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Archive for the ‘Meditation’ tag

Dark Chocolate for Focus, Exercise for a Long Life (Sunday Reads #15)

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Welcome to Sunday Reads on Refocuser, a collection of weekly links from around the web to help you do incredible things.  These links span topics like creativity, performance, focus, exercise, nutrition, and positivity.

This week I’m posting it on Monday because… well… Memorial Day.

Join thousands of other readers by subscribing to this blog and email newsletter or by following @Refocuser on Twitter.  If you’re receiving this in your email inbox, spread the love and forward it to a friend.

On Creativity and Focus

Creativity can reduce stress and become a habit.  “Productivity on meaningful work encourages engagement with that work, and this engagement fosters creativity.”

A new study has found that a Mediterranean diet with antioxidant-rich extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts was associated with improved cognitive function in older adults in Spain.  The control group ate a low-fat diet.

Dark chocolate can boost attention.  At least a few times per week I substitute an afternoon coffee or tea with some sipping chocolate (85%) – not only is it incredibly tasty, it helps me focus.

A new study has found that participating in an eight-week meditation training program can have measurable effects on how the brain functions even when someone is not actively meditating.  I’m on Day 21 of the Headspace program and I already feel a noticeable difference in my overall stress levels, clarity of thought and ability to focus.  I really couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

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Written by Mike Torres

May 25th, 2015 at 12:30 pm

The Power of Nuts, Routine, and Decluttering (Sunday Reads #14)

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Welcome to Sunday Reads on Refocuser, a collection of weekly links from around the web to help you do incredible things.  These links span topics like creativity, performance, focus, exercise, nutrition, and positivity.  I’m posting this on Saturday this time to make sure email subscribers get this on Sunday.

Join thousands of other readers by subscribing to this blog and email newsletter or by following @Refocuser on Twitter.  If you’re receiving this in your email inbox, spread the love and forward it to a friend.

Prelude: Two weeks ago I participated in the StrongFirst Level 1 Kettlebell Certification event.  It was three full days of learning, training, coaching, and being put to the test.  While I was pretty nervous going in, it turned out to be an incredibly rewarding experience – even the day of testing, which included a brutal 5-minute timed snatch test (100 overhead snatches with a 24kg kettlebell in 5 minutes).  It took me almost a full week to start training again – and when I did, it was with a newfound appreciation for the power of the kettlebell.  I’m now part of the StrongFirst family as a certified instructor and will start training for Level 2 later this year.

strongfirst-cert

At some point, I will likely write about my training protocol over the long months of preparation, along with some of the strange things I did that I found to work… including “straw breathing”, voodoo flossing, and regularly using a micropedi on my callused hands.  But that’ll have to wait.  For now, onto the links!

Nuts are a nutritional powerhouse according to a study conducted among more than 200,000 men and women in the Southern United States and Shanghai, finding that the more nuts people consumed, the lower their death rates from all causes.

In Why Exercising is a Higher Priority Than My Career, the author makes the case.  In my own life I’ve found that exercising is my master habit – it improves my mood, my energy levels, my work output, my relationships, and increases my confidence.  While I occasionally have to sacrifice it for work, I don’t let this itself become a habit that lasts more than several days.  Work will always fill the time you give it, so as the author says, “exercise must come first, or it’s unlikely to happen at all.”

Find focus with just 18 minutes each day according to Harvard Business Review writer and published author Peter Bregman.  This simple program takes 5 minutes in the morning, 1 minute each hour, and 5 minutes each evening.

Scientists find physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus or process information.  This is why I quickly straighten up my office at the end of each day.

Why you need the combination of grit, routine, and vision to live life as an adventure.  You are what you do most of the time, not some of the time.  The author references a few apps that may help you, and being the app geek that I am I’m listing them here: Way of Life, Full, and Balanced.

I also talked about a fun new meditation app a few weeks back (Buddhify).  And now that I’m regularly using Headspace, I can highly recommend it if you’re interested in learning how to meditate.  It’s fantastic.

Here’s a blog post on life that I really appreciated: The Days are Long but the Decades are Short.

If you’re not already subscribed to Refocuser updates, research shows you’ll be a much happier person just by reading more inspiring stuff.  Subscribe now.

Written by Mike Torres

May 9th, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Cheat Meals, Bacteria, and Prioritizing Experiences Over Things (Sunday Reads #13)

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Welcome to Sunday Reads on Refocuser, a collection of weekly links from around the web to help you do incredible things.  These links span topics like creativity, performance, focus, exercise, nutrition, and positivity.

Join thousands of other readers by subscribing to this blog and email newsletter or by following @Refocuser on Twitter.  If you’re receiving this in your email inbox, spread the love and forward it to a friend.

Sorry for the lack of posts over the last two weeks; my family and I were traveling (without opening a laptop!) Next week there won’t be a Sunday Reads either as I will be participating in the StrongFirst Instructor Certification for three full days (Fri, Sat, Sun) – wish me luck!  Sunday Reads will be back the following week (May 3rd).

On Fitness, Nutrition, and Sleep

Greatist asks if cheat meals are hurting your health – or at a minimum being positioned incorrectly as something that is ‘bad for you’, resulting in guilt.  My personal experience is that cheat meals are a gateway drug that eventually opens the door to cheating more often – so I very rarely allow myself to have a complete cheat meal or a cheat day any longer (I’ve had two “cheat” meals since September).

