A (mathematical) way to think about Coronavirus: Covid19

There is a lot of chatter going on around coronavirus and its comparison to flu and whether all this panic is justified or moronic!

Well, my goal in this short post is to share a different perspective so we all can have more insights into what it is that we are dealing with and how they should personally approach it.

Let’s say there are two diseases: Disease X and Disease Y

Disease X infects 50 Million people in the world each year (and has been around for over a century)

Disease X kills 300,000 people in the world

0.6% dead (best case scenario)

Disease Y (which is like Disease X) has infected 121,747 people in the world

Disease Y has killed 4389 people

3.6% dead

Covid19 Maths

If Disease Y is not stopped, it has a similar or faster rate of spread compared to Disease X. Disease Y can also become endemic just like Disease X (and therefore returning every year).

The point is NOT “total deaths” BUT “total potential death”, if not stopped. The point is about stopping the spread.

Please wash your hand. Don’t handshake. Avoid unnecessary travel. Work from home, if not 100% well. Practice common sense. Stay safe and let’s keep everyone safe around us. 

If You Live in the US

Disease X infects 10-50 Million people in the US each year (and has been around for over a century)
Disease X kills 56,000 people in the US each year
0.5% dead (best case scenario)

Disease Y (which is like Disease X) has infected 1016 people in the US
Disease Y has killed 31 people
3% dead

Again, the point here is NOT “total deaths” BUT “total potential death” if not stopped. The point is about stopping the spread.

Life After 18 | 51 Hard Truths of Real World

In the ancient times, wars, food, a constant struggle for life used to turn children into adults through a series of life-events (most of which were not always pleasant).

But in our modern world, it’s not exactly clear when one truly enters the adulthood. Is it when we get to legally drive a car or drink alcohol or are no longer our parent’s control? Or, is it when we find a paying job or secure a relationship or have a career or all of the above?

It’s somewhat sad when on the one hand science and society tells you that the human brain doesn’t stop developing until age 25 and at the same time your inner adult doesn’t get to express herself (or himself) until much later when you are beaten down with debts, social obligations, and converted into a social norm following, play by the rules kinda zombie.

Life After 18

Going by the philosophy of this blog, I believe, each soul already possesses what it should do and which paths it needs to follow. Almost everything we face from the time we turn 18 (at the dawn of adulthood), is a series of resistance to thwart us from our path.

As we age and slowly learn more about ourselves, about our own strengths, and about the many lies of society, we begin to take control of our life (if we are lucky). Most humans are not fortunate enough to ever claim their freedom. If you are reading this, chances are, you value your life and you seek freedom above all else.

Below is a short list of truths about life that I have realized over the years. Eventually, each one us learns these on our own. But, the sooner you internalize these truths, the better your life will be.

Hard Truths of Real World

  1. Everything is a choice. A choice is a fork in the moment. Each choice has consequences. Consequences have consequences.
  2. You begin adulthood with nothing figured out. But so does everyone else.
  3. Everything that you’ll do now, you will own it for the rest of your life. Therefore think before you commit to do something or do anything.
  4. The most powerful thing that you’ll ever learn is “compound interest.” Take it seriously. Compounding looks boring at first but then quickly makes things grow exponentially. It’s hard to mentally calculate in exponential terms.
  5. Everything compounds in life. Your health. Your relationships. Your money. Your knowledge and skills.
  6. No one can (or will) make you happy. Making you happy is your job.
  7. Happiness is a state of being. To be happy, be happy. That is all to it.
  8. You would always feel you wish you saved more. So start saving from the day you earn your first penny.
  9. There are two kinds of work you’ll ever do. Work that generates income and work that generates meaning. Your real job, therefore, is to marry the two.
  10. Most managers aren’t leaders or managers, but simply slave drivers with no alignment with the company’s vision or inner desire to truly manage.
  1. Freedom doesn’t begin with making a lot of money but by being self-aware and making yourself grounded in your own truths.
  2. Speaking of which, financial freedom is not “true freedom”. It’s a part of freedom pie (and not the whole pie).
  3. Self-awareness is more important than hard work. The more you know about yourself, the more successful you’ll be.
  4. If you make twice the amount of above poverty line and have a family, get a good life insurance.
  5. Life is fragile, cherish it every moment. People are fragile, be kind to everyone.
  6. Animals are consciously evolved creatures. Be kind to all life forms.
  7. If you need help, be the first person to help yourself.
  8. Health is the first wealth (the key) that allows you to enjoy the rest of your wealth.
  1. Time is the most valuable asset. Your lifetime is finite. No matter how hard and smart you work, you can never gain any more of it then what’s given to you each day.
  2. Become worthy to find a worthy mate or a worthy life-partner or a worthy friend.
  3. Be the person you wish your parents or teachers or coaches were.
  4. Don’t take any advice from someone who is not walking the talk. Money advises from broke. Health advises from overweight. Relationship advises from unhappy singles.
  5. Because someone was divorced three times, doesn’t mean they know the most about human relationships. Too many failed relationships show the person doesn’t really value long-term partnership over personal freedom.
  6. Every successful relationship requires both sacrifice and understanding.
  7. Most people fight over trivial matters. Most fights are fought over trivial matters.
  8. If you truly value someone as your true friend, you’ll always find time to cherish their every life-events opportunities (wedding, baby showers, big birthday milestones, national recognition, big anniversary milestones, funeral, etc.).
  9. Everyone is busy. But, everyone has time for things they think are most important to them.
  10. You never really ever graduate from The University of Hard Knocks. Each time you think you are done learning, you are quickly humbled.
  11. When people ask for advice, what they are really asking for is validation.
  12. Debt is not fun. You must absolutely avoid them. (There is very few exceptions to when debt is okay. In general, debt is never okay.)
  13. Long-term thinking, planning, and execution will always outperform short-term thinking, planning, and execution (in a long-term).
  14. When in doubt, say ‘yes’ to life. Serendipity is real and can have a significant positive impact on your life in most unexpected ways.
  15. The more you understand probability (in a mathematically correct way), the better your decision-making process will become.
  16. Hope is just a measure of anticipation of an expected outcome.
  17. Hope makes the many difficulties of human life endurable.
  18. It’s never too early to learn about game theory and developing good heuristics.
  19. The success in the 21st century is measured by not how hard you work or how smart you are but what leverage you have and how long is your lever.
  20. Looks don’t matter for anything meaningful in life and yet looks will matter for everything superficial and material. So, when dealing with the superficial (which is most of the world and worldly events), pay careful attention to your looks (how you dress, hair, smell & hygiene, posture, handshake, and how you talk).
  21. The first impression now beings before someone meeting you for the first time. Social media and internet have ruined that surprise. It’s neither good nor bad news. Just be aware of this fact.
  22. Whichever job you will end up getting will most likely be done by A.I. during your lifetime.
  23. Don’t plan on settling down with a 9-to-5 job. No job is a secure job anymore. 99.99% of workers are replaceable with other human or machine workers.
  24. If your family is spread out, talk to them on the phone (as frequently as possible). This goes back to the rule of “life is uncertain”.
  25. Talk to your friends. Meet in person. Value them. Invest in your relationships that you deem important and valuable. The alternative is you’ll lose all of your friends without putting the effort from your side.
  26. Most people don’t really change with time. Most just pretend. If you discover a fatal character flaw in someone, keep distance. If someone has betrayed you once, they will certainly betray you again.
  27. Life is too short and the earth is too big to not be picky about who you want to be friends with.
  28. When setting goals, aim for the highest, biggest, most unimaginable outcomes. As the saying goes, if you fail, you’ll likely fail much higher. If you achieve, you’ve likely changed the world.
  29. Study Meta learning (learning how to learn). Meta learning is the most important learning.
  30. No one ever has too many good friends. Cherish each of your friendships.
  31. Read and think deeply about the Butterfly effect (ripple effect). Once you grasp the concept, everything you’ll do from that moment onward will be a little more enlightened. (Again, remember everything has consequences and consequences has consequences).
  32. Your level of mastery on any given subject or work will reveal your true level of passion. Mastery gives birth to passion, but passion not always leads to mastery.
  33. Mastery requires dedication and long hours of deep work. Mastery is about understanding something to its atoms.

When I was writing this piece, I could have gone for a 100 or 200, but then I realized, truths can be shared but they can’t be taught. Each one of us must learn our own truths.

So, with this parting final thought, I would purposefully leave this list incomplete. May your life’s journies bring you many more wisdom.

There Will Be No Privacy In Future By 2050

Privacy is dead. Privacy has already lost the battle. There will be no privacy in the future.

The future of instant media powered by Artificial Intelligence will make it impossible to hide your successes or failures.

What do I mean? In this era of intelligent platforms, which knows a lot about us, any noise you make, will be sent far and wide.

Everyone you have ever known (including people who may have blocked you) will hear the cheering noise of your success. (Or, the pitiful cries of your embarrassing failures.)

This should act as a reminder for all of us to do our best, to be our best, and to aim for the best. Because in the near future, whatever you do, whatever you become, will be most likely known by everyone.

No Privacy In Future

Imagine the world in 2050. This is a world where your actions, your thoughts, your impulses are continuously calculated, analyzed, and studied. And the grand irony of this situation is not that this invasion of personal privacy is through hacking or force but by either ignorance or voluntary action.

Humans by nature seek the path of least resistance. If we have learned anything from our history, it is humans will voluntarily give up their rights and privacy in exchange for having less labor. (For example, letting Facebook maintain your user credentials and passwords than creating a new account with new and secure passwords.)

