Meditation: 5 Simple Things I Do for A Focused Mind & Better Sleep

“So…do I just close my eyes and think of nothing during meditation?”

That was exactly what I thought when I first started to learn meditation 3 years ago. I was looking for a way to overcome stress and being less reactive (impulsively) towards the things and incidents around myself.

As a start, I’ve tried many ‘conventional methods’ as marketed by media (eg. Listening to voice-guided meditation apps, using Delta soundwaves to help in concentrating). However, the outcome was on and off until I attended a 10-days meditation retreat organized by Vipassana Meditation. It is where I dedicated my time to learn and practice the simple and practical ways to meditate.

Fortunately, it works. The more I practice (even if it's just for 10 minutes daily), the more mindful and focused my mind becomes. Even better, I started to experience better quality of sleep. In short, meditation transformed my life for the better.

No need for voice-guided apps. No need for Delta soundwaves. If there is any takeaway that I’ve gotten from the retreat, it is the fact that meditation is as simple as it is!

Here are 5 simple steps to kickstart your meditation practice, even with just 5 minutes daily:

(1) Sit Comfortably and Close Your Eyes

It is important to be seated in a position where you are comfortable before you meditate. That said, refrain from lying against something (eg. wall, pillow) to prevent you from dozing off.

Hence, maintain an upright sitting posture. It is totally fine to cross your legs against each other normally, instead of having one leg above another in the movies. Relax your shoulders and arms, and rest your hands on your thighs.

Then, close your eyes.

(2) Start With a Few Deep Breathes

Notice how the air flow in the area between your nostrils and upper lips. Doing so, it will help you to enter a mindful state faster and more effectively. This is especially useful for beginners and those who just have 5 minutes to meditate.

Moving on, continue with smaller breathes until you are breathing normally.

(3) Focus on Your Breathing

Focus your attention as you breathe in and out of your nostrils.

As you enter the meditative state of mind, you might start to feel the air that you inhale into your nostrils is cooler in relative to the air that you exhale.

(4) Let Your Thoughts Pass By

While meditating, it is extremely common to have thoughts lingering around your mind.

It's fine, but learn not to attach to these thoughts. Instead, treat them like a passerby - let them come and go. Embrace all the emotions (happiness, excitement, anger, frustration), yet train yourself to let go of these thoughts.

At the same time, be mindful of your sitting posture as you might start to find yourself out of your upright posture.

(5) End with the Practice of Gratitude

Before this, how do you know if it is the time to end the meditation session?

Some would set an alarm for the duration of practice, but personally, whenever I started to feel impatience during a meditation session, I will hang on for a little more for the sense of impatience to pass-by before I proceed for Step 5 (a way for me to be mindful and be less reactive towards my emotions).

Finally, I would end my meditation session with a gratitude practice. This is where I would visualize the people around me to be healthy and happy, while internalizing that moment of gratitude.

And that’s it!

Meditation is really that simple, as it is a breathing exercise at its simplest form. Its simplicity is what makes it the simplest form of mindfulness practice that you can apply anytime during the day, regardless if you have just 5-minutes to spare during lunchtime or 30-minutes in the morning.

I’ve seen how meditation contributed to the recovery of cancer patients, and I’ve witnessed how this habit has made a lady at her 50s look just like in her early 40s.

For myself, this habit has transformed my life. Not only that it has helped me sleep better, it has also enabled me to be more mindful of my own emotions in times of stress and anxiety.

Hence, I strongly recommend you to at least commit to try meditation daily for at least a month, preferably in the morning and before you sleep. Trust me, you will notice the difference!

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About Vipassana Meditation:

I've been a meditation practitioner for 3 years, and this habit has transformed my life significantly better in many ways. All of these would have not been possible without the amazing 10-days meditation course organized by Vipassana Meditation, one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation (and simplest to learn, in my opinion).

