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Why I quit my job and went to a meditation retreat (but you don’t have to)

If you’ve been a Hack Spirit reader for a while, you probably know my story.

If you’re new to my site, here it is.

6 years ago, I was a ridiculously average guy lifting boxes at a warehouse for a living.

Now don’t get me wrong:

There’s nothing shameful about working at a warehouse. The job was fine, but I wasn’t. Nowhere near in fact.

My anxiety was out-of-control and I barely slept 3 hours a night. I’d experienced all of this for most of my life, but never to this degree.

I was constantly fighting against it, which only made it worse.

And no matter what I tried, nothing worked.

The simple truth was I was a guy in my mid-20s who was deeply unhappy. I had few satisfying relationships – with friends or women – and a monkey mind that just wouldn’t shut itself off. 

My life seemed to be going nowhere.

But then I started reading all I could about eastern philosophy and something twigged.

How I learned to incorporate mindfulness into my life

I realized I needed to work with my anxiety rather than against it. I needed to accept it, rather than fight it.

Basically I needed to live a more mindful life. 

An important insight, but I also needed techniques to practice it properly.

So on a whim, I quit my job and went to Thailand on a meditation retreat.

It was a risky decision, but I can quite honestly say that the techniques I learned on this retreat changed my life.

I learned how to accept my emotions and improve my focus.

I learned to sync my attention, so that my mind and body were in the same place at the same time.

A retreat such as this is something I wish everyone could do, but the sad reality is that most people just don’t have the time.

And most people can’t just quit your job on a whim like I did.

But this is what you need to know:

While meditation retreats are wonderful, they are not the only way to bring mindfulness into your life.

Over the last 6 years, I’ve learned a hell of a lot about mindfulness and eastern philosophy. And I can tell you with absolute certainty that you don’t have to travel to the most remote cave or mountain or desert to find a sense of calm, acceptance, and peace.

All of these things are already in your mind. It is called mindfulness, after all.

You can learn how to meditate, foster healthier relationships, heal from pain and trauma, and unburden yourself from intrusive negative thoughts right here, right now, where you already are.

Mindfulness has the power to transform your life, just like it did mine.

My website, Hack Spirit, is now one of the largest media sites on mindfulness and practical psychology for everyday living with over two million monthly readers.

I truly believe that the mindfulness techniques I learned 6 years ago, and have been blogging about ever since, can be incredibly valuable for anyone.

Why you should live a mindful life—starting today

Ever feel like your days are way more difficult than they should be?

When we mentally self-sabotage ourselves, every molehill becomes a mountain and everything from our work, to relationships, to exercising, to just trying to relax and enjoy a quiet moment, becomes a struggle.

Now, what exactly do I mean by ‘mental self-sabotage’? Well, if you’re experiencing…

  • Fear, stress, and anxiety as part of your everyday life
  • An overactive mind that just won’t quiet down
  • You’re constantly multitasking (a surefire way to exhaust yourself and feel unfulfilled at the end of the day)
  • You feel like life is a non-stop grind where you’re often worn down and unhappy.

… then you’re trapped in the cycle of mental self-sabotage.

This was me exactly 6 years ago. I lived with anxiety, insomnia and way too much useless thinking going on in my head

But no matter how overwhelmed you may currently be feeling, there is one crucial thing to understand. 

Something which Buddhists and Hindus have known for centuries.

The relaxed, quiet confidence you so badly desire is ALREADY INSIDE YOU.  All you have to do is learn how to tap into it—and the most effective way to do this is through the daily application of mindfulness.

A simple technique that promotes mindfulness

I want to share with you a simple technique to achieve a state of mindfulness.

The truth is you don’t need to meditate for 30+ minutes every day to live a mindful life.

In fact, you don’t need to meditate at all.

Sure, meditation is a great method to bring your body, mind, and spirit into alignment in the present.

This promotes mindfulness (which is our ultimate goal)

However, there are many different ways to go about achieving mindfulness – either in conjunction with meditation, or as standalone exercises you can do during a busy day.

Don’t believe me? Check out this practical exercise that I talk about in my book The Art of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Living in The Moment.

This exercise is what I like to call the “body scan”.

Scanning your body is an excellent way to check in and really pay attention to how your body feels in the present moment.

You can perform this exercise during your regular meditation practice, or even when you have a spare five minutes at home.

To be honest, you can even use this for 15 seconds during the day.

It gives you the opportunity to identify any points of tension or soreness without judgement. There’s no need to “fix” anything.

