7 Steps To Permanent Weight Loss

Today, there are thousands and thousands of diet books out on the market; all promising to help you lose weight if you follow their program specifics. Whether you count your calories, cut out fats, drink a meal replacement, eat only high protein foods or choose to fast, none of these weight loss plans target the real issue, changing your relationship to food. It is not to say that these programs don’t work. In fact some individuals are extremely successful on these programs.

The vast majority, while experiencing some initial weight loss, find that all, if not more, of their weight returning once they go back to their “normal” eating habits.

Eating like a thin person is simple if you know their secrets. Once you begin eating this way, the pounds will easily and naturally be shed from your body. Eating like a thin person is not about starving yourself (anorexia nervosa), nor it about binging and purging (bulimia). The answer can be found by examining your beliefs, your habits and your attachments to food. This is not to say that there may not be an underlying metabolic disorder contributing to weight problems.

In the majority of instances, however, issues surrounding our attitude towards ourselves and the food we eat are the main contributors to gaining and retaining excess weight. If you took a moment and think about a “thin” person you know, evaluating their eating habits, how many times have you seen them only eat 1 slice of pizza or even turn it down completely, leave food on their plates or pick at their food “like a bird”. These individuals typically have healthy beliefs and habits about food and food consumption. They eat when then are hungry and stop when they are full.  Foods don’t have a hold on them. They don’t worry about when they are going to get their next meal, nor are they afraid to feel and experience hunger (the experience of being hungry).

If you currently have weight concerns and would like to become thin permanently, naturally, here are 7 straightforward steps you can follow to help you make some changes in yourself and your relationship to food.

Eat only when your body is hungry.
Listen to your body. It will give you clues, which will tell you when you are hungry and when you are not. If you are thinking about eating, take a moment to tune in to your internal barometer and check to see if you are actually hungry. Checking in is effortless to do. First, put your hand on your stomach and close your eyes. Then, ask yourself if you are really hungry. Finally, be open to receiving the answer.

Over the years, have you trained yourself to eat for a variety of inappropriate reasons such as: it is 12 o’clock, so time for lunch, or I paid for it, so I should eat all of it, or it’s impolite to refuse food. Some of us eat because we are bored or because we don’t have anything else to do. Sometimes we have trained ourselves to eat because we are angry, frustrated, insecure, nervous, anxious, guilty, overwhelmed or depressed. Whatever your reasons, in order to lose and maintain weight loss permanently, it is important to eat only when your body is letting you know when it is hungry, and stopping when you are satisfied, but not necessarily full.

Eat only when you are sitting, relaxed and not distracted.
This point and the next one go hand in hand. If the TV or radio is on, or you are sitting in front of your computer working while you eat, you will not have to opportunity to truly enjoy your food. You will instead go on autopilot and the internal signals that tell us that we are full may not be triggered.

The same holds true if you walk while you eat. Many times, this food isn’t mentally registered as a meal, and your body doesn’t signal back letting you know you are full. Eating when you are upset, uptight or tense can cause the same problems. Enjoy and acknowledge the foods you are eating. You will find more pleasure and enjoyment in them if you do.

Eat slowly, paying attention to what you are eating.
Pay attention to the foods you are eating, savoring every bite. It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to send the message of satisfaction to the brain. By slowing down while you eat, you will be giving yourself the opportunity to take pleasure in each bit and mouthful of food you consume. In the end, you will find that you are eating less because you are feeling content sooner. In addition, the act of chewing increases the release of digestive enzymes in the mouth, which help your bodies digest the foods you eat better.

If you are not enjoying it, don’t eat it. Many times when we are running on autopilot we eat, just to eat. When this is the case, how many times have your found yourself eating foods aren’t satisfying, that you don’t really want or that just don’t taste good? If you do, take a moment to stop, close your eyes and ask yourself, “Do I really want this?”

