Establishing a daily meditation practice.

How Long Does it Take to Establish a Healthy Habit

A recent study found that for some people healthy habits felt automatic after just 18 days — for others, it took 254 days. The study found that on average it took 66 days to lock in a healthy habit.

The daily habit of meditation is one of the most powerful things I’ve learned. I have been meditating daily for 65 days and it feels like I have firmly established the habit.  How can you establish a meditation habit? And why do it? Here are some tips from my experience.

  1. Chose a Length of Time that Challenges You, but one you can do every day. I meditate for 30 minutes, every day. I had practiced Zen for 10 years in the past so I was used to 30-40 minute meditation periods. If you have no experience, it might be best to start with 5 minutes every day. Make doing it every day the most important thing, not how long you do it. You can always increase the length of time later as you establish the habit.
  2. Choose a Posture That’s Comfortable. I meditate in a chair. Sure, sitting in full lotus like the Buddha looks really cool, and it’s more stable than a chair but I can’t do that. So I sit in a chair. You might be able to sit in full lotus or one of the other cross legged postures,and that’s great. If you practice yoga you’ve got a head start. The Buddha statue above is a good model. You want a position that you can do  without undue pain, but is not so relaxing that you fall asleep. Leaning back on the couch is not a good choice.
  3. Focus on Your Breath. It’s good to have a focus to come back to when your mind drifts — and it will. I count each breath on the exhale — from one to ten, and then I start over. If my mind drifts and I lose the count, I start over at one. This happens a lot! When you begin meditating it feels like your mind has a mind of its own. When you lose the count, just go back to one and begin again. This is what I do. Does this seem too mechanical to you? Another way of using the breath is just to notice each inhalation and exhalation. And when you realize you’re lost in thought, bring yourself gently back to your breath. You’ll probably need to do this many times in each session.
  4. Meditate at Home Alone most of the time. If you always meditate with others, what happens when they’re not around or when you go on vacation? It’s easy to become dependent on others for your discipline. This is your quiet time, you’re healthy habit. Of course it’s useful and enjoyable to practice with a group at times. The group energy is invigorating and encouraging. I practiced almost every day at a zen center for years, but in all those years I never established my own home practice. I was dependent on the zen center for my practice. And when I stopped going there I no longer had a meditation practice. How to establish a home meditation practice? Meditate at home.
  5. Do it Every Day. Then it will become as automatic as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. You’ll feel uncomfortable when you miss you daily meditation.
  6. Moderate Your Drinking. With your busy schedule you’ll need to fit your meditation in when you can. If you can’t do it in the morning, you might do it after work in the evening — but not if your habit is to have a drink when you get home. One drink and you won’t be meditating. I know from experience. I stopped drinking 50 days ago as a part of some healthy living resolutions, and because I committed to doing this blog. Now if I miss my  meditation during the day I can still fit it in in the evening. If your habit is to have a drink in the evening you’ll just need to make sure you meditate sometime during the day, or before you pop the cork.
  7. Enjoy It! Meditation can become your private time alone. A time to experience and monitor your inner world. Regular meditation will pay dividends in your everyday life. You become more mindful and calm. And if you have a problem you’re working on, sometimes a solution will just bubble up in the midst of your meditation when you’re not trying to solve it at all. I firmly believe a quiet mind has more room for creativity. But the trick is — don’t try to use meditation as a problem solving session. Just sit with no intention, following your breath, and discover the world of the present moment.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are
tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
–Oliver Wendell Holmes

RSA 2

Damballa Say Relax at RSA 2015

Damballa, a cyber-security company, offered a free chair massage at their exhibit booth to attendees at RSA 2015 in in San Francisco. They had couches where visitors could take a load off and talk to their knowledgeable staff about advanced cyber threats. There was a constant stream of attendees waiting their turn for an eight-minute neck and shoulder massage given by Martin, Amy, Dawn and Yuki of our San Francisco chair massage team

