Tagged "Meditation"

This One Daily Habit Could Change Your Work Game

Posted by Amina AlTai on

It happens to us all. Four o'clock rolls around, our eyes become fuzzy from hours of computer scrolling and our brains weary from overuse.  It’s around the same time that we tend to reach for a snack or a caffeine boost to “push us over the finish line” of our very taxing days.  But, generally, we're using the wrong type of nutrition (because when have office snacks ever been healthy?) to support our energy.  And oftentimes, it’s not food we need, but rest. 

Our bodies were designed for jolts of energy followed by bouts of rest.  The idea of pushing ourselves to the limits all day, everyday is a modern and flawed one.  So, what do we do about it?


Okay, I know what you’re thinking?  How can I meditate during the workday?  I don’t have an office, the time, and people will think I’m "weird."  Well, guess what?  We hear you!  We had those very same thoughts.  And here’s how we overcame them.

  1. Put it in on your calendar: Every week, go through your schedule and find a few minutes a day where you can schedule in your meditative break. Then, honor it like you would a business meeting. It can even be done while walking or commuting.  Trust us, post meditation you will wow everyone with your creativity, insight and clarity -- it will be well worth it.
  2. Keep it short: Even a meditation of 10 minutes can do your body and brain the world of good. In Vedic meditation, experts recommend 20 minutes twice per day for optimal changes; if you don’t have that much time, do what you can.  A study linking meditation to increased brain health found that 27 minutes per day was the average necessary to see changes. But that doesn’t mean you need to do it all in one sitting.  Even taking short breaks at work allows the brain to reset and the body to achieve a deep state of rest—both of which increase creativity and energy. 
  3. Tell people: If you’re worried about a colleague or the janitor bursting in on your meditation, let them know that you’re taking five so they don’t come looking for you. Meditation used to have very different connotations, but with business leaders, entrepreneurial greats and celebrities investing time in meditation, it’s much more widely accepted and even venerated these days.
  4. Find your spot: If you don’t have an office, book a private conference room. If you can’t do that either, exit the building.  I have a client whose workplace is so busy and conservative that he didn’t feel comfortable meditating at work.  So, he’d pop out for 10 minutes and sit on a park bench or coffee shop. As the old adage goes, where there is a will, there is a way. 

Got any tips or ideas we haven’t thought of? We’re all ears.


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This One Daily Practice Changed My Business

Posted by Amina AlTai on

Email this.  Ship that.  Schedule this.  Call them.  Strategize that.  Our days are an endless list of to-dos. So often the constant doing distracts us and we get lost in an endless swirl, leaving us paralyzed: We can't decide which item to check off the list, so we don't check any.  Instead, we sit around daydreaming of a better relationship with time and the days when we can accomplish everything on our list AND have time to work out and enjoy life.  That was me.  Until now.  

A meditator for years, I'd noticed some changes in my level of anxiety and responses to certain situations, but I was by no means levitating—if you catch my drift.  I'd tried breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, yoga, breath of fire, chanting, but I never quite got “there."

Until Vedic meditation.  I recently took a course with Ben Turshen (Maharishi's student's student : ) ) and within the first session I knew this was going to be a game-changer.  Vedic meditation is unique in that practitioners sit still (with their backs supported) and gently use a specific sound or "mantra" to guide their mind into a deep state of rest.  The "mantra" is a Sanskrit word/sound that is chosen for you by your teacher based on set criteria. The mantra is meant to be a resonant sound that guides you to a deep and transcendent state. 

When I first heard of Vedic meditation, I was not convinced on the whole mantra thing. How is someone who knows very little about me going to select the perfect sound for me?  (Side bar: I come from a multicultural family and have always felt that identities are superficial and partial.  I'm not suggesting we go nameless, but I believe the idea of identity is ever evolving).  Upon a bit more probing I discovered that the mantras are selected from a list of hundreds of sounds and it’s virtually “impossible” to assign someone an incorrect mantra. Most of the dissonance that happens with new meditators is not due to an incorrect mantra, but rather a improper usage of said mantra. 

