Make Meditation Yours

By Ben Turshen. 

Vedic Meditation is a simple, effortless meditation technique that requires no focus, concentration or paying attention to thoughts or activity. Practicing Vedic Meditation does not require clearing the mind of thoughts or cessation of thinking. Without trying, your mind settles to its least excited state beyond thought. This makes it accessible and enjoyable.

The benefits of practicing Vedic Meditation are profound: Feel happier. Sleep better. Think clearer. Save time. Work smarter. Strengthen your relationships. Curb harmful behaviors. Be present and productive.

The training to learn Vedic Meditation is comprehensive. After you take the course (four two-hour sessions held on four consecutive days), you know how to meditate. The practice is yours. You will be able to meditate successfully every day, independently and self-sufficiently. That means you don’t need a teacher present or a special place to go; no apps, no headphones, no music or guided instruction. If your phone battery dies, you can still meditate. It all happens silently in your mind, which means it’s totally portable. All you need is a place to sit comfortably and close your eyes. You can meditate almost anywhere, even on an airplane or NYC subway. 

Once you learn, you are our student for life. That means you are eligible to continue to receive personal, individualized instruction and follow-up on a weekly basis forever, at no additional cost. This ensures that you enjoy the greatest success in your life by learning and practicing Vedic Meditation.

Can't quiet your mind?

By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com

Great news! You don't have to. In fact, trying to suppress thoughts creates more mental activity, which is completely counterproductive. Meditation is not all about emptying the mind; expecting the mind to stay quiet is like expecting the ocean to stay still. Quietness is one of many meditation experiences, just as stillness is one of many ocean states.

With that said, experiencing the mind in its quietest state is absolutely blissful and you deserve that experience. However, you don't achieve this state by trying. Any well-intentioned meditator who has sat down, closed their eyes, and willed their mind to be quiet knows how frustrating and futile it is. Thankfully, there's an easy and enjoyable way to quiet the mind automatically. The technique of Vedic meditation is rooted in effortlessness, i.e. you don't have to try to achieve stillness. Instead, you utilize a mantra (a specific sound assigned to you by a qualified teacher), which allows the body and mind to settle down easily. Stillness simply comes.

If you've previously felt intimidated by meditation because quieting the mind seemed too challenging, I hope I've helped dispel that myth and remove that barrier for you. Remember, stillness can be achieved effortlessly with a simple technique that anyone can learn

Curious about mindfulness?

By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com

As meditation picks up steam in the wellness space, mindfulness is everywhere. The term can be confusing, though, because mindfulness connotes two distinct things: a meditation technique and a state of being. Let's define them:

The technique: Mindfulness is a popular technique with many versions, but it generally involves sitting in a stable, erect position and feeling your breath as it goes in and out. When your attention inevitably wanders from the breath, you come back to it. If thoughts, feelings, or body sensations arise, you accept them without judgment and return to the breath. The touted benefits of this technique include physical and mental health improvements, including easier access to mindful living, described below.

The mental state: Mindfulness also refers to a state that is achieved when you are not meditating, ie. in the waking state of living. It is a moment-to-moment awareness of your thoughts, self, and surrounding environment, and it results in a fuller experience of life. In the shower, this could mean delighting in the sweet smell of soap, the warm rush of water, and the beautiful way it forms beads on your skin. At the dinner table, it could mean staying fully present with the laughter, tastes, and conversation that surround you rather than checking your phone. Furthermore, mindfulness is non-judgmental. When an undesirable thought arises, you simply observe it and let it pass, remembering that you are not your thoughts. 

The concept of mindfuless is valuable indeed, and being mindful can certainly improve your life. However, I find that mindfulness is a spontaneous result of my Vedic meditation practice.To someone unfamiliar with Vedic meditation, this might be confusing: if mindfulness is so great, why would I bother with Vedic meditation? Here's the difference: 

Vedic meditation is an effortless practice that is done in a comfortable, back-supported position. Once you trigger the technique, your mind and body de-excite and you enter a state of rest up to 5 times deeper than sleep. Your mind rests so deeply, in fact, that it actually transcends thought automatically; i.e. you stop thinking with no effort at all.

