Tag: present

Meditation – Expectations

I have written a number of posts on meditation including Meditation Experiences Uno, Meditation Experiences Dos, Meditation Experiences Tres, and Meditation Experiences Cuatro. All of these were my personal experiences of meditation and to some degree outlining the benefits that you might be able to experience yourself. Of course your experience during meditation and afterwards may vary. One of the things that happens when you start meditating on a regular basis is that you may begin to develop expectations. These expectations of a special experience or some sudden break through, maybe even enlightenment may cause you to view your practice as a tool or some means to and end.

In the tradition of Zen Buddhism having some grand expectation for each meditation session is frowned upon. You should just sit in Zazen, expecting nothing, with your focus on being present. In a world that is dominated by activity, doing things, getting shit done; this might be very difficult for us. We typically spend most of our time thinking about what we are going to do in the future, that we often cannot make ourselves present in the now. If everything you do in your life must be in support of some goal or to satisfy some desire, meditating will seem foreign and you will struggle to be present even for a few moments, though you sat for 20 minutes. You may even feel that why should I devote 10 or 20 minutes just sitting, when I could be doing something productive. What the hell have we become?

There is a quote from Gary John Bishop that anyone that meditates should take to heart. While the book Mr. Bishop wrote Unfu*k Yourself isn’t about meditation, it will make you think about how you are fucking up your life with thoughts of the past and future.

Let me wrap this up. If you really want to change the way you think about this world, you will need to drop all these expectations and stop living in the future or even worse in the past. A consistent meditation practice will help you live in the present and change some these preconceived notions you have established over your lifetime. In a sense there is a war to be waged. There is the real you, a person with inherent Buddha nature and there is you that has been constructed over a lifetime. Choose the present moment without expectations or continue living imprisoned in the future, it’s all your choice.

Namaste

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Meditation Experiences – Dos

In my prior post Meditation Experiences – Uno I wrote about how I started meditating and to some degree why I decided to try meditation. In this post, I would like to make a case for meditation, the benefits if you will at least from my own perspective. Some of you may have tried meditating in the past and found it difficult if not almost impossible to just sit and count breaths. You may have been so busy thinking about what you need to do, that the whole process was just painful and seemed very unproductive. Here is the problem, it takes time to create a habit of meditating and the first 5 or 10 sessions may seem difficult at first, but like any good habit, you will need to make the investment before seeing any returns. You may feel like nothing is happening here and I am still letting my monkey mind dominate my meditation session and then something begins to change and you start to both enjoy and benefit from the experience. Mind you it might have taken a month or longer to get to this point, but it does happen.

Why did this seemingly simple thing, just sitting and breathing suddenly become enjoyable? Here are a few benefits I have received from meditating:

  • Being Present – I began to understand that my monkey mind and drive to be always doing something that supported my goals was preventing me from just enjoying the process of meditating. I was so anxious that I was spending all of my time recalling the past and then at the same time thinking about what I needed to do in the future. So instead of looking at meditation as just another thing to check off my to-do list, I began looking forward to it because it helped me be in the present. In fact, I often tell myself while meditating “You are present” or “You are here”, this often helped to drown out the thinking about the future, which often dominates my thoughts. What I’m really saying here is you are fucking yourself over by thinking you need to be productive all the time. This was part of my problem, I was looking at meditation as a kind of goal or thing I had to do, instead of just appreciating how it was helping me live in the present moment.
  • Discover Your True Self – As I continue to meditate I have begun to realize that there are things more important than my job or who I thought I was. Meditation helps you get in touch with who you really are. This doesn’t happen immediately, but over time you begin to realize there is the actual you, not some role you play. Maybe it is your true self, you know the compassionate, introspective, and loving person you actually are. For me, meditation is helping to peel back the layers of responsibility and anxiety that dominates much of our lives as we spend our time trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations.
  • Calms the Mind – Meditation is one of the few things I have found that breaks the monkey mind pattern of thinking and calms the mind. When I finish a session I feel renewed and free if even only for a while. You might get a similar feeling from walking on a nice day when you are not bothered by cars or loud noises. While I love a good long walk and find it very relaxing it feels different than meditating. The aftereffect of meditation is more like a reset or rebooting of the mind to a state of calm and clarity.

