Meditation needs to be nothing more than sitting with yourself, closing your eyes, and focusing on your breathing while you relax. Through this process, you’ll be able to calm your senses and energize the awareness which we so often neglect.
At first, it will not be easy. Your mind will race, you’ll become antsy, and you may tell yourself “What’s the point of this?” But that is the point. By taking control of your senses and emotions, you’ll be setting yourself up for more power over your everyday actions and more enjoyment in everyday life.
By making meditation a habit, you’ll find that you’re more calm, more focused, and more attentive in everything that you do. If that isn’t enough, there are plenty of health benefits associated with meditation as well.
You don’t need to dive down the rabbit hole of deep spirituality in order to begin meditating, but you may find that more joy and meaning find their way into your life once you do.
Set aside 10 minutes each day for this practice. Some prefer just before sleeping at night, others prefer first thing in the morning. Any time of day is fine, but I suggest being as consistent as possible.
Choose a spot that is free of distractions such as chatter, phones ringing, or televisions. Use a pillow, cushion, or something similar (a yoga block works great too) to elevate you slightly while you sit cross-legged. This will promote less muscular fatigue, better posture, and proper breathing.
Relax your hands on your knees and close your eyes. Take slow, deep breaths, counting in your head as you go; inhale – “one”, then exhale – “two.” Count until you get to 10, then start over. Repeat this process as many times as you like.
This does two things: It keeps you focused and free of distracting thoughts, requiring that you only count to 10 before starting over. (You may find yourself counting past 10 without realizing it. This is okay, stay relaxed and start back at 1. It also provides a rhythmic relaxation that will ease your mind into an alpha brainwave frequency.
Once you’re fully relaxed, you can continue to focus on your breathing, you can visualize, or you can choose to feel the energies within your body. Wherever your mind goes while meditating will be a different experience for everyone, but the key is to relax, allow your body to soften, and allow your thoughts to yield.
When the 10 minutes is up, open your eyes and take a few deep breaths. You can visualize light and positive energy filling your body as you inhale, then visualize stress and negativity as smoke leaving your body as you exhale. Whenever you encounter stress the rest of the day, move back into this presence of your body and allow the tension to fade away.
Fear. It is the definitive 4-letter dirty word in self-development. What we fear often holds us back from being who we want to be, from experiencing life the way we want to. Or does it?
I believe that if there were to be only one book ever written about personal growth, it would say this:
“Do what you’re afraid to do, always.”
Most of the time, we’re not so much afraid of the “thing” itself, but rather the projected idea that we’ve attached in order to keep us safe. Our primal brain is interested in survival, in conserving our identity, and conserving mental resources. It is not concerned with pushing boundaries or forcing discomfort.
When we’re honest with ourselves about what we fear and take actionable steps toward transcending those fears, we liberate ourselves immeasurably. Many of our fears are irrational, meaning that they are psychological and self-created where no real danger or threat of survival is present.
If we take a step back and look at our fears objectively without attaching any emotion or identity to them, we begin to see how ridiculous most of them probably are. We often have exaggerated projections of what the worst case scenario will be in a situation. We then allow this to justify our lack of action, whether consciously or unconsciously.
However, if you decide to commit to a life of self-development, it will not be long until you must start facing some of your fears.
The first step is to identify your surface-level fears. This requires you to be honest with yourself. What situations elicit a stress response in you? Do you get anxious and jittery when socializing with strangers? Do you develop sweaty palms and a shaky voice when talking to a woman you find attractive?
These uncomfortable emotions will provide the starting point on your map.
Each morning, write down something you’re afraid to do. Start off easy, but not too easy. You want to challenge yourself and start building momentum with this exercise. You’ll begin to feel great knowing you have the power to start systematically facing your fears head-on.
Once you’ve established which fear you’re going to face, simply go out and do it. The point is not to achieve an outcome or a result, but to feel exhilarated by overcoming the fear itself.
This feeling of euphoria will soon overpower the emotions of anxiety. You will become addicted to chasing the high of overcoming your fears and limitations.
Keep these experiences recorded in a journal. Check it off at the end of each day and reflect on it. You can choose to face one fear each day or use the same fear each day for seven days. Repeated exposure will train the mind to see the inability of your fears to control you.
And the more you take these actions, the more you’ll give your mind the evidence it needs.
You will find that there exists endless opportunities each day, no matter where you are, to face your fears. Unconsciously, we don’t want to face these fears, but maintaining the status quo is not the path to growth and ultimate confidence; expanding our boundaries and liberating our adventurous side, however, is.
