Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Don't Force It, Ease Into It

If you pull back on a pose, if you ease up on one element of a pose, it will enable you to correct the other aspects so that everything can fall into the correct place.  Changing your approach and your focus to a pose will get you better results in the long term.  It just won’t happen instantly.  It will however, help you to get all the parts of your mind and body to work together smoothly.  Which is what we’re after, isn’t it?

The same is often true of work and even life.  Sometimes just pushing harder is not the answer. Many times pushing ourselves to the edge is counterproductive to what you want.  Working an eighteen hour day rarely produces eighteen hours worth of progress.  There is always a diminishing rate of return.  
I listened to my yoga instructor today as she told me to pull back in a pose. I thought, “but I’m trying to go deeper, why should I pull back?” 
She anticipated my thoughts by saying, "these poses should always be easy.  If they are hard, then you're focusing on the wrong aspect of it."

I thought about it more after class and began to understand what she had said.  Every pose is made up of tens if not hundreds of movements.  Many of them are about changing the details of what you are doing.  Is your knee turned outward?  Are you spinning your triceps upward?  Is your tailbone tucked under?  Are you feeling the stretch here, or here, or here?  

Every one of these elements is a very specific part of your pose.  So if you’re straining, you’re most likely trying to force something further, hoping it will all fall into place.  But you are also neglecting some of the other elements in your pose.  And by doing so, while you may be stretching your hamstring a little further, you are most likely neglecting the myriad of other details that make the pose effective.  

In the first hours you feel like you can do anything.  But as the day progresses you start to slow down.  And after ten hours your productivity is so low it hardly makes sense to even be working.  Yet, there you are.  Compelled to work longer and harder, thinking it will produce the results you need.  

Instead of fighting and pushing yourself to what you think is the edge, think about pulling back.  Think about focusing on another element of your work, or taking a break altogether.  It will get you where you want to go with better results.  And in the end, it may even get you there faster.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dharma in Plain English

Words and language are one of the most powerful tools man has ever created.  When used properly, they can bring people together. They can unite and inspire whole communities to do great things. They can help us spread world changing ideas from one people to the next, and from one generation to the next.  

They can also be used to do great harm.  They can be used to control or mislead people.  They can be used to create barriers designed to divide people into different classes based on nothing more than how those people speak.

Some people do this by creating our own languages, rich with secret words and meanings that only those indoctrinated can decipher.  They can create a velvet rope that keeps those uninitiated in their secret meaning out.

It is why it is so important that we constantly explain important words and the ideas they stand for so that they are open to everyone throughout the ages.  Only then can we be sure that everyone benefits from the ideas those words represent.  You see, ideas are power, and great ideas should be used to empower everyone, not to laud power over them.

In some ways, dharma is such a word.  It holds the key to a very powerful idea that anyone can use to gain happiness and so much more.  But to those uninitiated, it can pose a mystical barrier to their personal growth.  Which is why it needs to come out of the shrouded mystery of language so that anyone can bask in the idea behind it. 

Today, dharma has many meanings to many people.  To some it refers to someone’s life-path, or their lifestyle.  To others it has a karmic overtone that implies doing the right thing.  To others still, it refers to the truth - or the true path for someone to stay on.

I refer to it as the Simple Truth.  And yes, while there are some simple truths that everyone abides by [thou shalt not kill], one's dharma is different for everyone.  It is, in effect, the essence of your being that you need to be true to if you want to be happy and live the life you love. 

This is how Krishna referred to dharma in the Bhagavad Gita.  In this ancient text, Krishna tells a warrior, "better your own dharma badly performed than the dharma of another done perfectly."  

What he is basically telling this warrior that it is better to follow your true calling even if it means killing others during battle, than to try and be something you are not.  It is better to be true to yourself and do wrong, than to be untrue to your own nature and do right.

