John Kaweske

Meditation Blog

Menu Close

Tag: Tips & Tricks

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely loud and incredibly close. The title of the 2011 Stephen Daldry film depicts our contemporary culture quite well. Sights, sounds, whirling colors, and pungent smells punctuate our presence on this planet on a daily basis. With our exponentially increasing global population, it seems this commotion is unlikely to stop, and rather will increase as time wears on. As a result, or rather, as a possible result, anxiety disorders have emerged in full force, afflicting both mature adults and less experienced, more vulnerable children. In fact, more than one in four adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 are diagnosed with such a mental disorder.  

Recognizing this issue, our well-intentioned doctors and pharmacists prescribe and refill various antidepressant medications to help these anxious children to cope, but the effects of such medicines are often not entirely understood, and at times can even have negative side effects. With this in mind, a team of researchers at The University of Cincinnati set out to discover new options for treatment. What rose to the top of the list? Mindfulness. Exercises like meditation techniques, yoga, and implementing a nonjudgemental outlook on life are all proving to reduce stress in afflicted children to an unprecedented extent.

This is fantastic for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it is speculated that as many as 80% of children diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and 60% of adolescents diagnosed with depression do not receive the treatment they need. However, although the above evidence and research is in its early stages, it does appear that mindfulness can go a long way in alleviating the stress associated with said disorders. Without having to pay for medication, and instead teaching children to practice some form of meditation, adults may be able to solve their children’s problems without any expensive prescriptions.

In order to come to the above conclusion, the team of researchers in question recruited nine participants, each of whom was between nine and sixteen years of age and had been previously diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The conditions were not the exact same; some had a bipolar disorder while others had a social disorder while others had separation anxiety. Over the course of 12 weeks, each subject experienced functional magnetic resonance imaging (aka fMRI) while partaking in traditional mindfulness exercises like meditation or something of the sort.

Afterwards, each adolescent reported decreased levels of stress. Although this is not entirely conclusive, it is certainly indicative of the potential benefits mindfulness has to offer children as well as adults. Additionally, the researchers found that there was increased neural activity in the cingulate (the section of the brain that is known to help process cognitive and emotion information). Just as well, there was a surge of activity in the insula, which helps to monitor how the body feels from a psychological standpoint.

It would seem that while mindfulness may not outright cure such disorders, it could potentially go a long way in helping children and struggling adolescents to cope with the overwhelming world around them. Finally, science is catching up with the practice.

While the benefits of meditation are numerous, well-known, and widespread, there is still an incredible reluctance across society to partake. Personally, I think this is largely due to several pervasive myths that unfortunately but effectively modify general belief regarding meditation. In light of these misconceptions, I have elected to put together a list of the most prominent myths so that I can debunk them with evidence, examples, and substantiation.

You must sit cross-legged.

Ridiculous but widely held as a seeming tenet of meditation, sitting cross-legged is not, in fact, required for meditation. An abundance of Hollywood films misrepresenting oriental culture is likely the culprit for this discouraging perception, and by no means should sitting cross-legged continue to be upheld as a dogma of meditation. You need to be comfortable, and if sitting criss-cross apple sauce is comfortable for you, then do so; but if not, then don’t!

You could be lying down, sitting in a chair, standing, or even walking and meditating at the same time.

You must have a blank mind.

While, yes, this may be the ultimate goal, it is not, in the slightest, expected for newcomers to meditation. To achieve a perfectly blank mental slate takes time, effort, and practice. It is not something where you can just close your eyes and miraculously be taken away to a place of pure tranquility. That’s unrealistic, to say the least.

Actually, a fantastic place to start for beginners is to participate in what’s called guided meditation. As the name might imply, you have a mental ‘guide’ who keeps you and your potentially easily-distracted mind from getting off track. In fact, you don’t even necessarily need a guide in-person. If you want, it could just be a recording.

