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Clearing Your Mind In Order To Get Things Done

woman-writing-with-pen-in-notebookHow do you get things done that really matter to you? Clear your mind. Yes, that’s it. The problem is most people don’t know how to clear their mind, writes David G. Allan.

The strange paradox is you actually have to use your mind to shut your mind up. First ask yourself: ‘Why is this on my mind?’

Our brain is a poor and unreliable repository of all the things we try to cram into it. “Smart” phones and social networks are making the problem worse. By living a life of distraction , we are crowding out the deeper and creative thoughts, along with any hope of real quiet.

How to make things better:
1) Adopt a reliable capture method (Evernote, voice memos, a notebook, etc.) to get thoughts out of your head.
2) Distill them to actionable items and next steps (“send receipts to Finance,” or “call a kick-off meeting”) on your daily to-do list.
3) Dedicate yourself to multiple reviews in which you put these action items into the right buckets (“must be done today,” “phone calls when I’m on the train”).
4) Do the things on the list when you have time, prioritizing as you go.

David G. Allan has enjoyed occasional, fleeting moments when he realizes, “I don’t have anything I need to think about!” When it happens, a more creative or big picture idea often enters to fill the void. He also experiences increased focus on a project when he’s unfettered by mental loops reminding him to act on something else
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If You Are At Peace, You Are Living In The Present

smiling at peace“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
– Lao Tzu

A simple reminder from Lindsey Block:

I remind myself of this on nights and weekends when my anxiety seems to dwell in the spaces of free time and endless lists of chores and desires…

I think about this quote when I’m driving and unfocused and fretting about an upcoming meeting (worry not, just prepare).

I think about it when I remind myself of the stupid things I’ve said or done (dwell not, learn from mistakes).

I think about it when I feel lost about what’s to come with my future (stress not, make a list and how to accomplish them).

Breathe into the present moment.

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Transforming Poison Into Medicine: Handling Life’s Pains

smile broken armPain in our lives is inevitable, of course. And aversion is a natural response to pain. But aversion to the aversion? That’s probably a bit pathological, as Brian Johnson notes.

Pain is inevitable. Prolonged suffering is optional.

When difficulties arise, try to see them as a valuable life lesson. This doesn’t come naturally to most of us. Our instinct is to avoid discomfort at every turn. And we live in a culture that helps us distract ourselves anytime something emerges.

We need to realize that it’s our resistance to our pain that leads to the most painful, enduring and recurring types of suffering.

Suffering = Pain x Resistance. It’s an exponential rather than a multiplicative relationship.

Try to distinguish between the normal pains of life – difficult emotions, physical discomfort, etc. – and actual suffering, which is the mental anguish caused by fighting against the fact that life is sometimes painful.

Pain is inevitable. Accept that. Work with it. Learn from it. Reduce your suffering and reinvest the energy you gain by into your  growth and increasing your wisdom.

Our society constantly gives us a million distractions and numbing agents to our slightest discomfort. But what if, rather than turn away from what challenges us, we lean into it?
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Bullying Collides with the Connection Economy, Creating Collateral Damage

It seems that bullies are increasingly in the news, all the way up to the White House.

Seth Godin makes a compelling case for reigning in bullying behavior in a recent blog entry. Some excerpts:

War-like domination

…The zero-sum game of world domination or even of the gridiron seems to reward the selfish, war-like domination that the bully embraces. But in the connection economy, the world of our future, it’s pretty clear that we’re not playing a zero-sum game, and the hawkish win-at-all-costs behavior of the bully is actually a significant cost, not an asset.
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How To Sleep Better By Using An Evening Alarm Clock

woman alarm clockSet your alarm for an hour before you hope to be asleep.

Most people use electronic alarm clocks simply as a method to wake up in the morning. However, there is very little effort focused on the much harder problem of helping people get to sleep on time, John Durant notes. Our biological clock helps us both wake up and go to sleep. Waking up is a lot easier after a good night’s rest.

