This Happens Every Time I Stop Meditating

 

By Unplug Teacher Natalie Bell

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Just recently I was reflecting on what happens through the periods in my life when I don’t meditate much. We all know this feeling when we lose that commitment. Maybe we're traveling or super busy, or really stressed or feeling like we can just soldier on without taking this focused time with ourselves.  Can you relate?

 

Sometimes I go through phases when I feel like I just don’t really need it, I feel connected to myself and like I have enough of a reservoir of practice to keep me feeling present and grounded.  So, I thought I would test out how I am every day when I’m not meditating.  For the last three weeks or so I’ve hardly meditated at all except while I’m teaching.

But just this morning it was a great opportunity to see how I work and act when I’m not meditating for a while.  Today while on a work call I noticed a few things... I had less patience, I was having stronger feelings of judgment, less compassion towards others, and towards myself!  Really I noticed a stronger negativity bias, that tendency we all have to go negative, stay negative, and even to feel less supported in our lives.  I've been less happy!

Many times my practice looks like other things besides sitting in meditation: doing my embodied dance practice, swimming in the ocean, hiking in nature, being at the beach and listening to a symphony of sounds. But there is always something to be said for a formal, guided, heart-based practice of sitting with yourself regularly, something that ignites your own intentional living to be kind, compassionate, engaged and understanding.  This is the power of meditation - it reaffirms intentional living and that gives us the power to feel aligned and supported.

So, this week I’m back at it, newly recommitting to my own practice at home. I’ve seen this pattern in me countless times over the last 30 years and I can offer myself compassion for it, understanding it's in my nature and having some laughter for seeing myself go through this cycle once more.  Ahhh....I welcome myself back.

If you can relate to this come and join me to reignite your meditation practice.  Come to the studio in person or you can find me on the Unplug Meditation App and reconnect to your practice.   May you have the grace to keep you returning to your inner source of thriving.

 

 

Natalie Bell has practiced meditation for over 25 years.She has been teaching meditation at Unplug since it’s opening and is the Director of Corporate Programs.You can find her teaching Mondays and Fridays at the Santa Monica studio or watch any of her 21 videos on the Unplug meditation app.Natalie is also a mindfulness instructor for UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center and the creator of the Thrive Inside 12-wk Coaching Program to create an inner voice of compassion and resilience.

https://www.unplug.com/teachers-new/natalie-bell

 

The Power of Group Meditation

 

By Unplug Teacher Natalie Bell

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With all that has been happening here in California, the fires and extreme weather causing us so much worry and exhaustion, it's a time to come together for community support and connection.  I am so grateful to have received that feeling of support this week from my group meditation classes and hearing other people share their experiences.

Yesterday while I was teaching meditation a participant came up to me and asked, "How could meditating together be so much more powerful?  I felt much more room just now meditating in our group and so much less worry than I normally feel when I meditate by myself?”

I've heard this a lot in different groups I lead and I too after many, many years of meditating by myself notice how much more powerful meditation can be when we do it together.  So what do we mean by a more powerful meditation? 

Most people describe being able to have more room and patience for themselves, allowing them to be more focused and present because they don't have to think about how much time has gone by or whether they should be busy doing something else.  They feel supported by the group, as if the shared intention of getting centered and aware with an open attitude allows each person to tap into that shared energy and focus.  We can become an energetic source of connection and support for each other.

I'm sure many of you can relate to this, how we can be uplifted in times of stress, when we connect in community. So, I invite you to come join me at one of my classes at Unplug meditation.  Let’s do this together.

Natalie Bell has practiced meditation for over 25 years.She has been teaching meditation at Unplug since it’s opening and is the Director of Corporate Programs.You can find her teaching Mondays and Fridays at the Santa Monica studio or watch any of her 21 videos on the Unplug meditation app.Natalie is also a mindfulness instructor for UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center and the creator of the Thrive Inside 12-wk Coaching Program to create an inner voice of compassion and resilience.

https://www.unplug.com/teachers-new/natalie-bell

 

Top 5 Meditation Teacher Training Programs In The US

By: Claire Hannum, Travel & Wellness Writer

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A regular meditation routine can turn your world upside down in the best possible way, so it’s no surprise that teaching meditation can be an incredibly enriching experience as well.

