How Meditation will Enrich Your Life in 2019

If you’re not already practicing meditation, I highly recommend learning how to sit. It takes persistence and consistency in practice to develop the habit of daily meditation. Once established, the practice bears fruit in the form of deep focus, increased productivity, and peace of mind.  Here are a few ways meditation will improve your life in 2019.

The rate of change will only speed up, not slow down

Our world is changing overnight.  Advances in nanotechnology, biotechnology, information sharing, and radical automation are speeding up.  The self driving car is on the way, the internet of all things will gather data about every aspect of our lives, and some folks who can afford it will even have access to upgrades in medicine that were once the subject of science fiction movies. Now is definitely the slowest rate that change will occur. Things will speed up!  Meditation offers a chance to fix our internal rhythm so that we become masters of time. When we are internally grounded, we can respond to the outer world with less vacillation. Our minds are able to hyper calibrate when it weighs the pros and cons of a choice. By “getting out of our heads” we can make clearer decisions, faster.  I’ve coached members of the forbes 400 list and can tell you for sure, the masters make big decisions, in an instant, and stick to their guns to see those decisions through. Going back and forth on a potential choice, wastes valuable brain fuel on over thinking. Meditation makes us masters of reading the moment, so that we can see exactly what is required of us in that very second.

Meditation shows us that we are whole and complete, Now

When we begin a meditation practice, it’s normal to have ups and downs. One day the mind feels steady, and the next it can feel agitated. Sometimes we can even feel sleepy when we close our eyes. The key is to keep going, till eventually the good days will become more consistent. It’s important to stay consistent and not be attached to the results, or become a “bliss junkie”.  What we are ultimately doing is learning to sit with ourselves. We are learning to embrace the dark and light sides of our nature. It’s fine to struggle. However, every now and then, there is a transcendent peace that we tap into, when we meditate. In this deeper state, we feel the purity of a concentrated mind and we see that under all the mental noise and voices, that there is a perfect emptiness. There are no ripples on the water, as we look out on the lake of our own mind. This aspect of practice is very personal and very healing.  It can cause us to drop limiting beliefs, release shame, guilt and anger that we have been carrying for many years.

Ecstasy is within grasp of the ordinary person

Meditation creates a deep sense of self-reliance, as you find the teacher within. You become your own guru. Stepping outside of time, feeling a perfect unity with all things, and a sense of hyper reality characterize the “altered state” that is the result of a concentrated mind.  For most of our history, access to this state occurred in a “top down fashion”, meaning you needed to be in the presence of the priest, shaman, or tribal elder to experience their blessing and feel the depth of your own being. Now we live in a world with biofeedback meditation headbands that measure eeg, heart rate variability, and skin temperature.  Feedback data can let the meditator know when they have “slipped out of the zone”. This way one can simply re-focus quickly, rather than drift off as the mind wanders. Using this technology is a way the modern meditator might achieve in three years, what 30 years to do in the past.

Mindfulness practices strengthen the immune system

As the mind becomes focused, we take better care of ourselves.  The use of alcohol, stimulants and emotional eating can be trimmed away.  There is a natural draw towards better rest, keeping positive company, and healthy nutrition.  The lifestyle changes that accompany meditation practice, creates a shift in how our genome expresses itself. We literally “flip switches on” the dna molecule, that have powerful positive effects.  Benefits of this epigenetic effect include reduced inflammation, maintenance of the telomere length, and reduced risk of cancer. Consistent rest and regular exercise are two habits that cause our dna to strengthen the immune system. A strong immune system is able to fight pathogens from the environment.  We become more resistant to colds, flus and harmful bacteria.

Your personal relationships become infused with more meaning

After my first Vipassana Meditation training I realized how hard each individual’s personal journey is.  We each have different fears, limiting beliefs, and personal traumas from childhood. Afer Vipassana, I started being less judgemental towards others. I became more loving and accepting.  Anger took a back burner to compassion. When we understand that each living being is on their own personal, ancient journey, with a unique set of challenges, we take things less personally. I am not as easily offended by other people’s actions and ideas as I once was.  When we study the mind through direct observation, we can develop a great deal of compassion for others. After many years of practice I now have a respect for all living beings on our shared planet. Daily practice is a reminder to treat people with kindness.