When the alarm you have set goes off in the evening (for example around 9:15 pm), finish any work on your computer, turn off the TV, switch off and/or turn down any unnecessary lights, and start to mellowing yourself into the night. Reading some non-problematic literature using a low powered headlamp is an option that somewhat replicates reading by candle light in days of yore.

Winding down in the late evening has only been a challenge for human beings for about the past 100 years. Right before Edison introduced the first commercially viable light bulb, the average American was sleeping about 9.5 hours per night. That dropped to approximately 8 hours throughout the 20th century to around 7 hours today. For that, we can partially credit the inventions of the good folks at Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Dell and others.

Source: Brian Johnson

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The Personal Cost of Constant Social Media Contact

social-media-confusion-overwhelmThe omnipresence of social media is presenting new existential dilemmas. Courtney E. Martin sees social media as “a tool with which we are compelled to construct a version of ourselves online, hour-by-hour.” Some of us are sending out dozens of micro digital messages – by “liking” and adding short comments, by “signaling” – all day and all night long. But what does all the signaling add up to, she asks.

…This “constant signaling has a price. Our attention is finite. Our energy for action is limited. These tools may lead some to gather and create real relationships or finally compel others to seek out more learning about an issue they’ve never really understood… but life is too short to only exist at the surface level of status updates.”

The personal cost of constant social media contact: Courtney E. Martin: @courtwrites

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The Anti-Anxiety Benefits of “Unloading” Periods

unloading_deloading_@timferriss_tim_ferrissMany people find journaling – basically writing down your contemplations – helpful. Tim Ferriss likens reflecting with pen-and-paper to a photography darkroom for the contents of his mind. The most fruitful journaling emerges during what Tim calls “unloading” periods.

Unloading is a term often used in athletic strength and conditioning, but it’s a concept that can be applied to many other areas of life. In athletics, unloading is a back-off week; a planned reduction in exercise volume or intensity. The purpose is to prepare the body for the increased future demands and to reduce the risk of overtraining.

Tim says he has used unloading outside of sports to decrease anxiety at least 50% while simultaneously doubling his income.
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Growing Roses and the Value of Acceptance

rose_smiling_face_acceptance_actionDon’t try to grow roses in a parking lot, Rick Hanson advises.

An essential first step in taking effective action is first understanding what we cannot influence or change, and fully accepting those facts.

Acceptance does not mean approval, overlooking, or forgiveness, Rick notes. You simply face the facts, including the fact of your limited influence. And through acceptance, you open yourself up to greater resourcefulness to deal with life’s difficulties.

If you cannot accept a fact – that it exists, that it has happened, whatever your preferences may be – then see if you can accept the fact that you cannot accept the fact!

Some possible “stretch” exercises in acceptance:

– Review a life event that has troubled you. See if you can accept it as something that happened, like it or not – and as truly just a part of a much larger and probably mainly positive whole.

– Focus on an aspect of your body that you don’t like. Tell the truth to yourself about the extent to which you can change it and make a clear choice as to what you will actually do. Then see if you can accept whatever remains as just the way it is – and as only a small part of the much larger and generally positive whole that is you.

– Bring to mind a key person in your life. Have there been any ways that you’ve been trying to affect or change this person that are just not working? What limits to your influence here do you need to accept?

– Reflect on something you’ve wanted to happen but been frustrated about – perhaps a career shift, a sale to a new customer. Are the necessary supporting conditions truly present? If they are, then stick with it and be patient. But if they are not present – if you’re trying to grow roses in a parking lot – consider shifting your hopes and efforts in another direction.

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Real Happiness: How Low-Cost Wine Becomes Undrinkable

business_wine_stoicismSome insightfully challenging observations from Jacob Henricson:

You would think that making a lot of money and having a lot of power makes you less more independent, less vulnerable. But often exact opposite happens.

