4 Minute MeditationsNov 29, 2021
How to Console
Good morning and welcome to your seventy-fourth meditation. How do you console a friend? Do you say everything’s going to be alright or that everything happens for a reason? Or do you say you can’t imagine what it must feel like, or that what they’re going through must be really hard. Maybe you relate their experience to something that you yourself have experienced. Or maybe you insist that what they have lost wasn’t worth having in the first place. Perhaps each one of these approaches has its place depending on the context and the individual you are attempting to console. However, in a general sense, some approaches are better than others. But how do we determine which approach is the right one? And how can we know what to avoid if we want to be a good friend?
The answer must begin not with some abstract dictum, but with your very real, flesh-and-blood, living, breathing friend. Who are they? What are they going through right now? And what might they need from you? You may ask yourself “what would I want in this situation?”, and this could be helpful, absolutely. It puts you in your friend’s shoes, starting you on a path to empathy. But as thoughtful as that question is, it is only a first step. Remember, this is about your friend, not you. That means you will want to consider what they want, and how that may differ from what you think would be best for yourself.
And, very probably, what they want and need in this moment is not to be lectured or taught something. It is a natural impulse. We want to help our friends who are in pain, and sometimes, from the outside it seems obvious that if they simply changed this or that then they would feel better and maybe even avoid similar grief in the future. But, unless they have specifically asked for your advice, to offer it will likely seem smug and unsympathetic.
The same is true of pity. Although we often think of pity as somehow charitable in that it expresses concern for others, what it really does is separates the consoler and consolee into two distinct classes of people. The first is the class of the strong, unscathed, and unafflicted that look on from a place of relative comfort at those who suffer, who are hobbled, and weakened. This kind of dynamic may succeed in making the pitier feel better than before, but most likely will have the reverse effect on the pitied.
Often, the answer to how to be a good consoler is that you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to say anything. You just have to be there. You have to listen. You have to allow your friend to feel what they feel and allow them to feel supported in doing so… a hug and saying I love you can sometimes help too. Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.
How to Think about Making Money
Good morning and welcome to your seventy-third meditation. The global system in which we live is a capitalist one. Countries jostle for ever-better economic standing, just as the corporations and individuals within them do. And this worldwide obsession with growth is simultaneously outward looking and competitive - the more we see our neighbour reap, the more we tend to want for ourselves - and self-interested and individualistic - we are fixated on immediate benefits as they accrue to us, and tend to be blind to the true costs of said benefits. On the one hand, the competitiveness drives or perpetuates this growth, while the individualism ensures that it never slows or ceases. One is like an unlimited accelerator, while the other is like the absence of a brake.
As anyone can see, the effects of the rise of capitalism are mixed. In India, for example, the overall quality of life has improved drastically over the past 30 years. The BBC reports that rapid economic development in that country has led to improved access to healthcare and hygiene among its citizens which has in turn resulted in life expectancy increasing from 38 to 68 years within a generation.
And yet, along with India’s life expectancy, inequality in how wealth is distributed has also radically increased in recent years. According to Wikipedia, the “richest 1% of Indians own 58% of wealth, while the richest 10% of Indians own 80% of the wealth. This trend has consistently increased, meaning the rich are getting richer much faster than the poor, widening the income gap”. The poor are exploited for their labour and as a result, actually have less access to education and healthcare due to a phenomenon known as poverty trap.
And of course, the exploitation and serious damage left in the wake of capitalism does not end there. Our earth and all the species within it are paying a toll that is inestimable and yet perfectly predictable. Only our blinkered view of the importance of the acquisition of wealth and luxury enables us to magically ignore this fact.
So what can we do? It’s not like we can simply choose a different economic system to operate in, and renouncing all capitalistic ambitions is not going to help anyone. Rather it will likely make your life very difficult and possibly make the lives of those around you more difficult by extension. Remember that it is possible to have financial goals without being mercenary. You should not feel guilty or dubious about your motives. You deserve money. You need it. So go after it! Allow it to improve the quality of your life.