Why is it that most people fail to achieve the goals they set for themselves? And if they do achieve them, why are those achievements even less likely to be maintained?
The answer is simple. It was a nice idea, but it was never made into a habit.
Our minds are great at organizing and utilizing information that they interpret as significant or that they’ve been subjected to repeatedly. Exposure is key.
Many get into self-development and stay trapped looking for the next best thing, convinced they just haven’t found the right information yet. The reality is, you can fill your conscious mind with all the most useful information in the world, but until you take action and learn through your body, you will still be on autopilot operating from the same outdated software.
By creating consistent positive habits each day, we set ourselves up for more productivity, more happiness, and more success automatically.
Many say that it takes 30 days to develop a habit. I would suggest that depending on the task and the individual, it probably takes longer, but 30-day challenges are an amazing primer for taking action each and every day, and that is the point.
By setting up daily goals for yourself, you’ll start taking action consistently. These consistent actions will work synergistically to create an upward spiral and get you moving in the right direction.
What are some things you’d like to be better at? What are some actions you could take everyday to improve your life? Once again, it comes down to being honest with yourself.
There are plenty of challenge ideas on the internet which could serve as a good starting point. I would suggest including some actions for health, mindfulness, and productivity, but the possibilities are endless.
Here are a few sample ideas to get you started:
– No junk food or fast food
– Meditate 10 minutes every night before sleeping
– Exercise for 30 minutes each day
– Wake up early every morning
– Make a green smoothie everyday
– Have a conversation with a stranger each day
Whichever ideas you choose, grab a sheet of paper and start writing out your challenge list. You’re going to make two copies; one that you will place in a strategic spot to see it everyday, and another that you’re going to keep in your pocket for the next 30 days.
Take both of these copies, write out the dates, and sign them. You will now be accountable for completing the challenge along with the amazing changes in your lifestyle it will create.
We will inevitably face periods of low energy along our journey, times when we’re either feeling uninspired or physically or mentally unable to keep on track. The key is to acknowledge the process and purpose of these low points without resisting them.
It makes sense that we’d like to perform at an optimal level at all times, be feeling inspired and motivated every minute, but our energies cycle. This is both normal and natural. We can do all the right things to ensure we’re maintaining a positive state as much as possible, but there are going to be times when we’re just not feeling it.
There is a polar dynamic that exists within all things: day and night, masculine and feminine, and even the communication of the very cells that make us human. In a similar way, periods of growth and thriving must be polarized with periods of rest and rejuvenation.
When we’re faced with a phase of low energy or a “rainy day”, we have two choices: We can resist it, complain about it, and let our disciplines slip – or we can accept it for what it is, realize it is only temporary, and keep moving forward. The first option will only set you up for a downward spiral. The second will put you in a place of power.
“Motivation” is one of those catch terms that everyone hangs on, but motivation is not always present. There are many times you’ll need to take action even when you don’t see the point, let alone feel the motivation.
This is the true measure of your potential. This is where the real change happens.
As a general rule, the more you don’t want to do something, the more likely you need to do it. There will be times you don’t feel inspired to take action. There will be times you’ll convince yourself that it is all meaningless. There may even be times you feel resentful toward doing positive things for yourself altogether.
It is going against all that your mind is telling you in that moment and holding true to your higher purpose of being better, of being more, that creates true willpower and true change.
The next time you’re feeling bogged down or discontent, step outside of whatever emotions you’re experiencing and listen to your intuition on what the best action to take would be. This can be extremely difficult to do, but it is a practice that if mastered will be life-transforming.
This is the art of taking action anyways.
Take a small step at first. Whip up something healthy to eat or drink or get a small amount of work done that you’ve been putting off. Whatever it is, just do it. You may feel that spark begin to reignite, no matter how faintly.
After this first step, keep the momentum going. Don’t think about your current circumstances or the fact that you’re in a low point on the motivation scale, just focus your awareness fully on what you’re doing in the moment.
When you begin to receive fulfillment from the action itself and nothing more, you’re on the path to creating true positive momentum in your life.
It is my hope that the ideas presented in this article give you a great starting point to take control of your life and to push yourself to the next level. By supplying yourself with the right mindset and taking actions to achieve your goals, you’ll begin building an unshakable foundation that no one can take away from you.
“Knowledge is knowing how to do something. Wisdom is doing it.”