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Why Meditation Makes You Happier, Healthier and More Successful and How To Get Started

Why Meditation Makes You Happier, Healthier and More Successful and How To Get Started

The benefits of meditation have been talked about for years around mental health, boosted immunity, vitality and creativity. Sounds too good to be true but the good news is science is now supporting that improved well-being, enhanced creativity and a rewired brain are just some of the benefits of daily meditation practice. So what exactly is modern science saying about this ancient wisdom?

The Benefits of Meditation

Meditation reduces anxiety at a brainwave level. A team of researchers at the University of Zagreb in Croatia have published a study on the impact of meditation on brain waves. The EEG brainwave patterns were measured as an indicator of peace. Results confirmed that the effects of transcendental meditation on EEG brainwave patterns and anxiety suggested that meditation is helpful in treating different types of anxiety disorders.

Creativity is enhanced in meditators. In another study published in the Creativity Research Journal it was found that after meditation when participants were given the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking they showed higher than average results for creativity and successful problem solving.

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Job burnout is happen less when you meditate. In a third study researchers looked at job burnout, a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, and found significant reduction in a group who had been meditating versus the control group. This was a clinically important decrease in perceived stress.

Pain is more easily tolerated. A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research done on chronic pain suffers showed that those who meditated didn’t reduce pain levels but the amount of pain they were having caused them less discomfort than the non-meditating control group.

Interestingly despite these scientific results, meditation is still viewed by many as a hippie practice that borders on religion more than healthcare. In one study 80% of Americans asked said they would rather take a pill to relieve anxiety than sit for 20 minutes in meditation. Perhaps this is because people don’t know how to get started on a practice.

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How To Get Started

If you want to get started at home in a simple meditation practice and see these benefits in as little as 2 weeks, here are 8 simple steps to get you started.

1.Pick a time.

I learned that the best time is when you first wake up. The acronym I learned was RPM for rise, pee, meditate. Why? If you put it off until later in the day, it tends to get lower and lower on the to do list.

2. Make it a habit.

Start by scheduling it on your calendar for 21 days. That’s enough time to get a habit formed.

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3. Avoid distractions.

Find a place where you can sit without interruptions for 15-20 minutes. If you have small children pick a time where they won’t need your immediate attention and tell them they can sit with you but you won’t talk to them until you are done.

4. Comfort is key.

Sitting is recommended more than laying down because your body equates laying down with sleep and you are more likely to doze off if you lay down, Make sure you are warm enough. And there is no need to be in a yoga posture as you sit. Cross legged is fine. Eyes closed if possible.

5. Start by following the breath.

This means just bring full awareness away from anything but inhaling and exhaling. Witness what your breath is doing without trying to change it or control it.

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6. Don’t try to stop thinking.

You have approximately 80,000 thoughts each day. It’s impossible to stop them from coming. The goal in meditation is just to notice when you are thinking and refocus back on the breath. This trains the brain to focus for longer durations without asking it to stop thinking.

7. Don’t compare your meditation to others.

Don’t even compare it to your last meditation. Each one is different. Judging your meditation means that there was a goal you were trying to achieve in the meditation. “There is no try just do” in the words of yoda.

8. Benefits that start in meditation are happening outside meditation.

You will notice the benefits of what you do in meditation, not during the meditation but in the rest of your day. You might notice that you have more patience, more creativity or more vitality.

In the words of Pema Chodron: “Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are”

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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