Attendees Take Them Up On It

I would imagine the cyber threat industry can be a pretty high-stress environment. But Damballa was giving away free chair massages all day, along with t-shirts reading “Damballa Says Relax.” The chair massage helped Damballa keep their exhibit full of attendees and gave their staff a great chance to mix with attendees and prequalify them. And it sure helped attendees relax. I was there for a while talking to attendees and they were very enthusiastic and appreciative about being able to get a free massage at RSA,

20-Minute Vacation also provided matching massage chairs to keep the Damballa exhibit looking sharp. Free chair massage is a great attraction for trade shows because attendees are super busy, stressed and tired from travel, meetings and pressure to get their jobs done at the show. Having a place to sit down and get a free chair massage is like finding an oasis in the desert.

Chair Massage San Francisco — When You Need it Give Us a Call

Whether you need chair massage for a San Francisco trade show, convention, party, sales meeting or reception we can provide highly qualified massage therapists to help your attendees relax. Our massage therapists are licensed and insured and we can provide documentation of their massage liability insurance, and add your company as “additionally insured” if you need it. We can provide matching massage chairs, electric foot massagers for attendees to use while waiting for their chair massage, and our Customized Relaxation Audio. Feel free to request a quote for chair massage San Francisco now.

chair massage las vegas at MRC 2015

Our Las Vegas team pose during a brief lull in the Discover exhibit

 Discover Says “We’ve Got Your Back” at Merchant Risk Council Exhibit

Discover offered free chair massage to their attendees at MRC 2015 in Las Vegas. It was the first time they used chair massage at this show and it seemed to go well for them. There was a constant stream of visitors waiting their turn for 8-minute neck and shoulder massages given by our Las Vegas massage team. They were busy constantly.

The MRC is the principal not-for-profit, global forum for ecommerce fraud and payments professionals. 1400 fraud and payment professionals attended MRC 2015 which was held at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

20-Minute Vacation Provides the Massage

Our client was the global brand experience agency that planned and executed Discover’s presence in the MRC exhibit hall. It was their idea to use chair massage in Discover’s exhibit. And they chose the theme “We’ve Got Your Back” which appeared on the wall behind the massage area. I think it was a great idea. I wish all our clients knew how to highlight the chair massage offering as well as this. We also provided matching massage chairs to keep the discover exhibit looking elegant. Although I wasn’t there, I heard from my contact at the marketing agency after the show.

“Your massage therapists are absolutely AMAZING. I couldn’t have asked for a better chair massage team – they were polite, engaging, and very friendly. Thank you for all of your help and arranging to have your best with us. It is greatly appreciated.”

This is typical of the comments I often get about my Las Vegas chair massage team. I’m very lucky they choose to work for me repeatedly. They are independent contractors so they don’t have to. There are many massage companies with lots of work in Las Vegas. I’m glad I have a great relationship with the therapists who work for me there. It helps me offer the best possible service in Las Vegas.

Chair Massage Las Vegas — When You Need it, We’ll Be There for You

Whether you need chair massage for a Las Vegas trade show, convention, party, sales meeting or reception we can provide it. Our massage therapists are licensed and insured and we can provide documentation of their massage liability insurance, and add your company as “additionally insured” if you need it. We can provide matching massage chairs, electric foot massagers for attendees to use while waiting for their chair massage, and our Customized Relaxation Audio.

Feel free to request a quote for chair massage Las Vegas now!

Maintaining Mindfulness While Walking and Running

Mindful Walking and Running

Mindfulness is Not Confined to Meditation

The basic idea of mindfulness in exercise is the same as in meditation. Just pay close attention to what you’re doing moment by moment. And when your attention drifts, bring it back to the present. As with meditation, it helps to use some aids to keep your mind focused.

When I was 32 and very out of shape I joined an early morning men’s volleyball group that met at a local high school gym. We were all guys who wanted to get in some exercise before work. Some of them ran on the track after the volleyball games. One day I decided join them and to my great surprise I couldn’t make it one time around the quarter mile track without stopping to rest. When I began to run all I could think about was how difficult it was, how out of breath I felt. There was no joy, I just wanted to be finished.

