Meditation: The Ultimate Life Hack? [A Dude’s Guide to What, Why & How]

The Dude is all about some life hacks.

Simple. But effective. That’s my jam.

As I travel down life’s path, I continue to refine. Every aspect of my life. Daily.

How can I improve? Make this better. Easier. More efficient.

Everything can be improved. Always.

Regardless of the area of life I place my attention – work, art, fitness, relationships, health, well-being – a common thread that binds is the suggestion to practice mediation. It is astounding how often mediation comes up from all walks of life.

I’ve tried to create a mediation practice for years. Read. Researched. Started. Stopped.

I never felt I was doing it “right.” Or my mind would drift, and I felt my efforts were wasted.

Practice was consistently inconsistent.

Almost two years ago, I hit my stride. Daily practice has become a reality.

What changed?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the magik bullet. I did land on a style I dig (check out Theurgy), but mainly, I think I’m at the right place at the right time.

I may not have the magik bullet, but the interwebs sure do have A LOT of valuable info.

During meditation tenure, I’ve collected a variety of articles, blog posts, etc. that discuss the vast benefits of meditation. Coupled with the real-world effects I feel on the daily, I’m starting to believe mediation just may be the ultimate life hack.

Let’s take a gander at what the interwebs have to offer…

What is Meditation

  • The Paradox of Meditation: Great source. Subscribe. The book reviewed here has been on my Amazon list for a while. Time to buy.  In Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (public library), neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris argued that cultivating the art of presence is our greatest gateway to true happiness. After his extensive, decades-long empirical romp through the world’s major religious traditions and humanity’s most potent psychedelic substances, Harris returns again and again to meditation as the holy grail of self-transcendence, the single most promising practice for slicing through the illusion of the ego to reveal what Jack Kerouac so memorably called “the Golden Eternity.” (You can also find a great interview on Tim Ferriss’ podcast. Book AND source. Foreshadowing?)
  • Ram Dass on Meditation (Polishing the Mirror): Meditation is basic spiritual practice for quieting the mind and getting in touch with our deeper Self, the spirit. Meditation provides a deeper appreciation of the interrelatedness of all things and the part each person plays. The simple rules of this game are honesty with yourself about where you are in your life and learning and listening to hear how it is. Meditation is a way of listening more deeply, so you hear how it all is from a more profound place. Meditation enhances your insight, reveals your true nature, and brings you inner peace.
  • Meditation & Theosophy: Builds on my Theurgy link above. Meditation is thus a continual process of remedying our ills by remembering who we are and adapting to the circumstances we face in life. The techniques of meditation are varied.
  • The Rituals of Kumar Pallana: Kumar loves mediation. Wes Anderson love Kumar. You should love meditation AND Kumar.

Why Meditate

  • A Scientific Revolution Driven by Meditation: Harvard level professors giving attention to mediation. Meditation vs. Mindfulness – same? Maybe. Maybe not. Seems pretty close to me. This article discusses Jon Kabat-Zinn– one of my first entrants to mediation/mindfulness and still one of my favs.
  • The Power of Meditation & How it Affects the Brain: Great mediation overview on Buffer (Don’t know Buffer?! Dude!) – 4 types of mediation, how mediation affects the brain, how mediation affects us, getting started.
  • Meditation Enhances Creativity: David Lynch, famed movie/TV director, uses mediation to find great ideas. Agreed. Keep your bullet journal nearby…sweet creative ideas will bubble to surface.
  • Meditation Alters Genes: Methodology – Researchers at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Subjects trained 26 adults with no prior experience in meditation for eight weeks. Results – All of the subjects’ blood samples revealed changes in gene expression following meditation. The changes were the exact opposite of what occurs during flight or fight: genes associated with energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion, and telomere maintenance were turned on, while those involved in inflammation were turned off. These effects were more pronounced and consistent for long-term practitioners.
  • 10 Benefits of Meditation: The length of your practice isn’t as important as the frequency; you’re far more likely to experience the many benefits if you meditate for five to 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week than if you squeeze your meditation into a 30-minute session once a week.
  • Meditation – Key to Longer, Stress-free life?: Telomeres are portions of repetitive DNA at the ends of our chromosomes that protect our chromosomes from deteriorating. Meditation was the focus of research at UC Davis and UCSF by Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD. The 2011 study found that meditation increased activity of telomerase — enzymes that can rebuild and lengthen our chromosomal telomeres — when meditation was conducted twice a week for three months.
  • How Meditation Can Boost Your Brainpower: For skeptics, this study showed how the brain literally changes with meditation in order to provide dozens of positive benefits for anyone who starts a practice. The sizes of key regions of our brain improve as a result of meditation, memory is made far more efficient, and empathy, compassion, and resiliency under stress are also improved.
  • Meditation Appears to Produce Enduring Changes in Emotional Processing in the Brain:  A study at Massachusetts General Hospital found that participating in an eight-week meditation training program can have measurable effects on how the brain functions even when someone is not actively meditating. The researchers also found differences in those effects based on the specific type of meditation practiced.
  • Increase Happiness, Bravery & Attention Span: Great post from a great source. A number of good quotes. Will motivate you to take five minutes out of your day to test a habit that could offer widespread, lasting positive effects.
  • How Changing Your Breathing Will Change Your Life: Think you know how to breathe? You do it every day. Even right now! Yeah, nope.
  • Google’s Jolly Good Fellow: Meditation, emotional intelligence, and Google. Safe to say it’s worth the read.
  • Meditation & the Brain: A team of researchers from Norway and Australia are trying to sort the different forms of meditation and the benefits each one yields.
  • Superhuman Energy Cultivated by Meditators – It’s Science: The energy emitted by people who have reached an advanced level in meditation practice has been shown by multiple studies to exceed normal human levels by hundreds or thousands of times.
  • Meditate Before You Medicate: There have been numerous studies of the health and financial benefits of meditation including: 28% cumulative decrease in physician fees, 55% less medical care utilization with lower sickness rates, including 87% less hospitalization for heart disease and 55% less for cancer.
  • Does Meditation Make You Smart?: A new study claims that meditation activates parts of the brain that simple ‘relaxing’ cannot.
  • Does Mediation Slow Aging?: A Nobel Prize-winning biochemist is engaged in serious studies hinting that meditation might – as Eastern traditions have long claimed – slow ageing and lengthen life.
  • Think Meditation is a Waste of Time? Watch This – The Neuroscience Behind Meditation: Despite its continued growth and popularity, meditation -like so many other practices -is not without ridicule, as a large portion of the world’s population are still happy to classify it as pseudoscientific, or a waste of time. In response to this common classification, the group at Big Think have created an easy to understand short video that explains the neuroscience behind meditation.


