Strengthening my meditation muscle

Wanted to share an update to my journey of embedding meditation into my daily life. 

It has been 42 days since I re-started meditation after many failed attempts in the past, and getting this far has been one of my happiest and most fulfilling achievements for 2017. 

I am not patient for an activity like this – my life is filled with non-stop inputs and outputs that come with being a workaholic family guy, career person, and business owner. But I think I’ve grown wiser; heard it being the “secret of success” enough times from high-performance role models I look up to; and reached a point where my current mode of doing things was unsustainable and that something needed to give. 

I started off using the Headspace app on my iPhone, and it was a great entry-level tool to get into meditation. It was free (the first 10 days – and you can do it over and over again, which I did), it was guided by a friendly voice named Andy to keep me focused on the right things, and it wasn’t weird like what you might imagine from the movies (sitting cross-legged, high on a mountain top with strange music lol). 

I did 20 days of the 10-minute guided sessions, and then increased the time to 20 minutes – where it’s 10 minutes of guidance and 10 minutes of pure silence. 

I did this for another 20 days before this week – where now I have stopped using the Headspace app completely and have been on Day 2 of complete silence for 20 minutes. 
I plan on increasing the time to 40 minutes (baby steps) and adding in the weekends (I currently only do it on the weekdays). 

It’s not perfect – there are days when I am so distracted with things I need to do for the day, and times when I actually nod off to sleep lol – but I will say that the benefits have been nothing short of amazing. Time seems to have slowed down for me and I have more of it. I tend to have better focus during my work sessions. I am less reactive and do more important things first. I am making better decisions, or at least responding to bad decisions in a healthy manner with learning lessons and quickly correcting steps. And it’s one of the wins I achieve in the morning that makes the rest of the day a success, regardless of what happens. 

The Headspace app wants you to put both feet on the floor with hands on your lap; I learned from my masseuse that she does it laying down with a rolled up towel under her knees, because she has back pain; and for the last two days I’ve been doing it cross-legged in my car before I head out to work for the day (before the rest of the day steals my quiet time). What I’m saying is that there is no wrong way, everybody’s journey to being more present is different, and that you need to action and try it. 

If you think you don’t have time to do it – like I did – it’s even more the reason that you need it. 

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Do it right from the start – My morning habit

Your effectiveness – in your business and personal life – is sooooo much better when you optimize the beginning of whatever you’re doing.

When you start your day, what daily habits can you implement to ensure that no matter what happens, your day ends in success?

For me, since the beginning of the year I’ve followed this ritual:

  1. Wake up at 4a-5a in the morning. This is the best time for me to have quiet and focus. I do not check my phone for any messages.
  2. Prayer. It usually goes like this: “God – please help me hear what you want to tell me. And please give me the strengthen to follow your will. And if I don’t do anything else, I want to love you more and get to know you better. And You are sovereign, in control, and always provide – I have nothing to worry about. And please help me put You first and throughout everything.”
  3. Walk/Feed the dogs. I have 3 chihuahuas (my wife is a dog fanatic, and the only reason why we have 3 is because in Irvine it’s illegal to have 4 or more lol) that I take out to the park across the street. While this isn’t my favorite thing to do at first, I get to move my muscles before I sit down to work; the cold morning air is invigoriating; and the sunrise is beautiful. Doing this and feeding them feels like making my bed (and I can’t do that while wifey is sleeping, so this is the alternate), and that’s another win I can add to the tally.
  4. Read the daily Bible devotional from Marketplace Leaders. Once a day, I get an email from this site that takes a Bible passage and dissects/explains it as it relates to our everyday struggles as a Christian businessperson, marketer, salesperson, and overall worker. It’s helped me remember that doing God’s work doesn’t happen only on Sundays, as a pastor, at a soup kitchen, on the mission field, and off work hours. Jesus did more miracles and called more people to Him in the workplace – where we spend most/all of our time; and that whatever we do for work, it’s a form of worship if we do it with the right mindset.
  5. Journal. Yep, I write there AND I write here. I use DayOne to share my confidential thoughts/challenges/wins, jot down unrefined ideas, clarify my thoughts, and document memories. This is where I brain dump, and clear the space my head for good/positive/helpful thoughts to pour in.
  6. Drink water & brew green tea. It’s universally accepted that drinking a cup of cold water will jump-start your body and prime yourself for burning calories; and green tea is my preferred method of caffeination.
  7. Meditate. Over the years I’ve failed at meditating for long periods of time; I’d give up after a few days and a few minutes. During those times, I didn’t use the relevant method for me; I didn’t have the right mindset; I didn’t have sustainable expectations; I wasn’t mature enough; I didn’t have enough BS in my life to benefit from it; and I guess I didn’t hear it nagging at me enough times until now.  I have the Headspace app downloaded on my phone and do the “Take 10” guided sessions, and they have been incredible for me. I’m now on my 3rd go-round and have increased my meditation time to 15 minutes a day. I hear from Tim Ferriss and others that 20 minutes is where the real benefits kick in, and I’m excited to get there after this rotation.
  8. Read. I feel the most fulfilled when I am reading, learning, and growing. It’s the body version of the personal finance principle “investing in yourself first.” I’m currently reading Tim Ferriss’ “Tools of Titans” (the main inspiration for this post); John Eldreadge’s “Moving Mountains” (a gift from a great friend and amazing online businessperson Dean Soto); Tony Robbins’ “Money Master the Game;” Bob Fifer’s “Double Your Profits: In Six Months” (recommended by Fransmart CEO Dan Rowe); and Brendan Moynihan’s “What I Learned Losing A Million Dollars.”
  9. Blog (if inspired).

I don’t succeed every day (I miss 1-2 of these items about once or twice a week) and I don’t follow these habits on the weekend (I sleep in; I do love being lazy, too). But whenever I get this checklist done, I feel primed and have better control over my decisions. I get the most important things done first and don’t get seduced by social media, text messages, and emails that will eat me alive…and somehow get done anyway =)

I envision my day as a big empty bucket on a beach full of sand and rocks. When you sand – the small, trivial things – to the top of the bucket, you make no room for rocks – the most important things. But if you decide to fill the bucket with rocks first, you will still be able to pour sand after, through the openings that rocks leave.

It’s interesting – When I started this post, I didn’t expect to write this much; and I didn’t think that I’d want to write another “Do It Right From The Start” post. It might even become a series.

Goes to show that you don’t need to know all the details sometimes. Just take action.

I’m interested in learning how others set themselves up for a successful day. Please share!