DISCOVER YOUR ZEN
An Introduction To Meditation
When we think of taking control of our minds and finding calm in a busy and hectic world, many of us will instantly think of meditation.
Meditation is an ancient practice that is used by billions of people around the world and that has been practiced for centuries. Scientists and researchers are just now starting to decode its many benefits but, nevertheless, it’s still very much misunderstood by a great number of people.
Let’s take a closer look at meditation, how it can help us and how you should get started.
Just What is Meditation?
Perhaps a good place to start is to answer the question, “What is meditation?”
While many people think of meditation as a way to achieve enlightenment, to recreate the effects of hallucinogenic drugs, or to practice various religions, the reality is that meditation is simply a form of practicing control over your thoughts. It can be all those things, but at its most basic, meditation means try to focus your thoughts or clear your mind, which is essentially the equivalent of training your attention.
So often our thoughts are reactive. We are constantly being distracted and taken from one experience to the next – whether due to television, to music or to something else entirely. But when you meditate, you actively control your thoughts. You will become introspective and you will start to reflect on the very nature of thought itself. And as you do, you’ll learn to remain in control of your thought processes so as to prevent yourself from becoming easily distracted, stressed, angry or otherwise under the influence of other inappropriate or unhelpful emotions.
This is a highly valuable form of training and one that’s particularly relevant in today’s fast- paced and constantly connected world. Meditation can help us to conquer stress and to improve concentration in a range of tasks.
The Varied Benefits of Meditation
Studies show that meditation can help improve our mood, our concentration, our focus, our creativity and more. It has both immediate benefits by providing us with a break from the stress of our internal monologue and helping us to experience ‘theta brainwaves.’ But it also has long-term benefits as we start to learn to better control and understand our own thoughts and emotions.
Meditation has even been shown to boost our IQ! That’s right–it can actually make you smarter. And this also correlates with more connective tissue in the brain and a greater ability to utilize different areas of the brain at once for single tasks.
Fortunately, meditation is gradually starting to make its way into the mainstream. More and more ‘productivity’ and ‘lifestyle’ coaches are recommending its benefits, and it is an integral part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is currently the most popular form of clinical intervention for a whole host of psychological difficulties.
Still not convinced? Then I invite you to have a listen to Tim Ferriss’ podcasts. Tim Ferriss is the author of The Four Hour Workweek and is one of the most influential writers on the net when it comes to topics like fitness, self-improvement, productivity and happiness. His most recent project – the podcast – has him interviewing a large number of different influential figures.
Those include Matt Mullenweg (creator of WordPress), Maria Popova (of Brain Pickings), Arnold Schwarzenegger and many, many more. One of the questions he’ll often ask them is what their morning routine looks like and if they have any habits they consider important to their success.
What does Tim Ferriss note is the one thing that nearly all his interviewees have in common? They all meditate. So if you want to be one of the world’s most influential entrepreneurs, if you want to be spiritually enlightened or if you just want to be smarter then you need to start meditating!
A Simple Program to Get Started With
I recommend approaching this using a process known as “kaizen.” Kaizen essentially means “lots of small changes, that add up to offer big benefits.” (Sounds a little bit like the “habit chain” I reviewed last week, right? Ahh…everything seem to be interconnected.) The idea is that you don’t try and make massive, large-scale changes in your life, but instead make tiny changes and then gradually start building on those.
For instance, trying to go to the gym five times a week, for an hour at a time, is often an up-hill struggle and is something a lot of people will struggle to stick with.
Going for an extra 5-minute walk or doing some sit-ups every other day, though? These are things you are more likely to stick with. And once you start doing that, it will be much easier to throw in some press ups, or to extend that walk to 10 minutes.
So this is the best way to start gradually introducing meditation into your regime: with very small and easy chunks of time.
Start with “Zazen” – a sitting meditation. Take 5 minutes every morning to just sit and relax with your eyes closed. No goal, no stress and no trouble. You might find you can even do this while your partner is in the shower, or by waking up five minutes earlier. Almost all of us can find some time in the day for five minutes of quiet.
Aim to do this for 2 weeks with no other goal than to sit quietly every morning for that amount of time. Don’t expect anything to happen and don’t expect to ‘feel’ anything.
TODAY’S ACTION STEPS:
1) You should be exercising according to your planned routine. (You can use the exercise program I provided, if it works for you.) If you’re not ready to go FULL OUT with the exercise plan yet…that’s OK. If you’ve been trying out my suggestion of creating a habit, then you may want to add on another step if you haven’t done so yet. Read through the Week 4 – Day 2 module if you’re not sure how to create this “habit chain.”
So…every time you wake up, or finish washing your dishes after dinner, or whatever that regular activity is that you choose as the one to trigger your workouts…put on your workout shoes. (That’s the first link in the chain.)
Then do the next step you’ve been practicing. If your chosen workout is taking a walk after dinner each night, maybe you are heading to the front door and grabbing a jacket. If you want to do a home workout from the exercise plan I’m giving you, then maybe you’re putting on some workout clothes – a top and a bottom. (That’s the second link in the chain.)
NOW, do the next step. (That’s the third link in the chain.) If you plan to go for a walk, just step outside your front door and stand on your porch…and celebrate! If you’ll be doing a home workout, then grab your mobile phone (to access the Fitness App) and stand in your home exercise area…then celebrate! Whatever that next step is just do that. Every day. Every time you put on your workout shoes…AFTER every time you do that trigger activity (washing dishes, waking up in the morning, etc). Remember to celebrate every time you get to the end of this “habit chain.”
If you need a little more time to reinforce those first 2 links in the “habit chain” (e.g. putting on your workout shoes, then putting on some workout clothes), that’s fine. Just keep doing that and don’t worry about adding on right now.
2) If you already completed the Week 1 workout plan, then you can start the Week 2 plan today. Log in to the Fitness App on your COMPUTER – https://doctorvenus.com/app-login/ – to access the Week 2 workout plan.
3) If you already received the Week 1 (and 2) meal plan, then the Week 3 (and 4) meal plan has been uploaded to your Fitness App. You should be starting the Week 3 meal plan today.
4) Do a sitting meditation for 5 minutes. Spend the 5 minutes sitting in a quiet space. Just relax with your eyes closed. No goal. No stress. The plan is to do this every day.
5) If you have any questions about anything…let me know in the Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/teamdrvenus
Previous ACTION STEPS:
(Not a complete list, but some important highlights.)
1) Log in to the Fitness App on your COMPUTER – https://doctorvenus.com/app-login/ – and go to the FORMS tab. If you haven’t completed the Client Agreement form and the PAR-Q form from Day 1’s ACTION STEPS, do that today and sign them. Be sure to click SAVE when you’re done. (You can not receive the meal plan and workout plan when they are released until we have those completed forms on file.)
2) If you haven’t done so yet, send an email to team@DoctorVenus.com and state whether you want a vegetarian or non-vegetarian meal plan.
3) If you haven’t done so yet, send an email to team@DoctorVenus.com and let me know whether you want an exercise plan for weight loss (focused on burning calories) or for building/maintaining your mass. So you just need to indicate whether you want a BURN or BUILD program.
4) Download the Set Your Goals Checklist and complete it. CLICK HERE to download.
5) Download the Program Planner that you can start using, if you wish. CLICK HERE to download.
6) Download the Kitchen Clean Out handout and use it to guide the clean out of your kitchen BEFORE you start your meal plan. CLICK HERE to download.