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A Simple 7 Step Process to Mindfulness for Beginners

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mindfulness for beginners

How many of you can relate to this? You’re living in a big city. You commute to work each day to a job you dislike. As you push past other commuters on the sidewalk or nudge up against strangers on public transport, you daydream about your last trip to somewhere exotic. You imagine planning your next trip, and you imagine a well deserved pint after work with your friends.

At the office you do tasks you find tedious or pointless, so you distract yourself by tracking the price of Bitcoin online, texting your friends, or planning your next vacation. You get dragged to meeting after meeting and seem like you’ll never be free to explore your true passions which, you don’t even know what they are.

Whenever you talk with your friends and family, you’re constantly reliving the past or planning for the future. On the way home you try to ignore the blaring sirens of ambulances and police cars driving past, the cacophony of humanity around you as you stumble into the nearest pub and try to drown the boredom and frustration with a pint.

“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

This scenario is well known to many of us that live and work in the modern world. We are caught up in well-built habit loops which allow us to think back into the past or ahead into the future but allow us to conveniently avoid what’s going on around us. We do this because as humans we are trying to conserve vital mental energy and processing power. Sadly, this means that few of us live in the present moment and are aware of our surroundings on a regular basis.

Mindful meditation is a practice that is fast becoming a global phenomenon. It is a type of meditation that helps individuals focus their efforts and their mental energy on the present moment. It has been argued by spiritual aspirants and medical professionals alike that mindful meditation helps reduce stress and alleviate symptoms of boredom, lack of motivation, and even attention deficit disorder.

Here is a seven-step process you can try to help you start to develop your own mindful meditation practice:

Step 1: Sit

Find a spot that will allow you to sit free from distraction for 10 to 15 minutes. This might be a park bench, a conference room, a train car, the seat on a bus, a closet, a couch, a yoga studio or in the middle of the floor of your kitchen. In the end, it doesn’t really matter where you sit, as long as you can find a place that is comfortable and will allow you to avoid distractions for between 10 to 15 minutes without being called to take care of some task or interrupted by a friend or stranger.

Step 2: Straighten up

Settle into the right posture with a straight back and feet resting on the floor or crossed underneath you. Finding a relaxed and alert posture is important when you attempt to develop a mindfulness practice, because as you enter the meditation phase of the practice you will become aware of any slight discomfort. The more balanced your posture when you start, the better off the practice will go.

Step 3: Close your eyes… or don’t

Some people prefer to close their eyes while they practice sitting meditation, while others prefer to maintain a soft gaze looking straight ahead or focusing on a single object. Both options work, but if you are just starting off it may be easier to close your eyes to avoid distraction from the outside world.

“Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh

Step 4: Focus on your breath… or anything

Again, one of the easiest ways to develop a keen awareness for the present moment is to focus on your breath. That being said, some people prefer focusing on a single object nearby, or on the sensation in a certain part of their body. To each their own. I would experiment to see what works best for you.

Step 5: Be open to distractions

The harder you try to block out all distractions from your mind, the more challenging it will be to find flow and reach that altered state of consciousness.

Step 6: Feel the burn, and let it pass

Understand that the process of mindful meditation is like going to the gym; you are training your mind and building habit loops which will benefit you in the long run. When someone is trying to get fit, they will often elect to take the stairs up to their apartment or to their office rather than take the elevator.

When your legs start to ache and you become short of breath, you don’t think “I’m climbing the stairs wrong,” instead you think “I’m out of shape, I should climb the stairs more often!”  The same goes for mindful meditation.

Mindful meditation is something that should be practised just as people practice yoga or go to the gym. You are working out your mind, so you should treat the practice like a workout. You will get better with time, but it will be hard work.

Step 7: Look for little wins

It is expected that you will become distracted many times over the course of a mindful meditation practice, it’s completely natural. Rather than being disheartened by this, try to become aware of the moments in which you become distracted. Once you become aware that this distraction is present, consider celebrating your ability to recognize it as what it is, a distraction, before returning to your breath.