If the answer you get back is “No”, then put it down, throw it away or give it to a friend who might really want it. Why eat something that you are not loving!

Also, to help yourself along with this step, make an effort to eliminate foods that may tempt you. Throw away the bag of Oreos that are sitting in the cupboard, leave the Hagan Daas or Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in the supermarket’s frozen food case, buying smaller or individualized servings of tempting delights to help you control the amount you eat. If you enjoy going out to eat, perhaps sharing a meal with a friend or taking half or your meal home with you and have it for lunch the next day will help.

Stop before you are full.
This is another key point. If you consistently eat until you are full you are interfering with the delicate balance we are trying to achieve. It is important to allow the stomach to fully empty before you consume more food. It is only when your stomach is empty that you will honestly know that you are in reality hungry. In fact, think about how good it would feel to give yourself permission to be hungry for a little while. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. If you eat until you are satisfied, but not full, using your internal food barometer to identify when your body has had enough to eat, you will be taking yet another step to permanent weight loss.

Leave a little bit of food on your plate.
For many people this is a really hard step to follow. As children, we are often time told to clean our plates, regardless of if we are hungry or not. This simple step begins to help you identify some of the beliefs you have with relationship to food. This is especially true in addressing any guilt you may experience. It will also provided you with a chance to learn how to say “No thank you” to food.

Stocking Your Pantry Frugally

Groceries tend to be the area of the budget that can always get out of hand. It makes sense. Given a choice between the family “starving” and going over budget, people are always going to rationalize going over budget. Fortunately, there are steps anyone can take to gain control of this money monster.

Walmart prices often are the cheapestStart Every Month With a Plan

One of the biggest budget busters when it comes to food are the last minute runs to the grocery store.

There will always be fresh items, such as milk and bread, that need to be purchased weekly, but these items should be part of the plan. What needs to be eliminated is the daily look at the pantry to decide what additional ingredients will be needed for tonight’s dinner or that dash into the store to find something quick, convenient and likely expensive. At the beginning of the month, write out a dinner menu.

Since most families tend to repeat meals frequently, this list may need very little change from one month to the next; but, writing it out will provide the opportunity to decide if new meals can replace some of the more costly repeats. Convert the menu to a grocery list, adding breakfast and lunch items also. When done, compare the list to the current items in the pantry to avoid overbuying. The first trip to the store each month will result in purchasing all the non-perishables for the month and the fresh items for the first week.

Figure Out who has the Lowest Prices

Many people run from store to store for the sales, trading grocery savings for additional gas expenses; but, at the end of the day, where was the best place to purchase the items that were not advertised? Traditional grocery stores are usually not the most cost-effective place to shop, using advertised loss leaders to get customers in the store while overcharging for related items. Look into discount food stores, such as Aldi, or mass merchandisers, such as Walmart, for doing at least the initial monthly shopping.

Wal-mart price matches competitors’ ads and accepts coupons. If the least expensive store is too inconveniently located to do weekly grocery runs, figure out which of the more convenient stores consistently has the best prices and get their discount card if they have one.

Wedding Don’ts When You’re on a Budget

Weddings are getting costlier these days with many ideas coming in, and event planners finding ways to sneak in suggestions that can add up to your total bill. There are so many design ideas to choose from, and while the choice is up to you, you can also get swayed by the attractive, beautiful designs you find online.

Couples often have misunderstandings over wedding budgetWhen you are on a budget, though, squeezing in these little add-ons can be challenging. For one, you cannot merely say “Yes” to whatever your planner says. You must think through whether you need something or not, even if that means having to talk to your planner the next day. Do not get swayed by promotions or gimmicks that make you think you needed something when it wasn’t planned all along. For example, you can go with a simple and affordable white screen over a LED board, the latter costing hundreds of dollars to rent. While a planner will usually say that you need a LED board for your video presentations, you can choose to say “No” when you know you are short of budget.

