Editors Note: When I had the idea to discuss the topic of meditation this month, I immediately thought of the one person I know that has had a solid meditation practice in place for years – by Brother-in-law Eric. Lucky for me, he just happens to be a writer as well. This post provides everything you need to know to get started with meditation. It’s the perfect beginners guide! Thanks Eric!
Technology is continually exploding the amount of information we process. The Internet has become a conduit for so much intelligence it is literally impossible to keep up. Businesses and social lives have been swept up in the momentum; the need to stay current, perform jobs, raise kids, and maintain a social lives means that we have to be thinking, communicating, remembering things all the time.
When we spend most of our time in our heads we run the risk of identifying ourselves with the contents of our knowledge.
We can get so caught up in accomplishing things and remembering dates and processing ideas that we never stop thinking. Even when we’re not purposefully thinking, our minds wander to ideas and objects, memories and daydreams, perpetually.
When the brain is overtaxed our whole self pays the cost with anxiety and illness.
Meditation aims to give our minds a break from thinking, if only for a moment. The beautiful side effect of the practice is that minor successes or even failures can still help to tone down our mental noise. When the noise is reduced we can begin to unwind ourselves from the web of language and thought and realize that we are more than this. We have higher faculties like love and inspiration to attend to.
How do I meditate?
When I first sat down to meditate I was stumped. My brain had always been thinking, so not-thinking seemed very strange. I enjoyed reading books about meditating, which of course filled my mind with concepts and terms and goals and confusion.
I started by putting on very sedate music and stared at a candle. This got my brain used to intentional down time and gave my mind something to focus on. I realized my mind wanders because it has been consistently inundated with words and thoughts since birth. Our minds, being brought up in the culture they have, don’t know anything else.
Getting the mind to relax is tricky. The brain is connected by the central nervous system to our entire bodies. If there is any agitation or tension then our minds aren’t working at full capacity. This is why the physical side of yoga is effective. Hatha yoga is meant to gently open and awaken our nervous system, and to circulate the natural energies (be they blood, electrolytes, oxygen, prana, whatever you like). It can be hard to find the time, but physical relaxation is a crucial preparation for meditation.
Get into a comfortable position, one that lets you sit still for a long time. Stillness is the best situation to be in for meditation. If you can relax enough to essentially ‘forget’ your body, you’ll be able to pay greater attention to your mind. Make sure you aren’t going to fall asleep. Just sit quietly and pay attention to your thoughts as they arise. New thoughts will probably bubble up from your subconscious mind. That’s okay.
Notice though that if you intentionally think about a subject, you can move your mind forward along that train of thought without getting too distracted.
An active attention tends to block out the rising of subconscious thoughts. But an active attention finds correspondences in memory and can digress and ramble on ineffectually.
To avoid this we focus attention on our breathing. Without straining, we want to relax into slow, full breaths while keeping our mind trained on the gentle flux of breathing. Subconscious thoughts will still bubble up. That’s totally natural. When you catch yourself thinking about something, understand that it’s just a subconscious bubble.
Let the bubble burst, let the thought go, and ease your attention back onto the breath. Guess what…more thoughts arise. That’s fine. The more we do it, the better we get (like everything), so there is no need for frustration at these thoughts.
Soon you’ll find that you’re catching the thoughts at finer and finer stages. Eventually you might find your attention is completely absorbed in breathing and very few thoughts arise, or the thoughts that arise are quieter, less defined. When your mind slows its thought-generating process, it gets used to the idea that it doesn’t have to constantly whirl like a top to stay up.
You might find a moment of silence. This generally comes with a feeling of bliss.
If you can get that far, you might just meditate for the rest of your life. It worked for me. I meditate at least twice a day and have not missed a single session in many years. It is not a chore; it is something I look forward to every day.
Meditation practice is very personal, and we each develop our own way in our own time.
If you’re looking for more information on meditation techniques, the following books are a beautiful bridge from an ancient Indian tradition to today:
Eric R. Schiller writes and makes movies and music in Toronto. A self-guided veteran of inner exploration, Eric blogs weekly at EricRSchiller.com about spirituality, philosophy, culture, and art. Follow him on Twitter @EricRSchiller.
So – I’m kind of fascinated with the psychology behind “selfies” right now. (If you’ve never heard the term, a selfie is a self-portrait taken primarily these days via Instagram.) I tried to find one of myself on my Instagram feed, but the picture above is the best I could come up with which is actually more of a selfie of my 4 month old.
It seems so simple – a self-portrait – but it’s not.
Personally, when I see a selfie, I can’t help but wonder what is going through someones head when they take the picture. Sometimes it’s obvious – they feel great and it’s shining through. These are the pics that make me smile. I love them.
Sometimes an insecurity is just as obvious. It almost hurts to look.
But, it’s the individuals that consistently take their own pics that really make me think.
I don’t have any major declarations on the subject, it just fascinates me. The ever changing landscape of social media is providing us with no shortage of new social experiments.
I’d love to hear your thoughts – do you follow anyone on Instagram that goes heavy on the selfies? Do you think it’s just healthy self-esteem or do you lean toward narcissism?
I’ve long been obsessed with TED Talks, but lately I’ve been spending more time over on TED exploring. I normally don’t walk away from the 20 minutes I spend watching a video feeling as if I wasted time. Usually, if someone makes it up on the TED (or TEDx) stage, they have something thought-provoking to say.
Lately I’ve been chatting with friends and family quite a bit about these talks, so I thought I’d share a round-up of my top four favorites. Both old and new. My most recent discovery was The Sociology of Gossip by gossip blogger Elaine Lui. VERY thought-provoking. Others include some of my favorite people: Sir Ken Robinson and Jacqueline Novogratz. Finally there is Jeremy Gilley. His energy is contagious, and he is an inspirational activist through-and-through.
