Operation Meditation http://operationmeditation.com/discover Evolving the Thought Levels of Humanity Thu, 17 May 2018 15:11:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How do you increase your spiritual wellness? http://operationmeditation.com/discover/how-do-you-increase-your-spiritual-wellness/ http://operationmeditation.com/discover/how-do-you-increase-your-spiritual-wellness/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2013 18:09:02 +0000 http://operationmeditation.com/discover/?p=2365 The trouble with the average lifestyle today is that it becomes so easy for us to disassociate ourselves from the spiritual. We exercise, we go to counseling for our relationship problems, we read to beef up on current news, industry jargon and intellectual concepts – but we tend to neglect our spirituality.

Do you question whether you live each day consistent with your values, principles and beliefs? How often do you ask yourself whether you are fulfilling your life’s purpose? Are you ever challenged by another person’s worldview, and have you sought to make sense of this, perhaps to reconcile the opposing view with your own beliefs, rather than rejecting it out of hand?

If you shy away from these questions, it’s a natural reaction – natural, but not necessarily healthy. A spiritually deficient person can become fragile, confused, and isolated. If you can, return to these questions and rediscover your spirituality; renew your connection with your inner self whilst maintaining your connection with the world-at-large.

1. “Take 10” at work.

There was a time when all work stopped at scheduled times of the day, just for prayer. Those who actively practice a religion will still halt their work and bow their heads. If you want to be more spiritual – not necessarily religious – schedule some “quiet time” at work. Set an alarm for a specific time of day. Take 10 minutes off work to relax and reflect. Leave your cubicle if you can, take a walk, settle somewhere that will feel less confined and would be more conducive to contemplation. If there’s a quiet place, surrounded by nature, with some sun, this will be ideal.

2. Meditate.

Meditation is your best tool for self-awareness. It is a method by which you survey what is happening inside yourself (thoughts, emotions, moral dilemma), and what is happening outside yourself (present circumstances, action by others and its direct impact on you). Meditation promotes discernment. You get a clearer sense of right and wrong, and this aids you in decision-making. Meditation also assists in managing stress and anxiety, even depression and sleep-deprivation. Study the methods of meditation. Keep calm and carry on.

3. Go on a retreat.

Sometimes you really do have to take a significant block of time away from your daily activities to stabilize yourself. There are places specifically designed to keep out distractions and give you the space to reflect, meditate, rest. Depending on the retreat, it could also be holistic – from the food you eat, to the exercise you practice, to the people you speak with (such as a counselor or spiritual adviser) or choose not to speak with, in a temporary vow of silence, as the case may be.

4. Visit a “sacred” place.

A sacred place may be sacred in terms of religion, or it could be secular but sacred to you alone – a place of deep significance because of its connection with your past or its associations with a specific memory or experience or person. Visiting this place will enrich you, it will also re-connect you with your former self, and it may trigger a sense of closure or renewal, or both.

5. Make room for gratitude.

It is always good to show appreciation. Gratitude allows for unexplained phenomena, such as random acts of kindness, or fateful events. If you are grateful, you do not take anything for granted: each day becomes imbued with meaning, each gesture has significance. You are driven to become more purposeful and deliberate. Being thankful for the so-called blessings in life is also a way of being humble. Humility brings home the notion that we are not alone, that our destiny may be shaped by us but it is interconnected with that of others.

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5 Tips To Finding Peace Within Yourself http://operationmeditation.com/discover/5-tips-to-finding-peace-within-yourself/ http://operationmeditation.com/discover/5-tips-to-finding-peace-within-yourself/#comments Wed, 16 Jan 2013 18:06:42 +0000 http://operationmeditation.com/discover/?p=2362 How do you find inner peace? Probably the first step is realizing that the world may be wayward and for the most part, out of your control, but when it comes to your own person, you are the driver. It is your choice. To be at peace with yourself is to be better equipped to face the world. To be at peace is to be more contented with your lot in life. If you seek to find the peace within yourself, then try the following tips.

