DISCOVER YOUR ZEN
Shutting Out the Noise
So the best type of mental state is the one that lets you switch to other mental states at will. Our aim is to be in control of our brains and our thoughts and to be able to switch from one state of mind to another with ease. In other words? All types of thought and all types of mental state are important, valid and helpful.
What is that one? It’s the one where you’re just incredibly distracted by all the constant demands being placed on you. And this is where the ‘modern ache’ starts to come in.
Why We’re Wired and Tired
Earlier, we learned how we were desensitized to much of the natural stimuli coming into our minds through our senses. We take the same route to work and do the same things every day and as a result, we are very much desensitized to everything around us. The problem is – our modern culture is all too aware of this and it tries to exploit it.
While you’re happily mulling over the day’s events you see, you’re also being distracted by:
- Bright billboards and adverts
- Your phone’s constant buzzing
- The TV
- The radio
- Your boss emailing your
- Cars honking their horns
- Computer games
All these things are designed to grab our attention and to over stimulate us so that they can get us to spend money/work/pay attention.
And this is what’s killing our ability to focus, relax and concentrate as much as anything else.
Do you know why alarms are designed the way they are? They make a beeping noise because it’s something we would never hear in the wild. As such, it’s strange and unusual to our brain and it sits up and takes notice – in comes that salience network and in comes that cortisol, norepinephrine and general stress.
And this is what wakes most of us up in the morning! We’re startled awake from complete, deep sleep by a loud ‘alien’ sound. Then what do we do? Normally, we will check our phones. Bright light = even more cortisol (the stress hormone) being produced in our brains.
Then looking at adverts starts to grab our attention because that’s what they’re designed for. Then we read our email. What’s this? A message from your boss asking if you can do something for them as soon as you get in? Now you’re stressed and focused on that. And thus, as you brush your teeth it’s all you can think of.
Over breakfast with the family, your mind is half-watching the television and this is preventing you from properly paying attention to what they’re saying. The TV is much louder, much more colorful and is designed to grab attention.
What do we do on the way into work? Probably play a computer game. And those are all about making us pay attention. They stimulate stress by creating difficulty and when we do well, they reward us with the right sounds and colors. This creates a dopamine hit in our brain which is very rewarding and which makes the activity very addicting. All this time we’re missing the view out the window.
Then at work, we feel stressed again because we remember that email while we make coffee. Coffee which – by the way – also triggers the release of more stress hormones. Then we sit down and instead of doing the things we need to do first, we start our day by doing that thing that we were asked to do. Now we’re in a ‘reactive’ state of mind and we’re not able to do what’s most productive or most important for us.
And so it continues for the rest of the day. We’re constantly being tugged in every direction by computers, work, money problems, adverts, games, texts… and that’s using up all our ability to pay attention, to focus and to think.
So, is it any wonder that you’re struggling to start meditating? Or that you’re so ‘wired and tired’ all the time? Or that you’re struggling to stay on top of things?
Using meditation will really help with this because it will give you the ability to control your focus and your ability to concentrate. Now you can say ‘no’ to worrying about that email. And you can say ‘no’ to focusing on the TV ads. And you can engage with your body and mind whenever you want in order to recharge and in order to start enjoying the world around you.
A Morning Ritual
What’s also good is if you can try and reduce all that noise, distraction, stimulation and chatter. This will just make everything easier for you and will help you to better focus on the things that matter to you.
One example of how you can do this is with your ‘morning ritual’.
A morning ritual is basically a series of steps that you will endeavor to go through every single morning before you leave the house/start with work. This lets you stop being reactive and start being proactive. It means that you’re now setting the pace and deciding how you want to begin your day – and it can help to make you more productive and efficient for the entire day that follows.
So what might a morning ritual look like? Some great things to add:
- Read the morning paper – catch up on the news in a way that doesn’t require the TV!
- 10 minutes of mediation
- No phone/email/computer until you get to work
- Do some exercise- 10-20 minutes is better than nothing and a great way to give yourself a surge of energy
- Healthy breakfast
- Write a to-do list – now you’re taking control of how you’re going to spend your morning/day instead
- Take a cold shower – it doesn’t have to be cold but if you have the willpower to try it, you’ll find it invigorates you, wakes you up and really helps you to focus and feel your own body
Similarly, you can also try introducing an evening routine. There are a few things this can help with: Write a journal – writing a journal is a great way to reflect on the day and how it could have been better/what you enjoyed about it
- No TV or phone for 30 minutes before bed – this will help to get your brain ready for sleep and will increase your production of the sleep hormone melatonin
- Read in bed – again, this helps you to feel sleepier and is also very meditative
- Have a warm bath – this can help relax the muscles for better sleep
- Lay out your clothes and/or gym kit for tomorr
TODAY’S ACTION STEPS:
1) You should be exercising according to your planned routine. (You can use the workout plan I provided, if it works for you.) If you’re not ready to go FULL OUT with the workout 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 2 Workout Plan, then you are doing the Week 3 plan this week. Log in to the Fitness App on your COMPUTER – https://doctorvenus.com/app-login/ – to access the Week 3 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 going through the Week 4 Meal Plan (which is the same as Week 3) now.
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) Think about what your morning ritual. What is it? Do you want to add to it to work towards improved health or reduction of stress? Consider some of the suggestions I made in today’s module. Perhaps you’re already creating a morning ritual with the “habit chain” I’ve described during this program.
6) 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. It will be sent to your Fitness App by the next day.
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. It will be sent to your Fitness App by the next day.
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.