MeditationI was recently interviewing a potential client and during the discovery session she asked me about meditation and mindfulness practices. She was genuinely concerned that she would have to become religious and she was stressed about the effects it might have on her intelligence. I wondered if others felt that way. So today, I wrote an article to clear up some of the misconceptions.

Meditation and mindfulness practices are not religious nor do you have to be religious in order to practice. Religion has nothing to do with it! It’s more of an education.

Meditation and mindfulness is more about training the mind to become more conscious by building awareness. It is also NOT just a relaxation technique, although relaxation is a part of it, which is beneficial. And it is about working with compassion.

One of the biggest myths is most people think meditation is about “turning off” and that you are supposed to clear the mind. The truth is that it is about developing awareness of the mind, not clearing the mind.

When you have a regular practice, you will find a decrease in stress and an increase in feeling at peace. Inner peace does not mean silencing the mind and switching off. It is just the opposite, it’s about waking up!

I mean, think of it… it’s impossible to have no thought! The more you push them away, the more they bounce back. I think so many people meditate under stress and hence feel like they are failing all the time.

What you’re trying to do is have awareness and develop a different relationship with your emotions. You are not blocking emotions, you are just learning to not be controlled by them. You are looking for mental freedom!

You learn to get a bit of space. You focus on breathing. The point is you are putting your attention on the present moment and focusing on your breath. Yes, you’ll think within 5 seconds… that is where the work starts. You bring your attention back. Then you think of that important email… and then you come back again. When you realize you got lost, you’ve been found! That’s success, not failure!

Noticing and returning. It’s just an exercise that will make your mind strong. You give your thoughts less power and your awareness more power. I love the analogy of throwing a dog a stick – he runs after the stick and brings it back. Well, that is like your mind, you go chasing all these sticks. When you throw a lion a stick, he looks at who threw it! You are going for lion awareness – who is throwing all those sticks?!

I have noticed over the years, most people build a house of cards where you are dependent on other people, sensations, things to make you feel good. When your wellbeing is so externalized, you get into a game of “more” – “When this happens, I’ll be ok” or “If ________ then __________.” Our society constantly feeds this mantra. This leads you to a feeling of deprivation. The more you grasp for happiness outside of yourself, the more you feel in lack and deficiency.

Through meditation, you change the wiring of your brain because you are not looking outside, you see within yourself and develop a deep source of love, happiness, and wellbeing. Then you can be of benefit to yourself and others.

I like to look at the result as becoming my own boss 😉

I encourage you not to make this difficult. Start with a 5-minute practice in the morning, then micro moments throughout the day… in the coffee line, at the bank, on the ride home. Wash your hands and brush your teeth with presence and awareness. In this way, you can address your levels of stress throughout the day.

I hope this information and discussion adds to your meditation practice.

To raising your emotional intelligence and well-being!

Mindfully,

Ellie

 

 

If this resonates with you and you’d like to overcome some of your own barriers to living the life you want, then click here and I’ll make sure we connect. And you know I like to share the love, so if you know someone who could benefit from this article then please share it! Imagine, thought by thought and act by act we are creating a more conscious world.

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Deep Work

by Ellie Ballentine

The other day I decided to note how often I reach for my phone, read emails, check texts, or scroll through social feeds. I counted 56 times in one day! I had to stop in my tracks when I looked at my total and wonder, “How is this impacting my focus and productivity? Am I really happier with all this interaction and information?”

iphone and deep work

The inquiry reminded me of a book called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport, a professor and scientist. According to Newport, deep work is classified as “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limits.” He examined the cognitive impact that social media and office distractions have, and the importance of undivided attention in completing meaningful work. By removing distractions, he argues, we can move beyond “shallow work” to reach new levels of productivity and produce a substantial amount of work.

Without going into all the details of the book, I thought I’d share some highlights as I have many a discussion with clients around the relationship with their phones and devices and their ever-declining attention spans.

In many cases, people suffer from FOMO, or fear of missing out. Social media is not bad, it’s our FOMO that keeps us groomed to always check in. What Newport points us to is the growing amount of research that tells us if you spend large portions of your day in a state of fragmented attention, this can permanently reduce your capacity for concentration. Think of how often you are interrupted with notifications and updates. Even a quick glance at Twitter or reviewing an email can cost you about 15 to 20 minutes of attention loss. Our brains are simply not wired for that level of distraction.

So here are some of Newport’s ideas to integrate deep work and use your brain in more meaningful ways:

  1. Work deeply. It takes practice to work your way to integrate long stretches of time. Try setting 90 minutes aside without interruption. Building up these periods of concentration will produce better results AND more fulfillment.
  2. Protect your time. Maintain a set of rituals and routines to ease deep work into your day. On Sundays, I take 20 minutes to schedule my week and make sure to implement deep work sections for writing, research, marketing and learning.
  3. Relax your mind. If you can sit still and stare outside or quietly meditate for at least 5 minutes then you can train your brain to spend more time in deeper work.
  4. Get the distraction out. Learn to take a few electronic detox breaks. Start with a day. Then try a weekend. This allows you to notice not only how much you are distracted (and owned!) by your devices but it also gives you a chance to develop your capacities to do deep work.
  5. Cut the shallow work. I’m guilty of this often as I whip through email responses as they come in only to find I’ve become a “human router”. No deep work there! Newport says, “Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work.”

Give yourself a chance to step back and notice who is running whom. You’ll never regret taking action that supports you coming back to the experiences you want in life. Being present, focused and engaged not only produces deep work but it also creates deep satisfaction. Isn’t that what you’re here for?

Mindfully,

Ellie

 

 

If this resonates with you and you’d like to overcome some of your own barriers to living the life you want, then click here and I’ll make sure we connect. And you know I like to share the love, so if you know someone who could benefit from this article then please share it! Imagine, thought by thought and act by act we are creating a more conscious world.

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Managing Emotions and Work Success

April 18, 2017

You might wonder what managing your emotions has to do with performing well or creating success in your life. I’m reminded of this most recently when I asked a client if he felt his emotions impacted his work. His answer was *laughing, “No! What matters is how I turn my client’s vision for wealth into […]

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What is my Emotional Quotient?

March 15, 2017

What is your Emotional Quotient? It’s your capacity to see how your actions and words affect others. It is also the way you respond to the needs and emotions of others. I love this question because I see so many clients who are highly intelligent and have great ideas but struggle in influencing, collaborating or […]

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5 Ways Sadness is Good for You

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The other day a client came to me and presented with, “I feel sad lately and I don’t know what to do about it.” She further explained that when it comes to sadness she feels uncomfortable and she thinks, “I don’t like this feeling which triggers a whole cascade of, ‘I don’t want to feel […]

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