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5 Practical Tips On Maintaining A Consistent Meditation Practise

We have written many blogs on meditation and the benefits. It changed my life, I went from being a stressed out, reactive person who exploded when things went wrong to a (relatively) calm person who is more or less in control of their actions.

The three main actions I put in place to help me were:

  • Meditation
  • Fresh air
  • Exercise

You can read more about my anger management issues and how I dealt with it here.

If you don’t currently meditate I recommend you try it. Hopefully, you’ll find the following tips useful. They’re also great if you struggle to keep your meditation practise consistently. Consistency is the key to meditation. There is more value in meditating every day for five minutes than in meditating once or twice a week for twenty minutes.

1. Create a comfortable space

The space you practise in is important. You won’t be able to settle into a relaxed state or let go of what’s going on around you if there are distractions, whether it’s noise or discomfort it will be on your mind. Background noise is sometimes ok, for example, if you’re meditating outside and there are distant voices or traffic but a close-up conversation or loud distracting noise will throw you off.

If I’m travelling or for whatever reason, I can’t meditate at home I have a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and a blindfold. Theresa constantly makes fun of me when I use these, especially if I happen to be wearing my poncho at the same time but that is the way it goes I suppose.

I use a meditation cushion because I can’t sit on the floor without some support. I also like to sit on the floor because if I sit in a chair I tend to fall asleep as I meditate early in the morning.

2. Meditate at the same time in the same place every day

Just as consistently meditating every day is important it also helps to meditate in the same place at the same time every day.

I meditate in the morning for two reasons. I need to get up before the baby (little babies don’t seem to agree that we should sit still in silence), also it sets me up for the day ahead, especially if I have a stressful day in work ahead of me.

Being consistent with the time and place also makes it easier to form a habit. You will hear different opinions on this but it generally takes about 40 days or so to form a habit and come to a point where you will do something without really thinking about it, like brushing your teeth or making breakfast.

Make it part of your morning routine.

3. Start Small

I meditate for 20 minutes every day and have been doing this consistently for about four years. I have certainly missed practises or not gotten my full twenty minutes in over the years but generally, I have been hitting the 20-minute mark every day.

I don’t recommend starting out at 20 minutes, that’s likely to lead to an inconsistent practice. Start small – 5 minutes a day or even 2 minutes a day. Try to keep it up for a month.

You won’t feel massive benefits from 1 or 2 minutes a day but you will feel some difference. Notice that difference and once you have a consistent short practise that’s where you can build up gradually to 10 or 20 minutes a day.

20 minutes is what works for me, I tried half an hour for a while but it was a little much for me at the start of the day from a practical perspective.

4. Use an App to help

I understand that meditation is about getting away from screens and input from everyday life but there are apps available that are very helpful.

I like to use an app because I can see how consistent I am and it’s useful for the timer. I keep my phone in flight mode with the screen black and white and light dimmed so I’m not interacting with it or receiving notifications which will distract me.

It is very important to keep the notifications, emails, texts etc out of your day until after meditation. Also, keep a buffer period between the meditation and screen time. My phone is set up so most of my apps are unavailable until after 7 am. I’m already out of the house at that time. If you’re curious about recommendations to limit screentime you can find them here.

I use Insight Timer. It’s free and it also has thousands of guided meditation available but you can also try Headspace. There are many others out there also that I have not tried.

One little thing I’d like to mention – many apps keep track of how many consecutive days you have achieved. Try and stay away from the competitive mentality of getting a tally of many days in a row. Consistency is the key but it’s not about being “good” at it or hitting 100 consecutive days.

5. If you don’t feel like meditating cut it shorter

If I am in a hurry in the mornings or got up too late or just don’t feel like meditating for whatever reason, I will try to do 10 minutes instead, or even 5 and then sometimes when I reach the 5-minute mark I may be in a state of mind where I continue.

If I miss completely I try to get it in the evening before bed even if it’s just 5 minutes.