If you’re thinking of embarking on a meditation teacher training program, it’s important to do some deep inner reflection first - and to make sure you’re maintaining a regular meditation practice in the process.

Ask yourself what style of meditation you want to teach, and why you want to start on this journey. Do you want to dig deeper into your own practice, or help wellness clients, or regularly lead meditation classes? These are all excellent reasons - the key is to make sure you’re willing to put in the work. Here are the top teacher training programs in the US to consider.

1. Unplug

The Unplug Meditation Teacher Training is a secular course focused on mindfulness, led by Unplug teacher davidji. The 6-week program begins with 5 weeks of online coursework. This segment of the program involves weekly lessons, webinars, practices, assignments, and an accompanying journey through the Unplug meditation app. For the 6th and final week, you’ll take part in an in-residence intensive in Los Angeles, where you’ll lead classes, attend lectures, and get one-on-one coaching. The next course cycle begins this October 7!

2. UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center

This year-long program at UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center (MARC) focuses on mindfulness facilitation for people hoping to incorporate mindfulness into their workplace, local institutions, or even just the lives of their friends and family. The course involves online and phone training as well as four in-person practicums in Los Angeles throughout the year. You’ll be trained to lead mindfulness classes for groups of clients, students, and colleagues.

3. University Of Massachusetts Medical School

This training out of UMass teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR. Often used as a complement to psychological treatment and medical care in stressful situations, MBSR is all about finding more peace of mind while reducing overwhelm. It can help treat a wide range of conditions like headaches, depression, high blood pressure, chronic pain, PTSD, and many others. Once certified as a teacher, you’ll be able to teach UMass’s popular 8-week MBSR program to others.

4. The Chopra Center 

This self-paced online course, run by Deepak Chopra and Roger Gabriel, is focused on Primordial Sound Meditation, a practice derived from the Indian Vedic tradition. This course explains the method into easy-to-understand steps so you can get to know yourself better and develop a deeper path to relaxation. The course involves 6 sessions focused on helping you implement the practice into your daily life. This training is less for those who aim to be teachers and more for those who want to improve their own personal meditation habits.  

5. Jack Kornfield

Buddhist practitioner Jack Kornfield and psychologist Tara Brach teach this two-year professional training program, which focuses on mindfulness meditation. You’ll dive deep into loving-kindness, mindfulness, and compassion in your work. You’ll participate in online trainings, some featuring renowned guest teachers, as well as two in-person workshops in Washington, DC. In your second year of training, you’ll practice teaching in the field as you grow your skills. The next session of the course begins in 2021.

9 Truths About Becoming A Wellness Leader

By: Claire Hannum, Travel & Wellness Writer

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Becoming a wellness leader can feel like a dream come true. After all, how many other jobs are there where you get paid to change people’s lives while doing something you love? Whether you’re looking to become a yoga teacher, pursue meditation teacher training, get certified as a fitness trainer, or even lead a support group, there are so many wonderful ways to help others through wellness.

As you embark on your training, there are a few truths you’ll want to know. We’d love to share with you a few lessons we’ve learned from dozens of wellness practitioners over the years.

1. You need to own the scientific facts.

There are plenty of powerful scientific facts behind the benefits of wellness practices. It’s important to share this information, but you have to do so in a way that’s engaging. Get too technical, and people’s eyes start to glaze over. Make the facts exciting, however, and students will be lining up to take your class.

2. You need a voice that’s up to the job.

As Unplug Meditation founder Suze Yalof Schwartz says, “There is nothing worse than meditating with a drill sergeant.” No matter what type of wellness course you’re teaching, you’ll want to think about what kind of impact you make on the room. You’ll want to make note of your volume and find a sweet spot that’s not too loud or too soft. You’ll also want to be sure that you speak with an air of confidence.

