Stuck In a Rut? The Simple Test to Tell If It’s Time to Make a Change

We all have bad days.  We all feel stuck.  We struggle to know when “bad” is just a phase or a new normal.

 

It can be hard to know when ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.  When is it time to walk away and start something new?

 
 


I recently shared about a nightmare contracting gig that was totally wrong for me, but if I’m being totally honest, that wasn’t the only thing that’s felt hard over the last few months.


This winter I was totally uninspired by my coaching work. 


THIS is my passion – the work I feel called to do and, yet, it didn’t feel right.  Honestly, it led me to question EVERYTHING and to use every tool in my arsenal to find my truth.  I tapped into my inner guide, I meditated, I prayed, I sought guidance from my own coach and mentor, I read, I drank – searching for the answer to the question: is it time to walk away from this?


I was torn up inside and the answer just wouldn’t come.  And then, as luck would have it, the “answer” floated across my Facebook newsfeed.  Welcome to the Steve Jobs’ Test:


"For the past 30 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "no" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."- Steve Jobs


Using this simple self-exam, the answer became almost immediately obvious to me: YES – this work is my heart and soul and I want to do it for as long as I can.


I think sometimes things feel bad so we can be reminded of how GOOD they really are.  Adversity and growth are our biggest teachers – those who grow from challenges are the TRUE LEADERS in this world – and without them we get stale and complacent.  (Seriously, who wants to work with a stale, crusty old coach ;) ?)  This was a gentle reminder for me that I need to keep growing and challenging MYSELF so that I can continue to help others do the same.


Are you struggling to know if you should stay or go?  If you’re torn between knowing the difference between an uncharacteristic string of bad days and a bottomless pit that you won’t ever be able to dig yourself out of, I challenge you to do the Steve Jobs’ test for 7 days. 


Don’t just think about it – be about it.  Take action today, gorgeous!

3 Questions to Ask to Help You Get More Done

"I'm a hustler, baby.  I just want you to know." - Jay-Z

It's true... I'm a hustler.  I love DOING.  Accomplishment is MY JAM.  I am that person who puts things on her to do list just to cross them off.  

 
 

But after burning out and spending MONTHS coming home from work unable to do anything but crash on the couch, watch TV, drink wine, and order take-out, I've learned that you have to match your hustle with equal parts of ease.

Yes - I think there are things in life (LOTS OF THINGS IN FACT) that should be easy.  Darling, life isn't supposed to be hard.  For real.

Here are 3 questions I want you to ask yourself that will help you get more done AND create more ease at the same time... unbelievable right?!?!?

 

1. What really needs to get done to make my life run smoothly?

If you're an achievement junkie, you can easily get wrapped up in doing more and more and more.  What you REALLY need to do is pare that list down and identify the critical things that need to happen on any given day. I call this my Daily Top 3...  a maximum of 3 things that - do or die - MUST get done before I go to bed at night.  

What are the 3 things you need to get done today?

 

2. Who can I ask for help OR what can I outsource?

Sweeping generalization alert: WOMEN SUCK AT ASKING FOR HELP.  We think we have to do it all and that asking for help is a sign of weakness.  

Ladies - cut that shit out!  It's backwards thinking and it's leading you toward overwhelm and away from ease.

Recognizing that you can't do it all and that there are people (whether it's friends and family or an official paid-for service) to help you make your life run smoother is the GREATEST GIFT TO PRODUCTIVITY, EVER.  PERIOD.  THE END.

What can you ask for help with this week?  Can you hand off your kids to a friend for an afternoon?  Or hire a handy man to finally fix the leaky faucet that's driving you nuts?  Or spend a few extra bucks to get your groceries delivered?

 

3. What can I do to START with FUN?

If you listen to most time management experts, they'll tell you to "eat the frog"... to do the thing you least want to do first.  I'll admit, it's a pretty powerful way to combat procrastination, but I've found something that (for me) works even better.

I start with FUN.  I start with the thing I will enjoy the most.  Why?  Why the hell not??  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (and Jane a dull girl!).

Here's an example: last week I had a handful of high priority projects I need to wrap up, but they were a bit draining.  What I really wanted to do was take some time to just relax and not focus on work at all... so every morning I spent 10 minutes reading The Silent Girls (fun read by the way!) before booting up my laptop.  Totally unrelated to the work I had to get done, but that simple break BEFORE left me feeling a deep sense of ease and full of joy.