How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

We’re half way through January with the gyms packed and people eating healthier than ever before. But we’re only two weeks into January and many people will drop their New Year’s  Here are some of my time-tested tips for a fantastic approach to nailing your 2019 resolutions .

Make a Short List

What is most important to you? What do you want to do more of in 2019? What is one major vice you would like to get rid of this year? Which human relationships do you want to nurture the most this year?

As a kid I used to list out 20 plus things I’d want to improve during the new year, and a lot of those goals would get lost in the day to day grind of life’s obligations. Over time, I started to narrow my focus. I started aligning my actions and time with a few key objectives and reaped great rewards. When we prioritize our most important goals, we take specific actions that lead to results. Try making three major resolutions so you’re not overwhelmed with too many goals and unrealistic expectations to start the year.

Is Your Objective Sustainable?

Quick fix approaches have a very high fail rate. Seventy percent of people regain all the weight lost after short term success with fad diets. For example, before experimenting with something like the ketogenic diet, ask yourself if it sustainable to give up bread, refined sugar, and alcohol, while making fat your primary macronutrient? If so, go for it! If not, construct another approach to healthier living that provides a lasting lifestyle change. Slow and steady increments are more easily woven into becoming new habits.  Making realistic goals takes some foresight and planning, and even guidance from experts that have achieved what you are aiming for. Don’t be shy about asking around, or consulting with a professional.

Reward yourself for hitting milestones

If you lose five of twenty pounds, reward yourself with a cheat meal. If you reached your monthly savings goal, give yourself a bonus.  By noticing the small steps on a longer path, we come to appreciate the journey. When we create a healthy relationship to discipline, it does not feel “self flagellating”.  At age twenty-five I had paid off all my college loans, by rewarding myself along the way, every time I reached a part of the goal. It incentivized me to have a game like approach towards hitting my final goal. The rewards I gave myself, helped to increase my focus and dedication, until I reached the finish line.

Don’t attach to perfection, rather be free to make errors daily

When we begin new practices in fitness, nutrition, or mindfulness we easily become frustrated by “trying to get it right”.  New techniques must be experienced, trimmed, and refined OVER TIME! The most important thing is perseverance, sticking with the practice, through the “good” and “bad” days.  Consistency trumps all other approaches when a new practice is being woven into your lifestyle. Think of errors and mistakes as “feedback”, and you will be able to stay on track.

Practice Gratitude

The practice of gratitude shifts our perception to perceive possibilities instead of problems.  When we feel “less than” and experience pressure to “keep up with the Jonses” the mind is in a problem frame. We create a cocktail recipe of negative neurochemistry in our brain.  Any time we think of three things we are grateful for, the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in our brain, come into the balance and function like the 3 tenors in perfect harmony.  We literally rewire our brains with the practice of gratitude. When our minds become associated to positive thinking, we manifest our deepest desires at an accelerated pace. People are more likely to collaborate with us, our sense of well being improves, the immune system becomes stronger, and we feel more purpose when we are consciously connected to gratitude.  

Build a network of positive people who are also making moves

A positive attitude is contagious. We tend to oscillate at the same vibration as the company we keep.  Choose wisely. When we are surrounded by uplifting friends, we more easily exchange ideas, feel supported and draw inspiration from one another.  Humans thrive in small, interdependent communities.

Keeping a short list of resolutions allows us to check in weekly and calibrate our efforts so that we are aligned with our intentions.  We impact the world positively by changing ourselves. Good luck with the new year ahead- remember, no effort is ever wasted! See the 2019 of your dreams in your minds eye, write out a handful of goals, and take action!

A few things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving

Gratitude, or reflecting on things we are thankful for, can greatly improve well being and life satisfaction.  People who practice gratitude are more likely to sleep better, be kinder, experience more positive emotions, and have better immune systems.  This holiday season I look back at my personal “life-highlight reel” of things I am thankful for in life.

