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The Benefits of Daily Meditation While on Vacation

The Benefits of Daily Meditation While on Vacation

Being on vacation is mainly about rest and relaxation, but what if you could get a lot more out of it?

What if during your vacation you could recharge yourself with more energy than ever before?

Are you ready for something that’s going to change your life forever?

Incorporating daily meditation into your vacation plans can really help you get the most out of your retreat. This guide will explain exactly how to do just that and outlines the many benefits you can reap from adding mindful meditation to your plans.

Why Practicing Meditation Makes Total Sense

Most people assume that meditation is about sitting cross-legged and thinking about whatever comes to mind, and that there’s no real practical purpose to it. Some would even call it a complete waste of time. Of course most of these people have never really meditated a day in their life.

The truth is that meditation can have a powerful impact on your wellbeing and overall energy.

Furthermore, it can help you deal with various unbalanced emotional states and bring them into harmony. However, in order to get maximum benefits it is important to commit to at least 30 minutes of meditation each day.

The more often you meditate, the better; but remember, start slow and gradually and work your way up to this goal. If you can meditate every day of your vacation for only a few minutes at a time, then do it.

To get started, let’s look at some of the known benefits of meditation:

1. You’ll Sleep So Much Better

One of the most important things about practicing meditation before going to bed is that you can be sure the your quality of sleep is going to be deep and highly energizing.

In some rare cases it can even prevent insomnia.

Since beginning daily meditation before bedtime, never before have I slept so well. The practice has radically improved my sleeping schedule. But don’t just take my word for it, try it out for yourself. You will be surprised by the results.

2. Your Energy Levels Will Soar

Your internal energy will gain a great boost from meditation.

In a deep state of meditation your body will recharge with energy in a powerful way. This radical shift will easily be noticed. This is one of the most useful benefits from this practice.

Once I started meditating regularly, my energy levels improved to the point where I started sleeping less and getting more things done throughout the day.

3. Your Balance Will Be On Point

Another important aspect that comes from meditation is balance.

Here I am describing both mental and emotional balance. When you practice regular meditation, your mind stabilizes and becomes organized and disciplined, while your emotional states become easier to control.

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You will no longer feel like thoughts and emotions are controlling you; it will be the other way around. You will become a sovereign of your life.

Before getting into meditation, my mind was all over the place; but, in time and with perseverance, I reached an internal balance that helped me overcome many stressful situations with relative ease.

4. You’ll Be Far Less Forgetful

When you meditate, you gradually become more aware of everything going on around you because the mind is no longer distracted.

It should come as no surprise that if you’re consciously more aware of things, your recall ability will improve greatly.

In the past I used to forget things easily; but after a few months of daily meditation I began to retain all sorts of details about what I’ve read, where I had placed things, what tasks I had left to do that day, etc.

5. You’ll Gain a Finer-Tuned Focus

Proper meditation also improves your focus because you learn to pay attention to your breath and not allow other thoughts to divide your attention.

If practiced enough, it will not only manifest while meditating but also while you’re in a regular state of consciousness. This means your focus will become laser sharp!

After practicing daily meditation for some time, I can easily focus on a task without becoming distracted.

This has helped me a great deal in every project that I’ve worked on. When your mind is totally present in the moment, it becomes an actual force. Things will get done properly and on time. There is little doubt about how useful this ability will become in time.

6. Pain Will No Longer Phase You

Whatever the cause of injury might be, meditation can help reduce your pain.

This is not to say that you will no longer feel that pain, it’s just that it will move into the background somewhere.

Through daily meditation you will learn pain control.

The more I meditated, the more I was able to control how much physical pain bothered me. The pain was still there, it just didn’t have the same effect on me as prior to my incorporating a daily meditation routine.

7. You’ll Become Enlightened

Ultimately meditation makes you realize that you’re something above a physical body. You’re not the body or emotions… or even your thoughts.

This will give you an unusual freedom.

You will no longer feel as limited as before and your entire perception of life will change. In some cases the fear of death will disappear altogether.

The exact internal states are difficult to describe, but when practicing daily meditation a feeling of superior happiness will manifest and will even make you question what happiness really is.

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Years back when I started meditating it just seemed like a boring activity at first. It took a while to fully grasp the depth of what meditation actually meant. At that stage it still seemed forced (and to be honest it was to a certain extent).

One of the most important things to keep in mind is to discipline yourself to keep going at the beginning. This is when it seems like nothing actually gets done, although eventually you’ll discover that there’s something to it, which will change you in many positive ways.

You might find many reasons to discontinue the practice, but you have to keep going if you want to see real results. Don’t give up!

This in itself is a lesson when it comes to meditation and even life itself. One must develop patience in order to succeed in reaching the deeper states. In fact anything worth going after in life will require patience and determination.

Nothing happens overnight!

Take Your Daily Practice on Vacation

So, you’re on vacation and you want to get the most out of your meditations. How do you do it? It’s actually pretty simple and can easily be scheduled into your plans.

If you’re on vacation with your kids, the good thing about meditation is that anybody can do it.

