is this important? Because if we’re just goal orientated or attracted to novelty then in time, we can easily run out of steam. We should just be enough.

So imagine a type of living where there weren’t things to chase. Where those events still happen in our lives but they’re just all part of a longer timeline where we aren’t driven to arrive anywhere in particular.

When I first thought about this it made sense and at the same time it didn’t. I was worried. A woman who thrived on goals, I thought all of a sudden I wouldn’t be committed. Put into practice, however, I’ve never been so committed to my health and wellbeing in my entire life. Because of it, this has been my best year yet.

We may not get to pro athlete level or enlightened Buddha, nor should we expect to work to such extremes. (If you’re a pro athlete reading this, keep doing what you do…) Heck, if we get there, great. But what we really should be doing is hitting our personal best at all times with a healthy dose of keeping it real.

Take that time out, away from the busy day to day and be still. Yes, it takes discipline. I’d rather discipline over Regular Joe. Cause Regular Joe is boring. More and more that good voice in your head gets louder and we start treating ourselves in the best possible way in all areas of life because of it.

Dr. Happy: Developing Mindful Insight

 

Regarded by many as one of the greatest writers of the 19th century, Oliver Wendell Holmes was also considered one of the wisest people of his time. His sagacity and profundity can be found in many of his works but few illustrate better what we can learn from his writings than the following quote:

A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.

Why do I think this to be such a valuable statement?

Because as someone who’s worked as a psychologist and coach for approximately two decades now I’ve come to learn that if there were a common factor to be found in those who’re happier and more successful in life, it’s the ability to “know oneself”.

Knowing oneself (sometimes known as “psychological mindedness” or “insight”) allows one to accurately assess where one is and what one needs to do to get to where one wants to get to (i.e. achieve meaningful goals). Knowing oneself is also at the heart of what in recent years has been referred to as “emotional intelligence”; and it’s well known that emotional intelligence is a key indicator of success in almost every area of life. Knowing oneself involves looking inwards and reflecting, not in the self-defeating, melancholy way of depressives but rather, in a constructive way that drives positive action (something I’ll write more about in my next post).

So how, then, does one develop insight and self-knowledge?

Well, I’m glad you asked and I happily proffer the following suggestions for you to try out and tailor to suit your own style and personality:

  • Set up some form of a reminder system whereby you stop, several times each day, and just pay attention (without judgment) to your thoughts and feelings
  • Start keeping a thought diary (or journal) in which you write down, each and every day, how you felt and what you were thinking in different situations
  • Become more aware of your strengths (and weaknesses) by asking a few people who you know well and trust, to honestly summarise you at your best and your worst

Ultimately, the way we think about ourselves and the world directly determines how we feel and how we perform. Being more aware of your inner thoughts and beliefs, therefore, is a crucial first step to gaining more control of yourself and your life!

Dr. Timothy Sharp is a clinical and coaching psychologist who’s sometimes known as Dr. Happy! He’s the Founder and Chief Happiness Officer of The Happiness Institute and you can find him regularly tweeting at @drhappy.

 

(Image: Abandoned fishing hut in Germany, via onebigphoto.com)

Jonni Pollard, 1GiantMind: Four Pillars of Meditation

By now you’ve probably downloaded the 1 Giant Mind app and began the process of learning how to meditate. If you haven’t, make it the next thing you do after you finish reading this post.

Learning to meditate is really easy with an experienced meditation teacher. The biggest challenge once you have started, is actually sticking with it. In this post I’m going to layout the most tried and tested formula for a smooth ride on the ‘meditation horse’ and how to develop the agility to stay on especially when the terrain gets rough.

There are 4 key principles that are must knows to keep your practice steady and flowing.

These 4 principles are:

  •  Having a Teacher with the Knowledge of the Mind
  • Having an Effective Technique
  • Correct Attitude
  • Regularity

Think of these 4 principles as the 4 legs of a horse. A great meditation practice is the ability to stay on the horse and ride it through any circumstance in life. Whether it be busy, stressful and challenging times, relaxing holiday times or anything in between. If you are able to keep these 4 legs of your horse strong and stable, you’re guaranteed to stay on. Remove any one of these legs and you’re going to have a tough time getting the horse to giddy-up.

All 4 principles are equally important. You need each of them in equal proportion to keep you on the horse and comfortably cruising along.