As your income and prestige grow, you develop more expensive tastes. A modest-sized house is no longer enough. Wine at a low price slowly becomes undrinkable. Before you know it you have become dependent on an income which is much higher than what you would get from most available jobs. And it is much more painful to step down from a privileged position than it is enjoyable to climb up. You are creating a trap for yourself.

Epictetus provocatively asks: “Who is your master?” And immediately he answers: “Whoever has authority over anything that you’re anxious to gain or to avoid.”
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Practicing Mindfulness Throughout Your Work Day

Mindfulness Meditation at Work tipsSome useful suggestions from Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter:

“People spend about half of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing. In other words, many of us operate on autopilot. Add to this that we have entered what many people are calling the ‘attention economy.’

“In the attention economy, the ability to maintain focus and concentration is every bit as important as technical or management skills. And because leaders need to absorb and synthesize a growing flood of information to make good decisions, they’re hit particularly hard by this emerging trend.

“…First, start off your day right. Researchers have found that we release the most stress hormones within minutes after waking. Why? Because thinking of the day ahead triggers our fight-or-flight instinct and releases cortisol into our blood. Instead, try this: When you wake up, spend two minutes in your bed simply noticing your breath. As thoughts about the day pop into your mind, let them go and return to your breath.

“…E-mails and texts have a way of seducing our attention and redirecting it to lower-priority tasks because completing small, quickly accomplished tasks releases dopamine, a pleasurable hormone, in our brains. This release makes us addicted to e-mail and texting, and compromises our concentration…

“…To get a better start to your day, avoid checking your e-mail first thing in the morning. Doing so will help you sidestep an onslaught of distractions and short-term problems during a period of exceptional focus and creativity.

“… as the day comes to an end and you start your commute home, apply Mindfulness. For at least 10 minutes of the commute, turn off your phone, shut off the radio, and simply be. Let go of any thoughts that arise. Pay attention to your breath. Doing so will allow you to let go of the stresses of the day so you can return home and be fully present with your family.”

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How Success Distorts Self Image and What To Do About It

Marshall Goldsmith in IndiaSome wisdom from leading management thinker Marshall Goldsmith during a recent public visit to India:

“…The more successful people become, the more positive reinforcement you get. This is called the ‘Superstition Complex.’ You think that if you behave this way, you are successful. And you are successful because you behave this way.

For instance, has anyone here been promoted in the last two years? Now those of you who have been promoted: Have you noticed that your jokes have gotten a little funnier, everything you say is very wise; you even look like you’ve lost weight?

It is very hard not to let this nonsense go to your head. It is very important that the more successful we become, we learn to demonstrate our humility and tell ourselves, “I am here, I am successful because of something and despite other things.”

Marshall has developed over the years the practice of “Feed-Forward.” How it works: People reach out to one another and say, “My name is X and I want to get better at Y.” You ask for ideas and people give you ideas and you treat those ideas as a gift. You don’t put the person down; you say thank-you and then you listen and follow-up on it. Amazingly, people get better and it’s positive and it really works.”

“…Buddha says, listen to everything but only choose what works for you. Well, that is the essence of feed-forward. I ask you for ideas, listen to you, I try to seek value in what you are saying, I don’t promise to do everything you say but I do promise to listen and pick up the ideas that I can use.”

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Action May Not Bring Happiness, But There Is No Happiness Without Action

benjamin_disraeliFrom British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (born 1804, died 1881). The exact quotation is: Action may not always bring happiness, but there can be no happiness without action.

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Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence the Google Way

google meditation mindfulness search inside yourself chade meng tanWhen we are fully present, we are more effective and can make better decisions, which allows us to connect with others on a deeper level, writes Louise Padmore, who recently attended the Search Inside Yourself, a two-day program affiliated with Google.

Through mindfulness, we can gain a greater awareness of ourselves and others, and learn how to direct this attention to become more perceptive of feelings/emotions, and therefore handle these feelings/emotions and our interpersonal relationships with greater skill and compassion.

We learn from the past what to predict for the future and then live the future we expect, Louise notes.