Mindfulness meditation involves more effort and subsequently less rest. You sit in an erect posture and focus attention on your breath, which keep the body and mind active. 

Both techniques yield increased mindfulness. Which one sounds more fun to you? Not only is Vedic meditation more enjoyable to practice (in my opinion), but it affords you additional benefits. Most notably, it de-excites the nervous system and allows your body to rest so deeply that it releases accumulated stress and eradicates it completely over time.

Living in a state of mindfulness is a fantastic idea, but actually being present from moment to moment is really hard for most of us. If it were easy, there wouldn't be countless articles at your fingertips about how to achieve this elusive state. Here's the problem: if you're trying to be present, you're not actually being present. Reading an article about mindfulness and resonating with the concepts while sitting at the computer isn't the same thing as actually being mindful when you step back into your life. Wanting to live mindfully isn't enough to help you actually do so because it's difficult to access mindfulness through trying or effort of any kind. Fortunately, it's easy to access mindfulness by ridding the body of stress, and this is exactly what Vedic meditation does. 

Before I started meditating, I struggled to enjoy the little moments in life. At social events, I was consumed with self-consciousness about my appearance and incessant thoughts about what might happen later. At home, I constantly listened to music and podcasts in an attempt to drown out the mental noise. Even though I faced zero real adversity and things were going well at work, my friends and family referred to me as "very stressed." But today, two years into my Vedic meditation practice, I can honestly say that I don't have stress and I am more mindful as a result. My life is far from perfect, yet I fully enjoy the moments that comprise it, both big and small. When I have an ugly thought, I let it go with ease and without judgment.

Vedic meditation has given me the gift of mindfulness along with countless other benefits. I've learned that dissolving stress is the key to staying grounded in the present moment, and this is reason enough to keep meditating for years to come. 

Love your discomfort.

By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com

Why are fear and worrying such universal experiences? They don't seem to fit in a world where the options and luxuries available to us are ever-improving. Now that technology and communication have pervaded most of global society, the collective capacity is at an all-time high and we're more "evolved" than ever on so many levels.

However, there are two things we humans will never succeed in changing:

1) We cannot tame nature, and

2) We each have an expiration date. 

I believe that our fear of mortality is closely tied to the illusion of safety and control. We know intellectually that nothing is guaranteed, which is why we strive to live each day like it's our last. But somehow, we find ourselves worrying, speculating, and catastrophizing more than ever. We do everything in our power to avoid feeling pain and discomfort, as if we have the power to stop it. Our choices certainly matter, and meditation is one of many tools that empowers us to make choices that will serve us well. However, we waste energy worrying about what could happen because we want so badly to avoid unpleasantness in the future.

Most of us view the world from a place of apprehension, to no fault of our own. Fear-mongering media outlets, disturbing recent events, and America's culture of stress have all shaped the zeitgeist. But it's time to shift from a worry-based mindset to a state of moving elegantly through life's inescapable ups and downs.

To do this, we must accept and even embrace discomfort. Every living thing encounters a whole host of crummy sensations and experiences in its lifetime, because discomfort is an unavoidable part of existing on this planet.

But here's the good news: When we lean into the discomfort of life - when stop avoiding and simply accept it - it loses its power over us. I recently heard Jeff Kober put it this way: 

"ONCE YOU ACCEPT THE EXTRAORDINARY DISCOMFORT OF BEING IN A BODY,THE WORLD HAS NOTHING TO THROW AT YOU."

Each time we meditate, we practice this invaluable act of embracing discomfort. When we close our eyes and trigger stress release from the body, the experience is often relaxing and blissful...but it can also be unpleasant to sit quietly while thoughts and stress bubble up. The benefit is indispensable, though: we grow more and more comfortable with discomfort as we learn to take it, easily, as it comes. Bonus: the more we release accumulated stress through meditation, the more of ourselves becomes available to experience joy.

It's all too easy to speculate and worry about the things we want (and don't want) in life.

But speculation doesn't actually lead to what we want; it leads only to suffering.

Suffering is rooted in how we feel about a bad experience, whether it's already happened or we're hoping it doesn't. When we stay grounded in the present and live from moment to moment, there is no real suffering - we are actually just fine. So when we lean into discomfort, suffering ends.