 

  •  Having a Teacher with Knowledge of the Mind

Understanding why the mind does what it does and how we can influence it to do what we want it to do, rather than being a slave to it, is why we meditate. The workings of the mind are subtle, obscure and at times utterly confusing. This is why it is important to have an experienced teacher who has insight into the nature of the mind from their own direct personal experience. Without an understanding of the nature of the mind, we find it difficult to contextualise all the different experiences we have in meditation, what they mean and how to relate to them.

Often, when we don’t understand our meditation experiences, we tend to resist them, thinking that we are not meditating correctly. We then fall into the trap of trying to make the mind do something it doesn’t want to do. At this point, the practice can become frustrating and even seem like a chore. If meditation feels like this, then we are completely missing the point. A teacher with knowledge of the mind helps eliminate doubt and ensures we don’t get stuck.

 

  • Technique

There are many techniques and styles of meditation. A good meditation technique enables the mind to expand beyond the everyday level of thinking into quieter states of awareness and enables the body to rest deeply. If a technique requires too much focus and concentration it can often cause more stress and frustration than restful expansion. 1 Giant Mind has created a ‘Learn to Meditate’ app that is free, easy to learn and facilitates expansion of the mind and deep rest. If you haven’t already and want to get started right away you can download our app now for free. This program has been created by experienced meditation teachers who know exactly how to get you on the ‘meditation horse’ and riding like a pro in no time.

 

  • Having the correct attitude

Attitude is 25% of the game here. Meditation is a journey, not a destination. When you start your meditation practice, it is important to surrender your expectations, preferences and preconceived ideas about what you think is ahead of you. Discovering the nature of your mind is the most radical journey you can undertake. To do this successfully, you must take the approach of being the innocent witness. If you come to your practice with rigid ideas about what you want, you may very well miss out on what you actually need in that moment. Forcing the mind to make things happen in meditation will actually have the opposite effect of what you desire. So let go… and allow allow allow.

 

  • Regularity

Like anything, the more you meditate the more it becomes habitual and the effects of it increase exponentially. This applies to all things positive and negative. The more we go to the gym the stronger and fitter we get, the more we surf, the more ripping our style. The more we smoke cigarettes the more addicted and unhealthier we become. This simple principle can be applied to anything. It seems so obvious reading this right now, however, as you will find out when you begin to meditate, without this leg of the horse, the practice won’t yield what you truly desire.

 

In my next 4 posts I’m going to write about each of these principles in much greater detail which guarantee to deliver a bunch of AHA moments!

In the mean time, if you wanted get started with a great technique right now, go to download the 1 Giant Mind free app I will personally guide you through a step by step program and have you meditating deeply in no time at all.

What are you grateful for in 2013?

Peeps, I’m offline til Jan 7. Before I bounce the one thing I ask of you is this: write a list of all that you’re grateful for in 2013.

I know for some of you this may sound a bit wet, unfollow me if you wish, but this is to the core of me. If you do this, no doubt the majority of you will find more positive things in your life than negative. My gratitude list for this year is currently in the hundreds.

And if life has knocked you sideways with health, the passing of a loved one, a breakup, ongoing depression, anything – for whatever reason, keep strong, beautiful times are in sight. A lot of it comes down to the effort we make for each moment in our day to be awesome.

I wouldn’t be such a happy lass if I didn’t practice this. Thank you for being in my digital orbit. Enjoy the rest of the year and let’s make 2014 the finest year yet. Big Love, Faustina

Jonni Pollard, 1GiantMind: Mediation. Getting Stated.

When we set out on a journey, the more we know about the terrain ahead the better prepared we can be to maximise the enjoyment and flow of the experience. You’d be nuts setting out to climb Mount Everest without a guide, proper training, ice boots, warm clothes, some rope and ice picks right?

The same principal applies to meditation. Meditation takes us on an extraordinary journey into ourselves and the experience can be as unpredictable as it is rewarding. In order to have a fun ride and maximise flow, you’ve got to pack all the right stuff to navigate the terrain and have an effortless and awesome journey.

The biggest reason why people fall off the ‘meditation horse’ after a couple of weeks is because they didn’t prepare themselves properly. Nothing beats having an experienced teacher to show you the ropes and to have your back when the road gets a little rocky.

So to make this whole process of getting started as easy as possible, a group of young experienced meditation teachers including myself have created a new organisation called 1 Giant Mind. We are a not-for-profit, dedicated to making sure you have everything you need to become a knowledgeable self-sufficient meditator.