Empathy is about seeing similarities and offering kindness… It is the ability to experience and understand what others feel. With this understanding, we can navigate difficult conversations more skilfully, and also connect with others more compassionately.

Louise highlighted five key skills she learned on the course:

1- Looping Back: Instead of projecting our own views on others and quickly drawing conclusions about what you’ve just heard, use the technique of looping back to repeat and clarify what they mean. When you practice this, it’s incredible how much room for misinterpretation there is, and how very often we can draw the incorrect conclusions and miss the point of what someone is trying to tell us.

2- Mindful Listening: Allowing yourself to listen fully, and not say a word. This can be pretty uncomfortable and difficult to do. It’s a natural instinct to want to relate to what the person is saying, interjecting ‘me too’. By intentionally avoiding this instinct and simply listening, it is amazing how much more we can hear.
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Tiredness Causes Depression Which Causes Pessimism and Vice Versa

happy-sleeping-baby-anti-depressionPeople who are depressed do, in fact, have good memories, but alas for negative information rather than positive information.

Brian Johnson highlights a study in which researchers showed subjects images and then tested people who were sleep-deprived and those who weren’t on recall of the images. The images had obvious emotional content, for example a cuddly puppy or a photo of a battleground. Sleep-deprived people had difficulty recalling the positive images but not the negative images.

Folks struggling with depression typically can remember only the negative aspects of their lives. And they are are often sleep deficient.

Everyone needs eight and half hours of sleep out of every twenty-four, Brian asserts, citing research. Everybody. If you need an alarm clock to wake up every day, if you can’t get rolling until a shot or two of espresso, and you find that you sleep long and hard on weekends, then you are probably not getting enough sleep.

The body is wonderfully homeostatic; that is, it has mechanisms to enforce its need for sleep. It’s almost as simple as this: if you are sleepy, sleep. Note: You and I would fall into that “everybody” category. If you’re committed to feeling depressed, definitely make sure you get inadequate sleep,” Brian says sarcastically.
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12 Foods That Can Help You Sleep

woman-eating-nuts foods that help you sleepKeep evening snacks light and eat no later than a half-hour before bed. This allows sufficient time for your body to digest the food and absorb the nutrients before you go to sleep.

Almonds
Almonds contain magnesium, a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. A handful of almonds or a tablespoon of almond butter before bed may help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Bananas
These nutritional powerhouses contain tryptophan, an amino acid that has been linked to sleep quality. They also contain potassium, which may prevent muscles cramps in the middle of the night.

(Breakfast) Cereal and Milk
Milk contains the sleep-promoting tryptophan, which the brain uses to make serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote relaxation and control sleep and wake cycles. The carbohydrates in cereal make tryptophan more available to the brain. For the best results, choose a small bowl of whole-grain, low-sugar cereal.

Cherries
Cherries, especially the tart varieties (e.g. Montmorency), are one of the few food sources of melatonin, the sleep hormone that regulates your internal clock. Recent studies have found that volunteers who drank tart cherry juice daily fell asleep sooner and slept better and longer.
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When Trying to Avoid Suffering Makes It Worse

We all try to avoid suffering and in the process enlarge it and so make it worse, Malcolm Durham writes.

That’s because we don’t simply accept the thing that is making us suffer — say a complaint from a client — but enlarge it in a four-step process:

1. We ask questions: “How did this happen to me?”

2. We seek explanations: “It’s because I’m not good enough; because the world is against me.”

3. We heap on self-blame: “I really need to perform better.”

4. We end up feeling desperate: “I’m not going to succeed because these bad things keep happening to me.”

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Curing Your Social Media Addiction

Smart-Phone-AddictionJulia Edelstein has written a helpful article. Some highlights:

…Understand that you’re being played by programmers. A heavy social-media habit isn’t entirely your fault. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter — they’ve all been designed to make you repeatedly use them and check back in…When you keep in mind that the technology is designed to hold you hostage, you might be motivated to set time limits. Think of it as buying a snack-size bag of chips instead of the party-size.