1. Live in the present moment.

An inability to let go of the past and a sense of inevitability about the future will plague the mind. Moreover, it keeps you from enjoying the present moment, from wholly focusing on the present. Take each day as it comes. It is much less burdensome, and less overwhelming, to think of what can be done today, rather than be bogged down by what should have been done yesterday, or what can happen tomorrow. Learn to appreciate events as they happen.

2. Learn to accept.

There are many things you’d like to change – but cannot – and you should be able to accept that. There are many traits that you do not have, and that are simply against your nature, and you should reconcile yourself with that. There are people around you who do not behave as they ought, and despite nudging, guiding, negotiating, debating and outright arguing, will not be swayed. You do what you can, but learn to accept that sometimes this will not result in the hoped-for outcome. Avoid getting frustrated and feeling as though you were hitting your head repeatedly against a wall, by learning to accept.

3. Forgive.

The ability to forgive is crucial for you to move on from the past, and find peace within yourself. Unless you forgive yourself, that hatred of self will be a cancer in your soul, slowly eating whatever self-respect, confidence and self-esteem you have. Not being able to forgive others will be a stone in your heart, slowly enlarging and further hardening, keeping you from feeling better about the past. Forgiveness is part of letting go. Forgiveness is easing the chokehold emotion has on you. Forgiveness opens you up to healing, growth and possibility.

4. Meditate.

Among the many benefits of meditation is calm and insight. With meditation, you are able to monitor your inner world, recalibrating your thoughts and emotions into a semblance of order, so that it makes sense. You decrease restless and obsessive thinking. You keep things in perspective and so make more accurate judgments. You develop the strength of will to withstand the onslaught of a confusing world. Any anxiety you have, any tension, will be slowly leached away, as you meditate.

5. Keep a journal.

Writing can be cathartic. In itself, it is also a method by which to gather thoughts and emotions, and make sense of them. You can style this journal in a manner most helpful to you. If you find yourself preoccupied to the point of distraction, this is one way to harness that outpouring of ideas and emotion – you can later go back to them with a cooler head. You can also use this journal to create “gratitude posts” that will remind you of the good things, the things that you lose sight of when you are worried or stressed. It can be a record of your journey to inner peace, the struggles you have gone through, and the milestones you have accomplished thus far. Who knows? Perhaps someday you may publish your journal so that it can also help someone else.

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Be Your Own Life Coach: 10 Ideas for Self-Improvement http://operationmeditation.com/discover/be-your-own-life-coach-10-ideas-for-self-improvement/ http://operationmeditation.com/discover/be-your-own-life-coach-10-ideas-for-self-improvement/#comments Wed, 16 Jan 2013 18:04:18 +0000 http://operationmeditation.com/discover/?p=2359 The thought of transforming yourself into a better person can be daunting – especially if you’re older, and you’ve had several “interventions,” and you do not feel as energetic as you were when you were a fresh-faced (or pimply-faced, as the case may be) teenager. Don’t fret. Even if you take it a day at a time, you will find that the opportunities to become better than you are, right now, are actually, right there. These are just 10 ideas to help you on your way.

1. Think positive.

Start your day, your week, your month or your year on a positive note. Think of all the things you can accomplish. Dare to dream. Every new milestone is a beginning: take stock and give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve accomplished so far.

2. Finish what you start.

Read a book: finish a chapter a day. It could be a subject you’ve always been interested in but has nothing to do with your work or your daily information-gathering. Attempt a home project – something you can do over the weekend – that will clearly improve your home. Complete your shopping and chores early, and get instant gratification for a job well done.

3. Leave the comfort zone. Face your fear.

Confronting a fear is one way of challenging yourself. Doing something that you are afraid of every day is a way of pushing yourself to grow. It doesn’t have to be dangerous (like skydiving) but it has to be something you know will be hard for you to do, but will also be good for you (like public speaking).

4. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.

You’ve heard about the benefits. Now it’s time to experience them. Exercising will not only make you healthier and stronger, it will make you look good, and you will also feel good.

