Soundness

7 Mindfulness Practices for Better Well- Being

We all live crazily busy lives. The action is nonstop from the moment our heads pop off our pillows. Too often we suddenly realize we are in a state of mental limbo, cruise-controlling our way through the days.

Being mindful is more important than ever in today’s fast-paced environment. With mindfulness, we can claim back the full potential of our incredible intellect. Here are 7 mindfulness practices you should be doing to enhance your own life and every life you touch.

Be fully present when interacting with other people

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Whenever you find yourself interacting with someone, make sure you give them your full attention. Being present is almost a lost art in the twenty-first century, yet there is no better way to show respect when dealing with people. Everyone loves being appreciated, but it’s hard to feel that way when you can sense someone’s mind is somewhere else.

Stow your phone at social gatherings

Mobile devices are easily the worst culprits when it comes to sucking our attention away. Constant notifications, alerts, and vibrations are designed to keep us checking our phones constantly.

Next time you are eating dinner, going to a game night, or otherwise meeting up with some friends – turn off your phone. Whoever you are spending time with will appreciate the extra focus and attention you’ll be able to give them. Don’t just silence it. Turn it off! That way, you won’t have to worry about your Instagram feed or the latest stock prices. You will be surprised how much easier it is to get fully involved in the socializing.

Consider how your words will affect a conversation

clem-onojeghuo-381204-unsplashEvery word you speak will have either a positive or negative effect on the person you are talking to. You should focus your efforts on being uplifting and constructive in your conversations, no matter the situation. Never put other people or their opinions below you. Try showing genuine interest in the things they are saying to you, and respond with positivity and enthusiasm.

Before saying anything, pause and predict how it will be taken

Ask yourself:

  • Is what I’m about to say negative in any way?
  • How would I want to be talked to in this situation?
  • What can I say to show appreciation to this person?
  • Is there any reason to not speak the words I’m about to say?

Being mindful when speaking to other people will help you form healthier and longer-lasting relationships. Keep it up long enough and you’ll cement your place as one of the world’s few great conversationalists!

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes

Mindfulness Shoes

The golden rule of the ages is to treat others the way you want to be treated. Taking the concept a step further is the act of putting yourself into someone else’s shoes: trying to feel another person’s emotions and view situations from the same perspective.

Empathy is a trait that is unique to humans

Through empathy, we have the power to connect with each other on a level that no other animal can achieve. It is a tool you can use to inspire trust, appreciation, and happiness in those around you. The more you practice putting yourself in the place of others, the more you will appreciate the significance of each human life here on Earth.

Be mindful about other people’s existences. Imagine what the whole world would be like if everyone considered each other on a level this deep. You can do your part on a daily basis to help make that dream a reality.

Notice your feelings without reacting to them

Mindfulness Smiling

An awesome mindfulness is practice observing your own emotions from a separated state. Emotions are really powerful, and they can completely take us over if we are not careful. When you feel strong sentiments beginning to grab hold, immediately take a mental step back.

Why are you feeling the way you are?

If the emotion you are experiencing is good, notice what makes that emotion appear. Cultivate the emotion and train yourself to summon it at will.

If the emotion is negative, simply shift it out of your mind and move on to something else. You don’t really have time for garbage like that anyway, do you?

Being able to notice your feelings without reacting to them is a core part of living a mindful life. Viewing feelings from a distance – and deciding the cause and effect of those feelings – is how you learn to control what’s going on inside your head. The moment you have mastered your own emotions is a moment your life will never be the same again.

Breathe deeply to reset your mental state

Mindfulness BreathingDid you know deep breathing is the ultimate mental cleanser? The deeper you breathe, the more you saturate your blood with oxygen – which is used for almost every system in your body. Brains particularly require a lot of oxygen to operate. In fact, they can use as much as three times the amount of O₂ as muscles! With all that extra oxygen flowing to your head, you will be much more alert and clear-minded.

Slow it down

Whenever you notice yourself feeling anxious, melancholy, or angry, take a few deep breaths. You’ll immediately start to feel better. It’s almost magical! Mental benefits include toxin flushing, stress release, and reduced pain. If you want to get serious about deep breathing, look into some deep breathing practices you can add to your daily routine.