Set limits: Vow to stay off social media during meals with others, when you’re in the bathroom or in bed.

Buy an alarm clock: If you use your phone as an alarm, the last and first thing you’ll do each day is stare into that screen.
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Resisting Naysayers, Distractions and Egotistical Tendencies

Stoicism is supposed to be a living, breathing thing. Not just words you look at on a page once, but something you carry with you, something you use to live, says @dailystoic. So that, as Seneca put it, the “words become works.”

Recalling Epictetus’s advice in our daily lives: “Two words should be committed to memory and obeyed by alternatively exhorting and restraining ourselves, words that will ensure we lead a mainly blameless and untroubled life. Those two words were “persist and resist.” So that we persist in our efforts, despite any obstacles we might face, and that we resist naysayers, discouragement, selfish and egotistical tendencies and distractions.

The world is constantly testing us. We set out to do something and it’s more trying than we expect. We face resistance. We get criticized. We run out of options. We experience technical difficulties. What will we do?

Marcus Aurelius would say that the Stoic finds a way to turn every negative into a positive. In this famous line, what he’s suggesting is that no matter how bad or seemingly undesirable a situation becomes we always have the opportunity to practice virtue, to use the situation as an opportunity to be our best selves.

We don’t control when things get hard, but we always control how we respond. We can show patience, courage, humility, resourcefulness, reason, justice, and creativity. The things that test us make us who we are.
The Stoic grows stronger and better with every obstacle they face. They rally to every challenge and thrive as a result. So can you.

As the Haitian proverb puts it: Behind mountains are more mountains. One does not overcome one obstacle only to enter the land of no obstacles. No matter how successful we are or will be, we¹re going to find things that stand in our path. @dailystoic

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Being at Peace with the Pain of Others: Compassionate Listening

listening woman photoRick Hanson notes that we humans are an empathic, compassionate, and loving species, so it is natural to feel sad, worried, or fiery about the troubles and pain of other people.

“…How do you find that sweet spot in which you are open, caring, and brave enough to let others land in your heart . . . while also staying balanced, centered, and at peace in your core?

…Let the pain of the other person wash through you, Rick advises. Don’t resist it. Opening your heart, finding compassion – the sincere wish that someone not suffer – will lift and fuel you to bear the other’s pain. We long to feel received by others; turn it around: your openness to another person, your willingness to be moved, is one of the greatest gifts you can offer.
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How Just One Breath Can Help

meditating stream just one breath photoSome evocative writing from Gary Snyder:

In this world of onrushing events the act of meditation – even just a “one-breath” meditation – straightening the back, clearing the mind for a moment – is a refreshing island in the stream.

Although the term meditation has mystical and religious connotations for many people, it is a simple and plain activity. Attention, deliberate stillness and silence. As anyone who has practiced sitting knows, the quieted mind has many paths, most of them tedious and ordinary. Then, right in the midst of meditation, totally unexpected images or feelings may sometimes emerge, and suddenly there is a way into a vivid clarity.
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Ground-Breaking Study Demonstrates Mindfulness Benefits

meditation-groupFor the first time in a scientifically rigorous study, it has been shown that Mindfulness Meditation – as opposed to a more generic type of relaxation training – can change the brain biochemistry of ordinary people over the medium-term and potentially improve their health.

The researchers, from Carnegie Mellon University, recruited 35 men and women who were unemployed and experiencing considerable stress. Blood was drawn and brain scans were carried out. Half the subjects were then taught formal mindfulness meditation at a residential retreat center; the other participants completed a similarly comprehensive training program but one devoid of mindfulness-oriented exercises.

‘‘We had everyone do stretching exercises, for instance,’’ lead researcher David Creswell explained. The mindfulness group paid close attention to bodily sensations, including unpleasant ones. The non-mindfulness-oriented relaxation group was encouraged to chatter and generally not pay attention to their bodies,

At the end of three days, all the participants told the researchers they felt refreshed and better able to withstand the stress of unemployment. Yet follow-up brain scans showed differences in only those who underwent mindfulness meditation. There was more activity in the portions of their brains that process stress-related reactions and other areas related to focus and calm.