There will be not much difference between a Robo-Citizen and a Human (or a pet). At first, we won’t notice the difference but slowly, slowly as the grave reality of our predicament will be realized, we will try to fight back for our lost privacy! But alas, it will be too late then.

Corporations will rule most of us and few world-class Artificial Intelligence software will, in turn, run these corporate decisions. At some point, the globalized multi-national corporate world will switch from direct human management to algorithm-driven, data-driven analytics and decision.

Again, even the big and powerful corporations won’t notice this change at first but by the time they will do, they will have no choice but to live and die by these algorithms because not following the command of these AI algorithms will mean getting financially destroyed by your global competitors.

I understand you may think this future prediction is incorrect and unnecessarily dark and negative. But, the sad truth is this “dark and negative future” is already here, just not fully distributed and fully executed.

On the positive side, we all can decide to do something about it. The most important of all, we should not give up our personal privacy in exchange for reducing some manual human work. We should not give up our privacy in the name of latest apps.

Privacy is a human right and like any rights, you have to defend it (or else it will be taken away).

Let me know what your thoughts are on the internet and digital privacy issue? Are you concerned or you don’t care about personal privacy at all? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Everyone Says It Can’t Be Done

How do you know if you will be successful? How can you tell if you will make it to the end of the tunnel? The answer is “you can’t!” The only thing you can do is to keep the faith and keep walking. You can only give your best. You can plan and strategize. You can mitigate risks. But, you can’t guarantee any particular outcome. That’s the fun of life, business or almost anything under the sun.

There will be negative thoughts, doubts, fear, and obstacles on the way and you’ll have to cross them. You will not fear the ghosts if you have already anticipated them and made plans.

I still have to pay $5800 to the bank for my previous business loan (of $20K). There is no business loan for my new venture “The Art of Travel” until I am even. But, I have managed to put together a team. A team of over 10 people if I count myself. When you do not have cash, you are left with “creativity”. There is no other option. It’s “do or die.”

It Can’t Be Done

When David had to fight Goliath, he did not have time to go to the gym or a spartan academy. David did not have the money for buying the best sword in the market. He had no cash. He had no time but the present moment and the challenge at hand.

In life, each one of us are put into David’s situation. Either you plan and wait for the best time or you use your brain and find a way out. You want to look good, get fit, make money, start a church, travel, be financially free — then do it.

Start now, because there is no ideal circumstances, ever. This is planet earth. Welcome to the world of dust. The stars are not part of the earth but they can shine and be part of your eyes if you fix your eyes on them. But first, you must make friends with the dust of the ground.

12 Tips On How To Develop Self Confidence & Self Esteem

This is a common question and a good one. I am assuming the right question is “How do I develop myself in general?” Or, “How do I improve myself to be more successful in all areas of my life.?” Let me offer some perspectives on these questions as I answer them in this blog.

To grow in life, you need these 10 things and everything else will follow.

1. Good Habits: Build good habits. Build as many as you can. Good habits are going to benefit you in every aspect of your life for the rest of your life. You can learn a new skill or add an activity you like to your daily schedule. Habits are powerful and helps eliminate procrastination (which is critical for success in life). What are some good examples:

Making the Bed in Morning: This is small thing yet it creates peace, order and harmony in the otherwise chaotic life.
A Simple To-Do List (No Bigger Than a Postcard): This one simple habit is that one productivity hack that you have been looking for.
(If you are a early riser) Waking up a little early and watching the sunrise, or taking a 10 minute walk in the nature or outside in the fresh air. The morning hour has a powerful affect on the human brain.
A short (5 min) session of meditation and yoga or stretching.
2. Become a Master: Try to figure out what you are interested in and decide to become an expert in that. A world class expert, master of your field. How do you do this?

3. Start Small: Whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish, break it into smaller milestones and goals. If it is a business, break the ultimate goal into sub-goals and milestones such as number of clients, revenue, monthly volume, etc. If it is a degree program, break each semester into interesting milestones such as networking with one Influence in your field per semester, one foreign travel (or road trip) each year, etc.
4. Share Your Vision (But Selectively): A few trusted people in your circle should know about your mission. Once you have told others about your venture or goals, they will you ask you about how is it going? This will become a constant reminder for them and you would be bound to share frequent updates, your challenges and your small victories. Most importantly, you will feel accountable to succeed. This technique also comes in aid should you need external motivation and a little pressure to up your game.
5. Affirmations: Practice affirmation and talk positive to yourself. Do not tolerate negativity and negative people in your life. Share love but remember you do not owe anything to anyone but to yourself and no one owes you anything. Yet, practice compassion, empathy and altruism. Find a problem and make a purposeful intention to solve it.

Examples:

  • This is a new day. I can start a fresh, new journey today.
  • Today could be the last day of this earth. I promise to myself to appreciate everything that happens during the day.

 

6. Travel: When you are traveling, you are learning more than you can ever from a book or a school program. Traveling is the ultimate reading. You learn about adaptation, living in discomfort, empathy, new cultures and how other humans just like you live in a different place and culture. Travel is fun, a lot of fun. Learn a new language and you will enjoy traveling even more.

 

7. Read Great Books: Read a lot of books. Read whatever you can afford and get your hands on. Good or bad, all books are helpful. A good book will feed your soul. A good book will uplift your soul and will inspire you, teach you and tell you how you can become skilled and great yourself.

 

8. Promise Yourself that You’ll be Great: This is the Law of Self-fulfilling prophecy. It is true that what are you think is what you will attract in your life. This is not magic but science. By dwelling on a thought you are constantly focusing on it and searching for it. If it is negative and about despair, your brain will automatically give more importance to matters related to despair and hopelessness. Likewise, if you think of learning and education, your brain will automatically start spending brainpower (energy and focus) on things that you want to learn.

 

9. Look for the Big Picture: Life is short. Before you were born the Universe existed for 13 billion years and after you will be home the Universe will keep on going for equally long time. The fact that we are here for a short period of time makes us think of time in a unique way. Life is short. Try to make the best out of it.

Some practical advice:

There is no gain in fighting and arguing. In any adversity, look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself: will this thing still matter 5 years from now? 20 years from now? If the answer is “No”, don’t stress yourself.
10. Attitude of Gratitude: Whatever you have and whoever you are as a person, father, leader, daughter, employee, anyone who you think you are is the product of countless people and their miniature help and support to you. Sure you have done the hard work and the bulk of it but remember the phone you are using is built by someone in China, designed by Apple in California and uses chips and hardware made in Germany and Japan. We all are living well because hundreds of thousands of people are contributing to each other. There is plenty to be thankful for.

 

11. Uplifting Association: A lot of what we eat, do, watch and talk are highly dependent on who we hang out with. If you are into fitness but five of your closest friends (with whom you spend most of your time) are into pizza and unhealthy lifestyle, there is no way you can be lead a healthy and fit life. What should you do instead?

Associating yourself with positive people, you will pick up their (good) habits and start thinking positive, talking positive and living a more positive life.


12. Practice the Power of Spoken Words: The spoken words have tremendous power. Whatever comes out of your mouth shapes your thinking in a major way. What you speak (in front of others) creates an image of you. And by your image you shall be treated and judged. If you have set up an image of a no-nonsense, cool and happy guy or gal, your peers will start treating you in a cool, fun, positive way. Choose your words carefully. They literally carry the power of life and death.

Read more on some other aspects of self-development in my other blog posts:

When you work from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., how do you grow as a person?

What is the easiest way to live a healthy lifestyle?

How can meta-learning be taught? (Learn how to learn)

 

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Upstart Review: Better Loans & How To Pay Your Debts Faster

I love to study money. I love maths. And, it is no surprise that I love economics. I am a lifelong student of personal and social psychology. Recently, I have been hearing a lot of peer-to-peer lending and how it is better than traditional borrowing from a bank or a credit union. Well, I was curious and I wanted to find out.

How To Pay Debts Faster

Things changed in our country after the 2008 global financial crash. Borrowing became harder and unemployment rate everywhere, in every industry was getting higher and higher. I was no different. I lost my job and was without any stable income from 2008-2009. Almost a year. 

I was living with one of my friends and selling stuff on craigslist and Amazon to pay my minimum credit card balances. Life was hard. 

When in college, some of my Verizon mobile payments were missed and I literally did not have any money to pay to them. I was sent to collection and it really hurt me. That collection record for just $430 cost me thousands of dollars in the higher interest rate for the past 7 years.

I also was late on few of my credit union loans when I was without a job in 2008-2009. Overall, life was hard and it continued to be so because of high-interest credit cards and more interests adding to my already high debts. The only solution is to:

1. Make more money,

2. Save money (spend less than what you earn and buy what you need and not what you want),

3. Refinance your debts (and existing loans) with lower interest. This is what Upstart does for you. Eben if you are 640 or so, you can get a loan for as low as 7.2% (as I did) as long as you have a stable job with a decent salary and a good education.

BTW, if you are currently in a large debt, read my post on “How I eliminated my $50,000 debt” in just 2 years. Not everything will apply to you as every debt situation is different but you can use some of the tricks that I used and my story may inspire you to take actions.

I hope in future more and more peer-to-peer lending startups will change the general Wall St. culture of “suck all the money you can out of students, poor and those who are already in debt.”

This is not an exaggeration or an attack. This is a fact. A fact that people are greedy by nature. Being human means being selfish, and self-serving. Does that mean we are all evil? No. Not at all. Let’s look at this. (And please feel free to recall your own life and memories of your past behaviors and actions. You will see the light and truths for yourself.)

