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5 Simple Tips to Meditate Like a Monk

5 Simple Tips to Meditate Like a Monk

Day after day, you sit on the cushion, but every time you commit to sit your thoughts pull you away. Or maybe it’s not your mind, but it’s your body: your legs fall asleep, your back starts to hurt, and pretty soon all you can think about is the tightness in your spine. Day after day this is your cycle.

You’ve heard the benefits of meditation, but you only leave the cushion more stressed out. The issue isn’t your dedication: I’d like to lay out a few tips that will help rekindle your love of meditation and maybe help you go deeper than you’ve ever gone.

1. Create a space

Sometimes we carry all of our problems, issues, and worries onto the cushion with us. Instead of starting with an open mind, we start with a mind that’s already in a fury. We’re worried we don’t have time to meditate, or it’s going to make us late for work. What we need to do is inject some space, and we can do this simply by dedicating a certain area of our room to meditation. Maybe it’s a corner that we decorate with a rug or some shrine, or a picture of our loved ones. Whatever it is, just make sure it invokes a sense of peace within you.

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Before you set foot in that space, make sure to go in with a clear head and positive intentions. Do your best to leave your problems off the cushion, or out of your corner. It might seem silly, but ask your mind if it could mellow out for a moment. Offer a reward for your mind once you’re out of meditation—just make sure to follow through.

2. Get rid of expectations

So many of us have the expectation that the moment we engage in meditation we’re going to be calm, serene, and forget about our daily stresses. When our experience doesn’t measure up to the image in our minds, then we get discouraged. Instead of letting whatever comes up arise and pass, we let ourselves get caught up. The secret is going into your practice with no expectation of an outcome. Think of this practice as allowing you to go beyond your thoughts.

Think of your thoughts as a raging waterfall; now imagine that you’re in the cave behind the waterfall, letting your thoughts flow by. There’s no need to get caught up in the stream.

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3. Don’t force or judge

This goes hand-in-hand with setting expectations for our practice. We often demand too much of ourselves, not letting ourselves ease into our new practice. We make ourselves sit for an hour every day, or at least hold the expectation we should be doing this. The key here is to demand less.

Don’t force yourself to sit if it hurts your body, and don’t force yourself to sit longer than you can endure. Instead, think of your practice as something that builds slowly over time. Start small—try five minutes a day. The benefits are more tangible and actually increase faster when you use continual steady effort, similar to compound interest.

Over time, you’ll find it easier to sit for longer and longer periods. Start small and you’ll have huge gains in the long run.

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4. Use an anchor

We expect that once we sit down and resume a posture that our thoughts will stop, as we’re seeking a state that is complete emptiness. Instead of beating yourself up every time you get taken away by the current of thought, just remind yourself to come back. This should be a gentle nudge; laugh at yourself if you have to.

The key here is to have an anchor, such as your breath. When you get washed away and start engaging in thought, just try and remind yourself to come back to your breath. What you’re doing is building awareness: The more often you realize you’re caught up in thought, the less often you’ll actually get wrapped up.

When in doubt, start to follow your breath.

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5. Use technology to drop you into a deeper state

If you’ve tried everything above and nothing seems to be working, you might need a little assistance. There’s a certain kind of audio track called “binaural beats”: what they do is play sounds at a certain frequency that your mind can align with. This is usually coupled with other relaxing sounds, such as waves crashing or birds chirping. This combination of sounds gives your mind something to focus on, while at the same time your mind syncs up with the lower frequency tones, bringing your meditation to a deeper state.

If you want to boost your meditation practice and drop into deeper states than you’ve ever been, give the above tips a try, make some space for one or two of them in your routine. Remember that the lasting benefits of meditation really kick in once you’ve established a set routine.

Happy meditating.

More by this author

Kevin Wood

Kevin Wood is a passionate writer who shares mental and spiritual advice on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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