How to Meditate

How to Meditate to Reduce Stress

In my ongoing campaign to reduce stress and anxiety, increase my levels of gratitude, and embrace optimism, I have taken up meditation. Actually, I should say that I have taken up meditation again. I have long been aware of the reported benefits of meditation. I first learned how to meditate in a college course on “Stress and Health”. At the time, my professor emphasized both the emotional and physical benefits of meditation. However, when I gave meditation a try as part of a homework assignment, I had a panic attack.

That experience stuck with me for a long time. I finally gave meditation another shot a couple of years ago, when life events sent my stress levels off the charts. I knew I needed to reduce my stress and anxiety or I was going to be heading to the doctor. This time around I had a much better experience, and have been meditating at least semi-consistently ever since.

So I learned how to meditate, downloaded a couple of meditation apps, and started practicing regularly. I have since reaped the benefits of meditation. My stress levels are definitely lower now that I meditate. Despite juggling three  jobs, two teenagers, and the financial challenges posed by a child heading off to college. Meditation also helps me to sleep better and think more clearly.

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Enjoy the WSOP

5 Ways to Enjoy the WSOP Without Spending $10,000

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Paul and I are heading to Las Vegas this week for the 2018 World Series of Poker (WSOP). No, we are not laying down $10,000 and playing in the Main Event. While that is a bucket list item for us, we imagine fulfilling that dream many years down the road. No, we are lucky enough to be heading to Vegas in our role as ambassadors for Advanced Poker Training, the poker training site for which we also blog. APT is holding a WSOP Meet N Greet and they asked us to help represent the site. We did not have to think very hard before saying “hell, yeah!”.

We have been to Vegas a couple of times before and loved it. However, we’ve never been during the World Series of Poker. In planning this trip, we discovered that while the WSOP is in town most casinos suspend their daily tournaments. On our previous trips, The Venetian and the Aria have been our go-to rooms of choice. Both hold regular small stack (less than $200 buy-in) tournaments that we really enjoy. As we planned our current trip, we discovered that both are hosting tournament series this month alongside the WSOP. As we mentioned in our last post, we are currently facing the first college tuition bill for Paul’s older daughter. $1,500 (or even $500) buy-ins are off the table for this trip.

Low Stakes Tournament Options During the WSOP

There are plenty of options to play well-structured low stakes tournaments during the WSOP. For the purposes of this article, we define low stakes as anything at or below $200. If you are looking for such a game, here are your top five options:

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6 Steps You Must Take Before You Make Hotel Reservations

The 6 Steps You Must Take Before Making Hotel Reservations

When you are planing a trip, whether long-term or short, you will often need to make hotel reservations. On the surface, this seems like a straightforward task. However, a number of factors will determine whether you return home congratulating yourself on a hotel well-chosen, or lamenting your misguided decision.

These 6 steps will make or break your hotel reservation process:

1. Determine Whether a Hotel is Right for Your Trip

The very first step is determining whether you want to make hotel reservations at all. In this day and age, there are a wide variety of options for overnight accommodations other than hotels. At the outset of your trip planning process, you should consider these alternate possibilities:

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How to Keep a Gratitude Journal

How To Keep a Gratitude Journal

When you are working toward long-term goals, it can be difficult to maintain focus on the positive.  If optimism does not come naturally to you, it’s easy to emphasize the obstacles and stumbling blocks rather than the progress you are making toward your goal. In order to keep your motivation high, it is crucial to acknowledge the wins. And the best way to ensure that you notice the good things in your life is to write them down. Keeping a gratitude journal has helped prevent us from missing all we have to be grateful for and kept our eye on the prize of our long-term dream.

Why Keep a Gratitude Journal

We keep a gratitude journal just because it feels good and it reminds us to be thankful. As it turns out, a number of scientific studies have shown concrete benefits of gratitude journaling. In 2015, Psychology Today published an article citing several scientific studies about gratitude which have shown, among other things, that gratitude improves physical and psychological health, improves empathy, and actually leads to better sleep. Last year, an article in Time Magazine added the benefits of patience, better relationships, and willpower to that list. Researchers at NIH have found the direct neurological causes for these outcomes. Gratitude increases activity in the hypothalamus (hormone levels and eating and sleeping control) and the brain’s use of dopamine.

So why not just think happy thoughts? There is value to translating your thoughts into whole language. In other words, simply thinking grateful thoughts is not as powerful as writing them down. Additionally, research indicates that using handwriting to record gratitude (vs. speaking or typing) is a  more effective way to reap the full physical and emotional benefits.

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Leftovers

Throwdown Thursday: Leftovers Dilemma

I hate leftovers.

There, I said it. I don’t care how good the gelatinous mess in the refrigerator tasted when we had it for dinner two nights ago. In my opinion it now belongs in the trash. I know that’s a terrible, awful, financially suspect opinion. But it’s just how I feel.  Paul disagrees. Just today I had to force him to throw out a Tupperware containing steak from a meal last week. He was planning to eat it for lunch.

Paul: Man, I could just get old school with “There are starving children in Africa, Heather! And you are throwing out perfectly good food! Such financial folly! Go to your room, but eat these old beets first!” But that is too paternal and not the role-playing dynamic I want in our relationship. So I’ll just stick with: throwing out perfectly good food is sacrilege and flies against all that is just and right with the world. You will fry in eternal damnation if you toss that petite sirloin in the trash before it turns into a true bio-hazard.

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