How I Finally Made Meditation A Daily Habit

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Meditation has been shown to have numerous benefits to our mind and body such as stress and anxiety management, emotional wellbeing, improved focus and better sleep. Many successful people cite meditation as a valuable tool. For years I’ve recommended it to my clients, and yet, I struggled to make it part of my own routine.

There was always some excuse: an unpredictable schedule, events, deadlines, lack of time. Probably the sneakiest excuse for me of all was that I did yoga so did I really need to meditate on top of that?

I’d interview people and hear them talk about their meditation routine and think, “That sounds nice, but I could never do that. I’m too busy—and besides, I do yoga.”

How I finally made meditation a daily practiceJESSICA CORDING NUTRITION

My studio was like my second home. Aside from being a place where I’d made friends and even business contacts, it had given me a safe place to go work things out in my head. Yoga had seen me through break-ups, career shifts and even my father’s battle with cancer.

Then about a month after my dad died, the studio announced they were closing. This sounds like a total First World Problem—and it is—so I tried to stay positive, calling it a challenge to become more adaptable. Still, as a healthcare professional, I know taking care of myself helps me better care for my clients, so I was anxious to see how this shake-up to my self-care routine might impact my business.

In the midst of all this, I was writing a book, pulling late nights and early mornings. I found myself trying to multitask rest time with meditation time. I often fell asleep while trying to focus on my breath. Unfortunately, a fitful catnap did not have those same mental benefits. The combination of grief, poor sleep, and the loss of that baked-in mindfulness made me feel like my brain was short-circuiting.

You’re probably thinking, “This is New York—why didn’t you just find a new studio?” I was out there trying different places, but building a new routine takes time.

Which brings me back to meditation.

This winter, a friend of mine who was going through a different brand of tough stuff shared that getting back into meditation was helping him. After months of trying to keep my struggle to myself, I opened up about it. He suggested we do regular meditation check-ins to keep each other accountable. I’d never considered this approach but was willing to try.

It took about a week for it to feel like a daily thing, but I quickly noticed the benefits. I became more aware of when my mind started to wander, making it easier to refocus or redirect so I could stay on track with projects. If a situation stressed me out I was better able to identify exactly what was gnawing at me and respond calmly and thoughtfully. I found it easier to prioritize—my daily to-do list got smaller and I felt less pressured to respond right away to every single email. I also did a lot less online shopping.

Meditation has been shown to have many benefits, yet it can feel hard to make it a routine.GETTY

Perhaps the biggest benefit I noticed, though, was that when I got bad news or found myself awake at night with my mind on an anxiety loop, rather than let it hijack my brain, I focused on steps I could take to deal with the situation.

Making meditation a habit turned out to be easier than I’d imagined. Here’s what worked :

-I Started Small

I started with three and then five minutes. Soon 10 or 15 felt doable. On Valentine’s Day I even went to a 30-minute self-love meditation that flew by.

-I Made It Convenient

You don’t have to use an app, but I found the support of a tech tool (I chose Headspace) extremely helpful in staying consistent and tracking my progress to help motivate me. I set reminder alerts for times of day I would be likely to be in a place where I could sit quietly.

-I Found A Time That Worked

I tried out different times of day to see what felt doable. It turns out I’m still not a morning meditation person, but an afternoon reset or end-of-day wind-down works great.

-I Added An Accountability Component

This was huge for me. I’d often thought of meditation as a solitary practice, but checking in with someone every day actually helped me stick to it. Just be careful if you get competitive—it should feel like a supporting, encouraging relationship.

While I’m now meditating daily, I have to admit I’m still on the journey, learning as I go. Like so many things, I’ve found, it really is about learning to be where you are and be open to making changes one small step at a time.

 

To learn more about how to streamline your healthy living routine and enjoy a more balanced relationship with food and exercise, visit JessicaCordingNutrition.com.

Why Mindfulness Is a Must-Have Mental Skill

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As leaders in business, there are emotional and mental challenges we experience that our subordinates don’t share or appreciate. Making the common but difficult transition from being an excellent technical operator to becoming a middle or more senior manager, usually involves taking on an overwhelming workload.

The learning curve is steep and fast. You can feel as though you’re drowning. Just as you feel you’re getting the hang of something new, a curve ball gets thrown at you from left field. Demands can change just as quickly as you received the initial directives.

