Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What Does It Mean To Be Grounded?

A friend once asked me to write something about what it means to be “grounded”.  Here’s what I got when I Googled the question “What does it mean to be grounded”?
Being grounded means being fully conscious and fully present in the NOW moment.....being very, very aware of what is happening to us in the present. When we are conscious and aware of our SELF and grounded in the NOW we are able to ground the love and light from our higher self. This means that no matter what is going on, we stay balanced, centered and aligned with our soul and higher self and we are able to control our reactive, knee jerk, defensive behavioral patterns of our ego and shadow consciousness.  Being grounded is a very, very difficult task because we have an ego centered mind that likes to take us into the future of “What If’s” and into the past of should of, could of, would of....... regrets, blame and victim consciousness. When our consciousness is fully in the present moment we are very, very aware of everything happening within and around our being NOW, even the core sensations in the body.
This is a very good answer but let me add a few of my own thoughts to it.  In addition to what is written above, I feel grounded when my mind, body, and spirit are in balance and in harmony with one another.  My mind is my biggest challenge because I often suffer what the Buddhists call “monkey mind”.  Monkey mind is when you have a thousand conversations going on in your head and the chatter is similar to the noise generated by a tree full of monkeys.  My aging body is also a challenge because it has a lot of mileage on it and it is not always cooperative.  Finally, my spirit is restless at this time of my life.  One of the challenges of aging is that ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and childhood faith may not work for you like they once did.  Of course, every age has its own challenges.  When I can calm my mind, when my body is cooperative, and when my restlessness finds some comfort in the eternal NOW, I feel grounded.  I think being grounded also means knowing who you are, what you value in terms of beliefs and morality, and feeling strong in your convictions.  In some ways being grounded means having integrity and a moral compass.  People of integrity are always grounded people.  Ungrounded people go whatever way the wind blows and they have few convictions.      

Monday, September 29, 2014

Don't Be Afraid Of The Simple

One chord is fine.  Two chords are pushing it.  Three chords and you’re into jazz
-Lou Reed
The author of the above quote died this past year.  He was a rock and roll legend who was most famous for founding a group called the Velvet Underground.  In the peace and love, flower power days of the late sixties the Velvet Underground were an anomaly.  They were the opposite of the prevailing hippie vibe.  Instead of tie dye, they were more likely to wear black and their songs were often about the seedier side of life on the streets.  I love the above quote, not because of its musical references, but because of what it says about simplicity and over complication.  I  dislike anything that is complicated, especially when it doesn’t need to be.  Although I have often been accused of living in my own little private world, I am not out of touch with reality.  I know life and the world can sometimes be complicated.  I have noticed, however, that many people are suspect of anything that is simple and there is often a belief that only the complicated has value.  Perhaps some people equate simple with easy and easy is never appropriate in their minds.  I’ve actually heard people say, “Nothing is that simple”.  Albert Einstein, who many people believe to be one of the smartest human beings that ever lived, once said that if the answers to the mysteries of the universe are not simple, they are probably the wrong answers.  Simple is not always easy.  It is often just more direct.  Complicated can have you going in circles.  Jazz, with its three or more chords, is much more complicated than most rock and roll but I’ve seen rock and roll guitar players whip a crowd into a frenzy with only one or two chords.  Don’t be afraid of the simple.    

Friday, September 26, 2014

Catching Watermelons

Once when I was in high school, after a night of drinking with my friends, I went to my job at a mom and pop grocery store.  As soon as I got to work, slightly hung over, the boss tells me I need to go to the front of the store because a local farmer was delivering a truck load of watermelons.  My job was to catch the watermelons when the farmer threw them to me.  I’m not sure what a typical watermelon weighs but let me tell you this.  It about did me in before the truck was unloaded.  Sometimes it can feel like life is throwing you watermelons and they are coming at you very quickly.  My first piece of advice is avoid having to catch watermelons when you are hung over.  Assuming you are not a physical wreck like I currently am, it’s a lot easier to catch watermelons when you are sober and alert.  This story is all a lead in to today’s topic which is balance.  The secret to catching watermelons, sober or hung over, is balance.  If your feet aren’t balanced and a twenty pound watermelon comes flying your way, you are going to get knocked over and the watermelon won’t end up too well either.  When one is balanced you can take on the characteristics of a deeply rooted oak tree.  The winds of life can blow and no matter what they bring, you remain standing.  Another word often associated with balance is centeredness.  Centeredness is basically knowing who you are, knowing what you believe, and practicing your values and beliefs.  Centeredness and balance, working in harmony, will get you through just about anything in life.    

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What Makes You Who You Are?

What is your personal vision in life?  What drives and motivates you to think and do what you do?  In my 60+ years of life many influences and experiences have formed me into who I am.  In addition to these outside forces that have formed me, I have also tried to form myself into a certain kind of person.  My personal vision for the kind of person I want to be and for the way I try to act is rooted in spirituality.  I have found teachings in both western and eastern spirituality that I believe in and which I strive to incorporate into my daily life.  These are basically love, kindness, and compassion.  It is not always easy to practice and live these virtues.  One way in which I try to re-calibrate myself each day is meditation.  I generally do this in the mornings when I am more awake and alert.  These meditations are not complicated.  It does not involve a mental checklist of all my successes and failures.  My morning meditations involve silence, stillness, focus on my breathing, and a little reading.  The purpose of this time goes beyond just having a few minutes of peacefulness before I begin my day.  Meditation and other spiritual practices are like physical exercise.  You don’t necessarily enjoy the experience.  However, the daily experience, over time, gets you into shape for the demands of daily living.  The basic intent of my daily meditation is to keep me awake.  When I am awake, I am aware.  When I am aware, I am alert.  When I am alert, I can intentionally practice love, kindness, and compassion.  When I am not awake, aware, or alert, I will not always do these things.  Meditation keeps my personal vision alive and on the job.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stop Beating Yourself Up

