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8 Unconventional Meditations For A Busy Lifestyle

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8 Unconventional Meditations For A Busy Lifestyle

You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” – Old Zen adage

What’s the most common excuse you make as to why you don’t meditate? If you’re like most people, it’s time.

Meditation takes time – precious minutes that most of us perceive ourselves not to have. However, this is only an issue if you perceive meditation in a super-traditional sense. For example, you must meditate for an hour each day, in complete silence, in a sitting position. We think of ancient sages sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, serenely zoning out beneath an old beautiful tree. Who has time for that? This idealized image is certainly discouraging, considering the pace of our modern day-to-day life.

But if we were to suspend all preconceived notions about what meditation is, and what a “successful” meditator looks like, we could break through that stale barrier of “not enough time.” Here are a few unconventional meditations for a busy lifestyle.

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1. The Board Meeting Meditation

We don’t often associate meditation with productivity, but a Japanese study suggests that we may want to start. The findings of the study, conducted by the Kyoto Convention Bureau, showed that 10-minute meditations before work meetings led to better concentration and an increased ability to absorb new information. So plowing right through your meeting may not actually be the best way to get things done. Doing a brief meditation in your office, or even a collective meditation at the beginning of a meeting will ensure information is

So plowing right through your meeting may not actually be the best way to get things done. Doing a brief meditation in your office, or even a collective meditation at the beginning of a meeting will ensure information is
better understood and remembered.

2. The Lunchtime Leisure Meditation

Do you ever find yourself talking or worrying about work on your lunch breaks? This can barely be considered a true break. Instead of working straight through lunch or rushing out to meet a friend for gossip, try eating your lunch more mindfully.

Turn off your phone, sit somewhere with a decent view, and simply eat – or adopt a mindful journaling practice during this time. While your mind may wander, simply returning to the taste of your food and the scenery around you can serve as a rejuvenating meditation.

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3. The Laughing Meditation

We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine, but this is not just an anecdote. When you laugh, your body’s level of the stress hormone, cortisol is reduced. The key to laughter meditation is not to hold back, to allow yourself to laugh out loud and without guilt. Whether you are simply recounting humorous events of the day or watching a funny video, try to remain present and aware of your body during the process. Don’t allow the subject to draw you in so much that you completely lose yourself in the story. The Daily OM offers a

Whether you are simply recounting humorous events of the day or watching a funny video, try to remain present and aware of your body during the process. Don’t allow the subject to draw you in so much that you completely lose yourself in the story. The Daily OM offers a three-staged guide to laughter meditation.

4. The Driving Meditation

Many people who commute to work see their travel time as lost time, especially if they spend it in traffic. However, an uninterrupted period of time in your car is actually the perfect excuse for a longer, more focused meditation. You don’t need to close your eyes or lose focus of the road. In fact, that is the meditation. So often when we drive, we are texting, worrying, yelling at other drivers, or planning what we’ll do when we arrive at our destination. The simple act of focusing on your hands gripping the wheel, the car in front of you, or the sound

You don’t need to close your eyes or lose focus of the road. In fact, that is the meditation. So often when we drive, we are texting, worrying, yelling at other drivers, or planning what we’ll do when we arrive at our destination. The simple act of focusing on your hands gripping the wheel, the car in front of you, or the sound of the engine is a kind of meditation few recognize and practice.

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5. The Clean Sweep Meditation

Much like in the case of driving, cleaning is an activity that we sometimes dread and take for granted. It’s not a whole lot of fun, and cleaning jobs seem to constantly pile up around the house – the yard, the dishes, the laundry, etc. While it may seem less glamorous than that idealized image of a zen meditator, cleaning is a meditation used by some of the greats. Spiritual leader and Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh once spoke of “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” Thus a meditation opportunity hides in every cluttered corner of your home. It’s also worth noting that external order and cleanliness can often seep in, leading to feelings of inner peace and clarity.

Spiritual leader and Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh once spoke of “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” Thus a meditation opportunity hides in every cluttered corner of your home. It’s also worth noting that external order and cleanliness can often seep in, leading to feelings of inner peace and clarity.

6. The Neutral Listening Meditation

Many of us would be quite surprised to recognize the calming effect of just listening. Typically chaotic and stressful environments can be transformed with this detachment trick. This is especially useful for those who hate their work or home environment, which may be filled with loud voices, traffic noises, or other sounds that continuously unground us.

However, even if you are listening to a conversation between two coworkers, there is an option to detach. Instead of frequently looking for the meaning in each sound in your environment, simply practice hearing. For the first time, you may recognize birds chirping outside. Maybe the shrill sound of a car horn honking won’t be as troublesome as it usually is. This is a powerful way to solidify a habit of meditation, as it requires nothing but the recognition of sounds around you.

