The Importance of Meditation as an Entrepreneur

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forces of habit meditation and Entrepreneur

The Importance of Meditation as an Entrepreneur

Deadlines, Fast place, High Stake, being an entrepreneur means working in the midst of chaos.

As an entrepreneur, you need to learn to snap into focus, let go of slip-ups all while keeping a leveled head. It's all a balancing process. And believe it or not, the most practical skills for an entrepreneur are not developed in business school or field work, but on the meditation cushion.

“Creativity is not coming from the ‘working the brain’ and the ‘I will work hard and think about it’. It comes from this deep state of relaxation.” Ray Dalio

Billionaire Ray Dalio—someone who would make less money deliberating picking up a $100-dollar bill off the ground—takes at least 40 minutes of his busy schedule every day to meditate. Dalio understands the value of a meditation practice in developing the skills needed to function among top performers.

We all can be entrepreneurs. I recently picked up a marketing job with working with a team that inspired me to ponder my role as an influencer. 

As an intentionally liver, we are all called to take control of our lives in our aspect of another which is why I think the operation and organization of one's life so synonymous to an entrepreneur running a business/

It makes no difference, we are all in the business of life. So you, as an aspiring student of life are no different whatsoever.

The limits in your personal and business lives are self-made. And meditation is the tool the help break down those barriers. Here’s are 3 essential traits of an entrepreneur that a meditation practice can help develop.

Entrepreneurs are focused.

You have the big idea to jump-start your business and are ready to start. All is left is the key component; you gotta put in the work. Hours upon hours of work is needed to launch your ideas and not any old work will do. Hours of purpose-driven focus with little interruptions are needed.

In the journal of cognitive, affective, & behavioral neuroscience, a recent publication has evidence that performing mindfulness meditation exercises may improve attention-related behavioral responses.

Further, a study titled “Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training” shows that after only a few sessions of meditation training subjects were able to attain the same effective and cognitive benefits that long-term meditators have such as improved working memory and executive functioning.

For the sake of brevity, I have only listed two. But several hundred empirical studies have been published on the cognitive benefits of meditation.  It's good stuff.

Entrepreneurs are always creatively addressing problems.

Imagine a pinball machine inside your head with every thought, idea, or habit being another pinball up to play. Well, it’s easy to get so used to playing the same old game that we don’t notice the ball always taking the same track, resulting in the same outcome, and perhaps even the same losses.

“The world always makes sense; we just don’t understand it.”

-Adam Robinson

The routes of pinball thought are the models or system we use to make day to day decisions and they can become outdated. A lot of the times when we are constantly focused on a problem we lock ourselves in these patterns of thought and impair our abilities to think creatively.

Meditation opens up a diffused state of thought that allows various conventional wisdom to become innovatively applied for addressing the problems you are having running your business. I.e. The pinball machine will start taking different paths yielding innovative outcomes.

Educator, writer, and engineer, Professor Barbara Oakley writes about focused and diffused modes of thought in her book a mind for numbers. She discusses several strategies for activating a diffused mode of thought and meditation tops the list.

If you’re interested in the focused and diffuse mode of thought I recommend you check out her book.

Entrepreneurs do not crumble under pressure.

Your inbox is full, the old marketing strategy isn’t working, and your assistant is not getting back to you.

As an entrepreneur you get stressed, and becoming comfortable with unsettling feelings and states is part of the day job. How do top performing entrepreneurs do it?

By developing a sense of equanimity through meditation.

Equanimity is a state of balance even amongst a storm of emotions within us. The value of observing anger, frustration, sadness without becoming those feeling serves the monk and entrepreneur alike.

By observing how you feel internally without justifying it or explaining it, you open yourself up to sitting with discomfort. So when discomfort arises again, you have prepared yourself for the storm and are not shaken by the situation.

For entrepreneurs and business community alike, staying focused, creative and relaxed are pivotal to top performance. With a little mediation, you can start performing like some of the greatest minds in business do every day.

If you’re interested and do not have a clue where to start. Check out a post I wrote about starting your meditation practice the right way; small.

My Motto: Today is the best day of my life

I treat every day as the best day of my life because no matter the praise, disappointment, obstacles, or success I know that I am doing everything that is in my control to live to the standards of my greatest self.

How? It all starts with my 5 habits. Find out more here.


10 Days of Silence: Vipassana Meditation Revisited

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forces of habit Vipassana

10 Days of Silence: Vipassana Meditation Revisited

This isn’t like my other posts.

Trying to explain terms that are in nature pre-symbolic is tough. A lot of what I experienced at my meditation retreat is not yet easily put into words, for words do not do justice to the sweeping stress that was put on my body and psyche during yet another 10 days in silence.

If you don’t know what a 10-day meditation retreat consists of, I recommend you go read my pieces on Vipassana before venturing any further as I am sure this will deepen the practical nature of my notes.

Vipassana Meditation: What Ten days of Silence Can Do

Vipassana Meditation: How to Prepare for a Silent Retreat

Here are some notes I scrambled to write and annotate. I built upon a few of the takeaways and hope that writing this helps both you and me better understand what intellectual games I seem to be playing while I was strengthening my abilities to practice Vipassana meditation.

This is a fairly raw post that I attempted to edit minimally as to preserve the message.

Directly experiencing The Law of Nature

Things are as such that everything that arises is bound to pass.

