CAMERON DAY: “The Best Form of Meditation You’re (Probably) Not Doing”

You might know this about me already, but I’m a big advocate for meditation of all kinds.

There are a multitude of different types of meditation options available. With so many options, it can be pretty confusing to know what to do and what will work best for you.

I’m going to touch briefly on two popular types of meditation for this article, and then dive into a third type that is my personal favorite.

The first type of meditation is one pretty much everyone has heard of: Transcendental Meditation, or which falls into the category of “mantra meditation,” where the practitioner repeats a mantra silently in order to calm the stream of thoughts that arise from the mind.

TM has become a big business in the U.S. and is fairly expensive to get started with, but even with that facet in the mix, many people can attest that TM was the first meditation practice that they were able to continue to do long-term, which makes it a win in my book.

Meditation type number two is Guided Visualization, which I am obviously quite fond of, given my penchant for producing them. One big advantage of guided visualization is that it can allow someone who normally has trouble quieting the mind to have a meditative, healing experience.

It can also allow someone to tap into the meditative benefits of an experienced meditator by following in their footsteps, so to speak.

Our third type of meditation is what I consider the most important form of meditation in my own life, and I call it simply, “Silence Meditation” although it is also often referred to as “Mindfulness Meditation,” which I consider slightly different.

You might be surprised to hear that I don’t use guided visualizations since I produce so many of them, but that’s exactly the reason I don’t utilize them: I tend to like my own versions better.

So what is Silence Meditation? It is the simple, but not easy, act of sitting in total silence, with a focus on achieving a complete stillness in the mind. A total absence of thought, even for just a few moments.

This is simple in concept, but difficult in practice, because the mind’s nature is to produce thought and it does so consistently all day and even at night when we’re in REM sleep. Yes, our nighttime dreams are a form of thought expressing itself, and the thoughts only cease when we go down into the deepest levels of Delta sleep.

How to Silence the Mind… For a Few Moments

Upon reading the above, the mind naturally will produce a question: “How can someone use the mind to silence their mind?” There are almost as many ways of achieving this silence as there are meditators in the world, which means that there is no one right way to do it.

Since there isn’t a single “right way,” I will just tell you how I do it for myself, because my methods are somewhat unconventional. No surprise there, right?

First is the setup, or how I sit. I use a “V” shaped meditation cushion and place it in front of my couch so that I can rest my back against it. You could use a wall for this purpose, too.

This goes against the grain of meditation teachers who want people to sit fully upright with no back support. That’s great for a photo-shoot, but the reason I use something for back support is because I don’t want to be distracted by thinking about what position my body is in during meditation.

By sitting upright on my pillow while supporting my back with my couch, I eliminate one of the major distractions of sitting and meditating. For your own practice, feel free to simply sit in a chair that allows you to have upright posture. Go with whatever is the most simple and supportive for your body.

Next is blocking out the external world, which I achieve with ear plugs and a blind-fold. More specifically, I use a pair of sound-isolating “ear-buds” for playing audio. They block outside sounds better than regular ear plugs, and allow me to use one of the Genius Brain Power audio tracks to help assist my meditation if I so choose. Usually an Alpha or Theta track.

Some would consider using brainwave entrainment cheating or a crutch, but if it works for the individual, I say go for it. Now to be fair, I personally only use entrainment audio once in a while when the background noise level is too high for the ear-buds alone to block.

95% of the time I just use the ear-buds with no audio because they work better for me than standard foam ear plugs. Keep in mind that the ear plugs are optional, but if you find yourself being distracted by background noise while meditating, then I recommend trying out some ear plugs for a few sessions.

As for the blindfold, any type of blindfold will suffice, and if necessary you can improvise with whatever you have around. Even a long-sleeve shirt will do in a pinch. Enough said there.

Time Enough for Self-Love

With the setup handled, it’s time to start meditating, right? Almost. One more important thing: Use a timer! You don’t want to be distracted by thinking about how long you’ve been meditating, so a simple kitchen timer will alert you when your pre-determined time is up.

But how long should you meditate? That is entirely up to you! I personally meditate in this fashion for 22 minutes in the early morning, which is long enough to get the job done, and short enough that I won’t make up an excuse not to do it.

I arrived at 22 minutes in a somewhat arbitrary fashion. I started out at 10 minutes, and added one minute a day until I was at 20 minutes. Later I added one more minute as an easy way to accomplish 5% more meditation. Eventually I went up one more minute to 22 simply because I like repeating numbers.