 Boy was I wrong. My mantra resonated. It resonated so hard. 

Within the first meditation, I felt a sense of calm and deep relaxation wash over me.  But I still wasn’t quite getting to the place of stillness every guru describes.  After consulting Ben, it turned out I was “overdoing” it with my mantra—which made total sense because this type A gal tends to overdo a lot of things. 

The mantras are meant as loose vehicles to guide us.  When we lose the mantra to meandering thoughts, we effortlessly remind ourselves to come back to the mantra and allow it to keep guiding us to a deeper state of rest.  It was the word "effortless" that really struck me though. As a gal who has built her life on all the effort, it was a total mind shift for me.  When I first received the mantra, I clung to it for dear life—as if it was the raft that was going to get me to a place where I never felt anxiety, never felt tension and (of course) never flipped out for no reason.  

After really analyzing the word “effortless,” much to the class’ dismay, Ben leaned in and muttered “Non-chalance” in my direction.  “Your relationship to the mantra is meant to be a non-chalant one.”  It finally clicked.  The mantra wasn’t going to save me, it was my secret little assistant, guiding me through all the twists and turns of my mind to get me “there.”  But I would never get there if I focused so hard on what the assistant sounded and felt like. I loosened my grip for the first time and watched this device work it's magic.  And it did.  

Vedic meditators sit for twenty-minutes twice per day where they silently repeat their mantras until their postural muscles give out and they slump into deep rest.  So it’s quite a commitment.  But when you read studies pointing to stress reduction, increased grey matter and less disease it seems like a very small price to pay.

By the end of the first week, I needed to sleep less because I was achieving such deep relaxation in my twice-daily meditations.  By week two, I was wildly productive—checking off items on my to-do list that had lingered there for far too long.  I felt refreshed, clear, and energized to my core for the first time in a long time.  

So how do you know which meditation is right for you?  The best way is to try out a few different types and see what works for you as individual.  Our approach to nutrition is a bio-individual one and so should our approach to meditation.  For more ideas on how to start your practice, check out our post on how to get one started. 

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Spring Awakening For Your Brain: Four Wellness Must-Reads

Posted by Amina AlTai on

By Resha AlTai

It’s that time of year again! The trees are beginning to bloom, birds are singing outside windows, and parkas are finally shed. With all this physical renewal, it can be easy to forget that our minds also need freshening up. Allow your heart and mind to flourish with these four incredible reads for Spring:

1) Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders This quick, informative read delves deeply into the workings of our digestive system, including its effects on our mental well-being. The language is totally accessible to those of us with a basic understanding of anatomy and physiology and makes wonderful use of illustrations (drawn by the author’s sister) to complement her explanations.

2) The Places That Scare You by Pema Chödrön In our current age of anxiety, Chödrön is both a refreshing and challenging voice — she encourages us to see problems as spiritual opportunities. Instead of trying to run from discomfort, she advocates staying put and learning about ourselves. This a wonderful read for those of us who are facing uncertain or difficult times and looking for a little spiritual boost!

3) The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit It starts off with a basket of apricots sitting on the authors floor and morphs into an allegory. The gift of apricots that Solnit’s estranged mother gives her starts to decay, much in the the same way as her mother’s mind (she is suffering from Alzheimer’s) is doing. Through the observing of the apricots, she makes sense of her mother and her relationship with her. Solnit reminds us of the importance of empathy in our lives in this brilliant work of non-fiction.

4) Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzburg While this work is technically a 28-day program, it can totally be used as a reference guide for your existing or burgeoning meditation practice. Don’t let the self-help sounding title scare you away from this book, Salzburg shares incredible insights best illustrated by this quote:

"Real happiness depends on what we do with our attention. When we train our attention through meditation, we connect to ourselves, to our own true experience, and then we connect to others. The simple act of being completely attentive and present to another person is an act of love, and it fosters unshakeable well-being. It is happiness that isn't bound to a particular situation, happiness that can withstand change.”

Happy reading! 

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