Monday Moment – A Productive Mindset with Meditation

There is more to a productive mindset than being focused at your desk, because there is more to your work than the time you spend at your desk. Having a productive mindset is about creating a flow that connects your work, your play, you waking and your sleeping hours together.

Having a productive mindset is about a balance between your up-time and your downtime so that your subconscious brain continues to produce the aha moments in your life when you least expect them. And that does not happen if you are filled with anxiety, stressed, or worried about your life; personally or professionally.

Those seemingly random ideas that end up being the aha moments of brilliant breakthroughs you wait for? They do not come out of nowhere. They are not sitting on a cloud that you wander into. They come, like anything, out of the hard work of your subconscious mind, and that subconscious mind only works when the noise and distractions that so often clutter it are gone. so learn to let go, not just to relax, but to open your mind up to all the wonderful possibilities waiting.

Years ago, when I was producing or ran my own agency, I found that I separated my work into several categories. The hours I actively worked on a project – perhaps two hours a day – were the only ones that “really counted,” or so I told myself. The hours I spent researching, thinking, and developing creative solutions for my client’s issues somehow did not really count as “real work.” Oh, and those hours I spent pondering in bed or during my commute – it was as if those did not even exist.

Looking back, I remember the stress and the anxiety. I also remember how there were never enough hours in the day for all the work I had to do. I remember how my anxiety often prevented me from coming up with the kind of solutions my clients so badly wanted.

Oh, how wrong I was. For it was in those seemingly wasted moments that my brain was actually free to work in its own way. It never occurred to me that the flashes of brilliance that came while listlessly staring out at the ocean on a weekend, or while feeling the water splash on my face while in the shower, only came when I felt calm and balanced and open. Rarely did they appear when I was at my desk, in my mind, “actually working” the few hours each day that I actually gave myself credit for.

It is funny, in a way, that is wasn’t until I was able to step away from my desk that I was able to see the solution that was there all along, waiting for me.

To fixate the results that end up on your desk to the time you spend at your desk is to dismiss the real work you put in all along the way. And, I equate that mindset to the post-war, industrial world most of us grew up in.

Yes, when we were an industrial nation, work was a much more physical task. The time that mattered was the time you actually spent farming, or fishing, or building. But this is the 21st Century, and your physical labor is often not what drives your results. The decisions you make at home and at play, with friends and family all influence your frame of mind, no matter what your occupation. And if your mind is filled with anxiety and distracted by the noise of your life, then there is no way that you will be able to come up with the solutions that equate to success in today’s world.

If instead, you are calm and rested, the solutions will come to you whether you are at the office every day or not. So learn to balance the different aspects of your life; both personal and professional. That includes finding a thread between work and play, health and finances, family and love and spirituality, even with your own sense-of-self. It is there waiting for you, if you know what to look for.

Only when those elements are in balance, will you be free enough to truly deliver the kind of results that you can be proud of. Only then will you be truly productive, feel accomplished, and satisfied every day and every week.

Remember that having a Productive Mindset is about more than being productive at your desk.  It is about creating a thread throughout your life in a calm and focused way.

So breathe, smile and remember to give yourself a break from time to time.  That is what will create a focused sense of calm across all of your efforts; at work or play, with family or friends, or even when you are all by yourself.

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Modern Meditation Profile – Alan Muskat

Alan Muskat – PhilosoForager: Looking Without Seeking

Alan Muskat is a naturalist in the tradition of Muir and Thoreau. He has brought the art of foraging to new light, both as a meditator and a philosopher. As someone who is stepping into Modern Meditation, he calls his approach that of a philosoforager.

Alan pursued the martial arts in middle school, before studying Daoism while in college. He entered the Back to the Land movement in the 1990s; a precursor to today’s Slow Food and Locavore movements. For him, it was simply an idea that resonated. Eventually he began to simplify his life, and soon enough, to simplify everything he did. He found each step returned him to a more natural state of being, and he liked what he was experiencing.

For the next twenty years, as Alan recalls, he continued to chase after material things until he found, as many of us have, that he was living in fear: the fear of not Forest Meditationhaving enough. It was with this understanding that he came to the realization that the only way to remove fear from his life was to stop collecting those things that he simply did not need.

You see, a forager is not a farmer. He or she does not put down roots. He does not store the crops he has raised. Instead, a forager is endlessly wandering, searching without looking for anything in particular.