3. Confidence doesn’t come automatically.

No matter how well you know your stuff, getting started as a wellness leader can be nerve-wracking. Thankfully, confidence can be built over time, and the way to make it happen is to just get out there and practice. Teach as often as you can and get honest feedback before you dive into teaching for a living. “Practice makes perfect” is a cliche for a reason - the more you lead, the more comfortable you’ll get!

4. Make it personal.

And no, we don’t mean making it personal about you. As a wellness leader, you’ll want to make your teachings personalized to your students. You don’t want to be the type of teacher who storms into class sharing negative details about your life or bringing down the mood. Sharing about your own experiences is only beneficial if you’re sharing a story that unites the room as a whole. If your students leave the class inspired and eager to tweet that brilliant snippet of wisdom their teacher just shared, you’ll know you’re on the right track.

5. Time is valuable.

Starting and ending wellness classes or sessions on time is incredibly important. Everyone’s time is valuable (including yours!), and most people’s days are jam-packed with obligations. Make sure they can fully relax into their wellness experience without worrying about being late to their next event by respecting the clock.

6. Don’t be afraid to have fun.

“The teachers that have the biggest followings are not only amazing at getting you to be able to sit with yourself for long stretches of time,” says Suze. “They also share their valuable pearls of wisdom in a fun and engaging way so that you’ll remember it.” When your joyful energy lights up a room, your students will return to your classes again and again.

7. Walk the walk.

Practice what you preach. When you’re guiding a wellness class, it is not about your practice, it’s about your students. Hold space for your students during your classes, and show up for them emotionally. “The best teachers are the ones that make you feel different just by spending time near them,” Suze says. “They have that glow of present moment awareness, compassion, focus, joy, and a sense that nothing can cause them stress.” When you walk through life this way, others are sure to notice and benefit from it.

8. Be open to feedback.

No matter how long you’ve been a wellness leader, try to stay open minded about feedback so you can continue to improve at your craft. Take as many classes and trainings as you can so you can remember what the experience feels like from a student’s perspective.

9. Don't do it for the money - do it for love.

As Suze says, “meditation is a super power.” The same rings true for many other wellness practices. Wellness can make such a powerful difference in the lives of the people around you - and of course, for yourself. Sharing this with as many people as you can is the ultimate goal of being a wellness leader, and it’s how we can change the world. You can certainly make a solid living teaching wellness, but many others incorporate their wellness training into their existing careers and into their daily lives, and that’s just as wonderful of a goal too.


Alternative Benefits To Keep Millennials Engaged At Work

By: Claire Hannum, Travel & Wellness Writer

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Millennials are the enigmas that other generations in the office just can’t seem to figure out. If you manage a team of millennials, rest assured: they’re not as complicated (or avocado toast obsessed) as they might seem. They just want a positive workplace where they can make a difference - and that’s a goal that everyone in the office can benefit from. If traditional incentives just aren’t cutting it with winning over your employees, try these powerful alternative benefits to keep millennials engaged and to retain young talent.

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Encourage them to meditate.

There’s nothing like a company wellness offering to help employees feel more positive, supported, and like their company really “gets” them. Sign your employees up for subscriptions to the Unplug app, and encourage them to meditate each morning before work. If you want to take things to the next level, you can even guide your staff through a meditation challenge together to help them better manage work stress as a team.

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Pave the way for them to grow.

Consider two great ways to help your millennial employees grow: offer them the feedback they need to thrive in their role, and encourage them to keep building their skills.

For the former, the key is to regularly chat with them about how they’re doing in their role. Let them know where they can improve and check in about how they’re doing. This doesn’t have to be formal - in fact, frequent casual chats can go a long way in building a sense of connection.

As for skill building, consider offering programs that fund continuing education so employees have more means to pursue degrees and certifications. Millennials are all about feeling like they’re serving a greater purpose with their work (more on that in a second), and providing the funding for them to do so helps them provide that extra purpose for your company.

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Foster a sense of purpose.

Past generations may have felt fine simply clocking in and clocking out, but millennials put a lot more emotional stock into the work that they do. This can be a great thing - passionate workers are dedicated, creative, and enthusiastic - but it means you’ll want to make sure to highlight the importance of their roles in serving the greater good. Make sure your team understands how your company makes a difference in the world, and how they’re part of that mission.