Now, I do not think Krishna, nor anyone, thinks that killing is okay. Nor do I think that anyone is promoting the idea of living anything other than a compassionate life.  But I do think that this is still wonderful advice to those who want to be happy and life a life they will truly love.
To be clear, the idea of being true to oneself is not just a Buddhist one.  It has been echoed throughout the years by great minds the world over.   Shakespeare wrote it into Hamlet when Polonius said, "This above all.  To thine own self be true."  

Richard Bach said it when he wrote, "Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself."

So whether you refer to it as dharma, or being true to yourself, or finding and following your own Simple Truth, remember that the important part is not the words, but the idea behind the words.  

So find your dharma, find your own true self, find your own Simple Truth.  Just make sure you share that knowledge in whatever language others are comfortable hearing it in.  For that is what will make you happy, and will enable you, and everyone, to live the life each loves.

simple truth

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Steve Jobs on Life

Sometimes you read something, and there is just no way to improve upon it.  I had that thought when I read this quote from Steve Jobs.

 "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.  
Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. 

Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice.  
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

They somehow already know what you truly want to become. 
Everything else is secondary."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Meditations on morning tea

This morning, as with all mornings, I poured myself a cup of tea from my teapot. It was a lapsang souchong - a smoky tea that is soothing but also a strong cup of wakeup. It doesn't just sit there. It pulls you into your day.

After the first few sips, I began to meditate on my tea and my morning ritual.  It was not just me waking up and getting a cup of tea.  It was a ritual that I have built over time.  I thought about what went into this pot of tea I was enjoying.  It was more than just tea leaves and water. There was a whole ceremony around my morning tea that has become a welcoming experience.

Part of it started months ago when I bought a new teapot. I took my time to find just the right one -  simple and white so as not to distract me and not to take away from a peaceful morning.  It has just the right kind of strainer that I enjoy. Not so fussy as to require straining with every cup, but requiring that the strainer be cleaned between each pot. The spout is just above the water line so that water doesn't pour out when I overfilled it, as I am want to do. The tea itself was picked from a larger metal canister weeks ago from my favorite coffee and tea store - Porto Rico Importing Company. Between pots it sits in a small, double lidded metal canister to keep it fresh.  

Each of these things reflects a side of me, the practical and the dreamer.  Each of these is now a part of my morning tea experience. It was cultivated from trying different pots and cups and teas.  Until I found what works for me.  The fact that I use my wife's coffee measure, only filling it three-quarters of the way full, is the result of experimenting until I found just the right level for a good pot of tea. It is also a small symbol of us, instead of just me.

You see, my cup of tea is not just the act of me pouring out tea from a pot. It is the result of trying something - tea - and then refining it for my own personality.  My own Simple Truth, as it were.

That is how life is.  It is about learning from someone else, then adapting it for yourself.  It is about not changing who you are inside, but constantly adapting and evolving to the universe around you.  

That is how we grow, while still staying true to our own Simple Truth. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Time, Cost & Quality

I have told my clients for years there are three legs to any project; time, cost and quality.  The trick is you can only have two of the legs.  You can have a finished project that is inexpensive but it will either take longer to complete or the quality will suffer.  You can have one that is of very high quality, but it will either be more expensive or will take more time.  Or, you can have a project that is quickly completed, but it will either cost more to rush it or the quality will suffer.  People understand this for  the most part.  there is always a trade-off.  But knowing how to balance these three elements to a project enables them to make the best decision for their needs.

In many ways, the same is true for self discovery.  If you want to learn about yourself, there are many different ways to go about it.  Some are based in religion.  Some in philosophy.  Some in therapy and science.  Each can be right for different people.  Yet no matter how you approach your own self-discovery, the same rules apply.  To find out who you truly are takes time.  It often has a cost attached to it.  And the quality of the outcome, your ability to make real change, is dependent upon th equality of your self examination.

For me, the quality is the one factor that cannot be sacrificed.  It is the most important factor that you should never be willing to settle on.  

So when you're starting down your path, or even taking a look back to see where you have been or where you are going - make sure the quality of your self-discovery is the best possible.  The rest is for you to decide how important time and cost are to you becoming YOU.

simple truth

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bring Compassion Into Your Life With Simple Choices

You are born with compassion.

