Breathe In, Breathe Out

To be "mindful" your mind must not be full. Quite contrary to the name, "Mindful Meditation" is a practice that involves being fully aware in the present, the here and now. There was a time where I found myself operating in auto-pilot. Doing everything everybody else wanted me to do and I found myself quite miserable. I had no purpose, my mind was scattered (still manic but at least I can focus now lol), and I questioned the point of living. I definitely wanted to get off of that path and although meditation was not new to me, I lacked the discipline to practice it daily. I had to make some cuts to certain meaningless activities and objectives expected of me from other people in order to make time to do this for myself. Remember, you can't love anyone else if you don't love yourself. I needed to do this for my own well-being. I still sometimes struggle to hit my goal of at least 10 minutes a day but when I go beyond 10 minutes I feel magnificent, I don't want to stop!

Why Meditate?

1. Stress Management

Meditation affects the brain in many different ways. Almost every part of the brain undergoes changes as a result of meditation practice but for article length purposes I will tell you about the two parts of the brain that undergo significant changes and are worth noting due to them being very important for stress management. The amygdala and the hippocampus. The amygdala is a part of the brain that is in control of our "fight or flight" response which is important for our survival. We needed it more as primal beings than now, as society is more "civilized." The amygdala is the center for our fearful and anxious emotions and it actually decreases in brain cell volume the more you practice meditation. The hippocampus, which is the regulator of our emotions as well as our memory and is extremely vulnerable to stress and stress-related disorders such as depression and PTSD, actually grows in size. 

Lets put that into perspective. The amygdala which is in control of how stressed we are, shrinks, and the hippocampus which is in control of our emotions, memory, learning, and is SUSCEPTIBLE to stress, grows. Amazing. Almost unbelievable. All of us undergo stress every day. Meditation will not make you insusceptible to stress, it will however have you come down to a peaceful calm quicker than most people. 

2. Time Management

Try doing ten things at once. None of those ten things will be completed in a timely manner, or as well as they could've been completed if you just focused on one objective at a time. The key here is to FOCUS. When one operates without being focused on the present moment, they will be more vulnerable to making a mistake. If you are driving and texting, or doing something else  distracting like switching the radio dial, your chances of getting into an accident increase significantly. If you are fully aware of your surroundings and your objective, chances are you will arrive at your destination safely and with slimmer chances of any accidents occurring.

My mom is notorious in my house for cutting herself accidentally as she chops vegetables and other miscellaneous items in the kitchen. My dad screams "Pay attention to what your doing!" Funny enough, he's quite correct about this whole "paying attention" thing. Safety issues aside, we need to focus on our actions in the present. When we practice mindful meditation we are focusing on our breathe. In and out. This attention to our breathe trains us to be more attentive to all other actions we undertake when we are not meditating. Yes, ten minutes a day will have a major influence on the other one thousand, four hundred thirty.

3. Overall Improvement of Mood

Your mind wanders. It thinks of the past which may be painful, and the future which may fill you with fear for what is to come. The default mode network (DMN) is the name of the brain network that effects mind wandering. Mind wandering is usually associated with being less happy and through mindful meditation we can tone down that network. This was proven in a study conducted by Yale University. Thus, do not obsess over the past or the future that are both out of your control, instead focus on the present. Be aware, breathe and quiet the mind.

How Do You Do It?!?!

Sit in a comfortable position. I like to sit on the floor cross legged, eyes closed, and back straight. Breathe deeply and consciously. Focusing on every breathe.

In... two... three... four... Out... two...three...four.

I am not (yet) a meditation teacher so I recommend doing a guided meditation or reading some articles about it online. There are some tips I can give you though. Keep in mind that mindful meditation will not CURE depression or PTSD but it rivals the effects of medication, meaning it is just as effective. It is not a magic bullet that will take your problems away but it is a tool to help you manage your problems and make sense of them more efficiently.

