The Gift of Inner Peace

By Ben Turshen. 

Hi Friends,

We all agree that there is a lot happening in the world right now. With so many transitions and so much to get done at year end - it's easy to feel overwhelmed. 

You need rest and at the same time, you need to be alert, productive and engaged.

When you practice Vedic Meditation, your awareness settles down automatically and spontaneously to experience a unique state of restful alertness, an inner wakefulness beyond thought. This allows you to transcend fear and uncertainty by providing stillness, stability and peace from within. Emerging from meditation, we feel better. Calm and relaxed, present and aware, peaceful and equanimous. 

The ability to have this experience whenever you like is one of life's greatest gifts. It changes the way we experience the world and the way the world experiences us. 

With Gratitude, 

Ben

Meditation is a power tool.

By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com

We use tools because they help us accomplish things.

When we make soup, for instance, a long wooden spoon is an essential tool. If we stir the pot with a piece of silverware, our hands get messy and possibly burned. And this doesn't just apply to soup - in virtually any endeavor, having the right tools is key to our success.

Sometimes life even calls for heavy-duty tools, like hammers and drills. If you've ever moved to a new home, you have experience with these. Hammers and drills are powerful, which is why we use them to get important things done. 

But when we mishandle power tools, they aren't helpful. Remember not being allowed to use a drill until an adult showed you how? Remember learning how to use a hammer, which involved a lot of missing the nail entirely and banging your thumb? 

Just like a drill, meditation is a power tool. To get good results, we need to know how to use it - and this is where most people meet a roadblock.

Now that meditation is everywhere, it's easy to think that we're supposed to simply do it, in the same way we're supposed to exercise and eat healthy foods. But meditation is very different. With exercise, we all know how to take a walk and move our bodies. With food, we all know how to find a Whole Foods and buy something nutritious. Meditation, on the other hand, isn't something we innately know how to do (like exercise) or that we simply acquire and consume (like food). To get the benefits of meditation, we need to learn a specific technique and fully understand how to use it. 

So if you've ever "tried" to meditate and felt like a failure, you're not. If you've ever wanted to meditate but felt it was daunting or even impossible, it's not. And if you've dabbled with apps or other one-time experiences and concluded that meditation is just "meh," it's not. It's a power tool, and it can absolutely transform your inner and outer experiences if you really learn how to use it from a qualified teacher. And unlike hammers, drills, and wooden spoons, meditation is a tool that makes EVERYTHING in your life easier to accomplish. 

Unlike other techniques, Vedic Meditation is taught in person over four days, which means you receive detailed, tailored instruction. You gain a full understanding of how to use the technique and exactly what it will do for you. 

When you know how to use a hammer and understand what it does, it's a very effective tool. Meditation is no different - and when we commit to learning how to use this amazing power tool, it is always well worth it. 

Feeling Unsettled? Election Stress is Real, Meditation Helps

By Ben Turshen. 

Hi Friends,

If you're feeling particularly unsettled and stressed right now, you're not alone. 

Most presidential elections elevate the stress of the collective consciousness. However, this year, the tension in the atmosphere is unprecedented. 

A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association indicates that 52% of American adults report that the 2016 election is a significant source of stress regardless of their political affiliation. Click here for the full report. 

25 percent of Americans are saying that election stress is getting in the way of them doing their work because of political discussions in the workplace. 

7 percent of Americans say they've lost friends because of the 2016 election. 

The good news is the election is 9 days away. The bad news is that once the election is over the stress may not go away. The impact of a single presidency may last for generations. 

Media, social and otherwise, doesn't help, but meditation does. 

Vedic Meditation is tool that effectively decreases stress. It is effortless and enjoyable. And once learned, you can practice it successfully on your own every day. 

This November, make sure you vote and come along and learn Vedic Meditation with me in New York City.

Have a safe and fun Halloween and wonderful Thanksgiving. 

With Love + Gratitude,

Ben

Health Is Wealth

By Ben Turshen. 

"Health is wealth". This expression is not new, but its wisdom is timeless. The value of good health cannot be overstated, but it's something that's easily taken for granted until it's compromised. 

