Ways to be more present

Stay-Present

It seems like such an easy thing this living in the present, doesn’t it? In reality it can be very difficult, after years of living your life in the past or always trying to ensure a certain type of future. I struggle with this inability to live in the now on a daily basis, so much so as I have become an Eckhart Tolle junkie, owning just about every audio book that Audible has offered me. I wrote a book review a while back The Power of Now on one of my other blogs InspirationalBookReviews.com, that you might enjoy. I highly recommend this book and have listened to it more times than I can remember.

For those of you already enlightened and living in the now fully you can just quit reading this blog right now and I hope you have a great day, but if you are not quite living in the now on a consistent basis, read on. Our minds produce thousands of thoughts per day and it seems like we have little control of all this shit that is happening in our heads. If we stand any chance of experiencing the present moment we are going to need some tools or techniques to combat all that silly shit going on in our heads. Maybe all we need is a way to quiet the mind if you will. Now what I am going to advocate is not necessarily new or unique, but stick with me here for a moment, after all we all need to find some reprieve from all the noise in our heads that is preventing us from enjoying the present moment.

Here are a few things you might try to allow you to consciously experience the present moment:

Winston-Churchill

  • Do one thing at a time – This sound stupid at first, but think about how many times you put on your head phones start listening to an audio book and look at your Facebook or Instagram feed at the same. Even if you do not realize it, you are multi-tasking and pretty soon you missed some of the passages in your audio book as your mind focused on something visual in your social media feed. You have trained yourself to need audio and visual stimulation and your mind is trying to process both at the same time, and while this might be your version of living in the now, it is a pretty fucked up reality. Do this at work and you will find that what you attempt to get done takes longer and the quality suffers. This is really about the power of focus, which facilitates a better experience of the present moment. The lesson is try to do one thing at a time.

yoga and meditation

  • Yoga and Meditation – Oh now here we go again, off on the yoga and meditation tangent, please save me from this mad man. Fine, I said it for you, now let me continue. The simple fact is that it’s pretty hard to live in the past or future once you learn to practice yoga and focus on your breathing. The same is true for meditation where you can use some techniques that will help you stay focused on the present moment. I will not belabor this point, but I do encourage you to start your day with yoga and meditation if you want to experience what living in the present can hold for you.

546290-Rajneesh-Quote-Remember-frustration-is-out-of-expectation-and-ego

  • Expectations – If you are continually filling your mind with expectations of what your life should be like or how the next thing you need to do should turn out; well then you are living in the future. We all do this shit! I can’t tell you how many times I wake up early worried about some stuff at work that isn’t getting done the way I think it should or isn’t turning out the way I think is should. How in the hell can I enjoy the present moment if I continue to have all these expectations? I can’t focus on living in the present moment until I can say fuck it. That doesn’t mean I don’t care, it just means I accept whatever happens instead of torturing myself with all the stupid expectations of the future.  The lesson here is expectations are living in the future and preventing you from living in the present.

Really anything I’ve written today seems on the surface pretty straightforward:

  1. Do one thing at a time

  2. Practice yoga and meditation

  3. Stop expecting things to turn out a certain way

None of this shit is easy, but each of these things is possible with a little practice, or in my case a lot of practice. Doing one thing at a time or practicing yoga not only provides an opportunity for you to live fully in the present moment, but also has many other benefits. Why do you think so many people drink, ingest or smoke cannabis, take prescription pain killers, or other forms of mind altering substances? It helps them experience the present moment and quiets their minds, but the problem is it is not sustainable and ultimately causes more trouble than it is worth.

Being the owner of a goal driven, super active, future based thinking mind I am challenged everyday to maintain a focus on the present moment. I would love to hear some of the ways you have found help you stay focused one the present moment.

Namaste

 

 

 

Advertisements

Easy ways for Creating Success

Often we think we need to make radical changes in our lives to create success, when in reality it is the little incremental changes that make the biggest difference. You don’t need to quit your job, abandon everything you know, or put your financial future at risk; you just need to start making changes in your behavior one step at a time.

success is the sum of small efforts repeated

What is Success?

When I talk about success I’m not limiting it to financial gain, but that will certainly be one measure. You might also define success in terms or relationships, health, skills, or peace of mind just to name a few. Another way to look at success is personal growth. Successful people are people that are always growing. Personal growth provides satisfaction and happiness, which ignites a need for more growth. Face it if you are not growing as an individual you are standing still and nothing changes.