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7. The Traveller’s Meditation

You don’t need a pile of cash and a plane ticket to practice this style of meditation. It simply rests on the belief that in nature, we can more easily find ourselves. The hum of a stream or the simple sound of silence on the front porch can serve as a reset – an experience that takes us out of ingrained habits and puts us back in alignment with nature. Your version of

Your version of traveling meditation might be taking a new route home from work, taking your lunch break at the park, or even just taking a walk to a new store. You don’t need to travel around the world to receive the benefits of the outdoors.

8. The Gazing Meditation

This meditation is specially designed for busy folks and requires nothing but your eyes and a focal point. It has been reported that staring into the flame of a candle – or even better – the eyes of another person can have radically beneficial effects. However, even if you are stuck at your desk, simply choosing a focal point and softening your eyelids can help quiet a tensed nervous system and bring you back to a sense of peace.

Another recommended gazing technique involves closing your eyes and looking up at the third eye, or the middle of your forehead. While scientists are still uncertain about the true function of the third eye, many have experienced its transformative effects. A third eye gazing meditation can help you generate new ideas and move through challenging problems during the work day.

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As we know from research studies, meditation is associated with a shift in brain wave activity. Thus anything that can reduce stress and bring about a content level of focus is beneficial, and technically a kind of meditation. Use your imagination to begin implementing these and other creative meditative techniques for grounding and clarity.

Featured photo credit: grandrapidscenterformindfulness.com via grandrapidscenterformindfulness.com

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Published on November 23, 2020

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

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How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

Your neighbors downstairs are playing loud music. Again. How do they not get tired of partying? And why do they choose songs with such a heavy downbeat that the glass in your cupboard is vibrating every two seconds? What can you do to get some peace that you deserve? What should you?

Human mind tends to go in circles whenever faced with a problem without a clear solution. It becomes easy to forget the big picture and get lost in anger and self-pity, wasting our precious time, energy and enthusiasm.

Would it not be nice if we always remembered to put things in perspective?

Would it not be more efficient to face all kinds of problems, from tiny annoyances to life-changing emergencies, with a calm demeanor, sharp focus and fearless determination to promptly take the most efficient action possible?

Alas, humans are not like that. All too often we let anxiety or greed get the best of us and make a rushed or shortsighted decision that we quickly come to regret. Other times, we spend weeks or months at an impasse, rehashing the exact same arguments, unable to accept the compromise required to move forward with any of the available options.

Buddhists talk about getting lost in the “small self.” In this state of mind, we literally forget the big picture and focus on the small one. We start taking our daily problems too personally and, paradoxically, becomes less capable of solving them in an efficient manner. And this is the opposite of big picture thinking.

Let me share with you a story related to big picture thinking…

In 1812, the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia.[1] After a decisive Battle of Borodino, the capture of Moscow and therefore Napoleon’s victory in the war seemed inevitable.

Unexpectedly, the Russian Commander-in-Chief Mikhail Kutuzov made a highly controversial decision of retreating and allowing the French to capture Moscow. Much of the population had been evacuated taking supplies with them. The city itself was set on fire and large parts of it burned into the ground.

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After waiting in vain for Russia to capitulate, Napoleon had to retreat in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. He won the battle but lost the war. The campaign ended in a disaster and the near destruction of the French army.

What can we learn from this historical lesson?

1. Focus on the Consequences

Napoleon focused on the important part: capturing Moscow. Nobody could accuse him of thinking small. Yet he overlooked that the Russian army could still fight even after giving up the country’s most important city.

So was Moscow not an important target after all?

Success expert Brian Tracy has a litmus test: things are important to the extent that they have important consequences. Things are unimportant to the extent that they have no important consequences.[2]

When faced with a choice, ask yourself, what would be the consequences of each option?

  • Want to spend an hour studying or watching the new series on Netflix? What would be the consequences of each option? Netflix can sometimes be a better choice, but it helps to put things in perspective.
  • Want to maintain your apartment by yourself or to pay a cleaning service? Would would be the consequences of each option?
  • Want to meet up for coffee with this acquaintance of yours or catch up on your work instead? What would be the consequences of each option?

The choice can be different for different people. An aspiring filmmaker may have a legitimate reason for choosing Netflix. Personally, cleaning your own apartment can be relaxing and nourishing even if the economics of hiring a cleaner looks compelling because you are earning a high hourly rate.

This is where you will need a basic idea of who you are — what are your goals, values and aspirations.

2. Flip Defeat Into Victory

Kutuzov managed to turn Russia’s defeat into a historic victory by recasting the problem in a wider context: losing Moscow need not mean losing the war.