Aside from staying within your budget, another must-do for weddings is for the couple to be involved in the planning process. Do not merely let the planner do everything for you. This day is your wedding, not anyone else’s. Therefore, you must make sure that you are not allowing another person do the job for you, and then pay for the ill feelings later on. Even if you are busy at work, you must decide on which color you want for your theme, what decorations you want to be placed around the area, or what songs you want the best wedding band in New Jersey to include in their playlist. You want to attend a wedding that reflects your personality as a couple, so make sure you are part of the curation process.

Even with all these reminders, many couples still stumble upon mistakes that are written again and again on wedding don’ts lists. So, to further emphasize these don’ts to you, here are some of them:

Getting consensus of both parties in wedding planning is crucial1. Not deciding as a couple

In many weddings, it is the would-be bride who is calling the shots. It is terrible for many reasons because, for one, it is you and your partner who is getting married; not just you. So, it is just right to make decisions together as a couple. By making it a team effort, you get to infuse your personalities along with you and your partner enjoying the planning stage. And when the event arrives, you and your partner get to enjoy the party, too, since the theme is something that you both like. Even with busy schedules, make time to plan your wedding together. And if only one of you is calling the shots, you may end up with changes that also cost money.

2. Not knowing what you want

The top thing that can save you a lot of money is knowing what you want for your wedding. If you are unsure and you allow the planner, your friend, or relative to choose for you, then you have seemingly unending options that you and your partner may not like. Also, when everyone else is excited with the preparations, you may end up with a growing bill that can go beyond your planned budget. So, stick with what you want, and work your wedding plans around that.

These are the wedding don’ts that you must avoid when you are on a budget. Know what you want, decide as a couple, and stick to your planned budget.

Are You Considering a Cheap Website Hosting Service?

When you are a new entrepreneur, you want to save up on every penny, right? Of course, you want to succeed, so you try to cost-cut as much as you can at every expense.

Cheap does not mean trustworthyThese days, a website is crucial to have for any business. It is not optional anymore, unlike in years past. A site is the face of your business, so you must put in the effort to make it look professional and an extension of your brand. While some companies opt to take a free theme for their site, it is best to go with a responsive website that can cater to the marketing needs of your enterprise. A Search Engine Marketing company in San Diego put emphasis on having a website because it is like having a business card—but making it open for the world to see.

Before, there used to be just a few companies offering website design and hosting services. With the internet boom, there are now thousands of companies to choose from, each providing the same service but with slight differences in payment, add-ons, and most likely, quality. You can’t merely rely on what is being advertised on the web hosting business’ website because chances are, there are some things that the company doesn’t want you to know as you sign up with them. It is best to read reviews on forums and blogs and to get information from people you know who have tried the service. Online marketing can be very misleading. So you must always go on the side of caution and do not quickly fall over gimmicks because you are establishing online assets for your business.


You have done your research, and now you are considering a web hosting service that is 30% cheaper than the average market price. Of course, you take a closer look. You see that it is promising, given that many of its features are the ones you need. You also get unlimited professional emails along with the cheap hosting service. It sounds perfect!

If you decide to go with this cheap service, take note of the following and see if it’s worth signing up with:

1. What does the price include?

On the company’s website, there may be a line that says, “No hidden charges.” But, is that true, or is it just valid for the first month of signing up? In an effort to gain registrants, some companies offer super cheap services for the first month or year upon signing up with them, and then you are charged a regular price for the following year. You’d be surprised by the number of companies doing this, with the second year’s cost even more expensive than the average market price.

Most cheap web hosting services also have a lot of add-ons like website privacy and site protection (SSL) that you must pay for separately. Therefore, when you add everything in, you quickly realize that the initial cheap price is not that affordable as it touts itself to be.

2. How robust is the after-sales support system?

You don’t want to be dealing with a robot after you’ve purchased a web hosting service, so make sure that before signing up, you trust and have tested the company’s support system. An excellent way to see this is to send a query to the support team. You will see how prompt and professional the team is just through that initial contact. After-sales support is significant, so don’t let low hosting prices wear you down after you’ve signed up with the company.