How to Meditate

  • 10 Ways to Work Meditation Into Your Day: Surprisingly good suggestions for a quick list. Great accompanying quotes as well.
  • Meditation for Beginners: 11 easy tips to get you started.
  • 100 Breaths Meditation: Increase concentration by using the breath as a focal point for meditation. It should take between 10-15 minutes depending on your natural pace of breathing.
  • Guided Mediation – Destress in 5 Minutes: Thinking is the cause of stress. The most effective way to relieve stress is by taking a break from thinking. Guided meditation does not involve thinking. Guided meditation is one of the easiest meditation techniques available. All you have to do is press play, close your eyes, and follow the voice instructions. Meditation downloads can be found by searching for guided meditation in any search engine.
  • How to Finally Start Meditating (Like a Pro): Without guided meditation, I could barely last for 3 minutes without getting bored, anxious, and giving up.
  • TED – All It Takes is 10 MinutesTransformative power of refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day.
  • 5 Minute Guide to Meditation – Anywhere, Any Time: All you need to meditate is yourself.
  • 12 Meditation Apps: Guided meditation is a great way to start. These apps have you covered.
  • Mind the Gap: Notice that in between thoughts, there’s a small gap of “no-mind.” Thoughts run in succession, interspersed by gaps of empty space. Over time, with practice, we become aware of the feeling, and we learn to extend the gaps, feeling more and more stillness and inner peace.
  • Two Minute Meditation: The most important two minutes of your life.
  • 5 Methods of Meditation: There’s a myriad of methods for meditation. Some are easy and some are difficult. All require daily practice to perfect. Here are five of the most popular methods of meditation and what they each bring to the Meditation Table.
  • Four Primary Skills of Meditation: Presence, awareness, focus, concentration.
  • Learn How to Meditate in 8 Easy Steps: We all already know how to meditate. Meditation is the natural state of all human beings, and we have had to work ourselves very hard to condition ourselves out of that natural blissful state of unity with the universe.
  • Solitude as Meditation: Losing oneself in solitude is a means to the end of finding oneself in meditation.
  • 7 Day Meditation Challenge: 7-Day Meditation Challenge to see the positive affects it has on your life and on reducing stress.

Mindfulness Meditation

  • Science Behind Mindfulness: Researchers highlight six neuropsychological processes that are active mechanisms in the brain during mindfulness and which support S-ART (self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence). These processes include 1) intention and motivation, 2) attention regulation, 3) emotion regulation, 4) extinction and reconsolidation, 5) pro-social behavior, and 6) non-attachment and de-centering.
  • Mindfulness – Meditation for People Too Busy to Meditate: Practicing mindfulness – and reaping its benefits – doesn’t need to be a large time commitment or require special training. You can start right now – this moment. These techniques quite literally train the mind and rewire the brain – ability to concentrate increases, see things with increasing clarity, which improves your judgment, and develop equanimity.
  • How (Mindfulness) Meditation Works: In a practical sense, “sitting” is really all there is to the meditation aspect of mindfulness meditation. You sit in a quiet place with your eyes closed, focusing on your breath as it moves in and out. Your mind will inevitably wander, which is where the mindfulness aspect comes in. Instead of growing frustrated with your lack of focus or getting caught up in the web of your thoughts, you train yourself to observe the thought or emotion with acceptance and curiosity, and to calmly bring your focus back to the breath.
  • How Mindfulness Meditation Works: Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have devised a model that sheds light on the science behind mindfulness. Instead of a single dimension of cognition, the researchers show that mindfulness involves a large framework of complex mechanisms in the brain that lead a person down the path of developing self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART). Practitioners can begin training themselves to become less emotionally reactive and to recover more quickly from negative emotions.
  • A Simpler Guide to Mindfulness for Beginners: Learn how to do your daily routine activities mindfully.
  • Brief Mindfulness Yields Long-Term Results: Even brief mindfulness practice—typically, a kind of meditation that focuses on a particular aspect of the present moment, like your breath, your body, or a particular sensation—has a substantial positive effect on mental well-being and memory. It also appears to physically improve the brain, strengthening certain neural structures that are tied to heightened attention and focus, and bolstering connectivity in the brain’s default mode network, which is linked to self-monitoring and control.
  • Inhabit the Moment: Practice occupying the current moment. Inhabit it, by really being in it, fully experiencing all our senses in everyday ordinary actions.
  • The Shadow Side of Mindfulness Meditation?: Every yin has a yang. Meditation shouldn’t be viewed as a cure-all. But from my experience, it’s a pretty rad addition to your daily.

Kids & Meditation

HeartMath

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