While this seven-step process doesn’t provide much detail into the actual practice of mindful meditation, there are plenty of programs available online that provide free mindful meditation courses and lessons for you to try.

Do you practice meditation? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

McVal is the founder of We Write For Growth, a platform for businesses to connect with talented writers and researchers and growth hackers. He is also the author of How to Make $2,000 a Month Online and Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant. 

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5 Ways To Invest In Yourself and Change Your Life

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Warren Buffett once said, the best investment you can ever make is in yourself. Time and money spent on bettering yourself are never considered a waste. Whether it’s through learning how to make money online, exploring new ways to increase your financial security, or watching TED talks to expand your knowledge. Do not be stingy when it comes to self-improvement because it will definitely pay off in the end. 

Need some ideas to get started on your journey to becoming a better you? Here are 5 ways to invest in yourself and transform your life. 

1. Change Your Self-Concept

Having a negative self-concept can have a tremendous impact on your life. Limiting beliefs and self-doubt are some of the main reasons why many never achieve or attempt to pursue their dreams. Take a moment and think about all the negative thoughts you have repeated to yourself throughout your life. How have these thoughts impacted the way you live life? From now on, create a new self-image by turning these negative thoughts into positive ones and appreciate your good qualities. 

2. Sign Up For An Online Course

If you’ve been wanting to brush up on your Photoshop skills or learn how to code professionally, this is the perfect time to get started. As long as you have a stable internet connection, you can access an endless amount of valuable information online. For example, sites like Coursera and Youtube are both awesome resources for online learning. With a few search strings and clicks, you can find all the information you need. 

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” – Robin Sharma

3. Learn From a Mentor

No matter which stage of your life you are currently in, working with a mentor can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals. Not only can they guide you in the right direction, but also transform your vision, provide you with new insights, and connect you with amazing resources. If you’re feeling unmotivated or unsure about what you want to do in life, consider finding a mentor to help you navigate this process. 

4. Start A Side Hustle

The salary from a 9-5 job would rarely allow you to reach your maximum income potential. Why not achieve financial success while pursuing your passion by starting a side hustle? Whether it’s through starting an ecommerce business, freelance writing on the side, or starting a Youtube channel. There are infinite numbers of ways to make money, and there is bound to be one out there that fits your passion and skills. 

5. Nourish Your Body

As many may say, “health is the new wealth”. Without a healthy and functioning body, living a fulfilling and comfortable life becomes difficult. To take care of your body and prioritize your wellbeing, start with small habits such as eating healthier foods and exercising regularly. Bike or walk to work instead of taking the car, and opt for a healthy protein bowl instead of greasy burgers at Burger King. With time, these small habits can make an incredible difference.

Check out the infographic below, to see more ways you can invest in yourself:

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How to Turn Inward and Detox Your Mind

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When we are overwhelmed by confusion, our psyche tries to establish certainty to alleviate our discomfort. This is usually accomplished by mentally imagining and acting out a plot. Unfortunately, much of the time, we mentally visualize pessimistic (or worst-case scenario) scenarios to provide certainty. (more…)

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12 Things to Give Up if You Want to Be Productive

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It’s almost euphoric, the feeling of ticking away boxes on the to-do list, at the end of a long day. It’s like you have seized the day or something. With cell phones buzzing every minute with notifications or ringing with a large number of versatile options, it can be hard to maintain focus on your work, and be productive. Luckily with a little determination and following some tips, you can be productive, provided you either cut down on certain things or give them up altogether. (more…)

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5 Tips to Stop the Snowball Effect of Negative Thinking

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Humans are full of complex emotions, but it’s what makes us us. We go through good times and tough times and still keep our heads held high. Life is all about experiencing different things and making memories. Constant change and new experiences are what keep us growing as a person. However, sometimes when we face hardship, it can be hard to move on from it. (more…)

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