Free 30-Day Mindfulness Summit

30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 5)

“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.”
~Sharon Salzberg

Mindfulness Summit

If you are interested in learning how to practice mindfulness meditation, here’s some great news.

The Mindfulness Summit 2015, a free online event, begins today.

It is a 31-day online summit from the world’s most respected teachers of mindfulness meditation, including Tami Simon, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, Joseph Goldstein, Arianna Huffington. They will share their tips, stories and some of the best ways to incorporate mindfulness into you everyday life.

The Mindfulness Summit is being hosted by Melli O’Brien (of It’s a not-for-profit online program from 1st October to 31st October 2015. The summit will give you access to a series of high-quality mindfulness trainings, online interviews, practice sessions and tips.

Schedule of the The Mindfulness Summit:

DAY 1  Professor Mark Williams: An Introduction To Mindfulness

DAY 2  Joseph Goldstein: Practical Guidance On Mindful Living & Overcoming Common Obstacles

DAY 3  Dan Harris: From Sceptic to Meditator. Dan Shares How He ‘Tamed The Voice In His Head’ & How You Can Too

DAY 4  Jono Fisher: Mindful Masculinity, Conscious Capitalism and Kindness

DAY 5  Dr. Susan Albers: How to Practice Mindful Eating

DAY 6  Tami Simon: How Does Mindfulness Relate To Spiritual Awakening? An Interview & Meditation

DAY 7  Dr. Rick Hanson: The Neuroscience Of Mindfulness

DAY 8  Elisha Goldstein: How To Integrate Mindfulnes Into Everyday Life

DAY 9  Ruby Wax: How Mindfulness Can Transform Depression, Overcome Performance Anxiety & Create A ‘Sane New World’

DAY 10  Tara Brach: How To End ‘The Trance of Unworthiness’ & Move Through Fear

DAY 11  Shamash Alidina: Practical Tips on Becoming More Mindful (Submit Questions for Day 17 Today)

DAY 12 Sam Harris: Waking Up. A Powerful Talk About Spirituality Without Religion

DAY 13  Jack Kornfield: Integrating ‘Spiritual’ Life With Everyday Life

DAY 14  Vidyamala Burch: Mindfulness For Chronic Pain & Suffering

DAY 15  Professor Paul Gilbert: How To Practice Mindful Compassion

DAY 16  Dr. Dan Siegel & Caroline Welch: The Effects of Technology + Mindfulness Business & Leadership

DAY 17  Question and Answer Day 1

DAY 18  Lori Deschene: Mindfulness With Technology & The Power of Authenticity

DAY 19  Dr. Russ Harris: How To Observe Your Thoughts & Feelings Without Getting Caught Up

DAY 20  Arianna Huffington: How To Thrive In This Information Age

DAY 21  Timothea Goddard: The Insights & Realisations That Develop Through Mindfulness

DAY 22  Mirabai Bush: Mindfulness In Business (Submit Questions for Day 30 Today)

DAY 23  Dr. Kristen Race: Mindful Parenting

DAY 24  Dan Goleman: Why Focus Is The Hidden Driver Of Excellence

DAY 25  Katherine WeareTeaching Mindfulness To Children

DAY 26  Michael Chaskalson: Mindfulness For Peak Performance

DAY 27  Richard Burnett: Mindfulness In Schools

DAY 28  Mindfulness Apps, Tools & Tech Day

DAY 29  Dr. Judson Brewer: Mindfulness For Addiction

DAY 30  Question & Answer Day 2

DAY 31  Jon Kabat-Zinn: LIVESTREAM October 31st 5:00 PM EDT/ 2:00 PM PDT/ 8:00 AM 1st November AEDT

Lifetime Access to The Mindfulness Summit 2015

Access to each day’s session is free for the first 24 hours.

However, if you want a Full Summit Access Pass, you can make a discounted donation of $79 ($99 after 15th October  and $149 after 31st Oct). This includes permanent access to:

  • All 31 days of video content to download or stream as much as you like
  • All 31 days of full audio versions to download or stream as much as you like
  • Full PDF transcripts of all the video content
  • Exclusive access to the full meditation album to download or stream from all the meditation sessions
  • 5 Free bonus gifts supplied by our speakers

All net proceeds go to mindfulness-based charities.