Sure I can read that statement above and think that it makes sense, but that does not help me see the deep truth behind what it is saying.

Does a child that is told not to touch the hot stove just stop reaching out? No! He reaches out and finds out through his experience the meaning of the statement.
Over the last two weeks in silence, I touched the flame.

I sat in silence in a pitch black meditation cell saw viscerally the changing of each sensation as it arises. Sensations can be appraised along a great spectrum—from pain to pleasure—yet what we make of a sensation is disillusion.

Out of habit, we assume that this always means that, X means Y, and cause yields effect; this assessment is dangerous. Pain in my legs is only accentuated from the mental categorization that this sensation is something that is harmful.

But if we are patient and are diligent about not playing a game of categorizing reactively to our senses, we free ourselves from the additional misery.
Easier said than done of course. Or perhaps that is just the opposite.

Well if the validity of any statements can only ever be stress tested through each of our subjective experiences. Then I need to experience a sensation, not I.D. it and notice how the law of nature runs its course—the sensation arises and passes away.

The extension of the law of nature in my subjective experience

After a few days of experiencing the arising and passing of all the habits I created to pleasure or harm myself—all of which just being reactions of one or another to a pattern. I began to see the impermanence of even the most mundane things all around the center.

Though one case resonated with me more than any other; the flower.

During my first few days at the compound, I would walk past the same flower on my way to breakfast. I would watch as the simple bud each day grew and grew, moving with its environment, becoming what it was exposed to—in a lot of ways this flower following the same rules as me. But just as the flower bloomed, I saw the petals began to fall, and day by day the flower became ill–ultimately dying toward the end of my retreat.

Like this flower, I have bloomed, and as this flower, I will die.

The cycle of birth and decay could not be any clearer. Coupled with my training, watching this flowers whole life cycle was a moving experience. Life like the flower is so beautiful, so fascinating, but the decay, rotting, and dying is no less beautiful.

It’s the entirety of a living creatures experience that draws us to weigh one portion over another as though the reality is more somehow more pivotal in some cases over others. Yet, without the other side, we would never be able to make such an assessment; it’s all important. So sure categorize, but during my retreat, I learned to respect each part of the experience.


The community of people curious as to what is going on inside their skulls is by far the most powerful resource that you can get from the retreat–barring the actual technique of course (Though I dare to even say that it matches the meditation itself). The meditation is fueled by the power of the collective influence.
We are social beings, and habit formation only ever prospers in environments where the foundation is grounded in things that align with the habit. The collective at these retreats are just that. From the moment we arrive at the compound its talk of this life journey or that life journey, and after the ten-day silence breaks, the talks are full of trust, love and, compassion.

Everyone Trusts. We trust that we all just underwent something that was special in its own way to all of us, yet its broader meaning, it made us strive to see what we can give, and how can we give more. When we are filled with what we need—the lesson we gain from finding meaning within ourselves—then we only want to give because everything left is just a gift.

If we can find internal peace, then what really else do you need? It’s all extra! Free prizes of life to be appreciated and shared.

So to touch back on how it relates to people, with everyone coming to the realization that all is found within, it becomes a giving fest that some have never thought was ever feasible. People start sharing their deepest desires, cravings, aversions, and hopes, out of compassion that what they have experienced that be of some value to another—and all this before we even knew each other’s names!!

This is the start.

I have only just started really diving into the lessons from my time in the Dharma hall. Gradually I will continue to deconstruct what introspective work coupled with my meditation has done to create an intentional life for me. Feel free to send me your meditative experiences as I would love to challenge you to dive deeper into explaining to yourself how a practice has made you more susceptive to a life with purpose.

My Motto: Today is the best day of my life

I treat every day as the best day of my life because no matter the praise, disappointment, obstacles, or success I know that I am doing everything that is in my control to live to the standards of my greatest self.

How? It all starts with my 5 habits. Find out more here.


Common Misconceptions About Meditation

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Common Misconceptions About Meditation

Meditation can't be all I talk it up to be.

How could ‘doing nothing’ seemingly be helpful in any realm of our lives?

Please, be a skeptic. I certainly was.

Consistently when I started, I found numerous holes in what I thought meditation actually entailed—when will I be able to float again? But I can say that meditation became nothing like what I thought it was going to be when I started. As meditated more, I stumbled upon experiences no one had ever cared to share, lessons that I have greatly impacted me. 

So let’s discuss some of the myths commonly associated with meditation. Here are 6 that I have seen people consider as ‘truths’ of a meditative practice:

It Takes Years Of Meditation To See Any Benefits

You can actually start to see substantial benefits of meditation after only a few consecutive sessions.

In research published in The Scientific Journal on Consciousness and Cognition, participants were found to have shown similar benefits to those commonly associated with long-term meditation practitioners. "Our findings suggest that 4 days of meditation training can enhance the ability to sustain attention; benefits that have previously been reported with long-term meditators."

Now of course more substantive benefits are shown in long-term practitioners, but you do not need to compare yourself to monks to notice the impact of a meditative practice after 3 or 4 sessions.

I’d say you even have the potential to accrue the benefits of meditation after your first session.

On the face of it, your first session may seem minor. But that experience is important. Your first session represents the first small win in a chain of potentially thousands of hours of practice. We all have to start somewhere, and the first sit is no exception. So do not stress about when the benefits will arise. When you sit, the benefits are accruing.