You’re now responsible for larger numbers of people and need to quickly understand a broader scope of roles, systems and processes, not to mention build relationships quickly with key people. Such conditions are a perfect incubator for that doubtful critical voice inside to chime in: I don’t know if I can actually handle this. Or, I never thought the pressure and workload volume would be like this. Or, I feel like I’m constantly chasing my tail and can never keep up.

Related: 8 Mental Disciplines More Powerful Than Self-Doubt

Failure feels imminent and you desperately want to go back to how things were. Before, you knew confidence, felt clear purpose and had a strong internal sense of your competence. Now your foundation as a leader is shaking, and you’re continually running on overdrive.

In all honesty, your brain is always operating exactly the way it is designed to: to keep you safe. We are evolutionarily hard-wired to operate by a negatively biased mindset. Psychology researchers such as Professor John Cacciopo of the University of Chicago have extensively researched and documented increased cerebral cortex activity within the brain when comparing the effects of negative emotion-invoking stimuli with positive emotion-invoking stimuli.

You can imagine that having no intervention to keep such thoughts in check can result in cognitive and emotional derailment. However, mindfulness provides for a non-confrontational intervention where you develop the skill to choose to pivot your thinking and stop the broken record of unhelpful thought looping on repeat.

What is mindfulness?
A framework highly used by therapists globally to help individuals manage mental illness, mindfulness is finally starting to receive recognition for its effectiveness in creating a peak performance mindset. Widely used by elite athletes, it is increasingly being adopted by c-suite managers as a contemplation skill to increase resilience, reduce stress, and regain clarity and focus. You strengthen your capacity to face adversity with greater mental composure and emotional stability.

Consider there are two main functions our brains perform during mindful meditation:

The generation of thoughts, feelings and emotions — these are transient and can change from one moment to the next;

The observation of information, data and feedback without judgment, evaluation or criticism, or without even trying to make sense of it.

We learn to listen to and accept the thoughts and feelings that arise within us. We practice being able first to notice that we are having these unfavorable thoughts, labels, criticisms, judgments and feelings, and then we pause them in their tracks by choosing to observe them: Hmmm, it’s interesting I’m having this thought of feeling like I will never be good enough. Or, hmm…it’s interesting that I’m feeling this weight in the pit of my stomach.”

Related: Mindfulness Isn’t Just a Trend, It’s Key to Being a Better Leader

Stepping behind the lens of the camera to then become the observer helps to de-intensify the impact, the weight of what your mind has generated. As this de-intensifies, you increase your capacity to control your mental state and your mood. By practicing this technique you put yourself back in the pilot seat but developing strong self-awareness initially is key.

The evidence base for mindfulness.
In 2012, Dr. Gaëlle Désbordes used functional magnetic resonance imaging to document reduced activity in the brain’s amygdala during mindful-attention training and normal daily activities after the training. The notable result was recording the reduced activity to persist in participants after they had completed a two-month training program of mindful-attention meditation.

Désbordes’ findings not only have strong positive implications for using mindfulness training to improve our emotional and mental responses to everyday stressors. As business leaders, we now have an empirically tested tool which better equips us to navigate emotionally and mentally the stormy waters that might lie ahead.

Relate: How to Instill a Culture of Mindfulness at Your Startup

With the guide of a qualified practitioner, invest in making this skill an essential feature of your mental toolkit. You’ll not only leap leagues ahead of your competition, but you’ll also move faster and further toward your chosen goals. The cognitive noise in your head will quieten and your feelings of overwhelm will lessen even though the workload and increased responsibilities remain. Don’t delay any longer. Taking action now is the next step.

How Mindfulness Meditation Can Save America

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There’s a reason some people laugh when I say that mindfulness meditation can save the United States—that it can dampen the political polarization now dividing the country; that it can defuse the hatreds that have propelled the word “tribal” into our political vocabulary and have led serious commentators to compare the US in 2017 to Northern Ireland, even Yugoslavia, in the 1990s.Actually, there are two reasons people laugh. One is that they can’t imagine a huge number of Americans—especially those in the Trump tribe—actually sitting down and meditating. And I, too, have trouble imagining a sea of MAGA hats enveloping a statue of the Buddha. For that matter, I’m not under the illusion that most anti-Trumpers get up every day and meditate. But for reasons I’ll explain, I don’t think these harsh realities are fatal to my American salvation scenario.