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Offer fitness and wellness reimbursement programs.

This is a great option to include as a supplement to your company’s more traditional health benefit offerings. You can either direct employees to a specific company-approved gym or fitness space, or you can give your team free reign to attend boutique wellness and fitness studios of their choice and be reimburse their fees. And hey, you could even bring the wellness directly to their desks - Unplug offers custom corporate packages with in-person classes.

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Encourage team bonding, in person and online.

Millennial employees are famously eager to connect with their coworkers. Many of them love the feeling of being part of a tight-knit team that works together to make productivity magic happen. To foster this, encourage your team to connect via online company groups or digital platforms. Be sure to offer opportunities for teamwork and company social events. Heck, you might even want to create a team hashtag. If your happy hour shows up on their Instagram Stories the next morning, you’ll know you’ve officially slayed at boosting morale.

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Wellness Tips For Gen Z: How To Bust Through Your Anxiety

By: Claire Hannum, Travel & Wellness Writer

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Millennials might ultimately be remembered for their love of avocado toast and trendy shades of pink, but Gen Z carries a very different kind of legacy on their shoulders: anxiety. Lots and lots of it.

Over 90% of Gen Z is stressed. For an age group that’s meant to be enjoying carefree years of high school, college, and early adulthood, that much overwhelm is a pretty big bummer.

This anxiety is showing up everywhere in Gen Zers’ lives, from the workplace to friendships. In such an overconnected, fear-fueled culture, it’s easy to see why. Thankfully, there are plenty of tiny steps you can take - even on the busiest of days - to feel a bit better. Here’s what to try.

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Start your morning with meditation.

Meditation can help you reduce anxiety and stress with mindfulness, visualization, and breathing techniques. The best thing about a meditation practice? It’s adaptable to every type of routine. A session can be as long or as short as you want, and it can be done solo or with a group.

If you like to get up and out in the morning, start drop into an early meditation class where you’ll be guided by a pro through calming techniques that can help you slay your day. If you like to stay in bed as long as possible in the morning, you can make your practice super easy: just pull out your phone, open the Unplug app, and start a meditation session of your choice right at home. With sessions focusing on everything from feeling energized to getting focused to soothing anxiety, there’s a perfect session to help you find your calm.

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Take tiny wellness pauses throughout your day.

Look, we know you’re busy. In fact, you’re so busy that it’s probably tempting to tell yourself that you “don’t have time” for self-care, even on days when you’re in desperate need of a few minutes to just chill. Fortunately, a few minutes can really be all it takes to start feeling better in times of stress or panic. Pull out your phone and choose an ultra-short Unplug meditation to help you find your center before diving back into your day. Another great method is the classic that your mom taught you as a kid: close your eyes, and slowly count your way through ten deep breaths. It really does work!

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Find healthy channels for stress.

Everyone needs an outlet, especially on days when you feel overwhelmed or cranky. You can let off steam through running, journaling, guided visualizations, or even dancing it out to your favorite song. It doesn’t really matter what your outlet is (as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, obvisously), what matters is that it’s something you’ll give yourself the time to enjoy when you need it. The length of time you spend on these coping tools doesn’t matter so much as the fact that you do them in the first place.

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Learn your stress triggers.

When a sudden bad mood sinks its claws into you “out of nowhere,” it’s usually not just a random occurrence. Most of the time, something happened to trigger that stress in you, even if you didn’t notice it in the moment. Try to trace backwards and take note of what that “something” was, so that next time it strikes, you’ll be aware that it’s a stress trigger for you. Once you identify these triggers, you can be more mindful about anticipating and managing them.

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End your day with a bang.

There’s nothing like a powerful experience just before bed to help you unwind from the day. Get into the habit of enjoying soothing practices, like soundbaths, to sink into relaxation before nodding off to sleep. Bedtime de-stress routines can make all the difference the next day!

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Can Meditation And Hypnosis Help You Lose Weight?