I know that there are many other benefits that could be attributed to meditation, but for me, these are the ones I have noticed a couple months into the practice.

 

So is it worth it? 

My answer is a resounding Yes! 

 

Final Parting Shot

The mistake I made in the last year or so is that I would start out very consistent and then my practice would fizzle out. I simply did not put a high enough priority on it, missing many days, stopping and starting. Those benefits of being present, discovering yourself, and calming your mind come from daily practice. I’m not saying I never miss a day, but it has become pretty rare now, and if something prevents me from doing it at my regular time, I fit it in later in the day.

I would love to hear about the benefits you attribute to your own meditation practice, leave me a comment.

I hope to write another post soon as this wonderful journey continues.

Do good and stay safe.

Namaste

 

Note: I wrote this post using Grammarly, which really helps. Give it a try, it works with WordPress and Google Docs.

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You Care too Much

I contend that most of the anxiety and unhappiness you experience comes from giving a shit about things that don’t warrant your attention. Every day you agonize over whether I will get that project done on time, or will I accomplish that ever-growing list of to-do items. Let me be clear, I’m not saying you don’t need to accomplish things in your life, but you’re playing this game as if it were life and death and it’s eating you up inside. You give all this shit that you feel must get done a high priority, in effect you care too much. Every project, every endeavor you undertake is not intended to be done as if it were some kind of death march. You not someone else is sucking the fucking joy out of everything by taking it all too seriously. 

We perceive what we do as so important when in the grand scheme of things the shit we are doing is just stuff that we feel needs to be done and we are going to bust our ass to make sure it is accomplished regardless of how it affects our well being. I work as a consultant and on a daily basis, issues are being escalated. The end result is that 90% of the work that needs to be done is considered high priority and only 10% can wait. These escalations are not self-imposed but instead, the priority is being dictated by the customer or my leadership. Is it any wonder that we care too much?

Listen whether this sense of urgency is self-imposed or being imposed upon you, really doesn’t matter, either way, you are screwed if you continue to react in the same way you always do. So what can you do about this overwhelming avalanche of high priority shit on your plate? There are several things to consider:

  1. Choose carefully from the list of things everyone thinks must be done right now and prioritize 3 to 5 things you can do today and defer the rest. This may not make you more popular, but it will improve the quality of your life by providing some much-needed focus and strangely enough your productivity will actually increase. Not being burdened by a list of 15 things and instead focusing on just a few things allows you to be more present and take back a little bit of control over your life.
  2. While those around you will think the world will come to an end if this or that is not done you can rest assured that this stuff they deem so important just isn’t and not nearly as time-sensitive as everyone makes it out to be. Sometimes you have to push back and ask for more time to accomplish something or even ask why in the fuck are we doing this in the first place? Stop believing in this insane idea that working more is a badge of honor, or makes you more productive. Don’t buy into all the memes that say you won’t achieve anything unless your working 18 hours a day, it’s is just bullshit and unsustainable. 
  3. Finally and this is maybe the most empowering, which is why I wrote the quote above. You cannot and should not take all this shit so seriously, hell you shouldn’t even take your own life so seriously. You can’t spend your life making everything a high priority, in fact, this thing you call your life is really just a journey, yet we make it into some fucking project. Once our life has become a project it is just a series of milestones and tasks that get checked off, never stopping to enjoy the process. I love this quote by Kurt Vonnegut “We are here on earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different”.

This thing you call your life is not a series of goals to achieve or some fucking death march. Start today by taking things less seriously, living in the moment, and stop making all things you are compelled to do of equal priority. Years from now you will thank yourself.

Namaste

 

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You live in the future

I think this quote is self-evident and I don’t want to elaborate endlessly on its meaning. You and I and every other homo sapien spend their time thinking about what I need to do next. It wouldn’t take too much convincing to say we all live in the future.

Here is the thing, living in the future burdened by a to-do list a mile long and an endless striving for one or more goals, leaves us forever unsatisfied. We have checked out of the present moment, trading it for the next achievement. We all live in this materialistic, goal-oriented, society that says you are never enough, and you need to work on yourself. Being unsatisfied with who we are has spawned the self-improvement industry where millions of dollars are spent by us in the hope that we can change ourselves to become a better version of ourselves.