The other reason people laugh at this salvation scenario is that they think the point of meditation is to cultivate love or compassion or some other warm and fuzzy feeling that might heal the nation. But in fact, mindfulness meditation isn’t fundamentally about love or compassion. Other kinds of Buddhist meditation—such as “metta” meditation—take on that challenge more directly.

More broadly, mindfulness meditation isn’t warm and fuzzy. In a certain sense it’s cool and clinical. It involves, among other things, examining your feelings and deciding whether to buy into them, whether to let them carry you away.

Obviously, America could stand for people to be a little less susceptible to getting carried away by their feelings. But the contribution mindfulness can make to bridging the great tribal divide is more powerful than that simple formulation suggests. To appreciate this potential, you have to understand how subtle the psychology of tribalism is.

Tribal psychology involves, at one level, some obvious ingredients: rage, vengeance, loathing—the kinds of raw emotions you might imagine when you imagine tribes literally at war. But the psychology of tribalism also involves—in fact, I’d say, it mainlyinvolves—cognitive biases that warp our perception of the world.

Cognitive biases have gotten a lot of attention in the popular psychology literature over the past decade. For example, confirmation bias—our tendency to accept and retain information that supports our views and reject or not notice information that contradicts our views—is now pretty famous. But the term “cognitive bias” misleads people about the nature of this problem. “Cognition” is often thought of as separate from feelings—it’s the kind of rational, logical process a computer can execute—but in fact feelings often influence cognition. And they seem to play a key role in cognitive biases.

Consider the role confirmation bias can play in “fake news,” false or deeply misleading information that spreads widely, typically via social media.

Such information is sometimes spread cynically and knowingly. But often it is spread unknowingly, by people who click “retweet” or “share” without first investigating what they’re sharing. And the reason they don’t do this critical investigation is because the information they’re sharing supports their world view—because, in other words, they are victims of confirmation bias.

I sometimes spread dubious information this way myself. And when, having discovered my mistake, I reflect on what made me do it, the answer I come up with is this: Clicking “retweet” made me feel good. After all, the information I was spreading reflected favorably on my ideological tribe and unfavorably on the enemy tribe. What’s not to like?

Indeed, if you pay close attention at the moment you’re sharing this kind of news on social media, you may observe a sequence of feelings: a positive feeling upon seeing the news, the subtle but palpable urge to spread it, and the feeling of gratification you get upon spreading it—a gratification that is deepened if this addition to the nation’s discourse then gets a lot of retweets, shares, or likes. These are the feelings that can make you part of the fake news problem.

If, on the other hand, you see information that reflects unfavorably on your tribe, you may notice a negative feeling well up, and you’ll probably feel no urge to share the information; you’ll either dismiss it and move on or inspect it critically, looking for flaws. And if you find flaws, this will feel good, and will likely feed an urge to publicize them.

So confirmation bias is a “cognitive” bias that is driven by feelings from start to finish. In that sense it’s feelings, more than thoughts, that propel false or misleading information through social media. Yes, Russian bots and conspiracy-theorist crackpots and other nefarious actors have played a role in systematically spreading fake news, but much of the false or misleading information that is now muddying discourse and sustaining the tribal divide is spread unknowingly—innocently, in a sense—by people on both sides of the divide who are acting in accordance with human nature.

This is where mindfulness could come in. In my experience, and in the experience of many others, spending 20 or 30 minutes on the cushion every morning doing mindfulness meditation makes you more aware of feelings—not just as you meditate but as you go through the day. When feelings well up that you might otherwise obey reflexively, you’re more likely to reflect on them and decide whether to obey them.

Obviously, meditation won’t singlehandedly end fake news. But I think it would reduce the fuel supply for false and slanted information. And that could make a big difference, because the problem with such information isn’t just that it confuses the people who believe it. It also has an unfortunate influence on the people who don’t believe it—the people in the tribe who didn’t spread it. It reinforces their belief that the people in the other tribe are, at worst, knowingly lying and, at best, deeply confused.And probably the former. After all, we tend to interpret the errors of our enemies and rivals in an unfavorable light, while explaining away the errors of our allies in more innocent terms.

Indeed, this tendency itself involves a cognitive bias, one that is less famous than confirmation bias. It’s called “attribution error,” and it, too, is dividing America.

In a context of intense tribalism, attribution error works like this: If people we identify as members of our tribe do something bad—if they’re mean to someone, say, or they break the law—we tend to attribute the behavior to “situational” factors. They had been under stress at work, or they were pressured by bad actors into misbehaving, or whatever. If members of the enemy tribe do something bad, we’re more likely to explain the behavior in “dispositional” terms—the bad behavior emanates from their basic disposition, their character. It’s just the kind of thing that people like them do.

