Back into meditation

As usual, one day I woke up and realised I needed something. But in fact, what I needed was nothing, just sitting.

Since then, I've sat twice a day, for at least 20 minutes, usually 15 minutes in the morning and 5 in the evening. Sometimes I make it into 20 minutes and 20 minutes, or if I'm in a hurry I'll go to 5 and 5.

What is important is being constant. Do it daily, do nothing.

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Being Zen in the Middle of an Argument

Losing your temper is one of the less Zen things you can do. And there is more than one reason for this:
  • You stop being calm and get emotionally distressed,
  • You focus your anger into someone (almost breaking one of the five precepts),
  • You will regret it afterwards, tying you to the past.
Among many others, I don't want to go in depth in what is wrong.

If you get angry easily, you are missing something: your daily meditation should make you more calm each day. When you are about to get angry, analyze your anger. Find the source, and you'll see it is not coming from the person you get angry at, but comes from inside. You are the one getting angry. You are then responsible for not being angry.

The Zen in Running

You know, doing exercise is very important. Doing daily exercise helps your sleep, your daily energy levels and your fitness (of course). Lately, my most zen exercise has been running.

I had never been very interested in running. I found it boring: just you, your breathing and the road. Then, a year ago I read a piece from Zen Habits recommending the Vibram FiveFingers (a minimalistic running shoe), after his reading of Born to Run. Three months ago I also read Born to Run, and my running spirit awakened.

Since then, I've tried to run more or less frequently. Lately, work issues and time pressures have forced me to give up temporarily. I want to run again. Why?

Running is a kind of Zen experience. When I go running, it is just me, my GPS watch and my feet on the road. I tried running with music (a special playlist to keep my running pace), but it didn't work. It felt shallow. I was more in when there was only my breathing. Mindfulness of breathing while soaring over the road. Kilometers pile up until you are back home. A warm shower and a healthy breakfast.

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Photo credit: climbingcrystal from Flickr.

Happiness Is a State of Mind

There is some psychological evidence that choosing to be in a certain mood gets you in it after a while. Thus, if you are given the chance, why are you not choosing to be happy and focused right now? Think about it.

Eat a Good Breakfast (and Clean Your Mess Afterwards)

You can make a mindfulness event out about anything. I've said it before, and I won't tire of repeating: you can be mindful about anything. And what is better than to be mindful since you start your day?

Begin your day with a good, nutritive breakfast. An old saying goes like Eat breakfast like a king, have lunch like a prince and have your supper like a beggar. It is not a bad advice at all, but how many of us do it?

I won't go into the details of what you should have for breakfast. Eat something you enjoy and gives you plenty of energy and nutrition, think about being a king when you decide what to eat. But be completely aware of everything, since entering your kitchen. Taste each spoon, delight in every sip.

And when you finish, clean up your mess. And pay close attention while you are at it. How the foam sticks to your hand, how the cold water drips from your fingers. There is no better way to start your day. Be mindful all day long.

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Simplify: Clean Up Your Life

Minimalism is not about having just a handful of items. It is about having only what you need, and nothing more. To get there, simplify.

Pick everything you don't use regularly and stack it in a box. Move all your computer documents to a folder and let them sit there. Create a playlist in iTunes with all the files you don't usually listen. Every time you need something from this folder or box, pick it out and find a place for it.

After a decent amount of time (three months, six months, a year), you should be convinced that what is left in these containers has no use and can be purged.

Beware, I'm not trying to make you a minimalist, I am none. There are a lot of things where I don't apply this rule. For example, I would never do this to my books, my drawing pens or my electronic gadgets, among others. There are many things I don't use regularly but I know I want to keep and use sparingly. You have probably this kind of things (memorabilia, books, kitchen tools) too. Don't purge them or you'll regret not having your pancake pan next year!

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Photo credit: Screenshot from one of my papers

Ignorance (of your thoughts) Is Bliss

Ignorance is bliss are some words of wisdom from the past. Nowadays we are plugged to information non-stop and ignorance is not an option. Or is it?

There is a moment when ignorance is bliss, and it is when you want to focus. Be it in your daily mindfulness practice or when you work, a million distractions are waiting for you to slip for a second. And this is where ignorance is bliss.

Ignore your thoughts. When you are working, work. Any thought that is not related to what you are doing now should be ignored. When you are meditating, meditate. Any thought should be ignored.

Ignoring your thoughts is an ability that only gets better with practice. Do it a little every day: when you meditate, when you work, when you prepare your breakfast, while folding your laundry. Ignoring your thoughts is the most important part in being focused.

When you are focused in a task, there is only one thing in your mind: what you are doing. Other thoughts are suppressed. By ignoring your thoughts you are sowing the seeds to being more focused and have better concentration every day.

Try it!

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Photo credit: mikecogh from Flickr
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