My response to all this self-improvement bullshit is as follows:

  • You are not broken – You are a human being with unique talents and skills. Don’t let other people tell you that there is something wrong with you.
  • You don’t need to work on your weaknesses – I really hate that shit when people spend so much of their time focusing on their weaknesses. It’s such a fucked up approach to your life. I mean you will never overcome all your weaknesses, instead, we should focus on our strengths. Do you know why they want you to focus on your weaknesses? To sell you more shit and this focus on what I’m not good at leaves you feeling inadequate.
  • There is no future – I’m not saying don’t have any plans but stop sacrificing today for tomorrow. I know this goes against all the goal-setting maniacs that are always advocating that you achieve more, acquire more, be more. Do you really want to miss out on time with your friends or family so you can drive a BMW or live in a million-dollar home?

Enjoy what you are doing right now, focus on what you want to do, and stop looking to someone else to give you the answer to living a life of your dreams. If you can begin to love yourself just the way you are, things start looking better, and you begin to actually make more progress in your life because you are not thinking about how fucked up you are. You must begin to start shifting from thinking about the future to being totally engrossed in the present.

Say this to yourself every day:

I’m not broken

I love myself

I have something to give to this world

I am focused on the now

 

Namaste


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Grateful for the life you have

So you think your life is so miserable and unexciting. You are constantly bombarded by information that emplores you to want more, so you seek satisfaction in acquiring more things, more money, more appreciation, something that you don’t have. All the while you compare yourself to others that you view as more successful, better looking, happier, wealthier, or whatever. Stop doing that shit!

If your mindset is all about striving for more or comparing yourself to others you will never be happy. If it is comparisons you want then think about the millions, well billions of people that would trade places with you if they could. Then what the hell is wrong with me? Well, let me tell you. You are fricking ungrateful for what you have and are seeking fulfillment in the future, usually by seeking more of something. You are being duped by this ungrateful, never satisfied, paradigm. If you continue down this path there will only be more of the same, achieve this, acquire that, and a continuous saga of pursuit.

Pop your head outside of your ego for a few minutes, look around you. Do you see the beauty in this world? All this shit you have didn’t exist 50 years ago, that cell phone that you stare at, or that flat-screen TV, the internet, shit even air conditioning. We are so unappreciative of all this stuff, we just take it for granted. Instead of appreciating what you have, you spend your time wanting more. Do you really need a BMW or Mercedes? Will it get you to point “A” better than your Honda?

You have become a materialistic junky, addicted to shit you don’t have, spending all your energy working for more stuff. It should come as no surprise by now that you live your life looking towards the future, missing out on the present moment and you lack even a small amount of gratitude for what you have. If what I have written here so far even marginally rings true for you, then you are in a pretty serious need of a reset in the way you think.

Let’s turn this shit around and instead of making what you want paramount in your mind and behavior, start with gratitude. There are many ways to shift from I want more stuff, to I appreciate all that I have. The two most effective ways that I have found to be more grateful include:

  • Be Present – When you shift your thinking from looking to the future for happiness, you start appreciating each moment. Sounds pretty simple, but it’s not that easy to do when you have spent the majority of your life looking ahead for satisfaction. The present moment is the foundation for being grateful. For me and my monkey mind, I need to practice yoga, meditation and take long walks to help me quiet the mind and live in the present.
  • Grateful Practice – Being the stupid egotistical morons that we are, we need to frequently remind ourselves to be grateful. I have a journal that I write down 3 to 5 things I am grateful for. I do this in the morning shortly after getting up so that I start my day with a feeling of being grateful. I find that actually writing it versus putting in an app on my phone, seems to make it more effective. This daily repetition is the beginning of a habit where you remind yourself of all the things you are grateful for which then chips away at the ego.

If you still need to compare yourself to others, then think about the billions of people that would trade places with you, and happily assume the life you have.