Good behavior works the other way around. If members of our tribe do something good, the explanation tends to be dispositional—their behavior is a simple reflection of who they are. If members of the enemy tribe do something good, the explanation will likely be situational—maybe they were “virtue signaling” to a particular audience, or maybe they did the right thing because all other options were foreclosed.

One consequence of attribution error is that once you’ve been categorized as an enemy, it’s hard to get that label changed. The bad things you do will be attributed to your essential nature, and so reinforce the label, and the good things you do will be explained away as not reflecting the “real you.” So the more Americans there are who are looking at each other through this bias—the more Americans there are who identify with one tribe or the other, and the more intense the identification—the deeper the challenge of near-term reconciliation.

This cognitive bias, like confirmation bias, seems to be triggered by feelings. You don’t have to be all that sensitive to pick up on the negative feeling that accompanies the thought of an enemy. This feeling can infuse your very perception of the person with a sense that they possess a kind of “essence of enemy,” an essence that then shapes the way you think about them.

So with attribution error, as with confirmation bias, anything that helps you reflect on your feelings before letting them take root, before giving them your obedience, could help. And mindfulness meditation does that. It can make you less reactive, more reflective, less buffeted by unexamined emotion, more equanimous. It can make you at least a bit less inclined to embrace and hang on to that “enemy” vibe when it surfaces.

I hope all of this explains why I think that, if most Americans meditated, the prospect of ever-intensifying tribal warfare could start to recede. What it doesn’t explain is why I hold out hope for salvation by mindfulness even though most Americans don’t, in fact, meditate. And, worse still, what meditators there are seem to cluster on one side of the aisle. When I’ve gone to meditation retreats, the parking lots have featured a number of Volvos, Subarus, and Priuses, few if any pickup trucks, and zero bumper stickers that say Make America Great Again.There are four reasons that I nonetheless hold out hope.

First, parking lots can be misleading. I have a sister who is a conservative Christian and voted for Trump and has dabbled in mindfulness meditation. One reason that last part shouldn’t surprise you is that mindfulness meditation has in many settings, including the growing number of schools and workplaces where it’s offered, been severed from its Buddhist roots and packaged as simple self-help, as therapy. Such as: “mindfulness-based stress reduction.”

And viewing stress mindfully can lead to viewing other feelings mindfully. Indeed, people who teach meditation as a way of handling stress or anxiety often wind up helping students deal with rage, anger, resentment, and other feelings that warp our perception of the enemy tribe. Besides, using mindfulness to deal with any given problematic feeling naturally tends to lead to greater awareness of, and more critical reflection on, other feelings as well, including even the subtler of the feelings that may drive cognitive biases. What starts as simple self-help can wind up making you a better person and a better citizen.

Second, meditation on one side of the tribal divide can exert a calming influence on the other side. The way figurative tribal warfare becomes literal tribal warfare is through a positive feedback loop: Hatred and hyperbolic rhetoric on one side lead to more of that on the other side, and vice versa. Well, the positive feedback works in the other direction too. If there is less hatred and less accusatory, hyperbolic rhetoric coming from one side, the amount of hatred and hyperbolic rhetoric on the other side can drop in response.

Third, meditation has established a pretty big beachhead and is gaining momentum. A National Institutes of Health survey conducted in 2012 found that 18 million American adults meditated and 21 million practiced yoga, which often has an element of mindfulness. And both numbers were growing.

Finally, science is providing more reason to meditate—not just by documenting the therapeutic benefits of mindfulness but by showing that our mental processes are in need of clarifying, and suggesting that clarifying them could involve changing our relationship to some of our feelings.

In a landmark study conducted during the 2004 election, researchers scanned the brains of strongly partisan Americans as they were shown evidence of hypocrisy in three people—George W. Bush, John Kerry, and a “neutral” figure, such as a famous actor with no well-known ideology. In all three cases, they were then shown “exculpatory” evidence that offered a way to explain the conduct in question without deeming it hypocritical. It’s no surprise that, in opining about which political candidates had indeed committed hypocrisy, Democratic and Republican partisans tended to nominate Bush and Kerry, respectively. More interesting is what went on in their brains as they moved toward these judgments.

