Monthly Meditations: March 2019 Issue


Monthly Meditations is a series that I started in order to catalogue my thoughts on various subjects. I write and share these with somewhat of a consistent schedule on LinkedIn. I decided that it would be a good idea to put all of these thoughts into one place. That way, you don’t have to consume more information on social media (hats off to you), and you can catch up in one sitting over a nice cup of coffee. I try to encourage engagement and discussions on these topics, so feel free to comment on LinkedIn, in these monthly entries, or reach out to me personally. Enjoy!

03/04/19 - Walking is underrated. In a society that is living faster and harder than ever, fatigue-chasing activities are being sought after at an unprecedented rate.

Good health benefits occur at 6000-7500 steps per day, while the highest level of benefit seems to occur around 10,000 plus steps. Slapping on a wearable device may offer some extrinsic motivation in the form of an electronic reward. But as with any meaningful change, we require intrinsic motivation.

We need to find activity that we inherently love, which yields the outcome we desire. Not pacing back and forth for the sake of our quantified self. The latter may work to spark the desired change, but lasting change requires a meaningful connection to the activity at hand.

Said another way: Those who love walking for the sake of walking, are probably more likely to sustain the behaviour than those who constantly look to their wrist to check their current step count.

To take it a step further (no pun intended), those who have work to get done or a destination to get to, and walking is a means of achieving that goal, the situation is contextualized even further leading to greater meaning.

Remember: You aren’t a hamster on a wheel. Find ways to create more context around movement in your life.

03/06/19 Why is it so easy to focus our attention on negativity?

1) It’s hard wired into our DNA.
2) We are surrounded by it.
3) It sells.

There’s a stronger biological response to do whatever it takes avoid pain/death than there is to say, laugh with a group of friends over a funny joke.

What about the fear of asking the girl you really like out on a date? How about starting that book you’ve wanted to write for years? Or talking in front of a group of people about something you’re passionate about? Your brain pretty much sees a lion chasing you in all of these scenarios. But it’s not real.

The news, gossiping, and people making a big deal out of things not really that threatening causes you to shift your lens into an amplified negative perspective. It perpetually becomes easier to talk about the bad.

So what if everyday you practiced gratitude? If you feel upset there are still things to be grateful for. The clothes on your body. The roof over your head. We take these things for granted because we already have these basic human needs. We move up Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs but forget that even at the top, we still need a foundation.

Once you realize your ability to exercise gratitude no matter the situation, fortune will come in abundance.

03/08/19 We need connection and communication to help meet our basic human needs.

We communicate daily with coworkers, customers, spouses, family, coaches, the barista, barber, cashier, and fill in the blank however you see fit.

The time we spend communicating far outweighs the time we spend in the kitchen or gym. Yet we rarely learn how to communicate effectively. This is sad because learning communication is one of the best things you can do for your wellbeing. Maybe if learning how to listen and express ourselves was as sexy as a Crossfit WOD or 21 day detox, we might be in a better place.

Here are three things you can do to become a more efficient communicator.

1) Practice self-compassion: Observe your thoughts and feelings free of judgment. You are with yourself more than anyone else. It stands to reason that being kind to yourself is important.

2) Develop pathological empathy: Genuinely care for the other person. That doesn’t mean waiting your turn to speak. Listen to what they are trying to express. Two ears one mouth may serve as a reasonable heuristic.

3) Focus on contribution not blame: Focusing on blame is past, and judgement oriented. Contribution is present, and mindful oriented. Everyone involved played a role in how things played out.

03/11/19 One third of our lives should be spent sleeping.

Think about that volume of time for a moment. When our eyes are shut, and we move through the various stages of sleep, an orchestra of phenomenal physiological changes begins to play. There is nothing that we can consciously do that would come even as close to offering the benefits that sleep provides.

Yet we push it away. We stay up late for another Netflix show. We dwell on things in the past. We stare at our handheld digital slot machines. We praise those that can somehow manage to work late into the evening, and rise early and get back to the "grind." - the absurdity of which cannot be overstated.

Questions to assess your sleep hygiene. From Matthew Walkers, 'Why We Sleep.'

1) After waking up could you fall asleep again at 10 or 11 am? If "Yes," then you may not be getting enough sleep quantity and/or quality.

2) Can you function optimally without caffeine before noon? If “No,” then you may possibly be self-medicating chronic sleep deprivation.

3) Do you have sleep disturbances like trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep? If so, you may have too much negative stress in your life leading to a spike in stress hormones at the wrong times.

A potential sequel for Aubrey Marcus: Own Your Sleep, Own Your Life

03/12/19 If you think meditation is woo woo, you may not understand the power of your autonomic nervous system - which pretty much governs everything.

Our brains are either in a state of sympathetic or parasympathetic activity. The former can be thought of as your “fight or flight” response, where the latter is your, “rest and digest.”

When a perceived threat (boss yelling, intense work out, bad driver) happens, a spike in sympathetic activity occurs. When you eat a meal, hug a friend, or meditate, parasympathetic happens.

Our society of worker harder, do more, consumption, interruption, and distraction, all push the ‘fight or flight’ pedal down further. Enter burnout, anxiety, disease.

Recovery and growth happens in a state on relaxation, not tension.