You wake up with it every morning. 

You simply need to remember to incorporate it into the little choices you make every day.  In doing so, you can bring it to life.  

In every choice that you make, you can either rely on the programing that your primordial ancestors endowed us with [see amygdala below], or you can rise above and personally evolve by making the right choices.  

Remember, life is lived in the little choices we make.  Not in the earth shattering decisions we see in the movies.

The next time a car cuts you off, don't raise a finger, simply smile.  The next time an co-worker puts you down, don't raise your voice, simply stick to the facts.  Remember, you are traveling on a speck of dust, spinning through the Universe at more than 66,660 miles and hour.    No matter how great a slight, it is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things.  But the small choices you make are not.  

So choose the path of compassion you were born with.

simple truth
jeffrey cannon

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Lessons of a Breeze

I was working on my sailboat yesterday, sanding and varnishing the wood to get her ready for this summer's voyages out of Shelter Island.  It's very zen work if you let it be.  The circular sanding.  The linear brush strokes. 

In the midst of my brushwork, I felt a breeze cross my face.  It wasn't much of one.  But it was delicious.  It was soft and caressing, not quite cool, but also not warm.  It simply was.

I couldn't help but think that this breeze would have been there whether I was or not.  It would have skimmed over the tree tops and nudged the boats that were already on the water.  But the fact that I was where I was brought it to life.  At least for me.  It was a moment where I became.  I simply was. 

I realized there is nothing miraculous about the breeze.  The breeze has always been there, and it will be there long after I've gone.  What was miraculous was my my relationship with it as I felt it on my face.  My ability to quiet all those thoughts that were so turbulent in the week, so that I could be aware and uncluttered enough to witness this faint breath of wind.

Clear you mind so that you can enjoy the subtle joys of this earth for as long as you're on it.  

simple truth

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why You Stress, And How To Stop It

There is a very simple answer to why you may find yourself so stressed out all the time.  Especially over so many small things that really shouldn't affect your life or your happiness.  

It's about the size of an almond and it all started about 40,000 years ago, give or take a few.  That was when we more or less became human, as we know ourselves today.  Somewhere along the evolutionary path, we were endowed with a wonderfully small organ, called the amygdala [ah-mig-dah-la].  It was given to us by our reptilian ancestors long before we can even imagine, and it was hard wired into the base of our brains.  So much so, that as we evolved it didn't.  And in many ways, it's a good think it stayed around.  It has, and still has, one very important job.  It's purpose is to keep us safe.  

You see, when something happens that makes us uncomfortable, the signals from the outside world are fed to the almond-sized amygdala, deep in the brain.  It then sends out chemicals to the body that create the sense of fear, anxiety, or shear terror you might know.  

You will recognize its work in the feeling of unease you get as you walk into a dark and creepy basement, or in that spinal shiver you feel when you see a spider.  Yes, it still works wonderfully to keep us safe.  But it has one problem.  It doesn't realize that the 21st Century world we now live in simply does not have all of the threats of the prehistoric world.  So it doesn't realize that when you are asked to give a speak in front of a room you're really not in physical danger.  It doesn't know that it's not helping the situation by pumping you full of fear and anxiety.  It also doesn't know that the excitement elicited from an "SALE NOW" sign is not a life or death situation.  All it knows to do is send you into a fight or flight response. 

But that doesn't mean you can't do something about it.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  You have a few very powerful tools to help you gain control over your amygdala.  They are called meditation and mindfulness.  

Both can give you the foundation you need to prevent yourself from spinning out of control the next time your amygdala tries to spin you into panic mode.  Both can give you the ability to pause, to breathe, and to say to yourself "nope, there's no lion charging at me.  There's not a pack of cave-people running my way.  There's just a sign for a sale.  And I have the choice to either go in and look around, or go on my way with a smile on my face."  