Actionable Tip:

To join The Mindfulness Summit, register your place at

If you join the Summit, let us know in the comments below.


Meditation and the Monkey Mind

30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 4)

“The ego is like a clever monkey, which can co-opt anything, even the most spiritual practices, so as to expand itself.”
~Jean-Yves Leloup

Meditation to overcome monkey mind

How do I meditate, you ask?

I sit in a comfortable upright posture, close my eyes and focus all my attention on my breath coming in and going out.

I do this for a few minutes and sometimes for longer periods.

This sounds easy to do but it’s not.

Because when I meditate, I come face to face with the monkey-mind.

And the monkey-mind likes to chatter. A lot. All the time.

Before I know it, I’m caught in its chatter.

Sometimes it’s about the things I did or didn’t do or the things I should do or shouldn’t do.

Sometimes it’s about things I said or saw or thought or heard or ate or should have.

After a while, I realize this and turn my attention back to the breath.

This is the beginner’s mind.

It helps me to start again and again and to persist in the face of failure.

Sometimes I start to write an article or explore an enticing idea or relive a pleasant memory.

Sometimes I fall asleep.

At such times, it’s more difficult to switch off the monkey and bring back mindfulness.

Meditation is my favorite activity. It’s what I want to excel in more than anything else.

And yet, I confess that I’m still a novice at it, even after years of practice.

When I say I’m a novice, I mean that the monkey-mind still wins more often than not when pitted against the lion of my mindfulness.

More often than I care to admit, even to myself.

It breaks my heart but I accept this truth.

Because in meditation as with writing, the process is more important than the product.

Disinterested action is the key.

As my meditation teacher says, “Do the work and don’t bother about the results because no step on the path is wasted.”

And rarely, I am rewarded with the still mind.

It’s the time when my mind is a silent witness.

It’s the time when the monkey stops chattering and goes somewhere else.

(This is rare, at least for me.)

Sometimes the monkey is back even before I realize it was gone, as if it’s a bloody boomerang.

And so I persist. I sit and I observe my breath and my mind.

It’s better than sitting around doing nothing. (:-)

Actionable tip:

Have you ever tried to witness the monkey in your mind and its incessant chatter?

Try it right now – close your eyes and watch the flow of thoughts for a while.

Did you do it?

What happened?

Share with us in the comments below.


8 Reasons Why Meditate You Don’t

30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 3)

“To earn the trust of your meditation, you have to visit it every day. It’s like having a puppy.”
Chelsea Richer

mindfulness meditation myths

Have you heard meditation? Probably you’ve also heard about the many benefits of meditation practice. However, you haven’t tried it out yet, right?

You are not alone.

Most people have misconceptions about meditation that prevent them from trying it out. The most common misconceptions about meditation are:

1. Meditation is linked to a particular religion
You don’t have to be a Buddhist to practice mindfulness. The practice of mindfulness is independent of religious beliefs or practices. Mindfulness is a secular solution to the universal problem of human suffering. The practice of mindfulness will make you a happier and better human being, irrespective of your religion.

2. Meditation takes up a lot of time every day
One of the most enduring myths about mindfulness is that you have to sit for at least one hour if you want to benefit from it.
Regular mindfulness practice is more important than the duration of practice. You will gain many benefits even if you meditate for a few minutes every day. Indeed, you may be able to focus your attention better in a ten-minute sitting than in an hour-long sitting.

3. Meditation means going into a trance
Meditation does not mean achieving a blank mind. On the contrary, meditation helps you to increase your awareness in your daily life.

4. Meditation helps to develop extraordinary psychic powers
The main purpose of meditation is to strengthen and purify the mind. Though meditation is linked to the development of psychic powers in some individuals such as levitation or the ability to read the minds of others, such powers should not be given any importance. The Buddha forbade his disciples from demonstrating psychic powers to prevent the spread of this myth.