If left to rule of nature and biology, then yes, we humans are just like animals. We prey on those animals who are weaker than us, including other humans. But, human animals have evolved new-cortex, a new area of the brain which gives rise to thinking, cognition and even consciousness. Humans have the full awareness of the “I am”. And this is what makes us empathetic and compassionate and even altruistic.

So, if we feed our soul and mind, with stories and values about kindness, silence, self-reliance, and contentment, then yes, we are the creature made in the image of God. But, if you have no such practice such as meditation, reflection, journaling, volunteering and martial arts, and so on… then yes, you are in danger and you are more likely to act out selfishly.

Money is a powerful thing. Let’s agree on this and get it out of the way. Now, if we all agree that “MONEY IS POWERFUL” then what do we need to do? Well, if you know electricity is powerful and touching a live wire will shock to your core instantly, you become careful around it. You became aware of it. But, interestingly, money is more than electricity. With the money, you get to buy whatever you want. With money, you get to skip the line and pass on others before you. With money, you get a leg up and sometimes an unfair advantage over others. So, yes, that’s why money is not only a powerful force but also very seductive.

Let’s also make it clear and get it out of the way before one of you start bashing around the argument that money is not evil, it is the people who are good or evil. No. I disagree.

Yes, I agree, that money is not evil. It is the love of money that is evil, and this love can germinate in anyone’s heart if left unguarded. So, it is not that people are good or evil. No, no one is born evil or good. In fact, we are all a mixture of some good and some bad. Notice that I did not say good and evil because evil is different. It takes time to transform bad into evil. People have shortcomings, I do. You do. We all do. We are all bad in some ways. But, it takes constant dwelling on the bad to become an evil person.

So, if you give in to money, you will start liking it more and more. More than your health. More than your romance. More than your family, and more than other human beings, nature and life in general. And, this is what happens in a culture which is dominated by Wall St.

All day long you talk about money. You shuffle money. You dream about money. And you think you won’t be susceptible to its seduction? C’mon. And, if the people in power are all under the spell of “make more money”, what are we as citizens going to get?

We get the lesson of work harder, save money, and pay your debts on time. Or, else, we will charge you even higher interest rates because you do not have money. Think about that. What a joke. Honestly, have you ever wondered, why the Supreme Court has never looked into it? Go figure that out!

Upstart Review

Coming back to my experience with Upstart. My thoughts here are not only to demonstrate that companies like Upstart is the dawn of a new era but also that as we move forward in our 21st century, it’s honestly time to revisit how we view our finances, economies, employment, education and more.

The loan application process was simple and efficient. The loan was easy to apply. Upstart is an institution that considered an individual’s potential earning power in the next few years and does not judge one by his current credit score, age, and past.

It is great for people finishing up professional training, recent graduates with a job offer and young adults making a decent salary. If you are older, it is still a better deal than taking a loan from a bank or credit union.

My Morning Ritual For Success & Super Human Productivity

We all want to be successful, live a good life, travel and experience this world our way. But, only a small percentage of people are able to achieve a level of success that truly matches our expectation and dreams. Why?

The answer lies not in work ethic or luck, education, internet access or hard work. Surprisingly, the answer lies in we do not know how to focus our energy. We do not know what we truly want from life and how to get it.

Morning Ritual For Success

Today, I am going to share my super-human productivity secrets with you all which has made me achieve both financial and platform and brand building success.

Do you believe that you can make it to the other end? You must, because, you can.

The first thing I recommend to everyone (and to all my students) is to write down what is their vision of their ideal self. What characters do they want to portray to the world?

This is the first step and is critical. You want to create a personality which is coherent.

For me, these are the 11 characters I strive to achieve in my ideal self. And these are the same character traits that I also want to project to the world. Therefore, I always seek to improve myself or check myself against these ideals.

Compassionate

Romantic

Fair

Honest

Accountable

Responsible

Highly energetic

Creative

Charismatic

Fearless

Fighter/Hustler

Next, the second thing to do is to create a morning ritual. The purpose of the morning ritual is two-fold. First, to prime and set yourself for success in the morning so that you can win the day easily. And, second, to allocate time for the most important task of the day.

Usually the most important task is the one that gets pushed to the next day and then to the next day. We procrastinate most when it comes to anything which is slightly uncomfortable and important. Sounds, counter intuitive, it is. Well, this is human nature. We always seek the easiest route to anything. My Morning Ritual

6 AM

1. Get fresh (5 min)

– wash face

– brush teeth

– drink water

 

6:05 AM

2. Daily growth (60 min)

– Meditation (12 min)

– Affirmation (8 min)

– Visualization (10 min)

– Writing (30 min)

 

7:05 AM

3. Eat breakfast (15 min)

– Drink protein shake

 

7:20 AM

4. The most important task (20 min)

 

7:40 AM

5. Get ready for work (20 min)

 

8 AM

6. Commute (+listen to audio books or a podcast) (60 min)

 

9 AM

7. Office (9-5)

You can create your own version. Again, as you can see above, the goal is to do what makes you most positive and energetic. And set some time aside for that one important task that is most critical and also slightly difficult. With all the fresh energy and focus that you have in the morning, it is easier to tackle a difficult task in the morning than at any other time during the day or evening.

Goal vs. tasks. Set the correct goals so that you can create and execute the right tasks.

How do I wake up early with excitement for the new day?

Great question. Here is a little known secret. Follow these 7 steps (these are time tested and it works for me and most people who try them.)

  1. I sleep with purpose and affirming for good dreams and sound sleep.
  2. I read my affirmations and definite purpose before sleeping (this can be done quiet, with eyes closed).
  3. I wake up and immediately turn on the lights.
  4. I think and capture the excitement from the previous night.
  5. I brush my teeth.
  6. I drink 1 glass of water.
  7. I partake in my morning ritual (as shown above).

Now comes the beast. How do I get done so much every single day. I manage various social platforms, I write, I run my business, work as a consultant full-time and exercise daily to stay fit and ripped. How?

The secret: daily checklists. (And, today, I am sharing those with you.)

I do my morning ritual and then go about my day (according to the needs of each day and make sure I am working on my checklist and checking each item off before 9 PM).

The Checklist for Success and Super-Productivity

Monday

1. Morning ritual

2. Make a new blog post

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Call/email a friend

5. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

6. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

7. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

8. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

9. Exercise/Run (30 min minimum)

10. Dishwasher run

 

Tuesday

1. Morning ritual

2. Record a podcast (over Skype using Call recorder)

3. Manage Twitter (using Unfollowers)

4. Write a Quora answer or Quora blog

5. Call/email a friend

6. Post on NS Instagram

7. Post on FF Instagram

8. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

9. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

10. Exercise/Run (30 min minimum)

11. Dishwasher run

 

Wednesday

1. Morning ritual

2. Make a new blog post

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Call/email a friend

5. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

6. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

7. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

8. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

9. Exercise/Run (30 min minimum)

10. Dishwasher run

 

Thursday

1. Morning ritual

2. Manage Twitter (using Unfollowers)

3. Write a Quora answer or Quora blog

4. Call/email a friend

5. Post on NS Instagram

6. Post on FF Instagram

7. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

8. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

9. Exercise/Run (30 min minimum)

10. Dishwasher run

 

Friday

1. Morning ritual

2. Edit and post a video on YouTube and Facebook

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Manage Tailwind (for Pinterest)

5. Call/email a friend

6. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

7. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

8. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

9. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

10. Charge all cameras/batteries (for the weekend) and pack the backpack

11. Dishwasher run

 

Saturday

1. Morning ritual

2. Edit and post a video on YouTube and Facebook

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Manage AgoraPulse (for Facebook)

5. Call/email a friend

6. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

7. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

8. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

9. Dishwasher run

10. Check all bank accounts

 

Sunday

1. Morning ritual

2. Manage Buffer for all social Platforms

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Record a podcast (over Skype using Call recorder)

5. Call home

6. Call/email a friend

7. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

8. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

9. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

10. Meal planning

11. Backup your blog

12. Check analytics and health for:

– Goodreads (tracking social activity)

– CreateSpace (tracking book sales numbers)

– KDP (Kindle digital)

– eLance/UpWork/Freelancers (managing contractors) 

– SiteGround (my WordPress hosting admin panel)

– Google AdSense

– Google AdWords

– Google Analytics

 

True hustle is when you are constantly striving to become great. Greater than who you were yesterday. A hustle to become more, better, complete, and whole. Are you hustling?

Hustle is life. You are breathing air into your lungs and your heart is pumping blood without any rest, ever. Take a moment, pause, think about it. Your body is literally hustling to just keep you alive. Hustling is not just about making money to meet your ends.

I keep all my checklists in my phone and as well as printed over my desk. To be completely honest, I do not hit 100% check mark on all days but I aim to cross each item on my checklist every day. However, if I have covered 80% or greater for a given day, I count it as a success.

Give it try and test it for yourself. Write to me about what works for you and what doesn’t. If you have questions or if your situation is different which doesn’t allow you enough free time, please feel free to leave a comment below. You may need to leave some of the less important items and focus on high output, higher priority tasks.

 

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If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I would love to read it. If you already have a morning or evening ritual, tell us more about your practice. I am always on the lookout for awesome life-and-productivity hacks.