But in order to use meditation to your benefit, you can't wait for your amygdala to kick in for it to do you some good.  You have to start a consistent practice so that you build up your ability to remain calm and to say, "thank you my amygdala, but not today."

Yes, it really is that easy.  So, the next time you panic, think about what causes you to panic.  No. it's not whatever stimuli your eyes, ears and nose are picking up.  It's just that little almond in your head, called the amygdala.  

So feel free to turn it down so that you can get on with your life.

simple truth

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Feeling Lost? Let Yourself Be Heard!

The next time you feel lost and out of sorts, ground yourself in the knowledge that you are not alone.  At some point in time everyone feels as if they are still a na├»ve teenager or a babe in the woods.  Yes, even that rock solid power broker who makes sure he or she sits at the head of the table in every meeting is vulnerable; oft times the most vulnerable of all.  Just watch them.  They spend just as much time comparing themselves to everyone else; and trust me; their insecurities are identical to yours. 

I say this because that feeling is part of our nature.  It’s our brain’s way of making sure each of us stays in line and remains a member of the tribe called human. 

Native Americans hunting a Mastodon

You see 40,000 years ago our greatest advantage wasn’t our physical strength or our ability to create weapons; it was our capacity to work together as a close-knit unit.  Alone we gathered berries.  Together we hunted mastodons.  Our ability to work together, our social nature, moved us quickly to the top of the food chain and made us world’s top predator.  It helped us build huts, villages, towns and cities.  It helped us change the very world we live in, for better and for worse.

But today, the same programming that used to help us win as a species now holds you back as an individual.  In today’s world, you are simply not in a constant state of survival and competition like your ancestors were.  The problem is, your old programming doesn’t know that.  Instead, it keeps sending you signals designed to keep you in line.

Even though you live in the modern world, your brain doesn’t translate your old programming into complete sentences.  Instead it speaks to you through your fears, your habits and your discomfort.  It tries to maintain the tribe called humanity by making you uncomfortable when you’re in a group situation.

Some people react to this by speaking out, others by shutting down.  Some break through their programming and rise above it, but the vast majority listen to it and simply fall in line.  So the next time you feel like a fish out of water, just know that everyone around you feels the same way.  Everyone around you is afraid of speaking out.  Everyone is petrified that they will be ridiculed or laughed at.  That fear is what keeps you in line, not your intelligence or lack of ideas.

So now that you know that the habits, social mores, fears and insecurities are just your old programming’s way of maintaining control, it’s time to learn how to over-ride them. Only then can you take control of YOUR life and make choices that support YOU, rather than what society wants from you.

The next time you feel yourself feeling inadequate or uncomfortable, STOP.  Take three deep, cleansing breaths and focus your mind on a point where your body touches the world around you.  Feel your bottom as gravity pushes it into your chair.  Feel the soles of your feet pressing against your shoes.  Feel your clothes move against your body as you inhale and exhale.  Feel the solid connection to your body as it takes up space in the world around you. 

Now, move that feeling of connectivity into the center of your stomach.  Feel it tighten as you draw your navel backwards, connecting it to your spine.  Use that bundle of energy as a way to energize your confidence. 

When you speak, inhale deep into your stomach and speak from that same store of energy you just built.  Now let yourself be heard.  

simple truth

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

MLK - A Simple Truth For These Times

‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Words of Wisdom from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

simple truth

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Time for Compassion

Now is the time to be good winners, if we want to change the world.

Remember the lesson we learned as children about being a good sport?  Part of it was learning to be a good loser.  But the larger part was learning to be a good winner.  There has never been more of a need for that right  now.  Being a poor winner angers those who have lost.  It spurs them on to try even harder to unseat whoever on top.  It also prolongs the cycle of competition - a cycle that is inherent to our very nature.  

To break that cycle is to break the habits that our 40,000 year old programming pushes us to follow.  To break that cycle is to be humble while winning, and ask for reconciliation.

It is time for us, as a nation, to play this part on the world stage.  As much as we want to scream and shout and throw our triumph into the world, we need to refrain.  We need tor each out with a quiet smile and ask, "where can we go from here?"  