5. Meditate.

Exercise your mind. Meditation helps you tackle your inner demons as well as readies you to face the world. If you want to battle depression, anxiety, sleep disorder, and personality issues, meditation is one effective remedy.

6. Quit a bad habit.

You know that there are some activities you engage in that are bad for you (such as smoking or binge-drinking), and that there are some people who bring out the worst in you (toxic frenemies, the gossip girl, the enabler buddy) – now is the time to let go of them. Surround yourself with people who bring out the good in you, or who, like you, are seeking to improve themselves via healthful action.

7. Find your passion. Fall in love.

A surefire way to be happy is to fall in love and be passionate about something – or somebody. Give yourself license to be in love. There are only so many years in a lifetime, and it would be nice to spend some of it with people or a significant person whom you love. There are only so many waking hours of the day, so do something that you love and that makes you happy.

8. Make someone else happy.

This can be a daily recurrence, or a big-time once-in-a-blue-moon deal. Either way, making someone happy is the surest way to feel good about yourself, to feel you’ve made a difference. It could be as simple as finding a way to compliment someone every day, or doing someone a favor for the week, or orchestrating something major that you know you can do, with some effort, and you know will be most appreciated.

9. Save a life.

Some of us – first responders such as firemen, cops, and medical personnel – are in a unique position to save another person’s life. But it should be noted that even those in unlikely positions are also given the opportunity to save a life – the passerby who pulled a youngster out of harm’s way, or the friend who refused to let her drunken companion drive, or the kid who adopted a stray cat or dog. When it’s your turn, step up and do your part.

10. Be grateful.

It’s so easy to forget that there are so many reasons to be grateful to be alive. At the end of each day, look back, and say thanks. End on a positive, life-affirming note.

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5 strategies for critical thinking http://operationmeditation.com/discover/5-strategies-for-critical-thinking/ http://operationmeditation.com/discover/5-strategies-for-critical-thinking/#comments Wed, 16 Jan 2013 18:01:20 +0000 http://operationmeditation.com/discover/?p=2355 Critical thinking is simply reasoning out whether a claim is true, partly true, sometimes true, or false. Logic is applied by the critical thinker to understand character, motivation, point of view and expression. All decision-making involves critical thinking, from the most mundane activities, such as choosing what to buy at the grocery after seeing advertisements on similar product types, to the subject of professional investigation, such as determining whether the insurance company will honor claims after a house fire where arson is suspected. Whichever the case, critical thinking follows the same basic strategies:

1. Think for yourself.

It seems like such a simple thing, but thinking for yourself – rather than blindly accepting the beliefs of other people – is the first step of critical thinking. Take what is said under consideration, but do not automatically accept what others tell you, nor be unduly influenced by the language they use, or the opinions they give. Introduce doubt. Entertain unpopular ideas. Be mindful of what “authorities” say, insofar as their track record shows fair-mindedness, objectivity and truthfulness; however, always double-check. (Remember, even doctors advise getting a second opinion. Consult as many trustworthy people as possible.) In the end, discover things and work out a conclusion for yourself.

2. Do not take things out of context.

The circumstances that surround an incident, the background of the person speaking, the vantage point of a particular witness – all these have an impact on the veracity of the claim. To think critically, you must be able to put yourself “in other people’s shoes” or to see their perspective. You will find that each person has his own weakness and strength in terms of judgment and observation. It could be that two viewpoints are contradictory, and you will have to rely on your judgment to determine what is valid, what is mistaken, or what is partially true but incomplete.

3. Do not presume the familiar. Do not dismiss the unfamiliar.

Every critical thinker will have his own set of prejudices; however, you must not allow these prejudices to color your thinking. In fact, it will serve you better if you challenge your own presuppositions. If something seems familiar, or typical, then look at it from a fresh point of view. Test each assumption you make. Do not automatically suppose that you already possess the truth. If you come across something unfamiliar, you have to understand exactly what it is and where it comes from and how it works, before you make a judgment call. Ask yourself whether your assumptions are based on evidence, and whether you are interpreting the situation in a way that makes sense.