Four months later, those who had practiced mindfulness showed much lower levels in their blood of a marker of unhealthy inflammation than the relaxation group, even though very few in the mindfulness group had continued to do practice exercises on their own.
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Top Ten Questions Everyone Asks About Meditation

Concentrated meditating confident girl sitting on the floorLots of good advice in an article by Tara Healey on the top 10 questions that everyone asks about meditation. Some edited excerpts:

Q: Should my eyes be open or closed?
A: There are no hard and fast rules. Try each style. If open, not too wide, and with a soft, slightly downward gaze, not focusing on anything in particular. If closed, not too hard, and not imagining anything in particular in your mind’s eye.

…While meditating, we don’t have to fight off distractions like a knight slaying dragons. If your dog or cat comes into the room and barks or meows and brushes up against you or settles down on a part of your cushion, no big deal. Let it be.

Q: Is it possible I’m someone who just *cannot* meditate?
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How Ancient Roman Stoicism is Changing Modern Lives for Better

modern_stoicismA useful overview of the Stoicism movement currently building momentum across the world, by Sarah Berry:

Stoicism encourages us to carry out thought experiments on ourselves so that we are not held captive to our comfort zone and enables us to practice courage in the face of change.

“Stoicism is not a set of ethics or principles. It’s a collection of spiritual exercises designed to help people through the difficulties of life. To focus on managing emotion, specifically non-helpful emotion,” explains Ryan Holiday, author of The Obstacle Is the Way

The Four-Hour Body author, Tim Ferris uses the philosophy to address his own fears of poverty, regularly conducting lifestyle experiments such as wearing the same white T-shirt and pants for weeks in a row, have periods of living modestly (rice and beans, about $3 a day) and fasting once a week.

“It’s inoculating yourself against unfounded fears,” Ferris says. “When I find myself defensive, fearful of losing whatever success or money or prestige or status… they’re usually nebulous. You worry that your quality of life will drop, you’ll be very unhappy, but if you rehearse that condition – the worst-case scenario – you realize it’s not that bad and that’s tremendously empowering.”

“Stoicism allows you to make better investment decisions,” Ferriss says. “It allows you to take the steps to start your own company, start a relationship, end a relationship – because you are rehearsing the worst-case scenarios instead of letting them bounce around your head in a very unformed, nebulous way.”

Four quotes from  the seminal Stoic philosopher Seneca:

“There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us. We suffer more in imagination than in reality.”

“No prizefighter can go with high spirits into the strife if he has never been beaten black and blue. The only contestant who can confidently enter the lists is the man who has seen own blood, who has felt his teeth rattle beneath his opponent’s fists, who has been tripped and felt the full force of his adversary’s charge, who has been downed in body, but not in spirit, one who, as often as he falls, rises again with greater defiance than ever.”

“Let us become intimate with poverty so that fortune may not catch us off our guard. We shall be rich with all the more comfort if we learn how far poverty is from being a burden.”

“When you challenge yourself by living without luxuries or indulgences, say to yourself: ‘Is this the condition that I feared?’ The soul should toughen itself beforehand for occasions of greater stress. It is while fortune is kind that it should fortify itself against its violence.”

The full article is here.

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Brain-Boosting Green Leafy Vegetables Made Easy

woman-spinach

It bears repeating (again and again), a healthy mind lives inside a healthy brain, which in turn lives inside a healthy body.

Eat your greens – everyone has heard this but most people just don’t eat much, certainly not more than once per day, unless you count the one or two weeks per year in the summer when they are on holiday in a Mediterranean country.

There’s one relatively easy addition to your daily food routine that could have a big boost to your mental and physical health.