Vipassana Meditation has a history of more than 2500 years, and have been taught to people of all ages, races and religions in the world. The best thing? This 10-days course is totally free of charge! My experience with their 10-days course in Kuantan (they have centers at Kulim and Johor as well) was amazing, with students having a personal accommodation with washroom and decent vegetarian meals daily.

For those who are really keen to learn and experience meditation, I highly recommend Vipassana Meditation to you. Check out their course schedule here.

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Do you have any questions or personal experience on meditation or other mindfulness practices? Do share with me at the contact box below or leave a comment at the very end of this article! I cannot wait to hear from you!

p.s. Aside from meditation, check out how you can transform your last few months of 2018 here!

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5 Simple Social & Networking Hacks for Introverts

"Gosh. I wish I never step out from home just now."

I was at a networking dinner a few years ago and I felt extremely awkward. As a born introvert, I often felt uneased in a big crowd. To make thing worse as an introvert, all the socializing and conversations got me super drained up by the end of the day.

"I must really suck in this socializing thingy." I sighed.

Or do I?

As time goes by, with more socializing events that I have to attend (willingly or unwillingly), I've discovered a set of social and networking hacks that any introverts can pick-up immediately.

As such, here are 5 simple social & networking hacks that I've been using over the years that have helped me established relationships and overcome my awkwardness with people:

(1) Before any social/networking event - Do a mental warm-up.

Introverts (myself included) have the tendency to be uncomfortable and awkward with crowd and people. Hence, it is important to be mentally prepared before we head out to socialize.

Of all, one mental warm-up that I would practice before any networking event/gathering is to visualize myself being confident when walking into any of these events.

Next, I will make a self-commitment to connect and establish X number of new relationships in the event. Setting this self-commitment will provide me the momentum needed to kickstart any conversation.

With time (and practice), you will find it easier and less intimidating to build new relationships with prior mental warm-up.

Remember, every successful relationship building starts before the networking event itself. It is all about preparation, preparation and preparation.

(2) Meeting new people - Never ever forget that firm handshake!

The firm handshake.

Such important detail in any relationship building, yet often taken lightly by people. If there is one thing that 2 strangers do before any spoken words, it is the handshake between them.

A firm handshake shares a lot about one's level of confidence and trustworthiness - all before any exchange of spoken words!

No matter how uncomfortable or nervous you are, you can always fake a firm handshake. As an introvert, I often find it easier to fake my confidence with a firm handshake before any conversation with a stranger.

Not too light. Not too hard. Just a firm handshake to start an amazing conversation with any stranger.

(3) Starting a conversation - THE question that leads to limitless possibilities!

How are you?

"I'm fine, thank you. How are you doing?" I replied as I just got to meet this man called Jason in a networking event.

"Likewise." Jason replied, and we got into an awkward situation instantly as no one knew how to continue the conversation.

The thing is, asking the right question at the start of any conversation will heavily influence the outcome of the conversation. Learning to ask specific questions over open-ended questions (eg. How are you doing?) and meaningless questions (eg. How's the weather/traffic today?) will almost definitely prevent any awkwardness and conversation stutter.

Instead, try asking this next time at the start of any conversation:

"Anything interesting that you are working on right now?"

By asking this question, you trigger one's mind to look specifically for interesting projects/initiatives that they are working on, and share it with you (Instant conversation starter!).

We never know, the opportunity that you've been looking for all these while might be discovered just by asking this question.

(4) During a conversation - Listen attentively to the person you are talking to.

People love to share their personal stories. In other words, humans love to talk about themselves.

And people love it even more when there is someone that is willing to listen to them.

As an introvert, the skill of listening will prove extremely useful when it comes to socializing and networking. In fact, knowing how to listen is THE key to get what you want from any person you meet, not talking.

By listening attentively when a person shares their interesting work/projects with us, we effectively build trust with the person we are talking to. Little details while listening such as constant eye contact, reaffirming a statement to simple action like nodding your head while you are listening will make people feel comfortable talking to you.