 

If you're ready to streamline your life and get more done while still creating tons of ease in your life, join me for tonight's live training webinar (8 pm EST/7 pm CST/5 pm PST). Register here to save your seat >>>

3 Things To Do When Getting Out of Bed Feels Unbearable

There's something going around... I'm not sure what it is (the time of year, changes in the cosmos, some kind of universal awakening), but it seems like EVERYONE I talk to right now is really struggling to make WORK work for them.

Gosh, I can remember all too well what it feel like to get up in the morning, stare at the ceiling and openly dread the day.  There were days that it seemed so unbearable, I cried.  I felt hopeless, lost, and frustrated... I'd done everything "right" - why did this feel so bad??

 

The whole dreading going to work thing is terrible.

 

We’ve all been there… whether we’ve dreaded school, work, the thought of putting on real clothes, or a never ending winter (although maybe this week is a beacon of hope) – there are days when the idea of getting out of bed feels unbearable, days where that screeching alarm is a constant reminder of all the things you’d love to avoid, days where no amount of coffee (or even some fancy, frivolous, 1,000-calorie white chocolate mocha with whip) will motivate you.

 

Days like this are real, I've been there and I know how hopeless you feel on those moments.  But, I don't believe we're here to just blindly push through.  We're here to make a difference, but NOT at the expense of our happiness and our health.

 

So, what’s a girl to do when a day (OR week OR month) like that strikes? 

Here are my top tips for finding the mental fortitude and willpower to make the 3-foot leap from your uber comfy bed to the real world.  Sidenote: how is that leap only 3-feet?  Some days it might as well be the freaking grand canyon.

1. Be Kind (to yourself)

Recognize that at different times of the year you may need more downtime.  Let that be OK. 

Don’t FORCE what’s not working.

This is a lesson I seem to keep on learning... most recently when I decided to give up on a super strict meal plan that wasn't letting me LIVE.  Restriction didn't feel good to me (although it definitely has at different points in my life) - so I let what wasn't working for me go and filled myself up with FEELIN' GOOD.  (Insert some James Brown here for good measure and booty shakin')


2.       Be Grateful

Gratitude is a practice that I just will NOT let go of… I’m going to beat this into your head until it sticks.  Here’s why: 

When you’re so focused on what’s not working, it’s easy to lose sight of what IS… and there is ALWAYS something working – even if it’s something as inconsequential as having found 3 minutes to floss your teeth (happy mouth, happy life!).

While you’re laying in bed, staring up at the ceiling, list 3 (really, just 3!) things that you’re grateful for this morning.  And when you’re done?  SMILE.

Life can be beautiful, even when it sucks.  (Possible quote for my tombstone?)


3.       Be Sweaty

You're a smart lady, so I know you know the details on this one – exercise releases endorphins, helps you beat stress, and sweating is both therapeutic and detoxifying.  Exercise is one of the universal “cure alls”.  So, why the heck aren’t you doing it? 

I get it – when you’re feeling unmotivated and down in the dumps, exercise can be the absolute last thing you want to do, but trust me that you will feel about 100000000% better once you make it happen.

My advice?  Do something fun!  Make a killer playlist and shake a tail feather all around the house, go for a run, or just pick up some heavy shit and put it back down (my current favorite outlet). 

If even that seems totally undoable, site in the sauna or soak in a steaming hot bath and sweat that shit out.  The key here?  RELEASE - the  physical & the emotional.


What’s the best way you’ve found to get motivated when it feels like everything sucks?

How I Got My Body Back FAST

A few weeks ago, I pulled back the curtain and shared my recent “before” pictures… those pictures came AFTER a managing a nightmare project, a stressful house purchase and move, and the end of my year of sobriety.

 

I vowed to you that I was going to make caring for myself a priority - and I have...

 

The results are in…  I’m excited to share that in just 3 weeks, I can fit into my skinny jeans again! 

 

 

Wondering how the heck I did it? 

Spoiler alert: I didn’t starve myself - ya’ll know starvation just ain’t my style!  I LOVE food (especially peanut butter and bacon!).

 

It also didn’t involve excessive calorie counting or slaving away FOR HOURS at the gym.  (There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I have time to spend an hour on the treadmill and if I’m being honest, that never really worked anyway.)

