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Enrich Your Life: Learn How to Meditate

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Enrich Your Life: Learn How to Meditate

Meditation has been a part of my life for a couple of years, and it is now safe to say that there has been visible progress in both my productivity and relaxation. I’ve tried my best to make it a daily habit as I feel that is the only way for anyone to experience all of the benefits.

The benefits of meditation are quite extensive. Although it is most commonly perceived as a relaxation technique, in my experience that is only a very lovable plus. The benefits, being numerous, range from reducing high blood pressure and relieving symptoms of depression and similar mental illnesses to alleviating pain and even increasing creativity and overall sharpness.

Before I started practicing meditation, somehow I instinctively knew that it would be good for me, but I didn’t really understand how deep it could go until I did it myself. I am not a religious man by nature, nor did I have a guru or a spiritual leader, I just liked the idea of being alone with my thoughts and emotions. Truthfully, once you get the hang of it, you will learn more about yourself than ever before.

What do you need to meditate?

meditation-what-do-you-need

    One of the perks of meditating is that it requires few to no accessories, but there are certain prerequisites you need to keep in mind.

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    Time

    Clear your schedule for meditation. It doesn’t require a lot of time, but you should devote a certain part of the day where you are going to fit the time for meditation. It is important to distinguish this in such a manner that you are aware that the time is especially there for you.

    Noiseless space

    There is quite a lot of meditation music on the market, but I have concluded that nothing beats the powerful sound of silence. I believe there is something awe-inspiring in silence and that our minds and ears have grown overly accustomed to noise, so it feels really great to treat them with silence once in a while.

    Something to sit on

    It is true that meditation does not require sitting, but it is by far the easiest way to achieve calmness. I would recommend beginners to use a chair because it will help them keep their backs straight, but once you have passed that, a meditating cushion is a perfect choice.

    Timer

    The timer is basically the only physical thing you need to meditate, but even a timer is not essential. Individual meditations are timed to prevent you from rushing it, so a timer is mostly recommended for beginners. If you want to, you can buy a purpose timer for meditation, but I simply use the one on my smartphone.

    Before you start meditating

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    meditation-exercise

      Over the years, I have developed an appropriate ritual before the actual meditating that helps to get into that state of mind. It isn’t always easy, especially if your mind is troubled, but I feel that this ritual has become equally as important for me.

      Exercises

      Lightweight exercises, regular stretching, or, most preferably, yoga exercises are the best in keeping your muscles relaxed and your blood circulating. I believe I have never missed a warm-up and stretch before meditating as it gives me that finely tuned edge.

      Get rid of distractions

      Meditation is all about uniting with your inner self, so you might imagine that having a phone buzzing amidst it all is a bit of a nuisance. I devote a quiet little place in the corner of the room with every non-essential appliance in my house turned off while I am meditating.

      Don’t overthink it

      Clearing your mind sounds like an overly used phrase, but it is kind of a prerequisite. When I started meditating, I had the problem of not being able to focus because I was constantly thinking about every little thing.

      Feel free to focus on simply relaxing for the first few meditation sessions as the journey part will come naturally after a few times. Clearing your mind can seem hard at the beginning, but that’s the trick — when you master it, you’ll start gaining the benefits of meditation.

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      Meditation

      meditation

        As you have probably thus far concluded, there are only a few rules set in stone when it comes to meditation. The point is to have some alone time with the person that is buried beneath all those layers of work-related problems and daily tasks — the real you. Keeping that in mind, there are a few tips that are going to help you achieve that level of thought.

        Breathing

        Taking deep breaths beforehand is recommended as it will help you relax and set the right mood for meditation. However, during the meditation you shouldn’t give too much attention to breathing; just try to do it normally. You can use the deep breathing technique in those moments when you feel like you’ve lost the momentum simply to bring back the right rhythm.

        Sitting position

        It is a common misconception that you have to sit in a particular way in order to meditate. The truth is that any position will work as long as it feels comfortable. The famous Lotus position is frequently connected with meditation, but it is not exclusive. Keep your back straight, your arms relaxed, and your eyes closed — meditation comes from your mind, not your body.

        Length

        When I started meditating daily, I had the time and patience to meditate for five minutes at best. It is not necessarily a bad thing since any time spent meditating is better than none. Not only is it difficult to envision one sitting for hours like a monk, but it is also not necessary. I truly noticed results (increased overall energy and productivity) when I started meditating for around 25 minutes each day.

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        Focus on the goal

        meditation-focus

          The purpose of any meditation is to clear your mind and assert your presence by distancing yourself from the material world that surrounds you. Spoken in plain English, the goal is to create a habit of taming your own thoughts and emotions.

          Sometimes you’ll get bored, at times you’ll even be frustrated, and that is alright, just don’t get discouraged. As it is with any exercise, mastering meditation takes time and commitment, just have in mind that you are doing it for yourself.

          Meditation can and will enrich your life and is one of the best weapons in our mind’s arsenal for fighting everyday modern stress.

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          Dejan Kvrgic

          Blogger, Writer

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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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