Since I started experimenting with a mindfulness meditation practice six months ago, my perspective changed. So today I’ll share how you can reap the benefits of meditation by being more mindful.
I’ll preface this by saying if you haven’t read my thoughts on meditation, here are the cliffs: I started with sitting in a dark room – observing my breath, clearing my thoughts, and noticing any sensations in my body.
Now six months in, the differences in my personal well being are a plenty.
Your perspective shifts after you teach yourself to become more attuned to your thoughts and sensations.
Basically, you take your learnings from meditating and extend it to all aspects of your life. Some people call this informal meditation.
Dedicating yourself to being in the present moment takes a ton of practice.
A certain diligence with catching yourself thinking is pretty tricky to get the hang of, but if you make the conscious effort, you’ll notice the benefits – it is an empowering feeling.
But, like everything else, it takes practice… no shortcuts here, friend.
I’m now realizing how absurd it is to dwell on the past. Something you have no control over is not worth your thoughts.
That mistake you made at work, or botched encounter with some girl or guy is history: move on.
Thinking about the future is a bit different, but the same premise applies. The future is exciting for some but anxiety provoking for others. My advice is to come to terms with what it is.
Instead of looking forward to things, focus your energy on what you can directly control, the present.
I started by learning to notice the present throughout every part of my day. Previously meaningless sensations I now notice and embrace.
Despite my inability to walk afterward, the feeling of crossing that line and finishing my first marathon is difficult to put into words.
It’s an adrenaline rush like no other. Everything slowed after crossing the line. Although I was a bit lightheaded and could barely walk, to finally enjoy that moment with the roaring crowd is thrilling.
After a day or so to reflect, I’m still blasted by a ton of emotions. Mainly I’m appreciative for having the ability to train and last through an entire 42 km’s.
My body held up and for that I am fortunate because I know there are a ton of people out there who would kill for the ability to run without discomfort.
There’s another rarely talked about feeling: gratitude.
I’m grateful for the amazing community of friends and family who supported me through the journey.
Whether a message, text, or tweet, these words of encouragement make a huge difference. I appreciate every single one of you.
Beating a bongo drum and toting an ipod stereo, these two yelled and encouraged us the whole way, making jokes and entertaining other runners.
People ask if this is a one-off accomplishment. My answer is probably not. While I realize this is quite a feat in and of itself, I want more.
I’m wired in such a way that I always crave the next thing. Call it ambition or stupidity, but the point is, I’ll never settle for where I’m at now.
The saying that ‘the journey is the reward’ doesn’t hold for marathon training. But, that is not to say that the journey is not a fulfilling process. Let me explain as I’m two weeks to marathon completion.
Marathon training over the past month certainly is a journey. Reward? Not sure about that one yet.
The fulfilling part is pushing my personal limits, both physically and mentally. You’d be surprised what thoughts creep into your mind three hours into a run.
Things from questioning my sanity for subjecting myself to this, to how fortunate I am in having the ability to run outside with such beautiful surroundings enter my thoughts.
The ultimate reward is accomplishment. Finishing my first marathon on a 42 day condensed training plan certainly is a nice feather in my cap.
Anticipating the finish continually cross my mind. As I’ve come to understand, your first marathon is about completing the 42 km slog.
It may sound a tad arrogant, but I already know I’ll finish – I have no choice in the matter. My mind won’t let me not finish.
If it were up to me, race day would be tomorrow. I’d finish the run, and plan out the next physical adventure.
Do you have any suggestions? I have a few in mind, but please leave a comment with yours.
My legs go through weird cycles of fatigue and soreness. Through training for this thing, I’ve changed my running style a bit to accommodate the monotonous grind of 3+ hours on pavement. Don’t you worry, I won’t run barefoot or in Vibrams anytime soon.
The other interesting thing happened after the last long run. We set out on a brisk Sunday morning. Things went swimmingly aside from one hiccup at the end. We miscalculated the route, and ‘finished’ 6km short of the target (damn you google maps).
You can imagine the feeling: basking in the glow of accomplishment, only to find you are not done yet.
Cue the kick to the midsection.
Nonetheless, we tacked on the 6km to meet our milage… much to the chagrin of the wobbly legs and meandering minds telling us the contrary.
Walking home post-run felt like a dream. My mind wandered in this semi-conscious daze – my head was literally in the clouds.
Before you play doctor and chime in, I do realize this was a combo of fatigue, glycogen depletion, and low blood sugar. Nonetheless, I embraced the state.
The biggest takeaway from my meditation is how mindful you become throughout the rest of your endeavours.
Everything was so vivid, things literally slowed to a crawl.
Now with under two weeks to race day, most of the hard work is over. I guess it’s time to enjoy the rest of the short journey.
Image cred: Wallpapers
Cooking a fluffy stack of pancakes after my Saturday morning run, I got to thinking about all of the ill-informed eaters out there. This is something I normally stay away from – what you eat is your choice. I couldn’t care less what you throw down your hatch.
What I do care about is when people push their dogma on others as gospel.