Making a small investment in maintaining or improving our health can pay huge dividends.

Learning Vedic Meditation can make a profound positive impact in both your mental and physical health.

Vedic Meditation is effortless, enjoyable and can be learned by anyone (including those who think their minds are too busy/active to meditate).

When we practice Vedic Meditation, our mind settles down automatically and our body experiences rest much deeper than sleep. Practicing Vedic Meditation each day allows the body to unwind decades of accumulated stress. The same stress that ages the body rapidly, causes us to feel tired and rundown, and predisposes us to illness and disease. We're much better off without this stress weighing us down.  

stress ≠ weakness.

By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com

When we're stressed, things feel very wrong indeed. But no matter how wrong your life may feel, there is never anything wrong with YOU. It's easy to blame yourself and wonder, "Why can't I handle this? Beyoncé has the same number of hours in the day as I do, and look at everything she accomplishes! I'm just not as strong as she is... right?"

WRONG. First of all, Beyoncé has a team of people handling a large portion of "her" demands, and she's smart enough to stay off social media for the most part. This is a huge win in itself, but that is besides the point.

When it comes to stress, how you handle it, and what that says about you, here's the truth: you've been accumulating stress in your body for decades. If you don't have tools to dissolve accumulated stress and prevent more from building up each day, it is debilitating. This is not your fault. 

Here's how it works: each time you lose your temper, feel humiliated, argue, throw a shoe across the room, etc., stress builds up in the body. By the time you're an adult, there are thousands of stresses in your system. If your body and brain are burdened with accumulated stresses, there's very little computing power left for navigating life's demands in a calm, clear-headed way. This is why we throw shoes across the room; this is why we yell. This is why we get sweaty and lose our cool when we're running late and the stakes are high, only to beat ourselves up for not being able to keep it together. 

Due to the human body's design, being stressed is like dumping acid in your system, and this is not easy to handle. When we go into fight-or-flight mode (ie. panicking, shouting, freaking out, etc.), the body launches into a series of chemical reactions. These include acid flooding the digestive system, cortisol and adrenaline levels spiking, the immune system shutting down, and much more.

This process drains your body's energy, computing power, and overall capacity to function at the top of your game. So if you feel like a failure because you're stressed all the time or because you don't handle stress gracefully, there is nothing wrong with you. The human body wasn't designed to handle stress gracefully, and it's DEFINITELY not designed to handle chronic stress. It's okay to get stressed in an acute situation, but it's very unhealthy to STAY stressed. 

When you get stressed, your body naturally and spontaneously does exactly what it's been conditioned to do since prehistoric times (aka fight or flight) because it helps us leap into action and survive the perceived threat. The problem is, we evolved this reaction so the body will get a surge of energy that helps it withstand a LIFE-THREATENING situation. These days, we're a sweaty, heart-pounding mess when our iPhone falls in the toilet (hint: not life-threatening). We've been conditioned to react this way, and that's not our fault.

No matter how hard we try, we can't disable the body's ability to go into fight-or-flight (and we wouldn't want to, because it can save our life in the face of an oncoming car). However, we CAN re-program our tendency to launch blindly into fight-or-flight whenever something unexpected happens. We overreact to non-deadly demands because decades of stresses have accumulated in the body and we're left with very little adaptation energy, aka the ability to calmly face whatever comes our way. 

So what can we do to clear out stresses and stop the cycle of buildup in the body?Meditate. When we meditate, the body and brain settle down, the nervous system de-excites, and we enter a level of rest that is up to 5 times deeper than sleep. Stress dissolves easily in this state of rest. Each time we meditate, we let go of more accumulated stress. If we keep it up, eventually there will be none left in the body. And if we keep it up still, the nervous system will stay clear and stress will stop building up entirely. 

In conclusion, no more stress in the body = no more freaking out. Your body is designed to get stressed, but only when it actually makes sense. Meditation dissolves accumulated stress in the body, and the brain stops getting confused about which demands are life-threatening. The body thanks you by no longer getting stressed when it isn't helpful, and you have more space to enjoy life, demands and all.