Remember, It’s ok to miss a day, just try not to miss two or three days in a row or you will start to form a new habit of inconsistent meditation.

 

I hope this helps. Working towards the 20-minute mark is a good place to be for consistent meditation. Many people recommend 30 minutes or an hour or I have friends who get great benefits from 20 minutes twice a day but that is not always practical.

Do what works for you and notice how you feel after.

Peace,

George

 

Useful links:

My current yoga/meditation routine – How it has changed since baby

Meditation challenge – 40-day sadhana – Habits define you

A daily meditation practice – Make it work for you

Meditation – It takes two minutes

 

Who Do You Believe Is In Control Of Your Destiny?

What is your dream and how will you get there?

Do you dream big or do you settle for what you have?

You may already have everything you want but that doesn’t mean you don’t stop reaching. It doesn’t mean you stop searching.

If you have every step of your path laid out before you, then you know which direction to turn in your search when you are lost. Maybe you feel that you have already arrived at your destination. Ask yourself – have you? The journey doesn’t end so therefore the search doesn’t end.

Who do you believe is in charge of you and your destiny?

Is it the system?

Is it the beurocrats, the politicians, the government, your boss, your wages, your talents? No. These are all just aspects of your life.

I feel that the key word here is believe. Who do you BELIEVE is in charge or your destiny? It’s not society, it’s not the people who wronged you, forget them.

YOU ARE IN CHARGE, whether you believe that or not.

There’s that word again. That belief is what is important. That belief is what makes or breaks you. That belief defines you and shapes you into the person you will become.

If you don’t believe, then you will not change. Stand up, raise your chin, pull your shoulders back and declare to all in a strong voice “I am in charge of my own destiny.” Grab the bull the horns and get out there into the storm of a world we have to weather and take what is yours.

Take your destiny.

I speak metaphorically here, but the power is there, all you have to do is take charge. You have the power to get out of bed and go for a run before work. You have the power to spend one hour less watching Netflix and read a book from the library. You have the power to chose a salad or a pizza.

You are in charge of your destiny and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

Who do you think was in charge of Christopher Reeves destiny? Or Stephen Hawking? Or Viktor Frankl? Was it the horse that threw superman to the ground and broke his back? Motor neurone disease which slowed the world renowned physicist down to a physical stop but did it take charge of his life? The Nazis took everythign from Frankl but they did not best him.

Paralyzing injuries, debilitating sickness and an army of evil could not overpower these people.

They had the drive to keep going, to push through the hardest, life ending moments, to crawl through a river of shit and come out clean on the other side just like Andy Defresne in The Shawshank Redemption.

Forget about the privelaged folk who have everything, forget about the people you think you need to compare yourself to – they are not in charge of your destiny.

They do not care about your destiny. It is in your hands and you are in charge.

Take a pause and look around. Where are you? What are you going to do next? What did you eat today? Did you exercise? What did you learn? If you dont like the answer to any of these questions, remember that the rest of your life starts now and you are in control.

You have the power to change and shape your destiny as you chose. Not as someone else choses but as you chose.

Get up, look up, get out there and do what it is that makes you feel strong and powerful and keep on doing it. Keep on looking up.

You have the power to do what you want.

Peace,

George

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What Do You Do And Should It Define You?

How many times have you been asked “what do you do?”

What has you answer been? Do we really stop to think about the meaning of this question? There are in fact no limits to the answer, but what do we really mean when we ask this? Why are we asking?

Are we genuinely interested in what other people do for a living? Maybe we are and maybe we are not, but from my own perspective, my day job is the last thing I want to talk about when I am in a social situation.

Some people are genuinely interested in a discussion about your profession and finding common ground but it is more commonly a conversation starter to break the ice. In my opinion there are more effective ways to find common ground like asking “what do you do in your spare time.”

I recently watched a video on Youtube titled Never tell people what you do. The speaker encourages us to talk about what we want to do rather than what we do. I am far more interested in talking about my interests and hearing about other peoples interests rather than their profession.