Keep a short daily journal

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Reflecting back on a day before going to sleep is a wonderful habit to have. Being mindful of your life’s details will only leave you better prepared and more motivated to dive into the future. Some of the greatest people in history kept a regular personal journal- including Beethoven, Mark Twain, George Lucas, and Benjamin Franklin. If it helped them, it can certainly help you too.

Make it simple

There’s no need to write a novel before you roll over and let your dreams take you. Nobody has time for that. Consider just a few meaningful things you can jot down for the day. What inspired you? Was there something interesting or surprising that happened today? Who did you spend time with and what did you do?

Mindful journaling is a habit that can give you direction and stability in your life. Try it out! Get a small journal and keep it right by your bed. Who knows? Maybe someday it’ll be famous.

Minimalism Art Classic Notebook Journal

Set a phone reminder

Mindfulness Reminder

In all honesty, it’s not easy being mindful. Our old habits and routines make it difficult to implement mindfulness into our lives. A perfect way to regularly practice mindfulness is creating a phone reminder to assist us. Program it to go off every day at a specific time. Try to pick an hour when you tend to be wrapped up in commitments and activities.

A simple title like “Be Mindful” will work great.

Here’s what to do when the reminder goes off

  1. Pause whatever you are currently involved in.
  2. Bring attention to your senses: What do you see, smell, taste, hear, and feel?
  3. Bring attention to your emotions: What is your current mental state?
  4. Decide on one simple action you can take to make someone else’s day a little better. For example, you could compliment your coworker’s new haircut or send a text checking up on an old friend.

Being habitually mindful will completely change your life. A phone reminder is hard to ignore and can help you immensely.

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Give these sevens tips a shot, and see what happens. Most likely, you will enjoy the results so much that mindfulness will become a part of who you are.

 

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Featured, Lifestyle, Soundness

Your Guide to Setting Life-Changing Goals

How important are goals in your life? To answer this question, imagine a hypothetical situation.

You are heading out onto the open road, taking a cross-country trip to the vacation spot of your dreams. A lot of time was spent carefully packing the car with your luggage and healthy snacks for the road. You even took the effort of saving a sweet Spotify playlist to your phone for the many hours of driving ahead. Everything is going to be great.

You hop onto the interstate, humming along to one of your favorite songs. The minutes fly by as fast as the miles and soon you are far from home. This is uncharted territory for you, but the change of scenery is refreshing. The sun reaches high noon and you suddenly realize you’re starving for lunch. Time to find a place to eat.

Parking at one of those gas stations in the middle of nowhere, you pull out your phone to check for the nearest restaurants. The map won’t load. With a sinking feeling, you realize you’re out of data for the month. Out of data and alone in a place you’ve never been before. You own paper maps and a handy GPS, but you left those things back at your house.

What would you do in this situation? The chance you’ll be able to find a good restaurant is small, and the chance your journey will successfully end at your dream destination is next to nothing. Odds are: you’ll either call your phone carrier for an extra gig of data, make the trek back home to grab your GPS, or buy a map inside the gas station. Any way you slice it, you need a route and navigation to continue your trip.Goals: Your Roadmap for Life

Failing to set goals in your life is like taking a trip with no means of navigation. You might get lucky and come across a few places worth visiting during your voyage, but most of the time you will simply be trying to figure out where you are. Goals are the primary way we can project and fulfill our own future. And if we construct our goals in the right manner, they also provide the correct path forward.

You’ve probably made goals for yourself at some point. Perhaps during a new-year’s-day burst of motivation. But how committed were you with following through? If you ultimately failed, don’t feel bad. Statistically, most people’s goals are forgotten a few weeks after they make them. New year’s resolutions are particularly susceptible to this neglect. In order to get the most out of your goals and make it easy for you to push to success, you need to know the proper method to setting goals.

Dedicate a couple hours to this process. Your goals are very important, and this procedure is going to change your life. Prepare yourself to give a lot of thought and a bit of work to the following guide. Pull out a notepad or open a word processor, and let’s get started.

Begin with visualization

Visualizing Goals

Close your eyes and think about the future. Not the next few days or months – the far future. Put yourself into your perfect life’s shoes.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Where am I?
  • Who am I with?
  • What do I look like?
  • How do I feel?
  • What am I doing?

