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5 Ways to Stay in the Present

Somehow we have progressed into a society that thrives on busyness, work, and chores. We cram our schedules full to the point that at the end of the day we are exhausted, grumpy, and totally disconnected from the beauty in our lives. With a life such as this, we end up missing the little moments that matter most.

All of this rushing and stressing leads to more serious mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. An easy way to remedy this is by remaining present throughout all of our ever-important tasks. This can be difficult at first, but with a bit of practice it will come more easily. Here are five easy ways to stay in the present for a calmer and more meaningful experience in life:

1. Do a Body Scan

 If you’re new to mindfulness, then a body scan will do you wonders. It is a structured exercise that you (yes, you!) can do anywhere and with hardly any guidance at all. Though the exercise is quite simple, it heavily relies on the basic tenets of mindfulness.

You can easily find a guided body scan online, which will help you begin your practice. With a few guided sessions, you will easily be able to do the body scan on your own. Adapt it to your surroundings so that you can use it to bring you back to the present whenever needed.

2. Focus on the Five Senses

 If you get carried away at some point during your day, then pause what you’re doing and focus on the five senses. In about just five minutes, you can bring yourself back to the present moment with an easy exercise of noticing the five senses. Check in with each of the senses, one at a time.

Notice what you feel, whether it’s a breeze against your skin or the tickling of fabric. Pay attention to what you smell; perhaps it’s the pungent odor of your colleague or no odor at all. Assess the taste in your mouth and notice the different notes all around your mouth. Continue this way with each sense, thoroughly inspecting your experience in the moment.

Take a deep breath
Take a deep breath

3. Take a Deep Breath

 A deep breath can immediately calm you down and reduce anxiety. Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the body’s relaxation response. It does so by stimulating the vagus nerve, which lowers your natural stress response. Deep, abdominal breathing lowers the heart rate, relaxes the blood vessels, and brings the body back to homeostasis. The best part? You can do it anytime, anywhere.

4. Slow Down

 Most of us rush through our days, zipping past people, through moments, and onto the next-best-thing without noticing so much as the person next to us as we do. If you find yourself rushing through your day, make the effort to slow down for just a few minutes. Take your time eating your lunch or give yourself a full, luxurious five minutes to drink your coffee in peace. By adding little moments like this to your day, you will be more present more of the time.

5. Narrate Your Actions

 If you are really struggling with being present, then try starting small. A good way to do this is by narrating your actions. As you are preparing your meal, for example, quietly narrate each step. Approach your actions with a positive open regard that is free of judgement. Cutting the carrots, after all, doesn’t need a critic!

Mindfulness is not as difficult as it seems. In fact, it can be used all throughout the day in many different ways. Staying present throughout the day is one way to do it. Living mindfully can reduce depression and anxiety, as well as make you a more efficient worker. What’s not to love about that? Give these techniques a try and see how your world opens up.

For more information on Muse please visit: choosemuse.com

What a Top Executive of a $147 Million Company Used to Think About Meditation

From time to time we like to share a story from one of our inspiring Musers. Alex Charfen has been our guest writer for the past few weeks and this will be his fourth article in the series. He is an internationally recognized speaker and business consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 corporations and entrepreneurs alike to help them grow and scale their businesses. As a firm believer of the performance benefits of meditation he has introduced 100s of professionals to Muse. He will dive deeper into each topic, during his open, free to join, weekly Facebook Live sessions.


What a Top Executive of a $147 Million Company Used to Think About Meditation

As a consultant to every level of entrepreneur, from startups to the Fortune 500, even self-made billionaires, I’ve heard just about every reaction to the concept of meditation. It usually looks something like this:

Positive: I discovered meditation years ago and I love it … I don’t miss a day!
Neutral: I like it when I get the chance to do it … which usually isn’t all that often.
Reactionary: Don’t try to sell me on any of that “new-agey” crap … I’m not buying!

Alex Charfen

A year ago, my friend and client Justin Beadle was definitely on the reactionary end of that spectrum.

A former Marine, Justin is the president of Links Construction, a $147M commercial construction company operating out of Denton, Texas. In early 2016, he attended one of my Enlightened Leadership Academy events to clarify his vision as a business leader, and to find ways of feeling more effective and fulfilled as the leader of a high-growth business.

During that event we discussed the importance of awareness and mindfulness in becoming an Enlightened Leader, one who empowers those who follow them to reach their full potential. I even mentioned a technology I’d recently discovered that helped tremendously with my practice: the Muse™ headband.

At the first mention of meditation, I could see by Justin’s body language that he wasn’t buying it. He sat back in his chair, arms folded as though he was only staying in the room to be polite. But as the event continued and I had the chance to speak with Justin about the benefits that not only I got from meditation, but the experiences other high-powered executives had found from meditation and a focus on breathing, especially during stressful meetings. He eventually seemed open, if skeptical, to the idea, so I didn’t press him on it.