So 22 is my “magic number,” but your number might be smaller, especially at first, and that’s fine! You could start with just 5 minutes if you need to, and gradually add one minute per day until you are at a number you feel is giving you the results you desire.

The most important part of choosing your meditation duration is to start small and gradually increase the time each day that you meditate IF you want. If the number feels small and easy to do, then you are far more likely to do it than if you choose a number that feels like an arduous task, or an amount of time that could make you late for work, an appointment, etc.

A shorter duration is better for those days when you’re not getting into a deep meditative state and you’re constantly silencing mind-chatter without enjoying any mental quietness. Speaking from experience, the temptation to “bail out” of the process is far smaller if I know that I won’t have to struggle with that day’s meditation for too long.

The Actual “Silence Meditation” Process

I’m seated, ears are plugged, eyes blind-folded, the timer has started and now it’s time to actually meditate. The first thing I do is start breathing slowly and deeply, putting all of my focus on my breath. After years of practice this alone produces a few moments of blissful mental silence.

But not for long! No sir! My wonderful mind has all kinds of lovely thoughts it wants me to entertain. So when the first thought comes up, I use a mental prompt to release it: Clear the Deck.

As I think those words, I also direct my mind to a brief visualization of the deck of a wooden boat, out at sea, with nothing but blue skies and blue water in every direction, and I imagine that the thoughts are being swept off the deck, down into the water.

Then I let the visualization fade away and return to focus on my breath.

Silence. Breath. Silence. “I need to mail that check to…” (or whatever thought bubbles up).

Yes, the silence doesn’t last for long, especially in the early days and weeks of meditation, and sometimes even after years of practice. But that’s okay! The mind produces thoughts. That’s one of its main jobs and it can take a lot of training to get it to go into that deep silence.

When that thought arises, and it always does, I will name the type of thought, which is a form of acceptance and acknowledgement. I don’t want to fight my mind, only to direct it, so I acknowledge the thought with one word whenever possible.

Examples: Planning, anticipating, ruminating, reminiscing, worrying, analyzing, imagining, judging, speculating.

Once I name the thought, I use my next mental prompt which is: Let it go. So it would “sound” (in my mind) like, “Planning… Let it go.” Yep, I keep things simple!

Silence. Breath. Silence. “I wonder if I’ll have time to exercise before breakfast.” “Oh… Anticipating… Let it go.”

Silence. Breath. Silence. “That guy trolling my blog really needs to get a life.” “Ahhh…judging… Let it go.”

Two More Prompts

I also use two more mental prompts to help deepen the meditative state. Over time these have become commands which my mind (usually) obeys. The first one is “Go Deep.” This pretty consistently puts me into a deeper brainwave state, which I can feel happening because I have practiced it for years, both with and without brainwave entrainment.

The other prompt is “Go Clear” which very nicely clears away any stray thoughts. I tend to use these prompts after releasing a thought with “Let it go” in order to deepen the meditative state and extend the amount of time where no thoughts are floating through my mind.

Slow It Down

I like to “speak” all of those thought-prompts very slowly in my mind. For example, if I’m thinking “Go Clear,” I will think “Gooooooooooo” on the in breath, and “Clearrrrrrrrrr” on the out breath.

Slowing down the thoughts helps lead me back to the state of non-thought more easily.

“This is Too Hard!”

When most people first try this style of meditation, they often don’t have much success at quieting the mind. That’s okay! The fact that you took some time to sit up straight, breathe deeply and even attempt to meditate is huge!

Seriously, you should congratulate yourself after every meditation session, no matter how “good” or “bad” it seemed to be.

Even if you spent the entire time “clearing the deck” and “letting it go” with no observable quieting of the mind, you should STILL give yourself a pat on the back for putting in the time and effort.

Then do it again tomorrow.

With regular practice (daily is best) you will start to have moments of pure mental silence, and over time those moments will grow longer and more frequent. There can still be bad days where you can’t put the thoughts aside, and that’s ok, too!

Remind yourself that whatever is happening in your mind is ok. Don’t fight the mind, just do your best to guide it gently into that place of silent rest.

“These Prompts Don’t Work For Me!”

This is where things get personal. Not that I will take it personally if my prompts don’t work for you, but personal in the sense that everyone will respond differently to the process of guiding their own mind into a place of silence.

The prompts that I use just might not work for you, which means that you’ll need to come up with some of your own. I think it’s fine to figure that out during the meditation session, since if the prompts you are using aren’t working, you might as well spend that time to audition some new prompts.

