Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Six tricks to help you meditate

All my reading seems to indicate that people think meditation is important and good for you. And for many years I've tried various forms of meditation, but none of them have stuck. Until I discovered a few tricks

1: You want to clear your mind: the easiest way to do this is to pay attention to your body: Your mind can only hold between 5 and 7 ideas at the same time - if one of them is your breathing, and another four are the feelings in your hands and feet, then you are well on your way to not having space to be distracted by other thoughts

2: John Gray suggests lying down and holding your hands above shoulder height. This absolutely helps you pay attention to them

3: A mantra is another thing you can pay attention to. Frankly a mantra can be anything, but I'm quite keep on John Grays "Oh Great Universe, my heart is open, please come into it and sit in it

4: When you have a thought that distracts you from the meditation, that isn't bad. Its natural. Just notice that you're thinking about it, and let it go away.

5: Sometimes thoughts come back again and again: did you leave the gas on? How long have you been at this now? Was that a noise downstairs? if this happens, stop meditating and go and have a look. These thoughts will only keep distracting you if you don't. There is no law that says how long you have to meditate for, or that you can't take a break in the middle.

6: Try buzzing while meditating. Its fun.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Free Legal Buzz!

You often don't know you're happy until it stops. But this can be overcome. By buzzing, you can enjoy those times when you are happy, and (with practise) edge yourself out of darker moods.

Start on a day when you're feeling OK. You don't have to feel great, just wait until you're not down or stressed or tired. Sit down somewhere comfortable and relax

Smile. Just a small smile. And imagine something that makes you happy. Something cute - a favourite small child or a basket of puppies. Feel the smile it brings to your lips. And pay attention to the rest of your body: what does that feel like? Do you feel a tingling sensation anywhere: perhaps in your finger or toes, or maybe in your cheeks? Pay attention to that feeling. Enjoy it. And begin to smile more. Paying more and more attention to the buzzing, tingling feeling. Feel that feeling move and grow.

Now smile even more. A big smile - a smile anyone looking at you would find ridiculous. Have fun with it - gurn with all your heart. All the time, pay attention to your body - pay attention to haw smiling and feeling happy feels.

Now hold onto it, and enjoy it for as long as you can.

This is buzzing. With practise you can do it, not only in a comfortable chair, but while waiting for a bus, or while walking along the road. Buzzing can even lift you out of a bad mood (sometimes), and when you're in a good mood, boy do you notice it more.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Not got the time?

I don't have time to improve myself

But you watch TV

But I need to relax somehow

Can you find a way to relax which is improving?

But I like to shut off

Isn't meditating shutting off?

But I can't meditate

Why not?

I can't shut off fully

Not even for 10 minutes?


Not event for 1 minute?


Well try for one minute today. and every day... that's just one commercial break of your time. And tomorrow we'll think about how to improve another minute. In 3600 days every minute of your life - waking and sleeping - will be amazing!

Friday, 19 March 2010

What do you want?

What I want from life is to be happy with what I've got. This doesn't mean I won't want anything more -but it will mean I don't yearn for those things, and I will not be dissatisfied if they elude me. It also doesn't mean that I have to be happy with what I have now, but neither does it mean I necessarily have to be a billionaire. I'm sure you can be happy with any amount of stuff - but I don't seem to be happy with where I am now - with he responsibilities I've taken on, and the requirements put on me day to day. So that's why I'm writing this blog - I want to get to the stage where I have everything I want - however much or little that turns out to be.