Meditation Is Running Away From Your Problems

It's actually the opposite. If you ask me, meditation is more like running head first into a brick wall.

If your goal is to escape from your problems meditation is the last thing I’d recommend. If anything, meditation will bring forward the root of your problems. 

Meditation tends to familiarize you with underlying problems you may not yet be aware of; we do this through observation. As we become adept at discerning our feelings from one another, the minute differences between them become clear and what at first seemed synonymous couldn't be any more different. From the clarity, you may find that the magnitude of these problems grows larger, so large it can no longer just be ignored. You become enamored with your feelings, curious what lies beyond and what can be uncovered through more meditation, more insight.

Meditation Is Only For Relaxation

Is meditation focused solely on relaxing? Not really.

This is probably the most common misconception that I have seen amongst meditators.

Let’s think of relaxation as an effect or byproduct of meditation—a happy consequence perhaps. While relaxation is nice and all it, is not the goal. The purpose of meditating lies deeper then entering a relaxed state. The purpose is insight, insight into the true nature of our being; to see reality as it is. 

We tend to make life harder than it has to be for ourselves. So instead of viewing meditation as a tool for distressing, see it as the means to relinquish any stress from arising in the first place.

Meditation Is About Being In The Present Moment

Once again I think people are confusing a byproduct of the practice with intention.

Becoming present is more of an effect of a meditative practice rather than the purpose. During meditation, distractions arise. These distractions tend to be thoughts and are created by way of our habitual reaction or innate predispositions. But as you develop your practice, you can start to notice a pattern; everything in your head is either self-referential, about the past or future, or interpersonal—a simulation.

That means the mind is constantly attempting to run reproductions of the past and future to attend to the next decision.

Now is this present? Not at all.

But like habit formation, observing the cues is the first step to changing the habits. So if our default habit pattern of the mind are these things—the not present stuff—it isn’t that mediation is about being in the present, the present just begins to reveal itself more frequently as you claim more control over the thought patterns.

Living more presently becomes our natural state once we stop attaching ourselves to the simulations that we use to create past and future versions of reality.

Meditation Takes Up Too Much Time

Absolutely not true.

Why do you have hygiene habits? Some would say it was so they don't feel nasty or so others wouldn’t judge them harshly.

No matter the reason, you take the precautionary efforts to assist your wellbeing all the time. Well, why should this only be the case with the external? If you are willing to bathe & brush your teeth, you can take a few moments to clean up your mental state as well. Believe it or not, a dirty inside is just as impactful as a dirty outside.

Everyone has time. You are just choosing to prioritize yours differently.

If this warning isn’t enough I challenge you to start writing out what you do with your off time. Are you on social media? Watching Netflix? Try to write out how you spent your time in last few days. I can almost guarantee there will be gaps. And if you can find a gap that is even a minute long, you have time to meditate.

Check out my post on developing a meditation practice one minute at a time.

Small Actions and Meditation: The One Minute Sit

Meditation Will Make Me A Vegetable—I Will Become Emotionless

I want to preface what I have to tell you about the relationship between meditation and emotion with this; it’s what you choose to make it.

As you meditate, you develop a newfound relationship with your emotions. Such a relationship could certainly be used to subdue your feelings and deliberately tune yourself out to things.

But it does not have to be that way. We can use the clarity to deepen our relationships with our emotions.

As you move further along in your practice, you are not becoming a veggie—meditation will once again actually do the opposite. What we are practicing to develop is a form of selective engagement with feelings. That means choosing which of your emotional states are worth engaging with and opting out of reacting towards the ineffective ones.

So it isn’t that we are emotionless, it’s that emotions tend to become clearer after developing a practice, so clear, that we can pick and choose which we react to.

Note that a lot of meditators do not have to worry about full nonattachment from emotions—that is a state that calls for thousands of hours of practice, most of which will take place in a quiet place in solitude. Something tells me you are not looking to become a monk, so you do not need to worry about issues that only pertain to practitioners whose sole purpose is the travel further down the path towards liberation—they are all in.

As a regular meditator, you will move toward liberation, but I just do not think emotionlessness is something to consider unless you yourself are all in.


I hope this post has shared insight into some of the misconceptions I see as becoming more prevalent in the west as meditation begins to catch on.  More and more people are starting meditative practices and that means there will be a greater need to dispel misconceptions like these.



Vipassana Meditation: How to Prepare for a Silent Retreat

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Vipassana Meditation: How to Prepare for a Silent Retreat

I’d love to say a silent meditation retreat is for everyone. But there are exceptions.

Here’s why:

forces of habit Vipassana

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking this doesn’t look relaxing at all; that’s because it's not. A meditation retreats purpose—or at least one in the Vipassana tradition—is not to calm the mind; we are seeking insight and that does not necessarily mean a good time.

When you sign up for a retreat, you come to work. The introspective work done during a meditation retreat is for those who are willing to accept the external and internal challenges that may arise during a stay.

But if you have made it this far I assume you are still interested in taking the challenge or have already signed up.

So let’s talk strategy.

Rather than philosophical or metaphysical, the best ways to prepare for your first meditation retreat are mostly logistical. This may seem counterintuitive, but preparation involves no prior meditative practice or theory.

