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A Glorious Injection of Testosterone

sunrise_runCombatting Complacency

The video linked at the bottom is a bit on the macho side, I know. Or as a good female friend responded when I sent the link to her: “What a glorious injection of testosterone!” I think she meant it (mostly) in a good way.

This is where Mindful Your Own Business is a little bit different than many other meditation-oriented sites. Sure we believe in non-judgment, in going with the flow, in letting things happen at their own pace. Yes, sometimes the best approach to a difficult day, month or year is simply to “chop wood, carry water.”

And sometimes action is needed. Right Action. The Right Way. And the Right Way is often the most difficult way, the way the requires the most discipline, the most focus, the most delaying of gratification and with no guarantee of reward.

Here’s the full text:

Rise and shine.

6am and your hand can’t make it to the alarm clock before the voices in your head start telling you that it’s too early, too dark, and too cold to get out of a bed.
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Change Your Life in Less Than One Minute

59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change A Lot, by Richard Wiseman

It’s based orichard_wisemann the premise that quick techniques can sometimes be surprisingly effective at helping us to change.

Highlights include that:

–       Spending money on experiences is a far more effective way to make yourself happy than spending it on things

–       Punching a pillow to relieve anger actually increases your anger, while sitting quietly and thinking about how you might have benefited from an negative experience has a positive effect

Top 10 Tips from 59 Seconds

1. Develop the gratitude attitude
2. Be a giver
3. Have a mirror in your kitchen
4. Buy a potted plant for the office
5. Touch people lightly on the upper arm
6. Write about your relationship
7. Deal with potential liars by closing your eyes and asking for email
8. Praise children’s effort over their ability
9. Visualize yourself doing, not achieving
10. Consider your legacy

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Perfection Is Not a Prerequisite For Anything But Pain

contemplate2Why wait for your awakening?
The moment your eyes are open, seize the day.
Would you hold back when the Beloved beckons?
Would you deliver your litany of sins like a child’s collection of sea shells, prized and labeled?
“No, I can’t step across the threshold,” you say, eyes downcast.
“I’m not worthy. I’m afraid, and my motives aren’t pure. I’m not perfect, 
and surely I haven’t practiced nearly enough.”
My meditation isn’t deep, and my prayers are sometimes insincere.
I still chew my fingernails, and the refrigerator 
isn’t clean.”
Do you value your reasons for staying small more than the light shining through the open door?
Forgive yourself.
Now is the only time you have to be whole.
Now is the sole moment that exists to live in the light of your true Self.
Perfection is not a prerequisite for anything but pain.
Please, oh please, don’t continue to believe in your disbelief.
This is the day of your awakening.
 – Danna Faulds

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Carol Dweck on Coaching: Praise, Criticism & Shifting Mindsets

Growth Mindset, coaching expectations & outcomes
carol_dweck1 Carol Dweck is one of the world’s most influential social psychologists. Her research is of vast importance to coaches and how they praise and criticize their athletes.

Carol is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and an expert on how a person’s thought patterns and belief – or mindset – affect their ability to learn and perform. This interview was recorded and first released in July 2013.

She is the author of numerous papers and books, and those most relevant to coaching include the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. She also has a great website: mindsetonline.com

Carol’s interview can be found at our sister site: www.sportscoachradio.com
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How Do You Know If You’re Succeeding or Failing At Mindfulness Practice?

samuel-beckett

Meditation as a “mental fast”

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

In some ways those are encouraging words. But on second thought, when it comes to finding motivation to persist at a meditation practice, maybe not so much.

Thinking in terms of success versus failure might not be helpful. An analogy that is often drawn is that Mindfulness exercises are like gym sessions for your brain. I suppose the fact that you need to carve out time and do something that you don’t feel naturally inclined to do and that feels strenuous, is similar to time spent lifting weights or grinding away on a cardio machine. But the laws that govern physical fitness, of gaining aerobic and muscular strength, aren’t the same as those covering the management of mental states or the growth and maintenance of neural networks.

For many, what makes the pursuit of physical fitness satisfying is the sense of linear progress. Most of the time, with consistent practice, one really is getting stronger and faster, with greater staying power. On a tough day of training, when one is tired or hasn’t eaten properly, it’s still possible to push through a tough session with a “force of will” and make it a successful one.

Some researchers postulate that the meditating brain grows in size and strength at the microscopic level – creating new connections and increasing the insulating covers of the nerve fibers (i.e., there is a progressive thickening of the myelin sheaths). That may indeed be happening. But crucially for the impatient or frustrated meditator, very often it doesn’t feel like anything is happening. It’s not just a case of two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes it feels like one step back, then another step back, then standing in place, then one step back again.

