How do you keep your meditation practice strong and steady? How do you stay inspired? In this episode, I share some of the things that have added fuel to my fire and helped a lot to keep my meditation practice fruitful.
In particular, we explore the power of getting up early as a way to boost your practice. For me, it’s a game changer. I went from never setting an alarm to setting it for 515am every morning and I feel awesome as a result.
Because I’m logging a minimum of 30 minutes of meditation. I’m reading 10-20 pages of a book each morning. And I’m managing to squeeze in deep breathing and exercise (running) as well. And usually I’m done with all that by around 730.
Coming out of the gates like that every morning affects every aspect of my life and I haven’t looked back. I love it.
Another game changer? Intermittent fasting. During the week, I’ve been experimenting with having just miso and chicken broth at dinner time.
So effectively, I’m giving up dinner during the week. The result? I feel incredible. I don’t miss eating dinner. I bounce out of bed in the mornings. I feel lighter and I’m shedding unnecessary pounds.
Also, there is something deep and peace inducing about giving up food. There’s a reason that fasting has occupied a hallowed place among the spiritual practices of the great mystical traditions since time immemorial.
Renouncing your core cravings makes you strong and gives you spiritual vitality.
And although I’m only fasting from after lunch to breakfast the next morning—from 2pm to 6am or about 18 hours—it still makes a difference physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
If that kind of thing resonates with you, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
And finally, I share some tips and advice that I gave to one of our members who was struggling with motivation. I think you’ll find it useful.
Glad your back. I’m not one for gurus, but I find your voice inspiring. Your eating regimen is more correctly called “time restricted eating”. Time Restricted Eating is based on reinforcing your circadian rythym. Dr. Satchidananda Panda has done the research on it and he appears in some podcasts. Since your break, I’ve taken up time restricted eating myself. My first meal of the day is at about 1 pm and my last meal is 7 pm. I have a six hour eating window.
I’m always interested in how you handle coffee in your life. I’m also interested in how you keep your lower back comfortable when you meditate.
Morgan Dix says
Thanks for your comments and feedback Chris. Glad to hear that the intermittent fasting/time-restricted feeding works for you too! And yes, I definitely don’t see myself as a guru, more a passionate enthusiast/coach/cheerleader.
My understanding is that what I’m practicing is indeed intermittent fasting but that term is broad and includes a few different variations. According to Krista Varady, Ph.D., an associate professor of kinesiology and nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago:
Sounds like you and I fall into that third bucket as per your comments.
Re coffee, I’ve done a lot of tinkering for sure. For me, after 20 years of drinking it, I’ve found that one cup in the morning with breakfast (after meditation) works best for my metabolism/blood sugar/caffeine tolerance. If I have coffee after noon, my sleep is compromised. If I have it without food, I crash hard.
Sometimes I’ll have a little coffee with fruit before I go out for a 6am run to help get me off the blocks. But generally I try and keep it to one cup in the morning.
The best way I’ve found to manage back pain is to use two meditation cushions (a high perch!) and keep my back completely straight and locked in. That also helps energetically to eschew drowsiness. My teacher exhorted us to keep our backs super straight and that’s really worked for me. No back pain. I think it helped us build the small supporting muscles in our low back. I only get pain if I start to slouch in my sitting posture.
How about you? How do you manage coffee and back pain in your sitting practice?
Thanks again for your comment and glad to meet you!
Hi Morgan, as far as sitting posture, this has been a riddle. I’ve done a lot exercise in my life and my body is a bit banged up. I used to suffer from SacroIliac joint pain, then it was Femoral Acetabular Impingement, and lately I’ve been feeling a more diffuse pain that might be Facet Joint Pain. So I really struggle with finding a position that I can keep for a half hour without discomfort. I’ve found that squeezing a couple pillows behind my lower back against a chair backrest helps. I do something like this lady (not exactly the same, but close): https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/09/24/649169060/cant-get-comfortable-in-your-chair-heres-what-you-can-do
Thanks for getting back to me, and I’ll be listening to your next show. – Chris
Morgan Dix says
Thanks Chris. I hear you. These deluxe meditation chairs are super pricey, but I have friends that swear by them: https://alexiameditationseat.com/
Those chairs are groovy. I can see why they are so pricey. Not sure one is in my budget right now.
Thanks for sharing your great content!
I wanted to ask you about the miso soup or broth. My wife and I listen to various health and wellness podcasts including Rhonda Patrick’s ‘Found My Fitness’ and have heard quite a bit about intermittent fasting. You mentioned eating only miso or broth for dinner. How does this effect the fasted state? Are these lighter foods somehow ok in moderation within the fasting window, or does the start to teeter more within the ‘fasting mimetic diet’ type of concept?
Again, thank you for sharing your work and insights with the world, and I hope you’re doing well!
Morgan Dix says
Hi David! Great to get your response here and thanks a lot for your kind words.
My general thinking on this is that clear liquids – eg broths – fit within the context of intermittent fasting. That is my VERY unprofessional and unscientific perspective.
I did a little poking around and saw that Caroline Rees, who is a Registered Nutritional Therapist with a master’s level postgraduate diploma in Nutritional Therapy and a PhD in Immunology, writes the following re intermittent fasting on this topic at Gutology:
So I guess that’s at least one professional perspective on it.
I heat up about a cup of chicken broth and then I dissolve two teaspoons of chickpea miso in 1/2 cup of boiling water and whisk it until it’s mostly dissolved and then add it to the chicken broth. So far so good. But your question also compels me to want to look into it a little deeper.
Thanks man. I trust you and your lovely wife are thriving!