YOU WILL NOT HOVER. You will not automatically become a shaman or start speaking in tongues and it will not have sudden overwhelming effects. Mindful meditation is a PRACTICE and being mindful is a LIFESTYLE. At first you may feel like you are doing it wrong or that you are literally just sitting. The only wrong way to meditate is to give up too soon or to not do it at all. Your phone will distract you. Your surroundings will distract you. Your thoughts will distract you. Allow your thoughts to come and go as they please and focus back in on your breathing. This is you being mindful. Meditate through the environmental distractions and do not allow your phone to take your attention away from your practice. Remember, this is for you. Your phone will be there when the 10-15 minutes is up.

If your response is "I tried it and it didn't work, my mind just moves too fast." This is specifically geared to you and you are somebody who should practice meditation. You will not regret it. I know I don't.

I hope you enjoyed this post and maybe even practice some meditation for yourself. This article was only the tip of the iceberg so if you have gained an interest in the topic of meditation there are vast sources out there, a simple google search will have you well on your way.

Thank you for reading.

Until next week, I love you all.

-Tony Blanko



Rick Doza

"Anything is possible," says this weeks featured artist, Rick Doza. Born Ricardo Mendoza in San Diego, CA on July 22, 1996, Rick Doza is a unique Mexican-American artist that stands out among the crowd. Now residing in El Centro, he has a style of his own and has no desire to be like everyone else. Interviewing him I sensed a vibe of humility and graciousness as he refrained from bragging, instead carefully considering every word and crafting it the way he meticulously crafts his music.

Rick Doza's biggest passion is music. EVERY ASPECT. He engineers, writes songs, does graphic design, offers promo services, even does videos for other artists. "I remember it like it was yesterday," he describes getting his start in the rap game. "I was listening to rap and I thought 'I wonder what it would feel like for people to be listening to me like this.' " Interestingly enough I personally selected him as Artist of the Week because I was one of the people "listening to him like that."

"My other passion is weed man, I love smoking," he proclaimed while laughing and hitting a wax pen. "My favorite hobby is definitely traveling." Rick Doza regularly travels to Mexico and actually spent a good portion of his life in Mexicali, a city on the Mexico-United States border. He also likes to travel to Los Angeles and San Diego, but most frequently visits Mexico, going at least twice a month.

Rick Doza's passion for music is driven by self-betterment and continuous growth. He compares his old music to his new music and is in love with the process of becoming a better artist. "Learn from your mistakes and keep growing" is a personal philosophy of his that is applied to all sectors of his life. Never fearing experimentation, he believes in the process of falling down and getting back up again.  He also believes in learning from others, not just anybody though. "If I want to learn something new, I associate myself with the professionals. You have to learn from the best, to be the best." My man Rick Doza dropping them jewels.

Rick Doza has always had musical influences in his life, playing drums and guitar among other instruments. He feels the vibes and connects with all types of music. Lil Wayne, J. Cole, Nav, Ty Dolla Sign, Ozuna, Bad Bunny, 21 Savage and Bob Marley are just a FEW of his favorites. He spends everyday focused on what is going to get him further, whether it be how to market his music better or lyrics to a new song he is working on, he is concentrated. An essential part of his day is meditation which takes up a healthy portion. He takes this time to reflect and to show gratitude.

I asked Rick Doza, "What message do you want your listeners to get from your music?"

"Follow your dreams and do it, because you CAN DO IT. Five, six years ago I wasn't an artist. Now I am. Anything is possible," he stated, before shouting out his fans who he says are extremely important to him. "Do what you want, whatever it is you want, but keep in mind there are consequences to your actions." 

Musically, Rick Doza plans on bringing people with him as he rises in popularity. Know that you will be seeing more of him outside of music alone, as he hopes to open up barber shops in the future, possibly a recording studio and just about anything else he finds an interest in as he is a man of many talents. "Keep on your grind," he says hoping to motivate others as that is also something he loves to do.

Overall it was a very dope interview with a very dope dude (literally lol). I look forward to see him achieving much more and I recommend checking out his music.

Insta: @azodkcir

Spotify: Rick Doza