If we want to end the cycle of hate, of war, and of fear that has presided over this world for a millennia, every one of us needs to take a few deep breaths and think before we act.  We have already sent one message.  Now is the time to send another and set us on a positive track well into the future.  

simple truth

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Exercise of Writing & Self Discovery

I am in Newport Beach with my family.  It is early morning before the house is up.  I rise and make myself some tea.  I never really know these days if my morning tea actually does anything or its just a wonderful placebo I believe in.  Either way it's still a ceremony that I enjoy at this point and am happy with that.

I head out to the deck to write but my head is still enshrouded with fog.  The same fog that blankets the beach and the water beyond.  Outside the air is crisp and fresh.  The is faint jazz playing from somewhere own the way.  I really can't tell where, but it's faint, it's soft, it reminds me of something from the twenties.  It fits somehow with the intermittent voids of the early morning joggers and cyclists that pass by.

The beach stretches out before me.  A kind of golden tan, stippled with the shadows of  footprints from the day and night before.  A lone lifeguard tower stands at the water's edge.  Another one, made smaller by the distance stands a third of the way to the north.  Two others stand, respectively smaller, beyond it; dividing the beach into heat quarters of tan sand. 

Past these is the water.  All shades of blue in the morning light.  Aqua blue.  Silver blue.  Blue reflecting the clouds into an almost grayish white blue.   The almost black ripples are all that show any movement.  That and the sounds from the breaking waves in their steady beat.  Occasionally one will rise up and send a crest of spray over the horizon of the dunes.  It is followed by a deep sound that is more a vibration in the air than an audible tone. 

I look beyond the dune and the edge of the beach where the water meets the sand to the real horizon.  The navigation horizon.  The horizon Johnny Depp referred to when he said "Now bring me that horizon."  I know Catalina's out there.  I saw it yesterday before the fog rolled in.  It's hidden behind an almost imperceptible layer of clouds that wash from the dark,cold blue of the Pacific to the bright blue of the sky.  What must early man have thought when they saw it off in the existence?  How many generations must that have called to them before they had the technology of a log raft to heed it's call?  How many people were pulled out to sea before anyone even knew what currents were trying to reach it?  Then how many finally reached that forsaken place only to find that they were unable to return?

Did we originally think it was the seat of gods?  Did we paint pictures of imagined sea creatures that broke apart their log vessels?  Was it the start of a native American version of Jason and the Argonauts?  Only this one not written for the ages?  But does the energy of those lost generations still hover in this area?  Picked up by those who move to the beach, to find some sense of solace in the same view?  Somehow augmenting this part of the world with another layer we just know is there without being able to put a finger on why this one particular view or space is so wonderful?

I turn inward and start to ask myself the same questions.  I know that the image before me is only part of the reality we all live in.  I follow the same internally, as I did externally.  I start by stating the obvious and give it time to unravel before me; leading me to deeper and deeper thoughts and discoveries about myself. 

The process is the same.  Start with broad and innocuous questions.  Give your brain the permission to wander.  Allow it to find its way into itself.  Give it time to explore.  But all the while write down where it takes you.  It is the process of recording your journey that creates your path for wellness.

simple truth

Monday, April 25, 2011

Embrace Your Emotions On YOUR Terms

Who doesn't love a good cry every now and then?  Who doesn't enjoy losing themselves in a movie that pulls at the heartstrings and lets you escape from your world for a while?  I know many people tell us that emotions will only lead to pain.  But so what; sometimes life’s pains can be a wonderful part of the whole human experience.  I’m not talking about anything lascivious.  I’m talking about embracing your emotional experience in order to learn and grow from the world around you.  It's possible to do this as long as you have a level of separation that enables you to observe, experience and learn from your emotional experiences, be they painful, or beautiful. 

