In just 5 minutes

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My stomach rumbled and I thought about angel hair pasta tossed with some shaved garlic and onion, and some extra virgin olive oil and tangy capers. A few sweet cherry tomatoes from my garden, cooked in a skillet until they break apart into a sauce to saute the whole thing. I needed to get some onions though…I could do that on the way home from work, but I’d need to swing by-

I snapped myself out of the future and back to the present.

It’s been several weeks since I’ve meditated, and I can feel it. The problem with stopping meditation is you can’t save your progress: Your clarity and awareness immediately and swiftly starts fading.

It’s like letting your kitchen go if you don’t clean it for a week. Your brain fills up its pathways with garbage thoughts, regrets, forward-looking fears, imagined transgressions and pitfalls and enemies. The pathways get jammed up. Temper is more sensitive to being triggered.

It’s scary, actually, to see how easily how temper can be swayed. It’s scary to see how you can acclimate to all the garbage that’s cluttering your mind.

Your judgment is affected, but you can’t tell, because you’ve adapted to it.

So using one session to calm your mind down to a steady state is almost impossible. You’ve let your mind wander without supervision for weeks or months. You’ve left the gates open, so it’s gonzo, far away by now. It’s going to take some effort to find it again, to find your calm center that’s not contaminated by your environment.

And yet…that 5 minute session of stopping and focusing on your breath is so powerful that immediately afterwards, I notice the change. It’s clear something happened in my head, although during those minutes I felt like I was trying to tame a wild horse, and it was bucking me every 5 seconds!

Be vigilant against the drift of the mind. Don’t habituate to that noisy place…or to any place, unless you want to. Whatever negative place you drift into through habit…realize you don’t have to be there. It isn’t normal, so don’t make it your normal.

Today, I’ve taken back some control. And tomorrow I must go back and exercise my mind again. I cannot be a victim of my mind, or the random circumstances of life. Because a life out of my control is not my life at all.

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You have a kind of sick desperation in your laugh

tyler on plane


(20 second read)

“In my experience, meditation makes you 10% happier. That’s an absurdly unscientific estimate, of course. But still, not a bad return on investment. Once you get the hang of it, the practice can create just enough space in your head so that when you get angry, or annoyed, you are less likely to take the bait and act on it.”  -Dan Harris, from 10% Happier.

Happiness is not about being led by anger, or annoyances, or anxiety. Quite the opposite. What’s the opposite? Acceptance, peace, chilling the hell out.

And how about if we focus on being helpful, contributing something meaningful to others? Start there. Add in some meditation, because there’s science behind it.

I think we’ll be fine.

The most effective strategy to gain control of your day

Ctrl and Esc


My mind  during this morning’s meditation was like a puppy in the park. A ping pong ball between two paddle-wielding Chinese Olympians. But even after my poor meditation, I have more awareness over my thoughts for many hours after. And with that awareness, I get a measure of control, because I can sense all my emotional reactions, my anger or anxiety, immediately, as they flare up. Without this awareness, my reactions run unchecked, and they distract and destabilize me throughout the day, and throughout my life.

Given that your brain is the most powerful muscle you have, the measure of control you get from even a terrible meditation is huge.

After a few weeks, even after just a few days, meditating will probably be the biggest action you take to change your life, from your relationships to your work.

So get your ass in the seat. Every day. If you don’t have 10 minutes a day for your peace of mind, then… what’re you doing here?


Follow me and I will take you away from the everyday.

Please feel free to pass this along if you think others would enjoy it.

The best way to overcome frustration

pouting girl

If you are angry or in pain, separate yourself from anger and pain and watch them. Externalization is the first step to liberation. Step away and look.

The physical events will go on happening, but BY THEMSELVES THEY HAVE NO IMPORTANCE.

It is the mind alone that matters. Whatever happens, you cannot kick and scream in an airline office or in a bank. Society does not allow it. If you do not like their ways, or are not prepared to endure them, don’t fly or carry money. Walk, and if you cannot walk, don’t travel.