That’s right. You can attend a retreat with no prior knowledge of the Vipassana technique and you’ll probably be better off than a well-seasoned meditator set in his ways from a different tradition.

So I won’t give you any advice directly related to your meditative practice, but I will caution you of some of the most common concerns people have after having sat a course.

I would recommend you consider these 5 things as you move towards siting your first meditation retreat.

1. Overlook the Rules

First and foremost. If you have done any research you may have noticed the code of discipline;

Read it.

You are requested to read the code as you sign up, after you are accepted, and when you arrive. And if its importance hasn’t been stressed enough, you’ll review it one more time before the course begins.

People who do not take the rules seriously will either harm themselves or someone else. Most if not all of the rules outlined have been tested over thousands of years and function as a system for creating an environment conducive to attaining clarity of mind.

I think I made my point here. Read the code.

You can find a link to the rules here.

2. Sleep Schedule Training

The crack of dawn probably does not do justice to how early you have to wake up on a retreat.

If you’re not an early riser, you may want to consider starting to prepare to wake up very early.  As you saw in the timetable above, meditation starts at 4:30 am. So if your bedtime is anywhere close to that, I recommend you prepare for a literal rude awakening.

I have seen many meditators struggle with this. And during you’re retreat I am sure you will notice some empty cushions during the morning meditations.

Here are some ways you can begin to prepare to wake up early enough for a Vipassana retreat.

Start by setting your alarm and placing it across the room. Turn off the snooze option to ensure that you get up out of bed in the morning.

Now after waking up at 4 am, keep the momentum by…

  • Drinking a glass of water immediately.
  • Runing a mile.
  • Doing 25 push-ups.
  • Taking an ice-cold shower.
  • Drinking a cup of coffee or tea.

This list is not exhaustive. Its purpose is to give you an idea of the type of things you may want to consider to help you build a habit of waking up early.

For an excellent resource on changing your sleeping habits, check out this article titled “The Most Successful Techniques for Rising Early.”—I think the title speaks for itself; check it out.

3. The Eating Schedule

During a retreat, you are served two vegetarian meals a day and a snack consisting of fruit in the evening. So if you are accustom to eating three or more meals a day and have dire cravings for meat, then a silent meditation retreat may leave you feeling hungry.

The best thing you can do to prepare here is to start eating smaller portions at similar times. If you can habituate your eating habits to mirror that of the timetable above, then you should have little trouble getting used to eating intermittently.

And if you are really having trouble here I recommend you also start cutting out meat and caffeine—both of which will be sparingly available. Personally, I quit drinking coffee a week prior to my retreat to remove the chance of a withdraw symptoms harming me.

4. Posture Preparation

Beginner meditators tend to have issues finding a seated position they feel comfortable sitting in. Unless you work at a desk job, you probably aren’t aware of how tasking sitting in the same position for hours upon end actually is.

So prior to your retreat go take a look at the various types of seated positions in advance. This will give you time to experiment and find one that works for you.

forces of habit meditation poses

It really does not matter what position you start with. Just try to sit in that position as much as possible to get through the initial body aches early. And if you find that the position you have chosen is too painful, try another.

You can find more information on the types of meditation postures here.

5. But most importantly, take it easy on yourself

It’s your first time, and as a new student, you ought to understand from the start that the practice is challenging. And no amount of beating yourself up for having a difficult time will change that—this was the lesson I needed the most during my first retreat.

Whether you keep waking up late for meditation, are having leg cramps, or just plain old hungry having some compassion for any given state you are experiencing can take the edge off.

Keep in mind that ultimately the precautions above are mentioned because these are common experiences. So instead of beating yourself up with doubt or any negative self-talk, get excited. You are experiencing something so common—so human—that many before you and many to come will also undergo similar suffering; you aren’t the first, nor will you be the last.

Accept that and I can almost guarantee you will learn something during the course of your silent meditation retreat.

For more information on the importance of mindset, see my article on the 5 meditation mindsets that are imperative to a developing practice.


Please do not take what I say lightly. A silent meditation retreat will be one of the most demanding trials of your life. So prepare yourself.

For more information on Vipassana check out the official website or my post detailing my first silent retreat below.

Vipassana Meditation: What Ten days of Silence Can Do

Official Vipassana Website

You all know that I meditate every day. But have you seen the other habits?

I have spent years tirelessly hunting for the best daily habits to incorporate into my life. Meditation is one of them. But that’s only one. Check out the other four in a copy of the Top 5 Habits I Do Every Day—for free of course.


Vipassana Meditation: What Ten days of Silence Can Do

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forces of habit

We are worrisome people.

We worry about what we will eat tomorrow, where we will sleep, what she thinks of me, will I be accepted, can I be loved?

Now imagine a place where you can learn the answers to these questions and many more without having to utter a single word. Were you are fed, and sheltered. A place of no words, only love and compassion; welcome to the Dharma teachings.

I’d like to share an account of my first silent meditation retreat. From nonverbal wars over bananas to the weariness of just being alone with myself, A silent meditation retreat taught me that meditation could be something more than just a tool used to de-stress. It taught me that through meditation I can begin to understand how I think about myself, and how to maneuver the world I reside in.

To Start I think it is best if we talk about what Vipassana even is. What does it mean? What do we use it for?

What's Vipassana?