For both Democrats and Republicans, a part of the brain associated with emotion tended to be activated upon seeing signs of hypocrisy in both Bush and Kerry, but not upon seeing signs of hypocrisy in the neutral figure. But some of the details depended on whether the candidate who seemed hypocritical was from their party. If he was, the study’s authors reported, then an initial “emotionally aversive” reaction was followed by a second phase that they described this way: a “combination of reduced negative affect (absence of activity in the insula and lateral orbital cortex) and increased positive affect or reward (ventral striatum activation) once subjects had ample time to reach biased conclusions.”

In other words, our “cognitive” biases seem to rest on a foundation of affective rewards. We think what it feels good to think. And it feels good to think that our tribe makes sense and the other tribe doesn’t.

Mindfulness meditation has roots going back more than two millennia, as do the Buddhist philosophy and Buddhist psychology that inform it. And Buddhist psychology has long emphasized the fine intertwining of cognition and affect, of thinking and feeling; our feelings make us cling to some thoughts and flee from others. Indeed, this is a big reason that, according to Buddhism, meditative practices which loosen the grip of feelings can give us a clearer view of the world, can lead in the direction of enlightenment.

According to Buddhism, these practices aren’t good only because they’re clarifying. They’re good because a clearer view of the world reduces our suffering and the suffering we inflict on others.

Modern psychology (as I’ve argued at greater length elsewhere) is broadly corroborating the Buddhist view of our situation: We are naturally afflicted by confusion, including cognitive biases, and this confusion is indeed abetted by feelings, and one consequence of all this is needless suffering. With Buddhism’s diagnosis of the human predicament getting more and more scientific validation, maybe it’s time we started paying attention to the Buddhist prescription.


Robert Wright (@robertwrighter) is the author of The Moral Animal, Nonzero, and The Evolution of God. This article is adapted from his new book Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and EnlightenmentWright has taught in the psychology department at Penn and the religion department at Princeton and is currently visiting professor of science and religion at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He also runs mindfulresistance.net.

Study Finds Mindful People Are Happier With Their Sex Life

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Married adults who are more aware of the present moment tend to have higher levels of sexual satisfaction, according to new research published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. The research suggests that mindfulness plays an important role in sexual wellbeing.

“I’ve been studying sex for some time and a number of years ago, I was introduced to mindfulness. Sex and mindfulness just seemed like a natural fit. People often struggle to feel connection and purpose in sex,” said study author Chelom E. Leavitt, an assistant professor at Brigham Young University.

“It may initially seem a little counter-intuitive, but slowing the experience down, being less goal-oriented, and more intentional, actually helps people feel better about themselves, closer to their partner, and more satisfied with the sexual experience.”

“When I teach sexual mindfulness to couples, most are a little skeptical at first. However, as they practice, they are amazed at the importance of awareness, curiosity, acceptance and letting go of self- and partner-judgment.”

Previous research has found that women who practice mindfulness meditation are more likely to report better sexual functioning and higher levels of sexual desire. But the researchers were interested in examining the potential influence of sexual mindfulness in particular, meaning the tendency to be aware of and accept one’s thoughts and emotions without judgment during sex.

For their study, the researchers surveyed 194 married, heterosexual individuals who were 35 to 60 years old. Leavitt and her colleagues found that more sexually mindful participants tended to be more satisfied with their relationships and sex lives. They also had better self-esteem compared to less mindful participants.

“The average person can improve their sexual relationship with a little instruction and practice. It doesn’t require new positions or special skill. Better sex may be as simple as slowing down, being less judgmental about yourself and your partner, and paying attention to touch, arousal, and the connection felt during sex,” Leavitt told PsyPost.

The association between mindfulness and sexual satisfaction was stronger among female participants, suggesting it may play a more important role for women.

“There are lots of questions still to be answered,” Leavitt said. “I just finished an intervention (a follow up study to this one) that taught couples about sexual mindfulness. We found significant positive results in the pilot study and are now doing a larger study that examines couples over time. Some people with high anxiety may find it is difficult to be mindful, but most people can learn this skill with a little guidance and practice.”

“This research is refreshing because it is science based — not some trendy solution. It is exciting for couples to learn simple skills that effectively help them create more meaning and joy in their romantic and sexual relationship,” Leavitt added.

The study, “The Role of Sexual Mindfulness in Sexual Wellbeing, Relational Wellbeing, and Self-Esteem“, was authored by Chelom E. Leavitt, Eva S. Lefkowitz, and Emily A. Waterman.