24/7 customer support for web hosts is necessaryThere is nothing wrong with signing up for a cheap website hosting service; however, you should make sure that you know what exactly you are paying for. Do not let marketing tricks fool you. Make your inquiry before signing up, because going with lousy service is even more expensive compared to going with a high-quality—although pricier—hosting service.

Skin Types and Why You Should Know Yours

Taking good care of your skin is not an easy job. It may seem like our skin is meant for cosmetic purpose only but I’d like to tell you that it surely isn’t just about that. In definition, skin is the soft outer layer that covers our entire body. Do you know what the largest organ is in your body? If you have thought that it could be your lungs or something else other than your skin, you’d have just to accept the unpopular truth. As an organ, our skin plays a significant role in our lives and in our body other than being a tempting device to exuberate beauty. It also protects us from the smallest elements such as microbes, it regulates our body temperatures, and it also provides the lovely sensation of touch.

women are obsessed in improving their skinThe best way for us to be able to maintain a healthy skin is through knowing what we need and familiarize with the Peach & Lily K Beauty skin care routine. Take a look at some of these skin types and try to determine which one yours is.

Oily Skin

I think this one is more popular in terms of skin types. You might have already probably noticed if your face gets oily quickly and easily. The T-zone, for example, is the part that starts with a horizontal line in your forehead and goes down to your nose. If these areas in your face become shiny, greasy, and oily in no time, even if you didn’t put anything, then you have oily skin.

Sensitive Skin

Just by reading the first word, you’ve probably already determined that people who have this skin type surely has it the worst. It is quite difficult to find the right product for those who are of this skin type because using something too strong would already cause a risky irritation. If this happens to you often, especially if you’ve used a lot of products already and it seems like it itches and turns red most of the time, then you’re sensitive. You have to be a lot way more careful than usual because if you use something too strong and with the wrong chemicals in it, reversing adverse effects is difficult and may be close to impossible.

Normal Skin

People with this type of skin won’t have any evident characteristics like the other skin types. After they would wash their faces, it would feel fresh and clean without them being irritated or having any itching and redness. Being oily is also not that evident compared with those who are oily skinned. I guess we can say that people with this kind of skin type are the luckiest.

moisturizers are good for dry skinDry Skin

Does your skin feel flaky and just straight out dry? From what we’ve observed, dry skinned folks are the opposite of those who are oily skinned. After washing your face, you might feel like your skin is tight but somehow, even after putting on a facial product, your face remains unnourished. This kind of skin type is also prone to wrinkles and irritation, but luckily, they don’t experience redness. A good moisturizer is an absolute need.

Combination

Did you get confused along the way when you tried to figure out what your skin type is? If your skin seems to be showing characteristics of two different types, then you mostly have a combination of an oily-dry skin. Isn’t that like a cliché? This kind of skin type seems to change depending on the weather. It is also possible that your T-zone on the face becomes oily but other parts of your face seem flaky. Ouch. This is caused by different sized pores all over your face and therefore, giving you the dry and oily. Remember that the best solution to this is a good cleansing and exfoliating cream just to make sure that your pores aren’t clogged.

 

Top 5 Underrated Singers

Singing is something that cannot be easily earned or learned. Mostly, it takes years and years of practice actually to learn it, and some are even unsuccessful in doing so. However, singing can also come as a natural talent for a few. Some popular artists are truly gifted while others seem to have been dragged into it by being born into fame. Of course, popularity does not necessarily mean success and happiness. I really believe that some singers deserve more credit, not because of what and who they are but because of the joy that they have in singing, whether they are widely known or not as much. Here are the top 5 underrated singers that you may or may not have heard yet.