When you watch a love story or a drama, or even a horror film, you watch it from the emotional safety of your seat.  At times even a movie can touch too raw a nerve, making it too painful to sit through the entire film.  At other times, a movie may stay with you long after you have left the theater, tempting you to replay it over and over again, so that you can explore whatever emotional heartstrings it pulled on.   It may even be strong enough that you want to talk to a friend about it, to relate and get their insight into what actually happened.

It may sound odd to think about watching your own life like a movie.  But in a way that is exactly what embracing your own emotions means doing.  It means creating a bit of separation by living mindfully, so that you can step back and observe your emotions at a healthy distance.  Or even bring in someone to talk to about them, if they become too overwhelming.

In reality, you already live much of your own life like it is a movie.  Every day you decide how deeply you want to participate in the world around you, or to remove yourself from it.  Perhaps you allow your mind to drift while in a meeting that has nothing to do with you – isolating yourself from the goings on around you.  Or maybe you find yourself drawn to a conversation that two people are having, inviting yourself to be an active member in their world.  So why not do the same thing for yourself?  Why not decide what part of life you want to be a part of?  

Innately your reaction to an emotion is to give it a priority in your life.  When you feel one bubbling up, you most likely give it the room it demands without even thinking about it.  Rarely do you say "wait a minute, is now the time for this?"  Instead, like most of us, you let your natural programming take over, and let whatever it is you’re feeling run its course.  It’s not a bad thing.  But it may not allow you  the time and freedom YOU need to understand what you are feeling; leaving you a puddle as you wade through the emotional tsunami that is ravaging your body.

By staying mindful of the world around you and of your own emotions, you can create a healthy bit of separation between you and your inner feelings.  If you have the presence to feel when an emotion is starting to build and bubble up, you can be empowered to hit your own pause button.  You can choose whether to follow your emotion or to put it on hold.  You can also choose how to respond, if you want to respond at all.  By acknowledging it, embracing it, and being mindful of it, you can release it in measured doses, enabling you to manage whatever it is you are feeling, and empowering you to explore whatever it is you are dealing with - alone or with someone else.    

The next time you feel an emotion coming on, take a few deep breaths.  Ground yourself with a few minutes of meditation if you can.  Then acknowledge whatever it is you are feeling.  Become aware of whatever triggered your emotion before you respond.  Think about what in your past has caused you to react in the way you are reacting.  Take a moment before you react so that YOU are directing your own life, rather than empowering your past to direct your actions.  Remember this is YOUR life, not the life of an old boyfriend or girlfriend, not the life of your parents or that nasty girl who berated you in school.  So let them go with the old memories and emotions they bring with them.  Return them to their file folders.  And live your life YOUR way.

Emotions need recognition and acceptance, not just attention.  So welcome your emotions and embrace them, but do not let yourself get caught up in them.  They are all a part of the human experience.  Maintaining a sense of clarity and balance before responding is the difference between living the life you want to live, and chasing after emotions that are running wild.

Simple Truth

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Trust, Love and Experience over 40,000 Year Old Programming

We all want to experience more out of life.  We all want to live a vibrant existence and enjoy all that the world has to offer.  Sadly, and far too often, we panic before we ever get there.  We stop ourselves from reaching out for what we want and fall back in line the moment our old programming kicks in.  

You may call it habit, fear, or the need to conform, but those are simply words that we use to describe how our old programming looks to us.  And more often than not, that alone is the difference between living YOUR life and living a life dictated by those around you.

At one point in our evolution these cautious traits helped us survive.  In today’s world, they can prevent you from living your life fully, leaving you to deal with the frustration, bitterness and pain you experience when you live a life that is not truly YOURS.

Yes, your old programming is still a very useful tool.  But in order to live your life, you have to control how it drives your actions.  Thankfully, like any programming it’s not that difficult to over-ride.  You just need the right tools to work with.  