“What many people don’t realize is that foraging is not about intention. It is about letting go,” as Alan puts it. “I try not to go into the woods with the idea of finding something specific. I never know what I will find. I can look for something, but I may not find it.” He smiles, “In April everyone wants morels.  But to seek them sets you up for frustration and disappointment. It really is a practice of non-attachment.”

Today, when Alan wanders into the woods, alone or as a guide, he finds himself reminding those Slide3who wander with him to “look without seeking.” When people seek him out, most are not looking for the philosophy behind the foraging. Usually, they just want to know how to get the food.

But it’s not that simple. “This is not about making nature into a grocery. Some of the prettiest things can be the most poisonous, while some of the tastiest can be the least attractive. All the while, we are fed by beauty and the sounds of nature. Even if you don’t find anything to eat, you are continually being fed.”

For Alan, this is how foraging can be a walking meditation.

“When I am sitting, I get distracted. But when I am in the forest, nature takes my attention.  Like Krishnamurti says, ‘meditation is like the breeze that comes in when you leave the window open.’ I can’t easily find the beauty in life, outside of my thoughts, when I’m sitting in a room.”

For Alan, as it is for me, going into the woods is a wonderful context for meditation. But then, it was like that for John Muir and Henry David Thoreau too. May it be the same for you.

 

[learn_more caption=”See The Full Interview Here”]

There’s a love that’s divine

And it’s yours and it’s mine

Like the sun

Van Morrison

 

What drew you to yoga and meditation?

Well, I was mostly forced into it. I have adrenal fatigue and other stress-related conditions. For me, it was a matter of necessity.

How have they changed your life?

I’m slowly developing better habits. Basically, in stressful situations, I go into my body instead of into my head. It greatly reduces my stress and provides me with a wonderful sense of calm no matter where I am.

At what point did you decide to teach others?

I teach something as soon as I learn it. Or rather, I argue for the importance of it, based on my own experience and reflection. There hasn’t been a “point” at which I began to teach yoga or meditation because, for the most part, that’s not what I teach, at least ostensibly. But I have been slowly integrating more of both into my work as a nature guide.

What do you find most rewarding about working with others?

I like making friends with others, finding common ground. If I can get past superficialities, I always learn something. I also pick up simpler ways to express my teaching when people reflect it back to me.

What is your advice for someone just starting on their journey?

Probably just to “be in your body.” Most everything else important comes out of that.

What should someone look for in a studio or an instructor?

I think of flexibility, like you are promoting. Someone you can relate with, and v.v., who bridges the gap between “teacher” and “student.”

What does the term Modern Meditation mean to you?

I’d like it to mean something integrated with daily life, a way of walking any path, rather than a technique to take time out to do. Mindfulness, I guess.

How have you adapted traditional meditation and yoga in your life outside the studio?

I have not developed the discipline to do a regular practice on my own. I am starting to remember to use these tools when the need is flagrant, like first aid.

How has expanding and deepening your practice, improved your life?

Probably my deepest practice is self-forgiveness. For example, ‘if I don’t meditate, that’s OK.’  I fall into my workaholism and fritter my time away again and again. Harping on myself doesn’t help. It’s where I’m at, and if this “plant” is going to grow, I need to water it, not yank on it.

What is your Simple Truth?

I adhere to Advaita (non dualism). I would sum that up by saying that life is a dream and the challenge is to stay awake in it. To be awake in the dream of life is not to believe that “nothing matters” but to recognize that the best way to alleviate suffering in the world is to find and/or maintain a peaceful, open heart in the midst of it. Simply put, “all we need is love.” Foraging helps me to see that with love, everything else comes easily.

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Q+A – Meditation & Anxiety in the Modern World

A student asked me, “Why is there such angst and anxiety in the world today, and how do I cope with it?”

“Why do I worry about Russia sending warplanes over the Baltic Sea? Why do I worry when our government begins to break down? Why does my wife take a tone sometimes? Are these the same?”

My first answer is yes, they all basically come from the same place. They come from a place of fear. It is how your old brain was programmed to respond to everything in the world around you; and while you cannot change the way your brain works, you can change the way your brain processes and responds to that information.

Instead of having to respond with your fight or flight auto-response, you can train yourself to pause, to contemplate – even if for a second – and choose to take a different route than the one your primordial brain has laid out for you. In truth, you can choose to live your life your way.

