I’m glad I started meditating a few years ago, BUT, I wish more than anything I’d had Dan Harris’ book, 10% Happier, when I started.
Frankly, the whole meditation thing would have been a lot simpler.
During my few years of meditation, I had my share of struggles. I sometimes wondered if I was doing it right (or well enough) in spite of the benefits I was experiencing.
I bought things to amp up my meditation “powers” like crystals, frog statues (see, Ralph, above), meditation pillows, and salt lamps. Lots of salt lamps.
I thought by having these things around I’d be better at meditating or my meditation would be deeper and more profound. I even tried meditating a few times balancing a crystal on my head. Yes. I did that.
Then, Dan Harris’ book, 10% Happier, came across my path.
I opted for the audiobook because he narrates it, and I love audiobooks.
Man, was that ever a great choice.
Hearing Dan Harris tell his story in his own voice made the journey through his book better, funnier, and just more enjoyable. I can’t speak on the experience of reading the book, and I expect it’s also pretty great, but I tell ya… the audiobook was special.
The reason this book is my favorite on meditation is because he broke it down!
By the end of the book, I knew everything I needed to meditate (which actually wasn’t much, funny enough), and it didn’t require crystals, uncomfortable seated positions, or super deep breathing.
I just had to sit (anywhere and in any position). Close my eyes (if desired). Breathe normally. And, every time my mind wandered, I simply had to bring it gently back to feeling or hearing my breath.
What I didn’t realize when I was learning to meditate in years past… was that the whole issue of “I can’t keep my mind from wandering” is actually part of meditation. Yes, it’s part of it.
Every time the mind wanders, and our minds all do, you notice it and bring your awareness back to breathing or feeling –> that’s meditating.
The back and forth of thinking and non-thinking is indeed meditating.
It can happen many times in a single 5-minute session and that’s many times you’re building your meditation/mindfulness muscle just like doing a bicep curl for the arm when building your biceps.
Huh. That’s simple.
10% Happier taught me this, along with the really entertaining story of his life including experiences with Deepak Chopra and Eckart Tolle that left me in a fit of giggles.
I can’t recommend this book enough whether you’re a seasoned meditator, an excited newbie meditator, or scared of meditating. It’s for everyone.
My five year old daughter, Kamea, was visiting my mom for the night, and they surprised me with this video that she made about “how to meditate.” Glad to know that all of my meditating is rubbing off on her.
Most of you know that meditation has been a top priority in my life for the past couple of years. Thank goodness I followed my intuition in pursuing it. I wish I’d done that sooner but as with many things, you gotta be open and ready. Yoga was like that for me, too.
Back story: Life was nice and all a few years ago, but I had too many rules in life (probably still do), which created too many stresses. I had too much passion for health related topics, which, too, created too much stress.
Then, after some thought, I figured I could eat a fairly crappy diet, but, if I meditated, then it might even keep me healthier than if I ate a pristine diet and didn’t meditate.
The self-created stresses in my life made my body (and mind) screamed for meditation to calm them down, and that’s why I made meditation a priority. It was so important that for a couple of years it was the only goal for my new year’s resolutions. Fast forward to today, and wow, life is so much better.
But… it’s a practice. I’m still learning and growing my meditation practice, which brings me to my point today.
I started using a timer with my meditation sittings, and it dramatically improved my experience.
Wish I’d done that sooner, too.
Here’s the thing, if I didn’t use a timer then I was too often wondering how much time had elapsed (most often just a few minutes!). The moment I started using a timer, I started with 15 minutes, and I knew it’d let me know when the time was up so I could empty my mind of time. It also helped me meditate longer in a sitting.
Sounds simple and it is.
It’s been a couple of years now that I’ve had a focus in my life on meditation so that I could calm my mind, body, and soul.
In fact, two years ago it was the only goal I set for 2014 because it was THAT important.
I even felt it was probably more important than my healthy eating habits or exercise, because stress wreaks havoc on a body.
I figured if I could reduce stress and just go with the flow more and chill the f#*k out, that I would probably increase my longevity … more than all the best eating or exercising I could ever do.
That said, I knew a combo of:
- Healthy eating
- Living a calm life …
THAT would be the ultimate.
Well, I pretty much dialed in the healthy eating bit, eh? And exercise and moving? Heck, we got rid of our dining table and couch -> embracing the “furniture free” movement. Check!
Next, I needed to focus on calming my sh*t down.
I’m proud to say that I’ve come a loooong way and I’ve learned a lot the past few years including this post detailing how and why my family meditates, including our daughter (she’s 5 now).
Meditation has changed my life for sure. It’s helped me react less to stressful times. But, I found ways to cope when those stressful times still reared their ugly heads.
That’s what this post is about! I came up with nine ways to instantly chill out. Seriously, they work.
Oh.. And. This past year I found Taoism – WHOA – but that’s for another post.
In the rush of the *sometimes stressful* holidays, these are extra important. Warning: my mouth runs a bit foul in this post.
Here are my top 9 ways to immediately hack your stress and get calm.
The next time your feathers get ruffled, try one of these ideas and see how it instantly calms you. Over time, the more you do this, the more natural it becomes and the more calm you feel ongoing.
I strive to live a life that is Zen (mindful, non-judgmental, and in the moment).
And… I’m a work in progress.
To tell you the truth, I started thinking about this stuff about 7 or 8 years ago, but didn’t become serious until a few years ago, when I made meditation a top priority.
Fast forward to today, and I’m pretty damn Zen. Most of the time.
I create a mindful presence in the kitchen as often as possible, because it makes for the best kitchen experiences. And, would you believe? It helps me create the most delicious food ever. You’ll hear a lot of people talk about putting “love” into their food. I try to create “calmness” and infuse that into my food. (I put some love in there, too.)
