8 Steps To Developing an Amazing Meditation Practice

Over the next paragraphs, this blog will teach you 8 foundational steps to creating a sustainable and effective mediation practice. I’m going to sort through a lot of fluff that is out there around meditation and demystify it at the same time.

Much of this is  a commentary on thoughts from Swami Rama‘s book “The Path of Fire and Light” which outlines how to develop a meditation practice with the following 8 distinct steps.

Swami Rama just brushes over these steps, so it seems more like he’s giving a general skeleton and its the practitioners job to go put it to the test and figure it out for themselves.

Luckily for you, I’ve distilled much of it down. But, remember, meditation is the practice of self study. There is no substitute for that.

Step one: Practice sitting in meditation at the same time everyday to develop new patterns and new grooves in the mind.

What are grooves?

Grooves are your mind’s tendencies. So, if your tendency is to go into negative thoughts you’re going to start to replace this with positive thoughts. Start to send yourself into these positive grooves, these positive ways of being, these positive ways of thinking.

This is where you will hear teachers say: “change your breath to change your mind.”

As you start to develop more positive grooves, more positive habits, and more empowering beliefs, your life will begin to go in that direction. How could it not? If your thoughts begin to go in a different direction, your life will follow.

As within, so without. It’s as simple as that. Now that may not be easy, but it is just that simple.

Step two: Learn to have an internal dialogue with yourself within your mind.

This is the basis of a meditation practice.

When you start to watch your mind and your thoughts, you then begin to realize that well, if I can watch my thoughts and if I can witness my thoughts then I must not be my thoughts. That’s powerful.

A new thought starts to creep in “I must be something greater.” Even if it’s only one molecule of difference between my thought and myself, that’s all I need.

Since I have the ability to witness it, that means I am not my thought. If you are not your thought, well then who or what are you? Well I would say you are something far greater or something far more vast. You are eternal.

You could then call that consciousness or that you have a Soul, as you have the ability to to take a step back.

This is how you begin to take control and power over your mind. If you are not your thoughts then you get to see that thoughts come and go. Every thought that you have , whether you think they are good, bad or indifferent are all created by you. So start to choose which ones you want to believe.

Is this thought real? If it is, if you agree with it, if you like it, then continue and go with it. If you don’t like it, take a step back and make a change and realize that it’s no longer true to who you are.

Step 3: Develop a still, steady and comfortable posture for meditation.

I know for me this was one of the hardest things when I first started to meditate. How do I sit still when my body and mind want to do exactly the opposite?

Well, as you will learn over time, when you begin to sit more regularly in meditation you begin to still your mind and body naturally. They start to learn what to do and as one stills, the other follows.

Still the part of you that you have more ease accessing first.

Now, if that’s too hard then we start with something like yoga. So we begin to still the body first, release it of its physical tensions, its hang ups, its old patterning and its pains. Then the mind will have an easier time sitting still.

I think for each practitioner it’s going to be a different path of which one do they need to access first. I’ say which everyone is easier for you to access first, start there and then the other one will follow.

Something my teacher says is: “Drain your mind to drain your body” and “Drain your body to drain your mind.” She’s saying exactly that, start with either side of the coin and it will have an effect on the opposite.

In essence it doesn’t matter where you start. Just start. Why make it harder on yourself if you don’t need to?

Step 4: Develop a pattern of serene breath.

What is he talking about, serene breath? What does serene mean? Serene means smooth, even, easy. Just like water.

If my breath becomes serene, it then becomes smooth and easy just like water. Then, like we talked about before, guess what else does? Well, my life does, my experience does, my transitions from one thought to another do.

Transitions from one conversation to another or from one movement to another all become more smooth and graceful. Even arguments becomes smoother and more serene because that is the now nature of my breath, my mind, and my life.

One of the basic teachings of tantra is that you change your breath, you change your mind, and you change your life.

So, if you want to start to have an effect on your mind all you need to do is to start to change your breath patterning. Then you will start to develop what’s called one to one breathing or “Sama Vrtti.

We then start to develop an equal breathing pattern of maybe a four count inhale and a four count exhale. That may not be easy. That may take six months or a year or two years to become adept at. But once you do, you’ll start to realize that your life starts to shift and becomes more balanced.