The net/net is that the brain creates pathways that you live by.  We call them habits. Neuroscientists call them auto-responses; but they are so much more. They are the responses that you live your life by, and they can often lead you down a path that you will probably regret later on.

Neurologists have a saying – neurons that fire together, wire together. Eastern Philosophers have another saying, you are what you think. They are the same.

All that nervousness, that anxiousness, that angst? It is the result of the patterns that have been developed over eons of evolution. And this is the problem. Many of them date back tens, and even hundreds of thousands of years. They worked wonderfully in the past, they got us to the top of the food chain, but in the modern world you now live in, most of them have little relevance in your life.

The fear that rises when you read about other countries becoming more aggressive is no different than when a primal ancestor saw a shape moving on the horizon. The fear that rises to anger when you read about our government is no different than the worry that was felt about a field of crops failing. And the perceived tone that your wife is taking? Again, it is your old brain preparing for the worst.

If you doubt this, just think about what your brain scrolls through when any of these events take place. They are always worst case scenarios.

Always remember, there are two parts to your brain. There is the old brain that has just one objective – your survival. Then there is the modern brain, the part that most of us think of when someone asks us about the brain. It is that magnificent organ that sits on the top, the part that is responsible for the executive functions in your life.

The old brain becomes uncomfortable with anything that implies risk – taking a new route to work, watching as a new employee enters your workplace, hearing your loved one take a tone. It jumps at every ping and chirp from your mobile device just as it did when a twig snapped in the forest thousands of years ago. It keeps getting distracted by all the things going on in the world around you, looking for danger; even though most of them are completely irrelevant to your survival.

When you begin to get involved in any higher-level thinking, preparing a report, reviewing a PowerPoint file, or looking toward the future, your modern brain focuses in on the task at hand. But, your old brain is still working in the background. It kicks in when it hears a ping, sees movement out of the corner of your eye, or detects a tone. At that moment it begins releasing adrenaline and cortisol.

It starts slowly, preparing you for a potential threat, but as you respond by getting nervous, it elevates your threat-level and starts to release larger and larger amounts of these hormones [adrenaline being produced by the adrenal gland]. It is what happens when your boss calls you into a meeting out of the blue. It is what effects an architect when a client changes a floor plan.

Your modern brain realizes that taking a calculated risk is often the safest path to a secure future. Your old brain does not, and that is where the problem begins. One still thinks that the old way is best.  The other knows that in today’s world the new path is more often the right one. The result is you feel doubt and insecure as the two battle it out.

The key is to remind yourself of this when you start to feel anxious or when you feel self-doubt. Remind yourself that all that angst is simply your old brain trying to keep you safe, and bless it’s heart, what it thinks is safe is dated by more than 40,000 years.

This is why you should step back the next time you feel off and take a meditative breath to calm yourself. Then acknowledge whatever it is that is before you and label it for what it is. It may sound like “boss calling me into his office,” or “client changing something that we agreed on,” or “the one I love is using a tone with me.”

Breathe into the issue that is before you. Take a moment to contemplate just how serious it is, and then let it go. Let each issue go for now as you return to whatever it is you were doing right before it came up. Smile as you give yourself a moment to calm down before responding. If it’s on text, give yourself an hour; email? a day, because the moment you are in is probably different than the moment your old brain sees you in, even though it is right here, and right now.

Monday Moments – Short Sits

Short Sits

For most of us, the idea of sitting on a hilltop for an hour is a lovely idea. The reality, however, is a far cry from that dream.  Rarely do we have an hour.  Rarer still is there an empty hilltop to sit and enjoy.

Perhaps it was realistic 3,000 years ago when meditation was first introduced, but today, nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is you have more stress in the first thirty minutes of your day, than someone did in an entire day 3,000 years ago.

The answer is not stressing about finding a quiet place to sit for two hours, or even twenty minutes. That is not necessarily the most effective way to meditate in today’s world anyway.

The fact is that research is showing us that sitting for shorter periods of time more frequently actually produces better results for those seeking to reduce stress, find balance, and yes, even reach their inner calm.

So, the next time you feel anxiety or panic come on, or when you realize the trigger for your stress is going to be in that meeting coming up, sit for a short time.  Just three to five minutes will do.  Then take a very short break of maybe thirty to sixty seconds, and sit again.