Instead, the goal is to focus on how different parts of your body feel in the moment.

You can even do the body scan while lying on your back.

So, how do you go about it?

Start by centering yourself on your breath, noticing your inhales and exhales without trying to change the natural rhythm of your breathing. Next, turn your focus to your body, beginning either from the top or the bottom.

If you begin with your head: How is it feeling today? How are your neck and shoulders? Continue moving down, lingering for several moments on each part of your body and noticing any stiffness, tension, soreness, or any other sensations.

Now is not the time to try to fix those feelings. Simply notice them and move on.

Or conversely, you might be pleasantly surprised at how loose, supple, and relaxed your body feels. Take the time to savor this observation, then continue scanning.

Notice how your clothes feel against your skin, how your body feels against the chair or floor, and how warm or cool your body feels.

Are you itchy anywhere? If you begin with your feet: How are they feeling today? Are they sore? Tingly?

Linger on them for a few moments, then begin scanning higher, up to your ankles, your calves, and so on, until you reach your head.

Once you have scanned your entire body, you can return once again to your breath, then slowly come out of your meditation.

This is one of my favorite mindfulness techniques.

Why?

Because when you intentionally focus your attention on incoming sensory data, such as the feeling of the water on your hands while you wash, it reduces activation of the narrative circuitry in your brain.

When you focus on your senses, you activate the “direct experience network”.

You’re not thinking about the past, future or even yourself.

Rather you’re focused on information coming into your senses. According to neuroscience, the great thing is that both of these networks in the brain are inversely correlated.

The more you focus on your senses, the more you’ll activate the direct experience network and the less you’ll be lost in useless worries.

That’s exactly my experience.

It’s just a matter of getting in the routine of doing it constantly.

The brilliant thing is that you can use a “body scan” throughout the day. It’s just a matter of taking the time to focus on what your senses are experiencing.

If mindfulness is so great, why doesn’t everyone practice it?

The benefits of mindfulness are no secret.

Many celebrities, athletes and CEOs credit a daily habit of mindfulness as crucial for their success.

Scientists have discovered that regular meditation can enhance your concentration, lower your stress levels, and improve the quality of your sleep.

Psychologists have even started using meditation to treat depression, chronic pain and PTSD.

With the daily application of mindfulness you can wake up in the morning with a clear mind, full of energy and motivation to achieve your goals.

If mindfulness has so many obvious benefits, why doesn’t everyone do it?

Here’s what I think.

A lot of information about mindfulness is esoteric and difficult to understand.

For instance, advice about showing gratitude to the universe or experiencing joy simply isn’t applicable to most people’s lives.

And I believe mindfulness – a practical, down-to-earth technique that everyone can practice – has been unfairly lumped with new-age nonsense like “the law of attraction”, “energy” and  “vibrations”.

These phrases may sound nice but they don’t work in reality. 

That’s why I decided to write a book about mindfulness that distills this valuable strategy in a clear, easy-to-follow way, with practical techniques and tips.

Introducing my new book

Here’s my book: The Art of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Living in the Moment.

In this eBook, you’ll get simple, actionable tips that you can put into practice straight away.

I’ll walk you through your first meditation, and give you some straightforward but powerful exercises to help you be more mindful every day.

Other mindfulness guides on the market can confuse you with frustrating esoteric and technical descriptions and language.

My book, however, is specifically designed to make the core tenants and application of mindfulness as easy-to-absorb as possible.

Through plain everyday language, and powerful exercises (that you’ll benefit from in mere minutes), I’ll show you exactly what you need to know to bring mindfulness into your life and break the cycle of anxiety and stress for good.

We leave abstract and theoretical concerns behind. Instead, the book is about you: a happier, calmer, wiser you.

Click here to check out it out.

Who is my book for?

If you want to live a mindful, peaceful and happier life, then my eBook is definitely for you.

The Art of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Living in The Moment is your doorway to the life-changing benefits of practicing mindfulness.

Let’s face it: mindfulness can be an intimidating topic for the uninitiated.

You might be thinking you need to live like a monk, become a hardcore yogi, or possess some deep spiritual inclinations to practice and benefit from mindfulness.

But with my guide you’ll discover that successfully living a mindful life is actually quite simple—as long as you’re armed with the right knowledge and essential techniques.

And in this eBook, I provide you with that. 

No confusing jargon. No fancy chanting. No strange lifestyle changes.

Just a highly-practical, easy-to-follow guide for improving your health, success, and happiness through mindful living.

Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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