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4 Tips to Bolster Your Meditation Practice

4 Tips to Bolster Your Meditation Practice


    As knowledge of meditation has grown, more and more people have turned to this ancient spiritual practice as a way to reduce stress, increase their happiness and enhance their concentration.  We now have access to a wide array of meditation guides, in formats ranging from blog posts for beginning meditators to full-length books. However, for many novice meditators, the true challenge is not getting started, but keeping their meditation practice consistent.  Here are four fundamental tips that have helped me cultivate my meditation practice over the years.

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    1.  Set Realistic Goals

    When we are first developing our meditation practice, there can be a temptation to set unreasonable goals.  We may be so entranced by our first few meditation sessions that we want to turbocharge our progress by meditating for extra long sessions and devouring every book on the practice.  In doing so, we risk the potential for a metaphysical burnout.

    Instead, consider starting with small goals, such as sitting for five minutes in the morning, and then work up incrementally.  If you add an extra minute a day, you’ll be up to a half-hour within a month.  Remember that meditation and mindfulness are lifelong practices, so try to refrain from life-changing expectations at the beginning.

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    2.  Reduce the Temptation to Be Critical of  Yourself

    One of the things that many novice meditators, including myself, struggle with at the beginning of their practice is the temptation to become their biggest critic.  Although we  strive to keep a consistent, daily meditation practice, it is inevitable that we will at times fail to sit.  Additionally, we will have meditation sessions where our concentration will be poor and our focus muddled.  We may have to stand up, readjust our positioning our even abandon our session due to some implacable distraction of the mind.

    When these situations occur, it is natural to grow frustrated and to want to castigate oneself for a lack of discipline.  We may feel that we are even reverting to poor practices that we thought we had abandoned in the past. However, if we put too much weight on setbacks, if we place too much emphasis on a momentary lack of discipline, we risk damaging our practice through our own criticism.

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    Remember that setbacks are natural part of a meditation practice, just like they are in life.  Instead of getting down on ourselves, we should use these tough moments to help strengthen our practice by watching and observing–with an detached awareness–the ebb and flow of our distractibility.

    3.  Look for Opportunities to Practice Mindfulness off  The Cushion

    Let’s face it, we’re not going to live our lives on the meditation cushion, nor do we want to.  The goal of meditation is to be able to integrate the skills that we learn on the cushion into our daily lives.  Some of this will come naturally, but often it is beneficial to exert extra mindfulness in certain situations that may be conducive to frustration.

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    Good examples are when sitting in traffic or in a line.  Instead of letting our frustration and impatience get the best of us, we can take note of the fact that we’re in a potentially stressful situation and accept that reality.  Hopefully, alongside that acceptance will be the realization that generating feelings of anger and stress are futile, as getting angry won’t move the line or decrease traffic. Then, we can do some breathing meditation to create a feeling of harmony where a feeling of frustration used to be triggered.  In doing so, we’re slowly rewiring our brain in a positive way.

    4. Find a Sangha

    Sangha is a Pali word meaning “assembly or “company” and typically refers to a group of people who meet to meditate once or twice a week.  I’ve found participating in a sangha to be hugely beneficial to my practice and many others feel the same. A regularly scheduled meditation session helps you carve out time for your practice.  Additionally, a group of fellow meditators can be a great resource for questions that you may have about your practice.

    (Photo credit: In the Lotus via Shutterstock)

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    4 Tips to Bolster Your Meditation Practice

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    Last Updated on March 2, 2021

    15 Bodybuilding Tips for Beginners for More Effective Workouts

    15 Bodybuilding Tips for Beginners for More Effective Workouts

    If you are new to bodybuilding and want to improve the way you look, bodybuilding tips can help you get started the right way. Bodybuilding is a great way to strengthen, tone, and stabilize your entire body, but it’s easy to make mistakes that can cause injuries that keep you out of the game for months. If you really want to dedicate yourself to building muscle mass over time, be patient, start with some bodybuilding basics, and move forward from there.

    Here are 15 of the best bodybuilding tips for beginners.

    1. Stick to Free Weights

    Even though the modern gyms are full of complex, high-tech machines, they will not help you build a solid foundation of muscle mass. Dumbbells and barbells are the best when it comes to building muscle, especially for a beginner.

    Free weights offer a wide range of motion and rely on proper form, which ultimately helps to build more muscle than the restricting machines often found in a gym.

    2. Do Compound Lifts and Movements

    While you might be tempted to try all the possible exercises you see on fitness magazines or websites with heavy weights, you should stick to the basic movements first as one of your first bodybuilding tips.

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    Exercises like the squat, the deadlift, the barbell bench press and the military shoulder press should not be lacking from your routine[1]. These are popular for a reason. They’ve been designed to tackle major muscle groups that will help you build on your routine from the ground up.

