Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

11 Ways to Finally Stop Procrastinating

That daunting work project, a home renovation that’s been waiting to happen, a really difficult conversation. Everyone has things that they put off until the very last minute. The good news is: Procrastination is normal. The even better news is: There are ways to shift this habit and stop procrastinating for good.

In this 13-minute video, Tim Ferriss from Big Think shares 11 approaches he has found useful for overcoming procrastination.

1. Focus on Long-Term Happiness

Dan Ariely, a Psychology and Behavioral Economics professor at Duke University, says we often choose to do things that will offer momentary happiness before working on a more long-term goal—a goal that is difficult or complex to achieve. Once we shift our focus on those long-term achievements, we can start the meaningful process of working toward them.

It’s like running a marathon, Ariely says. While you’re running, you may be in pain and look miserable but when you’re finished, you get to reap the benefits of feeling accomplished and successful.

2. Give Yourself Mini Assignments

When a music artist is stuck on writing lyrics or producing a melody, music producer Rick Rubin asks them to come up with one line by the next day, Ferriss says.

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Why Meditation is a Key Part of Anti-Racism Work

Iman Gibson and Tori Lund have been friends for decades, doing yoga together in middle school. More recently, they collaborated on Antiracism Meditation, an album of guided meditations with accompanying journal prompts around privilege, racism, and allyship. We asked the two teachers—one Black, one white—to talk about the role meditation plays in the urgent work of anti-racism. They let us look in on their email conversation.

Tori Lund: Hey Iman,

I know we have been talking about this topic a lot lately. Why should folks consider meditating as one way to engage in anti-racism work?

Iman Gibson: Hey Tori!
Short Answer:
Meditation plays a HUGE role.

Here’s the TLDR:
We all experience tiny moments of enlightenment. I had one recently while meditating during a DIY at-home silent retreat. I really tapped into our shared consciousness as humans versus our typically perceived identity as individual selves. We may show up in different bodies with unique cultures and identities but we are all part of the same energy.

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3 Simple Ways to Cultivate Joy Every Day

The other day I spoke with a friend I hadn’t connected with since the pandemic began. When I asked how she was, she unexpectedly said she had just tasted the best cherry in her life. 

Her delight was refreshing, and it didn’t alter the underlying fact that she felt heavy-hearted and off-kilter because of the state of the world. She nonetheless found momentary joy in a bowl of cherries. 

Often, we have to coax these small moments of joy into our awareness. We have to let our guard down and allow them rub up against us like a purring cat. 

Joy can be like that—small, unassuming, disarming. It’s hiding in a cherry, a song note, or a pair of comfortable shoes. Often, we have to coax these small moments of joy into our awareness. We have to let our guard down and allow them rub up against us like a purring cat. 

Of course, our attention is often otherwise occupied—tugged toward irritation when we hear the grating whir of a leaf blower, or when we feel sadness after learning a friend is ill, or anxiety when someone we love has lost their job. And there are the larger forces that pull our attention—oppression, climate devastation, deep uncertainty about the future. Much of mindfulness practice is about learning to relate to these sharp-elbowed moments with equanimity. 

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Why We Need to Practice Self-Compassion

In the frantic pace of life, it can be difficult to keep up—and sometimes when we make mistakes or we feel we don’t work hard enough, we leave ourselves in the dust by thinking things like “you’re not good enough.” If we’re not careful, a few harsh words here and there can evolve into excessive self-criticism.

This short animation from the London School of Life suggests another way to approach those negative storylines we jog through our minds, as well as the real setbacks we face—like adopting a kinder mindset toward ourselves when we fail, accepting our personal histories that we cannot change, and understanding that our worth is not only contingent on our achievements.

Step 1: When you find yourself in a cycle of negative self-talk because you have failed at something or are disappointed with an outcome, remind yourself that the task was difficult and that you did your best.

Step 2: Remind yourself that you don’t have to be good at everything. Not everyone has the same set of skills.

Step 3: Remember that comparing yourself to others can be painful—especially if their successes are all over social media. Thank yourself for your progress and embrace where you are now.

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Taking Your Practice Off the Meditation Cushion with Improv

No longer seen as a soft, squishy term gaining traction in sectors from healthcare to the military, Big Tech to Wall Street (yes, Wall Street), compassion is now recognized as critical to building resilience, connection, and joy.

Increasing scientific evidence, thanks to the works of Drs. Thupten Jinpa, Kristin Neff, James Doty, and many others, has shown that compassion has benefits not to be ignored—lower stress responses and symptoms of depression, greater levels of life satisfaction, creativity, and physical health. Compassion is generative. Compassion motivates action.

We also know that compassion can be learned through formal meditation practices and gratitude journaling. These and other evidenced-based tools encourage self-compassion, empathy, non-judgment, capacity to listen, sense of shared humanity, and presence. However, one tool that cultivates compassion lies not on the meditation cushion, but in improv communities.

Everyday Compassion, Everyday Improv

Before you laugh (if you do, it’s OK. Laughing at me just gave you a pinch of endorphins and a dab of dopamine, so enjoy your moment of euphoria), let’s consider the role improv plays in  mindfulness practice—without us even realizing it. From mindfulness workshops in corporate boardrooms to curricula for youth programs on emotional management, mindfulness emphasizes the importance of being present and embracing what and who is in front of us. However, while mindfulness is useful training for improvisers, improvising is still often an underappreciated tool to build compassion. 

Most of us will think, Nope, never, not me—you’ll never catch me improvising on stage. Yet, we improvise every single day.

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