What we can do, however, is to check in with our motives. Ask yourself why you want more money. Is it to make ends meet? For security in case of an incident or for retirement? Maybe it’s so you can live a little more comfortably or fund interesting projects. These are all worthy reasons. If, on the other hand, making more money is about having what others have or having more than them, about status, about excessive consumption, or if your hunt for money becomes a goal in itself and is interfering with, rather than facilitating, an improved quality of life, then it might be worth reassessing. Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.
Good morning and welcome to your seventy-second meditation. We are, for the most part, living in a post-god world. The Washington Post cites a Gallup survey that tells us that in 1937 church membership in America was at 73% where now the number of Americans who regard themselves as members of a church, synagogue, or mosque has sunk below half. But the change is even more sudden than that.
What You Feel, What You Need
Good morning and welcome to your seventy-first meditation. For a relationship to be successful it is important to focus on your needs and how you feel, rather than what the other person has done wrong or what they have failed to do. Rather than saying “you never do the dishes” or “you always interrupt me”, it is much more effective to say “I feel like the kitchen is a mess and I could really use some help” or “I really want to tell you this and I need you to let me say what I’ve got to say”. Framing things in terms of your needs and feelings as opposed to as criticism means that your partner is far less likely to get defensive, and therefore, is far more likely to actually listen, be empathic, and cooperate.
On a Role
Good morning and welcome to your seventieth meditation. It is impossible to live in a society without assuming certain roles. As much as we like to fetishize originality, we do not generally invent roles for ourselves. Rather they tend to be largely pre-made, handed to us by a given situation. And we merely accept them, or dodge them.
A recast of one of our popular episodes! Do you ever put off cleaning the house for so long that it’s actually more work to navigate your cluttered space on a daily basis than it would be to clean it on a weekly one? Do you ever do your laundry, but then stop short of folding it, so that your clean clothes end up wrinkled on a now-unusable surface? Or do you tell yourself you’ll exercise and then keep coming up with excuses not to? Odds are, if you can’t identify with any of these examples, you probably have your very own equivalent.
Sex and Agency
Good morning and welcome to your sixty-ninth meditation. Sex. Sex takes so many forms in our society. It can be an expression of love or an expression of power. It can be a recreational activity or it can be a currency that confers a certain kind of social status. It can be a functional act of reproduction or a way to become completely engrossed in the here and now.
Allow Yourself Joy
Good morning and welcome to your sixty-eighth meditation. Do you ever have a tendency to overthink? Have you ever spoiled your own enjoyment of something by considering all the ways in which your expectations weren’t being met? Or by judging yourself for enjoying it?
Awkward Conversations on Critical Topics
Good morning and welcome to your sixty-seventh mediation. Do you have any beliefs or values that seem to make others uncomfortable? We’re not talking about actual harmful beliefs like those based on misinformation or racist ideologies, but just the opposite. We’re talking about beliefs or values founded on an informed determination to make the world a better place for everyone.
Good morning and welcome to your sixty-sixth meditation. In the past couple years, amongst lockdowns and limitations on our social mobility, many of us have found ourselves with more time on our hands than before. It may not always feel that way because time does seem to have a way of magically evaporating.
Hang Out With Kids
Good morning and welcome to your sixty-fifth meditation. Do you have kids in your life? You should. Don’t worry, this podcast is not going to be like those parents who insist that you owe them a grandchild, or those friends whose sanctimoniousness about their parenthood is alone enough to turn you off of ever wanting kids yourself. This podcast is not about parenting at all. It is simply about what can be gained from spending time with kids, whether as a parent, an aunt or an uncle, a babysitting neighbour, a teacher, a community leader, a grandparent, etc.