 

Actually, what the plan I followed was WAY simpler than all of that.

 

Here’s what I did: I dialed in my nutrition – nourishing my body with tons of real, whole foods using a simple macro-based system (macros are proteins, fats, and carbs) and incorporating an expertly-crafted superfood cocktail every day – PLUS I included quick, but effective 30 minute workouts.

 

SERIOUSLY – THAT’S IT. 

 

This is my go-to program anytime I fall out of self-care mode and feel like I need a kickstart – FAST.  I’ve done this 3-week program start to finish TWICE now and I’ve gotten unexpectedly awesome results both times!!!

 

If you’re interested in learning more about the program I followed and the results I got – email me at stephanie@stephaniecookwellness.com.  

4 Things Kanye West Can Teach Us About Self Worth

At this point, you’re probably totally over Kanye… I’ve gotta admit I’m kind of with you.  Up until this week, I was a staunch Ye supporter, but his bashing of one of my true musical loves, Beck, pushed me over the edge into the haters club.

But, like any (tidal) wave maker, I think there’s some important stuff we can learn from Yeezy about self worth.

1. Be an UNAPOLOGETIC PROMOTER, but don’t be an asshole

There’s something I want to tell you… come in real close: 

 

YOU’RE AWESOME

 

I’m sure you know this, but we’ve been taught to think that singing our praises is “dirty” or wrong and this manifests itself in all kinds of ugly ways.  Studies suggest that men are 60% more likely to call themselves “very qualified” than women.

It’s time to end this trend.

And who better to teach us how than the KING of self-promotion!  Seriously, this dude thinks he’s God’s gift to the world and he’s not ashamed to tell you… and tell you often.

I mean, say what you will about the guy, but he’s crazy confident in what he brings to the table.

 

What would it look like if you had that kind of confidence? 

Would you ask for a better job, a promotion, help with the housework?

 

Sure, there’s an “icky” way to self-promote and Ye may cross that line from time to time, but there’s another way, a humble way – the humble brag.

And, honey, practice makes perfect, so humble brag all over.  I challenge you to share something you’ve done well with no less than 5 people today.

 

2. LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD even if you’re in the minority

As women, too often we let others take the stage and hold back our voice and our brilliant ideas.  We’re scared to be questioned, scared to be judged, and scared to be wrong… but more than that – I think we’re scared of how RIGHT we are. 

 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

...Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine.” – Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

 

It’s time to speak up and share your message with the world.  Let your light shine.


3. You don’t have to knock others down to LIFT YOURSELF UP

Women are taught to compete against women.  I don’t quite know why or how, but it’s the truth. 

(I’m sure I’m not alone in hearing the horror stories of successful, capable professional women holding other women down.)


But here’s the thing:  You don’t have to knock anyone down to create success for yourself.


Case in point: Kanye didn’t need to dis on Beck’s “artistry” (or alleged lack thereof) to tell us what a powerhouse, class act and hot mama Beyonce is.


4. Always come back to WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANT

Amidst Yeezy’s recent rant, I was surprised to hear him close out with this:

“I got my wife, my daughter, and I got my clothing line, so I’m not going to do nothing that would put my daughter at risk, but I am here to fight for creativity.”

 The value of the clothing line might be a bit of a stretch, but in the end, he came back to what was the most important: the people in our lives (his wife and daughter) and our highest values (for him, creativity). 


Remembering what’s important to us helps to put it all into context and to keep us driving forward and fighting for what we believe in.  Without that, what’s the point?


And, of course, always remember why you’re here - to make a difference in this world:


We are all here for a reason on a particular path
You don't need a curriculum to know that you are part of the math
Cats think I'm delirious, but I'm so damn serious
That's why I expose my soul to the globe, the world
I'm trying to make it better for these little boys and girls
I'm not just another individual

Here's When Weight Gain's a Good Thing

Over the holidays, I was hiking with my family in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We went there to see the Thurston Lava Tube – sounds cool right?

Well, we drove 2 hours there and hiked for 2 hours and WE NEVER MANAGED TO SEE THE LAVA TUBE.

We made it to the mouth of the tunnel with just enough time to realize we had no time to go in if we wanted to be back at our hotel in time for our Christmas Eve dinner reservations.