We have created an awesome FREE smartphone app for iPhone and Android that you can download as soon as you finish reading this post. This comes with the support and knowledge you need to build a solid regular meditation practice and take it everywhere you go.

The 1 Giant Mind ‘Learn to Meditate’ app has 3 levels of instruction that lead you through an easy and highly effective meditation technique. It can be practiced anywhere, at anytime, and will leave you feeling a lot more chilled, rested, energised, present and connected than when you started.

In the 1 Giant Mind app, I personally start you on the journey of meditation and take you step-by-step, with audio and video guidance, throughout the entire program.

There’s a comprehensive video review section available at the end of every meditation session to learn about the experiences you’re having and why you are having them.

We have a sliding timer tool so you can set your meditations to a length that suits you and a journal tool that logs your progress which you can access at any time.

At the end of the 3 level program you will have mastered the technique to practice it anywhere, anytime.

I recommend you sign up for the 1 Giant Mind newsletter and like us on Facebook to get access to our support program of weekly tips, knowledge and inspiration. This is our ongoing commitment to keep you charging in your practice. We want you to know that we’ve got your back, making sure you get your ‘med on’ and stay on the ‘meditation horse’ especially in those tough stressful times when it matters the most.

The biggest thing to remember is that meditation is a journey, not a destination. If you have no attachment to an outcome and commit to going along for the ride, what we can guarantee is your life opening up in ways you could have never imagined.

Go to: 1giantmind.org/get-app or simply search for it in the App Store or Google Play on your smartphone.

Next post I’m going to share is ‘The 4 Pillars’ of a solid meditation practice. This post will give you great knowledge and tips for getting on the meditation horse (and of course, staying on it).

Image Source: http://southweb.org

DR HAPPY: KEEP ONE EYE ON THE PRIZE THIS FESTIVE SEASON

In some form or other, we all have something in our life we’re trying to accomplish. Whether it’s a formally stated goal or just a loosely defined dream, you’ve probably spent at least part of this year working towards something like weight loss, more happiness, a promotion at work, getting fitter, or saving up for something special.

And if so, you’ve probably noticed that in some form or other, we all face obstacles and/or distractions that tempt us away from what we mostly know we should be doing (that burger looks so much more attractive than the salad and the bar sometimes calls your name louder than the gym).

This is not a new phenomenon; in fact in researching this article I stumbled upon this great quote from none other than Christopher Columbus…

By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.

So how do we prevail over all obstacles and distractions? How can we stay focused on what ever it is we want to achieve especially at this time of year when there are even more temptations and distractions thanks to Christmas and New Year? How can we have some fun (because as you can imagine, as the Chief Happiness Officer of The Happiness Institute I’m a pretty big fan of fun!) but still stay on track?

Well, it gives me great pleasure to proffer the following suggestions:

  • Consider following the 80/20 rule. That is, if you do what you want to do or “get it right” 80% of the time then don’t be hard on yourself for not being perfect all the time (which is, after all, an impossible expectation)
  • Savour the good times and really have some fun; but then put reasonable limits on this (and only you can define “reasonable”) so you don’t set yourself up for failure and guilt
  • Remind yourself often, loudly and regularly, not just of what you’re trying to achieve but also why you’re trying to achieve it
  • Try not to allow short term pleasures over ride longer term, meaningful outcomes
  • Make what you’re trying to do fun (e.g. exercise or eating well) so it doesn’t seem like such hard work
  • Foster positivity and optimism by focusing on what you can do and on what you are doing and on how great you’ll feel if you stay focused and keep persevering
  • Enlist the support of family and friends; get an exercise buddy or a partner who’s also trying to achieve something similar to what you’re trying to achieve
  • Use your strengths to ensure you’re getting the most out of yourself (read a list of 24 character strengths here and how to use them effectively  here)
  • And finally, take it one step at a time (even if you stumble, your next step is what really matters and you can choose, every minute of every day, whether you allow one mistake to “ruin everything” or whether you recover and re-start in the next moment)

So there it is; balancing pleasure and persistence is the key to staying focused on what you want to do and be. Allow yourself some fun and pleasure but make sure you also work on tasks that will ultimately provide satisfaction and accomplishment.

 

Dr. Timothy Sharp is a clinical and coaching psychologist who’s sometimes known as Dr. Happy! He’s the Founder and Chief Happiness Officer of The Happiness Institute and you can find him regularly tweeting at @drhappy.