By: Claire Hannum, Travel & Wellness Writer

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If you’re eager to lose weight or if you have a less than ideal relationship with food, you’re not alone. Weight loss doesn’t have to be complicated! Tools like meditation and hypnosis have helped guide thousands of people along the path to weight loss, without all the resistance and struggle of crash diets. How can meditation and hypnosis help you lose weight? Here’s what you need to know.

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Meditation can help you manage emotional eating.

Research has indicated that meditation can play a helpful role in weight loss. Meditation is a brilliant tool for managing stress, and when you’re less stressed, you’re less inclined to emotionally eat.

Meditation can also help you transition from a more reactive state of mind to a more proactive state. In the case of food, that makes you better equipped to plan healthier meals in advance rather than grabbing junk food as a knee-jerk solution when you’re hungry and in a hurry. (Unplug even has specific meditations to help you pause when you’re feeling tempted to reach for unhealthy food.)

When you regularly meditate, you’re more likely to consider how you’re feeling in the moments before and after eating. You’re better equipped to notice which foods make you feel most vibrant and which foods make you tired, and which feelings most trigger you to reach for unhealthy foods. Research has found that those who practice mindfulness for weight loss are more likely to keep that weight off once losing it.

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Meditation can help you practice intuitive eating.

Intuitive eating is practice that involves choosing foods without guilt, listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and savoring the joy of each meal. This practice has been associated with healthy and successful weight loss - and meditation can help you thrive at it.

When you eat intuitively, your focus is on enjoying the experience of each meal, and appreciating your body’s needs and capabilities. When you lose yourself in the taste, smell, and overall sensory journey of your food, you’re too busy living in the present moment to default back to unhealthy thought patterns around food. Unplug’s mindful eating and healthy eating meditations can help you hone in on this practice.

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Hypnosis can transform the way you feel about food.

Research has indicated that hypnosis may be able to help people quit smoking, reduce anxiety, and improve their confidence. It’s no surprise, then, that research also points to hypnosis as a powerful potential weight loss tool.

In addition to its potential ability to modify behavior, research shows that hypnosis might be able to increase weight loss. If you want to dip your toe into the world of hypnosis, you might want to begin with visualization. Just like people visualize themselves slaying a big speech or sporting event before they begin, you can envision a day of positive food choices. Try this for a few days in a row and monitor any differences in how you feel.

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Next, you’ll want to dive a bit deeper by trying a few hypnosis sessions, which draw upon the help of guided imagery and other techniques to help you kiss cravings goodbye.

Whether you’re drawn to hypnosis, meditation, or both, Unplug’s library of 500+ guided meditations has everything you need. Sessions in the app focus on everything from carb cravings to curbing overeating to reaching for healthier snacks. A more positive relationship with food - and maybe even a smaller waistline - is more connected to your mind than you might think.

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4 Top Workplace Wellness Trends Your Team Will Love

By: Claire Hannum, Travel & Wellness Writer

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Interest in workplace wellness is growing at rapid pace - and it’s about time. Companies are finally catching on to the fact that anxious, stressed, and overworked employees can’t help their organization grow in the way that happy employees can. It’s a lot harder to innovate, think creatively, or rake in the big bucks when you’re showing up to work burned out.

If you’re worried about employee burnout, take note of these top workplace wellness trends. Give them a try - your team will thank you for it!

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1. Group challenges.

Unplug has created customized wellness programs for more than 150 companies, and one of the most popular components of these programs is team meditation challenges. A custom meditation challenge in the Unplug app offers the team a sense of friendly competition, and provides a chance to bond over something that doesn’t involve meetings or deadlines. Imagine your employees spending their time at the water cooler chatting about how peaceful they feel thanks to their newfound meditation habit, instead of how stressed they are!

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2. Company-wide wellness subscriptions.

If you really want your employees to pick up on a healthy habit - and you want to boost their morale in the process - the best way to make it happen is to take care of the logistics for them. Many companies purchase bulk subscriptions to apps like Unplug so their employees have easy access to the wellness tools that can help them thrive. When an employee opens Unplug for a quick meditation in the morning before work, they’re in a good mood when they show up at the office. That makes for more creative work, better collaboration, and a more cheerful atmosphere.

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3. In-office wellness classes.