 

As it turns out, the tunnel was totally swamped with tourists, actually making it really undesirable for us (I hate crowds).

I learned 2 things that day:

  • My husband doesn’t know how to use the GPS on his iPhone;
  • and, All the joy and beauty (in anything) is in the journey.

See, if we’d made it to the tunnel, we would have missed seeing an incredible caldera (that’s what’s created, geologically speaking, when a volcano collapses), walking through awesome natural steam tunnels, and getting in a couple of trail runs (mostly to escape rain!). 

 
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For some reason, I seem to need multiple iterations of the same lesson for it to really sink in so of course this lesson came up for me again.

Last fall was pretty stressful for me, and as time went on, I found myself slipping further and further out of my healthy habits.

I knew it was bad, but I couldn’t seem to make it stop, and it took seeing it for myself for it to really sink in…

 

Now, this isn’t about my body, per se, but about what the changes in my body represent.

When my life is out of alignment, my body sends me a pretty strong signal: WEIGHT GAIN.

In all honesty, the numbers on the scale and the size of my pants mean very little to me.  But, for me, this picture represents a being disconnected from my bodies signals and a complete disregard for my own health and wellbeing – something I think all driven women need to focus on to be their most successful and fabulous selves.

As a coach, I felt guilty that I was not “walking my talk”.

But as I dug deeper on what this meant for me, I remembered that no one’s journey is a straight line, least of all my own, and that if I’m struggling to maintain a healthy lifestyle with everything I know about fitness and nutrition – YOU PROBABLY ARE, too.

Now, I KNOW that I will bounce back from this (minor) setback and that it will only make me stronger – as a person, as a woman, and as a coach.  All the joy and beauty (in anything) is in the journey.

Since returning from my Hawaiian vacation, I’ve developed and started executing on a 21-day plan that is helping me take my health back, while still leaving me lots of wiggle room for fun!  (questions about what I'm doing to drop the LBs and get my bod back fast?  Just ask).  I’m also taking time out of every day, even just 5 minutes, to check in with my body – assess how I’m feeling, where I feel stress or resistance, and to make sure I’m balancing nourishment and rest with pushing my physical boundaries.

Take-inspired action: Set aside at least 5 minutes every day this week to do a body scan and identify the signals your body is sending.

 

Oh yeah, and ENJOY THE JOURNEY, LOVE.

She Got Laid Off (and she feels AMAZING!)

And, she rejoiced.  A weight had lifted.

Last night I got a surprise message from one of the first clients to work through my signature coaching program (click for program details).  I want to share her story… (it’s powerful!)

 

From our first session together, it was clear she had a problem: HER JOB.

She felt like she was drowning in negativity, struggling with the “doom and gloom” mentality of her manager, which was contagious and would land her anywhere from in a funk to total bitch mode.  She dreaded her long commute, which left her out of the house and away from her family too many hours of the day.  She danced the line between being inspired by work opportunities and frustrated that, in her current role and position, she could only do so much.  She hated that she was immobilized by corporate politics.

She KNEW that her job was the source of the majority of the stress in her life.  And, not only was it following her around like a little black raincloud and keeping her from being the mother and wife she wanted to be, but it was also taking a toll on her body.

Even with what she knew to be true at the deepest level, she still felt STUCK.  But, she couldn’t leave and she used every excuse in the book to justify it to me.

-She’d been there for most of her career and she wasn’t sure what she’d do somewhere else

-Her family was thinking of trying for another baby next year and she needed the benefits and maternity leave

-Financially speaking, she needed to work; her family needed her income.  And she didn’t have the time or energy to look for something new.

As a coach, I try to remain objective, but I could hear in her voice what a strain this job was on her.  I wanted her to leave.

During our work together, I poked and prodded: “What would it look like if you didn’t work there anymore?”, “What do you see yourself doing next?”, “What do you get really excited about doing?”… but she wouldn’t budge. 

She wasn’t leaving.  She wasn’t ready.

So, we moved on.  We worked on her mindset, her communication, her stress management, and set-up some simple routines and health hacks to keep her feeling GOOD, even if she wasn’t where she wanted to be from 9-5 every day.