4. Be intellectually humble.

Be aware of your own weaknesses, your own preconditioning, and your own context (social, cultural, personal). Know your own limitations. Acknowledge your sensitive points. Suspend judgment whenever possible. Never take off from a place of “knowing,” but instead come to a place of “questioning.” Be open. Rethink previous conclusions in light of new evidence or experience. Do not be pretentious and arrogant. You are not privy to all information. Listen. Observe. Learn.

5. Hone your cognitive reasoning: meditate.

The benefits of meditation allow for clarity of mind and stable emotions, even some detachment. You will be in a better position to conduct critical thinking if you are calm, contemplative, and able to discern the points of logic with increased focus and mindfulness. Those who practice meditation are not bedeviled by unruly or obsessive thoughts. Nor are they sleep-deprived, anxious and stressed. They are able to delve deep into meaning, and become more analytical.

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5 Easy Steps to Gain Self-confidence http://operationmeditation.com/discover/5-easy-steps-to-gain-self-confidence/ http://operationmeditation.com/discover/5-easy-steps-to-gain-self-confidence/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2013 17:57:36 +0000 http://operationmeditation.com/discover/?p=2352 Self-confidence is built through time. We are not born confident, we grow confident. It shows in how we interact with people. It shows in how often we take risks. It shows in how soon we bounce back after suffering a setback. Any uncertainty because of a lack of knowledge or a lack of experience is overcome in time. Any apprehension because of too much experience, meanwhile, is overcome with practice, also in time. Here are five easy steps that we can employ to become more self-assured.

1. Look people in the eye.

Eye contact is very important in building self-confidence. We assume that our eyes are the most expressive feature – 9 times out of 10, we’re right. To look into someone’s eyes means that we are ready for what we are going to see in them, that we accept them, and that we are not afraid of what they will also see in us. To be bold in eye is to be brave as well as open. Practice in the mirror. Look into your own eyes. Smile with your eyes.

2. Project a well-crafted image.

Part of building self-confidence is projecting a confident image. Maintain good posture. Dress smartly. Speak in a well-modulated voice. Give a firm handshake, and yes, a friendly smile. You know what they say about first impressions – make it count. If you project an image of confidence, you will embody confidence, and you will feel much more confident. And although you may not always feel confident, a habitual assumption of the mannerisms of confidence will aid you in “getting your mojo back,” so to speak.

3. Know your own worth.

You are more than your age. You are more than your social connections. You are more than your job. You are more than your achievements. You are more than your past. Your self-worth may derive an ego-boost from all these things, but what you are is a person in continuous development. We make life-changing decisions every day. By all means, value what you’ve made of yourself so far, but do not make the mistake of thinking it ends there. Give yourself some credit.

4. Evaluate yourself with accuracy: meditate.

We sometimes shy away from looking too deeply into our own psyche, but to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, is to take control of your destiny. Confront your fears via meditation. Lessen your anxiety and apprehension by admitting to yourself why you are afraid, and releasing that fear. Monitor your behavior; note the instances where you have felt shrunken and unworthy. Pinpoint the negative statements in your own mind – are these a result of inner critical thinking, or outside influence? Whatever the source, challenge yourself to find the strength within to combat negativity. You are more than your mistakes or your weaknesses. And you will always have the power to change.

5. You do not need everyone’s approval.

It is wonderful to be admired and complimented, but your self-worth should not hinge on how well-liked you are. Learn to accept compliments with grace, and learn to bear the sting of criticism with equal good manners. Do not be crushed if the approval is taken away. Do not act with the sole intention of pleasing other people. Sometimes the uncomfortable thing is the right thing. Sometimes you have to put your needs first. Sometimes a clash of personalities is simply inevitable. Be mindful of balancing expectations with reality. And remember: no one knows you better than you know yourself. Trust yourself. Believe in yourself.