This perfect future life you are seeing is your ultimate goal. Write down details of this goal as you visualize. Be as specific as possible.

Break it down

Everyone’s life situation really boils down to five main areas:

  • Financial
  • Relationships
  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional

Continuing with the visualization of your perfect life, write down how each of these areas is going for you in the future.

Goal Journaling

It’s very important to write these goals in the present tense.

Let’s use a physical goal as an example. Don’t write “I will be a marathon runner”. Instead write “I am a marathon runner”. You will be looking over these goals many times in the years to come. When you read something that’s present tense, you are encouraging your subconscious mind to see it as a reality. This helps you live like you’ve already achieved your goal, which is super effective for making progress and staying motivated.

Devote an honest effort while completing this step. After all, you are effectively planning out how the rest of your life is going to go. Don’t be afraid to set very ambitious goals for yourself. You have more potential than you could ever realize, and creating goals that are easy to reach is just selling yourself short.

Give it a timeframe

You Goal's Timeframe

Now you should have a list of lifetime goals broken down into the five main areas of life. The next step is to work backwards in time, getting closer and closer to the present.

Here is how you should structure your goals:

  1. Lifetime Goals
    • Financial Goals
    • Relationship Goals
    • Physical Goals
    • Mental Goals
    • Emotional Goals
  2. Three-Year Goals
    • Financial
    • Relationship
    • Physical
    • Mental
    • Emotional
  3. Yearly Goals
    • Continue making goals for the five areas within each timeframe
  4. Quarterly Goals
  5. Monthly Goals
  6. Weekly Goals

Start with your list of “Lifetime Goals”

Determine what you’ll have to do to reach each of those five goals within three years. Add them to the list under “Three-Year Goals” (remember to do it in present tense). Now decide what you’ll have to do within a year to reach your three-year goals. Continue this process down the line until you finish weekly. Again, do not rush this!

Review and manage your list

Goal Set!Congratulations! You have just created a road map to your perfect life. Hang the sheet you’ve constructed somewhere you will see it every day, like by your bed or on the bathroom mirror. It’s vital to review your goals on a daily basis. You need to burn them into your mind.

When the week is up, you will need to create new weekly goals. Take this time to evaluate yourself on your progress. What went really well? What could you have done better? Commit to making improvements whenever possible. You will have to create new goals every month, every year, every quarter, and every three years. Refer back to your lifetime goals when deciding what to write in each of these instances.

Do not underestimate the effort it will require to reach your destination. This journey is a priority in your life. Chase your goals like your life depends on them, because it absolutely does. Congratulate and reward yourself for small wins. Motivate yourself by visualizing the future you will be living some day.

Know beyond any doubt that you have the ability to create your own future by making the correct choices in the present. Now that you have filled out your ultimate goalsheet, you possess instructions for exactly what you have to do. Go and get after it!

Resources

Despite my best efforts to be simple, this guide may be confusing to you. I’ve made a handle little template on Google Docs that you can copy, paste, and fill in to streamline this process. It’s completely free! Click the link below for access (use a desktop browser for best experience).

Google Docs Goalsetting Guide

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Lifestyle, Soundness

This is the One Secret to Being Happy

It’s no news that every human being on earth wants to be happy. When you think about it, you’ll realize many things you do throughout the day are done specifically to make you cheerful. There’s no shame in that. Happiness is one of the best emotions you can experience, and it is definitely worth chasing!

Yet – despite your best efforts – at times happiness doesn’t come easily. Some days, everything just goes wrong. Other days, you simply aren’t feeling it. In any case, you miss out on the feeling of joy that makes living life really worth it. Is there a way that you can reliably stay happy?

It’s about mindset

Happy Smile

All people, from vastly different walks of life and immeasurably distinct areas of the world, have the ability to be happy. The rice farmer in Cambodia, the movie star in Hollywood, the beggar in the streets of Kochi, the business man in New York City – each of these individuals experiences the same emotion of happiness. If you look at this phenomenon from an analytical standpoint, it proves that happiness does not come from external situations, locations, or objects.

Happiness Isn’t External

If happiness isn’t caused by external factors, then there’s only one other option: happiness is internal. All things internal, including our emotions, ultimately come from our minds. This is great news! Just like almost everything else in our bodies, we have the power to train and even control our minds.