Focus on the Breath

But I continued to try. After struggling like this for a few weeks I hit upon the idea of linking my breaths to my steps. I began linking my exhalations to every third step. One, two exhale, one, two exhale over and over as I ran. This seemed to calm my mind and organize my chaotic breathing. It’s a similar technique to counting your breath in meditation. It focuses your mind and calms you down.

When breathing out on every third step your exhalations alternate between the left and right foot. It feels nice and symmetrical. When the rhythm of my steps and my breathing were linked, running seemed much easier. The sound of my foot falls and the rhythm of my breath became unified and had a calming effect on my mind.

Mindfulness in Motion

I had a feeling of all my parts working together. The feeling of chaos and struggle was gone. I doubt I would have continued running had I not discovered this technique. After a few months I progressed to eight times around the track each morning and switched to running around the neighborhood instead.

Today my mindful exercise is walking, but I use the breath in the same way. Walking this way, I feel like I am inside my own energy bubble, paying acute attention to my breath, body and the pace of my exercise. I have less interest in thinking about other things. I fall into a mild trance, enjoying the rhythm of my walking, the crunch of my shoes on the ground and the sound of my breathing. When thoughts begin to intrude I can easily bring my attention back to my walking. Sometimes it becomes a sort of walking meditation.

Once you get good at this you begin to look forward to each day’s walk or run –it becomes your own private period of solitude and contemplation. I prefer to walk alone most of the time, and to walk without listening to music on my headphones.

I’ll close with a quote I like about running from Ozzie Gontang, Ph.D. (His blog is called “Mindfulness – Your Present Moment.”)

Observe your environs. Listen to your body and all the sounds it makes and all the feelings that come with muscles working. No iPod or anything in my ears. Become a ninja running or stealth runner. Go for the grace. Identify thoughts as thoughts and let them go. Identify emotional feelings as feelings and let them go.”

Meditation for Beginners

Meditation is not as esoteric as you might think. It’s just sitting quietly and watching your mind without getting carried away by your thoughts — many of which are anxious, fearful, and self critical. If we get a rest from this swarm of anxious thoughts — we can begin to relax.

Beginning — How Should I Sit?

Sit in an upright position. Maybe you can sit in full lotus, or another recommended cross legged posture. By all means do so. But if you can’t, just sit in a chair. That’s what I do because my legs just can’t manage anything else. Sit forward on the  seat, not touching the back rest, feet flat on the floor, body upright. Keep your eyes open in soft focus, looking down at about a 45 degree angle. Rest your hands, palms down, on your knees. Here is a site which shows all the possible ways to sit in meditation from beginners to the most advanced.

You could just sit like this for five minutes, no technique, just you sitting alone in a room doing nothing. But many beginners would have a difficult time doing this. This is single tasking in the extreme. It’s fishing without the boat, the rippling water and the wonderful scenery. Just you, your chair and a quiet room. The mind has a tendency to roam.

Breath Counting

So as beginners it’s good to have some training wheels to keep our mind from veering out of control. The most convenient aid is the breath.When I went to the San Francisco Zen Center for the first time I received Zazen (meditation) instruction. My teacher taught me to count my breaths to give me an anchor for my Zazen. He said you need an anchor because if you try to just sit and watch your thoughts (the most advanced practice), they’ll run rampant and you’ll end up captured by your thinking instead of settling into the present moment of each breath.

Our breath is with us 24 hours a day for our entire life. There’s nothing more basic and necessary for us. So here we have a ready made meditation aid. That’s why counting the breath is usually the first step in many meditation systems. Here’s how I was told to do it.

Take a few deep breaths and then settle in, and slowly count each exhalation: one…two…three…four…five. You should fully exhale so each inhalation comes naturally. If you lose the count, go back and start with one. When you get to ten, start over at one. This is all you need to do.

Try to relentlessly lock your attention onto each number of your counting. Visualize each number. If you lose the count, don’t criticize yourself. Just begin again at one. Using this technique, your breathing becomes orderly and your mind becomes orderly as well. This is meditation 101.