Just be mindful of whatever it is you are doing during your break. Keep the rhythm of your breath going and try not to lose your natural ease. Smile to yourself as you sit again, and feel the joy in what you are doing.

What you will find is that taking short breaks like this will extend your meditation and create a living meditation within your world.  You will feel your life become richer and more inspiring than ever before.  It will help you mind the gap between your seated meditations and the very real life you live every day. It will also take the clumsy, irksome and solemn nature out of a more traditional practice.

Very quickly, you will find the barrier that once separated your meditation from your life disappear. Instead, the distractions that once undermined your work, and even your meditation, will fade away – leaving you in your natural state, free from the mind-chatter that once used to cause such dismay.

As I have often said, “A meditator may leave a proper meditation, but a proper meditation will never leave the meditator.”

After all, it is YOUR life.

Why not make it YOUR meditation?

Zen & The Art of the Mindful Diet

Zen and the Art of The Mindful Diet

Summer may be a long way off, but the image you have of your body is not a seasonal topic. It is with you every day of the year. Beneath those baggy sweaters and heavy coats in winter, it effects how you feel about yourself, how you treat yourself, and how you view the world that you live in.

You do not have to flash on the beach, for your body to show.  It is visible in how you feel every day of every year.  More important, those around you feel it in how you treat them and in your attitude.  After all, having a great body is not about fitting into a double zero.  It’s about being happy in who you are.  It’s about fitting into the body you already have perfectly.  So forget the extreme diets, forget the bathing suit and the stretchy yoga pants.  It’s time to find grace in the beauty that is you.

The Simple Truth to the Mindful Diet is that there should be no restrictions to living your life.  After all, living life isn’t about fitting into the right outfit, it’s about creating great memories wherever you are.  This is why your diet should not be about losing, but winning.  Winning balance, winning calm, winning happiness without carrying around the weight that so many people can throw on you.  Because that is what you carry around, not just pounds, but guilt, fear, and self-loathing.  It sounds funny, but when you change your relationship with the food you eat, you don’t gain weight, you shed the angst of your old life as you gain health.  And yes, that is very, very visible.

The Mindful Diet is a program created by the Modern American Monk, Jeff Cannon.  Jeff is a leading voice in the Modern Meditation Movement who has dedicated his life to applying meditative techniques to resolve the contemporary issues we all face in the modern world.

Jeff survived eight brain surgeries that collectively removed more than twenty tumors in as many years.  With each surgery he refined his own diet in an effort to slow down new tumor growth. Along the way, he removed carbohydrates and processed foods.  He incorporated caloric restrictions.  He also applied Modern Meditation to reduce his stress.  The results was not only slowed tumor growth, but a healthier, happier and lighter self.  He became more aware of who he was in the world around him.  As that happened, he became more confident and more secure.  And that is something everyone around him noticed.

The simple practice of mindfulness that he lives his life around today changed his relationship with food and eating on every level.  For Jeff, it left him with just 15% body fat.  He still enjoys food and an occasional cocktail when the event calls for it.  Now, he just does so mindfully – and that makes all the difference.

The Mindful Diet is his gift to you.  It will help you  live a richer, fuller life while helping you maintain a healthy balance in everything you do.  While you will lose weight along the way, the real benefit is to leave you feeling great in a natural, healthy and mindful way.

The Mindful Diet is not about counting individual calories.  It avoids the starvation/sweat mentality so many people rely on.  Instead it is about slowing down and enjoying life every minute of every day by simply being present wherever you are.  Some people have called the Mindful Diet the “un-diet,” because it does not matter if you were born strikingly slender or with rich beautiful curves.   What matters is that you breathe in a positive body image and breathe out the toxins that hold you back.  When you learn to do that, you learn to transform your body and your life for the better.

Why not start your own Mindful Diet with these helpful tips that will reduce your stress from your vacation and fill you with joy for years to come:

Mind Before You Eat

Food is sometimes more a habit than a necessity.  We eat what we are comfortable with rather than what we really want.  So slow down before you dig in.  Stop and take three slow, deep breaths.  With each breath in, feel your body slow down.  Be comfortable with where you are and ask yourself what it is that you really want.  It will help you get rid of the stress that social occasions often create and help you take the emotions  out of your meal.   The result is a calmer meal that you can fully without all the stress-laden extras.