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Integrity: How Do You Measure Up? http://operationmeditation.com/discover/integrity-how-do-you-measure-up/ http://operationmeditation.com/discover/integrity-how-do-you-measure-up/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2013 17:55:18 +0000 http://operationmeditation.com/discover/?p=2349 What is integrity? Most people would say that integrity is a quality, a personality trait, a testament of character. More than this however, integrity is a way of being, a consistent pattern of action. The word integrity stems from the Latin adjective “integer,” meaning “complete” – it is the sum of one’s actions, some would simply call it virtuousness. A person with integrity lives by a certain code – he knows his limits, he has drawn a line between what is acceptable and unacceptable and he walks that line. How do we know that we have it? Read on.

1. Do you listen to your conscience?

A person of integrity follows his conscience, and will not be coerced or provoked into acting otherwise. Simply following traffic rules, despite the absence of any cameras or traffic enforcers, is a sign of integrity. At work, if you do not agree to a policy that would be harmful to the company, or unfair to its members, you have integrity. If you do not take part in a cover-up of a corporate blunder, you have integrity.

2. Do you keep your promises?

A person with integrity hardly ever breaks a vow – and only does so under extreme duress or given extenuating circumstances. Part of his value system would be to commit to something and to see it through, despite potential personal sacrifice. There is a purity of intention in someone with integrity; whether or not s/he succeeds, s/he will make a great effort. At work, if you deliver exactly on your commitments, then you are regarded as a person with integrity.

3. Do you believe in the higher principle?

Integrity is not about being honest 100% of the time, but telling the truth when it is called for, and withholding the truth when it is necessary. Say, a confidence is divulged that could possibly cause harm to the confidant or harm someone else. The person with integrity could convince the person away from his destructive path, convince that person to act with integrity. Or he may decide to break the confidence (thereby saving a life) and may still keep his integrity. A devotion to the higher principle is part of having integrity.

4. Do you give credit where credit is due?

A person with integrity acknowledges the contribution of other people, even if it downplays his own accomplishments. The person with integrity will not steal an idea or pretend that he was the source; instead he will deflect attention from him and give credit where credit is due.

5. Do you correct a mistake made?

A person with integrity, quite simply, apologizes if he has committed a mistake. He is also driven to make reparation, however way he can. So it is true, that integrity can be lost but it can also be regained.
For most of us, integrity is an aspiration – something that we work hard to maintain, as we grapple with everyday decisions. It is a continuous struggle. One way to develop a sense of integrity is to confront your own actions head-on. Try meditation. Seek a safe and quiet space where you can contemplate on your past actions, and observe whether you have lived by a discernible moral or ethical code. Ask yourself honestly, what is truly important to you. See your way clear to what purpose drives your everyday life. You are who you are because of the choices you made in the past, but you can become someone else, someone much better, because of the choices you make in the present and in the future.

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How Do You Go From Pride To Humility? http://operationmeditation.com/discover/how-do-you-go-from-pride-to-humility/ http://operationmeditation.com/discover/how-do-you-go-from-pride-to-humility/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2013 17:52:31 +0000 http://operationmeditation.com/discover/?p=2346 Humility comes easier to some more than others. Nonetheless, if you care for the feelings of others, if you do not treat them with disdain or callousness, then you’re halfway there. To be humble is to be compassionate and considerate. A quote attributed to theologian C.S.Lewis notes, “humility is not thinking less of oneself but to think of one’s self less” (or less often). The key to humility then, is to focus less on yourself, and focus more on others or how you relate with others.

1. Meditate on your place in the world.

Meditation is a contemplative practice that will help you properly situate yourself in the world. Excessive pride is a form of narcissism that puts the self above everything else. Pride will ruthlessly protect the ego; pride can close you off from the world, as your ego always strives to set you apart. Humility, on the other hand, is being open to the world, and seeing oneself in a much larger context. Pride is aggrandizement, humility is closer to reality. The regular practice of meditation, of mindfulness and transcendence of self, will aid you in developing a much healthier sense of self.