If you are an “Exhaler” and you breath out more than you are breath in for example, then you might say you’re constantly giving to those around you more than you are giving yourself.

One to one breath will teach you how to take in more and how to take care of yourself.

Inversely, if you are an “Inhaler” by nature and you spend a lot of your time filling yourself up, then one to one breath will will to teach you how to give back to the world and not take so much for yourself, so you’ll find balance as well.

This is what I really think Swami Rami is talking about with “serene breath”, a finding of balance between the in and the ex, the give and the take, and being the the one who nurtures and the one who is nurtured.

There is a balance between the polarities. And it all starts with your breath.

Step Five: Develop or cultivate some Sankalpa or determination.

Another word for Sankalpa is intention. So if we can live our lives through intentionality we begin to live our lives through a state of inside out instead of outside in.

You’ve heard me say before; “As within so without”. If my Sankalpa is to be present, then that’s how I will show up the external world.

If I start to deviate from that, if I start to be un-present or if I start to wander off into my thoughts or judgments, well now I can see I’m no longer living in line with my intention and that I’m no longer present.

I’ve veered off to the left. Let me release my thought and release this negative pattern. Let me go back to center line which is my Sankalpa, which is present moment awareness.

Now, maybe your Sankalpa is to be happy, to be free, to be vibrant, or to be loving, it doesn’t matter what you pick. You pick the intention that works for you. There’s no right or wrong intention. It’s just the one that’s right for you in the moment. Go ahead set that one and then follow it and live it!

This is how I think we really begin to affect our lives. Live from intentionality. Live from an internal state of Knowing what you want and then create that in your external world.

Know that your your thoughts will follow your intentions, your energy will follow your thoughts and your actions will follow your energy.

If you want to change your actions and your results, start from the inside out with a simple thought, word or feeling and your life will follow.

Step 6: Learn to let go of any distracting thought that comes into your mind, you should not retain it there.

Don’t brood on it, no matter how good or how bad it is.

A simple math for this is the Buddhist meditation of “Thinking, thinking back to breath”. You sit meditate, listen to the sound of your breath, get it serene, sit back and watch the show.

As your mind wanders off into a thought; good, bad or indifferent, it doesn’t matter. Release it. Come back to your breath. Just continue that, and notice. It doesn’t even matter if it’s a good thought or a bad thought.

If we start to play the judgement game with our thoughts then we’ve already lost. There’s no good or bad thought in meditation, simply witness the thought.

Realize you are not your thoughts, turn back to your breath. Use that practice “Thinking, thinking back to breath”, it’s a nice and easy one. You’ll start to notice the old monkey mind, the piece of the mind that never wants to stay still and never wants to be in the present moment, and always wants to be everywhere except for right here and right now.

You can learn a lot about your mind by just by sitting and watching and asking it to come back to the present moment.

As you start to do it for 5, 10 or 15 minutes you start to find that there’s less jumping from thought to thought and there’s less monkey mind. There’s less chasing the proverbial squirrel. There’s simply just more being present.

Step 7: Introspection, inspect your thoughts.

I Like this one. This is something as simple as looking at a thought and saying to your self: “Is this a positive thought or is this a negative thought?”

If it’s a positive thought that’s working for you, if it’s working for your life, your relationships or your health, then do more of that.

Increase your positive thoughts, increase your positive ways of thinking and decrease your negative ways of thinking and your negative ways of being. This is how you change your life inside out.

In Buddhism, they say you want to increase your positive qualities and you want to decrease your negative qualities.

A question I like to ask myself and to students when a thought comes into the mind is: “Is this true?” If it’s true and you want to keep that thought, then keep it.

But what you may find is that this thought isn’t true. This thought isn’t who I am. It’s only 95 percent true. Well, all you’re doing is looking for a little chink in the armor so that you can start to break it down.

Now you can dive in to be more introspective, to have more perspective and then you decide from there whether to make a change or not.  If you want to increase, decrease, let go of or alter it, that’s up to you. Do whatever feels right to you in that moment.