Use All of Your Senses

Stop just eating and start enjoying.  Take the time to see and smell and yes even hear your food.  Don’t take a bite until you have run through all five senses and are aware of the full experience that is your meal.  You will learn to appreciate your food on a whole different level.  With all that joy flooding into your body, you will also eat less.

Slow Down & Enjoy

When your social calendar comes calling, it’s easy to rush into everything you find.  It is easy to forget what you are eating and drinking as you try to fit it all in.  Use your meals as a chance to slow down.  The next time you feel yourself rushing through a meal, stop, breathe and give yourself thirty seconds to come up with a good answer as to why you are craving what you are craving.  It will teach you to be mindful of your meal and to enjoy it a whole lot more.

Love Your Body

Don’t just accept your body.  Don’t just appreciate your body.  LOVE YOUR BODY!  Love your curves and your freckles.  Love your hips and your stomach.  No matter what shape you were born with, LOVE IT!  OWN IT!

Sure, you can lose a little here or there.  You can add some muscle tone and get in better shape.  You can even nip and tuck, if you want to go there – we all can.  But before you do  that, the next time you feel self conscious, take out two minutes to stand in a Superman pose – feet spread wide, hands on hips, chin up and shoulders back and smile.

Feel the self confidence rise up in you.  Feel your adrenaline rise and your cortisol drop – which means you will feel more confident and powerful no matter what you’re wearing.  And that helps you make the right choices whether you’re in a clam shack or the juice bar of some spa.

Learn to enjoy your meals mindfully and live life fully.  After all, this is your life.  It’s time to life it YOUR way!

 

If you want to learn more about The Mindful Diet – just visit us at www.simple-truth.com/mindfuldiet.

Modern Meditation Profile – Dina Proctor

Dina Proctor

From the start, Dina’s life wasn’t so different from yours or mine. She spent her 20s running after the same things everyone is after; a good job that meant something, a loving relationship, a sense of purpose, a sense of stability. But the more she looked outside herself for her answers, the more she realized it was the void within that she was trying to fill.

She did non-profit work in Africa, Guatemala, and with juveniles in jails – helping to heal others in an effort to heal herself.  She changed jobs every 9-months.  She changed boyfriends and moved just as often. Each time telling herself, “if I can just get a bit more money, if I can just find the right guy, if I just save one more person, it will all be better.”

It wasn’t until she moved into a new living situation in that her two worlds were forced together.  Her roommates were social drinkers and at first her life was a party. Then it spiraled.  Within weeks she became a daily drinker.  In months, she became a round-the-clock drinker.  After years of battling clinical depression and thinking, “if I don’t wake up in the morning, I’m okay with that,” she actually chose a date to take her own life.

That was 2008 and she had hit rock bottom. She did not so much pull back in that moment, as she realized she was sick of being sick of her life. She thought of suicide, but before she ended it all, she decided she at least wanted to see what real drunks looked like. That was the day she wandered into an addiction recovery meeting; “just to see.” Listening to them, she realized she was far worse than any of them.

At one point in her recovery she was introduced to meditation. She was asked to sit for 20 minutes. Her body was still detoxing, her head was spiraling, and sitting still for 20 minutes was physically impossible for her; she found she could sit still for about three minutes at a time. So she decided to sit in three minute increments until she reached the 20 minute mark. That was something she could do.

It was hard, but she was able to do it.  Then, about eight weeks into her meditation practice she had an out of body experience.  For the first time in her life, her mind was free from chatter, free from the inner voice that had haunted her. Everything she looked at was pristine and beautiful.  It was an absolutely full presence, a spiritual and physical moment that she remembers vividly to this day.

She had two revelations in that moment.  First, there is no such thing as time.  Time is something we transcend.  Second, everything in the physical world is just a reflection of the mind. At that moment she just knew that all she had to do in life was maintain the state of mind she experienced, and she could be grounded and open in the way she had always wanted.

She continued her meditation practice which eventually settled into three minutes, three times a day. In days she reached a point of ownership and non-resistance in her life. She wrote a book called Madly Chasing Peace: How I Went From Hell to Happy in 9 Minutes a Day, that turned into a best-seller, and now she teaches her style of modern meditation to hundreds of people who want to find the kind of peace that she discovered for herself.