What is the Easiest Way to Live a Very Healthy Lifestyle? Lifehacks & Pro-tips

A lot of you have been asking this question lately. What is the easiest way to live a healthy lifestyle? Physically, mentally, and emotionally. By easiest way, I mean with the least amount of effort and avoiding controversial methods, latest fads and diets.

Easiest Way to Live a Very Healthy Lifestyle

Let’s apply the 80/20 rule to the healthy lifestyle design.

What 20% of effort will bring the maximum, i.e 80% or more beneficial results to my overall well being?

A healthy lifestyle is one where there is a balance of challenges that pushes us to grow, relaxation and leisure.

Therefore, to achieve the optimal well being, we need to work on both our mental and physical fitness.

A. Mental Health (the 20%)
Generally speaking, mental health can be divided into three sub-categories:

  1. Emotional Health
  2. Intellectual Health
  3. Spiritual Health

1. Emotional Health


a. Start meditating
Be it 5 minutes or 15 minutes or 1 hour long, twice daily — it doesn’t matter. Start meditating so that it becomes part of your daily ritual.

The type of meditation also doesn’t matter as long as you are quieting your mind and inner chatter.

b. Exercise your idea muscles
Think what can you do for your career. What kind of businesses you can build. What kind of problems you can solve. Think and write down ideas that come to your mind.

Do not filter good ideas from bad ideas. Just focus on coming up with ideas.

 

2. Intellectual Health (Intelligence)
a. Play mental improvement games
Sudoku. Play chess. Solve puzzles.

b. Practice speed reading
Read a lot of books. When driving, listen to Audiobooks or Podcasts.

3. Spiritual Health
a. The Attitude Of Gratitude
Keep an optimistic perspective on life. Think of all the good things that are happening to you. Find a way to known how blessed you are.

b. Positivity
Keep a positive attitude. Think positive, talk positive and surround yourself with only positive friends.

B. Physical Health (the 20%)
1. Exercise
Workout. 30 minutes each day is the minimum. Ideally, you should do both the weights and cardio exercises.

Exercise helps the blood flow and regulation in the body. This means, exercising is also good for your brain.

2. Sleep
Sleep 8 hours. If you can manage 9 hours, get 9 hours. Sleep is directly related to your ability to come up with new creative ideas.

3. Food as Medicine

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” said Hippocrates. Eat well, eat healthy, fresh, local and organic if possible. Eat small portions and several times throughout your day. Once a month, take a full day complete fast except for water. 

Juice your vegetables and ingest your fruits as smoothies. If you eat well and take care in this important area of your life, you will reap hundred fold results in productivity, energy and vitality.

 

This is the 20% that I personally follow to stay in the zone and achieve peak performance and super-productivity.

Hope these tips help you as well.

 

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What do you say? Tell me what YOU are doing to live a healthy lifestyle? The first 10 commenters are always my favorite.

Productivity 101 Explained | 80% Result with 20% Work (Pareto’s Law)

Productivity 101 (80% result with 20% work)

You do not have to do all 10 of them. Even if you implement just one tip, it will greatly enhance your personal productivity. And, if you are able to implement all 10 of these in your life, you’ll become a Super-Human MACHINE! 

Are YOU ready? Let’s begin. 

  1. Create a morning ritual (the first 90 minutes of your day).
  2. Establish a daily routine (daily structure).
  3. Establish a weekly routine (weekly short term objective).
  4. One postcard size to-do list (to be disposed at the end of day).
  5. Keep a pen, dairy and a voice recorder always handy.
  6. Do your most important task during your most productive hours (in terms of mental energy and freshness). Do your least important or auto-pilot work during your weakest hours (again speaking in regards to mental energy).
  7. Practice Lucid dreaming and practice conscious dreaming to strengthen your visualization skills.
  8. Sleep 8-9 hours. This sounds paradoxical but it’s true that sleeping 33% of your time keeps you super productive for the rest 66% of your waking hours.
  9. Seek creative solutions to your complex problem in your dreams. Harness the power of your unconscious brain.
  10. Master a ritual or routine that helps you to get into the “Flow state” faster. Get into the flow state as often as possible, and aim to stay there for as long as possible.

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What do you think? Tell me and share with us your top productivity secrets? If you have questions, please comment and I’ll try to answer. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts.

What is Meta Learning? Strategies for Teaching Meta Learning or Learning It

Our brain, perception, and learning

For those who might not know the meaning of meta-learning, it simply means, “learning about the learning.”

Meta is a root word that comes from the Greek, which generally means beyond. (An example would be, metaphysics). Meta also means something that is “self-referencing”. (An example would be ‘meta-learning’.) It is almost symbolic as in where a Zen haiku says “the ocean is in the drop of water and the drop of water is in the ocean”.

The word “meta”, when used with a noun, takes the meaning of a simple object or process to a whole new level. For example, consider these two words: Meta-Data (data about the data) and Meta-learning (learning about the learning). Or, consider this: Meta-physics (beyond physics).

4HC Method

Tim Ferriss in his book The 4-Hour Chef (4HC) talks about DiSSS and CaFE. This is his prescribed formula and it is quite good. I have tried it myself and it works well for any skills (be it computer programming or martial arts).

DiSSS stands for Deconstruction, Selection, Sequence, and Stake.

CaFE stands for Compression, Frequency, and Encoding.

 

You can read about it more on a long-form blog post that I wrote a few weeks ago called, “Best Meta Learning | Rapid Learning| Accelerated Learning Template and Methods In The World.”

Teaching Meta Learning

Learning and teaching are two sides of the same coin. When you learn, you are actually teaching yourself something. Likewise, when you teach something (to others), you learn the material in new ways. Your nerve cells make new connections and new reference points which helps you in recalling the learned material faster at later a time.

I would break down the principle and process of Meta-Learning into 3 various phases.

1: The 80/20 rule

I am fascinated by the 80/20 rule. 80/20 rule basically reduces the learning material and shortens the learning curve of any skill. What this means is to attain mastery of any new skill, it may take a student 6 months to 2 years instead of a standard 10 years of practice.

An example:

The power of the human mind. Meta-learning is actually natural.

 

2: The Flow State

I am also endlessly fascinated by the process and mechanism of the creative-flow-state. I try to ask questions such as: How to achieve Flow state intrinsically? How to take creativity beyond the reach of few naturally gifted people to everyone by transforming creativity into a learned skill?

How to make education and learning process more fun, practical and approachable for most people? Questions like these keep me awake at night once a month or so. I then go on to research, experiment and apply the answers that I come up with or learn from others. Whatever sticks, I make that in the toolkit for daily/weekly/monthly practice.

3: Meta Learning

The last step is to follow a structured approach to meta-learning.  It is a more refined method of learning new skills at a much higher rate and with faster results.

I call it: DR. BevO, DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT, BiTS

You can read about it more on a long-form blog post that I wrote a few weeks ago called, Best Meta Learning | Rapid Learning| Accelerated Learning Template and Methods In The World.

 

In short, it means (the steps are):
D = Deconstruct

R = Reference (cross POV)
Bev = Bird’s Eye View
O = Order (sequence)
DaD = Draw Diagram
Me = Memorize
MoM = Mental Maps
C = Cheat Sheet (CliffsNotes)
A = Action  (& Practice)
T = Time it
B = Buddy (Partner)
T = Teach
S = Stakes (& Rewards)

You first work on DR. BevO.

D = Deconstruct
R = Reference (cross POV)
Bev = Bird’s Eye View
O = Order (sequence)

Then learn while practicing, and practice when learning by engaging in Dad, Me, MoM & our CAT.

DaD = Draw Diagram
Me = Memorize
MoM = Mental Maps
C = Cheat Sheet (CliffsNotes)
A = Action  (& Practice)
T = Time it

Consider this example of a mind-map:

Mental map for memory. Look at the use of various colors.

In the last phase, you can do all three or just one, it doesnâ€t matter. You get to pick. Pick one, two or all three of BiTS.
B = Buddy (Partner)
T = Teach
S = Stakes (& Rewards)

 

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Do you have a favorite meta learning method that you follow (or have followed in the past)?  If you have tried Naked Soul method or The 4-HR Chef’s (or Tim’s method) DiSSS and CaFE, please share your success stories. Any other comments or questions, please feel free to share your thoughts with us.

Hacking Instagram Growth: How To Get From Zero to A Celebrity Status

I have been using Instagram for only 8 months now and observing the very successful and unsuccessful IGers, I have some thoughts to share. The following post is my crystallized tips on how you can experience explosive growth (like me) and gain very high user engagement on Instagram. This post is all about hacking Instagram. Ready?

I am going to do this blog post a little different. First, I’ll give you the main course. Then I will serve you the dessert (i.e my own growth story and timeline) and then finally I will serve the appetizers (what I am going to do in the next 6 months).

You should chew on the main course and try to apply them to your own strategy. Then you can move on to the appetizers and try to do the same and match results after 6 months.

 

Hacking Instagram Growth

1. Engagement Rate

Engagement is the number of likes, comments, shares, mentions, tags, etc. Remember, engagement with your fans is much, much higher in importance than your number of followers. Or even the total number of Likes.

For example, @The.Naked.Soul has a little over 44,000 followers but our average Likes is somewhere in 300-400 range and average comment per media is 20ish something. That’s not a lot, but that’s not bad either. However, I would like to increase my engagement score.

Now, consider doing this exercise. Go to Instagram and find out at least two accounts (that are your size, +/- 20%) that get a lot more comments and/or likes than you. After you have found them, follow them (try to build a relationship with them). If they do not follow back, it’s okay.