    3. Find a Program, and Stick to It

    In order to be successful with bodybuilding, you need to have a strict routine and follow it closely. Ask a personal trainer or an advanced bodybuilder to provide you with a program that includes the exact exercises you need to do, the number of sets, and the number of reps per set.

    When you set foot in the gym, you need to know exactly what you will do in that training session in order to create a weekly routine that will lead to more muscle mass. By knowing what you’re doing on a specific day and knowing what came in the days before, you can avoid injury and overuse.

    4. Don’t Train Every Day

    If the person that made you the program knows what s/he’s doing, your routine should have 3 or 4 workouts per week. As a beginner, you don’t need to train more often than that. Doing so can lead to muscle strain, which can eventually cause debilitating injuries, so paying attention to this bodybuilding tip is essential.

    Each time you do a bodybuilding routine, remembering that you are literally tearing your muscle fibers. If you do this 7 times a week without allowing them to recover, you can cause permanent damage. Allow at least one day between each workout to keep your muscles healthy.

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    5. Train Each Muscle Group Every Week

    While too many days in the gym won’t help you get bigger, too few workouts are not good either. You need to work each muscle group at least once each week to really see effects. You should also be increasing the weight you’re lifting every week or every other week in order to continuously challenge your body to keep building more muscle.

    6. Learn Correct Form

    While you may be tempted to see how much you can lift, you need to start with lower weights and learn the right form of each exercise. If you’re going to a gym, they often have trainers who will show you the correct form for various exercises. If you need more guidance, consider hiring a personal trainer for one or two weeks to get you started.

    Once you have the correct form, you’ll be able to continue pushing yourself without going too far using the other bodybuilding tips for beginners.

    7. Gradually Increase the Weight

    After you master the correct form of each exercise, you need to start adding heavier weights periodically. Keep track of how much you lift on each exercise, and slightly increase the weight about every two weeks. This will increase your strength and will lead to muscle gains.

    If you stay at one weight too long, your body will get comfortable and won’t build more muscle, so it’s important to keep offering your body challenges.

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    8. Be Cautious

    When you get to the point of using big weights, use a safety belt for lower back protection. You may not have back problems right now, but you don’t want to have them in the future either. When it comes to bodybuilding tips, this is one many overlook until it’s too late.

    9. Eat a Lot of Protein

    Protein is essential when it comes to building muscle. It can be found in good quantities in chicken, fish, eggs, milk, beans, nuts, and some vegetables. Most experts recommend at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight for the best results. If consuming enough protein each day becomes difficult, add a protein shake as well.

    10. Be in a Caloric Surplus

    This is one of those bodybuilding tips that most people don’t understand at first. In order to build muscle, you need to eat more calories than you burn[2]. Use a calorie calculator to find out your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), and adjust that according to how active you are. If you have a sedentary job, you will need fewer calories, and if you are very active you will need more.

    Make sure to avoid eating too few calories as this will mean your body may start burning the muscle you’re building for energy. Losing fat requires a caloric deficit, but building muscle requires the opposite.

    11. Eat More Often

    If you’re bodybuilding as a beginner, it’s a good idea to eat more often. Try eating 4-5 times each day, and don’t go more than 3-4 hours without a meal. As your body builds muscle, it will want a consistent source of fuel, which comes from food.

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    12. Avoid Junk Food

    It’s true that you want to gain some weight, but you want that weight to be muscle mass and not fat! For this bodybuilding tip, consume quality food like lean proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats, and stay away from junk food, sweets, and fatty foods[3].

    The only time when you should consume fast-absorbing carbohydrates (usually foods that have a lot of sugar or white flour) is right after your workout.

    13. Eat Fruits and Vegetables

    Besides macronutrients (proteins, carbs, and fats) your body also needs micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). These come mostly in the form of fruits and vegetables, so make sure you’re getting enough each day, both pre- and post-workout.

    14. Rest and Recover

    One of the most essential bodybuilding tips for beginners is to allow your body time to recover. Your muscles don’t grow when you work out but during rest periods, especially when you’re sleeping. 8-9 hours a night is optimal. If you have trouble falling asleep, try settling into a night time routine that can get your sleep schedule on track.

    15. Act Like an Athlete

    If you want to dedicate yourself to bodybuilding, get into the mindset of an athlete. Building a stronger, healthier body means doing so both in and out of the gym. When you’re not working out, avoid smoking, alcohol, and other unhealthy vices as much as possible. This will help you create an overall healthier lifestyle to match your efforts in the gym.

    The Bottom Line

    The above bodybuilding tips are a great place to start if you’re trying to get into bodybuilding. These kinds of workouts can be amazing for your muscle mass, as well as joint stability and cardio health. Start slow and safe in order to build up to a beneficial routine that will help you enjoy bodybuilding for many years to come.

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    Featured photo credit: Anastase Maragos via unsplash.com

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