"Vipassana is… a process of self-discovery, a participatory investigation in which you observe your own experiences while participating in them as they occur.”

-Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

Vipassana or insight meditation is one of the oldest techniques of meditation taught by the Buddha which focuses on developing our capacities for mindfulness and concentration to reach profound levels of insight into the internal workings of ourselves.

The foundation of Vipassana is taught with little spiritual underpinning, meaning that anyone of any secular decent can learn and use the technique; you don’t have to be a Buddhist.

As I said Vipassana is sometimes called insight or liberation, but what are we really achieving here? What is this insight we are seeking?

It is an insight into ourselves. Insight into our minds and

There’s an Ancient Pali narration that explains what I mean. It goes something like this:

Meditation is likened to taming a wild elephant. The method for taming an elephant in ancient times involved tying a freshly caught wild elephant to a post with the strongest rope you had available. The elephant would shriek and trample with all its might for days on end. Until one day, the elephant accepts its fate and clams itself.

With the elephant is clam, tamers would begin tending to him. They would feed and wash the elephant, gradually developing a relationship, but still on guard against to wrath that could arise at any moment.

In due course tamer would dispense rope, giving the elephant space to roam free; the elephant has now become accustom new life to leave. Now the tamers were free to teach the elephant various tasks, tasks that would be very useful and couldn’t be done without the abilities of the elephant.

This story is an analogy for Vipassana and meditation generally for that matter. Our minds are the elephants, the tamers are Vipassana, and tools used to tame the elephant are synonymous with a meditation practice.

So to answer our question about how to use Vipassana, we use it to train our minds. With a trained mind we can begin to observe the world less judgmentally and reactionary. We stop creating a world to view and start to just observe the world as it is; for lack of a better term, we can stop and finally smell the roses.

All of this and more has come to me all thanks to a few days sitting in silence. But that isn't the entirety of the story.

My experience at my first 10-day Silent retreat

I had just graduated undergraduate and had been seeking for a powerful experience that would challenge me. I pondered the idea of going abroad, getting lost traveling America, or even just going into the wood and only coming back when 'I knew'—whatever that means.

So got to googling. I discovered that there was a meditation center only three hours from me that ran ten-day retreats. Ten days initially sounded like a lot of time, but I didn't have plans anyway, so it didn’t make much of a difference.

When I started to fill out my application I did so with the intention to do it with a friend as a support method for the daunting experience that I had assumed was to come. But when I completed my application and as accepted before my friend even applied, I took it as a sign that this would be a solo campaign.

I arrived on day zero and was asked to sign a slew of forms asking me mental health questions. I choose not to talk to anyone directly, as a way to get used to the not talking thing. I did end up ease dropping. I overheard people talk about silent retreats of the past and the great horrors they had personally experienced. All of which just expatriated my own fears about what was to come in the up and coming days.

Days 1, 2, & 3: Just Breath.

I barely slept the first day due to excitement for what is to come. I could only imagine what my first formal teaching in meditation would entail. But how could I be surprised that the first few days would only be breathing exercises whose goal was to develop focus and concentration on a single object; in this case, the object was the breath. So over the next few days, we only practiced breathing. But something strange began to happen, I began to feel really alone and extremely bored. I began creating narratives for all the other students.  I made up past afflictions, their hopes and dreams all in my head. I made enemies and friends without having ever said a word—more on this later.

Day 4, 5, & 6: My Mind Reaches Critical Mass.

The day felt similar to the day prior except that this time at night, in my dreams I had lucid experiences that spoke to me. The messages my dreams brought where terrifying to keep it short. The message was I was only a puppet and the mysterious force up top—whatever that is—would ruin me. I spoke to the assistant teacher about how I was feeling, and he told me this:

The mind is really good at playing tricks, next time just observe the sensations on your hands and feet, do this and let me know what happens.

The dreams happened again the next night. So in my frantic state, I go ahead and give his advice and try. Now I am simplifying, but low and behold, the feeling of fear passed. This battle went on for several hours, back and forth between the feelings of fear in my mind about and a more objective observation of my body. Like the night before, I didn't sleep much, but this time I had learned a lesson, one that changed my perspective on feelings. I came to see that feelings can be overridden if you accept them fully, but do not engage. This was the first great lesson of my retreat.

Days 7, 8, & 9: The Great Banana War

Most of my last days on the retreat were very similar and I cannot recall any distinct differences. But I can remember one particular incident that bled into the last few days and taught me the most valuable lesson of the retreat.

It all stems from a strange source; Bananas

Each day when I entered the dining hall for food I noticed that, like clockwork, the bananas would be one of the first snacks that everyone would grab. So quickly that someday I wouldn't get the chance to grab have one for myself; I had enough-especially since I could point out several students who were notorious for taking multiple bananas.

Here I was about to sit in my regular seat in the dining hall about to dig into a mesh of yogurt and bananas—I spitefully took two bananas today—and it hit me. How could I know anything about anyone in this room? I am making judgments on their character from what? Only from my own thoughts. The whole banana fiasco is just an ongoing conversation with myself trying to convince me to be irritated or annoyed for a made-up reason. I was trying to justify anger and selfishness to myself. And I finally caught myself in the act; a breakthrough in the making. I learned a lesson in prejudgmentive thinking and my predisposal personal predisposal to selfishness. Crazy as it seems, bananas helped teach me one of the most valuable lessons of my meditative practice; you are not your reactions, nor do you have to feel bad about the reactions that come to mind.

