My Radio Enso Interview: Juggling paid work and personal projects

I was delighted to be invited to take part in an interview for Radio Enso, a fantastic podcast by Gregory Berg, who I met in Portland at WDS 2012 and who lives in San Diego.

Greg is a true gent, asks fantastic questions and once you hear his voice I think you’ll agree he was born to be a radio host. In fact he recently celebrated 130 episodes, three years on the air and 200,000 listens overall!

We talked about some of my favourite topics, which it turns out are also close to Greg’s heart – meditation, masculinity, music and the DIY ethos, and making a living from creative work for clients whilst also juggling personal projects.

8 Daily Habits That Will Help You Refresh Your Mindset

Meditation - Refresh Your Mindset

Photo by AlicePopkorn (Creative Commons)

In James Altucher’s entertaining book How to be the Luckiest Person Alive, he suggests a daily practice which he claims will dramatically improve your life:

  • Physical – exercise enough to break a sweat for 10 minutes (probably 20-30 minutes of movement a day in total) – he also says it’s essential to sleep for 8 hours (9pm-5am), and suggests no eating after 5:30pm
  • Emotional – cut people out of your life who drag you down, and always be honest (without being hurtful).
  • Mental – exercise the idea muscle – come up with a list of ideas every day
  • Spiritual – at least one of the following: pray, meditate, practice gratitude, practice forgiveness, study spiritual texts.

Altucher says that any time he feels things are going downhill in his life, it’s because he let this practice slip.

I agree with most of what he suggests, but of course we all have our own priorities. So here is my own list of things that help me ‘refresh my mindset’ in the hope that you’ll also find it useful.

With Hung and Elise

Mindful in May: Clear Mind For You, Clean Water for Others

Friends and family have been telling me for quite some time I should speak to a psychiatrist and whilst they are probably right, that isn’t why I’m posting this interview with Dr Elise Bialylew.

I thought you’d be interested in what Elise has to say because as well as being a medical doctor she is the founder of Mindful in May.

It’s a brilliant initiative which invites people to commit to a month of meditation practice for 10 minutes a day, whilst also helping raise money for Charity: Water (the same cause I gave up my last birthday and alcohol for 12 months for).

Headspace

It’s a No-Brainer: Headspace is the Easiest Way to Start Meditating

Headspace

Meditation. What does that word mean to you?

To some it will be a bit too airy fairy, and only something for hippies or weirdos. Or you might have heard a lot about it, but are unsure how to even go about getting started.

Well if you’re willing to look past your preconceptions or fears around meditation, you might want to try Headspace’s free Take Ten programme, which offers ten guided meditations lasting ten minutes.

Headspace takes a very modern approach, using great web and mobile design to help people establish a daily meditation habit. Each day you are guided through the process by Andy Puddicombe. Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk, so he knows his stuff!

Update: I’ve now completed the full Headspace program. I speak a little bit more about it, and the differences between mindfulness meditation and transcendental meditation in this podcast:

Why is Meditation Useful for Creative People?

I’m sure a lot of people reading this are attracted to the idea of taking some time out of their day in order to calm their mind. After all, with all the ideas and thoughts floating around our minds, us creative types probably need it more than most.

In fact, given the title of this blog, it’s perhaps surprising that I haven’t discussed meditation in depth before now.

The fact is that both anecdotal and scientific evidence have shown that there are widespread benefits to meditating regularly. I’m already feeling the benefits! The Headspace site has loads more info on this.

Why now?

You might want to try it now in order to help calm your mind at a busy and often stressful time of year. Or you may want to start doing it in the New Year. Thankfully, 10 minutes a day for 10 days is very manageable.

The truth is that whilst I’ve tried different meditation techniques in the past, I’ve never made it a regular habit.

And having given up drinking alcohol for what I’m calling ‘a Year of Clarity’ it made sense to try and establish a new, positive habit of meditating to take advantage of those mornings without a hangover.

Here are some of the positives and a few drawbacks of the Headspace approach. Bear in mind that the main Headspace programme takes a full year and there is a charge for it, so this free programme is obviously designed to get you to sign up to the full programme. However whilst you need to sign up with an email address, there is no charge for Take Ten itself.

Headspace phonePositives

  • Beautiful and useful design of both the website and mobile apps.
  • Very well designed apps for both iPhone and Android mean if you have a smartphone, you can access the Take Ten programme for free anywhere with a 3G connection.
  • The Take Ten programme is an extremely simple ‘taster’. Each meditation is guided so you can’t really go wrong.
  • It’s free!
  • You can set up reminders in the app so that you don’t forget to take part
  • There are videos which help you to approach the meditation including the best way to sit, and the best time to do the practice. Puddecombe suggests first thing in the morning, and I’ve found that repeating it a second time each day works really well.
I only found a few, very minor niggles about the Headspace system. Nothing’s perfect, after all and I’m sure these are things they could improve in future.

Negatives

  • You need to give your email address and you will be sent about 3 emails prompting you to sign up to the full programme. I would have preferred to only receive one email at the end, but perhaps the repetition helps people remember and you do get offered a decent discount on the normal annual fee which helps. The ‘from’ field in the email also says ‘lapsed’ which was a bit off-putting.
  • On one of the days there was some downtime on the Headspace server, meaning I couldn’t access the meditation recording on the phone app. However this does seem to be a rare occurrence as I have now signed up to the full year and done 10 more days without any problems.
  • There are videos in the app, but annoyingly they can’t be watched in landscape mode on my iPhone so they are very small. Apart from this, the app is very well designed, but this does irritate me every time a video pops up (some of the recordings have an additional video intro from Andy).

If you do sign up for the full year, you’ll get guided meditations for every single day of that year, which go through a number of different themes. The first programme once you sign up is Take Fifteen. Things do gradually become a little more complex as the days go by, but it’s manageable so far. Also by the end of the year you will have received guidance on how to meditate on your own.

Of course you could just as easily learn how to meditate from someone you know who is already doing it, or from a book, but I love the Headspace approach because it is making establishing a daily habit extremely easy and pleasurable. As the title of this review suggests, as far as I’m concerned, signing up was a no-brainer.

Here’s a good intro video if you want to find out a bit more.

Sign up here: www.getsomeheadspace.com

Let me know in the comments if you are going to try the Take Ten programme. Or, if you already meditate, let us know what benefits you’ve experienced from your practice.

If you found this post useful, you might also enjoy my free ebook ‘Refresh Your Mindset’ which is available free when you subscribe. (You can read an extract here).