5. Tori Kelly

She has recently gained popularity because of the movie “Sing”, but it seems like everyone does not pay much attention to her. Sure, she’s had a few awards, and singles are out here and there, but nobody seems to realize how she sings amazingly like she had undergone a thousand hours of singing & voice lessons. She also writes her own songs, and she would even produce it herself. If ever you’d get to listen more to how she sings and performs, I definitely know that we’d all agree how she deserves more exposure.

4. Jennifer Hudson


Despite being a finalist during the American Idol Season 3, her name just doesn’t leave that much of a mark. Simple tunes and catchy phrases will stay on charts for weeks, but I guess, her singing skills were covered by all the new things that are popping up along the way. Luckily, Broadway has welcomed her quite well during her debut. She would be starred as the guest but it so far, nothing has been offered to her where she leads the role. We just wish she gets more of the love. Have you even heard that she just released a new album this year? We haven’t either, but you might want to take a look at it.

3. Nicole Scherzinger

nicole scherzingerYes, we know, she’s a bombshell. Being the leader of the famous group, Pussycat Dolls, the spotlight is surely not much far from her. Unfortunately, people seem to look at her like nothing else other than being a bombshell. She looks great, and she’s hot and feisty. The talent, however, goes beyond the crowd’s head. Did you know she dances really well? If you’ve seen her in Dancing with the Stars, you’d absolutely believe that she’s a pro. In singing, she’s not just a hot babe that dances to the tune because whether you believe it or not, her vocals are pretty strong. She even sings opera! Next time you’d see her on The X Factor, you should start thinking twice if she’s just there for display because she certainly isn’t.

2. Hozier

hozierWe’re not sure if you’ve heard of him but the song “Take Me to Church” is something that you’ve probably already listened or come across to. With all the cute guys and charming boys these days, Hozier is someone who won’t get much craze from the people just because girls aren’t going crazy over him. Rappers and boy bands seem more attractive to millennials for now, and a genuine musician who sings songs with deep meanings are way under-appreciated. Being a son of a blues musician, it’s not hard to see that Hozier has a unique aesthetic to his music. It’s almost as if, his songs are filled with soul. We’re just glad that he somehow got a bit of recognition because of “Take me to Church” but hopefully, people would go and dig deeper through his album and listen to the rest of his songs. You won’t regret it!

1. Lady Gaga


Most people know her as this popular but very unusual and borderline crazy pop singer. She might be very popular, but not everyone seems to appreciate or know her singing abilities. Her songs are great successes, and surely it has been gone through your mind too when it was at the peak. Lines such as “Po-po-po-poker face…Po-po-poker face” was such a catchy tune that you couldn’t seem to forget. However, Gaga is more than just a pop star. She is an excellent composer, and she understands music beyond what most people have expected. At a young age, she was raised in a Catholic family but was often seen as provocative or eccentric, even for a child. She started playing the piano at the age of 4 and started writing her first ballad when she was just 13. She then studied music but had to stop to focus on her career. It wasn’t very easy though because it took her years and years. Gaga has also been rejected and disappointed at times. Yet, she never gave up until someone finally discovered her.

Now, Lady Gaga is one of the most well-known artists not just because of her record-breaking songs but also because of her actual singing skills. She may have started with pop but in every genre; she nails. She has worked with Metallica and Tony Bennett. I mean, look at the difference between the kind of music. Gaga can sing really well, and she even sang a version of The Sound of Music as a tribute. It seems like not many have known this because she was famed for being outrageous in costumes and she sang songs that are almost hypnotizing. Even her vocal range is surprisingly impressive. From pop to classical, and even rock metal — Gaga is your girl.

Expand Your Fitness Capacity with Conscious Breathing

Would you like to take your physical fitness to the next level?

Perhaps you feel as if you’ve hit a plateau with your current exercise routine and you’re at a loss about how to move beyond where you are now. You’d like to increase the weight you can lift, the number of sit ups you can do or the pace of your run.