2. Recognize that you are part of a community.

Perhaps the easiest path to pricking self-importance is to remember that it takes billions of people for the world to turn, and while we are caught up in our own activities, we cannot function alone. If a meteor crashed into Earth tomorrow and you were the sole survivor, how long would you last? Every person in the world is unique, has a place, and has a function. Illiterate or literate, blue collar worker or white collar worker, able-bodied or differently-abled. There are myriad things that make the world go ‘round, that make your life easier, and you cannot possibly take on all these tasks.

3. Respect what others can do for you.

Some skills are more valued than others, but the very fact that you yourself cannot do a job offhand should already earn your respect. Being stranded with a malfunctioning car makes you value the services provided by a good mechanic. Plagued by termites makes you value the services of pest control. A heart attack makes you value the services of a doctor and nutritionist. You can pay for these services, but having the capacity to offer payment does not place you above the person offering his services.

4. Don’t stand in the way.

Perhaps you are used to getting your way, used to a leadership position, and have never been overlooked. However, you do not always have to be the leader, the one who makes the decisions, particularly if it concerns a group. You do not always have to be the person who is right. How sure are you that your ideas are not already shared by others or that there are no better ways to accomplish something? Learn how to listen first before you speak. Step back and be part of the group, be “among” them rather than always “on top” of them. Perhaps they may not be as assertive as you are, but everyone has a contribution to make; draw that out, rather than imposing your own.

5. Be thankful. Show appreciation.

You will be admired, and you will be praised, but don’t imagine that this is something that is your due. Appreciate recognition from others, thank them. Thank also the people who helped you reach a position whereby you can accomplish something. Credit their contribution.

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How Do You Stop Complaining? 5 Baby Steps to More Positive Thinking http://operationmeditation.com/discover/how-do-you-stop-complaining-5-baby-steps-to-more-positive-thinking/ http://operationmeditation.com/discover/how-do-you-stop-complaining-5-baby-steps-to-more-positive-thinking/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2013 17:49:22 +0000 http://operationmeditation.com/discover/?p=2336 Complaining is a habit that’s very hard to get rid of. Even if you recognize that you have fallen into a pattern of seeing the negatives in every situation, you’ve already conditioned your mind to expect that awful things will happen. Your experiences and your preconditioning already work against you. How do you stop complaining? Recalibrate your mind for more positive thinking. Here are five steps to consider:

1. Do not stop at the complaint; move forward.

We lead such busy, harried lives that something will always fall through the cracks. Maybe a housemate was too busy to wash the dishes or throw out the garbage. Maybe your partner borrowed the car and forgot to refuel. Someone at work did not get the memo or failed to respond to an urgent e-mail. If the ball drops, it affects you, and you cannot help but exhale in annoyance. “Is it always my job to fix things?” you ask. Maybe it isn’t, but if it aggravates you, then you are invested in it – you don’t have to fix it, but you can be part of the solution. By all means, ask your housemate to commit to a schedule for housework, and switch when one of you is busy. Ask your partner to remind himself to refuel the car – via mobile application, post-it, any which way. Alter the way you communicate at work so that you are guaranteed a timely response.

2. Think short-term or long-term, depending on what is most helpful.

A trick of positive thinking is to think of time as being relative: this too shall pass. Whatever complaint you have, you can tell yourself that it is merely short term: “This is temporary,” “I can solve this and soon this will cease to be a problem” or “The situation will resolve itself in time.” You can also think of it in the long-term: “This has to be done but it’s almost over now,” “This will lead to better things in the future,” and “This is a step in the right direction for the big goal at the end of the year.”

3. Let go of complaints over things outside your control.

The bitter pill to swallow is that not everything is under our control. This includes the weather (“It’s so hot that it’s frying my brain, I can’t think”), management decisions (“They’ve cut the budget again, am I supposed to work a miracle to get this project done?”), or even limited lunch options (“What do you mean you’ve run out of Meal A? It’s there on the menu, isn’t it? What kind of place is this?”). It may be frustrating, but you have to work with what you’ve got. See if you can spot the silver lining (It’s really hot, haven’t been to the beach in a while, this is the best time!). Try to motivate yourself for the present challenge (If I pull this off on a small budget, I’m going to convince my boss I can do even better next time with a bigger budget and an assistant… or a salary raise!). Tell yourself that there are other options to consider (Okay, no Meal A, is Meal B a better choice?)