5. Meditation is meant only for saints and hermits
This attitude is common in India where people worship holy men and consider them to be extraordinarily pious. However, meditation is not a transcendental practice strictly for recluses and hermits; it is a practical skill that you can apply at home and at work.

6. Meditation is a form of escapism
Meditation does not mean you are running away from reality. Instead, it gives you the mental strength and clarity to successfully handle the challenges in your life.
For example, this is what Jerry Seinfeld has to say about his meditation practice: “With ‘Seinfeld’ I was doing a TV series in which I was the star of the show, the executive producer of the show, the head writer, in charge of casting and editing, for 24 episodes on network television, not cable — for nine years! And I’m just a normal guy. And that was not a normal situation to be in… So I meditated every day. And that’s how I survived the nine years.”

7. Meditation is selfish and self-indulgent
The purpose of meditation is to develop positive mental qualities like compassion, courage and equanimity and to get rid of negative mental qualities like anger, greed and fear. Meditation helps us to become genuinely selfless so that we can act in the highest interests of ourselves and others.

8. Mindfulness requires special preparation or skills
You can start mindfulness meditation right now, right here.
You don’t have to study philosophy or wait for perfect conditions before you start. You don’t need to join a meditation course at a meditation center or take instruction from a meditation teacher, unless you want to. You can start right here, right now.

Actionable Tip:

Take a minute to reflect on which of these eight reasons have stopped you from trying out meditation.

Share with us in the comments below.




How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation Right Now

30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 2)

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our happiness.”
~Victor Frankl

mindfulness meditation

There is no longer any doubt about the benefits of meditation. Scores of research papers have documented the positive effects of meditation on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

However, among all diverse types of meditation practices, the most popular worldwide is mindfulness meditation.

 What is mindfulness meditation?

Oxford Dictionaries Online defines mindfulness as a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines it more simply: “Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

So, being mindful means to be attentive to whatever is happening within you and around you.

How to practice mindfulness meditation

Imagine you’re sitting alone on the bank of a river, watching the river water flow past. All your attention is on the swiftly-flowing water without undue effort – your body and mind is relaxed and yet aware.

Sometimes, the flow of the water is fast; sometimes, it is sluggish. Sometimes, the river flow silently; sometimes, it rushes past noisily. And sometimes, it seems that the river isn’t flowing at all. And you witness all these different states of flow calmly, silently, effortlessly.

Similarly, during mindfulness meditation practice, we direct our attention to the flow of our incoming and outgoing breath.

Sometimes, the breath may be short or long or it may be rough or subtle or sometimes we cannot feel the breath at all. Our only work is to be a witness and to observe the breath as it passes in and out through our nostrils.

  • When we breathe in, we are aware: “This is incoming breath.”
  • When we breathe out, we are aware: “This is outgoing breath.”

This practice may seem simple and straightforward but, as you will discover, it’s the most difficult skill to develop. And the only way to understand mindfulness is to practice it yourself.

Don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself right now.

Actionable tip

Set your timer or smartphone alarm to ring after two minutes.

Sit upright, close your eyes and breathe deeply five times.

Now allow your breath to become normal and witness your incoming and outgoing breath.

Continue until the alarm goes off.

Do this right now.


Congratulations, you have just practiced mindfulness meditation.

Did you observe your breath for two minutes?

If yes, what was your experience?

If no, why didn’t you try it?

Share with us in the comments below.








The Way to Become a Better Writer

The Way to Become a Better Writer

30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 1)

“If you get in the habit of putting something in front of people every single day, even if it’s only ten people by email, your writing will shift and you will adopt the voice you’re meant to have.” ~Seth Godin

30 Day Blogging Challenge Prologue

Last week, I asked one of my close friends for feedback on my writing.  He said, “I visited your blog and found that you have published only six posts. And the last post is quite old. Why aren’t you posting more regularly on your blog?”

Why indeed? The answer is procrastination and perfectionism. In the words of writing coach Holly Lisle, “Safe never starts, perfect never ends.”

Today, I read a post by Steven Pressfield in which he asked, “What single skill is most critical to the artist?” The answer he says is not insight, passion, capacity for hard work or even the ability to handle criticism.