No matter what age, meditation is safe for everyone–so get the kids to join in! It can be beneficial to encourage your children to meditate from an early age, but there’s no reason to insist on it if they find no pleasure in it. Then again, you never know; kids will sometimes surprise you with their curiosity and interest in trying new things!

So no matter who has come along for vacation, whether you choose to meditate solo or as a family, it’s possible to reap the benefits even when you’re away from home.

Start Reaping the Rewards of Mindfulness Today

Now that you understand the vast benefits of meditation, and that anyone can practice meditation just about anywhere, you may be wondering: what are the essential components for a successful meditation session?

1. Embrace Silence

There’s no real meditation without first finding a quiet spot.

Unless you’re an experienced practitioner who has been meditating for decades, the noise will most likely distract and even bother you during the meditation.

You can use ear plugs to cancel most external noise if a quiet place cannot be found.

Depending on where you are vacationing, consider the idea of meditating in nature. For instance, if you are on a hike or are walking through a forest and find a nice quiet place for meditation, then go for it!

2. Get In a Proper Position

Once you’ve found the right place for meditation, choosing a position to meditate in that you’re comfortable with is essential to the quality of the experience.

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If you meditate in a difficult posture that causes pain, then you can imagine that the experience will have a negative impact on you.

Be careful about meditating in bed, as it is very easy to fall asleep.

Another thing worth mentioning is that often a meditation posture is not comfortable at first; in fact, it could take months to get used to the posture so that you feel totally relaxed while in it. While on vacation, cut yourself some slack and stick to a posture that’s already easy to relax in, such as sitting comfortably.

3. Dress for Success

It is best to wear something relaxing while meditating, otherwise it will distract your internal focus to the external aspects that make your body uncomfortable.

Needless to say, the temperature of the body has to be pleasant. You don’t want to have clothing on that makes you feel too warm or too cold. If you want to meditate outside make sure that you check the weather and that you’re prepared accordingly.

Your choice of clothing can really make a big difference when it comes to the quality of your meditations.

4. Be Mindful of What You Eat (and Drink)

It’s recommendable to drink water before a meditation to have the body hydrated.

Another very important aspect is to never meditate right after you eat.

Take a break of 2-3 hours after a meal, before beginning to meditate. I’ve ignored this aspect before and it didn’t end up well. Here would be a great place to mention that meditation has a powerful and beneficial effect on digestion.

5. Destroy All Distractions

Make sure to turn off the TV, the laptop, the tablet, the phone, etc. for the period that you will be meditating.

It’s important that you will not be disturbed from your meditation by a sudden noise. Distractions such as these could make the entire experience difficult and you won’t reap as many benefits.

It’s most unpleasant to be engaged in deep meditation and suddenly be forced out of it.

6. Plan Accordingly

It would be unwise to meditate immediately after playing games, watching a movie or listening to music for a prolonged period of time.

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In all those cases the mind will become increasingly more active with various thoughts. To meditate in such a state would be a constant struggle. I remember when I used to play video games years ago and then tried to meditate after that. Those were the most unsuccessful meditations of my life.

Ready, Set, Meditate!

Take the posture that you are most comfortable in and begin by slowly breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.

Keep on doing that for a while until you feel quite relaxed.

Being relaxed in a meditation is a very important aspect if you want to succeed in attaining deeper states of consciousness.

After that, continue to pay attention to your breath, but breathe only through the nose now.

The true mental freedom and the real appreciation of meditation will come when you will realize that empty gap between breaths and especially between your thoughts.

That pure emptiness is the true internal peace. When you’re able to maintain that state, your body will be filled with energy and the meditation will become a blessing!

It’s essential not to become frustrated or upset because you’re unable to let go at first because intrusive thoughts keep flooding into your awareness.

Acknowledge the situation and continue forward with the meditation.

Little by little you will continue making progress as long as you keep going and maintain a calm attitude. There’s no reason to try to force things.

A meditative state should come naturally, almost all on its own. You’ll need to learn to adapt to your internal states and go with the flow, while at the same time retaining awareness.

That’s it! Keep it up and reap a ton of rewards.

Mindfulness Wherever You Go

Similarly to anything else, for lasting results you will need to meditate daily for sustained periods of time. However, on vacation is the best time to start this practice and get a taste of its power.

Once you get hooked while on vacation, you’ll be looking for other ways to integrate meditation in your everyday life.

It was only after I had been meditating for months on a daily basis that the real benefits started to become obvious to me.

However, this shouldn’t discourage you from meditating. You don’t need to meditate daily for that long in order to see a significant change in your life. And although at this point it might seem difficult to integrate meditation in your daily life when you’re not on vacation, eventually you will find a way.

I wish you the very best on your meditation journey. If you begin a daily practice while on your vacation, it will surely be one you’ll remember for the rest of your life!

Featured photo credit: Photo by Jens Kreuter via unsplash.com

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Bogdan C.

I've been trying to combine the classical martial arts with internal development and the more esoteric aspects of generating internal energy.

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Last Updated on April 23, 2019

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

What Is a Stretch Goal?

A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

1. Get Outside of Your Head

If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

I see this in so many areas of life:

When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

“Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

S.M.A.R.T.

is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

The Bottom Line

These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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