Advice you haven’t heard about using meditation to sleep

Advice you haven’t heard about using meditation to sleep

Of all the benefits it brings, the fact that meditation can help you sleep is right up there. I don’t need to tell you how important that is.

As you lay in bed, shifting to get your body right, your mind running loops about whatever… it’s frustrating, I get it.

Sleep is one of the key functions in your day. It pays to get it right, since it improves literally everything else. But you don’t have to master meditation. I mean, you should – it’ll bring other benefits too. You don’t have to, though.

That’s because a few simple tricks will help you rest well each night.

The first technique is to focus on your breathing. Observe what it feels like to inhale and exhale.

Then there’s a body scan. Notice the sensations in your head, then your neck, then chest, down to your feet.

Then there’s observing your own thoughts. Instead of thinking about how you can’t fall sleep, watch yourself think those thoughts and see what that’s like.

Body, breath and mind – a rich and soothing world.

But you might already know these tricks. Many people talk about them (because they’re great). If you’re reading this, though, you probably want something better.

Something new.

Because what if you’ve tried those and they didn’t work for you?

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Please steal from me

Please steal from me

I’m vain enough to monitor Guided Thought to see where the traffic comes from. Sure, sure, there are valid business reasons for that. I’d do it anyway – I like to see who likes me.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a tasty chunk of traffic from who-knows-where. Had someone mentioned me on a blog? Did they link to one of my products?

I snooped around on the source of these viewers… and it’s one great big article farm. One that I hadn’t submitted anything to (or even heard of).

Sure enough, there was one of my articles. It was identical, from the start of the headline to the final forward slash. Only it didn’t have my name as the author – again, it was “written” by someone I’ve never heard of.

(Submitted a mere four months after I wrote it.)

And that is bloody hilarious.

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I’m a horribly flawed person (but you don’t have to be)

I’m not perfect – not even close. Who is, right? But here’s the thing – I’m in the personal development niche. There’s pressure to hide my flaws, mistakes and failures. I’m “supposed” to present a shiny, happy, successful front to the world.

It wouldn’t make me happy to do that, so I won’t. Besides, you deserve honesty.

And I’m not about to humblebrag or anything. I could say all the ways I used to mess up, but no longer… thanks to self-hypnosis (which I would then follow with a plug for my self-hypnosis training guide).

Nope.

What I’m about to say is all relevant now. These are my current issues – the ones I haven’t resolved yet.

All right, enough teasing. Let’s begin this autopsy.

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What’s much (much) better than motivational quotes?

What’s much (much) better than motivational quotes?

I know people who peddle in motivational quotes. They hunt them down, share them on Facebook and move onto the next one. Heck, I used to be like that with an old Twitter account. So I get the appeal of them, I really do.

But there’s a big ol’ problem with quote farming:

It has a way of becoming hollow and pointless.

You read a quote and something about it resonates with you. Maybe it’s clever and insightful. Maybe you’ve heard it before but now, in one moment where you stare at your screen, you truly get it.

So, being the generous person you are, you share it with everyone you know.

You look for another inspirational quote. Most are rather trite, so you keep digging. But you find a good one. Then another. You share these too.

The more you look, the emptier these quotes sound. And you start seeing the same quotes popping up again and again. Don’t those hacks know we’ve heard that one a thousand times before?

If you keep looking, you find a sea of decent motivational quotes amid a bigger sea of garbage.

(It’s so bad that you can’t even think of good metaphors for it.)

The harder you look, the harder it is to find an inspirational quote that’s…. well, inspiring.

And let me tell you why that is.

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Not just another thing for you to do

Not just another thing for you to do

How much do you think you need to do each day? There are billions of people to forge relationships with. There are trillions of hobbies, exercises and opportunities out there. Go sample them all – you won’t find your passion until you do.

And don’t forget to take time for yourself.

It’s like those morning programs – you know the ones I mean. A panel of people interview whoever they can find, spruiking the next latest fad. Some of those fads are even worthwhile. The problem is that there’s just so many of them.

I love that parody of those shows that some of my fellow Aussies have seen. The guest introduces them to night gardening, which is just like regular gardening only you can’t see anything.

The session ends with one of the hosts saying, “there, another f**king thing for you to f**king do.”

That line cracks me up every time. Sure, there’s more that you could be doing… but you can’t do most of it. Keep cramming things into your life and something’s gonna give.

Unless, of course, you choose your projects wisely.

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How I would ruin Venom

How I would ruin Venom

I caught a new trailer for Venom today. It shows Eddie Brock trying to use meditation to control Venom – his evil alien symbiote. He tries it, but “it doesn’t work”.