Instead, he says that the single most critical skill for the artist is the ability to sit down and do her work.

I ruminated on this all day yesterday and recalled ace writer Sean D’Souza‘s advice in an interview. He said that it took him ages to write a single article until he started to write an article every day. The more he wrote, the better he became and now he’s an ace at writing articles. He even teaches an article-writing course.

Long story short, I decided to write and post an article every day on my blog for the next 30 days.

The Rules for the 30 Day Blogging Challenge:

  1. Each post must be at least 300 words, ideally 500 words.
  2. It must be useful for anyone who cares to read it and have at least one actionable tip.
  3. It must require minimum research.
  4. It must be posted by 8 pm daily or before dinner, whichever is earlier. (No article, no dinner.)

I’ve resolved not miss a single day for the next 30 days. In case I miss one day, I’ll write two articles the next day.

Sarah Arrow’s 30 Day Blogging Challenge

I Googled 30 Day Blogging Challenge and luckily came across Sarah Arrow’s site, where she offers support for the Blogging Challenge with daily emails and a Facebook group.I’ve promptly joined her email list and the Facebook group. It exponentially increases my chances of completing my challenge successfully.

Actionable Tip:

What is your biggest challenge? What are you struggling with?

It may be wanting to write or exercise daily or even to wake up earlier or to watch less TV.

The best way to do it successfully is to create a 30 Day Challenge.

  • Create a plan and make it public.
  • Then do it every day for 30 days.

You will be surprised at the results.

What 30 Day Challenge will you take up? Share with us in the comments below.


Dear Twitter, Will You Be My Blog’s Valentine?


Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day to your blog

“If my Valentine you won’t be,
I’ll hang myself on your Christmas tree.”
~Ernest Hemingway, 88 Poems

After publishing yet another post on my blog, I decided to take a well-deserved break. I grabbed Slyvester and started to tickle his tummy.

Suddenly he stopped purring, his eyes widened with fear, and he shrieked, “I think I see a Tweety bird!”

I turned around saw a bird, as blue as the cloudless summer sky, grinning at us.

“Hello, I’m Tweety bird.”

Seeing my look of dumb incomprehension, it explained, “From”

Slyvester cowered behind me and asked tremulously, “And to what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?”

The bird looked unblinkingly at us and then squeaked, “I’ve come to ask you three questions. You need not ponder before you answer the first two because you’ll neither be rewarded if you are right nor punished if you are wrong.”

I shrugged my shoulders. “Those are my favorite kind of questions.

Fire away, sweet Tweety.”

First Question

“What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

I’d heard this one before, so I didn’t waste any time in my reply, “I dunno.”

Tweety smirked and said, “Your blog without Twitter.”

Wise guy. I counted ten slow breaths to calm myself down.

Second Question

The insufferable bird continued, “If you say something on your blog and no one reads it, will it make a sound?”

“Pass.” I said coldly.

I found it hard to tolerate this bird’s snarky comments about my blog. Slyvester, my knavish cat, was making loud choking noises, as if he had a fishbone stuck in his throat.

Tweety said gently, “Please don’t resent the first two questions. They are like a bitter medicinal potion. But the third question is like nectar – not only is it sweet but it will also heal the illness afflicting your blog.”

“Then ask your third question and leave us in peace.” I was mollified though not fully.

Third Question

Tweety cocked its head to the right and asked coyly, “Will you let me be your blog’s Valentine?”

I shook my head sorrowfully, “I’m awfully sorry but I just don’t have the time to tweet or twitter.”

Tweety was unfazed, “Can you spare about five minutes today?”

“Well, yes,” I said grudgingly, and Slyvester stopped caterwauling.

“That’s all you need to start! And surely, you must have heard that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. All you need to do is register here to gain entry to Ali Baba’s cave of treasures. It’s free, today and forever.”

“Yes, that’s all very well but then what?”

“Well, it’s completely up to you. If you wish, you can log in and tweet, favorite, or retweet for a few minutes a day. Or once a week. From my side, there are no strings, no expectations, and no attachments.”

“Hmm. One last question. What’s the benefit if I use Twitter for just a few minutes a day?