What we do for a living does not define us. Many of us work our day jobs to finance what we truly love. It is only the luckiest people on Earth who can claim that they work in their dream job.

What defines us? That is subjective. It is also a matter of perspective. I think a more accurate question is what defines us in the eyes of those who matter.

Our achievements define us to a certain extent but I think it is more accurate to say that our actions define us. I have been lucky enough to meet many high achievers who are well educated and professionally successful but this achievement was arrived at through their actions.

One can only be judged on their actions. Who is to say the homeless man on the street is not a higher achiever than the suit, with fine clothes rushing about taking meetings on the fly?

How is success measured? By what we do to earn a living? By how much we earn? By the clothes we wear? By the fact that one person smells of cologne and another smells of the street?

Do we judge these people on their actions or their achievements? We judge how we judge, but we can only see what is on the surface. To dig deeper we need to look deeper. We need to really see.

I gave some cans to a homeless man and he told me this would help him reach his quota for donations to the children’s hospital. The cynical side of me doubts him but who am I to judge? I can only see the surface. Who is to say that man is not working tirelessly to save money for others.

“There are no perfect people in the world, only perfect intentions.”

(Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)

My point is that what we do on a daily basis to earn money does not scratch the surface of who we are. We should look deeper. Ask deeper. Dig deeper. Find the real people.

Thanks for reading,

Peace,

George

P. S. If you like the blog could you share it? It helps a lot and huge thanks to those of you who have shared.

The First Trimester: A Personal Experience

For the past couple of years, I have been tracking my period on a monthly basis. Logging in my bullet journal the date my period started and the date it ended. The reason why I started doing this was to understand my body and my emotions better. The week before my period I would crave sweets, be moody as hell and generally not be myself. By logging my period, I prepared myself for the changes and understood why I was craving certain foods and feeling a bit sad. It was so better knowing it was my hormones and not me who was the crazy one.

To make a long story short my cycle was exactly 26 days each month. It’s crazy how like clockwork my period would arrive. When myself & George were in Cuba on holidays and my period did not show I knew there was something up. We wanted to get pregnant but just couldn’t believe that it happened so soon! Believe me I am not complaining and I know how lucky I am, still I felt a little un prepared.

Before leaving for our month trip to Cuba and Argentina I went to see our Doctor to explain to him that we were planning on having children in the near future. I was looking for his advice on how should I prepare my mind & body before getting pregnant. He mentioned 2 things, to take folic acid and to avoid getting pregnant in Cuba (something about catching the Ezekiel Virus there).  I purchased the folic acid and was actually pregnant already so I didn’t really break any of his rules. Lol!

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Taking a snooze in the middle of the day in Mendoza, this was one of those emotional, I want to go home days…So unlike me!

After the first week in Cuba we knew I was pregnant, no period and my boobs were sore and swollen. We decided not to take a pregnancy test until we got back to Vancouver a few weeks later, as we wanted to confirm the news in our own home.

During the first month on holidays I experience a few moments of slight queasiness particularly after eating eggs. I stopped eating eggs and the queasiness occurred less. To say I have a sweet tooth is an understatement, at any other time in my life Buenos Aires would have been a dream come true, cakes and sweets on every corner. My body obviously was not having any of it as cake made me queasy. (let’s hope it continues after pregnancy…best diet ever!)

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In my PJ’s at 6:00pm reading a great book, fell asleep sitting up! So funny how I had no control over how tired I felt in the evenings. Out like a light. George always ready to take snaps of his sleeping wife!

Foods I craved in the first Trimester were hummus, beans, lentils (We are vegetarian), any plant-based protein really and lots of vegetables. Honestly my diet improved in the first trimester. My appetite increased and I was gaining weight. In the first trimester I gained 7 lbs.

Emotionally I definitely was not myself. On holidays I occasionally felt anxious to get back to Canada and would have little moments of panic to go back home to Ireland or Vancouver. This is extremely strange for me as I am not one to panic, I couldn’t really explain it. My personality was off, George would ask “are you a bit out of sorts?” I couldn’t explain it better myself, I would have moments or periods of feeling a bit out of sorts, not sad, mad, happy or anything in specific just a bit bland. Again, not like me.