The secret to being happy

Happy Leap

The simple secret to being happy is to make up your mind to be happy, no matter what.

It’s almost too simple isn’t it? Can you really just choose to be happy in any situation? Yes, you can. And you most certainly should!

There are going to be challenges and unpleasantries you’ll have to overcome in your days here on earth. It’s part of the human experience. But wouldn’t you rather work through these challenges in a state of cheerfulness rather than anger or despair? If you can do that, tough situations won’t be much of a hurdle to you at all.

Make a habit out of being happy. Make it a mindset. Realize you have the power to choose happiness over any negative emotion, and use that power. Think about what your life would look like if you were constantly in a state of happiness. The only thing holding you back from from possessing that life is yourself.

A quick note

There is one condition in which happiness can’t be achieved: depression. For many different reasons, depression is becoming more and more common in society today. It is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain and leads to devastating results. If you even think there’s a chance you are experiencing depression, reach out to someone for help. You aren’t alone, and there are many different options for assistance and recovery. Stay strong and you’ll make it through to the other side.

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Soundness

Meditation Posture Guide For Beginners

Does this situation sound familiar to you?

You’ve been meditating for a few minutes with great success. Everything is going blissfully well, until a nagging strain in your back starts to distract you from concentrating on your breathing. You sit up a little straighter, which helps. Back to breathing. A few minutes later, your neck starts to hurt. Then your shoulders. Gah- it never ends. What is going on? Staying focused during meditation is hard enough without having to endure aches from random parts of your body!

You’re not alone in suffering these frustrating distractions. Especially if you are a beginner, it can be common to cut sessions short due to simple discomfort. I was definitely prone to these aches during the first few months of daily meditation.

Luckily, the fix is very straightforward. Employing proper posture will wipe out these troubles faster than a diving falcon. By paying attention to my posture, I am able to meditate much longer and much deeper. I know this will work for you too. Let’s take a look at some time-worn tips for perfecting your mediation posture.

The Seven-Point Posture of Vairocana

Variocana Meditation

Buddhist culture is known for its emphasis on mediation. Vairocana is a celestial Buddha often pictured using a simple yet specific position while meditating. Throughout the years, people have used Vairocana’s posture to enhance their own practices.

Here it is, broken down into its seven main components:

  1. Sit comfortably with your legs crossed.
  2. Rest your hands in your lap or on your knees.
  3. Straighten your back. Imagine your spine as a perfect stack of coins.
  4. Spread your shoulders, like the wings of a large bird.
  5. Slightly lower your chin. Make sure your neck is balanced atop your spine.
  6. Relax your jaw and keep the tip of your tongue lightly touching your upper palate.
  7. Keep your gaze slightly lowered, peering over the top of your nose.

It might be a good idea to read over these seven points at the beginning of each meditation session until you can get into this position naturally.

Where to Sit While Meditating

Where you choose to sit before you start to meditate can make a huge difference to your posture. In general, it is best to sit on the ground. Western culture isn’t accustomed to this, so it may feel a little strange the first few times you do it. A pillow or other support is vital in keeping your tailbone elevated and pelvis comfortably rotated forward.

Zafu Pillow Meditation

Did you know there’s actually pillows made specifically for meditating?

These are called Zafu Cushions – and at the risk of sounding overly enthusiastic, getting one of these changed my life. Zafu Cushions are made to keep their form instead of compacting over time like the stuffing in normal pillows. The one I have is filled with buckwheat kernels, which I had never heard of before getting it. After using one of these for months, I’d call it a necessity for anyone serious about meditation.

Here’s a link to the exact cushion I ended up getting: Peace Yoga Zafu Cushion

Remember to keep your legs comfortably crossed while sitting. The key word here is comfortable. You probably have seen pictures of people in the lotus position, with their ankles on top of each opposite knee. I know I’m not flexible enough for the lotus position, but you might be. Crossing your legs normally is much easier and still acceptable.

Meditate

Find Out What Works for You

In the end, meditation is always a highly personalized experience. Everyone gets something different out of it, and that goes for posture as well. Follow the guidelines above but feel free to adjust them slightly to fit your body’s own tendencies. With a little practice, you’ll be pulling hour-long sessions without so much as a ping of pain from your back!

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