Just so you have an idea, guided meditation generally involves a lot of visualization exercises like full body relaxation. One such exercise is referred to as “earth breathing,” which is essentially when you imagine your body is sinking into the ground beneath you. Ideally, ‘Earth breathing’ is supposed to induce a grounded body sensation and lightness of mind feeling.

You can only meditate alone.

Absolutely not. While it’s certainly an option, and favored by many at that, that in no way means it’s the only way to find some peace of mind, especially if you’re just starting out and are slightly unsure of how to proceed. By joining a meditation group, you are providing yourself with the resources and knowledge of people who have been successfully meditating for many, many years. There is no reason to not take advantage, regardless of what some silly notion about meditation may claim.

While these are only three, there is a whole slew of false beliefs out there about meditation just waiting to be disproved. You can see some more here.

New Study Finds Mindfulness Meditation Can Reduce Chronic Pain

If you’re someone that suffers from chronic pain, there may be a highly effective, medication-free option you haven’t explored yet: mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) was founded back in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and recent studies have been demonstrating just how effective MBSR can be.

In a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 342 patients who suffer from chronic low-back pain were divided into two groups. One group was treated with MBSR and the other was treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT patients focused on using strategies that incorporated thought and behavior modification, while MBSR used yoga and mindfulness meditation. All patients participated in weekly workshops for a total of eight weeks before continuing to practice the pain relieving strategies back home.

After all patients used their respective strategies for one year, MBSR proved to be more helpful. The CBT group results capped after 26 weeks, while the MBSR group results capped after 52 weeks.

Mindfulness is thought to be so effective on chronic pain for a number of reasons. First, mindfulness helps bring a different perspective to pain. Instead of having perpetual negative thoughts and anxiety over discomfort, mindfulness meditation allows people to study their pain with curiosity and without judgement.

It also brings a more realistic awareness to the situation, so for example, someone who may think they suffer from pain all day, may realize through mindful meditation that he or she actually feels pain only in certain circumstances, positions, or a predictable number of times a day. Being more aware of the highs and lows of pain can help people manage it.

Another way mindfulness might help with chronic pain is by helping us manage goals and expectations. When we expect pain to go away with a certain practice, exercise, or medication, and it doesn’t, our brain naturally becomes alarmed and frustrated. We start to think things like “nothing ever works,” “this pain is the worst,” “it’ll never go away.” This kind of attitude actually amplifies our subjective view of our pain. This is why mindfulness, which allows us to bring more objective observation to our pain, can be so effective in reducing our own perceptions of chronic pain.

Now that you have a better understanding of how mindful mediation can help you deal with chronic pain, give the following mindful-based strategies a try for yourself:

Body scan – A body scan is an essential part of the MBSR practice. In a seated position with closed eyes, slowly run through every part of your body in your own mind, paying attention to each different part, starting from your feet and moving up to the top of your head. As you check in with each body part, notice the sensations that are present in each part. This will allow you to better understand where your body feels unbalanced. It will also help you keep your pain in perspective: “this is what my pain feels like right now. It may not always feel this way.”

Focus on the breath – We often get so preoccupied with physical or even emotional pain that we neglect to give our minds and bodies a break from the experience. In a seated position with closed eyes, breath in until you fill up every part of your lungs from bottom to top. Hold for 5 seconds, and then breath out slowly until you have completely emptied your lunge. Do this 5 times, moving slowing and paying attention to each moment of the breath. This exercise will not only calm the body and mind, but it will help you escape the ruminating thoughts you may be suffering from about your pain.

Distractions – Distractions come in most handy when your pain is high, especially when breathing exercises aren’t working. Sometimes we need something more engaging that we can completely throw our minds into. Ideally your distraction of choice should get you into a “flow state” that allows you to forget about your own awareness entirely. Read a book, write a story, compose a song, etc. Do activities that require full attention of your thoughts and even make your forget about time itself as you’re doing them. Sometimes the best way to manage your pain is simply by getting your mind off of it.