In many ways, she was a dream client.  She was open to change, to learning, to growing, and she always completed the action items we set between sessions.  Even without leaving her job, there was a noticeable change in how she approached people and situations in her life and even in how she approached herself.  By the end of our sessions, she SOUNDED like a different person – happy, light, and focused.

For me, it was a powerful testament to the power of coaching.  For her, it set her on a new path.

 

Four months have passed and last night I got a message from her:

So, we talked a lot about how my job was a major obstacle in my life…well, it is no longer there. I am officially unemployed… I got laid off but got a nice severance package… think I’m going to take some time off and stay home. I definitely need to find something that makes me happy and is meaningful… I feel amazing.

 

Now, I won’t be ballsy enough to claim responsibility for her lay off, but there is NO DOUBT in my mind that this is the direct result of our work together

In just 6 weeks, she found clarity around her values and her drive.  She got clear on what wasn’t working for her anymore.  More than anything, she learned to listen to her intuition, to be receptive to her own needs, and to be open to change.  She transformed into a different person before my eyes! 

I 100% believe that she got laid off with a sweet severance, because SHE decided she was ready to leave.  And, now, she has a clean slate to start the next chapter of her story.

There’s something else I want you to know… if, like she did, you feel stuck, it is in your control to make a change.

How do I know this? 

Because I did it, too!  And know it’s my MISSION to help women get clarity on what truly lights them up, to give them the confidence to open up to the possibility for change, and to learn to care for their bodies and minds in the process.  My signature program is a boiled down version of my own 5 year journey to finding true happiness and purpose-driven work.  It’s designed to help you create change, and fast.

If you look into the future and think, “Next year I DO NOT want to be in the same place I am right now”, this is your chance to raise your hand and get the support you need to uplevel your life (click for program details).

I’m here and ready for you.  Are you ready for me?


                                                 

Chill the F Out

I’ve spent so many Decembers wrapping up year-long projects, hustling to meet last minute deadlines, and frantically searching for perfect holiday gifts.

This year I’ve decided to do something different: I’m chilling the F out.


This has been a benchmark year for me in a lot of ways: I’ve taken my coaching to the next level, I left a depleting job for greener pastures, I’ve traveled for work and pleasure – enjoying days on the beach and fresh seafood in the Caribbean, training with a variety of leaders from Chalene Johnson to Darren Hardy, and savoring tacos and great conversation in Texas, and I downsized my living space to live a bigger life outside of my home in 2015.

There’s still SO much I want to do – not just this year, but today, RIGHT NOW. <--That’s the type-A overachiever in me. 

But I know all too well the damage that GOING, GOING, GOING can leave in its wake.  So, instead, I’m opting to round out an excellent 2014 with some restoration and reflection.  Here’s what I’m committing to for the remainder of 2014:

1.       Sleeping In

I spent a large part of this year up by 5:30 am and hustling until late into the evening – I had work to do and it was invigorating and exciting, but I’m ready to recoup and restore.  For the rest of December, you’ll find me snoozing a little more and being governed by my alarm a little less.

2.       Journaling

I know I have important work to do in 2015 – but the most important thing for me is doing more work that aligns with my passions: teaching, writing, coaching, and strategizing.  Through the end of the year, I’ll be exploring some unique ways to tap into my strengths and desires.

3.       Unplugging & Connecting

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling a little disenfranchised with social media and I’ve been drawn to connect more fully in person.  In December (and throughout 2015): Less phone time; more face time.


Instead of opting in to the hustle and bustle, I’m choosing ease and grace.

Instead of chasing finished projects, I’m pursuing freedom and authenticity in my work.

Instead of remaining totally plugged in, I’m unplugging to connect face to face.

Instead of pushing hard to the end, I’m riding the wave into the shore.


Won’t you join me?  What’s your focus for the rest of the year?

Fighting Against the Tide + A Reason to be Thankful

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My first mentor in the corporate world used to tell me "If you're not fighting against the tide, you're not doing anything worth doing."

That statement always felt OFF to me, but he said it so often, and I trusted and respected him so much that I thought "He must be right."

I was thinking about this the other night while amped up from too much iced coffee (oops!).

The last few weeks have felt tremendously HARD - I've felt like I was fighting against the tide in so many areas of my life: work, business, self-care, home. Quite honestly, IT SUCKS.  I feel like someone who's not quite myself.