Metabolic slowdown effects are seen when sleep is reduced by only a few hours.  In other words, you don’t need to miss an entire night’s sleep for your metabolism to be affected, all it takes is a few hours missed.

An apple a day doesn’t keep the doctor away based on a new research study.  But I will keep eating one because they’re tasty.

Dan John tackles what it takes to get stronger.  For those who don’t know of Dan, he’s one of the best strength coaches in the industry.  I listen to what Dan has to say.  I love this quote from Brett Jones in the article: “Absolute strength is the glass. Everything else is the liquid inside the glass. The bigger the glass, the more of everything else you can do.”

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Written by Mike Torres

April 19th, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Habit Triggers, Krill Oil, and Eliminating Neck Pain (Sunday Reads #9)

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Welcome to Sunday Reads on Refocuser, a collection of weekly links from around the web to help you do incredible things.  These links span topics like creativity, performance, focus, exercise, nutrition, and positivity.  I’m posting this on Saturday this time to make sure email subscribers get this on Sunday.

Join thousands of other readers by subscribing to this blog and email newsletter or by following @Refocuser on Twitter.  If you’re receiving this in your email inbox, spread the love and forward it to a friend.

On Work/Life Balance, Anxiety, and Habits

A new study in the Journal of Marketing Research: “Emotions such as guilt about where time is being spent or fear over loss of income both generate stress, and make a person feel more pressed for time than they actually are.”  I’ve always been of the opinion that work/life balance and “lack of time” isn’t the problem, it’s the underlying feeling of trading off the things that matter most to you. Missing your daughter’s piano performance for a mind-numbing meeting evokes feelings of guilt and resentment regardless of how much time you’ve spent at work or with family.  So what do you do?  One tip from the study is to pause to breathe more often.

Being mindful about anxiety can help to reduce it.  “The solution isn’t identifying why you’re anxious in the first place (though that knowledge has its place), but recognizing the signs of anxiety before nervousness, panic and rapid breathing hijack your emotional wellness.”

Using quotations from others can help improve your self-talk.  For almost 15 years now, I’ve been working on my own self-talk as I realize how important it is to overall well-being.  Here’s one of my favorites from this list:

The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join in the dance. —Alan Watts

Great post by James Clear on habit triggers, something I’m a big proponent of.  Using Time and Location triggers have been instrumental in a number of my own personal habits, including a new one to “do at least 10 minutes of mobility work every day” thanks to Kelly Starrett’s new book, Ready to Run.

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Written by Mike Torres

February 28th, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Eating Organic, Deadlifting, and Smiling (Sunday Reads #8)

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Welcome to Sunday Reads on Refocuser, a collection of weekly links from around the web to help you do incredible things.  These links span topics like creativity, performance, focus, exercise, nutrition, and positivity.

Join thousands of other readers by subscribing to this blog and email newsletter or by following @Refocuser on Twitter.  If you’re receiving this in your email inbox, spread the love and forward it to a friend.

On Fitness, Food, Sleep, and Smiling

Are organic fruits and vegetables actually healthier and more nutritious?  The British Journal of Nutrition crunched data from 343 studies and found that organic fruits and vegetables deliver between 20-40% higher antioxidant activity and “lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues”.

“Researchers have found that a compound produced by the body when dieting or fasting can block a part of the immune system involved in several inflammatory disorders such as type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Instead of a structured program focused on changing poor sleep habits and a nighttime routine, older adults improved sleep quality through mindfulness meditation.

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Written by Mike Torres

February 22nd, 2015 at 3:15 pm

How to Keep the Creativity Train Running on Time

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Creativity

Some days you feel like absolutely nothing can go wrong.  You’re on fire, unstoppable.  Ideas are flowing, confidence is high, and you’re walking around with your chin up and your back straight.  There’s no better feeling than knowing you’re at the top of your game.  The world is your oyster.  Everything you touch seems to turn to gold and you wonder how you were ever stagnant before.

Until the past few years, I had really only been able to identify these times when looking back.  Now I’m acutely aware of them when I’m in them and I grab onto them and try not to let go when that train is rolling.

But these feelings never last long. Maybe a day or two, maybe a little more. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a full week of this superhuman ability to create things out of nothing without obstruction.  Sooner or later things will return to normal and there’s no explanation why this happens.  You just can’t self-motivate like you were able to the day before.  Ideas are at a distance, just out of reach.  You aren’t feeling flow and a day’s worth of work is taking two full days instead of just three hours.

It’s crazy frustrating when this happens. You try and recreate the environment, the feeling you had, and you just can’t. Your mind has moved on, your thoughts are elsewhere, and your current experience has been altered in some inexplicable way. And you don’t like it at all.

What happened?  Well, nothing at all.  It’s perfectly normal for creativity to ebb and flow like this.  It happens to every single creative person dozens – even hundreds – of times throughout a year. It’s just not possible to keep anything running at its highest capacity all the time.

But are there ways to keep it running for as long as you can?  Maybe.  There are things you can do that will help but only in the sense that they may be able to prolong that window.  There’s no guarantee that these things will work every time, but if they buy you an extra few days or a shorter period in the downswing, it could be worth it.

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