There’s no medication that will eliminate chronic pain forever, so we need alternative ways to manage pain using our own minds and resources. Chronic pain can easily start to feel like it’s running our lives. Mindfulness meditation can help us re-capture control of our lives.

John Kaweske, Colorado resident, has been meditating for years. He finds that the practice helps him with his focus and ability to lead his entrepreneurial ventures. To learn more about his career and life, please visit his main website.

5 Meditation Methods for People Who Hate Sitting Still

When most people think of meditation, they conjure up an image of a serene looking person sitting cross legged with their eyes closed in some kind of beautiful beachfront scenery. While this kind of meditation is great, it’s not the only way to meditate.

In fact, you can meditate without sitting or closing your eyes at all. When people hear this, they are often intrigued. Most people have heard of the mental and physical health benefits of meditation by now (including preventing disease, reducing stress, and treating depression), but many people still hesitate to try it simply because the idea of sitting still with nothing to do but look at the inside of their eyelids for even a few minutes seems entirely unappealing.

Luckily, you don’t have to learn to like sitting still in order to practice and reap the benefits of meditation. You just need to find an alternative form of practice.

Here are five alternative methods of meditation you should try.

Qigong

The word Qigong is made up of two Chinese words: Qi (pronounced “chee”) means life force or the energy that flows through all things in the universe. Gong (pronounced “gung”) means accomplishment or skill that is cultivated through steady practice. Together, Qigong means cultivating energy.

Qigong is an integration of physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions practiced for health maintenance, healing, and increasing vitality. The focus on intention and breath gives the the practice it’s meditative quality.

The practices can actually be classified as martial, medical, and/or spiritual in nature. But regardless of your intentions, Qigong has many health benefits for all. The gentle, rhythmic movements reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune system. Practicing this ancient art form has been shown to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic, and digestive functions, not to mention giving you all the health benefits that come along with regular meditation.

Yoga

Yoga requires a focused mind that utilizes breath, body awareness, and a total commitment to the moment to perform. This rhythmic synchronization between movement and breath gives this practice a meditative aspect, and it also helps you work up quite a sweat!

Not only will yoga give you the benefits of meditation, it will also increase flexibility, strength, stamina, and balance. When you incorporate meditation into exercise, your whole self wins.

Walking Meditation

Whether you’re taking a walk around the block or climbing to the top of a trail, walking can be a form of meditation, as long as you remember to stay in the moment.

Mindfulness is the mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment. Instead of letting your mind wander aimlessly as you traverse the world, focus each moment on the individual step you’re taking, breath you’re inhaling or exhaling, or the weight of your body. As you notice thoughts and feelings beginning to distract you from the moment, calmly acknowledge and accepting them and return your attention back to the moment you’re in.

Walking is great for your cardiovascular system, and incorporating mindfulness into your walk will help you reap those extra benefits.

Mindful eating

Most people don’t think of lunch time as an opportunity for meditation or mindfulness, but it is! In fact, every meal can be a practice in meditation if you want it to be.

Next time you sit down for a meal or snack, take your time to savor every bite of your meal. Explore every texture, taste, and sensation you feel as you eat. As with walking, don’t let thoughts and feelings about things you need to do later in the day or something that happened in the past distract you. Acknowledge any intruding thoughts, and simply return your attention to your food.

You’ll finish your meal feeling not only full, but more mentally refreshed, clear, and focused.

Being In Nature

There have been a ton of studies as of late about the benefits being in nature has on our minds and mental health. In fact, just 5 minutes in nature is enough for you to start feeling those benefits.

Instead of having lunch at your desk (again), spend your lunch outdoors in a nearby park. On the weekend, take a stroll along the beach or through the hills. You’ll feel more relaxed, improve your mood, and even your self-esteem.