Jim Rohn 1

Ways to be more successful

Think of how much you could achieve if each month you made one little change in your behavior. Each time you made one of these seemingly insignificant changes they would begin to propel you towards achieving your goals. One of the reasons you will achieve your goals is that you are building self discipline with each change. Let’s take a look look at some examples:

Health

  • I get up an hour earlier to perform my yoga practice
  • I quit eating foods that contain high amounts of sugar
  • I begin eating more fruits and vegetables
  • I quit drinking alcoholic beverages (OK not such a small thing)
  • I start going to the health club and began lifting weights

Skills

  • I begin studying for a certification related to my job
  • I take a class on something I’m interested in
  • I learned to play a musical instrument
  • I read one new book a month on a topic that will change the way I think

Peace of mind

  • I quit watching the news on TV
  • I meditate for 10 – 15 minutes every day
  • I start watching motivational videos on YouTube (Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, Les Brown, Eric Thomas, Esther Hicks, Wayne Dyer, or Mel Robbins)
  • I started a blog to write about something I am interested in, not for other people but for myself

Mel Robbins 2

Don’t limit yourself

While I mentioned you can chose one thing each month to change, there is really no limit. Let’s take watching the news in the morning. What a horrific way to start your day. You are feeding your mind politics, tragedy, pain, suffering, and tons of negative things and getting little in return. So instead of watching the news, roll out your yoga mat, and while doing your routine listen to or watch something inspirational on YouTube. Now you have accomplished three things in the same amount of time and do this every day and your whole life begins to change.

We improve by making changes, some small, some bigger, but by changing. As we make these changes we are creating self discipline and it is this very fact that will lead us to great success however you define it.

Choose that one thing today that will move you forward.

Namaste

 

 

 

A few ways to be happier

Happiness the minions

If you asked most people what their ultimate goal in life is, probably 90% would say to be happy. Why is being happy such an elusive state of mind for most of us? We struggle to make money, raise a family, buy houses and cars, and with all that we still don’t find a whole lot of happiness in our lives. Over the past 10 years I have tried a lot of things to increase my level of happiness and I wanted to share a few of those things that actually worked for me. So here are few things you might try:

  • If you’ve read posts on my blog, you know I’m a big fan of practicing yoga. It is not only physically challenging, but it also helps you become calmer and more mindful.
  • Meditation is great for clearing the mind, overcoming negative thoughts, and setting yourself up for a great day.
  • Adopt a positive philosophy like the Law of Attraction, Buddhism, or any spiritual practice. You will approach each interaction from a positive perspective instead of reacting negatively to situations. Choose something that works for you. I personally study the Law of Attraction and Buddhism, both have contributed to my piece of mind.
  • Quit caring about everything. I mean it, we all get wrapped up in stupid little things that won’t matter a week, a month, or a year from now. Make what and who you care about a select group, and adopt an attitude of I don’t give a shit about the rest.
  • Stop doing things you hate. I can’t tell you how many people I know go through their work day as a zombie, no smiling, no laughing, and it is all drudgery. You were not meant to live that way. Find a way to do something you can get excited about. Look for a way to transition to something better, and in the mean time do the things above and at least you will view the world in a positive way and get some enjoyment out of your current situation.
  • Last but not least, develop a gratitude practice. A truly grateful person will appreciate what they have and all the good things that are to come.

Namaste

 

 

 

 

It’s a choice – Part 3

I know that in “It’s a choice – Part 2” I mentioned that this post would be about how nutrition contributes to making positive choices, but on further reflection I decided that it is not only obvious, but it is something you can research on your own. I don’t want to insult your intelligence with some rant regarding the virtues of veganism or admonishing simple sugars from you diet. You know what you should be doing, so just do it; remember the saying garbage in, garbage out. It’s not that I won’t write about nutrition, it is is just that there are other things that need to be said regarding choosing a positive path that are maybe less obvious than nutrition.

In “It’s a choice – Part 2” I mentioned that to set the stage for positive outcomes you must prepare yourself with supporting practices such as yoga, walking, or running in the morning, followed by meditation and affirmations. While I am resolute in my support of these practices, I can tell you that they only provide the environment where positive thoughts can grow. Yoga, walking, running, meditation and affirmations are analogous to tilling and watering the soil so crops can grow, but without an adequate amount of sunshine there will be no harvest. This post is about the other factors, that must come into play so that you can reap the harvest of a positive attitude and approach towards your life.

