Thursday, June 23, 2016

Have You Actually Tried It?

The only way to truly discover the power of mindfulness is to learn how to do it, and then try it for yourself.”
 
I think it was Albert Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again while hoping for a different outcome.  If you are frazzled or stressed out, why don’t you actually try to practice mindfulness?  Even Humana is offering courses on it as part of leadership development.  As you go about your day today, try to be where you are and only do what you are doing.  If you are drinking coffee, drink coffee.  Smell it.  Taste it.  Feel the warmth of your coffee mug.  If you are walking, just walk.  If you are processing a claim, be one with the claim. (smile)  Whatever you are doing be there and nowhere else.  Avoid unnecessary multi-tasking.  Try to only do one thing at a time and finish one task before starting another.  I am not saying this is easy.  However, trying to live in a mindful way shouldn’t stress you out.  What stresses people out is going in ten different directions at the same time while trying to do ten different things.  Imagine a man or a woman spinning ten plates on the top of ten long sticks.  This is often “normal” life for many people in our modern culture.  Stop the madness!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Childlike View Of Life

Mindful and creative, a child who has neither a past, nor examples to follow, nor value judgments, simple lives, speaks, and plays in freedom.”
-Arnaud Desjardins
 
There is a big difference between being childish and childlike.  In my mind being childish is displaying all the worst behavior of a child while being childlike is displaying all the best qualities of a child.  All behavior is learned.  No child automatically hates or discriminates.  As a child gets older they may learn negative behavior from parents, teachers, and other authority figures.  They may also make their own judgments based on what they see and experience.  Without negative influences, most children would maintain an innocence and sense of wonder that most adults loose early in their life.  I think life is like a circle.  As I get older I realize that I am closing the circle.  This is not a bad thing.  As I get older I feel a sense that I am returning to a more childlike view of life.  Older people usually appreciate the simple things more than younger people who often crave quantity of experience over quality of experience.  When one has a greater appreciation of the simple things in life, one’s sense of wonder usually expands as well.  I now seek depth of experience over breath of experience.  Age has its challenges but it also has its freedoms.  The more free you are, the more childlike you become and this is a sign of life lived well.  
 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Observing Life In A Non-Judgmental Way

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
-Jon Kabat-Zinn
 
Jon Kabat-Zinn has writing a wonderful little book called Wherever I Go, There I Am.   This quote is probably from that book.  Last Friday I wrote about how life is what it is.  Paying attention in a nonjudgmental way is seeing life at face value.  When I go on walks, whether they are outside or within my office, I observe all kinds of things.  It is challenging to not judge what I see, especially in regard to people.  I mean, a flower is a flower is a flower, but a person can be many things.  Recently I realized that a person I know, who seemed to be one thing, was actually much more in a good way.  I dare say that many people have much more depth than they appear to have on the surface.  A few have less.  It is easy to mis-judge or under estimate the totality of a person.  I have to be honest, though, about some people.  Whenever I have thought someone was a jerk, they usually were.  Mis-judging is one thing, my intuition is another thing.  Most people and most things are not  what they appear to be.  There is usually more there than meets the eye.  On the other hand, if your inner alarms are going off, you should pay attention. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Life Is What It Is

When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
 
I like the saying that “it is what it is”.  Every day, life is what it is.  Our thoughts and feelings are like the weather.  They are not necessarily good or bad.  They just are.  The less I am attached to them, the happier I am.  When one lives their life in a non-attached, non-dualistic way, you can just deal with life and accept it for what it is.  The perceived reality of a situation depends on the person and how they emotionally react to whatever is happening.  I jump for joy when it snows while other people complain.  Some people never seem to get upset but I occasionally have meltdowns and throw hissy fits.  When I do this I know I am not living the way I intend.  I am not always filled with acceptance, joy, peace, and love.  However, sometimes I am.  When I am, I know I am living the way I intend and desire.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Mindful Vigilance

Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness”.
-James Thurber
 
When I read this quote I could not help but think of the recent tragic events in Orlando.  It is difficult not to be angry about such violence and lack of regard for innocent human life.  At the same time we cannot go forward living our lives in fear.  I am not a person who lives in fear but I have become a person who lives more cautiously.  Some of that is due to becoming older and some of it is due to the changing and often violent world that we all live in.  Normally I speak of mindfulness as a way to live with greater awareness of what is around us so as to have a greater appreciation of all there is in life.  Mindfulness can also be a way that we become more aware of our surroundings.  In our rushed and busy lives many of us live with blinders on as we go about our day.  We are focused on the next task or the next destination and we are often blind to what is going on around us in the moment.  Living in an awakened state, mindful of what is going on around us, can be a way to not only live in the moment but also to live our life in a safer and more vigilant way.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mindfulness Is Not Relaxation

“Mindfulness is not simply relaxation.  It takes a lot of energy to be mindful.”
 
Mindfulness is awareness.  In order to be aware, you must be awake.  When I am truly relaxed I am often on the verge of falling asleep.  In a figurative way, many people live their life asleep.  They are the walking dead, living in a daze, and noticing little as they go about their day on auto-pilot.  Mindful living is the opposite of this.  It is living awake and living in awareness of the life around you.  It is also living in awareness of the life within you.  When I go on walks my senses act as antennae.  I try to be mindful of all I see, hear, and smell.  If I am outside I try to feel the warmth of the sun or the coolness of a breeze.  Our senses are a way to be connected with the world we live in.  Depending on where I am I occasionally experience sensory overload.  A friend who once visited India spoke of being overwhelmed with all of the sights, sounds, and aromas.  If being mindful doesn’t yet come naturally to you, start small.  Take a short walk and intentionally pay attention to what is around you.  What are you seeing?  What are you hearing?  What are you smelling?  Don’t just live life.  Feel life. 

Who Looks Outside, Dreams. Who Looks Inside, Awakens

Who looks outside, dreams.  Who looks inside, awakens”.
C.G. Jung
 
This is one of my favorite quotes.  Much of what I know about psychology is based on the teachings of C.G. Jung.  Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology.  I realize that everyone is not introspective.  However, I am amazed at how little self-awareness most people have.  I encounter people of every age who have little desire for any kind of psychological or spiritual growth.  These people are able to function in life in a variety of ways but over time show little to no personal inner transformation.  The whole point of self-knowledge is to become transformed over the course of your life.  Psychology and spirituality are inter-twined and one supports the other.  Some people live their entire life and never know who they are.  Other people go to church every Sunday but never change.  Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom.  As you grow in self-awareness and wisdom, you because aware that there is much in life bigger and more important than yourself.  This inner awakening is the beginning of spiritual awareness.  How you live in your awakened state is your spirituality.  Spirituality is nothing more than how you live in an awakened state in your reality.  Spirituality is your spirit into your reality.  If and when you reach this awakened state it is not something you turn on and off.  You can’t be all holy at church and a jerk at work.  Yes, you are still human and may have a bad moment but an awakened and transformed person is a light for others wherever they are.