Your main job is to study their post, timing, the way they write their caption and how they interact with their fans. Â Study them and try their techniques, one at a time. See what clicks with your audience. Stick with the best and leave what doesn’t work.

the.naked.soul Instagram account

 

2. Account Age

The longer you have been posting on Instagram, the more likely is that the people those who follow you will remember you (your name or your brand name). Over time, seeing your name regularly in their homepage feed, your followers will begin to trust you more, read more from you and perhaps even begin to connect with you more.

How long have you been Instagram matters! If you are reading this, my guess is you are a (relatively speaking) new account. Don’t worry. Keep patient.

Know that Instagram has only ~700 million users and at least a good 10% of them are dupes and scam accounts. My guess is the real “active” users must be in the range of 500M. So what does this mean?

This means that as more and more people join Instagram, your account will be considered older in due time. So remember, account age – it matters and over time, this factor will get in your favor as you are here for a long haul.

Naked_Soul_Poems Instagram account

 

3. Post Frequency

The more frequently you post, the more you are going to stay in people’s short term memory. The world today is an overcrowded place with too much information flow out there. People have a very short attention span.

To be remembered and trusted as a reputable brand name, you have to be constantly out there. You can not afford to not have an active presence. Besides, the more frequently you post, the more new people you reach out to. People live in different time zones and new people find you using hashtags. Each time you make a new post, your use of hashtags makes you reach new potential fans.

One more point, the more frequently you post, you increase your chances of being read by your followers. Remember, your average fans are also fans of many other things. They have several things to read at any given time. When you post frequently, you can hope that they notice you and actually read your content. And no engagement can occur unless someone feels connected to your words.

I suggest you post 3-4 time per day. This should be a cardinal rule, not to be broken at any cost.

4. Post Good Original Content

Okay, so this comes right after the point made above that you should post frequently. But you should not post recycled and boring content.

Try to post original content if they are not world class. Occasionally, you can throw in a good quote or a sweet little poem or a cute puppy picture or a half-naked selfie but try to post interesting, never seen before, new content. It could be an artsy view of the street lamp in your city or it could be anything as long as it’s artful and interesting.

Also, when you post original content you tend to get more quality followers who really enjoy your Instagram gallery. These people are priceless since they really enjoy you.

What to do if you do not have tons of good, original content? Well, in the beginning, keep to one post a day and build from there. Also being under the pressure that you got to make a new quality post will also spark your creativity. Post one original, and one daily quote.

As you can see, I have come down from 1000 new followers a week to 376 new followers last week.

 

5. Alliances

No man or woman can achieve much on their own. You need help from other people. It is crucial to build relationships with other similar accounts (early on) to gain additional visibility. Everything at the end of the day comes down to “trust”. When you build partnerships and alliances, you gain instant trust in the eyes of the fans of your partner. Use this strategy effectively.

Action Item: Find alliances you can partner with other accounts (your size) for the long term. Do not do blind shout-4-shout, as doing this a lot will make your account look “too promotional”. When I started @The.Naked.Soul account, I did some S4S (perhaps ten in total) but only after I had gained at least 1000 followers. And I never did s4s more than once a week, and rarely twice per week.

Tip: Post a lot of great content first. Gain followers. Aim to cross 1000 followers mark, or 500 (depending on your goal) and only then engage in #S4S. 

 

Naked_Soul_Poems Instagram account

 

6. Free Giveaways & Challenges

Do free giveaways based on some sort of challenge, lucky draw or even better create a competition. Plan on doing something in the next 7-10 days. No worries, trust me, give it a try. Once you have created some giveaway and/or challenge, track your performance. Write your case study and then share here in the comments.

Also, by doing these sort of thing you will get comfortable doing any future promotional event. If you are a writing account, consider organizing 8 words or 9 words poetry contests or week-long poetry challenge. Try anything new and creative. Give it a twist.

This will not only engage people but also propel words about your account. Moreover, people always love free stuff. Remember, “free” is an effective marketing strategy. The more people participate, the more new followers you gain.

7. Ton Comments and DMs

Okay, so this is the last armament in our arsenal, but very important. Without this nothing will happen. To grow on Instagram you will have to expose your account (your media be it pictures, videos or even written quotes) in front of a large audience. This is humanly not possible. This is where steps 7 – 9  comes into play.

First, you need to start engaging with real people out there. Nothing happens until you meet a few right people.

A few right Instagram friends and your comments start soaring which in turn draws other people and comment and engage in a conversation. You start commenting and building a relationship. Doing this consistently will get you cross 1000 followers mark easily.

However, if you are aiming for 100,000 followers or 1 Million followers, read on.

Next, you need a tool that you can automate to send Likes and comments on your behalf. Automated comments mostly come as spammy and therefore I do not recommend it.

Sending mass Likes is one easy way to expose your username to thousands of users on a daily basis. A lot of these users (whom you have given Likes) would check you by clicking on your username. On your profile if they find that they like your gallery or if you are an interesting person, they will follow you. Some of these people will be themselves interesting and you can follow them back.

There are three tools that I have used in the past to achieve this goal. They all work but the best two are:

1. Instamacro

2. Instagress

In this step, also remember to geo-tag your pictures as well as it will help people looking for users or pictures from a particular place find you. I used to geotag places around Boston but now I simply put my website in location.

This is another way users can see your home address without having the need to go to your bio page. (Please keep in mind, only a fraction of your followers will be checking your bio after they have followed you. So if you have a website, make sure to take advantage of geo-tagging.)

Naked_Soul_Poems Instagram account. % of pictures with geolocation

8. Engage with your Competitor’s Followers

Next, as mentioned above, you need some power users. Users those are actively engaging with the content similar to yours. One of the best ways to find such active users is by looking at the comments on the pictures of your closest competitors. Read the comments, reply to a few of the commenters.

This strategy works best when the account is so large that they ignore all the comments/commenters all together. But people ask questions in the comments all the time. This is your opportunity. Answer the unanswered questions. Â Actively engage with these audiences.

Remember they are the power users. These people have already shown interest in the niche that you are part of. Turn your competitors’ followers into your followers.

How do you do this? There are four things that you can do:

a. Follow some of these users

b. Like their photos (if they are public accounts)

c. Comment on their photos, ask questions, appreciate, talk

d. Send a Direct message (talk about why you think you guys are similar)

 

The more you engage, the more output you’ll get. Above all, never forget that you are dealing with human beings with feelings and emotions. In execution of any of these strategies, do not do anything rash. Keep patient, go slow and keep reasonable goals. Over time your account (business or personal) will grow.

9. Sponsored Posts, Product Reviews, Shout Outs

Now we come to the most important strategy. All the above-mentioned strategies will bring you the result but not at a pace which can make your account cross 100K followers in 6 months or 12 months. To really create a big Instagram follower, you would need a shout out from a big account or better many big accounts.

These endorsements, or call it sponsored post can be free or paid. The way you can have a big account give you a shout out is by sending your product for their review. They get a free gift and they post a picture of your yours or your product with your account name in their caption and boom! There you go!

This is where you start making a measurable impact. You need to DM and/or email to other, larger accounts in your niche, exposing your brand to their audience.

So how do you do that?

First, make a list of all the large accounts in your niche. (Usually 10K-300K). Leave accounts with millions of followers for now as they will most likely not hear to your request or their cost will be beyond your humble budget.

Second think beyond your niche. If you are a flower business, think of gardens, love poetry and other flower related domains.

Third, make sure you are already following these accounts, if not, follow them before you reach out to them.

Fourth, find their email address and email them. If email is not available, DM them and also comment and ask your question that you have a question how can you contact them.

When you finally do get a hold of them, ask them if they would like to receive your product for review. Tell them that you think they will like it and you have following them for some time now and you can guess if this would be a nice thing for them to try, read, apply, review, etc.

Second, ask them their sponsored post pricing. This is to be asked even if you are giving away a free product. Especially, if the account is above 100K followers, ask them. Smaller accounts will give you a shout out for no cost but larger accounts might charge you since they might be getting similar pitches from other people as well.

Third, depending on the size of their audience, stick to $19-$49 per post shout out/endorsement.

10. Instagram Tools for Productivity

There are hundreds of tools out there that can help you and your Instagram strategy. In this post I mentioned five key ones help you build your audience and engaged them.

1. IconoSquare (formally Statigram)- An app that provides analytics and insights into your account, followers and much much more. (All the screenshots and pictures inserted in this post is taken from IconoSquare)

2. Schedugram – Schedule your Instagram post for the most engaging times. If you have trouble finding times to make posts on Instagram, this tool is your savior.

3. Webstagram – A tool to find the best hashtags for your posts and people for your sponsored/endorsement posts. When you do a search for particular keywords, Webstagram will also show you the top Instagram accounts that feature those keywords.

My Plans for the next 6 months

Okay, so what’s next for me personally. As I said earlier, all the above-mentioned strategies are the tested ways to grow your followers count or to grow your brand engagement score.

However, as I have started to give more time to this blog, I have become more passive towards my Instagram growth. But, I want to change that. I do want to blog more frequently but not at the cost of slowing down my Instagram growth rate. So this is what I am going to do in the next 6 months.

1. I have not taken advantage of Sponsored posts (even though I have seen it since day one). I am going to make a list of big accounts (50K – 400K) and them send them a copy of my book and artworks and will ask for a free or paid shout out.

2. I am going to restart using Instagress/Instamacro. I used them for the most part of my earlier growth but then stopped using it. So, I will be reusing the auto-Likes feature. I am not so sure about the auto-comments at this time.