Conclusion

Everyone is different, and that means it’s okay if the kind of meditation your friend likes to do doesn’t work for you. Anyone can benefit from meditation, but you’re way more likely to stick to the practice if you find an activity you like that incorporates it. Try out a few of these for you and see what works.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other activities you’ve found ways to incorporate mindfulness into!

John Kaweske, Colorado resident, has been meditating for years. He finds that the practice helps him with his focus and ability to lead his entrepreneurial ventures. To learn more about his career and life, please visit his main website.

How to Incorporate More Mindfulness Into Your Work Day

We know that mindfulness helps decrease stress, increase focus, and fuel productivity, so what better place to utilize such a helpful tool than in the work place?

While you may not want to sit cross-legged in the middle of your cubicle letting out long “oooommmmm” sounds for 20 minutes every day, there are easier (and less eye-turning) ways to incorporate mindfulness into your day-to-day. Here are 5 simple ways to be more mindful as you work.

Practice the one-minute meditation.

Everyone, no matter what your job, can find 1 minutes each day for themselves. Next time you take a break to do something less mindful (like checking your text messages, personal email, or making a quick call), consider instead giving that minute entirely to yourself. Find a quiet place, relax, and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing, the sensations going through your body in that very moment, how each limb feels to be resting or supporting one another. As you notice different sensations in each part of yourself, consciously calm the area you’re focusing on. When you feel like you’ve reconnected with your body and the present moment, open your eyes. You’ll be amazed at how just a few seconds of internal focus can make the rest of your day more manageable and fulfilling.

Be present in every personal interaction.

It’s easy to answer your coworkers question without even looking up from your computer or fill your water cup without engaging in the small talk going on around you. Instead of brushing by the people around, engage fully in every in-person interaction you come across. This doesn’t mean you have to sit and have an existential, heart-to-heart with every person who asks if you have a stapler at your desk. It just means that when they do, you engage in the action completely. Separate yourself from what you were previously doing. Acknowledge the person fully, and say “you’re welcome” with a smile and eye contact when they thank you. By giving your full attention to the people you’re speaking to, you will foster better interpersonal relationships, better understand what those around you need and how you can help, and you’ll have the opportunity to get back into the present moment if you lost track of it working at your desk the past few hours.

Stop rushing through your lunch break.

First of all, stop eating at your desk. It’s sad, unnecessary, and you should never do it again (okay, maybe not never.) Second, find a calm place to eat, and savor each bite of food from beginning to end. Not only is eating quickly bad for digestion, but sitting at your desk from the moment you walk in to the moment you leave is bad for your health and stress levels. Worried that you’ll look less dedicated or miss something crucial while you’re away from your desk? Be the person to spark this change in your office. Invite the people around you to join you for lunch in the break room or cafeteria. You’ll help everyone feel more refreshed and focused, which is good for the whole team.

walk better.

When you’re walking to a meeting or to take a bathroom break, don’t multitask on your phone. Don’t rush. Don’t go over your meeting prep notes one last time. Don’t do anything but focus on the exact steps you are taking in that very moment. Haven’t had a reason to stand up from your desk in an hour or two? Take a lap around the office just because. Chances are no one is going to question where you’re walking, and if they do, you can say you’re stretching you’re legs. We often see walking to and from things as a hassle or something stopping us from those few extra moments of productivity. Stop it. Walking is good for you. We should all be enjoying every moment of movement we get in our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Walk mindfully by focusing on the sensation of the ground beneath your feet and the cadence of your breath. Greet other around the office as you go and engage in their responses to you. You’ll feel more energized and refreshed each time you walk.

Mindfulness has it’s limitations. Figure out the root of your stress.