If your employees struggle to make time for wellness outside of work, bring the experts directly to them. Set up special in-office wellness events, like yoga workshops, stretching breaks, meditation classes, or even rejuvenating sound baths.

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4. Limits on email use.

An ultra-responsive employee may seem ideal, but the reality is that any team member who answers your emails at 1 a.m. is sacrificing both work productivity and at-home satisfaction. Setting hard limits on when your team is allowed to send and respond to emails (for example, barring email after 7 p.m. on work nights) makes for a more energized team. When employees have time to fully rejuvenate away from their screens in the evenings, they’ll show up to the office each morning ready to dive into their work. Trust: burnout does not a focused team member make. Besides, for your employees to be the kinds of interesting people that you and your clients enjoy talking to, they need the time to pursue their actual life - partners, kids, hobbies, the works - when they’re off the clock. With wellness at the forefront, your team will thrive - and so will your bottom line!

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Do These 5 Things Before 10 A.M. For A Way More Productive Day

By: Claire Hannum, Travel & Wellness Writer

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Are you one of those people who hits the “snooze” button approximately nineteen times before finally dragging yourself out of bed? Do you recognize the sinking feeling of realizing you only have twenty minutes to get to work and hurling yourself out the door, only to spend the rest of your day feeling like you just can’t get any momentum going?

Rushing through mornings without a routine can make you feel like you’re running behind from the second you begin. We’ve all been there, but there’s an easy way to break the cycle: get yourself a morning routine! Try these simple morning tips to have more productive days than you ever thought possible - and to finally feel in control of your time.

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Start things off with meditation.

There’s a reason why heavy hitters like Oprah, Deepak Chopra, and Arianna Huffington start their days with a meditation session. Morning meditation is dynamite for your mood and productivity. In just a few minutes, you can completely change the course of your day for the better.  

After a morning meditation you’ll likely feel less anxious, better able to focus, and less inclined to stress eat - and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s all about RCM: Rise, Click, Meditation! When you first wake up, grab your phone and open the Unplug app. You can choose an AM session from the app’s Morning session, or choose any other meditation that catches your eye (with 500+ guided meditations in the app, you’re sure to find one that’s perfect.) Take a deep breath, press play, and get your mind ready to slay the day.

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Break a sweat.

Yes, exercise is a great way to take care of your body, but it’s also the perfect tool for optimizing your mind before the day begins. A quick workout can provide a rush of endorphins to start your day in a good mood, and research has found that exercise can help sharpen your mind. If you’re not much of a morning person, moving your body can give you that burst of energy you need to get going. Your morning workout can be anything from a quick session with Beach Body On Demand or an intense hour-long run - all that matters is that you do it.

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Choose your top three priorities, based on your intentions.

Before you dive into your daily tasks, think about your goals for the week. Think about how you want to feel when you wrap up for the evening. Is there a specific dream you want to feel closer to reaching? Jot it down in your journal so it feels tangible. With your intentions in mind, choose three things from your to-do list to prioritize. Do them first thing, and then no matter what happens for the rest of the day, you’ll feel like you’re right on track.

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Block out your time.

Ever notice how it gets harder and harder to make choices as the day goes on? Decision fatigue is a huge energy drain that can slow down your productivity. Get around this by blocking out your time in your calendar before you get started. Decide exactly what time you’re going to do each task on your list, and how long you’re going to spend on it, so you won’t waste any part of your day trying to figure out what to work on next.

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Start with a task you’ve been dreading.

Time management expert Brian Tracy calls this tactic “eating the frog first,” which may sound a little gross, but it’s all kinds of brilliant. Your focus and willpower are sharpest first thing in the AM, so doing your most dreaded task first makes it more likely that you’ll breeze through it efficiently. Most of the time, you’ll find that this “horrible” task isn’t as stressful as you thought it would be, and you’ll be finished before you know it. The rest of the day only gets easier from there!

Each of these tips become a whole lot easier when you’re in a positive and present frame of mind, and that’s why it’s so important to make meditation the very first thing on your list. When you start your day with a mindful approach, life has a tendency to flow more smoothly. Don’t believe us? Try it for yourself!

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