If an inability to stay fully focused on one’s breath and hold distracting thoughts completely at bay counts as “failure,” then failure – or at least, not succeeding – comes with the territory of meditation. It’s helpful to reframe the challenge in more neutral terms. A fruitful Mindfulness session is one where you repeatedly notice mental wandering, and you come back to your breath, again and again and again. Yes, it’s a Sisyphean task, but inevitably so. A lot of life is like that.

In these frustrating moments it might be helpful not to think in terms of whether the session was “successful” nor whether one is “succeeding” at a Mindfulness practice. The positive results might be very subtle or not even discernible at all from one moment to the next. But usually the benefits are lurking somewhere. For example, a friend of mine says she sees positive effects “seeping” into her life in unexpected ways over time. Being able to stay calm and courteous during a frustrating encounter with an incompetent customer service person on the telephone is one example.

It may be more helpful to see one’s practice as similar as one’s “eating practice” — one’s daily diet. This is because there are so many external factors affecting whether a session feels like progress. For instance, how calm the emotional environment is around the practitioner, the atmosphere at home, the state of the extended family, and what’s happening professionally?

Consistency with one’s meditative practice is as important as it is with one’s diet. It does little good to eat one super healthy meal and then binge on junk food for several days after that. The key is sustainable steadiness.

Perhaps even more useful than the eating analogy is a *non* eating analogy, i.e. fasting. In many cultures and religious traditions a period of abstaining from food is considered purifying and restorative. Shorter “intermittent” periods of fasting have recently been shown by research to enable people to lose weight, boost their immunity to illnesses and to increase their energy levels.

In this way, time spent *not* thinking, emoting, evaluating, criticizing, blaming, feeling like a victim etc. is like *not* eating unhealthy foods. It gives the system a rest; it provides welcome relief and enables natural processes of recuperation. But for many people, fasting isn’t fun. Sometimes it’s painful. A person in a fasted state might feel agitated or irritable. But that doesn’t mean they are failing; often it’s quite the contrary.

So maybe see a meditation session as a “mental fast.” When it doesn’t seem to have gone “well” or when we don’t seem to be making “progress,” it’s often helpful to be gentle and non-judgmental. Try saying something like: “I’ve done what I needed to do today. There’s a lot going on around me. I am caring for myself. I trust this is having a positive effect over the long-term.” Keeping score with wins and losses, successes and failures might be counter-productive.

Key terms: Mindfulness practice, meditation; what constitutes succeeding or failing, brain fitness versus physical fitness, meditation and diet analogy, mental fasting

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Getting Started With Meditation For Those Who Find It Challenging

Most people find it difficult to establish a daily meditation practice. We know it would probably benefit us, but how much? Is the “cost-benefit” ratio really in favor of meditation? How much pain of sitting quietly must we endure for the gain of increased calm and focus? Daniel Rodic outlines his quest to meditate for 100 days in a row.

Stress is motivating in short-bursts, but long-term sustained stress leads to burnout, exhaustion, strained relationships and general unhappiness. Daniel realized changing his environment didn’t work because he needed to focus on changing his mindset.

Knowing this was a new habit Daniel was attempting to form, he started with something very easy to do (listening to a 3 minute song) and progressed to his goal of daily meditation (12 minutes every night using a guided meditation recording) over a span of 45 days. This step-by-step progress motivated Dan, as he felt like he was getting better every day as he migrated from music to guided meditation. These are the stages Daniel went through:

Stage 1 (Day 0 to 3): Before using guided meditations, Daniel tarted listening to a favorite song each day. It was an enjoyable experience that he knew he would look forward the meditation exercise every morning.

Stage 2 (Day 4 to 6): Daniel developed a morning habit whereby he listened to an upbeat song, while at night he listened to a slower song. This trained his body to wake up or go to bed when I heard these songs. Daily repetition was key.
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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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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 both. 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 and 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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Why Meditation Practice Isn’t Really Comparable to Physical Exercise

meditation_time_mindfulnessMany people start off with goals for meditating that just aren’t realistic. While a meditation practice might be similar to a physical exercise practice, the analogy is limited.

The reality for a lot of us is that getting out on a bicycle or making our way in to a gym is the hard part, but once we start, we can usually last for 30, 40 minutes or more. That’s especially true when happy chemicals get released into our brain triggered by our physical efforts.

Not so for the practice of meditation. For many people there is no immediate “runner’s high” type of payoff. The benefits of mindful breathing, for example, accumulate gradually and aren’t always felt in the moment, but rather hours or days later.

What’s required to get started with meditation is first: The suspension of disbelief. That doesn’t mean permanently turning off your faculties of discernment and scepticism. It’s OK and sometimes quite useful when you approach life with an analytical mind-set. This can prevent all manner of mistakes, getting trapped by trickery and wasting your time.
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