Do more of what makes you feel good and what fills you up and less of what doesn’t. That’s basically what we’re getting down to here.

Step 8: Witnessing

You have to learn to witness the things of the world. When you are not identifying with things of the world, you become this Seer.

This is the ability to step back and develop witness consciousness. This is all leading to the same thing;  developing the ability to see your thoughts, create space between them and have the perspective to say: “I’m not my thought, I’m something greater”

As you harness this ability, you get to develop a sense of being in the world but at the same time being above the world. I don’t mean that in a judgmental way, it’s just that you more or less get to watch your personality have likes and dislikes. You get to watch its arguments, its fun, and its attachments.

You then, as the Spirit or the Seer get to witness all of that. You get to realize that you are not just your personality. This is how we can start to live gracefully in the world even when times get tough.

We can still be steady and easy regardless of our experience. This is “The eye of the storm” teaching, where everything around you in the external world can be swirling, but you from the internal world can still be steady and easy.

For me, this has been one of the ultimate teachings of yoga over the last decade. If you are in a yoga pose for example and it’s tough, it’s just discomfort. It doesn’t mean that you need to have freak out.

If we can take these teachings and apply them to our lives, we’ll then guess what? Life gets more steady, life gets easier. Take these eight steps and apply them.

Start by sitting with yourself in meditation. Develop your introspection and your awareness, then you will be able to sit back and witness yourself in a far greater way.  If you start to practice daily, you’ll find your life start to shift in a very positive and transformational way.

Take these teachings and go test them. At the same time, have fun with them. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously along this path.

I’ll end with a quote form my teacher, he says: “Stay off the path man, because the path will fucking kill you.”.  He’s saying that it’s important to not draw pictures of how it’s all supposed to look. The key is to just be present with it all and continue to learn and grow.

Need help developing a meditation practice? Contact us for a free “Discover Your Path to Freedom” session to find out what’s in your way and learn more about “Let’s Get Meditated”, our one of a kind stress management and meditation online program.

3 Unbeatable Ways to Be More Mindful

Whenever we focus too much, either on the past or on the future, it causes stress and anxiety. What can bring happiness and peace is the present moment awareness and the best tool to do that is Mindfulness. It brings focus and clarity, improving overall well-being.

In mindfulness, we learn how to acknowledge the present moment thoughts and emotions, without judging them. The good news is that you don’t have to be a guru to practice mindfulness and reap its benefits.

Here are some easy yet highly effective ways to practice mindfulness in your everyday life.


In mindfulness meditation, the primary focus is on the breath. Simply noticing how you inhale and exhale can help us stay mindful.

Whenever you feel yourself stressed or your mind wandering during an important task, just draw in one deep breath of air. Conscious breathing is the fastest way of bringing our awareness to the present moment and improving mindfulness.


Yes, it is that simple. Go for a walk. To further add to mindfulness, become aware of every step. Observe how your feet lift up and touch the ground. Notice how the muscles in your toes and legs help you move forward.


Quiet is one of the golden keys to mindfulness. Take advantage of silence. Silence gives you the space and clarity to have an internal dialogue.

Wonder at the way your mind wanders. When someone else is talking, focus on their words, instead of thinking what to say next. Expand this awareness to all of your interactions. You will not only become mindful but also empathetic.

Meditation Techniques for Anxiety and Panic

Effective meditation techniques are highly useful tools for keeping anxiety and panic at bay.

Yet, there are a lot of misconceptions and myths about meditation.

What People think Meditation is

Meditation is often thought of as forcing yourself not to think and any thoughts in meditation show that it is NOT working. Many people also expect some kind of ‘experience’ and its absence makes them feel that they have failed.

As a result, most people try too hard or feel they can’t meditate and give it up.

What Meditation Really Is

Well, effective meditation and freedom from anxiety and panic comes from a few basic skills.

  • Observe any thoughts in your mind and sensations in your body instead of letting those thoughts and feelings overwhelm you.

When your thoughts and feelings overwhelm you, you start identifying with the pain or anger and so on. These become a part of you rather them seeing them as simply experiences. Remember that you can choose not to give your attention to these experiences if you so wish.