Let’s look at three things you can and must do to make that positive choice in your life on a daily basis.

  1. Cultivating Self Awareness
  2. Living in the present
  3. Being Grateful

Cultivating self awareness should be near the top of your list because without it you will find making daily corrections nearly impossible. If you can have enough awareness to know that a negative stimuli is about to create a negative response you are in a pretty good position to choose a different response. Self awareness allows you to realize when you are starting to go of course and make a correction, otherwise you are likely to continue down whatever negative path you started to go down. These paths might be anger, resentment, a feeling of superiority, or some other negative behavior. Just don’t let self awareness result in some form of self incrimination or guilt. Know that being self aware is a big step in changing or at least minimizing negative behavior, for without it you are just a member of the large group of reacting beings and you know what that often results in.

I’ve written about living in the present in the past, but the importance of it can never be stressed enough. True focus is always in the present and the present is also where happiness exists, certainly not in looking back, and not in the future. There is a quote I really like by Esther Hicks:

“Your life is right now! It’s not later! It’s not in the time of retirement. It’s not when the lover gets here. It’s not when you’ve moved into the new house. It’s not when you get the better job. Your life is right now. It will always be right now. You might at as well decide to start enjoying your life right now, because it’s not ever going to get better than right now-until it gets better right now!”

I think this quote says it better than I could ever say it. Live in the present if you can and you will have become one of the few that understands the absolute power in doing so.

If you struggle with finding ways to appreciate your life, you are probably missing the feeling of being grateful. You will note I didn’t say trying to be grateful, but really feeling grateful or blessed for what you have. If you cannot find a way to feel grateful for what you have you will always be in a state of wanting. People who live their life appreciating what they have will be much happier than  those that are always unsatisfied and wanting more. There are a number of ways you might do this, like daily journals, or going over a list of things you are grateful for, but whatever method you choose it must be a daily occurrence or the mind will wander into the future and your ego will get the best of you. I like to review the 10 or 15 things I am grateful for both big and small things after I am done meditating; this seems to ground me for the day. Another way to feel grateful is to simply look around you, and observe those in the world that have so little; you don’t need to look far.

Finally it is the person that performs these things everyday that reaps the true benefit. I find myself that when I miss my meditation session, which then causes me to miss saying my affirmations and thinking about what I am grateful for, the rest of my day is almost always less satisfying, more stressful, and not a lot of fun. This preparation of your body and mind each days is essential to obtaining the right frame of mind to make positive behavioral choices. I get up at 4:30 a.m. each day and by 5:30 a.m. I am out the door for a run/walk or on my yoga mat, back by 6:00 a.m. to meditate and wrap it up with some affirmations and making sure I am grateful. This might seem extreme, but it is this kind of preparation that gives me the energy and a positive attitude to deal with all the work day challenges.

Try this for a couple of weeks and you will begin to reap the rewards.

Namaste

 

 

 

It’s a choice – Part 2

In “It’s a choice” I discussed the need to make a conscious choice each day. The choice you must make is to choose a positive outlook over potentially negative behavior that is in response to the stimuli around you. Seems pretty simple, but as mentioned in the previous post it isn’t. You need to set the stage for choosing a positive response to life and the challenges you will face on a daily basis. I mentioned that you will need to nourish your mind and your body to prepare yourself for this transformation; failing to do so will leave you susceptible to reacting instead of controlling your behavior. I’m going to make a few suggestions on how you can prepare yourself to begin making those positive choices:

Yoga – practicing yoga can calm your body and your mind. It is more than a form of exercise, and can lead you to discover many things about yourself that few activities can offer. Yoga is also a great prelude to meditation, which I will discuss next.

exercise yoga class

Meditation –  I would recommend that you meditate for at least 10 minutes in the morning, preferably after you have done some form of exercise and before you start your work day. Meditation can help you control your mind by actually quieting it. Over time you will have the ability to center your mind on the present and turn off some of the noise that goes on in your head.

