I am long over the idea of reading an article, finding it “inspiring and life-changing” and then going back to living my daily life, hoping I remember everything. Bit by bit, I forget and default to my own patterns. Maybe you're better at remembering stuff, but for me, any sustainable change requires contnued practice. This is where all practices discussed in posts and podcasts get archived for your reference.
To meditate, I get the best results from using an effortless Yogic technique. It seems simple, but is really powerful (precisely because it is so simple). All you need to do is the following:
- Find a place to sit. Back support is ideal so you’re not worried about body position. Legs crossed is good for the body, but not necessary. A chair is fine.
- Sit as straight as possible, but don’t struggle to maintain your posture.
- Close you eyes, sit quietly for thirty seconds and just scan you body, making sure all tension (especially in the face) has been let go.
- Don’t worry about your breathing or hand position.
- Begin to think the mantra "Aham” (Pronounced “Awe Hum”)
- Think it in as faintly and effortlessly as possible.
- As thoughts come and you’re pulled away from the mantra, just return to it as easy as you left (at this stage it’s important to not feel like you messed up…not because “it’s okay to mess up” but because you didn’t mess up. That’s what mantras do, they pull the mind away from whatever it was trying to focus on. To reject like having other thoughts in meditation is to reject a very natural and very beneficial aspect of it).
- After 15-20 minutes, gently let go of the mantra and sit quietly for 2 minutes.
- Slowly open your eyes.
That’s it. It’s as simple as that. Your mind will try and complicate the process, and I spend hours and hours working with people and teaching them how to keep it this simple. So just keep it this simple and don’t worry about what happens during the process, and everything will turn out well.
For more detailed instruction or further coaching give me a shout.
This is a practice based in Tibetan Buddhism called "Metta Bhavana". It means “Loving-Kindness”, and is a meditative practice for cultivating compassion. This may seem kind of fluffy, but the intention is not what you think it is. The Buddhist idea of love, kindness and compassion is a lot more no-nonsense than “let’s all hold hands” or “hey sit here and suck me dry with your neediness.” It’s more about simply taking the high road. Compassion is a process of expanding your sense of self to include others. It doesn’t mean bending over backwards to provide them with anything they need (as a waiter, I’m sure you do enough of that). It means acknowledging the world as non-threatening and providing understanding of anyone's situation. This is egoic expansion.
Metta Bhavana is a visualization technique. That doesn’t mean that the better and more faithful the visualization, the better the results. It means even attempting a shoddy visualization will give you powerful results. Neuroscientific study has shown that somehow this rewires your brain to have an expanded perception of others, lending you more patience and resilience to whatever they throw at you.
Here’s how to do it:
- Sit with your eyes closed.
- Bring you attention to yourself.
- Settle in by feeling your body seated and noticing the sensations of breathing.
- Bring your attention to your heart area and think, with intention “may you be happy healthy and free of suffering.”
- Bring your attention to someone you love or care deeply about and think, with intention “may you be happy healthy and free of suffering.”
- Bring your attention to someone you are somewhat indifferent to and think, with intention “may you be happy healthy and free of suffering.”
- Bring your attention to someone you have definite problems with and think, with intention “may you be happy healthy and free of suffering.”
- Bring your attention to everyone in your city and think, with intention “may you be happy healthy and free of suffering.”
- Bring your attention to everyone in your country and think, with intention “may you be happy healthy and free of suffering.”
- Bring your attention to everyone in the world and think, with intention “may you be happy healthy and free of suffering.”
- Bring your attention to every land animal in the world and think, with intention “may you be happy healthy and free of suffering.”
- Bring your attention to every sea animal in the world and think, with intention “may you be happy healthy and free of suffering.”
- Bring your attention back to your heart area and think, with intention “may you be happy healthy and free of suffering.” (Notice how, this time, you might feel more willing to give yourself some love)
Each phase can be repeated as many times as you have time for. See if you can feel your heart area radiating good will to every one of your targets.
The "You're Not Gonna Die" Kit
Item #1: Fear-Setting
Basically the black swan of goal-setting (and equally essentially). As discussed, if your ego is giving you problems, it’s basically saying “we are unsafe right now and could possibly die”. Fear mechanisms are being activated in sometimes subtle ways (i.e. you experience it as "being insulted". Even if you are feeling puffed up and “how dare they treat me like that”, this indignant response is a fear of not being valued. But it’s all a total distortion of reality, because of course you’re valuable, and how could these harmless circumstances change that?
Tim Ferriss' short Ted Talk is a great introduction to the value of Greek Stoicism and the power of the Fear-Setting technique. I love his methodical approach to anything, and here it is applied very simply and elegantly to formulating our fears. This process usually deflates the fears, or at least cuts the fangs off of them. This is generally a reflective process that is used to make the positive change in our lives that we've been resisting because we think the consequences are too great. Usually we only think that because we haven't clearly looked at the consequences and realized they are not going to kill us. In fact, they may be beneficial. But without properly observing the consequences, they get to live in the realms of the unknown, and the lizard brain appropriates the situation, saying, "ah yes, the unknown...it'll probably kill you." It's usually wrong. Not always, but usually.
This practice can be used in motion to neutralize short term fears (where I have also heard it called "Fear Following"). If you are feeling uncomfortable, defensive, angry, rejected, then follow the fear with a series of questions, i.e. "what am I worried about right now?". And answer will come up like "you will never be valuable to an employer," then keep going with a deeper question, "why is that bad?" and answer it, i.e. "you will not be able to feed and clothe yourself" or at least "you will never have a job you're happy with." Once you reach the most primal level of the fear, ask, "are you really going to die from this?" Then "What can be done to remedy the situation? Is this problem really so hard to overcome? Haven't you always learned from things and come away stronger?" Most of the time, the problem and solution are simpler than we imagine, we just had to look at them.
Item #2: FreezeFrame & Other HeartMath Stuff