Hers is a message of strength, empowerment and transformation.  It is one worth discovering for yourself no matter where you are in your life.

 

[learn_more caption=”See The Full Interview Here”] What drew you to yoga and meditation?

I don’t think I would say I was drawn to meditation – more like I was dragged kicking and screaming! At the end of 2008 I hit rock bottom in my life – I was suicidal and clinically depressed.  I was also horribly addicted to alcohol. I had tried countless changes to fix the emotional black hole I’d felt inside for years – moving cities, changing jobs, upgrading my boyfriends, individual therapy, group therapy, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications – you name it I tried it. But nothing worked to fix how I felt.

In hindsight (and obvious to everyone but me), I was constantly moving but always taking myself with me. Meditation was an instruction given to me when I finally fell apart. I remember balking at the idea of meditating for 20 minutes – wondering how on earth sitting in a floaty, wistful sort of way would do anything at all! But at that time I had run out of my own answers. So I tried it. And it ended up changing everything about everything (about everything!) about my life.

How have they changed your life?

There is not a single area of my life meditation hasn’t transformed. When I first started meditating I was in addiction-and-suicidal-thought withdrawal and could not physically or mentally sit still for longer than about 3 minutes at a time. Since my instruction was to meditate was for 20 minutes total I would sit for 3 minutes several times a day so I could meet my quota. After about 8 weeks of this messy 3 minute here, 3 minute there practice, I had an experience in what I can only call a state of higher consciousness.

For 3 entire days my conscious awareness was outside of my body – hovering above my body, yet tethered to it, everywhere I went! I had no thoughts in my head, absolutely zero mind-chatter, and everyone and everything was extraordinarily beautiful.

During that time I realized 2 things: that there is no such thing as time (really!) and that everything that exists in my exterior world – my body, my relationships, my financial situation – is simply a reflection of what was going on inside of myself; my world is basically a direct reflection of the quality of my spiritual life.

That 3-day experience profoundly changed my life perspective and I knew that these 3-minute meditations held the key to changing my entire reality.

At what point did you decide to teach others?

Teaching others was something I heavily resisted at first. About 8 months after my rock bottom point I had people approaching me asking me to teach them how I had used what had evolved into what I call 3×3 Meditation (3 minutes, 3 times a day) for the practical results I was achieving (a healed relationship with food and with my body, transformative relationships at home, work and with my family to name a few) and I didn’t feel ready.

I thought I needed to have it all figured out and picture-perfect before I could help guide someone else. But my mentor at the time advised me to share what I’d learned with others as soon as I was asked to – because only in giving it away is it something I can keep.

What do you find most rewarding about working with others?

There is nothing in the world more fulfilling to me than to share 3×3 Meditation with others and seeing them achieve their own results! I’ve recently started certifying people to become 3×3 Coaches and that is also deeply rewarding.

To share something I developed at my toughest point with people who use it to transform their lives is a rare and precious gift. I always knew helping others would help me help myself but when I was in my twenties I went about it all the wrong way. I worked at homeless shelters and third world aid organizations – went to the poorest parts of Africa and south America to bring food and supplies for students but even that good work I was doing did not fulfill me nearly as much as sharing a practice given to me by something greater than myself with people who are desperate to change their own lives.

What is your advice for someone just starting on their journey?

First I want to tell you that you are not alone! For so long, and especially at the beginning of my journey, I felt so isolated, so past the point of help. That feeling of isolation and hopelessness was killing me.

It stunned me when I realized that others had been where I’d been, had bettered their lives from the exact point where I stood. If you are just starting out, be gentle with yourself, accept and be open to the journey, and look forward to a life that is better than you could have ever imagined.

What should someone look for in a studio or an instructor?

The most important thing in choosing a mentor or teacher is feeling an emotional resonance. I’ve learned so much more from people without distinctions and degrees than I did from well-intentioned people who tried to help me from a more intellectual perspective. Don’t get me wrong – those who have knowledge and training are infinitely valuable and are of service to so many, but I didn’t experience my truest healing from all my doctor and psychiatrist visits – I experienced it from people who had been where I was. I will always have a mentor (or two!) and the first thing I look for – well, really feel for – is a sense of true, deep connection and a feeling of being completely understood and accepted exactly where I am.

What does the term Modern Meditation mean to you?