Day 10: Noble Chatter Begins

We are taught the technique called Metta or love and kindness meditation. Love and kindness meditation tend to be undermined because of how ‘fluffy’ it can seem compared to the other techniques we learned. At this point in time, I had not learned much about it. But is worth mentioning that I did experience the pleasurable feelings Metta meditation is supposed to bring. But I attribute these sensations to my excitement to talk again. Day ten we were allowed to talk with all the fellow students sitting the silent meditation retreat. I connected with a group of guys around my age and we hit it off—they had also banana-based epiphanies—talking for hours into the night and leaving no room for sleep.

I still do keep in touch with that group of guys. It is strange to think I made life-long friends with people I spoke with for less than 24 hours with one another. The next morning, we cleaned the center, exchanged our contact information, and said our goodbyes.

What I learned

I would not change a thing about what happened during those ten days. Here are the main takeaways from my first silent meditation retreat.

Silent retreats are imperative

If you have a deep interest in developing a meditation practice, sitting a silent retreat is imperative. The world is very noisy, and it would be difficult to create a similar environment surround by the love and support of the dharma. Whether you attend to bolster your practice or re-center yourself, a meditation retreat provides the environment to work with as little interruptions as possible to reach deep meditative states. I now plan on sitting at least one ten-day silent meditation retreat every year.

Thoughts are constant

My mind just wouldn't shut-up. Each day as I started to have less recent memories for my mind to grab on to, I became more aware of how my mind wants to add its two cents to everything. It became almost debilitating to listen to myself go on and on about nothing! Thoughts became just a garble of excess sense-making.

I Don’t Have to Be My Feelings or Thoughts

I had been struggling with a series of nightmares for over two years. Learning Vipassana taught me how to live with the ongoing narrative of my life. I used to be scared, terrified even of what a night of sleep had in store for me. Now I have the tools to accept whatever gifts my mind has to offer me, especially in the form of dreams. By observing how my body feels after traumatic memory, paying attention to ebb and flow of bodily reactions, I learned what the events are and not what I was making them out to be.

Consider Learning Vipassana

I will be writing more about Vipassana in the up and coming weeks. But if you’re sold already, I’d encourage you to check out the Vipassana website. Through the love and kindness of others, a network of centers all over the world is able to offer millions of people an introduction to the art of living at no cost to the students.

A silent meditation retreat is a challenging and well-deserved feeling of accomplishment for anyone who can endure it. You will learn something about yourself, and if not, you now have the tools to do so.

Perhaps you’re looking for a smaller place to start? Check out my post on developing a meditation practice through small wins.



Boosting Our Practice: 5 Meditation Mindsets

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forces of habit kiante fernandez


The fact of life:

 The people who say they cannot meditate will never mediate if they believe they cannot meditate.

A lesson I have come to learn is a meditation practice teaches us that the world as we know it is what you make of it. We are a product of what we are exposed to and how we choose to interpret that exposure. If I choose to view part of myself as a non-meditator, I take on habits that reinforce that thereby making that mindset my reality. So if we would like to be mediators, there are some distinct attitudes or mindsets we all ought to begin intentionally cultivating. A mediation mindset mirrors the advice we hear often in business; mindset matters. 

In Mindfulness in Plain English, the type of attitudes needed to seriously deepen a meditation practice is mentioned serval times—as I would hope. Bhante Henepola Gunaratana takes the time to condense a “series of rules for application” into a single 3-page chapter that I have found to be a helpful reference for deepening my own practice.

Here I share my top 5 meditation mindsets from Bhante’s book that have personally changed my meditation practice and arguably the way I live.

1. Don’t expect anything

“Let the meditation move along at its own speed and in its own direction. Let the mediation teach you what it wants you to learn”

-Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

To prepare for my first silent meditation retreat, I had been meditating for about a year and had researched what others had experienced during meditation retreats similar to the one I was attending. So I felt pretty confident about my preparation; I was entirely wrong.

The first thing I am told upon arriving is to forget the technique I had been using for over a year and to focus on using exactly what I am taught—good start.

Next, I overhear returning students speaking about the traumatic experiences they had during their first retreats—great follow up.

And Last but not least, I find out the timetable I had reviewed was wrong; I will be sitting for 13, not 10 hours of meditation a day—nice finish.

All of this happening within the first hour of arrival created a tower of doubt about whether I would be able to even sit for over a hundred hours of meditation in the next ten days. Who would have thought all I was doing was making it harder on myself. My prior know-how only generated anxiety and frustrations as I sat for my first course.

Expectations lead to a diluted view of whatever you are experiencing.

We are not accepting the world as it is when we expect a specific outcome from our meditation practice. The biases we hold about our progress, our capacities—or lack thereof—only limit what we seek. To start opening ourselves up to the variety of experiences that do not fit the mental models of the world we are currently using, we have to separate ourselves from what we believe for at least the length of our mediation. When we seek a specific outcome to an event we close ourselves off to the variety of what is possible.

2.Don’t rush

“Anything really valuable takes time to develop”

-Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

When I started making progress in my meditation I was ready to move away to Tibet and join a monastery thinking I could FastTrack the whole monk thing and get back to life in no time—WOW I really couldn’t get it could I?