Now some of these folks base their eating choices around new diets. I’m all for trying new things and experimenting, especially with anything pertaining to your personal body.
What better way to figure out what works for you than self-experiments?
Between meditating and reading, I spend a lot of time thinking about peoples perceptions and points of view. What do I stand for? How does this differ from what you or someone may believe?
Personal diet philosophy is the perfect way to compare individual perception, beliefs, personality, and temperament. You’re passionate about what you eat whether it’s Big Macs or Kale.
Worldview’s are stable beliefs you and I maintain and our wiring is such that we hold strong worldviews on certain things.
For people interested in diet and exercise, these two things are at the heart of their strongest worldviews.
The fun thing about worldviews is that when yours are challenged, you batten down the hatches and they get strengthened. You tend to shut out alternatives more than usual.
Let’s call it stubbornness.This is a shame, but reality.
I want you to approach the things you eat with a more open mind… Let me explain with an example – let’s pick on gluten.
The current gluten free fiasco is causing a mass exodus from products containing wheat, and a host of other tasty grains.
Gluten free eating is great! It serves a noble purpose for those who have legitimate gluten allergies or medical conditions like Celiac Disease.
If you fall into this category, please avoid gluten at all costs!
The crowd I’m talking to are the ‘thinkers.’ You know, the ones who either think they have a gluten intolerance, or think gluten free diets are healthier than the alternative.
This crowd swaps their rice for quinoa and counts the days to waste shrinkage… Still waiting?
Two and a half weeks into full on marathon training, one question keeps popping up: am I doing it right? Honestly, I have no idea. I knew nothing about marathon running or training until about three weeks ago.
Luckily, the age of the internets makes things easy and cheap to learn about. A few articles read, the marathon plan is in place.
While my knowledge is still limited, one thing’s for sure – I’m inspired to give it my best shot.
You’ve probably gone through something similar, where, although you may second guess yourself at times, something just feels right. This is sort of what is going on with operation marathon.
What follows is essentially a brain dump of self-reflection regarding my marathon training.
Since starting to meditate, my mindset is shifting quite a bit. I’m starting to enjoy things for what they are.
Let me explain. Previously I would dread running – I saw it as monotonous and boring. Meditating allowed me to shift perspective and truly enjoy and savour the moments I get to run.
The ability to run outside is a privilege; being healthy enough to pound the pavement regularly is something which I am fortunate for, and now now I enjoy every moment of it.
Speaking of enjoying things, talking about this far-fetched endeavour is a good conversation starter. To say I’ve received some interesting reactions from people would be an understatement.
From armchair commentary, repetitive advice, to forewarnings and wisdom, I welcome all the advice with open arms.
The supporters remind me how lucky I am to be in a position to try this, and the naysayers inspire me shatter their perceptions.
One trend which keeps coming up concerns how much ‘harder’ a marathon is than a half marathon: “just worry about finishing,” they say. People keep telling me that I’ll hit a wall at some point on race day. This seems arbitrary to me.
Personally, when I have my mind set on something, I won’t stop until it’s done. This is one case where having an addictive personality is a gift and a curse.
The thought of committing to completing something, whatever it is, and not following through is ludicrous to me.
In the case of this marathon, not finishing simply won’t happen. My ‘will’ (not sure what else to call it) is too strong.
If you’re not moving forward, then what are you doing?
This is something I continually ask myself. Whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, I like to think that I’m continually moving forward – working towards something and creating progress. This is part of the reason I decided to run a marathon.
I’m confident you might get similar feelings – you know, that awkward itch where you know you’re ‘spinning your wheels’ on something, but you’re not sure how to change it.
You may not even know what that ‘thing’ is (I sure as hell don’t). It’s fine if you can’t pinpoint the specifics, try changing small things one at a time and see if the feeling goes away. Focus on things you can control.
I like to feel as though my days aren’t wasted. This may sound a tad corny, but at the end of each day I love the feeling of accomplishment and continuous improvement, no matter what I’m doing.
Part of continuous improvement for me is finding new challenges. These things keep me guessing.
Maybe you decide to seek out a creative solution to a problem at work, or commit to that new fad diet to shed a few lbs before beach season. The specifics don’t matter. What does matter is your decision to commit to the challenge.
The constant here is that you’re pushing yourself. Don’t ever settle for mediocrity because you deserve much more.
The day I’m not challenged at work is the day I quit. The day I’m not challenged physically is when I know I need to switch things up.
Upon returning, we mapped out a training plan, and did a test run (about 25 km or 15.5miles). Both feeling like greek gods, we immediately registered for the BMO Vancouver Marathon.
I’m not sure if we were both hyped up on some post run endorphin-fuelled runners high, but we’re now committed. The one catch – race day is May 5, giving us 42ish days to train.
I plan on sharing more about the training game plan, updates on our progress, and random thoughts through the next 40 days leading into the marathon, so definitely check back for that.
My mission on the train from Vancouver to Portland, LA, then onto Austin for SXSW just about took everything out of me.
In hindsight, spending five days on a train leading into five days of madness in one of the craziest cities may have been a tad ambitious.