After doing it for a few weeks you may have times when the breath counting starts to become easier. When it’s just you and your breath, your vision narrows, your breath is calm, the room seems quieter. “I’m starting to get it!” And as soon as you say that to yourself — the feeling is gone and it’s back to the beginning again. But on the days when it comes easy — and the days when it’s all you can do to just stay seated and finish your time — just do your allotted time without evaluating how it’s going. Meditation takes practice, and the practice is the goal.  That’s the beauty of it. You can’t fail.

At some point you might be able to take off the training wheels and just sit and watch your thoughts without getting caught up in them. But start with breath counting and see how it goes.

Meditation for Beginners — A few tips:

  • Start with just five minutes a day. Do it every day and at some point you will naturally want to increase the time.
  • There is not good or bad meditation. You are just sitting down and watching your breath. The process is the goal. Imagine yourself in the Paleolithic era, sitting at night, staring into the campfire. No electricity, no devices, no television, no goal. Just the fire, the stars overhead and your thoughts, your breath, your body.
  • Keep your meditation practice to yourself at first. Some people will not be supportive.And worse, you might find yourself listening to someone’s war stories about their 7-day silent meditation retreat, when you’re struggling with five minutes a day. You don’t need that.
Chair Massage in Las Vegas

Our Digital Dealer Massage Team

Chair massage Las Vegas — Auto Dealer Tech Show

We often provide chair massage in Las Vegas. This time it was the Digital Dealer  trade show and conference featuring technology focused solutions for automobile dealerships. The venue in 2014 was The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Attendees were Dealer Principals, Internet Sales Managers, General Managers and General Sales Managers.

We were working on the show floor on behalf of an exhibitor, offering free chair massages to the attendees. Our client offers Data driven marketing for automobile dealerships. (We do not provide exhibitors’ names due to confidentiality issues.

What We Provided

We had four chair massage therapists working in the exhibit. The exhibitor also used our electric foot massagers for attendees to use while they were waiting for their chair massage. They can be  used with shoes on. And we provided our matching massage chairs for a more ascetically pleasing look to the massage area in our client’s 10′ X 20′ exhibit.

Many of the busy dealers found the time to take a break with out client. The massage therapists were very busy over the two days they worked and the exhibitor was quite happy with the results. We were asked to provide our chair massage services again for the 2015 show in Tampa.

Our Las Vegas Massage Team Specializes in Chair Massage for Trade Shows

They are all seasoned chair massage practitioners with extensive experience at conventions. Trade show work takes a lot of stamina and skill, plus the ability to relate to the attendees in a helpful, spontaneous way while remaining calm and focused. These therapists have all those skills and are an asset to any exhibit staff. You would enjoy having them in your booth.

The attendees at Digital Dealer might not be folks you would  identify as big fans of massage but they really went for it. Chair massage works across virtually all demographic groups because the desire for human touch is universal. And it just plain feels good. It’s a perfect trade show giveaway.

Chair Massage Las Vegas — We’re On It!

We are trade show specialist and we understand the need of exhibitors. When our therapists are in your exhibit you can expect skilled chair massage, superb people skills and trade show savvy.

If you have an upcoming show or convention in Las Vegas and would like to have an excellent chair massage traffic builder or sponsorship, please request a quote here.

Mindfulness at Safeway

Does this remind you of the Taoist Yin Yang Symbol?

Mindfulness Isn’t Easy

You can’t just all of a sudden decide to become mindful. I discovered that one day at Safeway.

I had been practicing regularly at the San Francisco Zen Center for a few years. One day as I pulled into my local Safeway parking lot to get a quart of milk I got the brilliant idea that would prove my developing Zen cred. I would remain mindful of my every thought and action from the time I left my car, purchased my milk, and arrived back at my car. It could not be so hard I told myself. After all I had been practicing Zen for years.

Fools Errand

So off I went, mindfully locking my car, mindfully proceeding to the store entrance and mindfully walking toward the dairy case…until suddenly I was home with my milk!