Maybe you are struggling to get started with fitness, but you’d like to. It may seem that every time you try to walk or use an exercise machine at the gym, it’s just too difficult and frustrating.

Breathing may be the key.

I know that when I’m walking on a treadmill or using a weight machine, I am not often thinking about how I am breathing.

My focus is usually on the amount of incline and resistance I have set for myself on the treadmill, the number of calories that I’m burning and the amount of weight I can move with my arms or legs.

The fact of the matter is, breathing in a conscious way can actually increase your fitness capacity. You can find yourself with more energy, focus and an ability to perform at a higher level than before.

And it’s all because conscious breathing helps your body more effectively spread enriching oxygen to more of you.

Breathing Basics
We breathe in and we breathe out. In between these two deceptively simple actions, a lot happens!

First, air enters the nose or mouth. Dust and pollutants are filtered out as air travels through the nose and down the trachea (also called the windpipe).

Next, the air– which has been continually filtered along the way– reaches the lung sacs called alveoli.

It is within the lungs and the alveoli that gas exchanges happen. Oxygen gets moved into the blood stream where it can travel throughout your body enriching and enlivening all organs, tissue and other parts.

Carbon dioxide (and other waste gases) is passed back into the alveoli where it can be expelled as you exhale.

The more consciously you breathe, the more easily oxygen travels throughout your body, the more toxic waste gases are released on the exhale and the more potent you are in whatever you are doing.

How to Use Conscious Breathing to Improve Your Fitness
Start out by noticing the way that you typically breathe while you exercise.

If you have taken a yoga or pilates class, you are probably aware of the differences between breathing from your chest and from your abdomen, i.e. diaphragmatic breathing.

Especially in the practice of pilates, deep breathing and breathing patterns are integral to the exercise movements. Deep inhales allow tense and tight muscles to release and equally deep exhalations activate core, stabilizing muscles.

From where does your breath come in general and when you exercise?

You can get a better idea of this if you place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Now, with ease, inhale. Which of your hands moved the most?

If you found that the hand placed on your chest seemed to float up with your inhalation higher than the one on your abdomen, you are chest breathing and you are not alone! This is very common.

When you breathe consciously, you become aware of the way that you tend to breathe. Information is power, after all.

You can practice altering your breathing to allow as much oxygen to flow to all of you as possible. The keywords here are: soften and open. Slow, deep breaths (through the nose if possible) that originate from the diaphragm are the goal– even when you are exercising.

There are specific breathing techniques that can be used when an exercise requires the abdominal muscles to tighten. There are also breath patterns and strategies you can use to better support weight lifting and other exercises.

In general, however, it is important to keep the belly soft to support optimal lung capacity (the lower lungs are where most blood circulates) and the diaphragmatic breath.

You can soften your abdomen by slowly expanding your belly out as you inhale and then slowly letting it come back toward your spine as you exhale.

Guide your attention to your abdomen and your breath. Allow the breath to do the softening and notice as you feel more open and your breath drops down into your abdomen.

You can do this while you run, do a push-up and especially as you are warming up preparing to exercise.

Even (and especially) those with asthma or other respiratory disorders can practice conscious breathing while exercising and in their day to day living and can vastly benefit from it.

Of course, please consult with your health care practitioner if you have questions or concerns before attempting these suggestions.

Things Women Do That Turn Men Off On First Dates

When going on a first date, you surely would want to impress the other person. Almost everyone in the dating world will do anything to make a good first impression. However, there are certain things that some women do which are usually considered as turn offs in the eyes of men.

If you are a girl going on a first date in NYC, you need to have an idea on what turns men off at that event. Here are some of these things.

dating tips for girls nyc

Being impolite

Men are often turned on by gentle and nice women. It gives them a sense of pride and warms their hearts whenever they see ladies who are being kind to other people, even if they know them or not.