Ready Aim Focus
Good morning and welcome to your sixty-fourth mediation. Are you listening to this right now? Of course you are. But are you really listening? In other words, are you dedicating a degree of your attention to listening that allows you to comprehend everything being said, to generate your own ideas around the topic, and to even predict what will be said? Or are other unrelated thoughts invading your listening experience, making it hard for you to focus?
Happiness is a Verb
Good morning and welcome to your sixty-third meditation. Imagine life as a medieval king or queen. You are surrounded by servants. If you ever want a certain kind of food, you send someone to fetch it for you. If you want information you send someone to fetch it for you. If you want entertainment you send for it. You may not get what you demand instantly, but you’ll get it, so long as your servants can figure out a way to provide it. Now compare that life to that of the average person living today.
How Do You Eat?
Good morning and welcome to your sixty-second meditation. How do you eat? You may think this question involves only what you eat and how much, but it’s actually much more complicated than that. Many of us have extremely complex relationships with food, and to discuss the types and quantities of food we consume is to only just scratch the surface of this issue. Some other questions we may want to ask on the subject that will likely be far more revealing and helpful are: why do I eat the types of food that I eat?
Good morning and welcome to your sixty-first meditation. Last week’s meditation was about making resolutions and how to carry them out. Today we’re going to talk about when to carry them out. And you likely won’t be surprised by the answer to this question.
New Year’s Resolutions
Good morning and welcome to your sixtieth meditation. What should your New Year’s resolutions be? Some of us will have a very clear idea of all the wonderful things they want to accomplish this year, while others may be uncertain. But, whatever you do, don’t miss this opportunity to make a resolution or two. It’s easy enough to think that the practice of making New Year’s resolutions is both arbitrary and hackneyed, and to opt out of it on these grounds. But instead of critiquing this institutionalized form of self-improvement, why not just take advantage of any available opportunity to lead a more deeply considered and deliberate life?
REPOST: Own Your Feelings
You’re here. Despite everything you’re here. You made the effort. By listening to this podcast you have taken an important step toward attaining the feeling of control and agency that you are seeking in your life. Congratulations. Keep it up.
Acknowledge Your Creativity
Good morning and welcome to your fifty-ninth meditation. Many people believe that they are not creative. Maybe they think that they didn’t get into any creative pursuit early enough, or that they quit too early, and that it’s too late and their days are too filled up to start learning one now. Often they think that there is a portion of the population whose role in society is to be creative, and that they simply do not belong to this bracket. As though personality types were so clean-cut. And this misconception is fueled by an appellation like “creatives”, which simultaneously, and paradoxically, banalizes and accords an inaccessible mystique to those to whom it refers.
Good morning and welcome to your fifty-eighth meditation. It happens sometimes. You’re weeding the garden and that especially stubborn little plant, after much cajoling, finally, and suddenly, releases itself from the earth, sending you falling backward onto your wrist. You’re hiking and your foot doesn’t land flat on the ground and one side of your ankle is the unwilling recipient of your entire body weight.
Your Fate is Deciding
Good morning and welcome to your fifty-seventh meditation. You are in a situation where you are confronted with a decision that you have to make. To avoid the decision altogether is a decision in itself that will be far more likely to yield undesired results than if you take initiative and decide for yourself. But how does one decide?
That Place We Sometimes Go
Good morning and welcome to your fifty-sixth meditation. There is a place that all of us go sometimes that is not located in the world outside of us, but within us. Indeed, it can make the external world feel alien to us or even hostile. It is a place of deep feeling, where inner sensations like anxiety, sadness, sorrow, reflectiveness, frustration, and sometimes anger are heightened.
Good morning and welcome to your fifty-fifth meditation. Last week we discussed taking the time to make sure that what you are doing in your life aligns with what is fundamentally important to you. This week will act as a kind of sequel to that episode. Because sometimes, if you do give yourself that time, you may realize that what you are doing and what you care about do not in fact line up.