  • Meditation also helps you develop present moment awareness. This gives you the ability to let unhelpful thoughts leave as easily as they arise.

Even if you don’t feel you have mastered your meditation practice, but you have started taking some time for it, half the work is done. You have given your body the opportunity to normalize, to unwind and for its own healing and recovery processes to operate effectively.

Powerful Ancient Meditation Techniques Reduce Anxiety

Yoga is more than a discipline, it is a way of life. Yoga and its meditation techniques have helped people for thousands of years. Studies show that meditation can decrease anxiety and stress, increase focus, and even provide relief to chronic pain and illness sufferers.

These powerful ancient meditation techniques of yoga focus on mindfulness, present moment awareness and healing. For example, many of us store past emotional attachment to pain in our bodies. The yoga ‘asanas’ or poses can wring the past out of us. By manipulating areas of the body that typically receive little movement, yoga poses can purge the past from us.

Another beautiful thing you learn through the ancient meditation techniques of yoga is to become aware of your present and see the moment for what it is. When you are in the moment, the stress and anxiety simply melt away.

When we root ourselves in the present moment, we root ourselves in reality. We see the situation for what it is, now. Not for what it was last time and not for how we think it will be this time.

If you want to get rid of your anxiety, but aren’t sure how to start, you’ve reached the right place! Known as the Big Yogi, stress coach Nick Palladino always has something amazing to offer when helping you relieve symptoms of anxiety. From meditation to yoga and life coaching, he will empower you with an entire toolkit to help you along your way.

Combat and Prevent Stress with Mindfulness

Stress is often not caused due to an event or situation but rather due to our reaction towards it.

You may ask how you can separate the two. ‘How can I look at the way in which I am reacting to a situation?’

One easy way to do so is to start letting go of things you can’t control. It may sound difficult but can be achieved with mind training and this is where mindfulness comes into play.

Mindfulness is the skill of being present and fully aware. This means you are not attempting to or fighting the circumstance, you’re simply aware of what is. You’re aware of the situation. Whether you are watching a movie, making a presentation or running a marathon, you can be mindful.

Modern urban lifestyle is all about multi-tasking and that has made us compromise on concentration and mindfulness. Technology, that we rely on so much these days, has not really helped us here. Why? Because mostly it is the technology using us rather than us using the technology.

Another important factor in mindfulness is clarity of thought. It gives you the ability to really see things for what they are without letting our judgment clouds it. The more mindful we become, the greater is the clarity.

Another important piece of the puzzle is accepting things for what they are, especially when you have no control over them.

Concentration, clarity and acceptance keep you in the present moment, without the past or the anxiety of the future affecting you. Imagine you are making a presentation, fully focused and open to accept whatever the outcome. Will you be able to worry about how your presentations went in the past or how the audience would react to this one? No. Because there is no space left for those things.

When you practice mindfulness, you automatically feel calmer. The mind gets agitated by distraction. You keep it focused and eventually, you are able to rewires it. And the best part is all you need is practice – no tools, no equipment, just being in the moment and practice. Anytime you realize your mind is wandering, take a deep breath and come back to the present.

How Mindfulness can help you Visualize the Life you Want

In our fast-paced urban lives, who doesn’t want to reduce stress levels, increase happiness and find more balance all at the same time? It is possible!


It’s true.

Everyone is trying to create the life they dream of. But in the wrong way!

If deadlines, targets, meetings and material possessions are drowning you, then something is definitely wrong with your way of defining life’s success.

Read on, if you are facing trouble experiencing the relationship, the job, the success or the life you desire.

The first and the most important step to creating the life you want is to cut the clutter that fogs your mind and prevents you from visualizing the parts of your life, the way you want them to be. This is where mindfulness comes to your rescue.

Mindfulness allows you to be in the present moment and look at ‘What Is’. This is different from your current setting where we often look at ‘what it is not’, ‘what I do not have’, ‘what might have been’, ‘what is missing’, ‘what is wrong’ and so on.

Simply pressing pause and looking at ‘what is’ puts you in a position of control rather than simply be a victim of your circumstances, which is frequently the cause of all our stress and troubles.