3. I am going to blog more frequently. This way I am gaining exposure that is beyond Instagram. This will also lead to further growth on my Instagram.

4. I’ll start pre-scheduling my Instagram posts. My goal is to post more frequently. My current average post frequency is 1.5 posts a day. I want to increase it to 4 posts a day.

5. I’ll keep following and taking advantage of all of the above 1-10 steps, tools and techniques.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

Have you used any of the tools mentioned in the post today? If you know of any other strategies to hack Instagram super growth that I have missed here, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you are going to use my strategies, and find success, please leave me a comment as well. Any other comments, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

7 Tips On How To Connect With Influencers | The Right Way To Introduce Yourself

Do want to know how to influence an influencer? In this short blog post, we’ll talk about 7 simple, easy-to-do, specific tips (and proven tactics) to help you connect with the influential people in your niche or any well-known expert you admire. 

Whether it is a celebrity, currently in the limelight or a fading star, yet impossible to reach out. You can meet and get in touch with almost anyone if you want to. Even the Mr. President (44th).

But first, let’s talk about who is an influencer? For our blog post, we will call a person an “Influencer” if they’re well respected and highly visible in their industry.

These are the highly successful people who have earned the trust of their audience (or readership) through the content they create and provide.

These are the people who have built their credibility as an “influencers” in their niche for some time. They are well known and they have millions of fans on social media and TV.

For example, Seth Godin and Neil Patel in the Marketing space, Maria Popova, and James Altucher in blogging, Tony Robbins in motivational speaking, Elon Musk in disruptive technology, and so on. The list goes on.

My point here is two-fold:

No. 1, there is no shortage of influencers in any industry.

No. 2, they come in all shape, size, and background. Some are well known by more or less anyone in the general public (example, Bill Gates for Philanthropy and Business) and some are well known in their specific niche but are largely unknown by the general masses (example, Pat Flynn in Podcasting on Passive income).

Nevertheless, an influencer’s blessing can take you or your cause to the next level. Be it a charity fundraising event or a new book that you are publishing or a tech start-up.

How To Connect With Influencers

1. Write about the Influencers whom you want to meet. Write in a newspaper, magazine or simply on your blog.
2. Email these Influencers how you have used their teachings and applied their methods and found success. Send them a success case-study.
3. Engage with them/comment/mention/follow when they do not even know you. Communicate with them on their social media. When they ask for feedback, be sure to leave one. If they are asking specific questions, be sure to answer them.
4. Find where these influencers are teaching and lecturing. A lot of the Influencers also guest speak or teach somewhere. Find out and attend their classes, conference or event. You’ll get plenty of opportunity at the event/class to introduce yourself.
5. Reach out to these Influencers (by email first) and tell them how can what you do can help them to solve a specific problem.
6. Volunteer and meet them where their heart is. If the person you are trying to reach out also happens to support a cause that you are equally passionate about, meet them there — where two hearts are united as one.
7. Organize an event and invite these Influencers to speak or present. Even better, tie it to a cause or charity or for education. For example, a college campus or a local town hall meeting. 

Say Yes to fear and Goodbye to comfort-zone.

I have met a lot of great and wonderful people by doing the above 7 steps. The names are not big enough to drop it here in this post but, let me openly challenge myself in front of the internet public and say this: I am going to follow the above 7 steps and meet some of the big names that I have mentioned in my blog.

Once, I have successfully made an introduction to them and have something more solid to show for, I’ll do a follow up blog post.

In the meantime, how about, some of you take my challenge as well. If you think you have a wonderful plan that will make this planet a better place for everyone, why not try to meet some of the Influencers in your field and share what you are doing to meet them.

Please share your thoughts and stories (success as well as failures) in the comment below.

 

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If you have tried these methods and tactics to successfully introduce yourself to an Influencer, please share your success stories and how this has helped you. Any other comments, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

Best Meta Learning | Rapid Learning | Accelerated Learning Tools, Templates & Methods

Rapid learning is a skill that can be acquired by anyone. Likewise being highly efficient and productive is also a skill and lifestyle habit that can be learned and integrated into one’s life.

Let’s talk about productivity first before we get into the world of #MetaLearning.

How To Learn Like A Machine

Understanding Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

Effectiveness is getting greater or equal output for a given input. Efficiency is having a superior process so that for a given input the output is always exponentially greater.

Productivity 101

80% result with 20% work

1. Create a morning ritual (the first 90 minute).
2. Establish a daily routine (daily structure).
3. Establish a weekly routine (weekly short term objective).
4. One postcard size to-do list (to be disposed at the end of day).
5. Keep a pen, dairy and a voice recorder always handy.
6. Do your most important task during your most productive hours (in terms of mental energy and freshness). Do your least important or auto-pilot work during your weakest hours (again speaking in regards to mental energy).
7. Practice Lucid dreaming and practice conscious dreaming to strengthen your visualization skills.
8. Sleep 8-9 hours. This sounds paradoxical but it’s true that sleeping 33% of your time keeps you super productive for the rest 66% of your waking hours.
9. Seek creative solutions to your complex problem in your dreams. Harness the power of your unconscious brain.
10. Master a ritual or routine that helps you to get into the “Flow state” faster. Get into the flow state as often as possible, and aim to stay there for as long as possible.

Meta Learning Explained

As with most things in life (or word), there is no one best thing or way. One technique might works for someone while another may prove helpful to another.

Also, ion our context of methods to learn faster, the best technique will also vary based on the subject at hand. For example, learning music or musical instrument is significantly different from learning investment strategies in the stock market.

The Word ‘Meta’

The word “meta” comes from Greek and it means “beyond” (or after). This is why we have words like Metaphysics (beyond conventional physics). Etc. Meta also means “self-referential”. In Computer Science, metadata means “data about data”. Metacognition means “cognition about cognition”.

 

Tim Ferriss and Josh Waitzkin

Tim Ferriss‘ DiSSS and CaFE is a good method for learning cognitive tasks such as Language learning, Computer Science as well as for physical activities such as Archery and Brazilian Jujitsu.

Tim’s method is external, dismantling and then rebuilding, and effectiveness driven. This is explored in depth in his new book The 4-Hour Chef.

Josh Waitzkin‘s art of learning (meta learning) focuses on integration, transformation and channeling. His method included conscious unlearning (instead of ignoring).

Josh’s method is systematic but creativity driven. Josh explores his ideas in his autobiographical book The Art of Learning.

Best Rapid Learning Tools and Methods

In my own experience, I have learned 5 languages so far and I am currently learning Nepali (my 6th language).

I am a published poet and I’ve worked as a coder and as well as solar panel plasma depositor.

I am a black belt in Shotokan Karate and at the same time a start-up guy. I am a blogger and also work a full-time job. I have traveled to all 50 US States and 32 countries so far (as of 2019). So how am I managing all this within the constraint of the 24 hours that we all have?

I have utilized both DiSSS, CaFE and Josh’s Art of Learning principle. Moreover, what has worked for me is a combination of everything plus my own experiments as outlined below.

I learned SQL and programming from nothing. I learned dancing from not knowing how to move. True that I had a background in martial arts (a form of dance-like art) and true that I studied engineering and took a few computer languages class. But, still, in my own mind, I was a zero. How did I do that?

Learn fast and have fun in the process

An Effective Meta Learning Template

 

DR. BevO, DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT BiTS

This can be further broken down into three layers (top, inner, and outer) of organized learning principles.

 

Layer 1 (The top layer): DR. BevO

Layer 2 (The inner layer): DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT

Layer 3 (The outer layer): BiTS

 

The top layer: DR. BevO

Step 1: Deconstruct and Dissect.

This step is all about methodically breaking down a body of knowledge in order to study its internal parts and complex interconnection.

What is the minimum useful unit of knowledge? For a foreign language, it would be a word. For a programming language, it would be a syntax.

 

Step 2: Reference framework (to not reinvent the wheel)
Pick a reference framework. To learn a new skill, find out what one you already possess and if you have to teach it to someone totally new, how would you structure your classes and why?

For example, if I have to teach someone Martial Arts, I’ll start with the four most common kicks among the top four schools/styles. Learning most common (& effective) four kicks will put you in top 10% of fighters.

SQL or Programming – Most common functions, syntax and/or statements
Learning most common syntax and statements will make you query work 80% of the time.

Think first and think deep.

 

Find and study the “normal (i.e average)” and the “experts/masters/anomalies”. Ask these questions and write down the answers.

Question 1. What do the average people do?

Question 2. What the experts or master do not do that the average do?

Doing this will help you to determine:
– List for quick reduction
– The goal is to not become a master or mimic a master but to simplify so that you can enter first and then go on to conquer.

 

Step 3: Bird’s Eye View (View from 30,000 ft)
Look at the extreme and center. Do this to filter out whatever intimidates you. You can always come back to the additional learning materials later. Compress the most important 20% or so into a 30,000 ft map (to be used later).

A bird’s eye view map. This step is related to navigation and to correctly size your problem. This step is also to get a reality check. Once you know what you are up against it is easy to fight it by breaking it down into smaller conquerable pieces.

 

Step 4: Order

Order is to sequencing your learning material into modules (linear and later overlapping). In other words, what’s the most effective order for learning these parts that you broke down in step 1 – 3?

 

The inner layer: DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT

This is the second layer of learning. Here it is all about putting the pieces together. This is the battleground. In layer one, you have done all the planning and you have made your strategies. Now, time for the action. Are you ready?