✔️ Want to digest your food better? Slow down. Eat mindfully.
✔️Want to recover faster between intense workouts? Balance it with rejuvenating, low-intense movement like walking, or yoga.
✔️Want to reduce stress? Focus on non-attachment to, and the non-judgment of, negative thoughts.

Put another way: Meditate. Focus on doing one thing with your undivided attention. You have to learn to flip the switch between these autonomic branches.

Give yourself the space to breath, to relax, and to be.

03/13/19 Whatever you buy into - it comes at a cost. Ground yourself.

Rapid weight loss from whatever diet can get buy-in. No doubt about it. The emotional image of looking and feeling good, paired with the instant results - easy to jump onboard with. But there is a cost.

This is living with a scarcity mindset. We crave something we don't have. In this case, the body, health, and performance we desire. Giving into impulses based around doubt and fear is how we are easily sold on shortcuts, hacks, and instant gratification. We are also more likely to fall off track as if we started our journey form a place of high emotion, we may make emotional decisions along the way as well, leading to inconsistency.

We have to take ownership of our well-being from a place of compassion, and empathy for ourselves. This is living with an abundance mindset.

Buy into long-term development, building skills, exploration, play, expression, and intrinsically valuable expectations. Everyday, and every moment is full of opportunity, lessons, feedback, and growth.

Choose an abundance mindset. Start your journey from a place full of the right reasons. If not, it's far more likely that we will succumb to an industry that sells us on image - not a thriving well-being.

03/14/19 Whether you are at the top of your game or feeling down, there are systems within you that want you to thrive.

Everyday on average our:

- Heart beats 108,000 times.
- Lungs cycle through 23,000 breaths.

These, plus many more processes in our bodies all fall below our conscious awareness. Yet every cell, organ, and system is doing what it can to ensure your survival.

What are you doing today to make your heart beat more efficiently?

What are you doing today to influence the quality of your breath?

Are you harming or healing yourself?

Start by showing gratitude for your whole self. Respect your whole self with constant mindfulness, self-compassion, and care. Optimize your whole self with the commitment to quality nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management.

03/15/19 Living long doesn’t matter if each of those years isn’t full of vibrant wellbeing.

The advent of modern medicine and technology, along with their rapidly increasing accessibility, has allowed humans to stave off infection, disease, and death. The human life span has increased exponentially over the past two hundred years.

However, societal pressures along with not taking care of ourselves has us reacting in a constant state of sick-care.

It's said that a frog put in water which is increased in temperature slightly until the water is boiling, that the frog then dies. The frog was unable to feel the slight changes in the water temperature, and didn’t jump out of the water.

I'm not sure the truth of this, but it offers a reasonable comparison:

A lot of us may be slowly burning up inside because of inactivity, processed sugars, lack of sleep, not enough water, inflammation, digestive issues, lack of muscle mass, too much fat, stress, environmental toxins, lack of emotional and creative expression, and more.

But if we live with these problems everyday, we become numb to their existence. We attach them as who we are and believe their existence is normal. And then it becomes too late.

Don't wait. Choose opt-in self care, not forced-in disease care.

03/18/19 Your relationship with your work better be that of deep meaning and purpose. Your health (mind, body, and spirit) doesn't deserve anything short of this.

Do you consider your work a job, a career, or your calling?

If you don't love what you do:

a) Step back and be grateful for what you DO have and
b) Find something else.

Any thoughts that revolve around complaining and blaming must be let go of. We live in a world of whatever we think it to be. Raise your frequency and vibrations to abundance, gratitude, love, and kindness.

You can't control a lot of stuff in this word, but you can control your mindset, actions, effort, and who your surround yourself with.

03/21/19 Your ability to forgive yourself is crucial for your journey towards living a healthier life.

A good policy to live by is the 'Clean Slate Policy.'

No matter what you did in the past, it can only stay there. It's unchangeable, thus it's not worth your mental and emotional energy dwelling on. 

What history does afford us is lessons and clues. If you come from a place of non judgement, non attachment, and self-compassion, you reap the rewards of learning from your obstacles with humility and purpose.

Forgiving yourself, and then falling into the same negative behaviours is not true forgiveness - especially if all the while you are negatively comparing yourself to others.

True forgiveness is understanding that you are human, that we all make mistakes, and that you will do your absolute best within your current means to make better choices moving forward.

"Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today." Jordan B. Peterson

03/25/2019 The fitness industry is a massive sales pitch for a society locked into the extremes of sick-care and superficiality.

Meanwhile: Societal forces, food scientists, and marketing campaigns nudge us to foods and behaviours that instantly gratify us - rarely resulting in the improvement of our health.

When you go to Okinawa, Sardinia, Nicoya, and Ikaria, (among many other Blue Zones) you don't have to sell them on work-life balance, exercise, and nutrition. These are already unspoken truths, woven into the fabric of their culture.

The environment shapes the individual. This is one reason that obesity and sick care is happening in the West. Do no overlook your surroundings. And do not underestimate it's power. You are not stronger than the forces around you. Change starts from within and is guided by what/who is around us.

Fitness trends can scale at a macro level from a pure attention grabbing standpoint, but crumble at the individual level as their environment wasn't conducive to the desired lifestyle change.

The question is, "Does my environment (i.e., work, home, commute, events, friends, family, coworkers, etc) support my health and wellbeing?"

Thank you for reading my article. I hope you found it helpful or at least thought-provoking. If this post did help you, consider sharing it with someone you think it would help too.