Practicing mindfulness not only allows you to look at and appreciate the present moment, it also allows you to decide what to do with it. For instance, you are wondering why your co-worker said something. Right now, you wonder whether it was because something you said, or if s/he felt offended, what do they have on their mind, and a hundred other questions. This creates stress and clutters your mind. Mindfulness gives you the power to pause, observe your thoughts and emotions and choose your response to them, instead of just playing puppet to them.

Once you are ‘in the present moment’ and observing non-judgmentally, you can prevent stress. When you have learnt to keep stress at bay, you can focus on creating the life you want to live now!

Mindfulness – A New Approach to Understanding Stress, Life and Yourself

As you begin reading, notice your breathing and become aware of your body…

You often hear people (even yourself) saying, “Oh, I’m so stressed!” or “My work is so stressful!” or “The kids stress me out.”

What is Stress?

The Dictionary defines stress as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.

When your mind perceives threat, it tells your body to gear up to fight or flight. All energy and blood is diverted to your muscles, getting ready for action. This is a wonderful gift evolution presented us with when humans had to survive in the wild. Fortunately, we evolved and learnt other survival skills – we invented everything from primitive tools to modern day technology.

However, always being in the ‘action’ mode can damage brain cells and your immune system, making you vulnerable to physical and mental disorders and take away your peace.

Unfortunately, modern, urban life which sees success as material possessions, keeps us consistently in the ‘action’ mode. Multitasking is the buzzword and Juggling multiple roles and responsibilities somehow makes us seem better than others in our own eyes.

This translates into stress, which most of us have accepted as something inevitable, even normal. As a result, despite being at the epitome of progress, we now have more cases of heart disease, depression, drug abuse, unhappy relationships, more than ever before in the human history.

Fortunately, we have all these years of wisdom traditions, like yoga and mindfulness to our rescue.

If you’ve heard about it and wondered whether it is one of those new-age practices, here’s the thing.

Mindfulness is not rocket science. It is simply focused, non-reactive awareness. Awareness already exists in each one of us. Don’t we know how to stop and pay attention to something important? The practice of mindfulness is simply the cultivating this marvelous ability to turn it into our default setting.

Mindfulness meditation can help the practice of mindfulness become as natural as breathing, so that whether you are writing an email, having a conversation or commuting to work, you can be mindful. This will enable you to cope with stress, even prevent it in the first place and enjoy a greater sense of well-being.

The best way to train yourself is mindfulness meditation with a coach who can help you improve through meditation and deep conversations so that you can move you from where you are to where you want to be.

The Enlightenment Complex: 5 Ways to Get Enlightened Faster!

You have to give it all up,” my new teacher reiterates many times during a story he tells me about waking up.

Labels. Limitations. Attachments. Expectations. Fears. Doubts. Judgments. Desires.

They are all obstacles to enlightenment. They are all obstacles to freedom.

I do not resist his word because I know that it is true. Not because he says so. But because I Know so.

The path to enlightenment is a trap.

Read more

The Carrot and the Cow

A few years ago, I learned a powerful lesson on a peculiar date with a particular woman.

The woman was into wellness. A little too into wellness.

It felt extreme when she requested that I pick her up at the gym. But that proved mild compared with her interpretation of a dinner date.

When she got into my car, I invited her participation in selecting a restaurant. She responded that she had brought her dinner with her.


Seriously. Read more

Yoga and Weightlifting: Drop the Dogma and Just MOVE!

I get a lot of flak for being into yoga and weightlifting.

Yogis tell me that weightlifting hinders one’s practice because it is aggressive and decreases flexibility. Other teachers scoff at me for not being a “purist.” Students assume that I teach power yoga because I wear athletic clothing, work as a personal trainer and own a gym.

On the other hand, weightlifters tell me that yoga is for women. Men decline to train with me because they say that a yogi could not push them as hard. Other trainers agree that I attract mainly female clients because I am also a yoga teacher.

I used to believe them. Not only did I separate yoga and weightlifting, but I also ranked them. I stopped lifting weights for several years because I deemed it less sacred than my yoga practice. I even argued with my father that yoga was better than weightlifting.

Read more