 

Step 1: Draw diagrams
Draw as many diagrams as many you can. Connect the dots. Connect the concepts together. Find correlation. Find overlap. Find opportunities for integration. Find the opportunity for improvements. Question and find the gaps.

The more you draw and trash and draw better knowledge diagrams, charts, and maps, the more efficient you will become at the application of your newly acquired knowledge. This will also help you with the next step.

An example:

Memory mindmap

 

Step 2: Memorization
Memorize the map. Memorize 20%. Memorize the syntax. Memorize the kicks. Memorizing in this step is about rapid memorization.

If some of the things do not make sense, still memorize. Slowly, slowly, you’ll learn to connect the dots. Do not worry about understanding the full theory here, just remember the most basic units of your learning material.

 

Step 3: Mental Maps

Creating mental maps is going a step further than drawing knowledge charts and diagrams. Mental maps are where you start to connect the dots between what you have understood so far. Mental maps also take advantage of your 30,000 ft view to help you understand what you need to do next to reach your ultimate goal. This map is the map for your beginning to end the journey.

Note, mental maps will keep refining as you get better in the application of what you have learned and when you start to understand what you have bluntly memorized.

 

Step 4: Cheat sheet (no bigger than one page)
This is to be made by you. Irrespective of how small or big this gets, you alone must create this. Again, as with the whole theory behind this method, you’ll keep refining your cheat sheet.

A cheat sheet is what you have learned. This contains mostly what you have not memorized and the essence of what you have memorized already. You can also prepare CliffsNotes of any books, articles, etc that deals with the skill that you are trying to learn.

An example of using a diagram to organize information

 

Step 5: Action (& Practice)
Action means to practice in real-time. This is where you get comfortable with the hands-on phase of any skill acquisition. This means real-time coding. This means kicking high. When in action phase, you are NOT to learn new things unless and until you have mastered the things that you have broken down so far.

(You can, however, dig deeper into what you are practicing if time permits.)

Remember iteration is the key concept. If you are learning SQL selects (for one database table) with group by, order by, and all the other basic SQL commands then until you are master in all the variations of select, do not jump to joins (selecting data from two or more database tables).

Practice with the diagrams you have drawn and the cheat sheet. Refine your diagram and cheat sheet as you make mistakes in action/practice phase. Also, needless to say, you are also modifying and improving your mental maps.

 

Step 6: Time it (Distributed learning)
Two things to do in this last phase. Time your learning window and then test yourself. By failing to remember or do something you’ll feel that internal kick which will make your brain in super-receptive mode. Remember, sometimes real learning happens when you have failed a test. So fail many times in mock tests before the real test comes.

Secondly, distribute your learning sessions. Rather than sitting whole night or two days straight, split your session. Do something fun in between or you may even play with something totally different. It is better to keep the primary focus on one difficult thing at once but you can surely have fun with something that does not require high cognitive energy.

Note, you learn well when you are enjoying your subject. That’s how you get into that flow state. And to enjoy your subject, you need that mental energy. You do not want to be fatigued.

 

The outer layer: BiTS

This is the third layer of learning. You need only one of the following three. If you can do more than one, even better. But you must have at least one of these to keep you in accountable and interested in the game. Make learning fun, make it a game.

 

Step 1: Buddy system
Having a buddy whether it is programming or martial arts helps you quiz one another, challenge one another and therefore learn faster. The more fun a new adventure is, the faster you master it.

 

Step 2: Teaching
Find someone whom you can teach what you have learned and what you might not have learned. Teaching others is one the fastest way to learn something yourself. If you cannot find someone to teach, teach yourself. Play a mind game with yourself. Quiz yourself and answer to yourself.

 

Step 3: Stakes

This is all about staying in the game long enough to reap rewards for your hard work. Too many people quit a new skill after some trying because they feel it is not worth it. First thing to note here.

1. Are you motivated by negative outcome (fear) or positive outcome (anticipation of reward)?

If you are the fear type then you need to find out what psychological and social mechanisms can you set up for maintaining your inner discipline?

For example, you can publicly share your goal with your friends so that you feel accountable. On the other hand, if you are internally motivated, perhaps, set up a reward for yourself if and when you achieve a milestone (or mini-goal).

 

Summary:

D = Deconstruct
R = Reference (cross POV)
Bev = Bird’s Eye View
O = Order (sequence)
DaD = Draw Diagram
Me = Memorize
MoM = Mental Maps
C = Cheat Sheet (CliffsNotes)
A = Action  (& Practice)
T = Time it
B = Buddy (Partner)
T = Teach
S = Stakes (& Rewards)

 

Hope this helps in reaching and achieving your goals. Please feel free to leave me your thoughts in comments below.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

Do you have a favorite meta learning method that you follow (or have followed in the past)? If you have tried Naked Soul method, please share your success stories and how this has helped you learn a new skill faster. Any other comments, please feel free to share your thoughts with us. 

The Art of Speed Reading: How To Read Faster

Reading is a favorite pursuit of many but it can be daunting when faced with lengthier novels and assigned academic reading.

How is it possible that some people are able to read volumes of work faster than others? Is there truly an art to speed-reading?

How To Read Faster

This article will explore techniques that instruct readers on how they can perfect this sought after skill. Reading more allows you to learn more and reading faster allows you to save time.

First, let’s talk about some of the immediate benefits of speed-reading to you as a reader and/or writer.

1. Faster reading skills will help you read more books and therefore allow you to review more books or simply more reading entertainment.
2. Faster reading skills will help you to read more books which in turn helps you write more books.
3. Faster reading skills will help you to research faster. Research, after all, is a lot of reading and note-taking.
4. Faster reading skills will help you to read emails, comments and social mentions in less time. You can respond faster to your friends, family and fans.
5. Faster reading skills help you save time. Time is the most valuable currency we have. And remember, time is a finite resource.

Read Faster Without Losing Comprehension

Now, let us begin on this journey that will help you to become a great speed reader.

Our first train stop is a WikiHow article entitled How to Learn Speed Reading that can be found by visiting the link. This article gives a step by step guide to increasing your productivity while reading. But, I have summarized it here.

The first step proposed is to stop visualizing the spoken word and focus on blocks of text. The second step is to hold the book or screen at a distance as you read to absorb more text at once. Once you have mastered these steps, progress by hiding words you’ve already read so you won’t be tempted to re-read them to understand the context better.

A key part of the efficient reading experience is to read without distractions in a space that is quiet and well lit. Posture is essential when it comes to reading. Reading while being in the bed can make you feel more tired.

Additionally, you should try to read at a time when you’re most awake and focused. Concentrate on the most crucial aspects of the text first and ask yourself insightful questions about what you’re reading to stop yourself from daydreaming or becoming distracted by your thoughts.

Even when practicing these techniques, you should try to understand the different types of reading and practice good reading techniques such as carefully reading instead of skimming to understand more difficult parts of the book you’re reading.

When you’re practicing these steps, try reading an easy and light book first so you won’t have to think so deeply about the material.

You should time your reading speed by perhaps setting a timer and seeing how much reading you can do in a set amount of time. When you encounter a text such as a magazine or newspaper, look at the section headings and headlines to see what you want to read and what you already understand.

Another article written by the Student Counseling Service at the University of Chicago that can be found here presents some techniques that have already been mentioned but also suggests using a pen to guide your eyes as you read.

You can begin reading at your normal pace and mark where you left off before re-reading the same passage for a minute at a faster speed than before. Reiterate this step by reading three times faster than your slowest speed and then asking yourself how much you remember from the passage.

The counseling service recommended practicing this process for 10 minutes a day for two weeks to become more comfortable with the art of speed reading, increase your reading speed, and improve your understanding of the text.

A speed reading expert, Dr. Richard L. Feldman, from Columbia University wrote a 10-step article entitled “Speed Reading: 10 Tips to Improve Reading Speed and Reading Comprehension”. Read can read the full article by clicking on the link.

His 10 steps are as follows:

1. Read earlier in the day when you are most awake and can maintain focus on important material.
2. Organize your reading materials by their degree of importance and then read the material in the order of importance. This will help improve your reading speed.
3. Skim for main ideas in nonfiction books by scanning the table of contents and beginnings and ends of each paragraph. Understanding the book’s structure will help you to know which parts to skim and which parts require more careful reading.
4. Turn headings and subheadings into questions to ponder and then examine the text to find the answers to these questions.
5. Use a bookstand and have your book angled at 45 degrees to avoid straining your eyes.
6. Write short notes after reading letters and then refer to these notes when you’re ready to reply to the sender.
7. Avoid highlighting key portions of the text as this will not improve comprehension of the book.
8. Preview the text before beginning reading.
9. Adjust your reading speed to the type of reading material and purpose for reading.
10. Enroll in a speed reading class taught by an expert on the subject.

Speed Reading Techniques

Glendale Community College wrote a five method primer on self-pacing while speed-reading. The primer can be found on their website. The five methods are:

  • The Hand
  • The Card
  • The Sweep
  • The Hop
  • The Zig-Zag
The Hand is a method that has the reader place their right hand on the page and move it straight down the page so you move your eyes down as you read. Do this at a slow and even pace. The Card technique has you use a card or a folded piece of paper above the line you are trying to read and draw it down the page slowly and evenly and try to read the passage before covering up the words. Slide the card down faster than you can go. The Sweep has you use your hand to draw your eyes across the page. Cup your right hand and keep your fingers together. Using light and smooth motion, sweep fingers from left to right underlining the line with the tip of your finger. Use your whole arm to move and balance on your arm. The Hop has you lift your fingers and make two bounces on each line. Each time you bounce, you hopefully will read sets of three or four words. This makes it easier for you to keep a steady pace as you read. The Zig-Zag has you take your hand and cut diagonally across the page for three lines and then back to the text. Scan the entire page and pick out the main ideas.