However, and this is a big however, I recommend that you don’t give up on the prompts until you have tried them a few times.

Why? Because using the same prompts repeatedly over time conditions the mind to respond to those prompts more effectively.

“What’s the Point?”

I know life is busy, and often the first things that we drop when we are pressed for time are self-care and self-empowering practices. However, if you can give yourself the gift of just 5-20 minutes per day of meditation practice, you will start to reap many rewards.

The state of no-thought is incredibly calming, soothing and even blissful. Five seconds of mental silence is like giving your mind a massage or warm bath. This produces mental, emotional and physical relaxation, reduces inflammation and releases beneficial hormones in the body.

With practice, this or any other type of meditation practice will help you to have “space” between stimulus (stress) and response (reaction) in your environment. Instead of cursing at the guy who cuts you off in traffic, you might find yourself taking a deep breath and saying, “Let it go” instead.

After all, that other driver can’t hear your words and your inner peace is more valuable than anger, especially when you’re driving.

Instead of snapping at your spouse/child/parent/sibling/co-worker/etc. when they push your buttons, you could find yourself taking a deep breath and calmly explaining what you truly want to communicate to them.

Those “little victories” in our day feel really good, and regular meditation can help them to happen more organically, more often.

Best Time of Day?

Opinions vary on the best time of day to meditate. For years I was more of a night-time meditator, but when I switched to meditating in the morning I found that it had profound, beneficial impacts on my state of being for the rest of the day.

Putting it simply, silence meditation in the morning makes me generally happier, less impatient and more compassionate on days that I do it compared to days where I come up with an excuse to skip it, which is very rare.

Limiting my morning meditation time to 22 minutes almost completely removes any thought of skipping it, where for mysterious psychological reasons, a 30 minute meditation is easier to skip “because I’m running late” or some other excuse.

Keeping it short and easy to achieve is the key to success in morning meditation.

Take the 5×7 Test Drive

Often one of the biggest self-imposed barriers to trying a something new is the belief that if we start doing it, we have to do that new thing forever, so we don’t even start.

So forget about forever, and instead just take a test drive of doing a silence meditation for 5 minutes per day for 7 days.

That’s it. Just 35 minutes of time over the course of a week. If you can commit to that small investment, it is possible that you will like the results so much that you decide to keep the practice, but you are not obligated by anyone, especially yourself, to do so.

Share Your Experience

Do you already meditate like this? If so, please leave a comment for how you achieve those delicious moments of mental silence. Your setup, your inner prompts, any helpful tips for others, etc.

Are you trying this for the first time, or picking it back up again? Let me know how it’s going for you.

Much Love,
Cameron Day

AscensionHelp.com
GeniusBrainPower.com

 

~via AscensionHelp.com

NIKKI SAPP: “How To Be Confident While Remaining Humble”

“There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance… it’s called humility. Confidence smiles, arrogance smirks.”

~Unknown

 

Somewhere along the line what we recognized as confidence may have been misconstrued a little. We started associating traits like aggressive, loud, opinionated and arrogant with being a confident person. You’ve probably seen the type, or maybe you are the type.

They know FOR SURE that what they believe is the unequivocal truth. Therefore they need to tell everyone about it… constantly.

When they aren’t able to convince someone to believe exactly as they believe they may be caught calling others, “asleep” or a “sheep” or any other plethora of derogatory names that I probably can’t mention here. We also may have misconstrued what it means to be humble a little bit too. Being Humble is associated with weak, shy, meek, and someone who cowers to others.

Someone who is so unsure of themselves or their beliefs that they keep them to themselves and are too insecure to tell everyone they meet their opinion on everything. Is there a way to be both? Can a confident person also be a humble person? In order to answer that question we must dissect what it means to be truly confident, and how does “artificial confidence” come about.

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself the whole world accepts him or her”

~Lao Tzu

 

There are many reasons a person may develop artificial/arrogant confidence. One may be cognitive dissonance, which means they may be holding on to a belief so tightly that when evidence is presented that contradicts this belief they may be completely unwilling to look at the new evidence. They may have become so attached to this belief that it has become a part of their sense of self.

Since they are completely attached to who they think they are it may be a painful experience for them to open their mind up and see things from a different perspective. The actual energy behind holding on to a belief so tightly that you are unwilling to let it go is fear.

The human ego is always afraid to be found out, so to speak, therefore, any threat of someone or something coming along and debunking one of its belief attachments may bring about a negative emotional reaction such as anger. Anytime anger is involved we can be assured that fear is the culprit behind it.