It was like a sober blackout. I had been home for a while before I even remembered the challenge I had set for myself. I didn’t remember anything about my mindfulness excursion after I approached the store entrance. I didn’t even remember my vow to do it until I was home. I knew I had shopped because Safeway’s milk was in my refrigerator. But what what was I thinking about the rest of the time? Sadly I have no idea.

Of course, upon reflection, my failure makes perfect sense. Often when meditating and counting my breaths I don’t even make it to 10. And that’s in the silence of my meditation room. An attempted mindful excursion into a major retail chain full of harried consumers is much more difficult. So I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.

So Why did I Come in Here?

This reminds me of a similar thing that happens every now and then. It may have happened to you. I’m sitting at my desk, a little hungry and remember the half a burrito in my refrigerator that I brought home from the restaurant last night . So I get up and purposefully stride toward the kitchen, and upon arriving I find myself standing in the kitchen thinking “Why did I come in here”? I have to retrace my steps and before I get all the way back to my office I remember.

Events like these aren’t necessarily senior moments. They just a lack of mindfulness. They’re similar to  my Safeway experience. On my way to get my burrito, I start thinking/worrying/obsessing about something else, completely losing track of my original goal. It’s the exact opposite of mindfulness. This tends to happen more often if I’m stressed. The solution is simply to pay attention to what I’m doing moment-to-moment. Easier said than done, especially at a crowded supermarket.

But mindfulness is important. It might even safe your life! How many auto accidents and trip and fall incidents are caused by lack of mindfulness?

I’ve learned it’s better to begin your mindfulness excursions under controlled conditions. With meditation for instance. Over time your meditation experience will begin to slowly affect your everyday life though a kind of mindful osmosis. Begin in a quiet room. Then tackle Safeway.

Chair Massage in Orlando

Customized Relaxation Audio with Massage

Chair Massage with a Guided Meditation for the Lucky Attendees

The NAHCR Image Conference is targeted at health care recruiters. It’s a small show with attendance in the hundreds. It was held at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando.

Our Client was the National Healthcare Career Network. This was the third year we’ve provided chair massage service for them at this show.

Plus Foot Massage While They Waited

We had two chair massage practitioners working in their 10’ X 20’ booth. Four electric foot massagers were available for attendees to use while waiting for their chair massage. They are very effective even with shoes on. Two matching massage chairs kept the massage area looking professional, and our Customized Relaxation Audio completed the relaxation experience.

This resulted in a very inviting and professional looking chair massage attraction.

Customized Relaxation Audio

NHCR always uses our Customized Relaxation Audio for one good reason: attendees love it. They received their chair massage while listening to a guided meditation on headphones. This eliminated ambient noise and allowed them to more fully relax. The audio greatly enhances the chair massage experience. It also allowed NHCN to insert a one minute marketing message before the guided meditation. They keep this marketing message very general so they can reuse it their other shows, not just Orlando.

The Result? Happy Attendees

NAHCR attendees received an energizing 7 ½ minute chair massage. They heard useful marketing information during the massage. They also heard a 6-minute guided meditation with soft music in the background. This resulted in a steady stream of relaxed and informed attendees in the booth. Our client had the opportunity to talk with the attendees while they were waiting for their massage.

Chair Massage Orlando – Powered by 20-Minute Vacation

Consider a chair massage attraction next time you have a trade show or convention in Orlando. We’ll provide trade show savvy therapists, matching massage chairs and more. I am a former trade show exhibit manager and massage therapist. I love trade shows and working with exhibit managers. Feel free to contact me for a quote for chair massage in Orlando, or to ask me any questions you may have.

Chair massage in Chicago

Chicago Massage Team at Work

Pack Expo — A Huge Trade Show

Nearly 49,000 processing and packaging professionals attended PACK EXPO 2014. Our client was one of an incredible 2,352 exhibits, so they needed an attraction that would really help them stand out from the crowd. And chair massage worked great for them. (more…)