Hence, never underestimate the power of listening!

(5) Ending a conversation - Always make it a habit to leave an impression.

By leaving an impression, what I am trying to say is to make people remember you after the conversation.

After listening to the interesting things that one does, always remember to share the one thing that you would like the person to remember you for. As an example, if I know Jason could use some information in investing, I would share about my investment articles on No Money Lah.

In addition, make it an effort to offer help such as "Let me know if you need any help in your projects". While people might not need your favor right away, but they will appreciate your offer and remember you for this. Just make sure that you are truly genuine to help when you ask the question.

By the end of any conversation, be sure to stay in touch with the person by either exchanging name-cards or get connected in social media.

Dear introverts...

In life, as much as we feel uncomfortable and uneasy with big crowds and people, it is without a doubt that we will come across a time where we will need to be out there building relationships.

Hence, instead of avoiding them, my experience has taught me to embrace every social and networking opportunities that I would attend.

Again, the key to a fruitful conversation with people in any social events is to prepare, prepare and prepare! Even now, I still follow the 5 hacks above whenever I am attending any kind of social and networking events.

If this 5 social hacks could help introvert like myself to overcome my uneasiness with big crowds and people, I am confident that it will help you as well!

With this, I wish you a fruitful experience in all your future social and networking events!

Stay awesome!

Yi Xuan.

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Leave a comment at the bottom of this post or write to me via the contact box below if you have any thoughts and feedback on this topic! I cannot wait to hear from you.

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How Can You Make The Best Out of The Last 90 Days of 2018?

"Great, the last 3 months of 2018 and I have barely achieved much."

I was a little frustrated looking at the calendar knowing that September 2018 is coming to an end. Early this year, I had so many plans.

According to plan, I was supposed to finish the design and launch No Money Lah back in March/April 2018. Yet, I only managed to launch and get everything done by late September.

According to plan, I was supposed to achieve a certain return for my trades by August/September 2018. Yet, I am still far away from my target by September.

According to plan, I was supposed to speak fluently in my Toastmasters speeches by now. Yet, I still trembled and went blank when I was out on the stage last week.

According to plan...kononnya.

The thing is, it is not just me that feels the same way

In fact, many lost their direction towards the end of the year. Typically, the only thing that many would be looking forward instead is their long vacation when they clear their annual leaves.

I refuse to submit.

For those who have yet to give in and refuse to settle for 2018, this one is for you

And you know what? It is totally fine if you messed up the past 9 months of 2018 - as long as you are keen to do something from now on. There is still time to make 2018 your best year ever.

If you feel that you can achieve and do so much more for the remaining 90 days, keep reading. This is my game plan for the next 90 days and here are what I am going to do:

(1) Focus on specific goals. Be concise.

For the remaining 90 days of 2018, set a specific goal for important parts of your life - career/studies, health, relationship, and finance. Write down your 90-Day Goals, and scope it down to Monthly Goals and a Weekly Action Plan.

The key here is to be extremely specific with the goals. Start small and move on from there. If your plan is to get more rest by sleeping before 12:00 am everyday, and you've been sleeping at 2:00 am all these while, it is only rational to have a marginal progress instead of a sudden change of your sleeping routine so your body can adapt better.

As such, here is how one of my 90-Day Goal (Habit & Health) looks like:

  • 90-Day Goal - Sleep by 12:30 am everyday. (I've been sleeping around 1:30 am for quite some time)
  • Monthly Goal (October) - Sleep by 1:00 am for the month of October. (Marginal progress: 30 minutes earlier from the initial 1:30 am)
  • Weekly Action Plan (1/10/2018 - 7/10/2018) - No more social media by 12:30 am to ensure better sleep quality.

Be concise with when and what you are going to do. If you are to sleep by 12:30 am, then be sure that you are already at bed by the time specified.

(2) Start journaling. Plan ahead and end your day with gratitude.