Today’s workplace is often a fast-paced, output-oriented battleground that pushes us to and past our mental limits. Mindfulness can help you manage your stress, but working 50+ hours every week, being part of a toxic team, or being held to unrealistic expectations will lead to exhaustion, poor morale, and depleted productivity. Managing your emotional response to stress is only part of taking care of yourself. It’s also important to manage the causes of your stress as well. Take time to figure out the underlying factors that are causing your stress and possible solutions to fix them. Then enact those solutions. If you come across an inherent problem that can’t be fixed, it might be time to move onto a new job. Your wellness is the most important consideration, and no promotion, salary increase, or level of power is worth sacrificing your happiness every day for. Hopefully bringing more mindfulness into your life will help you tell the difference between the things you can and cannot control.

Your positivity and engagement around the office will not only make you more happy and engaged, but it will most likely be appreciated by everyone who interacts with you. Never be afraid to be the change you want to see, in your workplace or otherwise.

John Kaweske has been practicing meditation and mindfulness for nearly two decades. For more information about his life and experience, please visit John Kaweske’s main website.

Meditation Tips For Beginners

Starting anything new can always be tough and intimidating. Remember your first day of high school? How scary that probably was, but eventually you learned some tricks of the trade to get you by day to day. Getting use to little things like working out and even meditation can be scary. Not knowing if you are doing is working or are performing correctly. Let’s focus on meditation and some simple tips to get beginners on the right path of mediation.

1. Habit

With anything to be done, it is important to make a habit. Making sure you are taking time out of a busy schedule to meditate. There is no reason to skip any days if you make it a habit daily.

2. Time

Time is of upmost importance when meditating. Making sure there are zero distractions around and being able to focus and clear your mind. A great meditation session comes when there are no distractions or children running around, just to name an example. If you only plan to meditate for ten minutes, make sure those ten minutes count.

3. Size

To piggyback of tip #2, if you are only meditating for a certain amount, make that amount count. Unlike stories heard in the past, meditate to what works best for your schedule, no matter how long or short it may be. As long as the time allotted to meditating is truly focused. There is no need to force yourself to meditate if you cannot truly lose yourself in deep thought and breathing.

4. Position

Unlike to pictures you may see, to meditate you do not have to sit in pretzel style. Although, this position helps most people focus, it is important to sit in a comfortable position which best suites your needs. Even if that means laying down on your back or doing a handstand. Whatever is most comfortable.

5. Breath

Most important tip is breathing. Deep, long breaths are key to relaxation. Many may not notice, but throughout everyday, not many focus on their breathes. Taking time to focus on this important aspect of your life can show changes in a very short amount of time.

John Kaweske, Colorado resident, has been meditating for years. He finds that the practice helps him with his focus and ability to lead his entrepreneurial ventures. To learn more about his career in renewable energy, please visit his main website.

Steps To Know Before Meditating

For many meditation is a form of relaxation and a great way to unwind. Unfortunately many feel the pressure that they are not meditating correctly. Meditation is something that calms your body and is supposed to be simple. People are straying away from this idea and are complicating this simple form of relaxation. Here are few tips which could help everyone get back to the simplicity that meditating once provided.

Many believe that you must sit cross legged, with your pointer finger and thumb touching mumbling ‘ohm’ under your breath. That is not the case, meditation should take place in whichever form you find comfortable. Comfort is key, it is expected to be relaxing, one form may differ from another’s form, that does not make it wrong.

Meditation is known for also known for improving health concerns and helps boost the immune system. For example according to the Huffington Post, “Meditation can help boost the immune system, reduce stress and anxiety, improve concentration, decrease blood pressure, improve your sleep, increase your happiness, and has even helped people deal with alcohol or smoking addictions.” The long term gains from meditation are evident and many have lived a healthier life from long term mediation.

It is also very important to take a step back from meditating and reflect to see if any changes have been made in attitude, sleeping habits, etc. It is important because if no changes are noticed, it might be smart to change up tactics and find a new method which helps you while keeping you calm.

 John Kaweske, Colorado resident, has been meditating for years. He finds that the practice helps him with his focus and ability to lead his entrepreneurial ventures. To learn more about his career in renewable energy, please visit his main website.

© 2018 John Kaweske. All rights reserved.

Theme by Anders Norén.