Being rude to others, especially to your date, will not end up well for you. In this case, you should be as kind and as polite as possible. Do not ever think that your date is your servant and that he is supposed to do everything for you.

Attention seeker

There are usually some women who trick their dates into flattering them by saying that they do not look good even though they spent several hours trying to look beautiful before the meetup. However, a man usually knows whether a woman is putting on an act just to get his attention. Doing so actually annoys any person you will ever meet on a first date,

Do not let yourself be a drama queen, like what the NYC matchmaking by TV’s Project Soulmate recommended. Wait for your date to acknowledge the nice things about you and compliment you truthfully. You will feel better and more flattered when you receive compliments that are not forced. Do not forget to thank him for his compliments.

Easily distracted

Almost everyone gets annoyed if they are not getting the attention that they deserve. It is even more so when the other person is giving his or her attention to you during the date. This is most especially true if resources have been exhausted, but it would seem like such efforts are all in vain.

When a man puts a lot of effort into planning a date, even spending his money just to be with you for several hours, it is but right to give him your full attention. Do not use your phone or daydream especially when he is talking. If you are bringing your phone with you during the date, turn it off or set it to silent mode. When someone calls you in the middle of the date, you have to pick it up only when it is absolutely necessary.

Poor social manners

When going out with someone who is still practically a stranger to you, you should always try to show good social manners. Otherwise, your date will just be uncomfortable with others seeing you showing poor behavior, considering that he is your companion at that time.

Some of the social manners deemed to be poor are laughing hysterically in public places, unnecessarily talking out loud, and most especially, getting food from his plate. Being impolite to other people, such as to the elderly or the waiter can turn the mood sour too. These can totally turn off just about anyone.

Baby Talking

Baby talking is only acceptable if done with your boyfriend and in private. If you baby talk in an attempt to look sweet during your first date, that annoys men. Remember, he is not your boyfriend yet.

There are still other annoying things that can turn men off. Be careful and cautious with your actions during your first date if you wish to impress your date.

Meditation & Thinking

Over the years I have learned one thing for sure about meditation, and that is that everyone’s experience is their experience. In other words, never compare your experience with someone else’s. Your experience is as valid as anyone else’s.

Meditation is a form of self love, so watch how critical you can be with yourself, and then praise yourself for sitting down to meditate in the first place. Look at meditation as a new experience, every time you meditate it is the first time.

“I can’t turn off my mind!” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say they can’t meditate. The most common misconception of meditation is that we are supposed to stop our mind from thinking.

Meditation is not about stopping your mind from thinking. Meditation can take place whether thought is there or not. A state of meditative awareness exists beneath the thinking you experience in the mind, because the mind is always there, which means thought is always there.

The difference between meditation and the waking consciousness is what you give your attention to. Your awareness of thinking is what actually connects you to the meditative state.

To elaborate: when I sit down to meditate I may start by focusing my attention on the flow of my breath for a while in order to calm my body and mind. Naturally thoughts arise; perhaps I become engaged in my thoughts.

Then I realize I had become engaged in my thoughts, and I repeat to myself: “I am here to mediate,” and I ask myself a rhetorical question: “Who is aware that I was thinking?” So I feel the question and the awareness that I was thinking.

Meditation is really about cultivating awareness. Awareness that I am thinking, that I am sitting, that I am breathing. We learn to be aware of all feelings and sensations, like awareness of your feeling something to do with your job or partner or the tingling in your legs when you sit that way.

The most significant awareness is that of “I AM.” The key to cultivating awareness is to lovingly, and gently, (as opposed to forcefully) disengage your mind from judging and engage it with the act of observation and acceptance.

When you notice you have wandered off into thinking about something, then in that very moment of noticing this you have a profound opportunity to deepen your awareness and thus to deepen your experience of meditation.

In that moment the awareness arises, “I was sitting here watching my breath, and then I got caught up in thinking about something. Hey that’s pretty cool!” It’s in this awareness that takes you further into meditation.