But I realized something - this statement absolutely needs a disclaimer. Sure, to do anything remarkable, you'll be going against the grain and you'll be in the minority. I'm VERY independent by nature. I think I can do it all myself and when I think of fighting against the tide, it looks like a solo journey.

BUT, there will always be other people there, fighting similar fights, pushing you on, motivating you, encouraging you, sometimes JUST BEING THERE reminding you of the value you bring when you can't see it yourself.

Bottom line: If you try to do it alone (whatever IT is), you will fail.

Fighting against the tide isn't about you vs. everyone else. When it is, there's no point.

Fighting against the tide is about finding those few, select people who GET IT and keeping them in your back pocket while you take on the world.  If you don't have those people, you need to find them.

I didn't really have them for a long time. I do now.  They came to me in all different forms: from bosses to friends to family to people I don't even know but look up to.

This Thanksgiving, I'm feeling especially grateful to have people like this in my life.

Yes, the last few weeks have been hard. Yes, I've been swirling in negativity. But, yes, I'm being led out the other side. This is something I couldn't do quite so seamlessly on my own.  

 

Thank you to all those who have been with me along the way.  xo

5 Meditation Myths Busted

A friend of mine recently started meditating and she was sharing bits of her journey with me along the way. 

It had started out as something that she had to force herself to do, but that it quickly turned into something she “needed” to do to start her day.  She started responding to daily stressors differently – and people noticed!

Too often it may seem like just another thing on the to-do list, but her experience reminded me what a valuable and under-utilized tool meditation can be.

If you’ve been nervous about starting a meditation practice, you’re not alone.  Here are the 5 most common meditation myths I hear and my 2 cents for moving past them

1. You need to meditate for an hour a day

When you think of meditation, do you immediately conjure up an image of monks in a temple who meditate for days, even weeks at a time?  This might lead you to believe that you need to meditate for an hour a day (or more!), but the truth is even 10 minutes can make a big difference to your peace of mind.

My 2 cents: When you’re first getting started, even 5 minutes of meditation can feel like an eternity, so start small and build as you go.  I love the Simply Being meditation app, because you can gradually increase over time from 5 to 20 minutes. 

2. You’re doing it wrong

This is a special one for all my Type A’s out there.  If you’ve got a bit of a perfectionist streak in you, you may be reluctant to really try meditation for fear that you’re doing it wrong.  But guess what?  There is no wrong way to do it!  And the more you meditate, the easier it will be to develop your own unique style.

My 2 cents: One of the benefits of a developed meditation practice is the acknowledgement that your daily practice will turn into whatever you need it to be that day.  As your practice goes deeper, you’ll begin to tap into more of your natural intuition and develop a connection with yourself on a deeper level, so have faith in the process and just keep going!

3.       You need to clear your mind completely

I’d always struggled with meditation because as soon as I started, all the things that had gone undone that day or replays of conversations I’d had that day would kick off in my mind.  I couldn’t turn it off!  My mind was officially blown during a meditation class when the instructor told us that meditation was NOT about clearing the mind, but about developing a deep focus. 

My 2 cents: A large part of my own meditation practice is being kind to myself along the way.  When my mind wanders, I gently redirect using a mantra. 

If you find that forgotten to-do items are sneaking in, keep a notebook next to you and when you’re done with your meditation, spend a few minutes doing a quick brain dump.

4.       You have to sit still

If sitting in silence for more than a couple minutes makes you squirm, you’re not alone.  But there’s good news – meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting or lying down.  Any activity where you can be totally immersed (running, walking, yoga, doing the dishes) can offer the same benefits.  

My 2 cents: When I first started meditating regularly, I would use long runs as my meditation platform.  I’d switch off my ipod and tap into the sights and sounds around me.  I used my breath and the sound of my feet hitting the ground with each new step to guide me.  It turns out that there was a lot I was missing out on when I was plugged in; the “silence” of running without music actually made the whole experience more enjoyable. 

5.       There’s only one right way to meditate

WRONG!  There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to meditation.  You have to find what works for you: guided, music, silent, sitting, standing, moving, morning, night, indoors, outdoors.  It doesn’t matter how you do it – just that it works for you!

My 2 cents: Experiment and see what feels right for you.   Acknowledge that it may change as you get more experience with meditation or even as your world changes.  Let the process evolve right along with you.