Stacy Mizrahi says
For me, it’s all about intentionality and discipline. I have to be intentional in my practice and I can’t take long breaks away from it. When I’m disciplined, look forward to the next practice. When I start giving myself “outs”, then things fall apart and I feel less inclined to keep doing it. And when that happens, I start falling apart in other areas of my life. So I’m mindful of the snowball effect!
Morgan Dix says
Thanks for sharing your experience Stacy. That’s so key! I can really relate to what you’re saying. It reminds me of this notion of a keystone habit – one habit which serves as a polestar for a bunch of other habits. If you take it out of the equation, many related habits no longer hold. Habit stacking is another related idea – where you have one key habit and stack a bunch of other ones on top of it.
And of course, you bring up the most important ingredient of all – intention.
My former teacher considered clarity of intention the bedrock and #1 priority for spiritual practice. It was the very first tenet of his teaching…so I’m with you. It’s the glue that holds our spiritual lives together. Thanks so much for reaffirming that and reminding us all how important that is.
christopher pike says
Hi Morgan, I’d like you thoughts on something. People are constantly asking me, “What are you doing today?”, “What did you to this weekend?”, “Anything exciting planned for today?” …. and so on. I’m sure you get the same question. I know – people are just trying to be friendly.. However, I’ve always struggled with this type of question, and I often become awkward in the situation. Last Monday, a women asked me, “Did you do anything exciting this weekend?”, and I responded “I dont’ remember”. Honestly, whatever I did during the weekend was gone from my mind Monday morning..
I don’t know why these questions challenge me so much. However, I’ve come up with a rationalization. Perhaps, I’m a person who lives in the moment? After all, isn’t this how we both try to live? We are supposed to be in the moment, right?
I do know what I did last weekend, and I have a pretty good idea what I’m going to do tomorrow, but I’m not thinking about those things now. I take care of business as it comes. If I think about my plans for the future, I get stressed. I prefer to just handle things when I need to. Is this just bullshit?
It is almost like I’ve become too mindful and in the moment to participate in the idle chatter that greases our social interactions.
I just wonder if you ever have similar thoughts? Thanks
Morgan Dix says
Hey Chris! That’s a great question. And it seems like there are a lot of potential perspectives on it.
In terms of your question of whether I ever have the same experience, then yes. I do. Sometimes I can’t for the life of me remember what I did yesterday, during the weekend just passed. I’ll feel good if I can call forth one highlight! lol!
And I guess for me I feel like my life is so full and the Big Events that used to grab my attention when I was younger — a music festival, a concert, a party, a big night out, an unusual adventure, etc — don’t hold quite the same gravity in my awareness. And I don’t pursue them in the same way. But I sure used to and I definitely liked to be able to tell other people what I did because it made me feel better about myself and was probably part of how I defined myself.
It’s not that those things don’t bring me pleasure now, because they do, but I guess my focus has shifted towards more durable and lasting sources of wellbeing. Things like deepening my relationships with my family and my friends. Creating a new podcast episode brings me lasting fulfillment – the act of creating itself transcends the event and opens new paths of possibility in my consciousness. Pushing myself in my running practice. Getting up earlier. Practicing presence.
So I guess it’s a matter of priority. And so I feel pretty aligned with your comments. I think when you’re focused on your present moment awareness practice, that’s what’s most important to you. And for good reason. And what’s past isn’t really such a big deal. You don’t have anything to prove because you probably realize that your happiness isn’t dependent on what happened yesterday nor what people think about it.
Your values have shifted.
Our culture is pretty outwardly focused, and that’s fine too. But it makes sense why people might be asking those kinds of questions because in some ways they reflect that outwardly focused value system.
At the same time, someone might just be breaking the ice. Or they might just be using the question as a bridge because they are excited to share what they did. And that seems fine to me too.
At any rate, I personally don’t get too worried about it. I don’t know if that helpful. I hope so. Definitely an interesting question and really good food for self inquiry.
When I do intermittent fasting, I get sugar cravings after a few days. I have the impression that I get very low in sugar and energy and then start eating whatever I get my hands on. Did you experience something similar.
On the getting up early, I was able to do this for quite some time and did ~1 hour of meditation, but it started getting harder and harder for me to get up at that time and then I gave up. Maybe something I should try again.
I will take you advice to heart to have some inspiring reading. I think that that is one of the things I need to incorporate this in my routine.
Morgan Dix says
Thanks so much for your comment.
Re the sugar cravings. I don’t get those so much. But in general I try to keep my carbs to a relative minimum. I shoot for a lot of fats and proteins. On the weekend, I bend that rule.
Re early mornings, have you tried getting to bed earlier. I have found that if I try and burn the candle on both ends, it’s not sustainable. But if I can get a minimum 7hrs, I’m ok. My ideal is 930 to 530. But my norm is closer to 10-530. Some mornings I get up at 5am for running partner and spin class.
And that’s awesome re the reading. I find that my whole life is better if I’m reading something that fuels my clarity of intention – my spiritual longing. It makes a huge difference. If I go to long without some spiritual literature, I start to feel slightly adrift, even if the other elements of my morning practice are in place.
I find that pretty interesting. I’m learning that it’s a necessary keystone to my overall routine.
Thanks again and keep me posted on how you go with it all!
Andrew hawkins says
Nice content on meditation
Mike | PositiveThinkingMind says
This was very inspiring, Morgan thanks for this. I do find I get sugar cravings during fasting times. Do you recommend a way to help this?
Morgan Dix says
That’s great Mike! Hmmm…I also get sugar cravings. Do you find that they diminish over time? I don’t have any great tricks beyond renouncing the craving and knowing that it’s going to pass and feeling the inner rewards of holding out. Sometimes having flavored sparkling water helps me. The kind with no sugars or sweeteners…just the flavor infusion. I like La Croix.