Namaste


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Beginning To Evolve

Random Thoughts / Poetry

Beginning to Evolve

Up early again

It’s Monday and a new week begins

I feel like I am starting to evolve

There is a sense of meaning returning to my life

It has taken so many years for the changes to occur

It’s almost Darwinian

I am calm

I am resolute

The world hasn’t changed

I am changing

I am grateful to be alive

I am present

 

Namaste


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Always Seeking

Random Thoughts / Poetry

Always Seeking

We are always seeking to improve ourselves

We think if I master this or that I will be content

We pursue a litany of goals only to achieve them and still feel unsatisfied

We think once I have this or that I will be happy

We wish our life away

We are never happy as our goals and desires are a moving target

We never live in the present moment

Namaste

 

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Back to the present

Random Thoughts / Poetry

Back to the present

No matter how far I stray I always come back

Back to centered, back to the present

Back to peace, back to gratitude

What makes me leave this place of serenity?

Ego, greed, and non-acceptance

Namaste

 

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An opportunity to grow

After working much of the weekend, which is a bit abnormal for me it occurred to me that I was not resentful over spending so much of my time on the job that currently pays the bills. I won’t bore you with the details, but some of the work was not even remotely interesting, but it got done anyway. I was thinking about it this morning and such a simple concept came into my mind. Is it possible that you either view all the things you need do as an obligation (negative), or as an opportunity (positive) to grow and improve?

Most of us view the things we need to do as obligations, which means there is a somewhat negative connotation in play here. Obligations weigh on our mind, cause stress, and a feeling of dread. Looking at the things you need to do in this world as obligations provide no joy, no focus, and little sense of accomplishment. You just feel like a hamster on a wheel, living a life where you dread each day as the process repeats itself again and again.

What if instead, I looked at those things I need to do as an opportunity to grow. What would my day look like then, maybe the consequences of this viewpoint would provide:

  • Growth in terms of knowledge acquired, working towards mastery.
  • If I view what I am doing as an opportunity I am more likely to stay focused in the present moment and to experience flow.
  • I am sure to be more productive since I am getting things done because I want to do them, instead of feeling obligated.
  • I will have jumped off the fucking hamster wheel, left the stupid matrix, and I will begin to find meaning and satisfaction in what I do.

Oh, I forgot to mention you might even feel a strange feeling that was buried long ago, something called happiness!

Maybe I had a flash of Satori or it could have just been the three cups of coffee. Satori is a Japanese Zen Buddhist word used to describe a temporary experience of awakening or oneness that seems to come spontaneously from within.

Seriously, if you start viewing your work as a series of opportunities for growth, you begin to live in the present and that is where the magic begins to happen.

Namaste

 

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Embrace acceptance

We wake up every day, and most of us start out the day with some expectations. We might think this will be an easy day, I have time for some of my hobbies, and 10 minutes later you log in at work and fuck the world is coming to an end and you are asked to address a whole bunch of shit that you had not expected. You become upset, not so much that all this shit was thrust upon your plate, but because you expected a different kind of day. You had a plan or expectation for your day, and it got thrown out the window.

Welcome to reality! Not the stupid planned reality created by your expectations, but the kick you in the ass reality called life. Ouch! As I have observed the most painful periods in my life, they are painful because I expected one thing and life said so what and providing something else. Of course, now I’m pissed off because things didn’t go the way I expected, and not only am I angry, I become negative as hell and start acting like an asshole.

Consider that expectations are either in the present or in the future. I think planning is a good thing, but having an expectation that I will execute all the tasks or adhere to a timeline called out in the plan is where the problems begin. The world and other people don’t care about your plan, so accept you have much less control over what will transpire each day than you might think. Go in with a plan and adapt as needed without all your expectations weighing you down. Well, you might say well shouldn’t I expect good things to happen for me today? My advice is that it would be nice, but if you do and things turn out differently you end up crushed because life didn’t meet your expectations.

All you can do is stay present, drop the stupid expectations, and start accepting what life throws at you. I’m not going to take on the Law of Attraction movement, which I have written about before and have some belief in, but much of it is predicated on you believing (expecting) something to come into being in your life and that will cause the Universe to make it happen. Life, on the other hand, will provide plenty of chaos and contrary results that provide disappointment after disappointment if you keep expecting a certain outcome. Choose to dream, have a vision, and be positive, but stay away from expecting too much on a daily basis.

I am going to try and accept what happens to me today, without expectations.

Namaste

 

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