Tweety rubbed its tiny wings together, produced a golden lamp and handed over to me. “Rub this magic lamp and it will help you to find the solution to every problem.”

I grabbed the lamp with both hands.

Tweety flapped its wings impatiently and asked, “For the last time, will you let me be your blog’s Valentine?”

“Heck, yes,” I said, with a new-found confidence.

Tweety disappeared with a beatific smile and Slyvester started purring again.

When I rubbed the lamp, it instantly turned into a signboard called… Free Resources

The Ultimate Twitter Guide to Crush Your Competition
How You Can Use Twitter to Land More Freelance Gigs
Use This Twitter Technique to Make Big Things Happen
How to Boost Your Blog Traffic With a Twitter Contest
Twitter Marketing with Stephanie Montreuil (podcast)

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

(Do you use Twitter? How does it help you to promote your writing? Let us know in the comments below.)


[Originally published at How to Tell a Great Story]


How James Chartrand Helped Me Publish 6 Kindle Books in 5 Months


Damn Fine Words contest

Damn Fine Words – the best writing course for business owners

“The problem is not the problem.

The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean




(Official entry: Damn Fine Words Contest)

My life changed on April 4, 2014.

Correction: it didn’t change—it was transformed by two events.

The first event was the epiphany I gained by reading the following post by James Chartrand:

Why some people make money writing and others never will

In this must-read post, James says that writing practice is essential but not enough to be a successful professional writer.

She goes on to define the Four Secret Keys of a Successful Writing Habit:

Key #1: Specific, writing-centric goals:

According to James, “If you want to make money with words, you need to constantly set, work towards and achieve specific writing goals.”

Repeatedly; day after day, week after week.

Key #2: Community

Spending time with other writers, exchanging notes and critiques and gaining mutual support is crucial for success as a writer. Most writers try to go it alone and wonder why it’s such an uphill struggle.

James echoes the words of the Buddha who taught that noble companionship is indispensable for spiritual progress.

Key #3: Accountability

All successful writers know that writing is hard work. To succeed as a writer, you need to be disciplined, diligent, patient and persistent.

However, you can’t do it alone. You need an accountability buddy.

But your accountability buddy should be someone who sets high standards for your success and makes sure you stick to them. Otherwise, it just won’t work.

If you want a top-notch professional accountability coach, check out this free video course – Commit Action.

(You have to opt in but it’s totally worth it.)

Key #4: a Mentor

Most writers (and that included me before I read this article) don’t realize that success is impossible without a mentor. You have to select your mentor with care. So how do you choose your mentor?

James says that a few minutes of conversation with your mentor should create more direction, clarity and progress for you than weeks of even the best comradeship with a mediocre teacher. (More on this, later.)

James stresses that all these four keys—specific goals, community, accountability and mentorship—are essential if you want to progress from a wannabe amateur to a successful professional writer. Miss one and you will probably find yourself forever in permanent aspiring writer hell.

The second life-transforming event:

This was great but the real game-changer happened because of an online conversation with James in  the comments section of the above post.

It demonstrates the essence of effective mentorship.

Read it – her advice can be applied by any and all writers – it’s super-distilled wisdom. (I read it regularly.)

Free mentorship session with James:

In response to my initial comment about how I planned to implement the four success keys, James asked:

If you could pick three long-term goals (6 months tops) right now, what three would they be?

And if you could break those long-term goals down into bite-sized, 15-minute actionable tasks… what would you choose to work on right now, today?

I listed my three long-term goals for the next six months:

1. Publish six e-books on Kindle, Smashwords, etc. – one every month

2. Send 60 queries to blogs / publications – 10 every month

3. Develop my blog and email list – try to reach the magic figure of 1000 subscribers in six months.

(4. Join DFW.)

James replied:

“Looking at that list of goals and thinking about a six-month period to accomplish all that within… well, if someone handed me that list and said, “Go, James!” I’d either cry or have to clear the decks of everything in my life to work 80-hour weeks. (And then I’d cry.)

I’m VERY big on SMART goals: specific, manageable, action-oriented, realistic and time-based – and I think the realistic one is falling a bit short.