Whether we realize it or not, most of us have been told our entire lives that we aren't good enough.  Our life has been filled with messages telling us that we are inadequate and imperfect.  Most of the messages were unintentional but real none the less.  They have been from our parents, our teachers, our spouses, our significant others, our children, our relatives, our friends, and our employers.  We don't measure up, we disappoint, or we don't meet someone else's standards or expectations.  I, too, have heard these messages my entire life.  A friend once recommended a book to me that took me a while to read.  I would have read it sooner but, of course, I am imperfect and lazy or so I have been told.  We all receive negatives messages.  Sometime they are from ourselves.  They don't always come from others.  We are often our own biggest critic.  The name of the book is Regardless of What You Were Taught to Believe.....There is Nothing Wrong With You by Cheri Huber.  It is sub-titled "Going Beyond Self-Hate, A Compassionate Process for Learning to Accept Yourself Exactly as You Are".  The book begins with a list of all the messages all of us received in our early childhoods.  I was amazed how many I had heard, how many I said to my own children, and how many I have said to my granddaughter who I love more than anything in the world.  According to psychologists most of these messages become part of our psyche and are set in concrete before we reach age seven.  I know this may all sound terribly negative but it is not meant to be.  Consider it an eye opener and a wakeup call stop listening to the voices around you.  Today is the day to start loving yourself.  Quit trying to improve yourself.  Quit thinking you're inadequate.  Quit thinking you're imperfect.  Quit thinking you’re not smart enough or beautiful enough.  You're perfect the way you are.   

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Living A Simple Life

A friend sent me the following quote.
It's also helpful to realize that this body that we have, this very body that's sitting here right now in this room, this very body that perhaps aches, and this mind that we have at this very moment, are exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, and fully alive."
-Pema Chodron
I also recently read the this quote.
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!  I say let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen.  In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksand’s and the thousand and one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds.  Simplify, Simplify!”
-Henry David Thoreau from Walden
It is a great challenge to keep life simple in such complicated times.  It is easier if you are a single person who doesn’t need to get the approval of others in terms of how you live your life.  It is more challenging if you are married with a family or living with others, especially if they do not have the same values or desire for simplicity.  Each person must decide for themselves what is essential for living and what takes their time.  With my particular personality and needs, I have determined that what is essential is also minimal.  I could live in one room as long as it was filled with books, music, a comfortable chair and bed, a coffee pot, a small stove to cook, and basic plumbing.  As a married man with children and a granddaughter, my two story, four bedroom home hasn’t seemed  enough at times.  I have a lot of stuff that someone will have to deal with someday.  I have simplified my life in other ways.  I have minimized my activities.  I am not over-extended in any way.  Instead of wanting more I think in terms of needing less.  I say no more than I say yes.  I strive to do less and be more.  I spend more time looking within and less time wandering outside myself.  In my mind, if not in my body, I live on Walden Pond with the attitude of Thoreau.  My mantra is “less is more” and I have come to realize that “this very body that perhaps aches, and this mind that I have at this very moment, are exactly what I need to be fully human, fully awake, and fully alive."      

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Impact Of Enviroment

An increased sense of personal well-being at work, in real and practical ways, contributes to a positive and enjoyable work environment.  A pleasant environment filled with happy associates, coupled with feelings of team accomplishment and personal fulfillment, can contribute as much as anything to increased productivity, greater efficiency, and decreased absenteeism.  All of these things working together will affect the bottom line by contributing in positive ways to overall cost savings.  It is not enough to only look at process improvements and best practices.  The impact of environment cannot be underestimated.  I believe creating such an environment begins with the leaders.  How do you do it?  It begins with honesty, truth, caring, and transparency.  This is stuff you can’t fake.  If you try to do so your associates will see right through it.  We’ve got to do it and be real about it.  In order to be real we must be authentic.  Lance Secretan in his book One…The Art and Practice of Conscious Leadership actually suggests that leaders should love their people.  It probably would be helpful if they also loved one another.  In addition, it’s not enough for the leaders to care about their people.  The “people” need to care about their leaders.  We can’t treat one another like we are enemies.  The people who do the work and the people who manage the work are in a partnership.  It should not be an adversarial relationship.  This is where I would add trust to the mix.  I know that some of you probably think any talk about love and feelings is inappropriate in the workplace.  Some think we are here to get a job done, not love one another.  I’m not suggesting a phony and shallow pretending to care about one another.  I am suggesting the real deal.  Work is part of life and the caring that many of you show for family, friends, and causes dear to your heart should be expanded to include the work place.  What would the workplace be like if most people actually liked, or even loved, coming to work?  What would the workplace look like if we tried to outdo one another in kindness?  What would the workplace look like if there was more cooperation and less competition?  What would it be like to ride the elevators and hear more laughter and less complaining?  What I am suggesting, and what Lance Secretan writes about, is a oneness and unity that will heal the separateness that too often exists. 
“You may say that I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one”.
-John Lennon in the song Imagine.