Old zen saying

Affirmations – I was not a big fan on using affirmations until recently. I think they are most effective when they follow your meditation session. You need to come up with a list of 3 to 6 statements that reinforce what you are trying to accomplish. Don’t just read them, say them out loud. Here are the ones I say each day when I’m finished meditating:

  • I am grateful for the opportunity to make today a great day.
  • I am confident in my abilities, and will work with purpose and joy.
  • I will lead by example, being positive, showing appreciation and compassion.
  • I will stay focused on the present, and enjoy each moment.

Affirmations1

This is what I have found effective, but you might find that running is a good substitute for yoga, or taking the dog for a walk, riding a bike, or doing Pilates. The key isn’t so much what you do as long as it is a physical activity that can be a precursor to meditation.

I know you are busy, and don’t have time for a yoga practice and 10 – 20 minutes of meditation, but what if you could make a 30 – 40 minute investment every morning. Maybe you would have to get up a little earlier to fit these things into your day. Remember you are investing in yourself, in your piece of mind.

I’m guessing that in your heart, you know you are worth it.

In “It’s a choice Part 3” I will write about why it is important to understand how your diet influences your ability to make positive choices in your life.

Namaste

 

 

How Yoga & Meditation saved my life

Yes, this title is a bit dramatic, but there is more than a little truth to it. I am also somewhat ashamed that I haven’t posted any of my own writing for some time, and I’m working on getting something posted, once a week.

women doing cobra

After some time off work, I joined a company, and found myself more unhappy than I have ever been at work. It turned out to be a combination of extremely poor leadership at the company and work that I didn’t enjoy. My stress levels were skyrocketing, and I leaned on some familiar ways of coping including a lot of binge drinking, which of course did little to relieve the growing anxiety and displeasure with my situation. When I wasn’t medicating myself, I began delving into other ways to help control my emotions, including reading about Buddhism, adding yoga to my daily routine, and meditating in the morning. I even started to listen to things like The Law of Attraction or classical music on my way into work to prepare me for the mental war that was being waged in my mind while working.

My somewhat sporadic use of yoga and meditation, finally turned into a daily ritual, and then it replaced drinking as a way of coping with my situation. After a couple months I quit drinking all together. The stress at work only increased, but my negative reaction to it began to become less severe and the amount of time I was upset by it started decreasing. There have been other times in my life when stress and anxiety were my close companion, but never to this extent. I can honestly say that my utter dislike for this work situation was probably a blessing in disguise, and led me to making a really sincere effort to cope with it. I really had two choices at the time; quit the job or find a way to deal with the stress. While this job led me to a regular yoga and meditation practice, which allowed me to cope with this situation, it also made me more resolute to do something about it. This led to pursuing other opportunities and I recently landed a new job and resigned eliminating the stressor part of the equation, well at least that one.

The question is why do I credit yoga and meditation for allowing me to cope and even take action. I won’t go into all the physiological reasons why yoga and meditation seem to work so well, as you can Google that yourself, or read some of my earlier posts. What I can say is there is a synergy when combining yoga and meditation. Your yoga practice is the perfect precursor to meditation as it depends upon an awareness of your breath, relieves tension through stretching, and thus sets the stage for sitting in meditation for 10 – 20 minutes. I find it much easier to meditate after my yoga practice, allowing me to reach a calmer state of mind much sooner than without it.

I don’t think that my experience of dealing with stress, anxiety, and other forms of mental anguish is unique. In fact I’m not sure anyone is immune to the stimulus that manifests itself in negative thoughts, sleepless nights, and all the self torture that is often the result of how we decide to cope with it all. Notable exceptions might be monks, young children, and those of you in the 1% category that have your shit together. For the rest of us that might want to consider another way of coping; I can heartily recommend giving yoga, followed by 10 – 20 minutes of meditation a try. Be committed to your practice, and within a couple weeks you begin to the see results. Here a few things you can expect from your yoga and meditation practice:

  • You will be calmer, little things that really pissed you off just don’t anymore
  • Your ability to cope with stress improves
  • Having a new coping mechanism can free you from those habits that were destructive and didn’t really work
  • It is inexpensive or free to pursue a yoga and meditation practice
  • Your ability to think with a greater level of clarity will improve
  • You might even begin to be a little more tolerant of other human beings, act more compasionate, and be more empathetic
  • Last but not least you will be healthier as you do something good for your body and your mind

Namaste