I hit my first “plateau”.

The practice became a chore and something a burden. So I thought if I sat so more than average or tried other techniques it would help; still nothing.

Why Rush? What are we rushing towards? A meditation practice only moves at a pace that matches the practitioner. And if we attempt to rush we are in no way doing what we need to further our practice.

Rushing means you are assuming the results of practice can be accelerated or even sustained through sloppily rushed practiced.

Just meditate.

Remove those expectations and forget about the time. You already have a set schedule and you in no ways need to change your sit times or technique. As long as you are following the rules of your selected technique you're you are on the path.

If you find it hard to do so always keep in mind that the frustration you have with your meditation can be a lesson in its self. A lesson in patience—we will return to this later.

3.Investigate yourself

“You are your own teacher. Looking for teachers can’t solve your own doubts. Investigate yourself to find the truth – inside, not outside. Knowing yourself is most important.”

                -Ajahn Chah

When we are children our parents tell us never to touch the stove because it was hot and we would burn ourselves.

I wasn't buying.

While I end up with some nasty burns, I learn a valuable lesson the proper way; through experience. No one in our lives can speak enlightenment to us, it is experienced. So to learn for yourself you must question everything, never believing in anything anyone says because of relationship or title. Become the scientist of your subjective reality and allow your desire find the truth to guide you.

During your practice, you will be tempted to assume you have learned a lesson because you have heard a yogi say it. But until you investigate the legitimacy of the claim through your own experience, it is only artificial.

Be empirical, whether it be the body scan or objectively observing feelings. Use mediation as your tool, your microscope into the reality of your being.

4.View all problems as challenges

There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.”

-Ryan Holiday

When I was volunteering at a meditation center, I had gotten into the habit of reacting after a group sit through how I composed myself in the kitchen. I only came to realize this after a fellow volunteer told me that he could always tell when I was condemning myself after a meditation by how I washed dishes.

He was right.

I was constantly beating myself up when I thought a mediation session did not compare well to prior sessions.

Negatives reactions to our meditation practice are opportunities.

It was time to deliberately change my mindset. Each time I left the meditation hall, I left with great joy no matter the challenges presented during the sit knowing that I had just undergone I great hump on my journey towards liberation.

Problems are not to be thought of as an innate disposition that will haunt you forever. Only how you are choosing to work with the issue is what creates the illusion of permanence. When I finally chose to not judge myself so harshly, that is when I really started seeing growth in my practice.

5.Don’t ponder

“Don’t think, See.”

-Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

When I started college I became obsessed with becoming an expert. I was not really sure about what, but I wanted to know everything so no one could ever tell me I was wrong or didn’t know better. When I encountered problems I would seek out the answers in every book and cranny. So when I started mediation I naturally attempted to do the same thing.

Some things in meditation cannot be figured out.

No amount of reason or thinking will ever help you understand something as presymbolic as mindfulness meditation. Many of the phenomena we experience are beyond the symbols used to describe meaning i.e. language.

You cannot think yourself out of submission here. Thinking only feeds the issue. Thoughts will only trick us into rationalization or justification for our actions.

We must learn to accept ignorance and humbly take our opportunity to experience a more objective perception of the world by practicing meditation.

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

“Meditation is participatory observation”

-Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

Mediation is the tool that helps us become receptive participants in our lives.

Meditation is the tool that helps us grow accustomed to the selves we are constantly becoming.

We can take back control of whom we are but this is only if we know where to look; good mindsets for meditation cultivate the awareness to see the world more clearly. By taken into consideration the 5 mindsets I described you will have the foundation to continue on your path towards living intentionally.

If you’re interested in the seeing the whole list I recommend you go check out Bhante Henepola Gunaratana’s book: Mindfulness in Plain English.

Curious about the sitting for a silent meditation retreat? Learn more about the Vipassana meditation tradition as well as find places to attend a 10-day silent meditation retreat HERE.

You all know that I meditate every day. But have you seen the other habits?

I have spent years tirelessly hunting for the best daily habits to incorporate into my life. Meditation is one of them. But that is only one habit. Check out the other four in a Free copy of the Top 5 Habits I Do Every Day.


Small Actions and Meditation: The One Minute Sit

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Starting a meditation practice can seem overwhelming causing us to put it off; I get it. And I’ve been there too.

Today I’ll share with you how small actions can alter your view of meditation. Through the One Minute Sit, you can start taking advantage of a revolutionary tool for living intentionally.

In the summer of 2015, I was introduced to the idea of meditation after reading the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The book urged me to seek out new habits that I could incorporate into my life. A late night of aimless Googling led me to pick meditation. It was on every “How to get better at stuff” list and I was up for trying anything that could get me out of the rut I was in after my first year of college.

With the help of a meditation app called Headspace, I meditated every day that whole summer! But as the summer waned and classes started back up, I found myself meditating less and less, reasoning that I didn’t have the time to meditate anymore.

Well… maybe.

A meditation practice isn’t supposed to falter as stress kicks in. In fact, it should probably grow. But like most people, I did not see the benefits of sitting still for upwards of 20 minutes breathing.

But who says it has to be that long?

Before I can answer that we need to take a detour from meditation and discuss habit formation. Habits hold the key to explaining why, if you are a beginner, the standard 20 to 30 mediation may be ‘wasting your time’.