4. Accept the choices you’ve made thus far and embrace the challenges that go with them.

It’s not easy being in your situation, but would you have really chosen otherwise? You may have chosen a thriving career with a lot of traveling. You may have stayed single, or gotten married. You opted to have kids or take care of a raft of pets. You chose to live in another city, far away from your family homestead. All these choices have its accompanying challenges; exchanging one for another means merely a set of new challenges. Remind yourself that the sacrifices are worth the choice you’ve already made. Even as you spot the imperfections, be grateful for the good things in your life. Then move forward.

5. Meditate. Keep calm and carry on.

Reconditioning the mind to think positively must be a constant effort. The practice of meditation can help you overcome your negative thoughts, including the accompanying stress, anger and anxiety. Put things in perspective. Learn how to objectively judge a situation. Relax. Breathe. Think. Know your strengths and how to leverage on those strengths. Learn to accept and be grateful for your life.

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5 tips to overcome shyness and social anxiety http://operationmeditation.com/discover/5-tips-to-overcome-shyness-and-social-anxiety/ http://operationmeditation.com/discover/5-tips-to-overcome-shyness-and-social-anxiety/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2013 17:39:55 +0000 http://operationmeditation.com/discover/?p=2330 Do you relate to the phrase “crippling shyness”? Have you ever described yourself as “royally awkward,” or “wallflower”? Perhaps you saw that book-turned-movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower and identified with the lead protagonist. You’re not alone; most of us would readily admit to feeling some trepidation when it comes to social activities. It’s okay to be shy; however, you need not be retiring. It is possible to get past fear and learn the knack of social interaction. The following tips could just nudge you away from the shadows and a little nearer to the spotlight.

1. Take small steps.

The key to social gatherings is to extend your comfort zone, a little at a time. You can start by going to a party with people you are comfortable with, as this can bolster your confidence. The next time, you can just meet friends there. Ultimately, you can go anywhere without being certain of a familiar, friendly face. It would also help if you take part in an activity that you’re good at. Take your pick – a team sport, or perhaps a parlor game like cards or billiards? On the other hand, you may also deliberately choose an activity that you’re not quite good at, relying on beginner’s luck. Have fun. You don’t have to excel; you only have to be a “good sport.” If you’re not ready to enter the limelight, why not watch a movie or a concert or a game? As spectators, you already have something in common; you have something to talk about.

2. Be open to conversation.

Once you’re at the party or social gathering, be open to introductions. Don’t limit yourself to the people you already know. Strike up a conversation with someone new. Do it often enough, and it will get easier. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, you’ll remember that Fitzwilliam Darcy has everything that one could possibly wish for – wealth, good family background, and good looks – but he was so shy that he was perceived as being standoffish. He admitted that he did not have the “talent of conversing easily” with people whom he has never met before, to which the rejoinder was that perhaps he should “practice.” It’s good advice.

3. Leave your critical self behind.

Social anxiety stems from a fear of being scrutinized by other people and being rejected or ridiculed. You’d rather blend into the background because you’re afraid to embarrass yourself. Why are you so certain that they’re looking at you and waiting for you to make a mistake? To be honest, everyone has had that thought and that fear. Be the person who is more concerned about making other people less nervous, making them comfortable, rather than focusing on your own fears. Be kind. Try not to scrutinize the flaws in yourself and in others. Concentrate on the positive.

4. Bring a sense of humor.

It’s okay to laugh; it means that you appreciate a good joke. You don’t have to crack jokes all the time, but you can sincerely laugh at someone else’s jokes, right? Sharing a joke is one way of establishing rapport. Laughing also makes you involuntarily relax, and you will be more comfortable extending yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously and you will be less inclined to fear embarrassment or criticism, or react negatively when being teased.