I would define Modern Meditation as whatever practice works for individuals as they navigate their everyday busy lives. Meditation is deeply personal – just as every workout isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, some folks prefer one meditation method over another. It’s so amazing there are so many to choose from. Modern Meditation means bringing a sense of calm, peaceful presence to everyday situations – being present as you shop for groceries or wait in line at the bank – it’s cultivating who you be not just on the meditation cushion but out in the nitty gritty of the real world.

How have you adapted traditional meditation and yoga in your life outside the studio?

Outside of my structured meditation practice (which of course only takes 9 minutes a day), I hold an intention to touch that space of inner space as I coach clients or write articles or record videos or wash dishes or clean the bathroom or eat lunch or reconcile my bank account or run errands. My life purpose is to be the fullest expression of my innermost self in my physical form, and to accomplish that I need to bring the space and peacefulness within my being to every aspect of my everyday life.

How has expanding and deepening your practice, improved your life?

It would be a much shorter list to make a list of how it hasn’t improved my life – because it has enhanced, improved and transformed every single aspect of my life. From healing addiction and depression to releasing weight to refreshing my relationships to writing a book to quitting my day job to teach this full-time and find financial stability, my meditation practice has been the key to every one of these achievements.

What is your Simple Truth?

My simplest truth is remembering and living from the perspective that my exterior world is only a reflection of what’s going on within me. If I don’t like the reflection I see in a mirror I don’t seek another mirror, I realize that I need to change the source that’s being reflected. It is all up to me.

Simple.

Empowering.

Liberating.

Inspiring!  

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The Simple Life – More of Less

When I search for more, I am, in reality, seeking less.

Every time I hear someone saying they need “more” I am reminded that it is not more things they are looking for, but more authenticity.

I am no different.  The more I am looking for in life, the less that I am willing to settle for.  It is not more for the sake of having more stuff, but more for the sake of being able to live a richer, deeper, more passionate life.  And it is a bit of a trap, because the more authentic you become, the more your life is lived in the details.  Which means having less of the material, but making sure that what you do have is the most authentic, real objects you can find.

The inevitability of this means less product and more you. Items that are more reflective of your true self, and for where you want to go.

Once you realize that, living a richer life is about simplifying.  It’s about getting rid of everything that does not support who you are at your core.  Getting rid of those things that no longer support your authentic self and your Simple Truth.  If I were in advertising I would say something like, “It is about being true to the core values of your brand.”

But I’m not, and we’re talking humans not brands.  But the idea is the same, as it should be.  After all, inauthentic brands, just like people, exist to sell. They become whatever it is you want them to be. Which is exactly why they fail in the end.  Authentic brands, just like authentic people have a strong personality. They have core values and insights.  They have integrity with which they build trust.  They have lines they will not cross.

Which is why the products you buy, the food you eat, and the places you go are so important to who you are.  They reflect your own personality.  After all, the values of the products and people and places you support reflect who you are.

Which is why having more means taking your time to find the right food, the best books, the small things that support your life as you want it to be.  And yes that goes for people as well.  Letting go of those people who do not support who you are in favor of those who do.

So that’s a nice manifesto, but what does it mean?  It means stopping, looking around, and most important looking inward.  It means looking back and looking forward.  Because once you reset your priorities to your own authenticity, your own Simple Truth, then it simply becomes a matter of maintaining it, rather than searching for it.  And that is truly a strategy for happiness.  Letting go of those things that do not support your true nature, in favor of those things that do.

For me, this means visiting more museums and galleries to find upcoming artists and talent that fascinate, enthrall, excite and stir.  It is about jazz, in all its forms.  It’s about cooking and exploring food.  Of late nights with good friends knowing that you’re doing is creating.  It’s about living in the city for as long as I can take it before escaping to some seaside town to enjoy the salt in the air and the sound of the waves.  It is about writing and creating in my own way; and realizing that whether it sells or not is not the goal, but in having my voice heard is.

In the back of my mind this all points to a destination, a place where people can go to escape and enjoy and relax and be inspired to do whatever it is they want to do.  After all, isn’t that why we remove tumors from heads and get people back on their feet – to give them a voice and enable, no empower, them to express all of those wonderfully crazy ideas that they’ve kept hidden and bundled up deep down inside them for years and decades – afraid to bring them to life?

Isn’t this what this crazy thing called life is about?

Or simply put , to LIVE and LOVE and BE.