Think about some times when you jumped to a safe decision without knowing why.  Think about the  frustration it led to.  Perhaps you turned your nose up at a dish you’d never eaten before.  Maybe you pulled away when you were introduced to someone new and now wish you had actually said hello.  You might have even decided to stay home one night, instead of going to a party because you didn't  know anyone.  You may have rationalized your decisions by saying that you were just erring on the side of caution.  Or that in today’s world you can never be too careful.  Both of which are valid excuses, but also the hallmarks of a bit of that out of date programming kicking in. 

Yes, that programming kept us alive forty thousand years ago when it was first hard-wired into our ancestors.  It got us to the top of the food chain.  It helped us create the 21st Century world we live in.  But it now it also holds you back from living the life you were destined to live.  It automates your responses rather than allowing you to make the choices that could move your life forward.

So how do you live the life you want to live, if you're stuck with this programming?  How do you live YOUR life without making bad choices?  How do you find the balance between throwing caution to the wind and living a life of dull frustration?  The key lies in your ability to remain mindful of where you are and who you are.  If you can stay present through your five senses, you will be forever grounded.  And when you are grounded, you will have the foundation you need to tap into the energy that we all swim in.  And when you have your finger on that pulse, you can truly make the kind of choices that will help you enjoy all that the world has to offer, while remaining true to your own Simple Truth.

So the next time you get the chance, welcome someone new with open arms and give them the benefit of the doubt.  Give them love and trust at first, but no matter how great they look or how good a game they talk, keep one of your feet firmly grounded so that you can hear that inner voice of warning.  When it says, “hmmmmmm, not quite right,” or “something’s off here.”  What it’s really saying is “there’s something about this that reminds me of a bad situation we went through before, so get out now.”  Or, “I know you can’t see it, but there’s a bad energy with this person, stay with the crowd.”

Be aware and mindful of where you are in the here and now.  But also pay attention to what that inner voice says at times like this.  That way you can always make sure that the choice to step closer or walk away is always yours.  It’s the best way to make good choices.  And good choices are the best way to end up with a great life.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Separate Past, Present + Future To Live Mindfully Now

Your feelings do not just live in the here and now.  They are a timeless reflection of your life as a whole.  They are shaped by everything that has happened to you in the past; your loves, your pains, your joys your sorrows.  They also reflect your concerns for the future.  Most important, they don’t always reflect what really happened in your past or what will likely happen in your future.  They reflect your perception of what was or what will be; as if you are looking at life through tinted glasses. 

The anger, frustration, doubt and suspicions you may feel now are as much a part of your past and your worries for the future, as they are of the present.  Your feelings for someone, love or loathing, have as much to do with your past relationships and experiences as they have to do with the reality of your current one.

So if you ever want to break the cycle of your life and be true to your own Simple Truth, focus on separating yourself from you memories as well as your worries for what has not yet occurred.  Be mindful of the present and the reality of the here and now.  Look, touch, listen, see and hear what is going on around you.  Feel what is happening right now and embrace it.  Don’t let your old habits and old programming rule your life.  Instead experience all that life has to offer.  

Remember, feelings are not hard scientific facts.  They are emotions.  They should be acknowledged, but also managed.  They need to be seen as separate from the situation you are in so that you can live in the present moment, and not an amalgamation of your concerns about the past, present and future.  As long as you stay mindful of yourself you can learn the source of your emotions and you can manage the “why” behind the “what” that you are feeling. 

That means you can make good choices based on what you need, rather than on what others have or will need from you in the past, present or future.  And that will keep you on YOUR path no matter what the world throws at you.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Simple Truth - Everyday Mindfulness & Meditation

Meditation and mindfulness should not be kept as sacred acts only to be enjoyed in a regimented time slot of devotion.  Instead it should be a dynamic part of your life that you can enjoy and benefit from throughout your day.  Think of these practices as ways to reduce your stress, expand your awareness, and bring harmony at any point in your day.  They can also help you slow down your world, giving you the time you need to make the kind of choices that will guide your life in the right direction. 

You have 1,440 minutes in every day.  Set a few of them aside in the morning to start your day right, in the middle of the day to reset your energy, and in the evening to relax and to slow down the world.  Take the time to guide your life, than empower the world around you to guide it for you.