Take the Time to Check in with What Matters Most
Good morning and welcome to your fifty-fourth meditation. Can you just sit and do nothing? Maybe some people will hear that question and think, “I wish I had time to do that! Sounds like a dream!”. Others might think “that sounds like a nightmare.
Re-release: An Act of Self-Love
A re-release of the very first 4 minute meditation podcast. What's so great about this podcast is every meditation is applicable for any day of your life! Today, we'll go back to where it all began! Any mediation or moment of self reflection, is a good moment. Have a wonderful day.
Good morning and welcome to your fifty-third meditation. Do you like to be scared? Some people would scoff and say “of course not! Why would anyone want to be scared”. Well, this is precisely the question that today’s podcast will set out to answer, and in doing so, lay out a defense for the incorporation of a little fright in our lives.
Celebrate Your Successes
Good morning and welcome to your fifty-second meditation. And fifty-two weekly meditations is cause for celebration because it marks one year of being together; one year of doing our best to learn to love ourselves and each other as much as possible; one year of actively aspiring to be better. How great is that!
Good morning and welcome to your fifty-first meditation. Mayo Clinic tells us it reduces stress, improves our immune system, and it can be an effective pain-killer. It enhances our mood, raises our self-esteem, improves our ability to cope with difficult situations, and contributes to our overall happiness and satisfaction with life. Oh, and it’s free, readily available, and has no negative side-effects. What could this miracle drug be? The answer is the same as it is for a surprising number of life’s problems: laughter.
Good morning and welcome to your fiftieth meditation. Do you ever put off cleaning the house for so long that it’s actually more work to navigate your cluttered space on a daily basis than it would be to clean it on a weekly one? Do you ever do your laundry, but then stop short of folding it, so that your clean clothes end up wrinkled on a now-unusable surface? Or do you tell yourself you’ll exercise and then keep coming up with excuses not to? Odds are, if you can’t identify with any of these examples, you probably have your very own equivalent.
The Power of Dreams
Good morning and welcome to your forty-ninth meditation. What is the importance of dreams? Do you believe that they are just nonsensical jumbles of impressions, incoherent syntheses of all of your thoughts and sense memory from your waking life? Or do you believe they hold a depth of meaning that we are incapable of grasping while awake, that, when correctly interpreted, can reveal something to us about ourselves, or about reality, that we otherwise never would have known?
Jobs and the Social Hierarchy
Good morning and welcome to your forty-eighth meditation. Your job. In the capitalist world in which we live this concept can be about as fundamental to your social identity as your name. Surely you’ve enjoyed the experience of being at a party and meeting people you don’t know. Typically, if they do you the courtesy of first asking your name, the question of what you do for a living tends to follow closely behind. Even if that person is merely meaning to be polite, they are subconsciously placing you in a social hierarchy where high-paying, important-sounding jobs garner respect, and low-paying jobs are held in contempt. We internalize these judgments so that our jobs can be a point of pride, or the subject of shame, for all the wrong reasons.
Good morning and welcome to your forty-seventh meditation. How much do you read? Don’t worry, this isn’t a test. There’s no judgment in the question. If your answer is hardly at all, that would make you completely normal on this particular score. A recent survey conducted by Pew Research showed that more than a quarter of Americans said they hadn’t read a book in over a year.
Staying in Touch
Good morning and welcome to your forty-sixth meditation. Do you struggle to stay in touch with old friends? Does it cause you undue stress? Does it feel like just one more thing you have to do? This meditation will suggest some ways of dealing with that feeling on an emotional level, as well as offer some practical tips of what you can do (and avoid doing) to make it easier for you to stay in touch, and maintain and nurture those relationships that enrich your life.
Sorry” Is Only the Beginning
Good morning and welcome to your forty-fifth meditation. Imagine that you are engaged in a heated argument. You feel yourself becoming frustrated and angry. You can observe yourself being swept up in this powerful and acute emotional energy, and yet are unable to stop it.