Ever had a long day filled with unproductive work, meetings, and meaningless networking, only to feel overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day?

Start the habit of journaling. Wake up 10 minutes earlier everyday (yes, even weekends!) and plan your day ahead. In fact, there're only 90 days left in 2018 and we do not want to waste any moment on unfulfilling and unproductive tasks that do not contribute to our goals.

Again, be specific. Write down what you are doing to do for the day at each session (morning, afternoon, evening) and tackle the hardest task in the morning. With that, you will feel more productive and efficient, and the day would be less daunting and overwhelming.

At the end of the day, before you sleep, take some personal moment to reflect on the day and write down things around you that you are grateful for. With time, the practice of gratitude will boost your happiness without you realizing as you will start to see things with gratitude and appreciation.

The best thing about journaling? It is a super effective way to boost the day and the habit only takes up 15 minutes of your day (10 mins in the morning, 5 mins at night)!

(3) Weekly & Monthly Goals Review is a must.

The reason why people tend to divert away from their goals is the fact that many do not look back and review on their progress once the goals are set. Hence, many lost their way while pursuing the goals.

It is super important to keep track of our progress as we pursue our goals. Keeping track of our progress on a weekly and monthly basis keep ourselves in check and make sure that we have a clear macro view on this 90-Day journey.

Every end of the week and month, take note of what has been done and not done. What could be done better? Celebrate progress, even the little ones. Embrace mistakes and failures along the way. Own your mistakes and set an action plan to do better next week/month!

(4) Commitment & Consistency are the (open) secrets.

Ultimately, plans and goals will always remain on paper unless we are committed in executing them.

In this last 90 days of 2018, strive to commit to the cause that you've planned to pursue and let nothing diverts your precious attention. Be committed to strike consistency in what you are doing. One of my 90-Day Goal is to not use social media for entertainment before 12:00 pm on weekdays. Wouldn't it be meaningless if I do it only when I feel like doing so?

The 90-Day Game Plan starts today!

The best time to invest was 30 years ago. The second best moment is now! I believe the similar message applies to not just money, but ourselves as well.

Look, we might have made mistakes in the early part of 2018. We might have procrastinated for the past few months. But let's not have our past judge and decide our moves for the remaining 90 days of 2018.

Start with the believe and desire that you will make the last 90 days of the year the best days ever, and kickstart your 90-Day Game Plan now! Be patient, stay committed, strive for consistency.

Potentially, this might be our turning point for an amazing year ahead, and I cannot wait to see the best from us all!

Stay awesome!

Yi Xuan.

 


Why is it So Important to Talk About Adulthood Issues? (and Why So Few Talk About Them)

It's funny how I am graduating from university in a month time, yet I am of mixed feelings about graduating.

Seriously, what did we learn in school?

We spent near to 20 years in schools, yet these education institutions have failed to educate us how to manage adulthood issues - How do I manage stress (properly)? How do I manage my monthly income? How can I structure my spending and investments to manage my student loans and afford a house by my 30s?

Keep diving into this and we will come to realize that we have learned close to minimal life skills in the lecture hall. Due to the lack of formal discussion on adulthood challenges, we tend to dismiss (proper) conversations about them in our life.

As an example, it is so hard for people to acknowledge that they are having issues (stress/depression, money, relationship etc), and it is even harder for them to seek help and guidance - because the society, in general, does not embrace these conversations openly.

The purpose of No Money Lah

That's why it is so important to write and talk openly about adulthood issues, or rather the journey of having these challenges and facing them one at a time.

No Money Lah is about my journey in this new chapter of life - but it is more than that.

No Money Lah is where I share my new findings in life. No Money Lah is where I share my greatest life challenges. No Money Lah is where I share my deepest failures.

The most important of all, No Money Lah is where you know you are not alone in this adulthood journey.

I am graduating in a month time. I am fearful of the uncertainties, yet I am excited for what's to come.

Till the next article!