Speed Reading 101

According to a 2012 Forbes article that published the results of a speed-reading test sponsored by Staples as part of an e-book promotion, the typical speeds at which we read and understand at different points in our educational development are as follows:
  • Third-grade students – 150 words per minute
  • Eighth-grade students – 250 words per minute
  • Average college student – 450 words per minute
  • Average high-level executive – 575 words per minute
  • Average college professor – 675 words per minute
  • Speed readers – 1,500 words per minute
  • World speed reading champion – 4,700 words per minute
  • Average adult – 300 words per minute

The article’s author then put these rates into context by applying them to typical reading materials of very successful business people.

For newspapers and blogs, at the average adult speed of 300 WPM you would spend 33 minutes a day on that part of your reading routine.

For magazines with an average length between 60 and 150 pages, you would spend 75 minutes reading one magazine and successful individuals normally read about five magazines per day. For them, the reading time over the course of a month would be 50 minutes a day.

For books with an estimated word count of 100,000 words and the goal to read one book a month, that comes to 11 minutes a day at the average adult reading speed.

Factoring all of this in, you could easily spend at least two hours a day reading at the rate of 300 WPM. For more of the authorâ€s insights on this topic, visit this Forbes link. The Staples speed-reading test can be found here. Take the test, it’s fun. One reader of this article gave her tips for speed-reading which included reading in phrases rather than word by word and learning to skim the article for its core concepts.

The layout of the article would also impact how fast you are able to read it.

Another insightful commenter mentioned that absorbing more useful content could be obtained by listening to the news as you drive to become well-informed and able to reference important stories.

You could also listen to audiobooks to cram more content into a busy week.

One reader mentioned that there should be some scholarly analysis into how reading speed correlates with typing rates as many individuals spend a good part of their day typing.

She compared the speed of listening to a book on tape versus reading it in print and then compared this to how fast that text could then be transcribed by writing or typing.

She found that reading and typing at the same time averaged out at between three and four times faster than the typical speaking rate of a book-on-tape reader.

An interesting article that criticized the outlandish claims of some speed reading instructors and courses was published on the website of the Skeptic’s Dictionary.

One of these speed reading instructors, Howard Berg, author of Speed Reading the Easy Way, claims that he is able to read 25,000 words per minute which is about 80-90 pages a minute.

A professor at UC Berkeley, Anne Cunningham, examined test results that measured eye movements while reading that determined that the maximum amount of words a person can read accurately is about 300 per minute.

People who claim to read 10,000 words per minute are really just skimming the material. Well, I agree with Anne. I am a proponent of speed reading but not at the cost of not really reading anything. Would you?

The author of the Skeptic’s Dictionary article believes that a better way to increase reading speed would be to enroll in a community college course that would improve study skills, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. It would certainly cost less than a speed reading course such as the Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics course. The Evelyn Wood speed reading course is a very well-known program with techniques that have been practiced by US presidents including John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter.

John F. Kennedy had Evelyn Wood instructors teach top-level staff members how to increase their reading speed as did Richard Nixon. Jimmy Carter took the course and was able to reach a 1,200 word per minute reading rate with a high comprehension rate.

The techniques of the Wood program which was acquired by Encyclopaedia Britannica were explored in a comprehensive book entitled “Remember Everything You Read: The Evelyn Wood 7 Day Speed Reading and Learning Program.”

One technique mentioned was the visual-vertical approach which involves eliminating vocalization of words and replacing it with a visual perception of the material that entails sweeping the eyes vertically down the page.

The book stated that the full emotional impact and intellectual understanding of most passages in books are enhanced with the visual-vertical approach to reading.

Another technique is the multiple reading process or layering technique which involves seeing and accepting words and phrases out of their expected order. The layering technique is a five-step process which includes:


1. Overview

a. Quickly skimming the book to determine its organization, structure, and tone b. See what the cover and jacket state about the contents and author
c. Examine the preface and introduction if there is one
d. Flip through the pages at about one second per page

2. Preview

a. Read at about four seconds per page to draft an outline of the details of the book.
b. Divide the chapter you are reading into sections if it is a nonfiction text. If the work is fictitious, you can preview the book by identifying main characters, setting, time period, and general direction of the plot.
c. Look for key facts and concepts paying close attention to the introduction, summaries, and questions posed by the author.

3. Read

Preview the first subsection in a nonfiction book and read that section at your fastest comfortable reading speed and make notations to pinpoint important or difficult material to study later on. This will help you to remain actively engaged with the book.

4. Postview

Review the entire reading assignment and think about the relationship of each part of the book to the whole.

5. Review

Regularly try to remember what you’ve read and see how it relates to other course materials. 

It is evident now that there are a variety of techniques for reading faster and with practice perhaps you could also become a great speed reader. Try to remember though that speed reading should not replace savoring the experience of a good book.

The various ways to speed read could certainly apply however to lengthy assigned readings for academic courses.

Hopefully, this article has allowed you to understand the methods of speed reading and helped you to determine whether speed reading is a skill that you wish to perfect.

 

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What do you think about speed-reading techniques? Do you consider yourself to be a slow reader or speed-reader? Please leave your thoughts and input in the Comments below.

How to do Mindfulness Meditation in 9 Steps? Learn step-by-step in just 15 minutes

Have you ever wondered why mediation is so popular in our culture? It is no wonder that in today’s society, which is full of stress and anxiety, meditation helps people in calming one’s mind and bringing clarity of thoughts.

You may ask, What is meditation? To that, I would say, Meditation is the mindful observance of our own mind. ‘Watching the self’ is the key in meditation. This impersonal act of witnessing our own self from within brings quietness and peace to our being.

The primary purpose in mindfulness-meditation is to observe or watch our inner self — without any judgment, evaluation or expectation. Just by watching, you immediately get out of the never-ending-thought-train. When you stop or slow down the thinking mind, you feel serene and calm.

However, I must add that feeling good and peaceful is not the primary goal of meditation.

The ultimate goal of meditation is to seek to know your own true self. The chief aim of mediation is to experience the no-mind and to seek and know the truth. The realization of the oneness of all life with a compassionate and loving heart is the final fruit of mediation.

But, to embark upon such a quest, one must be relaxed first: physically and emotionally. Therefore, any mediation practice begins with the calming of the mind.

How to do Mindfulness Meditation

Once you are relaxed you are ready to begin your journey. The most common question that people often ask is “How do I meditate?” I have never done meditation before, how can I start?

Well, I was in your spot once and I figured it out. It is actually simple. Below you will find out how one can start practicing meditation and stick to one’s schedule at one’s own pace.

A step-by-step guide

1. Find a place that is quiet and not too warm or cold. Find a seating cushion or something comfortable that you can use to sit on. If you do not have a seating pillow or cushion, you can also use a chair. If you are going to use a chair, make sure that the height of the chair is not too tall or short according to your height.

 

2. You do not have to fold your arms or feet in a certain fashion or order but you certainly can if you want to. The first step is to make your physical body comfortable. You want to minimize the physical discomfort so that you can take on the greater challenges of the mind and spirit.

 

3. As you sit and are still preparing, keep this thought in mind that you are at ease and you are safe and at ease. This silent affirmation will help relax your body.

Gently close your eyes and breathe slowly and deep. Do not rush into breathing deeply. Let the natural flow and rhythm take control. Keep breathing deeply yet gently.

 

Just be

4. Now you are ready to “just be”. The first step is to not do anything. Yes, do not do anything. This is the first step. Do not repeat a mantra, or a word or anything. Do not imagine or focus on any image or symbol. Just be. Be relaxed. Just watch whatever the mind is doing.

 

Breathe

5. Focus on your breathing and watch how each breath is taking place. Keep witnessing this until the mind has calmed down (relatively speaking). Some random thoughts will keep coming to you. Let them come. You just bring your attention to your deep breathing.

 

Having thoughts is okay

6. Do not disturb your mind by trying to prevent a thought to occur or by trying to chase a thought. Let thought arise if it comes; let it pass, when they dissolve. Similarly, one thought may be dissolving while the next one is arising. Recognize this fact as the nature of the mind. It is okay. Do not artificially disturb this flow. Let it happen if this happens but make sure you keep watching every thought as they occur.

This is the first lesson of mindfulness meditation. Do not repress a thought; do not do anything at all on your part. You just be a watcher; this very act of watching is meditation.

 

Awaken

7. As you become more and more aware of your inner world (being) and your environment with all the sensation that you may be experiencing or feeling in your body, your focus sublimely shifts from your breath to witnessing.

Remember, witnessing means witnessing everything, all that there is witnessing do not filter out anything nor does it expects anything. Keep sitting and keep watching.

 

Feel the emptiness

8. As you watch, slowly and slowly, the mind will become empty of thoughts. But, if you are falling asleep, come back to the attention. Battling sleep at this deep state of relaxation is difficulty but by regularly practicing, you will overcome.

By practicing every day, you will become more alert and aware.

9. As you become regular in your practice and develop inner strength, in due time, you will also overcome most of the discomforts associated with your physical body. The only key here is to keep sitting and keep watching.

No special instruction is required. You will find your teacher within yourself. Just be consistent and persistent.