How to Meditate

How to MeditateYou could choose to take a transcendental meditation class, pay the $1,500 to get your own personal mantra, or you could skip all that nonsense and just start meditating today without spending a cent.

The first and perhaps most important element of meditation is to find a quiet and comfortable place where you can meditate. This could be at home or the office, or even in your car. You just want it to be a quiet area where you can relax.

To begin meditating, you’ll want to first close your eyes. If it helps, focus on a relaxing color so you’re not thinking of anything else in your life that could overtake the meditation. Brendan Schaub of The Fighter and The Kid podcast said he thinks of the color white, as it’s a relaxing color to him, and concentrating on the color will help to prevent your thoughts from drifting.

If you find thoughts about life creeping into your meditation time, brush those thoughts aside. Tim Ferris suggests to direct all your thoughts at your breath. Focus on the air as you inhale through your nose, and again as you exhale. Repeat this to keep your mind clear.

You may find that time slips away quickly when you’re meditating, which is why it’s important to set an alarm to notify you when your time is up. The commonly suggested amount of time to meditate is about 20 minutes or so. I’d suggest choosing an alarm that isn’t as jarring as what you would typically choose at any other time. Most phones have a wide range of tones and chimes to choose from, so pick something on the quiet and soothing end of the spectrum rather than something loud and obnoxious.

It may take a few tries before you can truly relax and obtain the many benefits of meditation. The key thing is to stay with it, turn meditation into a routine, and practice it each day. You may find that meditation grows to become an important part of your day.

What is Meditation, and Why Do People Do Meditate?

What is Meditation, and Why Do People Do Meditate?I was listening to The Fighter and the Kid podcast earlier today, and the guest of this particular episode was Tim Ferris. My bullshit detector goes off with this guy a little bit, but he did share some information on meditation, specifically how he mediates and the benefits that he receives from meditating.

Tim has a podcast of his own and he’s interviewed a lot of powerful and successful people. He said that one thing that around 80% of the people he’s interviewed have in common is that they practice some from of meditation.

Tim describes meditation as a way of hitting pause on your brain, or giving it a warm bath. Bryan Callen, co-host of The Fighter and the Kid, describes it as a “massage for the brain.” Essentially, it’s away to relax, detach, and clear your head. Tim says that meditation will allow you to complete everything else you have to do during the day “fifty percent faster.”

Now, how do you measure something like that? I do not know. I get what he’s saying, though. Meditation will help clear your head, shake out the cobwebs, and allow you to focus on the other tasks you have perform throughout the day.

One of the more popular forms of meditation that I’ve been hearing a lot about lately is transcendental meditation, or TM for short. You have to pay $1,500 to take a class where they give you a mantra that you repeat while you meditate for twenty minutes each day. Obviously taking such a class isn’t necessary, and you could pick any word or combination of words to use as your mantra. It’s not what you’re saying, but rather the repetition of the words that’s important. After saying anything over and over again, the word starts to sound odd and loses all meaning.

So there you have a brief explanation of why people meditate and what they achieve through meditation. Come back soon and I’ll continue this topic and detail how you can start meditating immediately.

Microsoft Health and Band Sound Pretty Cool

Microsoft Health and Band Sound Pretty CoolI first saw pictures of the Microsoft Band yesterday and didn’t quite get it. I figured that it was yet another in a long line of wearables and wrote it off as such. Turns out there’s a little more to the story, and the Microsoft Band is only a small part of what Microsoft Health is, and it’s not even required.

First off, don’t think of Microsoft Band as a Fitbit or a Nike Fuelband. It actually has more in common with a smart watch than one of the aforementioned fitness trackers. That’s because the Microsoft Band doesn’t actually do the collection of the data. Rather, it receives the data that your phone is collecting and passes it along to you in a more efficient package so you don’t have to take your phone out of your pocket to check your vitals or your stats for the day.

Microsoft likens its Band to a personal trainer. It tracks your heart rate 24 hours a day, knows when you’re sleeping and keeps a log, maps the routes you take with the GPS while you bike, hike, or run, and let’s you save your favorite routes, and it can even guide you through workouts. Because the Band connects to your phone, it can also alert you when you get an email or have a calendar event, it can set a timer or alarm, and you can ask it things via the Cortana software, which is Microsoft’s version of Siri. It even detects UVs and will let you know if you should put on sunscreen when you head outside.

The surprising thing about all of this is how open it is. The Band works with Windows phones, Androids, iPhones, smart watches, and even certain Jawbone products. Microsoft Health has support for a variety of services, such as MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, and MapMyFitness as well.