What are your favorite talks? Share below!
Do Schools Kill Creativity?
Sir Ken Robinson
The Sociology of Gossip
Elaine Lui (of Lainey Gossip) at TEDx Vancouver
One Day of Peace
Inspiring a Life of Immersion
We all have our hobbies. For some that includes playing instruments, for others it’s baking, knitting, golfing, etc… My hobby? I’m interested in the study of Psychology. I like reading something and catching a little sidebar that begs for further research and allows me to connect the dots or add another layer to a theory.
Most of my research into psychology has been focused on Gen Y, after all I began this blog after an exploration into what is coined a “quarter-life crisis.” My hobby became a passion and I decided to when write this book, focusing on Generation Y’ers and our search for happiness.
Search indeed. Over the past few months media outlets have been consistently reporting the same thing; Gen Y’ers are stressed because they can’t find work.
This isn’t a shocking revelation. It’s been this way for some time. Many Gen Y’ers can’t find a decent, well-paying job after graduating College let alone something meaningful which they crave. The change-the-world trademark characteristic of Gen Y is unlikely to flourish when the main focus is to simply find a job. Find any job. Recently Macleans magazine reported a staggering 1.2 million individuals in Canada under thirty are working part-time jobs while hoping to land a full-time one. At this rate, that ideal job we daydream about; the one that gives us meaning – it is simply not in the cards.
The question remains; how can resilient Gen Y’ers find a job in this current market? I have some ideas.
A new way of thinking? Check.
Questioning beliefs? Check.
Soul Searching? Check.
Below are my soul-searching tips to help Gen Y’ers navigate these rocky unemployment waters…
1. Drop the degree
If you’ve spent years pouring yourself into textbooks, and hours upon hours studying for exams, you’re undoubtedly proud of your accomplishments. You EARNED your degree. You have the letters after your name that you dreamed of.
Here is where things get tricky and what you need to know: you are not your degree.
When we receive recognition, even after we’ve truly earned it, it is easy for our egos to invoke and take over our rational minds. We subconsciously identify with our accomplishments.
Doing this doesn’t serve you in your quest for both happiness or a job. You need to break the barriers of that box you’ve put yourself in and think of your degree as only one aspect of your accomplishments and qualifications.
2. Become a dreamer
Not everyone is a dreamer. Not everyone has massive goals that they want to accomplish. And that’s okay – but in today’s job market, you have to think beyond your qualifications. There is simply too much competition.
Start thinking about your passions. There are some amazing resources out there to help spark this side of your brain. Stop thinking of passions as hobbies, and start considering them as possible career choices. After all, we can expect to have over 10 career changes during our working years.
3. Diversify Yourself
After you’ve dreamed, do. Become a jack of all trades. Even if you have a full-time job, always consider night courses, distance courses, online courses.
This diversification can allow for may things to happen; you could discover a passion and start up your own business, or you can better prepare yourself for your next career leap.
The old saying, “education is power” has many meanings here, and while it may not feel like power as you struggle to find a job, you will be doing yourself a favor by continuing to learn.
4. Be You
During the chaos of our twenties, we often lose ourselves and eventually come around again as we get older. The trick is to by-pass losing ourselves and instead, allow ourselves to be comfortable in our own skin.
There is both peace, and comfort in knowing that you are being authentic in your choices, and actions every day. When we are struggling to find a job and become desperate, we can lose that truth.
The way to accomplish this during these turbulent times is to look inward. There is no better time than now to begin a meditation routine, take quiet walks, or spend time in Mother Nature. This grounding will help you to authentically derived decisions.
It was no easy task today to select JUST ONE quote from Kahlil Gibran‘s Masterpiece, The Prophet. It is one of my all-time favorites, and I think I could select Wisdom Wednesday quotes for a year based on The Prophet alone.
Today, “When love beckons to you, follow him,” stood out to me.
It’s not just about romantic love anymore, it is about a more universal love.
While once a seemingly straightforward sentiment, this quote now speaks volumes about the many layers of love.
How will you spread the love tomorrow?
Call me crazy, but I love the research side of being a writer.
I know some dread it, but opening up a file with graphs or delving into the history of a subject always puts a smile on my face. Maybe it’s the remnants of a childhood obsession with Nancy Drew mysteries kicking around in my head, always looking to solve something. Regardless of where the love stems from, I’m forever doing research. From the year and a half it took me to fully complete my book proposal, to the two-hour search for a new post I’m working on.
Just today I got my hands on a brand-spanking new report that is very relevant to this site, and I am excited to share the findings. Released by Sparks & Honey and the massive media outlet GaiamTV, the new report titled, The Explosion of Conscious Media, takes a look into what truly does appear to be the rising level of consciousness around the globe; it is pretty much a confirmation of this truth.
What is Conscious Media? Here is their definition:
And what topics are covered in the area of Conscious Media??
Thought this diagram was so interesting. Where do you fit in on this journey? If you find yourself on the left, take heart, you CAN make huge strides on your mind/body/spirit journey in a short time!
Some key findings:
+ Over 100 Million Americans consume Conscious Media
+ 55% of Americans are undergoing a major life transition and are open to the idea of personal transformation
+ Some of the top media titles of all time are Conscious Media, including the movie Avatar and the video game Journey
So. What does this mean for all of us?
It means that there is a shift occurring. That people are waking up. That we are slowly but surely moving away from fear-based living and walking into our truths. That perhaps one day, maybe when Gen Z is entering their Mid-Life, it will be commonplace to view yourself as global citizen that cares for the health and well-being of every individual on the planet.
Source for images & study findings can be found here via GaiamTV & Sparks & Honey.