You Can’t Fail at Learning
Good morning and welcome to your forty-fourth meditation. When’s the last time you dedicated yourself to learning something new? Has it been a while? Do you feel a little intimidated by learning in a way that you never did when you were young? Like perhaps your mind has been gradually getting duller and duller, and your inevitably failed attempts at learning will only be a testament to that suspicion? Don’t worry! So many adults feel this way.
Love Yourself First
Good morning and welcome to your forty-third meditation. Let’s say you think of yourself as a good person. You have a desire to help others. You’re kind, patient, understanding. But sometimes you feel like embodying these qualities gets you into trouble. You feel like you get taken advantage of, like people don’t value your time, you miss out on opportunities because you put others before yourself.
Good morning and welcome to your forty-second meditation. Do you ever feel like you’ve got too much stuff? Like your belongings are cluttering up your living space, and, as a result, your whole life feels a bit cluttered as well? One problem with having too much stuff is that it can obscure the value of what you have.
Managing Erratic Self-Esteem
Good morning and welcome to your forty-first meditation. Do you experience noticeable vacillations in self-worth? In how talented you think you are? In how likeable you view yourself to be? Do you feel on certain days like you’ve assembled the pieces of your life into a pretty solid structure, while on other days all those pieces seem to be just lying on the floor in disarray? If your answer to these questions is “no”, you can count yourself as a rare exception.
Good morning and welcome to your fortieth meditation. How do you deal with the feeling of overwhelm? With the feeling that there are just too many things to do and not enough time to do them? Do you just jump right in and start doing what needs to get done? Or do you do anything but those things in a semi-conscious effort to avoid having to do them?
Your Moral Isn’t Moral For All
Good morning and welcome to your thirty-ninth meditation. Every conscientious person spends a lot of time thinking about and crafting a moral system that can guide their decisions in life. That system tells us how to behave, dictates what is important to us, and plays a huge role in the type of person we are generally.
The Second Step
Good morning and welcome to your thirty-eighth meditation. There is a narrative that has existed for a long time that says that we should silently, stoically endure whatever hardships life throws at us. It tells us that to be vulnerable is to be weak, and what’s worse, it makes us appear weak to others.
When to Let Someone Go
Good morning and welcome to your thirty-seventh meditation. Relationships are hard. They require work. Whether it is with a friend, a spouse, a lover, or a family member, we cannot simply establish a relationship and expect it to remain static, in its pristine initial incarnation. Rather, a relationship is a process, subject to all the constant change that life imposes on us as individuals.
Good morning and welcome to your thirty-sixth meditation. Remember when you were a kid and you used to ask your friends to play? What a beautiful way to propose spending time together. Of course, as adults we have our ways of expressing the same thing: “you wanna hang out?”, “let’s get together”, “we should go for a coffee”. But do these phrases, more adult-appropriate as they may be, really express the same thing as that old childhood invitation?
The Self as One
Good morning and welcome to your thirty-fifth meditation. We often hear that we are comprised of three distinct elements: mind, body, and soul. The mind does the reasoning, the body is our physical incarnation, and the soul is our essence and what connects us to that which is beyond ourselves.
The Planet and You
Good morning and welcome to your thirty-fourth meditation. There is no denying it. Our earth is in peril. In the last fifty years we have lost 68% of our planet’s biodiversity. We are losing up to one-hundred fifty species every single day. The situation is dire, and the scientific consensus is that this is the result of humanity’s impact on the globe. Although other species have largely borne the brunt of our catastrophic negligence, we are beginning to see all the ways we too will become victims of our own carelessness.
Meditate on Your Mood
Good morning and welcome to your thirty-third meditation. You know that feeling when a mood descends over you like a thick, heavy blanket? And not a comfortable blanket, but more like one that you’re trapped under. Bad moods certainly are uncomfortable; they can be an inconvenience, and they can make for a really unpleasant day. But that’s all fine.