Who are you, REALLY? [Part 1]

By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com

When we find ourselves in quarter- or mid-life crisis mode, the question "Who am I?" is a frequent (and often unwelcome) visitor.Until recently, the following words came to mind when considering who I am: female, wife, daughter, friend, East Coast transplant, teacher… brunette, tall-ish, sensitive, fearful, insecure…the list went on.

Once I began meditating, this all changed. Meditation gave me a daily experience of accessing a part of myself that has nothing to do with those words, a part of myself that goes beyond words altogether. I began to notice an intangible part of my being that's always there in the background, beyond internal or external traits. I began to experience myself in a way that's separate from the one-word descriptors that make me an individual, and this has given me something invaluable: stabilized happiness and complete peace with who I am. 

HOW DOES MEDITATION ALLOW US TO EXPERIENCE WHO WE REALLY ARE?

First things first: when we're not meditating, we oscillate between three different states of consciousness: waking, sleeping, and dreaming. But here’s the game changer: when using the , the mind accesses a fourth state of consciousness known astranscendence, transcendental consciousness, or bliss consciousness.

“Bliss” in this sense is not euphoria or ecstatic happiness; bliss is supreme inner contentedness.

In bliss consciousness, we are so content that the mind can’t conceive of another thought that would make us any happier than we are right now – so it falls silent.

That’s right, the mind lets go of thought spontaneously and completely, which does not happen in the waking state you’re in right now. We can certainly feel happy in the waking state, but the mind moves constantly from thought to thought. 

Ever wonder why we can’t stop our incessant “monkey mind” in the waking state? It’s because our mind is trying to make us happy. We replay the past, ruminate over problems, and plan out the future in hopes of arriving at a thought that will resolve everything and make us feel “all better” about whatever it is. But unfortunately, that thought never comes. Even during a rare epiphany or moment of clarity, our perceived happiness lasts for just a few moments before the mind moves on to the next topic, in a fruitless search for happiness that truly lasts.

In contrast, meditation allows us to let go of thoughts and access a sustainable form of happiness. To “transcend” means “to go beyond,” and when we meditate, the mind has the irreplaceable experience of going beyond thought in transcendental consciousness.  

If you’ve never experienced transcendence, it may sounds crazy, abstract, and too good to be true. Once you do, though, it’s the real deal. Not only does it feel amazing, but it allows us to access the only place where true happiness lies: inside of you. As I discuss here, your happiness is not on the other side of a job, relationship, dollar amount, or anything else. These things can make us feel happy - temporarily - but it's fleeting. No one has ever found lasting happiness outside of themselves despite having all the "right" things, Brangelina included.

The idea that happiness lies within has become a cliché, but only if your mind has never transcended thought - and remember, transcendence is triggered by a specific mental technique like Vedic meditation. It sounds esoteric, but it’s the easiest thing in the world once you learn how. And once do, you begin to experience the "cliché" as absolute truth.

So here are the CliffsNotes: when we meditate, we access a state of bliss consciousness that allows us to easily let go of thought and make contact with the happiness that already exists inside ourselves. This is cool and all, but it's just scratching the surface. Transcendence has even bigger implications: when the mind lets go of thought, we are able to make contact with who and what we really are.  

More about that coming in Part 2...  

How Do You Want To Feel Every Day?

By Ben Turshen. 

Let me ask you a question: How do you feel now? 

Tired and stressed? Nervous and anxious? Worried? Overwhelmed? Distracted? Impatient? Sad? Angry? Unhappy? 

Let me ask you another question: How do you want to feel? 

Rested and relaxed. Calm and focused. Present and attentive. Productive. Happy.

Vedic Meditation will help you bridge the gap between how you feel now and how you want to feel every day. 

Life isn't stressful...

By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com

It's just full of demands. Your job, commute, family, and environment all place demands on you, and the state of your brain and body determines how you respond. Demands aren't a bad thing; they're a neutral and non-negotiable part of modern life. It's impossible to avoid demands if you want to have relationships and make contributions to the world. We come to know demands as stressful because of how our physiology reacts to them, but the good news is we have the power to change this. Instead of resenting or avoiding demands, we have the most success when we gain the tools to deal with them elegantly. There are plenty of people out there who don't find their jobs, commutes, or partners stressful at all. This isn't because they don't face demands, it's because the physiological state of their bodies allows them to face even the most intense demands with ease. Wanna be more like that? Read on.