 

We Are Orlando

By Ben Turshen. 

Hi Friends, 

In the wake of Sunday's mass shooting in Orlando, we are left asking what can be done to change things. Do we need to change our laws? Our leadership? Our foreign affairs? We ask of ourselves, what can we do as individuals. Donate our money? Our time? Our energy? Our blood? 

Let me remind of what you are already doing. It may be hard to believe, but your daily meditation practice is making an impact on the collective consciousness. Every time we meditate, we are bringing more peace, more love, more clarity and understanding into the world. This is what the world needs now.

We think change comes from the top down, and sometimes it does. But change also comes from the bottom up. Grassroots change is real, powerful and necessary--and you are a part of it. 

"If world peace is to be established, peace in the individual must be established first."--Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Sending love and light to all. 

With Peace + Love, 

Ben 

How old is your body?

By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com

As I approach my 30th birthday, aging has been on my mind... and I find myself struggling with society's decidedly negative attitude toward getting older. According to nearly everyone I meet, it all goes downhill after 30. However, I refuse to accept the idea that my life is going to get progressively worse, and my meditation studies have confirmed that I need not despair about aging, let alone turning 30.

Here's what I know now:

  • Your age is simply the number of birthdays you've had... minus one, technically, because the day you were born also counts as a birthday. Age by this definition is known aschronological age, and it has very little to do with your actual body.
  • What matters more is biological age, which is characterized by how well your body functions compared to the population norm. Everything from genes to lifestyle choices affect your biological age, and this is more closely linked to your health than how many years you've existed.

Here's an illustration: When Martin Luther King, Jr. died, he was 39 years old (chronological age). But during his autopsy, a doctor commented that he had the heart of a 60-year-old man (biological age). This isn't surprising when you consider the decades of chronic stress and mental suffering that MLK endured (he attempted suicide at age 12).

The good news is meditation has a reversal effect on biological aging. If you started meditating daily at age 30 and had matching biological and chronological ages, you would be 7 biological years younger by age 35. In other words, you would have the skin elasticity, sexual responsiveness, auditory threshold, memory, and vision of your 23-year-old self, after just five years of meditating. A study done by Blue Cross Blue Shield had even more dramatic results: in a five-year period, daily meditators' biological age decreased by an average of 12 to 13 years. On the flip side, a 2015 study found that the average rate of aging in non-meditators is 1.2 biological years per chronological year. You can probably guess why Blue Cross Blue Shield took an interest in this topic: they wanted to find out if meditators are cheaper to insure, and the answer is a resounding yes.

Let's bring it back to MLK: the most significant contributor to his biological age was likely chronic stress. This is true for the rest of us, too - recent studies suggest that stress is worse for your health than junk food, smoking, and pretty much any other lifestyle choice. Each time you meditate, your body sheds a layer of stress - and meditating daily eradicates stress from your body over time. What happens in tandem? Biological age decreases, happiness increases, and you find yourself living a life of infinite possibility. 

Get More of What You Want: Good Sleep

By Ben Turshen. 

Lack of sleep is a big problem. 

A Gallup poll from a few years ago indicates that over 40% of Americans get less than the minimum recommended seven hours of sleep (I suspect this number has increased since this poll was published in December 2013). Insufficient sleep has been linked to the development of a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Sleep impacts the quality of our lives every day--our energy, our focus and productivity and our mood.  

One of the more immediate benefits of Vedic Meditation is improved sleep. It is not uncommon for brand new Vedic meditators to report falling asleep easier, staying asleep longer and sleeping more soundly within a few days of learning and practicing the Vedic Meditation technique.  Click here to read a few stories from my students who started sleeping much better once they learned Vedic Meditation

This was my experience as well. I had been an insomniac my whole life. Even as a young boy I had trouble sleeping. In college, I began to self-medicate with alcohol, NyQuil or Benadryl. In law school, my sleep got even worse and I went to see a doctor who diagnosed me with anxiety-induced insomnia. I was prescribed Ambien (in addition to a number of other prescription medications I was taking for anxiety, depression and ADD). Through law school and during the beginning of my legal career, every single night I would either need to drink to fall asleep or take an Ambien (I was smart enough to never mix the two). Some nights, my anxiety was so intense that I would stay awake on Ambien and hallucinate, which was terrifying. Eventually I would fall asleep, but the quality of my sleep was awful and every morning I would wake up groggy and exhausted with a  hangover from either the alcohol or the Ambien. It would sometimes take me a hour to get out of bed. 