Here are some tips to help you quickly get Zen in your kitchen starting today.
Here’s a day in my life.
700 am Wake up naturally. Sometimes I oil pull at this time.
715 am Drink some spring water with organic lemon juice squeezed in. I’ve heard about people doing this forever. I never got into it… til now. I read recently that drinking it on an empty stomach does something to help digestion, which helps you better absorb nutrients from your food later. Interesting. Okay, I’ll try. (The rule is that it’s on an empty stomach and you don’t eat for about 30 minutes.)
717 am Rebounding to start moving, getting the kinks worked, blood flowing, and because it’s fun. (Bellicon is the best rebounder.)
740 am Brew Upgraded coffee in my groovy Technivorm coffee pot. While that’s brewing I get other ingredients ready to make Greg’s and my Bulletproof Coffee (Greg likes his in a cold shake form), or I grab my Bulletproof Frozen Cubes.
745 am Make Kamea’s breakfast (usually gently scrambled eggs – something like this)
In spite of going to the gym for an hour a day, most days, I feel like my life is missing more movement. But, how could that be? I go to the gym almost daily. Surely that’s adequate.
Or, is it?
I took a look at our lives recently and realized there’s just too much sitting… whether it’s eating food at the table, working on computers, playing video games, watching TV, or reading, I had to admit that we’re members of the species homo sedentarius.
Sitting this much just doesn’t feel right. And research says that “sitting is the new smoking,” meaning deadly… even for people who exercise daily! Yikes.
So, on a whim I suggested to Greg that we get rid of our couch, which would make us move more. It was just an idea that made sense to me.
He wasn’t buying it. I mean, who doesn’t have a couch?
Well! Turns out, I’m not the only one to think about this. Apparently there is a movement (pun intended) known as “furniture-free” and I can’t help but be intrigued. There’s even experts on the topic. When Greg heard Katy Bowman, ummm, an expert, he realized it wasn’t just a crazy idea of mine – people are doing this.
Long story short, we got rid of our couch. (Gasp!)
Mom is taking Kamea for the night, which really means I get all day today, all night, and most of tomorrow to be child-free. Kamea loves going to mom’s sort-of citrus orchard, especially now that they’re creating a zen secret garden of it – statues, wind chimes galore, and hummingbirds a plenty.
So, what shall I do today? My list is long with much that I can blast through… things like…
- Follow up emails
- Make new recipes for my maybe new book
- Make kelp capsules
- Go to Trader Joe’s
- Make liver pate
- Read about qigong, yoga, and meditation
- Shower and blow dry my hair
- Dinner alone with Greg
I could just
lay lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling for 30 hours.
I know I know.
I make a lot of beverages in the style of Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof goodness. Guilty. When something is good and works, why wouldn’t I? The Bulletproof -style drinks I make add more energy to my day, fuel my brain and body, are quickly made, and they get me through the early part of my morning.
- XOCO Bulletproof Mocha – a properly balanced coffee elixir
- Mushroom Coffee
- Turmeric Essential Oil Bulletproof Coffee with Protein
- Bulletproof Coffee Shake Ice Cubes
- Golden Coffee
- Coffee Shake
Today, I’m sharing an organic matcha tea that is created Bulletproof -style. Matcha tea is green tea, where the leaves are ground and consumed whole. It’s a beautiful drink, and the lush color reminds me of my recent trip to Kauai (more on that another day).
Tea is liquid wisdom.
Matcha is the Japanese tea ceremony beverage. I’ve been drawn to organic matcha for many months now, and I did a lot of research before selecting the brand I chose. I felt the highest quality would be from Yuuki-Cha because of their standards and my ability to pinpoint from exactly what region of Japan I wanted my organic matcha. This company addressed potential issues of Fukushima Daichi radiation and shared a helpful map to assist my selection. I trust them as a result.
When I bought my matcha I ordered small sizes and chose two (each hailing from a different place in Japan). I opted not to get the whisk or special drinking bowl because, honestly, I didn’t know if I’d like it so why invest in all of that. Matcha has a reputation where sometimes it’s grassy in flavor, which I’m not craving.
I was elated with the result of the Organic Yame Matcha. My first sip I knew I’d be drinking matcha for the rest of my life, and I didn’t even make it the classic way with the bamboo whisk since I didn’t buy those (yet). Instead, I heated my spring water on my induction hot plate, used an instant read thermometer to achieve 175 degrees F, poured the hot water into my blender, added the Organic Yame Matcha, and blended it. I’m eager to try the whisk, being all proper about it, as I yearn to experience “the froth of green jade.”
I haven’t tried my Kirishima matcha yet, but have confidence it’ll be bliss. UPDATE: I just tried the Organic Kirishima Matcha and it’s fabulous. I heated my spring water to 175 degrees F and then blended the hot water with 1/2 teaspoon of the matcha powder. AWESOME.
I chose to start basic by drinking the matcha plain, as in hot water and matcha to see if I liked the flavor. As noted above, it was wonderful. That said, I knew there were plenty of options for making matcha tasty in the event of grassiness. For example, I knew I could soften the matcha by making it Bulletproof with grass-fed butter and Brain Octane MCT oil. I also have some wonderful stevia extract in my arsenal. And, I knew I could always add it to my green smoothie in the event that drinking it as a tea wasn’t awesome.
Oh, and drinking matcha green tea iced can help make it more refreshing and less grass-like. I simply blended my spring water (175 degrees F) with 1 teaspoon organic green matcha tea. Then, I poured it over ice.
Iced Matcha Green Tea