So we each have a unique set of proverbial buttons that get pushed by different triggers, right? Most of our loved ones know exactly how to push those buttons. There are also triggers in our environment; for me it's public speaking, for others it might be air travel. When our buttons get pushed, we each have a different reaction pattern, whether it's withdrawing, crying, confronting, or freaking out in some way. These reactions are a form of the fight-or-flight response (aka acute stress response) that happens in our bodies in the face of something mentally or physically terrifying. 

What happens to the body in fight-or-flight mode?

  1. Our normally alkaline skin develops an acidic pH, which makes it less tasty to potential predators.
  2. The body dehydrates by sweating and eliminating waste (bowels and bladder evacuate) so it's light enough to fight or flee.
  3. The peripheral vision narrows (aka tunnel vision), because the brain needs to reserve its computing power for more important functions. 
  4. The body produces stress chemicals like cortisol, adrenaline, norepinephrine, and plasma lactate and pumps them through the veins and arteries. 
  5. The immune system stops functioning because fighting cancer and other diseases is not an acute priority.

We evolved this response eons ago for an important reason: to prepare the body to either fight an attacker or flee it. The ultimate goal is to survive in life-threatening danger. This protective mechanism helped our ancestors defend territory and survive predatory attacks. It's pretty amazing that our bodies can access a sudden flare-up of intense energywe didn't have a moment ago. The fight-or-flight response is still relevant and adaptive in the modern world; it can help us spring to action in the face of an oncoming car or similar dangers. 

The problem is, most humans today don't face many legitimate survival threats, but we've been conditioned to go into fight-or-flight whenever something unexpected happens. It's become normal to have an acute stress response to situations that are NOT life-threatening, and this isn't healthy. Eckhart Tolle explains why in his awesome book, A New Earth: "We have a buildup of energy, but since the danger is only a mental fiction, the energy has no outlet. Part of it is led back to the mind and generates even more anxious thought. The rest of the energy turns toxic and interferes with the harmonious functioning of the body."

When we have an extreme stress reaction to modern demands, like a dead cell phone battery or a layoff at work, this is is a decidedly maladaptive response. Our mental clarity in fight-or-flight mode isn't great - if you've ever panicked and felt your mind race uncontrollably when you miss a flight or oversleep your alarm, you know this to be true.

So by the time we reach adulthood, we are walking around with layers of accumulated stress, which affect everything about our daily experience - how we feel physically, how we feel about ourselves (our self-concept), our way of interacting with others, and our general ability to meet the demands we are faced with. And the more stressed we are, the more tired we are because being stressed is exhausting. It drains the body of adaptation energy, and we're left with less energy to deal with future demands. So each time we interact with a demand that we don't have enough adaptation energy to face elegantly, we accumulate a bit of stress. It's an unpleasant cycle. Not surprisingly, the stress response leads to rapid agingbecause it's super demanding on the body. 

NOW WHAT DO WE MAKE OF ALL THIS?

We face modern demands much more successfully when we stay cool, calm, and collected. In fight-or-flight, this is not an option. What's more, we don't seem to be able to choose whether or not we go into fight-or-flight; it happens involuntarily. If we were able to decide how we react to each demand that comes our way, no one would ever choose to experience a pounding heart and sweaty palms when their cell phone falls in the toilet.

So how do we prevent ourselves from going into fight-or-flight when we're not actually in danger? By meditating regularly - it really is that straightforward. And if you haven't learned yet, it's simply a matter of doing so with a qualified teacher. Each time we meditate, we shed a layer of accumulated stress and free up more capacity for navigating life with ease.When a demand arises, our bodies get a drastically different message from the brain. We are able to distinguish situations that actually threaten our survival from those that don't. A much healthier perspective is gained, and we end the cycle of knee-jerk reactions. All of this adds up to a life in which you walk around feeling calmer, happier, and totally unstoppable.

Are You Missing It?

By Ben Turshen. 

Are you missing it? Missing what? What's happening right here, right now. 