It reminds me of a couple of things. One is a quote whose source I can’t find. I must have read it on social media or something. It goes:

“Piano playing doesn’t work. I tried it for a few hours and nothing happened.”

Isn’t Eddie supposed to be a journalist? You’d think he’d learn a little tenacity from a job like that…

The other thing it reminds me of is Marvel’s master of meditation. If the two of them met, maybe Venom’s host could learn a thing or two about managing the darkness.

No, I’m not talking about Danny Rand. For a Buddhist warrior monk, the Immortal Iron Fist is not all that zen.

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How to bypass meditation roadblocks

How to bypass meditation roadblocks

Take a typical meditation class. If you expect the same people to show up on the last day as the first, you’ll be disappointed.

Some of the learners will bounce straight away. They’ll feel awkward, stupid or embarrassed for even considering meditation. After turning up once, they’ll say it’s not for them and never come back.

People who show up for the second class aren’t out of the danger zone. Some will come back a few times. Maybe they improve a little. Maybe they think they haven’t improved at all. Either way, they haul their butts off the comfy cushions, never to grace them again.

Others stick with it for a while, get bored and give up. Just like they give up on everything else.

A small cohort knows what meditation can do for them. They put the work in. Some days they struggle, and they know that’s part of the process. They turn up early, ask questions and practice during the week.

These people will stick around… right?

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Meditation is my meditation

Meditation is my meditation

The funny thing about having a Google alert for ‘meditation’ is I hear about art. This painting is a meditation on compassion; that poem is a meditation on modern loneliness. Art is never just art and it doesn’t just carry a message. It’s always “a meditation” on something.

When you see this every day, it starts becoming a little pretentious.

(Hard to believe, I know.)

Amazing art can explore, expose, reflect, magnify, distort, enhance and consume. For the artist, I have no doubt that creating the piece was a meditative experience. If a painter says their latest work is a meditation on emptiness, I will gladly spend all night picking their brain about that.

But when every review, article, discussion and forum posts describes it as a meditation… well, that’s true emptiness right there.

It reminds me of when people say that exercise is their meditation. Like the artistic process, I can see how this is meditative. For some people, it’s all struggle and effort. For others, these are the moments they find peace.

Art, exercise and a hundred other things can be meditative.

But there’s a hierarchy to these things.

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Why you should avoid meditation apps

Why you should avoid meditation apps

Recently on Facebook, someone asked what the best meditation practices were. Most people answered with things like deep breathing and honing your awareness. In other words, most people had the right idea.

But a few too many said things like Headspace.

Honestly, I was surprised. The best meditation involves listening to someone telling you to meditate? That can’t be right. If it were, monks would train their rosary beads for iPhones.

Serious meditators master everything from mindfulness to metta. They don’t rely on other people to micromanage their meditation sessions.

So meditation apps aren’t “the best” practices around.

And I’d go further than that.

In fact, I’d barely call them meditation.

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It’s the apocalypse, but at least I’m smiling

It’s the apocalypse, but at least I’m smiling

Queensland researchers reckon that Prozac might cause antibiotic resistance. I can’t talk to the science behind this. Maybe it’s right, maybe they missed something.

Either way, it’s not like we can turn around and say “phew, no problems then”.

Just to be clear – I have no issues with antidepressants. That category of medicine has done more than save lives. For many people, it’s the difference between living an amazing life and lying in bed all day.

I’ll never talk down about those drugs or anyone who needs them.

Let’s just consider groups of people for a moment.

There are people who take antidepressants because they need them.

There are those who take them because they needed them once. They’re past that point now, but they keep popping pills. Either because they don’t know they could stop or they don’t know how to.

There are folks who never needed them. A medical professional talked them into taking them and no one talked them out of it. Or they shopped around until they found a doctor willing to sign a prescription, thinking that pills were the answer.

If you think antidepressants are as awesome as I do, then this abuse should tick you off. I’m not mad at the users or the doctors, but the whole damn system.

Sure, there are always going to be people taking these things when they don’t need to. You can’t eliminate that.

But, as a society, we sure as hell could reduce it.

For most of you, drugs are not the only answer. They may be part of the solution. Or they may be unnecessary.

Just know that functioning well is more than chemistry.

If you’re struggling, then talk to a medical professional. All I ask is that you find one who looks beyond drugs for the answer.

Most of the good ones will tell you to try meditation. After all, it’s proven to reduce stress. Forget the other benefits – that alone makes it restorative to your body and mind.

And if you’re going to do that, then take it seriously. Be as serious about meditation as this guide is irreverent.

100% pragmatic, secular and unique advice inside.

And only the stuff that works:

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