 

I am grateful for my health

I have been awash in naturally occurring high levels of androgenic hormones my whole life. This gave me a super long run as an athlete that allowed me to perform and train at excruciatingly intense levels, while being able to recover from the  workouts. Now at 43, this is the first year of my life where I am consciously dialing it back. I train in a calibrated and structured approach aimed at living a long healthy life. I’ve already set all of my personal records. I am at peace with benching less, shorter runs, and not binding in Mari D.  Every single day I wake up in a divine instrument. My body is proportioned in strength, endurance, flexibility and neurological balance. While a lot of this is the result of training since age 13, without interruption, I recognize the role of luck (staying relatively injury free), winning the genetic lottery (awesome parents), and having great guides (mentors) who lit the path of knowledge for me.  

 

I almost lost my life in 2014 with a battle against a parasite I contacted in Peru, while traveling. With a great team of doctors, the C.D.C behind me, and an experimental drug, I killed the parasite and am the owner of a healing story. To wake up in a functionally strong, agile, healthy body every day is something that makes the sun shine in my heart.  Thank you God.

I am thankful for the practice of solitude

I’m so lucky to have a lifestyle that allows the opportunity for silent retreat.  A part of each year is dedicated to moving away from society, to practice reflection and silence. Time in solitude accelerates my knowledge in the form of direct experience.  My learning in solitude is somatic, occurring deep within the body mind system and felt on very subtle levels. The experience is much more than an intellectual exercise from a book.  I have done structured experiments all over the world, including several big journeys to India, and got a lot out of a month well spent deep in the Amazon jungle. In solitude I found the teacher inside of my heart.  The intuitive light switch is now “permanently on”, allowing me to trust myself, and provides an inner confidence in manhood, that I did not have as a kid. Solitude is not an easy practice, but always worthwhile.

I am fortunate to have loved, lost, and loved again.  

I have a lot of experience in the romance department, and have learned that it represents only a small slice of a deeper, eternal love, found inside of ourselves. The love I teach, write and lecture about is the bliss of the self. It is merging the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness.  It’s very different from what we see portrayed in most Hollywood movies. I now know for sure, that there is not a woman on the face of the planet that “completes me” or “is my other half”. I’ve reached a point in my experience where I’m somehow free of the need for approval from “the other”. It’s liberating, frees up a ton of psychic energy, and creates space for new forms of love between partners to develop!  Now when I meet a dynamic woman, I give her time to wow me, I don’t get knocked off my feet from the beginning. Falling into things now seems irresponsible. I allow people to prove themselves over time before we make strong agreements together. Just like my yoga practice, slowly slowly is the way I now choose to approach romantic love. I am grateful to all the women who entered my life to illuminate the mind and heart, bringing me to a more pure perception.  

I am grateful to have seen poverty and luxury, up close, in one lifetime

My family left a third world country to move to America, and I grew up to become a celebrity trainer to billionaires.  The full range of human experience has been laid bare before me. It’s interesting to eat from a shack on the side of the road while motorcycling through India and also fly on a private jet with the New York Yankees. It’s wild to watch people go to bed at night with hungry bellies and walk the red carpet of every Martin Scorsese film premiere over the last 15 years. One day I’m munching street food and the next I can be at a five star restaurant.  All of these extreme situations showed me that when you pull back the curtain, all people want are the same things: peace of mind, good rest, more time with their families and a chance to explore their hobbies. However, there are different obstacles for people to overcome so they can be free.

I am glad to have the parents I chose for this lifetime

There is an old saying “the older you become, the wiser your parents seem to be.” As a kid I wanted my parents to treat me the way my friends were treated by their parents, with total acceptance, and very fewer rules. I came up in a house with strict codes of behavior, had lots of chores and felt the pressure to be academically successful. My Dad was not gentle, but rather intentionally tough, to prepare us for the competitive world. Now, looking back, I know my parents rocked it. I more than had my needs met, and by the time I got to college, I was a hardcore independent, chasing down my dreams and making them real. All of my successes can be traced back to the good old fashioned discipline I received from Mom and Dad.  

I am most grateful for having meaningful work

I knew early on that I was simply not cut for a 9 to 5 in an office, not in this lifetime. I’m a born people person, with a heart for influencing the world in a positive way.  At age 22 I decided to go my own way, and jump directly into my deepest interest, physical fitness. With a lot of study, devotion, great teachers, and patience I became a world- class healer.  It is a pleasure to wake up, knowing each day, if I focus and channel a clear energy, my work will make people feel good. It can connect them to their core. I’ve created triggers that allow me to put my life and my story to the side when I step into a teaching classroom. I know the potential healing power of spiritual practice and I always aim to share it in as direct and pure way as possible.  I love the global community that has come together around the enlightened teachings.