Within three days of learning Vedic Meditation, I feel asleep without drinking or taking a pill for the first time in years and slept through the night. I remember waking up the next morning without a hangover, actually feeling rested and clear. It was that moment that I knew that Vedic Meditation would help change my life for good. 

What feeds you will starve you.

By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com

When I eat ice cream three days in a row (usually with a side of Real Housewives) and find an empty carton on day four, I feel a sense of craving and lack. When an old boyfriend dumped me ten years ago (because I was clingy and insecure), my life felt empty and meaningless.

Clearly, we're better off if we don't rely on external sources to feel happy and fulfilled.This isn't to say that friends, lovers, and the rest of life's pleasures are meaningless because they aren't our true source of bliss. Instead, think of these things as a beautiful bonus that make our lives even more abundant. 

So how can we find inner fulfillment and appreciate everything else as a bonus? When we meditate, we clear out old stresses and gain access to the happiness that already lives inside of us, and we can enjoy life's "bonuses" without depending on them. We would all become nuns or monks and spend our days in silence if we didn't want to experience everything the world has to offer, right? Thankfully, Vedic Meditation is designed for busy people who want to enjoy relationships and engage with society. Practicing this technique twice a day allows you to spend the remaining 23 hours radiating the happiness and fulfillment that have been within you all along. When we deliver this fulfillment to the people around us, we are not only unstoppable, but we give others permission to do the same. 

Who's the center of attention?

By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com

Does being the center of attention make you a little (or a lot) uncomfortable? As a recovering shy person who didn't dance at my own wedding, I know the feeling well. I've always made the excuse that I had to visit with our out-of-town guests, and I did, but the truth is I chose to spend my time that way because I was too uncomfortable to claim the spotlight. 

That was five years ago, and meditating has improved my confidence and social skills by leaps and bounds. When I attend a wedding these days, I can hang with my hip-shaking husband on the dance floor and have fun doing it. I will always be an introvert, though, and I'm still a long way from feeling completely effortless in social settings.

In the meantime, a little idea from Caroline McHugh has made a big impact on my way of being with others. In her fascinating TED Talk, "The Art of Being Yourself," Caroline says,

"I'M NOT THE CENTER OF ATTENTION,YOU ARE THE CENTER OF MINE." 

This idea has affected me viscerally and profoundly. When I focus on my appearance, my words, and my impression on others, the entire experience falls flat. I'm not fully present, so I can't fully connect and the best version of me can't shine through. Shifting my attention away from myself and onto someone else - their words, their appearance, and their energy - automatically increases my presence. If I'm focused on them, there's no room to stress about how I look or whether I sound articulate - and without even trying, my most authentic self comes out.

When we devote attention to others, we are effortless with ourselves and enjoy optimal experiences as a result. As a bonus, we become more selfless, and who doesn't want that? So give it a try and enjoy the beautiful irony: the more selfless you are, the more your best self shines through and uplifts others.

Meditate to Make Time

By Ben Turshen.

One of the main obstacles that keeps some people from learning Vedic Meditation is time. Although the technique itself is absolutely effortless, requiring no focus or concentration, paying attention to or monitoring thoughts or activity, it does require time. 

The general strategy is to meditate for twenty minutes twice a day. 

We tend to think of our time linearly. Meaning if spending our time meditating, that is time taken away from doing something else, like work or spending time with our friends and family or going to the gym. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Stress and fatigue rob us of our time. When we're at work, we're thinking about being at home with the family. When we're home with the family, we're thinking about being at work. The result is we're never really anywhere. That is time lost. 

The profound deep rest experienced while practicing Vedic Meditation heals our bodies of the effects of decades of accumulated stress. Practicing Vedic Meditation twice a day for twenty minutes has the effect of sleeping an extra two to four hours. This provides us with energy and clarity so that we can be infinitely more attentive, productive, efficient and available in all of our relationships and endeavors. That is time gained.