Cultivating Spontaneous Moments of Mindfulness

One of the first issues that you’ll need to deal with in your meditation practice is the tendency for your attention to jump from object to object, all by itself.

You sit down to meditate with the intention of keeping your attention focused on the breath, and what happens?

Your attention stays with the breath for a few moments, and then jumps to another sensation, such as the sound of the garbage truck rumbling down your street. Then before you know it, you’ve got images of garbage trucks in your head. And thoughts saying “why do they need to do pick up so early?” And “how nice it would be to live somewhere quieter”.

And then you’re suddenly a little girl or little boy again on a family vacation somewhere out in the country, where it’s nice and quiet. And then …

… oh yeah, you’re supposed to be paying attention to the breath!

This is a natural tendency of the mind.

And it seems to be a constant source of irritation and discouragement for many, many meditators.

But, regardless of how bad you might think you are at meditating, there always seems to come a point when suddenly, spontaneously, you remember what it was you were supposed to be doing.

I call these “Spontaneous Moments of Mindfulness” and there’s a way to cultivate them so they occur more frequently and help you stay on task during your meditation.

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Why Your Anger Isn’t the Problem

I’ve had a lot of requests for more information about how to use mindfulness to deal with intense emotions, such as anger.

This is a tricky topic, because it’s so easy to fall into the trap of trying to use mindfulness to suppress or somehow get rid of your anger.

Not only is this kind of approach counterproductive, it completely misses the point of applying mindful awareness to these sorts of situations!

In this blog post I try to clarify these issues for you and give you some practical advice on how to work with things like anger.

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Don’t Mess with the Breath
(if you want to develop Mindfulness)

One of the things that often comes up for people during meditation, is the difficulty of just allowing the breath to be however it is while simply observing it. There’s a strong tendency to mess with the breath somehow, especially because it often seems to change, all by itself, when you’re observing it. One minute, it might be nice and smooth, and then the next minute, it turns all choppy or raspy, and you think, ‘hey, what happened! I want my breath to stay nice and smooth!”

But, if you can resist the urge to monkey with your breath when you notice it changing in this way, it’s a golden opportunity to catch a glimpse of something really important and fundamental.

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The Promises and Perils of Guided Meditations

I love guided meditations.

They’re an excellent instructional tool because they can teach you the detailed mechanics of a meditation practice in real time, while you’re doing the meditation.

You don’t need to keep a bunch of meditation instructions in your head while simultaneously trying to learn a new skill.

And so, while you’re learning, you’re able to pay better attention in the moment to what you’re supposed to be doing during the meditation.

Guided meditations are also really great for giving beginners a taste of what a given meditation is like, because they really lower the barrier to entry. They make it relatively easy for someone who hasn’t done much or any meditation before to actually experience what it’s like to do the practice.

But, there’s a dark side to them.

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42 Meditation Tips for People Who Are Way Too Busy to Meditate

“Nick, I’d really like to meditate more, but I just don’t have the time to sit everyday for 10 or 15 minutes. My life’s way too busy.”

I hear this one all the time from my students and I understand how difficult it can be to take time out for yourself. It can feel like you’re being selfish, like you can’t really justify it when there’s so many other things that need attending to. Jobs, kids, relationships, etc. Life can get really crazy!

Even if you’re convinced that meditation is a really good thing to do. That it can help you get some peace and calm in your hectic life, help you to relax and de-stress.

Even if you have a yearning to live more in the present moment and reconnect with your spiritual side, somehow meditation just never gets high enough on the list of priorities.

There’s an easy solution.

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