I won’t bore you with the minutia of my trip because I already wrote about it on the HootSuite Blog.
Instead, I’ll share some musings from one of the best trips of my life thus far.
*Side Note* If you haven’t already read about my trip, I encourage you to take a peek, there are some cool stories about burrito ladies, travel bloggers, and train conductors. The preview can be found here, followed by part 1 and part 2.
No one cares about your typical work endeavour, goal, or event unless is has some oomph to it. Had my trip been your typical walk in the park, no one would care either.
Subtleties like the words you use to describe your project – how you pitch and brand it can inject some much needed zest and get you noticed.
You’ll notice that I used word like adventure, journey, and ‘epic quest’ to brand my trip. These are easy wins in making your project seem cool and unconventional.
I managed to get decent organic pickup on the articles because my trip was interesting and because it pushed me personally.
What I’m here to tell you is this. Instead of worrying about the small things, step outside your comfort zone of the screen. Do something interesting with your life, then share it.
People who’ve built meaningful platforms online, and the large followings that go with it, all do interesting things.
What they don’t do is spend all day on Twitter. Twitter is endless, it’s not like your inbox where you can (potentially) get it to zero.
The trip made me realize what I want. What is important. Doing trips like these and sharing the stories with you makes me happy.
With that, my plan is to do more of just that; doing interesting things and writing about them. Wow…what a breakthrough!
Take home for you: find out what makes you happy. If this is interesting to you, chances are it is interesting to others. Find these people and share it with them.
Three weeks ago I came up with this crazy idea with my boss to hustle my way to South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) at no cost. Easy right? Sort of. Anyway, with our goal in mind, it was time to figure out how to get it done.
What follows is a personal story of how I ended up on a train to Portland this morning as the first leg of a mission to Texas. I’m confident that you can take some learnings from my experience for ways to pitch your big shiny ideas, get them noticed, and green-lit.
Today I start a 5 day journey from Vancouver to Austin, Texas. Sure my main goal was to find a way to get to SXSW, but as I look out the window, i’m realizing it’s about the journey, not the destination.
SXSW is the go-to event for nerds and tech geeks looking to make waves in the industry. Major media brands like Twitter owe their fame in part to launching at SXSW. Every year, it’s a ners’ arms race to figure out which hot new startup will take over.
My employer, HootSuite, sent a team of 10 down last-year. And I knew this year would be similar. The handful who do get to go are the envy of the rest of the company because SXSW is a geek’s paradise.
Being the realest I am, I figured my name would not be on the list for 2013. The lucky chosen few tend to be more higher up established peeps.
That is where this crazy idea started. Could I hack my way to SXSW?
My boss, DaveO, is your modern day Jack Kerouac – the train idea was his. I remember him saying a month ago: “reach out to Amtrak and let’s see if we can train you down to sxsw.”
With that, I got my creep on and tried to find find someone at Amtrak who might be interested in hearing what I had to say.
The basic plan was this: if you provide travel arrangements, I will tell the story of my journey by blogging, producing videos, and just about every other form of media out there.
Once I found someone, it was time to extend the olive branch with the ultimate email.
When you’re in this situation, you need to take the perspective of the person you’re targeting with your pitch. What emotions are they going to feel getting a random email?
and how can you use this information to choose the right words in order to get a reaction?
Once you figure this out, you can start crafting the copy for your email.
The email you send isn’t about you. It is about accommodating the random person reading the email. Make it as short, concise, and as easy to read as possible. Bulleted lists, bold words, and short, well written sentences are your friend.
So I started dabbling with daily meditation in November. First off, a few caveats: I am not converting to buddhism, and I don’t fancy myself some spiritual guru.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I would love to share what meditation means to me, how I think it will help you, and how to get started.
It’s one of the most difficult things i’ve ever tried to learn because it takes a different type of discipline – total concentration, time, and lots of practice.
When I first started I literally had no idea what was going on. I would sit there, eyes closed and breathing… basically waiting for it to end.
But… before pulling the chute, I did some research. I reached out to Jonathan Fields after reading his book, Uncertainty, and he pointed me to a few really cool resources. I was also inspired by this really cool personal anecdote on meditation from JC Deen.
So here I was, confused guy looking to meditate his way to a stress free, hyper-productive life, but how did I actually start meditation?
The premise of meditation for me is focused awareness, living in the present moment, and being aware your body.
I’ll save you the spiritual cheesefest, whilst trying to explain a bit about each below.
I started meditating in November for a few reasons. Long days and bad sleep, but also i’m also just curious about ways to promote well-being, increase productivity, etc.
Coming from a psychology background, stress and anxiety are two things I spend a lot of time thinking about. The spiritual aspect of mindfulness meditation always popped up in psychology research as viable alternatives to your standard drug therapy approach.
I also, have this issue where I can never turn my mind off and ‘let go.’ When I go to bed, my mind goes crazy and I can’t sleep because its racing so fast.
I feel like a lot of people share similar issues – daily meditation can help you because it’s helped me.
I am an aspiring renaissance man, community builder, and writer. My hope is for you to learn from my curious quest that you can achieve anything you want.