Children are always being forced to eat their greens. Ironically it’s much more important for adults – especially middle-agers – to eat these greens because middle-agers need to combat the effects of oxidization – young children don’t!

Fresh greens are super foods. During autumn and winter months they are best eaten “wilted” (i.e. lightly sautéed or steamed) in soups, curries, stews, etc. The absolute easiest way to “prepare” them is to put some soup in a big bowl, sprinkle two or three handfuls of greens onto the soup and heat in a microwave for about 4 minutes.

Shopping list:

Arrurgula (rocket)

Kale

Spinach

Parsley

Mustard

Cilantro (coriander)

Watercress (cress)

Swiss chard

A simple recipe:

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Seven Ways to Carve Out Time to Meditate

Some very practical tips by Alex Orlov for creating more moments for Mindfulness.


1. Type it into your phone calendar
Instead of simply hoping you’ll be able to squeeze in meditation on the fly, try setting aside a specific time for it. Rather than thinking of meditation as another item on your to-do list, think of it as a gift to yourself.

2. Do it in the morning
Especially for parents with young kids, doing it before the day gets underway is your best bet for fitting in some “me time,” she says. Don’t set goals too high in the beginning. “If you can do five minutes, that’s better than nothing.”

3. Start with one breath
A tiny habit should be a behavior that requires little effort and can be performed in less than 30 seconds. That seed of a habit can grow into a full-blow tree.

4. Do a bit of meditation after an existing habit
For example, breathe mindfully for 10 seconds after you go to the bathroom at work. This is called anchoring. Chose a daily occurrence or existing activity to remind yourself to meditate.

5. Use headphones
There are four ways to meditate: Walking, standing, sitting or lying down. Get a pair of noise canceling headphones to meditate in airports and on planes.

6. Divert time away from discretionary activities
Make a commitment to spend 25% less time on every e-mail you write or respond to. Only read urgent *and* important articles right away; all the others put in a “Read Eventually” folder. Schedule meeting to be 15 to 20 minutes shorter than usual – instead of 10 to 11 a.m., schedule it for 10 to 10:40 a.m.

7. Practice when you’ve got time to kill
Resist the urge to scroll through social media the moment your dining companion heads to the bathroom. Have some moments in the day where you’re just being rather than doing. Look around, smile at other people and enjoy some momentary calm. While it’s not the same as doing a seated meditation, being fully present during these small moments can help you feel more comfortable confronting the thoughts rattling around in your mind.

Meditation, broadcaster Dan Harris says, is “fighting a lifetime pattern of letting your thoughts lead you by the nose… “Don’t put the pressure on yourself that you have to do it forever,” Harris says. It’s okay if you fall off the wagon for a few weeks, so long as you muster the grit to return to your practice. The power of meditation, he says, is derived from practicing daily.

The article on finding time to meditate, prioritizing mindfulness practice:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/life-by-dailyburn-/time-meditation_b_7545328.html

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Mindfulness: It’s Not Just For Trendy Tech Companies Anymore

Professional service firms are reporting encouraging results with Mindfulness at Work programs. Berger Singerman, a business law firm with approximately 85 attorneys and a total of 165 employees, has run one since 2013.
mindfulness_at_work_law_firmsParticipants report significant improvements in:

– focus on the task at hand
– active listening skills
– more accurate observation and data gathering skills

The program has increased “professionalism, collaboration and business performance,” says the firm’s co-chair, Paul Singerman. Moreover, the new skills have “enriched and improved our team members’ personal and family lives as well.”

“Mindfulness helps us interact more effectively with each other, our clients, our referral sources and our opposing counsel,” Singerman writes in a recent article. And when we hear and understand each other better, we work more effectively and less stressfully.

Singerman believes that “the smaller the business, the greater the impact, because each person’s role is that much more essential to executing the overall company mission.” Key in the program launch process is getting energetic support of senior management.