Starting things is hard.

Behavioral scientists have done amazing work in the past ten year’s uncovering why developing patterns of behavior is so hard. But is it hard? Not really. It’s when we want to pick the pattern that the barriers become overwhelming—at least initially.

Have you ever noticed how hard you work to build good habits, but a bad one can simply bulldoze their way into your life? I can push myself endlessly to wake up early to read, but I don’t even second guess a powdered donut. I believe this is due to how we are drawn to good and bad habits differently. With our predisposal to approach pleasure and avoid danger, the odds seemed stacked against a good habit. We have all heard that the best things in life aren’t easy, and if we take a good look at ourselves we can see how hard things can feel daunting. 

Our goal is to change our reality.

And mental tools are available for us to start living intentionally and one of the best methods for beating the hedonic treadmill is framing small wins as big gains.

Small Wins.

New York City Subway System in the 1980’s was not the greatest place to be. Crime rates had increased drastically and ridership was also at a decline. The New York City Transit Authority had a large problem on its hand and we know what happens when the problem is too big to think about—we put off the change.

Social Scientist James Q. Wilson had the answer.

He reasoned that part of the crime epidemic was due the environment. It was only natural for crimes to be committed in a filthy graffiti-ridden shelter like the subway. The subway was a mess. If the NYC could not handle petty crimes, citizens can then reason how was the city to handle larger crimes. Wilson’s recommendation was to start small and clean up the subway. Following his advice, the New York City Transit began a program to eradicate graffiti from subway trains and arrest loiterers leading to some of the largest declines in crimes rates in NYC.

Changing your life is a large and highly complex problem that requires work. Amusingly such work can become so daunting it leads to no action at all. With large problems, we should take the counterintuitive approach and start thinking small. Like the Transit Authority, by first picking up some small wins by addressing an issue that may seem unrelated, we can ultimately send a message to ourselves that we mean business.

We need to take manageable steps when attempting to accomplish our habit formation goals. Ask yourself, what is the easiest step to take to just get started? The brain and mind need to develop a relationship with the given habit. Over time you’ll notice your improvements lead to even more improvements by virtue of incrementally small differences in your abilities. Known as the Accumulative Advantage, we can intentionally create differences in our behavior through small wins, and overtime, it strengthens our resolves by gradually raising the bar of what we consider adequate. 


“This idea of slightly adjusting your habits until behaviors and results that were once out of reach become your new normal is a concept I like to call “habit creep.”

-James Clear

The small wins add up.

If you decide to frame your small wins as big gains. You can watch as it creates the large change. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the mechanisms of our habits, check out my post on the habit loop.

Why Meditate?

Now that you understand the importance of repetition when creating new habits, you see how 20 minutes of mediation may just be a wall too high to climb for a beginner. By applying what we know about the profound effects of small actions the question becomes ‘why mediation as the small action?‘  You probably already have an interest in mediation and do not need convincing about the benefits that mediation carries. BUT let us review some of the literature for those who still need some convincing.

Check out this video on mediation by the Youtuber What I’ve Learned. His videography work cannot be beaten when it comes to his ability to engagingly tell the story of the pragmatic purposes of meditation.

The One Minute Sit.

I was introduced to the idea of the one minute sit in a podcast on the meaning of It was a discussion between my favorite writer Robert Wright and Bestselling author Dan Harris about Dan’s new book Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.

Check out this clip:



Dan wants the bar real low because “more mindfulness is better than less mindfulness.” The research is in agreeance on this. Work published in The Scientific Journal on Consciousness and Cognition has revealed how “4 days of meditation training can enhance the ability to sustain attention; benefits that have previously been reported with long-term meditators.” I cannot emphasize this enough. In only 4 days time participants in the study had already begun showing changes in the brain that mirrored the neurological function of long-term meditators. By sitting consistently, we can start observing benefits a meditation practice.

If you’re interested in listening to the full interview, check out the whole conversation here.

Start Your One Minute Sit Today.

Initially I always blindly recommending people sit for long periods of time. But after listening to the conversation between Bob and Dan, I considered what I knew about the brain and habits and realized I was giving out bad advice. Advice that would probably lead people to never meditate. And thinking back, everyone who I ever told to meditate for longer periods as a beginner not only does not meditate but has marked off the whole practice as useless.

Let’s forget about the time and max out on consistency.

In the same way, as we learn to walk step by step, we need to treat our meditation practice as one that needs small actionable steps to maximize consistency. Did you stop walking because you fell a few times? First, if you remember when you started walking, that’s awesome. Second, NO! You did it again the next day and probably do it every day. Mindfulness meditation can become as hardwired into each of us so long as we do it every day and start somewhere simple.

If mediators ever thought about mediation in terms of success, I’d say one of the most accomplished mediators is Deepak. Please check out his approach to starting small. I even recommend you do the meditation with him now—it’s only one minute.

What is most important about meditation and central to all practices is bringing our awareness back to the primary object of attention —this tends to be the breath.

Forget time.

As long as we remember this it is possible to transform a one-minute meditation into a 10, 20, even a 45-minute practice. Such a transformation happens organically and we do not need to rush. As we move forward with purpose, purpose will construct our greatest selves. 

It only takes a minute to start living intentionally

Curious about how long I meditate? Find out in the Top 5 Habits I do Every Day.


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