I have put together a list of some ways in which you can practice meditation and mindfulness throughout your day.  Give just one or two a try today.  See how it affects your life.  See what kind of ripples of peace and joy you can send out and what they return to you.


Waking Breath:  Before you get out of bed in the morning, stop and take a few minutes to notice your breathing. Put one hand on your stomach and another on your chest.  Take a few deep belly breaths so that only the hand on your stomach moves, and smile as you exhale.  Don’t just jump into your day, enjoy the moment between sleep and wakefulness.  Give yourself the two minutes you deserve to balance your morning, steady your thoughts and guide your day in the right direction. 

Morning Calm:  Speak to the people you share your home with, to let them know you need a quiet start to the day.  It doesn’t need to be an atmosphere of stolid silence, just peaceful calm.  Take the opportunity to think of one thought that you can carry with you throughout your day.  It can be anything you want; peace, smile, light, waves, bright eyes, love. These are all thoughts you can call upon if your day starts to spiral out of control.  They will help you ground yourself and return to the calm of your morning.

Mindful Commute: When you leave your home for work, maintain a slow and steady breath.  Take the time to notice the world around you.  Appreciate the sunlight, the clouds, and the rain.  Notice the road, the cars, and the pavement of your world, as well as the trees.  As your minds starts to fill with the tasks of your day, focus on the mode of your commute, the people walking next to you, the cars driving, the train or subway you ride on.  Don’t start an inner dialogue by commenting on them.  Just be present and aware of the community of people that you are a part of and enjoy that connection.


Mindful Lunch:  Take the time to have lunch by yourself at least once a week.  Eat silently and breathe slowly with each bite.  Take a moment to consider all of the people who are involved in farming, growing, delivering and preparing the food on your plate.  Think about where it comes from and how it is grown.  Sun gives the plants nutrition, water gives it sustenance, farmers tend the crops, families tend to those farmers, truckers bring the product to the market.  On it goes in an endless cycle of community and life.  Take a moment to feel connected to these people and the world around you.  Recognize that you are part of a larger world beyond the doors of your business.

5 Minute Meditations:  You have 1,440 minutes every day.  Take just five of those minutes for yourself.  Sit by yourself, place your feet flat on the floor and your hands on your thighs.  Take a deep belly breath and feel it expand against your clothing.  Slowly count to eight on each breath in and each breath out.  Feel the calm start at the top of your head and move down to your shoulders.  Feel it drift down to your belly with each breath.  At each point of stress, take a moment to allow your inhale wrap around it, relax it, and follow that stress out with every exhale.  Use your five minutes to breathe in positive, relaxing energy, and breath out negative stress.  Energize yourself for the afternoon with balance.

End of Day

Anticipate The Struggles of Tomorrow:  We learn from our mistakes, we grow from adversity, we develop by seeing new paths.  As you leave your work, take a quick inventory of the tasks you have ahead of you.  Look at the obstacles before you as lessons.  In doing so, think about what you learn from them and how you can apply that lesson to your own growth.  Appreciate the experience you will gain from the process of your work and not just the impediments you have to overcome.

Appreciate the Wind Down:  As you prepare to go to bed, be in the moment and focus your thoughts on the tasks at hand.  If you are brushing your teeth, feel the toothbrush against your gums, appreciate the movement of your wrists and hands, enjoy the image of your lips moving around the brush.  If you are putting a child to bed, enjoy the feeling of tucking them in.  Enjoy the form of their ears and nose as you balance your breath.  As you feel yourself drift to sleep, relish the slow deeps breaths you are now taking and let go of your day.

S-L-E-E-P Breathing:  If you mind is filled with thoughts of the day and you are having trouble sleeping, take a slow, deep breath in and say to yourself, “S”.  As you exhale slowly, say the letter “L”.  Do this for each letter as you spell the word sleep.  When you get to the end of the word, start your spelling breath again.  You may be surprised when you wake up in the morning at how deeply you slept.