I was listening to The Vergecast podcast today and they spoke about some of the possibilities of Microsoft Health. One example was the app could see that you have a meeting later in the day and that you tend to get tired later if you exercise earlier, so hold off exercising until after the meeting. Or, it could see that if you have a big dinner followed by coffee, you have trouble sleeping, so don’t eat so much and pass on the coffee. Because of the integration with services like MyFitnessPal and the ability to see how well you sleep, Microsoft Health will have access to such detailed information. The ability to integrate with the above services along with the fitness-tracking features of all phones is exciting.

But will I get a Microsoft Band? That remains to be seen. I’ll hold off and wait for the reviews. I don’t see myself as a smart watch kind of guy, but if it works as well as Microsoft says it will, then I might just have to bite the bullet. At the very least the Microsoft Health app sounds great, but for it to get information about what you’re eating and drinking, you’ll have to manually enter that stuff in a service like MyFitnessPal. I don’t think I have the time or dedication for that unfortunately.

The Microsoft Band is priced at $199, which is $50 less than the new Fitbit Surge, and it has a better (and color) screen, and seems to be able to do so much more. The new Fitbit actually looks old and dated in comparison.

Fitbit Announces Three New Activity Trackers

Fitbit Announces Three New Activity TrackersI wrote a week or two ago about the new activity tracker that Fitbit has in the pipeline, a smart watch-type device called the Surge. It has a larger screen compared to Fitbit’s previous offerings, providing users with a range of important data they once needed a smart phone to view. The Surge seems designed for people who are active rather than people who are trying to become more active. It has a built-in GPS and keeps track of your running or cycling, and it can keep tabs on your heart rate as well to ensure you’re getting it up where it should be. This new wearable is priced at $250 and will be released sometime next year.

The two other new wearables that Fitbit is releasing I didn’t write about last week, but I will cover in this blog post. They are more in line with what the company has previously released and are updated versions of those devices.

The first of these new activity trackers I’ll look at is the Charge, which is essentially an upgraded version of the Fitbit Force. It’s about the same size with a similar screen and you can expect it to last about seven days, which is the same as the Force. However, the Charge has an updated textured band which will hopefully not include any nickel, which gave a lot of people rashes last year. The Charge also has an improved sleep function which no longer requires you to tell it when you’re sleeping. It’s now smart enough to know when you are sleeping and keep track of it for you automatically. The Charge is available now for $130.

The final of the third activity trackers to be released by Fitbit is the Charge HR, and this will also be coming next year much like the Surge. The Charge HR is basically the same as the Charge yet it features an integrated heart rate monitor. It may not be as accurate as some of the straps that wrap around your chest like serious athletes wear, but it’s certainly cheaper and more convenient. The one caveat is that the heart rate monitoring ability will drop the battery life of the Charge HR from seven days to five compared to the basic Charge. As I mentioned, the Charge HR will be released next year and it will be priced at $150.

Why You Shouldn’t Drink Your Own Pee

Why You Shouldn't Drink Your Own PeeA couple weeks ago I wrote a blog post about Lyoto Machida and how he and members of his family drink their own pee. I’m not talking about pee from one of those trips to the bathroom where the urine is clear, almost like water. Nope. These guys drink the first pee of the day, which is likely the biggest one of the day, and probably the one that’s the deepest shade of yellow, almost orange in color. However, it turns out that it may not be a good idea to drink your own pee after all.

When I wrote that blog post I came away with the feeling that it doesn’t offer any benefits to the urine drinker, but it really doesn’t harm them. If it’s something they think will have a positive effect on their lives, then maybe it will. The mind and the power of suggestion is a powerful thing.

Yesterday, one of my favorite gadget websites posted an interesting article on why you should definitely not drink your own urine.

Turns out that the old adage “Urine is sterile. You can drink it.” that many people picked up from Fight Club isn’t exactly true. Urine is around 95% percent water as I mentioned in my previous article, but what I wasn’t aware of is that urine actually contains bacteria. As a result, it’s not completely sterile. This is because many bacterial colonies call our urinary tracts home. Some of this bacteria will find its way into our urine, and when we drink it, into our mouths and into our bodies again.

As the article also points out, some people think that if they’re ever in a tough situation where they’re without food and water for an extend period of time, they could always drink their urine. That is technically true, but it can actually dehydrate the drinker even faster due to the high sodium content. So if you’re like that guy who had his arm trapped between the boulders, don’t drink your piss despite how thirsty you may become.

I don’t want to reproduce the entire article here, so if you’re thinking about setting down that warm glass of urine and reading a few more reasons why you don’t need to drink your own pee, head over to Gizmodo to read this article in full.