Genuine confidence doesn’t need to get angry because there is no part that fears being wrong or that others aren’t believing them. Another reason a person may develop artificial confidence is because they are insecure.

An insecure person may not truly believe in their theory or themselves so they feel if they can convince others that they are absolutely the right one they can at the same time convince themselves.

This is often done in an aggressive manner, because they are attached to the outcome of people believing them. Again, the fear behind not achieving the outcome they desire is causing them to act in a rude or aggressive manner. Genuine confidence can remain quiet, kind and humble because there is no underlying fear that needs other people to believe exactly what they are saying.

Genuine confidence is humble. It kind of realizes that most people are operating from their own level of understanding and trying to convince them that they are “stupid” or “wrong” usually won’t work anyway. The humble part of them realizes that LIVING and BEING their truth is always more effective than incessant talking or convincing ever will be.

Also, humble confidence isn’t attached to being right. In fact, it happily welcomes new ideas and beliefs because it knows that only when it opens itself up to seeing things from all perspectives is it able to perhaps learn something new.

“The time which people spend in convincing others, even half of this time if they spend on themselves, they can achieve a lot in life.”

~Arvind Katoch

 

In order to maintain humble confidence about our beliefs we must do two things. One is question ourselves….constantly. You may ask yourself, “Do I know absolutely without a doubt that this belief is true?” Meaning, “Did I see it with my own eyes”- normally the answer to this will be no.

So not to say that you won’t have some beliefs about things that involve situations that you weren’t physically there, but it just means that you always maintain a healthy sense of doubt about your beliefs.

This doesn’t mean that you’re unsure of yourself, it means you are wise, because it means you are open to hearing new evidence. Or you can ask yourself, “Is it possible that I am so attached to this belief that it has become a part of who I think I am?” Or even, “Does it matter if the person I am telling about my belief believes me or not? In this present moment does the fact that they are convinced or not convinced change anything in this exact moment in time?”

“Confidence is silent.

Insecurity is loud.”

~Unknown

 

You may find that most of the time, the answer to that is “no.” The other thing a person can do in order to remain humbly confident in their beliefs is to realize that every person they come in contact with can only understand things from their own level of understanding. Which means they are only operating from their own personal programming which may or may not be completely different than yours.

So yes, there may be times when you tell someone something and you enlighten them to something that they hadn’t thought of before but there will also be times where any effort to convince will fall on deaf ears.

When you are unattached to the outcome, you will be fine with either without getting frustrated or angered. Once we realize that our “truth” may not be someone else’s “truth” we can completely relax into interpersonal relationships and take every interaction with a human being as a potential learning experience, which will allow us to always be learning and growing as a person.

 

~via FractalEnlightenment.com

SAMUEL GENTOKU MCCREE: “20 Ways Sitting In Silence Can Completely Transform Your Life”

20 Ways Sitting In Silence Can Transform Your Life

“Silence is a source of great strength.”  ~Lao Tzu

 

For over two years I spent one out of every four weeks in silence.  At the time I was living at a Zen Monastery and every month we would have a week-long silent retreat.

During this retreat we sat meditation in silence, ate in silence, worked in silence, and only communicated through hand gestures and written notes.

At first living like this was hard, but over time I learned to grow to appreciate silence.  By the time I left I learned that silence was my friend and teacher.

What did silence teach me?

1. Satisfaction

I used to think I needed to watch TV every night.  But at monastery I went without and discovered I didn’t need it.

Silence taught me to be happy with less. 

Pick something that’s weighing you down and let it go.  Your life will thank you.

2. Expression

When you can only talk by writing a note, you only say what’s important.  Before the monastery I talked a lot but said little.

Silence taught me that a few simple words well spoken have more power than hours of chatter. 

Think of one simple thing you can say that would help someone feel better and say it.

3. Appreciation

Being able to speak makes life easy, but when I couldn’t talk I learned how much I relied on others.

Silence taught me to appreciate the value of relating to others.  

The next time you see your friends or family, try to really listen.  Deep listening expresses deep appreciation.

4. Attention

Several times at my first retreat I thought my phone was vibrating.  But then I would remember I didn’t have my phone.  It showed me how my phone divided my attention.

Silence taught me how important it is to let go of distractions. 

The next time you are with someone you care about, try turning off your phone and putting it away.  It will make paying attention easier.