My energy levels changed too. I was tired so early in the evenings. I would want to go to bed at 7:00pm. However, in the morning & during the day I had my normal high energy levels. I really don’t have much to complain about as I didn’t have morning sickness and I could go to work as normal after returning from a month holiday. I really did feel good.

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Normally I would do my exercise in the evenings, usually a Vinyasa or kundalini yoga class where I could build strength and sweat, this changed and has remained so since I got pregnant. In the first trimester I was so tired in the evening that I couldn’t think of exercise. The only exercise I got in was my 1 hours walk on my lunch break every day. It’s something.

Usually I would take photos for my Instagram account, work on my blog during free time in the evenings and at weekends but I lost all drive to work on these areas of my life. Its only now in my second trimester that I want to go back working on my blog and Instagram. Honestly, I just lost all interest in those projects I cannot explain why but I did.

The above are all the changes I personally went through and cannot be compared to any other experience as we are all so different. With the above changes there were some really cool moments in the first trimester too.

Highlights of the first trimester:

  • Deciding to call our baby Pebble until its born
  • Seeing the positive result on the pregnancy test
  • Seeing our baby for the first time at our first scan at 11 weeks
  • Hearing the babies heart beat at 11 weeks
  • Telling our parents, the happy news
  • Telling our brothers & sisters the happy news
  • Telling our friends, neighbours and relatives the happy news
  • Receiving so much love and well wishes from everyone who we told
  • Meeting my midwife for the first time (I was on a waiting list so I was relived & happy to meet Clare)
  • Hearing our babies heart beat at 13 weeks
  • Thankful I could still fit into most of my clothes at the end of the trimester (delaying buying maternity clothes for as long as I can)
  • Both of us deciding we want to find out the sex at the next scan
  • Seeing how excited George is throughout the whole process & how much he loves Pebble already

 

We would love to hear about your experience or any great advise you would have for new parents!

 

Have a great week,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xx

 

Milestones: Tracking The Journey Through Life

I have been thinking about milestones recently, but what are they?

Long ago milestones assured travelers that they were on the right path or that they had arrived at a destination. They were often used to signify the centre of a town or a starting point of importance.

I see them as being definitions of where you are at and where you have come from. They can direct you in life and show you where you have come from and where you may end up.

Life has different milestones for everybody, different markers in life so to speak. Some people would consider these markers good or bad, but I don’t think they are either. They just are. They are turning points. Not necessarily pointing out the path but highlighting where a change will take place. Death, life, change…

I drifted through life for a long time, even when I was in college. I was lost and I never knew what I wanted to do with myself. Nevertheless completion was a milestone. It was a launching point for the rest of my life.

I put no thought into the course I took in college. It just happened to work out ok. I got lucky and it allowed me to leave Ireland during the recession and start into a career that brought me to where I am now.

Moving to Canada was the next major milestone. Having lived in Vancouver for the last eight years I have seen amazing things and met some of my best friends here. On the other hand, I sacrificed years with my family including the last five years of my mother’s life. Was it worth it? I do not know.

Death was another milestone. It is a difficult thing to speak to someone that you know will die in a matter of days. It’s funny how you still talk about the ordinary things. I am eternally grateful that I was with her for that last week. It is a shame she could not live to see me marry Theresa who she loved like a daughter. Nor did she get to meet my niece, here newest grandchild.

These milestones have marked my life but they have only shown me where to go in hindsight, in reflection. When we walk the road of life and come to these milestones, they may not show us where to go immediately. It is only in looking back we you will learn from them.

It is with this sentiment that I approach the next milestone of my life. Through sacrifice, loss, friendship and family, I do not see that path I need to take but I can see what is important. It is with this knowledge that I will embrace the next marker in life and welcome my child into the world.

Peace,

George