Thinking while meditating can be seen as a gift.

Our awareness of our incessant thinking is the very thing that can propel us deeper and deeper into the still centre of our Being.

The next time you sit to meditate, see that session as the first time, you are just beginning every time. This will keep your attention fresh, alive and present to the here and now.

Simply BE here, now.

Passing or Passion?

Tony Robbins is one of the nation’s premier motivational speakers. On October 16th, 2000, Tony Robbins was in Atlanta speaking to a crowd of 14,000 people. I was in the front row. The rest of our staff was right behind me in the second row. Tony’s booming voice shook the floor and rattled the chairs. “I need a volunteer. Someone who has some enthusiasm and passion!! Let me see who has some passion and I’ll pick a volunteer!!”

I was among half of the audience on their feet, shouting and waving arms. For a moment, time seemed to slow and then stand still. I was aware of my own level of energy and then that of the people around me. We all pretty much looked the same, wildly jumping and waving. And then I realized that I was probably only at about 60% of what I was capable of.

Could this be a mirror of how passionate I am about my life in all of the other areas?

I continued to wave my arms and shout. I thought, “if most of us are only at 60%, who is going to stand out?” Tony was already pointing into the crowd away from where I was. My thoughts continued, “If I am only at 60%, who do I know that can go to 100% or beyond?”

He jumped about four feet into the air and wriggled like a giant fighting swordfish caught on a steel cable. “Pick ME! Pick ME! Pick ME!” Tony stopped and looked over with a look of surprise. He smiled and pointed just past me. Yep, that was the guy that Tony needed. 100% plus.

The guy behind me was my partner Vincent.
Vincent did a great job in front of 14,000 people. He had some fun and got an autographed leather bound journal signed by Tony Robbins. Inside the front cover was written, “Live life with PASSION! Tony Robbins.” If I had added forty percent to my performance, I could have been the one to go up on stage and win the prize. After all, I had the front row advantage!

So, what does 60% passion get you in the game of life? Second place to the quality you could have had? Safety in the crowd? Passable communication? Doing “OK?”

Why not have something better, something worth smiling about when the days of your life finally wind down? To paraphrase Theodore Roosevelt, “it’s better to really go for it in life and hazard the chance of succeeding brilliantly or even failing miserably, as opposed to being one of the cold gray souls who tried and got nothing special out of life.”

I’m often a slow starter in the mornings. The next morning I rolled out of bed and helped my five-year-old get dressed for school. My daughter put her hand on my shoulder “Daddy, I don’t want to go to school today. I want to stay home.” Without even thinking, I told her “Today is a school day. Your mom and I have to go to work, and you have to go to school.” That’s when I thought again about the 60%. And I looked up at her.

I realized at that moment that those times in my life when I have truly connected with people in a meaningful way were the times I was really tuned in to them and where they were coming from. Those were the times where I listened carefully and responded with a genuine part of myself. My best friendships and the best parts of my being a good husband and father also stemmed from that level of attention and caring. The best part of what I do as a communication coach also stems from that higher level of involvement and passion for communicating.

And today was starting out as a 60% day. The results would be second place fatherhood, safety with the fast pat answer, and passable communication. I stopped and looked into my daughter’s shining eyes and smiled. Sixty percent was just not good enough. “Of course you’d rather stay home. If we could all stay at home, we could swing in the yard and hike down to Rainbow Lake. I’d rather stay at home today, too. I have responsibilities at work, and today is also a school day. How about a hike down to the lake as soon as we get home tonight?”

We earn the benefit of good communication with every single interaction that we have with others. We have the opportunity to create passion with every thought. It’s easy to lapse into 60% thinking. In life, 60% is a passing grade. But passing is not passion.

Improving the quality of our lives and relationships is a function of going beyond passing to passion. Pay attention to the world around you, tune in and turn it up, and make a real difference for others and yourself!