5. Thoughts

I once sat a retreat next door to a construction project.  What amazed me was how easily my thoughts drowned out the noise.  I realized if my thoughts were this loud, I’d better make them as wise as possible.

Silence taught me the importance of shaping my thinking.

Take time each day to notice your thoughts and let go of thoughts that don’t serve you.

6. Nature

Because I sat retreat in every season, I know that the sound of wind in fall is different than it is in winter.

Silence taught me to notice nature.

Take a short walk outside in silence and you’ll discover the wisdom and peace that nature has to offer.

7. Body

During retreat I noticed that whenever I got lost in thought, I lost track of my body.  And when I focused on my body, my thoughts would calm down.

Silence taught me to be in my body. 

Close your eyes and ask, “What sensations do I feel in my hand?”  Learning to feel your body can calm your troubled mind.

8. Overstimulation

Whenever I went into town after retreat, the world seemed so loud and fast.  I came to realize how much our senses have to process most of the time.

Silence taught me the importance of reducing the stimulation. 

Enjoy some quiet time everyday.  The less you see and hear, the more settled your mind can become.

9. Sound

People would come to the monastery and remark how quiet it was.  But living at the monastery I knew all the noises, from frogs, to owls, to the sound of sandals on the sidewalk.

Silence taught me that the world is a rich texture of sounds. 

Sit in front of your house and close your eyes.  You’ll be amazed at what you hear if you listen long enough.

10. Humanity

During retreat I was surrounded by imperfect people who were doing their best.  Some were happy, some were sad, but all were wonderfully human.

Silence taught me that people display great beauty. 

Find a good spot to people watch with an open heart.  What you see may inspire you.

11. Space

For a long time anytime something difficult came up, I would just distract myself.  But retreat taught me that if I avoided something it would never go away.

Silence taught me that space helps me face hard times. 

The next time you face something difficult, pause and honor whatever is arising.

12. Love

I used to think love was this big thing.  But in retreat I found that I felt love for so many things.

Silence taught me that love can be simple. 

Think of someone you haven’t said I love you to recently and tell them.

13. Courage

I used to think courage was about facing danger, but during retreat I realized that real courage is about facing yourself.

Silence taught me the courage it takes to be still. 

When we stop moving everything we’re running from catches up.  The next time you are afraid, stop and wait for it to pass.  There is immense courage inside your heart.

14. Perseverance

Every retreat reminded me that speaking is easy, but staying quiet is hard.

Silence isn’t flashy, but it has an immense power to endure. 

The next time someone doubts you, instead of disagreeing, silently vow not to give up.  Action speaks volumes.

15. Faith

I often ask for reassurance or feedback.  But living is silence meant I had to trust my instincts.

Silence taught me to have faith in myself. 

The next time you begin to feel anxious, sit in silence and see if you can find the space of deep faith that lives in your heart.

16. Honesty

I used to lie so I wouldn’t have to explain myself.  But when I couldn’t talk I began to notice this impulse and how much it degraded my integrity.

Silence taught me the importance of telling the truth. 

Notice times where you tell little lies and try telling the truth instead.  It isn’t always easy but it’s the first step to trusting ourselves and others. 

17. Gratitude

During retreat I didn’t have a lot of comforts.  It helped me see how much I took for granted and how much I had to be grateful for.

At the end of every day sit in silence and ask yourself what am I grateful for. 

You’ll be amazed at the blessings you discover.

18. Simplicity

I used to love drama and conflict. But at retreat I found I was happier when I kept it simple.

Silence taught me that simplicity and joy are close companions. 

Pick one space in your home you could simplify.  Keep it simple for one month and enjoy the ease it offers your life.

19. Connection

I used to think I had to talk in order to feel connected.  I realized during retreat that I can feel connected just by being near people I care about.

Silence taught me that words can get in the way. 

Do something in silence with someone you love.  It will be awkward at first but eventually you will see what it means just to be in someone presence.

20. Truth

I studied philosophy in college and I thought I could read about truth.  But retreat taught me that truth is found in silence.

Silence has taught me a deeper truth than words ever could. 

Sit in silence once a week and feel the truth in your heart.  It’s there whether you can express it in words or not.

 

 

About the author: Samuel “Gentoku” McCree is a Mindful Fitness thought leader, personal trainer, and mindful living coach from Portland, OR. He trained for two years at a Zen monastery, is an endurance athlete, and founder of MindFitMove. You can find his blog and a free Ebook on Your Sexy Brain at mindfitmove.com.  ~via BodyMindSoulSpirit.com