Ah, our days off are wonderful aren’t they?, or maybe they are not, maybe they are too short, well they might be, but that could mean our days off are not being used wisely. The time off is our chance to be productive, and work on ourselves. We have the time, energy, and freedom to […]

via Make Your Days Off Productive — Psychology of Mindfulness

Dispositional Mindfulness: Noticing What You Notice

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Many forms therapy and spiritual practice speak of mindfulness. Dispositional mindfulness (sometimes known as trait mindfulness) is a type of consciousness that has only recently been given serious research considerations.

It is defined as a keen awareness and attention to our thoughts and feelings in the present moment, and the research shows that the ability to engage in this prime intention has many physical, psychological, and cognitive benefits.

Mindfulness meditation is different. It has taken the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and introduced it to the western world as a form of preparing and training. Those who practice mindfulness meditation are often encouraged to have a “sitting practice,” where they have set aside time to meditate.

In the West, this practice is considered a means to an end. We will be calmer, have lower blood pressure, better relationships, and less stress if we use this practice. While all this is true, the mindfulness aspect of this practice — the essence of this style of meditation was not designed as a means to an end — it was designed to be a way of conscious living.

Mindfulness, when viewed in this way, becomes a quality in our life — a trait, not a state we enter into during practice.

Don’t get me wrong — mindfulness meditation and the wide variety of training programs and opportunities are all valuable exercises. But the original intention of mindfulness and the science now surrounding dispositional mindfulness may be at the very root of how we maintain hope, perseverance, and mental health.

Here is a sample of the research outcomes from nearly 100 studies using dispositional mindfulness:

  • Lower levels of perceived stress
  • Lower use of avoidance coping strategies
  • Fewer depressive symptoms
  • Greater perseverance
  • Less anxiety
  • More hope
  • Reduced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Improved adaptive coping strategies
  • Reduced rumination
  • Less catastrophizing about pain
  • Diminished neuroticism
  • Improved executive function
  • Decreased impulsivity
  • Increased emotional stability
Proof Positive

This is an impressive list as the intervention we are talking about is a non-judging awareness of our thoughts and actions. The non-judgment is an important aspect of this practice. Cultivating a witness, a self that views our own experience with a benevolent prospective, has importance and impact.

This means that even before we attempt to change our thoughts, there is value — exceptional value — in simply noticing them.

This wobbly space between perception and response becomes clearer once we are given permission to examine the gap. Dispositional mindfulness is an invitation to widen that gap simply by noticing it exists. As we step back from our moment-to-moment experience we are cultivating our mindfulness, which then opens the way to responsiveness and the possibility and potential to shift our perceptions for the better.

As the Beat poet Alan Ginsberg suggested, one way to enter this gap is to “notice what you notice.” The practice is simple enough. As you survey your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a present moment try to do so without judgment. This pause for thought is, in itself, the very dispositional mindfulness that research is showing has so many benefits.

In essence, the practice is strengthened when we catch ourselves thinking.

A 5-Minute Meditation Practice You Can Do Anywhere to Let Go of Jealous

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How To Overcome Jealousy Meditation

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If you’ve ever wondered how to stop being jealous after a scroll through your Facebook feed leaves you feeling like a crazy person, you’re not alone. I’ve been there, too. As ashamed as we might be to admit it, jealousy is a tough demon to beat.

Before Facebook posts were a thing, I could go about my daily life not knowing what my ex was doing with his new girlfriend or what amazing new job a high school classmate had just got. But now we’re in the modern world, and we have the privilege — and burden — of knowing everything about everyone. Well, maybe not everything. Social media, after all, is just a highlight reel.

Nevertheless, it’s difficult to remember that we shouldn’t really be comparing ourselves to others. Why? Because our feelings of envy can linger and have unpleasant effects on our mood and our perspective of our own lives. So, If you’re feeling or have ever felt like the grass was greener on the other side, you might want consider giving meditation a try.

How can meditation help jealousy?

Most people think of meditation for stress relief, but not everyone considers jealousy a stressor. The truth is, feeling jealous can indicate that a person’s sense of safety is threatened, so these emotions really should be addressed. Luckily, meditation can actually work to rewire the brain for more positive thinking and relief from envious feelings.