The Mindfulness program has taught Singerman to focus on three “buckets of data”:

#1. Myself.
I am better at my own “early detection system” for anger or fear by learning the feelings and sensations that anger or fear initiates within me, I can have a better chance of responding thoughtfully to the stimulus causing those feelings and avoid reacting to them in ways that are unhelpful or regrettable. I am better able to identify when I am off task and bring myself back to the present moment.

#2. Other people.
It has improved my listening skills and ability to gather data from my counter-ties in my communications and interactions with others. By staying present and in the moment, I can better gauge reactions of others to what I’m saying, really hear what others say, and observe important cues like body language and tone of voice.

# 3. The environment.
It has enhanced my ability to observe and gather data from the environment. That where I find myself, the dynamics of a case or deal, or even the industry that is the subject of a client matter or sales initiative. Striving to be a better gatherer of data has helped me be more aware of and sensitive to the perspectives of others.

Here’s a link to the full article on the Huffington Post.

Mindfulness at work, workplace mindfulness, law firms, mindfulness benefits, meditation practice, stress management, mindfulness to increase performance and productivity

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How Google, Twitter and Others Are Using Mindfulness

From a recent article in Fast Company magazine:
twitter_meditation_guru
“We are in the middle of a culture shift; we are no longer interested in just getting through our workday and striving toward relief at the end of our careers. It’s about more quality and connection within the work-life continuum,” says Soren Gordhamer, founder of Wisdom 2.0, an annual technology and mindfulness conference

Melissa Daimler, head of learning and organizational development at Twitter describes the benefits: “One of our core skills of managers is coaching, which is about listening, being present, and asking questions.”

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Seven Minutes of “Free” Meditation Time Every Morning

When we’re in the shower, we aren’t on the phone or the computer, or watching TV. Generally we’re not being interrupted by anyone. That’s a great opportunity for some start-the-day-off-right “free” meditation time, notes Dina Overland.
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We’re simply standing under a stream of water with the goal of becoming clean. But it’s not just our bodies we can clean while we’re in the shower, we can also clean out our minds and our thoughts.

Instead of letting your mind wander aimlessly (e.g. “what should I make for dinner tonight?”), you can consciously shape your thoughts to be more positive.

There are two parts to my shower routine to start each day with peace, gratitude and joy.

I begin with my “I ams”
– I am whole
– I am enough
– I am worthy

I take a few deep breaths as I think them, to make sure they really sink in:
– I am generous
– I am willing to change
– I am forgiving

So even if I am hating on a family member who hurt me last month or struggling with a cold, I repeat these positive statements several times.
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Continuous Compassionate Criticism: The Art of Coaching

When you make a mistake in typing or in spelling, isn’t a good thing that an icon doesn’t flash all over your screen with a green monster sticking its tongue out and screaming at you that you’re a total idiot? Those kinds of frequent attacks on your self-esteem are unlikely to motivate you to produce more and increase the quality of your work. It’s an overwhelming, debilitating form of feedback.

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However, the opposite of this is also a problem. Most people can merrily type away while their word processing program automatically fixes mistakes that the person never realizes he made. This is not blissful ignorance. This is the kind of cluelessness that leads to arrogance and complacency.
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Stay Clear of the Mindfulness Trend: Six “Good Reasons”

Melissa Georgiou points out some possible “risks” of jumping on the Mindfulness bandwagon:

1. Your health might improve.
Relaxation is entirely overrated; we need to stay busy and always vigilent.

2. You might enjoy your life more.
Who needs to appreciate the beauty that is right in front of them? Nature, connectedness and beauty are so last year! And attention spans. Who needs it anymore? We have so many flashing lights and colorful advertisements surrounding us that we need to stay tuned in case we miss out on something!

3. You might learn to breathe better.
When you continue with the shallow breathing, your body is always in a state of urgency. How on earth do you suppose you will do all of that multitasking if you learn mindfulness? Short sharp breaths help
everything happen faster!

4. Your friends and family might want to spend more time with you.
You might become a better listener who really cares about connecting with other humans. N.B. This would mean less time on social media.
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