But I know that if you were to break these tasks down into 15-minute action steps, you’d quickly see that for yourself – the list of ALL that you have to do to achieve this would show you right away that it’s not very feasible.

So were this ME, I’d try for this:

1) 1 ebook – drafted and edited, ready to publish by the six-month mark
2) Send 1 query a week for 6 months
3) Strategize a plan to add new subscribers to the blog

But that’s just me.”

Her reply made me realize that my goals were too ambitious.

So I decided to focus on publishing six Kindle books on Amazon.

Five months later, here they are:

  1. How Merry Jones Married Princess Mercy
  2. Prince Merrifix and the Two Wizards
  3. The Secret of the Black Knight
  4. Kosey and the Four Tigers
  5. The Secret of the King’s New Clothes
  6. How Lucky Max Defeated Two Giants and a Dragon

To understand the significance of this achievement, you have to know how much I have struggled to write and publish anything over the past few years.

One of my earlier posts written in 2012 describes how I almost gave up writing:

A Giant Step in the Right Direction

(It was also my first entry for the Damn Fine Words contest.) (:-)

To conclude, if a couple of short messages from James can make such a huge difference, you can imagine what I can achieve if I joined the Damn Fine Words course.

It is a 10-week online copywriting course with 6 modules and 20 lessons where I’ll learn specific writing techniques in a logical, progressive order—with a group of other highly  motivated writers.

Most importantly, it includes mentorship from James, the founder, creator and course instructor of Damn Fine Words.

Once I complete the Damn Fine Words course, I plan to do the Damn Fine Ebooks course – James’s E-book Writing Course.

And life is going to be exceedingly sweet.

Thanks for reading, James. :-)

Over to you:

Who is your mentor and what is the best advice you have ever received from her / him?

Let us know in the comments below.

Damn Fine Words Enter Here


Quick Update: 

The Damn Fine Words Writing Contest for the February session is now open.

First prize is a full scholarship to the February 2015 session of Damn Fine Words (retail value $1,599). The runner-up will win a 50% scholarship applicable to their registration for the February session. For more details, click here: Damn Fine Words Writing Contest.

The Damn Fine Words writing course opens to new students on February 2, 2015. Check out the details here.

(NB Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.)


The Best Thing You Can Do With Your Lips

smile more

“A smile is such a little thing,
it does not cost a lot;
It’s free to beggars and to kings;
so why not smile a lot?”
Source Unknown

 Pause for a moment and think back to the last time you smiled.
When was it? Today? Yesterday? Can’t remember?
Do you need a reason to smile? Do you ever smile for no reason at all?

 You should smile as often as you can because when you smile, you automatically relax, and:

  • Your mood perks up
  • Your ability to deal with stress improves
  • Your immunity to illness increases
  • Your heart rate and blood pressure decreases
  • Your breathing slows down and expands
  • Your body releases “feel good” hormones such as serotonin and endorphins
  • Your facial muscles get a good workout, and as a result, you look younger

If you smile more, you’ll probably live longer and you’ll definitely be happier.

Continue reading


Simple Blueprint for Quick and Easy Publication of Your First Ebook

roadmap to publishing

After two years of procrastination, I finally published my first Kindle e-book on Amazon KDP as my entry for Nick Daw’s KindleFever contest.

 The main reason for my success is a tool that every writer must use:
a simple checklist.

 Here’s the checklist that I created:
Continue reading

Let Humor Accompany You Like The Shadow That Never Leaves

Let Humor Accompany You Like The Shadow That Never Leaves


Humor is everywhere.

if you look for it, you will find it everywhere.

It may be lurking among the bloodshed and gore of the daily news of your favorite newspaper; you only have to turn to the cartoon strips buried within deep within its pages.

The cartoon page is the place where perfect comeback lines abound:

There Hobbes the tiger tells Calvin the enfant terrible: “Why waste time learning when ignorance is instantaneous?”

And Calvin responds, “Life is too inconvenient.”

When Snoopy the dog gets a letter from the editor, “Please don’t send us any more stories. Please. Please. Please.” Snoopy says with a leer. “I love to hear them beg.”

Continue reading