There is only one thing I truly want: Freedom.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

10 Places To Look For Magic Wands

The key is to find wands that work for you. I've found a number of places where I can find magic wands - the little tricks and changes you can make to your life with almost no effort and bring about big results. Below are the ten best places I've found for looking for new ideas

1: The Internet - the net is full of self help blogs, life hack blogs, motivational and advice blogs. Find someone whose ideas you like, then see who they link to

2: Bookshops - I'm a self help junkie - most of what I write here has been gained from years and years of reading self help books, and trying to extract the little bits which actually work

3: Toastmasters - Toastmasters isn't just about learning to speak - its about learning to lead, learning to have confidence, and finally, it is a remarkably clever education system - an alternative to the school system we are taught to think of as the best way to learn

4: doctors: Doctors can give you bad advice, and they can give you answers which act as brush offs, but if you approach doctors on their level, and explain to them calmly and intelligently why their standard advice doesn't work, then they begin to think about real cases where real patients made real changes. Doctors see lots of people, and have come across some truly amazing ideas.

5: Teachers: Like doctors, teachers spend their time working with people. they have the public speaking skills of toastmasters, and the inspirational skills of some of the best public speakers - as well as lots and lots of life experience. Ask a teacher about handling a problem, and they can give you many sided views

6: Your spouse, or partner, or family: My wife, every so often, just drops new ideas onto my lap. She doesn't always realise it - she just thinks shes telling me about her day, or about how something happened - or perhaps asking me for advise. By listening to my wife, and trying to help her with her problems, I learn new things

7: Your friends - how often have you been in a pub, chewing the fat and putting the world to rights when a friend says something that makes you stop and listen - a different view of a subject you've become too familiar wit, or their love for an activity you would otherwise have no interest in. Friends can spark ideas - never be afraid to let them challenge you

8: Strangers. Very occasionally I find myself taking to a stranger. And because strangers come from outside your world, outside your comfort zone, they can seem less like random occurrences and more like a meeting with a guru. Listen to the bites of zen they offer you, and see if, perhaps, they are giving you a key.

9: The radio. NPR or Radio 4 in the UK. How often it is i turn on the radio and listen to a program the subject of which I have no interest in, but because I'm doing something else, perhaps driving or doing some sort of mindless work, the chatter keeps my mind occupied. And as I listen to it, it begins to absorb me, throwing e into places I would otherwise not venture. The discovery channel is a bit like this, but TV is too absorbing. Radio seems to hold my attention in exactly the right way

10: Yourself. Because deep down, your a freak - everything you do is just a series of random actions. This is good - because we can watch those actions and see which ones work - and how they feel. We can tweak things and try them again and again and again. We are out best teacher, and the only subject we get to play with int he great experiment of life. Don't be afraid to play with your ideas. Write them down, expand on them when you're bored. And turn them into something beautiful.

Friday, 12 March 2010

About Magic Wands

When I was sixteen, half my life ago now, I was a mess. An emotional mess. Far more so that your average sixteen year old: I was depressed, and spent a month in a psychiatric hospital. Five years later, and I graduated with a good degree from one of the best universities in the world: Cambridge. I'm not going to pretend I found some secret, and managed to fix myself - some of the same things that made me depressed led me to get a fantastic degree - and some of the things that helped me get a degree were things that caused me to be taken out of the world and put into an institution.

I still don't have all the answers - but since those days in the hospital, I've made it my life's quest to learn some of them - taking each discovery as it comes and trying to put it together into some sort of a system. Something that works.

Back when I was in the hospital I told my doctor "I want to feel better. But I know you can't just wave a magic wand and make all my troubles go away". That was how the world seemed to me: everything of value had to be worked for. Everything took time and pain and willpower or it wasn't worth it. - and it wouldn't do me any good.

A year later I found my first magic wand: Prozac.

Overnight (well, over a few weeks), Prozac was the answer to my depression. Prozac gave me just the stability and control of my emotions I needed to be able to take charge of my life and begin to turn it around. urning my life around wasn't hard, once I had a little help.

Since then I've found lots of magic wands - quick fixes which solve major issues in my life, where previously I struggled to make any changes.

I've begun to realise that, actually, there is a magic wand for every situation: but that the same wands don't work for everybody, and there is a lot of experimentation needed to find the wand that works for me.