5. Be mindful: meditate.

Mindfulness, which is rooted in the practice of meditation, has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. The intention is to increase awareness of oneself and one’s environment, to direct one’s objective gaze on personal experience and emotion. You focus on what is real rather than what is imagined. You tackle the present, what can be done now, rather than the unforeseeable, intangible future. Ask yourself: what triggers your shyness? How do you usually cope? Does it make you feel better or does it make matters worse? Think of meditation as mentally confronting your fears – and how you react to these fears. Your first critic is really yourself, not the people you meet. Your first hurdle is to treat your shy self with compassion. The trick is to break free from the burden of self-criticism and self-consciousness, and approach society with a healthier attitude.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Learning How to Accept Yourself http://operationmeditation.com/discover/the-dos-and-donts-of-learning-how-to-accept-yourself/ http://operationmeditation.com/discover/the-dos-and-donts-of-learning-how-to-accept-yourself/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2013 17:16:12 +0000 http://operationmeditation.com/discover/?p=2324 Do you find it hard to be comfortable with who you are? Are you wishing for the day that you can look in the mirror and see a face smiling back at you, instead of the one that that tells you you’re not good enough?

When you don’t accept who you are as a person, you don’t get the joy of experiencing a life of contentment and satisfaction. You can’t fully celebrate all that you have to offer because you close your eyes to it. You focus on your negative qualities and totally ignore your positive ones.

If this is you, you can learn to accept yourself and live a filling, fruitful life. And, the best part is that you can start right now and feel the effects immediately. You just have to know the do’s and don’ts that will get you where you want to be.

They are:

Don’t define yourself by your mistakes, but by your achievements. Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to accept and forgive others for their shortcomings, but when it comes to ourselves we seldom cut ourselves any slack? Someone else can commit the most heinous crime against us and we’ll say, “Oh, that’s okay. They’re just misunderstood.” But if we so much as cut a fingernail crooked, we’re useless and a waste of space.

While it’s a great virtue to forgive those that tread on us, it’s an even greater virtue to forgive ourselves. If you screw up, so be it. Don’t let it define you. It’s an action you took, not an indicator of your self-worth.

Instead of focusing on things that you have done wrong, concentrate on the things that you’ve done right. Celebrate your achievements. Congratulate yourself on positive decisions. Be your own cheerleader.

Don’t compare yourself to other people.

You can’t ever accept yourself if you compare yourself to others and feel you’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or whatever enough. You’ll always look at yourself as more subordinate and under par.

You’ll always find someone who can do something better than you. However, you’ll also find things that you can do better than other people, so in the end it’s a wash. Everyone has strengths in different areas.

Embrace your uniqueness. Don’t try to be like everyone else. Just be yourself.

Do let go of perfection.

If you’re waiting to love yourself when you’re perfect, you’re going to be waiting forever. No one is perfect. Instead of aiming for perfection, aim to be better than you are. Try your hardest and do the best you can. The results may not be perfect, but they’ll be better than if you didn’t try at all.

Do focus on your strong attributes.

Instead of looking in the psychological mirror and picking out all the things you don’t like about yourself, pick out the things you do. Focus on the attributes that have served you well during the course of your life.

Everyone is strong in certain areas. Maybe you’re a born nurturer or mentor. Perhaps you’re good under pressure and shine in stressful situations. Are you someone that people like to be around because you smile and make them feel good? Focus on these qualities.

Do something every day that makes you feel good about yourself. If you find it a struggle to accept yourself, then do things that make you feel better. Engage in activities that reaffirm your positive self-worth. What are some options?

Take care of your outer appearance. Just making yourself up instead of letting yourself go is often enough to make you feel better instantly.

Help someone in need. When you’re there to assist someone else with their struggles, it can’t help but put a smile on your face knowing you did something good.

Meditate for contentment and peace. Take the time to sit by yourself and clear your mind of all the negative so you can focus strictly on the positive.

Once you realize that you’re great just the way you are, you’ll open yourself up to a whole new level of happiness. Instead of spending time knocking yourself down, you’ll focus on lifting yourself up which, incidentally, is where you belong.

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