An ongoing Havard University study found that participants spent 46.9 percent of their time awake thinking about something other than what they are doing and this mind-wandering experience typically made them unhappy. Why? 

When our mind is somewhere else we are suffering. Even if we are thinking back upon our very best day we are not nearly as happy as when we were there experiencing it in realtime. That makes us suffer. And if we are thinking ahead, guessing, speculating, worrying about what the future may bring then we are really suffering because our level of accuracy in predicting the future is almost non-existent (how much of what happened in your life in the last year did you predict with any accuracy?). 

So what can we do to be more present? Trying to be present does not help. When we are trying to be present we are not actually present, we are trying. Present moment awareness happens spontaneously (without trying). The best way to increase our ability to attend to the here and now is by decreasing our stress. 

When we practice Vedic Meditation our body's chemical makeup is the exact opposite of when we feel overwhelmed and stressed. We have an influx of bliss chemistry (serotonin, dopamine, anandamide, oxytocin, beta-endorphin) and a decrease in stress chemistry (adrenaline, cortisol, lactic acid). Getting dosed with bliss chemistry regularly decreases our accumulated stress and makes us more resilient. We find ourselves happier and more aware and attentive to what is happening in our lives as it happens.  

Being unhappy 50% of the time is unacceptable. The sooner we do something about it, the better. 

What's the easiest part of your day?

By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com

Meditating is the easiest thing I do all day, and in a society where focusing and accomplishments are celebrated, the effortlessness of meditating feels even better. We can't be in "hustle hard" mode 24/7; in fact, people who hustle especially long and hard need a tool to recharge their brains so they can continue said hustling. Otherwise, burnout is inevitable. 

Not only does meditation de-excite your nervous system, induce deep rest, and trigger your mind to let go of thought completely (goodbye stress!), it allows you to come out feeling supercharged on the other side. Better yet, it's the easiest thing you'll do all day. Yes, it's even easier than lifting a spoon from a pint of ice cream to your mouth (which I can tell you from experience is also quite simple, especially with Ben and Jerry's Americone Dream). 

For many of us, go-to relaxing activities include exercise, reading/phone scrolling, and, let's be real, snacking. Although snacking is one of the best parts of being human, it's definitely not as effortless as meditating. When it's time to eat, you have lots things to consider: what to eat, how much, and how you feel about that choice. Once you've finished the food, your body is still working hard to digest it. And depending on what you ate, especially if it was comfort food consumed in a stressful state, you may not be left feeling supercharged and ready to conquer.

What about exercise? Many of us insist we'd go insane without a good sweat, and the success of Soulcycle is living proof. I personally enjoy a neighborhood stroll most nights, but sometimes I just don't feel like moving. Meditation, which only requires finding a seat (on a bed, couch, train, park bench, etc.), is an infinitely easier pick-me-up. Furthermore, exercise excites the nervous system and, in many cases, adds stress to already stressed bodies and minds. Although incredibly valuable in its own right, exercise isn't always the best way to recharge. Even reading a favorite book (or browsing Facebook), which requires no movement at all, does involve focus and concentration. And although a well-chosen book (or inspiring Instagram quote) can be the perfect antidote to a stressful day, it doesn't replace the physical and mental rest that meditation provides.

Meditation is no different from food, exercise, and Facebook in that they all flood the brain with dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins - but meditation is completely effortless and removes stress from the body.

Now, there are two relaxing activities that may be just as effortless as meditation: napping and television. I'll be the first to admit that TV is truly wonderful - nothing makes me cackle louder than Curb Your Enthusiasm - but meditation has the added bonus of leaving you refreshed and clear when it's over. Even the best TV, on the other hand, can leave you feeling ready for a nap. Speaking of naps, there's no denying that sleep is restful. But according to recent studies, meditation gives your body rest up to five times deeper than sleep, and that's pretty irreplaceable. In fact, it's the key to stress relief.

When it's time to step away from the realities of our day-to-day grind, there are plenty of ways to relax. However, meditation is the easiest of them all and yields a tremendous payoff: increased mental clarity, an amazing surge of energy, and ultimately, a happier existence.