Following the event, I’d stayed in touch with Justin, watching as his business continued to grow on an aggressive trajectory. Links Construction was closing bigger deals than it had, and setting itself up for massive growth. So I was excited when Justin called and said that he and his vice president wanted to come to my Constructive Company live event.

This event was different from the previous one, focused on the systems and processes to create stable, high-growth companies that benefit all stakeholders. However, I’ve found the fastest way for entrepreneurs to build a Constructive Company is for leadership to create greater awareness. And when I brought up this topic, Justin decided to tell us all a story that he hadn’t shared before.

“Being a Marine and then the president of a commercial construction company, I never even wanted to hear about meditation, let alone try it. It wasn’t connected to who I was or what I knew. But after the Enlightened Leadership Academy event, I started to pay attention to how my energy was affecting the people around me, both at work and at home. And I realized I could control that if I were more aware and present. So, considering the benefits of meditation, I decided to make that a focus of mine and find time in my days to do it. And you know what? I really feel it’s had a positive effect on me as a leader and how I handle situations.”

“It’s true,” his vice president added. “Sometimes he’ll just close his office door for a few minutes, and we all know he’s taking some time for himself. I’ve definitely seen the difference in him. He’s a lot more even and calm, and deliberate when we’re all in meetings together.”

For reference, this was after only a few months of Justin implementing meditation into his daily routine.

In my experience, this kind of transformation is exceptional but not unique when leaders focus on the tactics of being present and aware. The funny thing is, these leaders – especially those at the highest levels – can be the most resistant to change and adopting meditation, but when they do start to meditate, they show the greatest amount of contrast.

Join me for another special Facebook Live broadcast, where I’ll share more stories and describe how Tactical Meditation can benefit you and your business by increasing your awareness.

– Alex Charfen

REGISTER
Register for the Facebook Live session here
Date: Thursday, December 22, 2016
Time: 2 p.m. EST (8 p.m. GMT)

Of Sound Mind: Finding Your Feedback Loop with Muse

mountain

People often try to use metaphors to explain meditation. Some stay pragmatic and compare it to physical exercise, while others get lofty and talk about ocean waves crashing on the side of a mountain.

These metaphors are aiming to make the practice more tangible, because the reality is, it’s quite a subtle thing. You’re trying to achieve a “meditative” state of mind, but what exactly does that mean? There’s no simple answer. No one other than you can experience your consciousness. It’s up to you to find your way.

Teachers can help point to techniques, share things they’ve learned, and support you through emotional discoveries, but ultimately the practice is yours to explore. Meditation is a process of personal experimentation and discovery. As you practice, trust your own experiences and insights – there’s no higher authority than your own experience.

Many find that a playful, curious approach helps a lot in the early stages. Being open and ready to try different techniques, positions, tools, lengths, and locations is key. When practicing with Muse, you may also learn from experimenting with your soundscape settings as you search for a feedback loop that feels right.

Here are some Muse soundscape settings to play with:

sound settings

To access these soundscape settings, connect your headband, start a session, and then tap the volume icon in the top right corner.

  1. Gentle and Soft

    Turn up the background volume while reducing both the feedback and birds volumes to make the soundscape much gentler. If you find the feedback too distracting, this can help a lot.

  2. Silence the Birds

    If you find the birds distract you too much, you can simply turn their volume down to zero. They’ll still be counted in your session report and data – you simply won’t hear them.

  3. Focus on Real-time Feedback

    The background sound helps ground the soundscape and prevents total silence from becoming a distraction when you’re calm. Turning up the feedback and birds and setting the background to zero can feel like a very different experience, so it’s worth exploring.

  4. Turning off the Sound

    It can also be instructive to explore having no sound feedback at all to see how different it feels. You’ll still get a full session report with all your data after the session.

When playing with your soundscape settings, try to find a feedback loop where Muse supports your focused attention on the breath without getting in the way. You’re looking for volume levels where your wandering mind is pulled back to the breath, but your focused mind is not pulled away from the breath.

Your preferred settings may be different from those of other Musers, and they may also change over time as your practice evolves. If you ever find yourself frustrated or unable to find settings that work for you, remember to bring back that playful curiosity and enjoy the process of exploration itself. Good luck!

5 Stories Of Love And Gratitude

For Mother’s Day, we asked you to tell us how your mom or the special mother-figure in your life has been your mentor, muse, friend or role model. Using the hashtag #MyMom, you shared your stories of love and gratitude with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

In a few words you told the world how fortunate you feel to have these amazing women in your lives. There were so many wonderful entries, it was difficult to pick the winners, but the five stories we selected really touched our hearts.

Read more

3 Hack-tacular Muse Modifications

We’re back from CES! What an awesome experience. Thanks to everyone who came out to the booth – the response was AMAZING.

So, Muse has already reached thousands of people since its retail launch last July. (Pretty awesome, no? Yes!) And certain people are going beyond training their brain. Talented developers and hackers have taken a shine to creating their own apps, experiences, and products using our SDK. These early adopters have already released some creatively cool ideas and alternative ways to Muse.

So, without further ado, here is a sampling of 3 hack-tacular Muse modifications: Read more