 

Metropolitan Mindfulness: Part I

Our cities are densely populated, draw ambitious people, and are characterized by intense competition.  Deadlines, long hours at work, and powerful computers that fit in the palm of our hands are beginning to boggle our minds.  It’s become the norm to look ahead and worry about what is to come, or glance over our shoulder at the past and wonder about what could have been.  The average person checks their Instagram feed 34 times per day! The present moment, the sensorial experience of the here and now, is like gold running through our fingers. It slips by, moment after moment, buried under layers of noise.  A personal mindfulness practice is becoming a necessary requirement for anyone wishing to maintain basic sanity in our fast paced and tech addicted society. Continue reading “Metropolitan Mindfulness: Part I”

5 Lessons Learned from Working with the New York Yankees

During the 2000 and 2001 MLB seasons I worked with the New York Yankees as a Massage Therapist and Assistant Trainer. I traveled with the team full-time and was part of the 2000 championship team, earning a World Series Ring for my contribution to our big win! I was 26 years old when I first joined the team, the youngest staff member in all of MLB at the time. I absorbed many valuable lessons, which reinforced my father’s teachings too. I’m continuously applying these core ideas to the journey and trials of my life, long after baseball.

Develop a Personal Work Ethic – Someone is Coming for Your Spot

Come spring training, Jorge Posada never assumed his job as our starting catcher was a given. He showed up each day ready to go to war with himself to bring out his best performance. He knew that hungry young kids were showing up to spring training year after year, eager to have a shot at the big leagues and earn a spot on the roster. Even though he was already a World Champion and team leader, Jorge never rested on his laurels.  He worked his tail off and practiced with determination. I saw firsthand, that one should never take anything for granted. He was an example of “staying hungry” and a guy who always “put in the work.” Jorge was a true leader, never allowing himself to slack and be outworked for his position.  He was willing to go the extra mile, by not allowing himself to get too comfortable.  Jorge had an incredible, impeccable personal work ethic that defined him as a man. He was always willing to sacrifice comfort to get the job done. Continue reading “5 Lessons Learned from Working with the New York Yankees”

11 Ways to Boost Your Immunity During Winter

New Yorkers share tight small spaces, like subway cars, city buses, yoga classes, and office space.  When winter arrives, germs spread quickly across the city.  I’ve grown to love living in an area with such a sharp change of seasons, where I can appreciate different types of atmosphere. Of the four seasons, winter is most challenging for my equatorial genes, so I always mount a game plan.  A few lifestyle choices and dietary adaptations go a long way. Here are some things to consider when you’re staring down cold and flu season.
Continue reading “11 Ways to Boost Your Immunity During Winter”

Sharing the Love on Valentine’s Day

Like the “runner’s high” yoga practice can connect us to “the bliss of the self.” It doesn’t happen every day, but when our concentration is good, and even breathing converges with conscious alignment, the inner body locks, and focused gazing, our senses stop pouring to the outer world. We invert the energy of our senses towards the vastness of inner space. Here we can experience a sense of wholeness, the feeling that we are complete as we are, and that there is nothing to add that will make us more perfect. Continue reading “Sharing the Love on Valentine’s Day”

Mindful Manhood: 5 Status Symbols Every Man Should Possess

            The world has shifted a great deal in a very short time. And our current politics continue to create challenges in the harmony between femininity and masculinity.  We are still stuck with the S.O.B- same old brain. Yes, the same old brain from 300 years ago at the pre-industrial revolution era,  and I would argue, the sob from as far back as 10,000 years ago.  It’s the same brain that sizes up others in relation to oneself, it’s the same ol’ brain that influences our mating behavior, and virtually every single choice we make, from what to eat to where we live. Men are in a peculiar time in history where a grounded understanding of self can be of great service globally.  Continue reading “Mindful Manhood: 5 Status Symbols Every Man Should Possess”