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Out of the Rut

If you have fallen out of the habit of meditating, maybe it is time that you got back into it.

Over the I get people asking the same questions when they learn that I actually meditate along with my yoga.They were either new to meditation, or into yoga and wanted more. But they were stuck, they didn't know where to start.

Questions like: "What method is best for X", "What should I feel like during or after a session?", or "I've meditated in the past but my life has gotten crazy and I haven't meditated for a while, how can I get back into it?"

I wanted to share what I use in terms of tips and my own personal practice that helps me stay consistent and ensure I have the best session possible. So I put together this short guide that walks you through common issues with meditation, an intro to what meditation and mindfulness, and a challenge that will help boost you into starting, improving, and sustaining a practice.

At first you really do want to try and minimize sources of discomfort because you'll have more than enough internal distractions to deal with.

Distractions will make the learning curve a bit steeper.

Meditation centers I've visited tend to keep their room temperature colder than usual. I think this goes along with conservation of resources as well as encouraging practitioners to be rigorous, vigorous, and self-reliant.

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Chicago: A Love Story

I am originally from the Chicago area – my parent's still live there – and I am frequently there for visits.

I love Chicago.

The city is big and as with any big city you have access to: art, food, nightlife, shopping, or whatever else you are into.

While the city is not exactly cheap – what big city is – O is so fun. The people are friendly and once you get to know the city you will realize that there are very cool neighborhoods with their own unique identity.

People have told me that they didn't realize Chicago was full of music. But the music scene there is fantastic.

And they have the best art/science museums in the area.

If you want something a little different check out China town for some good ethnic food.

Compared with big cities on the coasts you can get a lot of done fairly cheaply. Though not cheap.

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Home Cooked

Cooking. This is something that I never knew that a) I could do b) would be something I would do c) it would improve my quality of life. I was never big on hobbies. I wouldn't say that I would call it that either since it seems like 99% of the population does it. Daily I might add. But I realized that it makes a big difference in day to day quality of life.

The benefits: Cooking is so much fun and if you do it right you get to eat something really great!

Most people just see it for what it is healthier, or if nothing more as a means to saves money. But it is also rewarding and with a linear learning curve you even get benefits from modest effort. Though they continue to be present even when you get more skilled at it. In other words there is a continued benefit, the more you invest time learning the better you will get. I don't think that there is a limit.

To summarize by cooking you will save you money, improve your health and make you more popular and attractive to anyone. Alright, the last bit was maybe a bit of a stretch. But it is fun! I am surprised that more of my friends don't cook for themselves.

Sure it can become expensive. Cooking utensils cost money. But you don't need them all. And not in the beginning. I’ve bought a lot of things now that I have gotten used to it.

Though it has been an on going process. When you strt you don’t need much, just a cook top and a few pots and pans. You can even find these in usable condition from the thrift store. Throw in a cutting board, a spatula, and a knife. That is about it.

Everyone in the world cooks, not just rich people in America.

Clearly nice gadgets, while nice, are not required.

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Try This

This helped me become more focused during meditation.

When our eyes more it means that we are thinking or that we are preparing to think.

So if you do not want to think at that given moment ensure that your eyes are still.

While meditating keep your eyes still.

It can help you relax.

I do this and keep my eyes open, or partially open.

Even if you choose to close them you can still be aware of your eyes moving when they're closed. To see how you can stare with your eyes closed, simply, pick a point on the back of your eyelids and focus on it. You will feel the movement. At least I do.

There are lots of weird apparent correlations between emotion, thought and tensions and twitches in your muscles, many of which have been studied in the lab, e.g. anxiety-related twitching or small movements in your throat related to subvocalization.

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The Value of Time Well Spent

When I was a kid my mom, our dog, and I would take a road trip one weekend every month. It was just the two of us. We would leave Friday afternoon when I got home and then come back on Sunday afternoon. We did this for years, I think that it ended when I was getting ready to graduate from high school. I've been to every corner of IL.

The trips are still vivid in my memory when I think of them.

They are a priceless gift that she gave me. Dad would skip them, not because he didn't want to take part, but because he worked hard, he wasn't well paid for it though. Would it have been cheaper to skip them? Did I always want to go? Yes and no. But the truth is that no matter how much money you have or make, you can't buy back time you've already spent.

These trips, while not epic in size were so fun, and we would plan them all month.

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Picture This

The quietness of the city. It is still, only a couple of other earl birds. This is the time of day before everyone gets up to do their thing, goes crazy, gets stressed, so there are no cars on the road.

If you go to the gym there will be very few people there. By the time you get ready for your first break you will have this feeling of accomplishment. And maybe, just maybe you get of doing more before 7am than some people do in a day. For me the rest of the day to myself after work make it really worth the effort to adapt my schedule. Because I do leave earlier.

It is one of those sensations that makes you say: "wow, this is great!"

Sure, it takes a time to reset your internal clock. Can it be done? Sure it can. And I find it is totally worth it!

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For the Love of Fun

Many of my published friends refer to writing as an expensive hobby. Writing as a simple hobby, it is one of the cheapest ones you could pick. On top of that I have seen very few agents prefer paper submissions. Most want you to send it electronically now, so that helps if you ever decide to submit a manuscript.

For Fun’s Sake

I realized that writing for me is a hobby. Maybe you can relate. Writing as a whole has always been a form of escapism for me; I would be happier with it and get more actual words down if I concentrated on it full-time. I discarded the notion that I would ever publish a single word of my creative writing when I was deep into my first book. Looking back, I can’t say that place was very constructive. The desire to publish my work is not equal to the desire to write and express myself. To build a name for myself or even just for the ego trip of seeing my work on the bookstore shelves is not the incentive. I never figured I’d be able to make a living as a writer, but that did not discourage me, in fact it liberated my creativity. In friends of a dear friend writing is nothing like Castle. Most fiction writers do not earn a living from their fiction alone. They supplement their income by giving seminars, teaching, lecturing, or working at a day job. Those who do make a living are a small minority, and their income tends to be small as well. Put it this way — if you work in WalMart or MacDonalds, you are probably going to be better off on a consistent basis than if you write fiction for a living. The Stephen King level of income is like a leprechaun — you hear about it, but nobody you know has actually seen it.
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A Teacher?

Do I need a teacher? We grow through learning, a teacher is the gardener that helps us reach our true potential. Even for something as straight foward as yoga asanas, there’s a huge difference between learning them from a page, and learning them in person. Immediate feedback from a teacher is extremely useful. “Asana” is supposed to mean “stable position,” not strenuous exercise,” and it is the “process” of getting into the position that is considered important, not actually attaining the final position. It is a means of strengthening the body, the third fold, that leads to better and more prolonged forms of meditation. The process is supposed to help bring the attention to various parts of the body in a natural, non-forced way, which will both facilitate any kind of normalization required to get closer to that position and the same process will help prepare the nervous system for meditation, making it more effective. A teacher will instill all of this inside you in such a way that being self-taught never will.
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I Am Not Alone

It has been shown again and again that getting up early really improves your productivity. If it didn’t, why would so many successful people do it?
  1. Dan Akerson – General Motors
  2. Richard Branson – Virgin
  3. Tim Cook – Apple
  4. David Cush – Virgin America
  5. Benjamin FranklinEarly to bed, early to rise!
  6. John Grisham
  7. Ernest Hemingway
  8. Robert Iger – Disney
  9. Napoleon
  10. Barack Obama
  11. Condoleeza Rice
  12. Margaret Thatcher
Get up at 5.00 AM you’d be in good company.