There’s a style of meditation that could have come right from the pages of fantasy.
It’s the closest thing we Muggles have to magic.
And, in the world beyond Diagon Alley, it’s the fuel for the most powerful magic there is.
It keeps people safe from things that should harm them. It even blocks unblockable spells – the ultimate power.
I am, of course, talking about love.
But not just any love. After all, that’s an emotion felt across the human species. If all a wizard needed was to feel something, everyone could use it.
Yet in the books, love-based magic is ancient and mysterious.
Intriguing, isn’t it?
And what does this have to do with meditation?
Continue reading “The Harry Potter School of Meditation”
It’s interesting when something that’s thousands of years old becomes trendy. What relevance do ancient teachings have today?
If the teachings endure on their own merits, then they’re timeless. They must contain some element of truth that appeals to people. Continents and millennia don’t dull the spark of a truly useful idea.
Speaking of ancient and popular ideas, have you heard about mindfulness?
Mindfulness is one of those ideas that sounds too simple to work. It involves bringing your attention, without judgement, into the present moment.
Big deal, right? Don’t people do that already?
Well… if you’ve spent much time meditating, you know the answer to that.
Continue reading “Ancient, Trendy Ideas”
You can breathe in a steady, gentle, slow and balanced way. When each inhale is the same length as your exhale, your breath can be a continuous flow. This balance is nothing compared to the balance you’ll experience in your mind.
Symmetry isn’t everything, though. If you slowly inhale to build up pressure, then release it through your mouth in one, quick burst, you’ll notice it energising you like a warm cup of coffee.
People might look at you strangely. That’s okay, because looking ridiculous is good training.
So how ridiculous can you look by breathing?
Continue reading “Breathe and Look Ridiculous”
One of the best meditation exercises is to pay attention to your breathing. It’s something that most people ignore, which gives you lots of room to improve. It’s simple to understand and challenging to master.
And it really opens up the benefits to you.
At first, it’s little more than a handy stream of sensations for you to anchor your attention.
Then it becomes something else.
Your breath is never the same at any two points in the cycle. And no two cycles are the same.
When you focus and see that level of detail – where your very breathing becomes interesting – your mind grows stronger.
This is true of any other sensation. If you paid attention to your right thumb, you would notice the same thing.
Your breathing does something, though, that your thumb will never do.
Continue reading “How You Breathe is How You Do Everything”
People learning to meditate go through a series of phases. It’s like anything else, really.
You blunder about for a while. It’s hard to say whether you’re making any progress. Everything seems strange, awkward, pointless and confusing.
But if you stick with it, you have some small wins. It’s more from luck than anything, but it gives you a taste for what meditation is like.
Or rather, what you think it’s like. But, hey, it’s a step in the right direction.
And every step yields rewards. Hesitantly at first – maybe just enough to keep you going. You feel healthier, more focused and more energetic.
Meditation becomes easier. You have bad days and they are hard to overcome. Between those, though, you become more consistent. On a given day, you can reach a wonderful inner state.
Then your consistency begins to evolve into something else.
Continue reading “Enlightenment is in the details”
Our minds do not view reality directly. We can’t process most signals from our environment. Those we do go through a series of electrical and chemical transformations before they reach the brain. There, your mental software has to process it to make sense of it.
There may be light around you, but your brain never sees it. It infers its existence from raw data.
And if it did so faithfully, that would be one thing. But any neuroscientist or psychologist will tell you that we hallucinate our mental models into existing.
When you look at a banana, you don’t see a banana. You see splotches of colour that match the ‘banana’ pattern in your mind. Without touching it, you assume it’s soft and sweet. You don’t assume it’s rigid, scalding or a predator.
The biggest illusion that your brain creates is a tricky one to spot.
Continue reading “How I Learned That I’m Not a Pile”
It’s natural to feel bored while meditating. After all, it’s… well, boring.
Except it’s not.
… but it kind of is.
When you learn to be still with your attention on your breathing, you can feel bored at first. Then something strange happens.
Your breathing becomes fascinating.
I’m serious. If you’ve never been captivated by something as simple as air moving in and out your nose, then you have something to look forward to.
Distractions are alluring. If they weren’t… well, they wouldn’t be distracting. But the pleasure of daydreaming is nothing compared to placing your attention on a single sensation.
Doing nothing, with your full awareness, is sublime.
But it’s not as though you discover this and then it’s easy forever.
Continue reading “You Can Never Have Too Much Focus”
There’s a curious quirk with the human brain. It’s how it’s possible to navigate the social context without our heads melting.
Because think about it: in order to do just about anything, you need to predict how other people react.
But you can’t simulate another brain (and maintain your own) without being orders of magnitude smarter than they are.
Somehow, you manage. Sure, it’s not perfect, but you can usually predict how people will respond.
When to use flattery and when to be stern, for example.
This quirk of your unconscious mind can let you learn insights from people you’ve never even met.
Even people you could never meet.
The funny thing is that it even works with fictional characters.
Continue reading “Get Free Coaching from Celebrities and Dead People”
Our inheritance as hunter-gatherers is something we carry with us.
Your DNA is their DNA. The world we live in is far removed from our prehistory, but genetics hasn’t caught up.
It’s funny to think that we built a civilisation that we’re not optimised for. Our bodies assume that we’ll walk most of the day, hunt and maybe know a few hundred people.
Then again, civilisation has its benefits. Most people would call it a fair trade.
This distance between who we are and what our bodies evolved to do is worth keeping in mind. It explains some of the more powerful ways to shape your unconscious mind.
Continue reading “How Evolution Shaped Our Mental Power”
When you meditate or experience hypnosis, you’re more likely to hear when your unconscious speaks to you. This has to be experienced to be believed. If I list the benefits this brings to your life, there are two common reactions.
If you’ve never explored your own unconscious mind, you’d scoff in disbelief.
On the other hand, if you do have experience with this, you’d scoff at how incomplete my list is.
So I won’t talk about the benefits you gain when you attune to your unconscious… except to say they’re worth it.
When your inner mind starts speaking to you more, it can be confusing. Maybe even a little overwhelming.
But don’t worry – your unconscious has been speaking to you in its language all your life. It may be a little louder now, but you’re fluent.
What are you fluent in?
Continue reading “The Language of Your Unconscious”