If you deal with society you must accept its ways, for its ways are your ways. Your needs and demands have created them. Your desires are so complex and contradictory — no wonder the society you create is also complex and contradictory.

-Nisargadatta Majaraj

Meditating and then…cat attack!

boat in storm

I sat down to meditate and felt a whisper of a touch on the hand resting on my knee. It was the shy cat, I called her Demure Swat (about that name, I’ll tell you later). She had avoided me for days, until now, but now I was still and quiet, and she showed up. I think this is how many of the wants that escape you finally come around: When you’re still, focused, and controlling your energy from the bounding waves.

It seems then, that all you need to do is wait for what you desire. But I’m not talking about the Secret, where you visualize and think positive thoughts and hope for the best.  What I’m talking about is the discipline to stop and tune out everything else – the girlfriend, boyfriend (or the search for one!), the house that needs cleaned, facebook, and all those emails.

My meditation was the perfect way to attract a shy pet, but it’s not the way to create something, or learn to play soccer, cook a tasty meal, write a book, build a product and sell it…those things require work. However, all these things need discipline to stop running around and focus.

At a certain point, we must ignore the crashing waves of distraction, get our ass in the seat and start paddling our boat. That way, we’re controlling things, and not at the whims of everything else in the sea of life.

Not getting any love? I’ve got an answer for you.

Love your self

As I started my gratitude meditation, my cat came exploring around me. He sniffed my knees, then my hands which lay upon my knees. I watched him, thinking I would need to send him away, but I stopped, and let him climb up into my lap and find a place to settle there. He started purring after a second and I smiled and thought, “This is exactly what the gratitude meditation is about”.

Gratitude means showing some love. And that’s how you get the love.

Let me explain. In my gratitude meditation, I go through all the things we often overlook as we focus on the negatives in our lives. We can’t help it. It’s what drives us to be better people, but also it makes us depressed. It can turn us into unhappy seekers, always looking ahead to a future point, never satisfied, or maybe it can overwhelm us, as we see so much danger around us, that we never bother trying to get what we want.

So the gratitude meditation for me is usually a thanksgiving (without the huge coma-inducing meal to distract me) for what I tangibly have. The roof over my ahead, the dependable car, the job that allows me not to worry about my bills, and so on.

But a large part of gratitude is seeing that there are people in your life that care about you. These could be the unconditional investors in you, like your partner or parents, and maybe an old friend. But it also means the people who you bring value to in their lives. At work, you have an opportunity to be a contribution, not just in completing assignments, but in how you conduct yourself. Do you remember the person who is always on diligent and reliable so you can get your work done easily? What about the person who takes a moment to ask how you’re doing, how your week is going and shows interest in you?

Like a lot of things in life, what we have in hand is less important than the attention we are given and the appreciation we are shown. This morning, my meditation allowed me to not only reach the awareness of what positives things I have in my life that I overlook every day, but also the awareness that I need more than those things. And now I realize that the value we seek from others is something that comes from putting ourselves out there, and providing some value to them, too. A value that could come from a skill you develop, but also just showing interest in them first. Why?

Everyone’s favorite subject is themselves.

Just listen to most any conversation around you. “I’m doing this…I did that…I think that…” So if you find your gratitude waning in the love department, just ask yourself whether the love you think is lacking from others couldn’t be because you’re not putting any out there yourself.

How to meditate with your cat

gado

I sat down to meditate this morning. Soon, Gado came over. (That’s him in the pic.) He sniffed one of my hands, then the other, and then laid out in front of me and slowly shuttered his eyes. He was going to help me meditate. I smiled. Then thought, I think he might be asleep.

But knowing he was there did help me even though he wasn’t doing anything. He wasn’t guiding my meditation. He wasn’t even fetching me a towel. But he was still there for me. He made me feel better, and that isn’t something I should dismiss. That foundation of good feeling is what allows me to focus and do what I need to do. He may have no idea what’s going on, but he is helping. And you know what? I’m helping him too. But it’s with something so subtle and simple that I forget. But sometimes we don’t need explanations. We just need to stretch out on the ground by a friend and clear our head.