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Despite the symbolic meaning attached to the Kremlin, the churches, the priceless treasures that had been stored in the city for centuries, the outcome of the campaign was ultimately determined by the strength of the remaining armies.

If you can adopt this result-oriented perspective, many of your personal defeats may be flipped into victories as well. Few events in a human life are absolutely good or absolutely bad, and it usually takes many years to recognize in retrospect, what role a particular encounter did play in your story.

Therefore we have every reason to look for the good in the things that happen to us.

This is a very practical attitude, far from baseless “positive thinking.” After all, if something unfortunate has happened to you and you find good sides in this circumstance, you will then be better positioned to take advantage of those good sides.

Say your noisy neighbors are affecting your productivity. What if it is a blessing in disguise? How can you turn this defeat into a victory?

  • Perhaps you are too serious about life and could learn how to have more fun. Join your neighbors or go out for a walk instead of working;
  • Perhaps you only wanted to be productive while instead procrastinated on social media. Now that your procrastination has been interrupted, stop and acknowledge this much greater obstacle to your productivity;
  • Perhaps you are too sensitive to interference. Take this opportunity to practice ignoring the noise and doing your best anyway;
  • Perhaps you have a victim mentality and the feeling of unfairness drains you more than any actual nuisance your neighbors might have caused. Try accepting this lapse in your productivity the way you would accept bad weather.

Get used to finding opportunities in your problems. This is the quintessential big picture thinking.

3. Ask for Advice

Both Napoleon and Kutuzov had trusted advisers to discuss their affairs with. In general, getting a different perspective — or several — can only help inform your understanding and lead to better decisions. Just ensure that the people giving you advice are competent in the particular area where experience is needed.

Paying money for advice can also be a wise investment. Lawyers, tax accountants, medical doctors spend years learning how to assist people like yourself in living more successful, more fulfilling lives.

A quick legal consultation can save you a fortune down the line or even keep you out of big trouble. A medical check-up can uncover potential issues and help keep you healthy and active for years to come.

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Even big, complex dilemmas at your job or in your romantic relationship can be tackled more effectively by partnering up with a coach or a therapist or, of course, with the help of a wise friend.

4. Beware of Biased Advice

Many imperfect decisions occur in response to an imperfect piece of advice that you choose to act on. This advice often comes from a biased party.

For example, we are often encouraged to buy something that we supposedly need:

  • Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by using a special lotion.
  • Fortify your health by taking multivitamins.
  • Connect with your friends by sending them elaborate gifts.
  • Brighten your weekend by consuming a delicious pastry.
  • Become more productive by getting a faster computer.

However, most purchases are unnecessary.

Some, such as the sunscreen, do have legitimate benefits when used properly.[3] Others, such as multivitamins, only make a difference for a small group of people.[4]

Advertisers of those benefits inevitably want to narrow your focus in order to overstate the importance of their product. They frequently present it as the only solution to your problem, whether real or imaginary.

After all,

  • Skin can also be protected from the sun by wearing appropriate clothing.
  • Health can be better fortified by consuming a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
  • Spending time or talking on the phone with your friends is the foremost way of connecting with them, and it is virtually free.
  • Your weekend can be brightened by doing something that you love.
  • You can become more productive by focusing on the tasks that have the most important consequences. A faster computer can, in fact, decrease productivity by making it easier to multitask and by enabling your favorite distractions.

There are other sources of imperfect advice. Politicians also frequently want us to focus on a particular “big picture,” to the exclusion of the alternatives.

Even loving parents can be guilty of the same. They can advise their children to pick a career path that is safe and respectable, based on their “big picture” that in life one has to make a living. A child may disagree, however, based on another “big picture” that one’s life has to have meaning and fulfillment.

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Bottom Line

It is human nature to make rushed, emotional decisions based on incomplete information, then regret those decisions later on.

You can protect yourself from poor judgment by striving to attain the big picture when careful consideration is called for.

Focus on the consequences of your decision before considering how you feel about it.

Play with the cards you’ve been dealt, but look for opportunities in each situation and you will find them.

Ask knowledgeable mentors for advice, but beware of biased people who have an opinion, but do not necessarily have your best interest in mind.

Yet remember, true big picture thinking comes from hard-won experience. Legendary military commanders Napoleon Bonaparte and Mikhail Kutuzov were both injured on the battlefield.

Clear thinking comes from putting your big picture to the test of reality.

More Tips on Thinking Clearly

Featured photo credit: Haneen Krimly via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Wikipedia: French invasion of Russia
[2] Brian Tracy: No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline
[3] American Academy of Dermatology: Say Yes to Sun Protection
[4] Harvard Medical School: Do multivitamins make you healthier?

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