Keep calm and enter the Void

If you saw the Netflix show Stranger Things, then you’ll get my next analogy about the Void. The Void appears as a vast infinite expanse of black nothing abyss. It is entirely empty and black, except for the character Eleven herself and whatever or whoever she is trying to locate. Next time you meditate, close your eyes and imagine entering the Void within your mind. It’s entirely still and dark. Thoughts will appear in the distance. Observe then and then keep moving. If you get a freaked out, then open your eyes and start again.

This is a refuge inside of your mind, just for you. Your thoughts will still appear, but this isn’t their home, so let go as smoothly as they arrived.

Remember to breathe.

Compounded benefits

Nine women can’t make a baby in one month. It’s an overused phrase in business, but it’s still a goodie. The sentence is typically a response when someone on the project team asks if more people will accelerate the timing of the project. More doesn’t always equal faster.

Got a beach holiday planned this summer? Doing 200 sit-ups the day before you hit the beach isn’t going to get you that flat tummy. You’ll probably strain a back muscle in the process though.

Want to get a clean bill of health during your annual physical? Staying off sugar, not drinking booze and cutting back on red meat for one week before the blood test isn’t going to help your cholesterol levels.

Are you saving for retirement? Living large and waiting for a liquidity pop or a lottery ticket to play catch up when you are older is a risky move.

Some things you have to do every day. Slow and steady. Be patient and find joy in the day to day rituals. Most things in life compound over time. Start with a little bit every day, and it’ll grow over time.

Blue fire belly breathing

Here’s a breathing tip

Sit in lotus pose or if it’s more comfortable then kneel on the floor. Relax your body from head to toe, and slowly start belly breathing. Inhale and exhale through your nose.

Imagine a small fire at the base of your belly. Every inhale of fresh oxygen fuels the flames. The exhale relaxes your tummy and lets the light expand. Inhaled fuel the fire and exhales loosen up the body. Grow the fire by inhaling until changes from yellow to orange to blue. The flame is so big now that it needs more space. Your exhales are turn blue as the heat escapes your body and fight more space around you. Keep feeding the fires and feeling you tummy becomes warmer and looser. Wind it down slowly with slower, and longer inhale. Expel the blue flame with your last exhalation. Sit and feel the warm afterglow permeate through your body.

Done.

The soft claw

People tend to slump over when they meditate. The head drops and shoulders slump. This posture closes the chest and throat in a moment where you want maximum airflow.

Here’s a quick tip:

Halfway through the session take a moment to check in with your posture and body position. After the check-in, if you are feeling constricted then imagine a soft claw coming down from the ceiling. It’s the same kind of claw that you see in the arcade machine that grabs toys, but the grip is so delicate that the toys end up falling.

Imagine the claw slowly grabs your head and starts lifting you up. Your neck extends, your chest opens up, and your spine straightens. Just like in the arcade the claw slips off your head and retracts away. Your posture is now open, upright and relaxed.

Starry eyes

“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson,

I wonder what Emerson would think today if he could look into our homes at night. He would see televisions on and people sitting on couches with a phone in their hands. They’d be half watching TV and half watching their phone. They’d look kind of comatose. Do we appreciate what we have?

Galactic knowledge is the palm of our hands, and the beauty of nature is all around us. What a radical time to be alive. The challenge is to appreciate and harness the power of technology and channel it into a force for good, while also being grounded and humbled by the awesomeness of the night sky and our remarkable planet.  I think being grounded and humble will help us harness the power of all this innovation that’s happening at light speed right in front of us.

Exercising the flow muscle

Have you found that you can hardly get through a long news article these days? Reading a multipage document or an op-ed probably means skimming through the highlights before you click on a link, switch tabs in the browser or context shifting to another app. Reading a legal document is even more challenging. We’ve started to browse and snack through information versus sitting with it and digesting the message. It’s like fast food vs. a home-cooked meal. The home cooked meal takes longer, is more work and washing up, but it’s better for you and you understand the ingredients. Fast food with a quick bite and probably followed by a sugar high.

Concentrating takes practice. It’s a muscle. Fight the urge to context shift. Notifications on your phone are probably the most significant culprits. How many times have you been deep into something and are yanked out of the flow by a text message or a phone call? Start using Airplane mode and the Do Not Disturb function on your phone.

The stronger the muscle tissue becomes, the longer you can concentrate. This means getting more out of activities you enjoy, but it also means you can spend more time on things that don’t interest you but are essential like a tedious legal contract, safety manuals, assembly instructions.

Carve out the time and get into the flow.