According to Psychology Today, meditation affects the prefrontal cortex, more specifically the “Me Center” of the brain — the same part associated with jealous feelings. It also affects the amygdala, or the “fear center,” that governs our fight or flight response. Balancing these systems with meditation can help you to gain control over negative thoughts and emotions, and can even improve your ability to connect with others. Scroll down for a simple practice to get started with today.

1. Notice your feelings.

The first step to overcoming any problem is becoming aware of it. Meditation doesn’t always look like someone sitting down in a tranquil environment with flute music in the background. It can be as simple as taking a moment — in any environment or situation — to pause and to notice.

When a jealous feeling arises, acknowledge it. Before you run off on a thought tangent, take a moment and a deep breath into your belly and recognize that the feeling is there. You might say (aloud or to yourself), “I am feeling jealous.” Observing your thoughts gives you the power to take control of their direction. Simple enough, right?

2. Breathe and reflect.

The magic of meditation is really in the breath. Once you’ve noticed that you’re feeling jealous, simply paying attention to your breathing and taking slow, conscious breaths can ease the tension by bringing you back to the present moment. It can even stop you from following that one negative thought down a rabbit hole of more pessimism.

This practice may seem really simple, but it’s tough at first since our brains are conditioned in old habits of thinking. Try to practice your breathing for at least one minute, with deep inhales into your belly and deep exhales out, making the exhales longer than the inhales. With repetition, this exercise can be the one that saves you from what may be the most common happiness killer — overthinking.

3. Practice letting go — and use a mantra.

If it were as simple as “just let it go,” then you probably wouldn’t have read this far. The idea of letting a negative thought or thought pattern go is great, but our brains don’t necessarily work that way. If we’re going to give up a habit that’s essential to the way we view ourselves and others in the world, we need to replace it with something. That’s where a mantra comes in.

Your mantra doesn’t have to be complicated; all it has to do is propose a positive to replace a negative thought. Because jealousy often arises as a result of feeling inadequate, mantras combat jealousy by focusing on abundance. Think about it this way, if you believe there’s enough for everyone, there’s nothing to compete for.

Your mantra could be something like, “I have enough. I am abundant,” if you’re struggling with feeling like others have more than you have, or “I am enough,” if you find that you’re struggling with feeling inadequate. To use your mantra, simply repeat it slowly over and over, with a big long breath in between each repetition. Do this for a few minutes, even if it feels like lying at first — which it might if your mind is fighting to tell you the old same story. Saying a mantra gives your mind something else to focus on and introduces a new way of thinking. Eventually, and with repetition, you’ll start to actually believe it.

A simple meditation practice like this one can do wonders in training the mind to think more positively about ourselves and the world around us. Taking some time in our day to pause, breathe, and reflect is an act of self care that allows us to connect with ourselves in a way that benefits everyone. We hope that you’ll give this practice a try and remember, the grass is always greener where it’s watered.

 

Meditation has become a very common practice nowadays. It is now everywhere. And after knowing the benefits of meditation, you would know that it deserves to be everywhere. With its increasing popularity, people are adopting many methods of meditation according to their preferences and ease. There are many centers and institutes which teach tons of…

via Heartfulness Meditation: A Perfect Blend of Science and Spirituality — Get Well Forever

Will I Ever Enjoy Meditation?

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BY 

Woman sitting cross legged on the ground, looking into the distance.

Question: I’ve been meditating for a long time, but the truth is I don’t really like it. I meditate because I think I’m supposed to. It does help me in my life, but usually I find it boring and not enjoyable. Will I ever like meditating, or is that not the point?

Kate Lila Wheeler: Congratulations! Most people never feel like meditating. How great that you actually do it, and want to refine your abilities.

I bet you already have deeper motivations than “supposed to.” Before starting your meditation, try recalling a specific way you knew meditation has helped you (and others, no doubt) in life.

When you are meditating, grant yourself permission to be easy, simple, open for experiences. Feel your body. If you lack joy, let it be. Instead of fixing it, explore. What’s this like for your body? Check for attitudes. If there’s disliking or judging present, that’s OK. Don’t force yourself to be perfect. Breathe. Stay present and persist in gentle exploration. Bathe the whole mess in compassion or equanimity as needed. If you get overwhelmed, shift your attention or blink your eyes.

Finally, we all tend to import the obscurations of samsara into meditation. Samsara demands things to be a certain way. Can you know your own deepest heart, beyond techniques or measurements? Who’s that sweet being who persists, even though life gets hard? Can you rest with them?

Hope this helps.