Posts Tagged ‘time management’

Life is ever changing filled with to-do lists, projects, family, children, work, play, birth, death, life, sickness, happiness, love, leisure, health, and hopefully some lollipops and kisses…

Which pieces are you missing? Which pieces have taken over your life? Which pieces have left you without peace, contentment, or joy? Today is the perfect day to sit down and take a truthful look at your life. There is an old saying that “an unexamined life is not worth living.” I may not agree with that quote; however, I do think it is a good thing to examine one’s life on occasion. Today might be just such a day.

Many people believe that they are great muti-taskers and that it helps them get done much more than the next guy or gal. However, multi-tasking has been described in the recent research as “a road map to disaster” and leads to: confusion, tension, mistakes, madness, melancholy, missed steps, forgetfulness and much more. Some days when I try to multi-task I feel like all of these things are happening to me simultaneously! How about you?

There is the most wonderful book on the planet written by a brilliant woman, Christian McEwen, entitled World Enough & Time on Creativity and Slowing Down (2011). She writes about this subject beautifully in her book and she calls it “Hurry Sickness.”

Such “hurry sickness” (the phrase originates with Dr. Larry Dossey) speeds up our heart and breathing rates, leading to ulcers, hypertension and high blood pressure, along with a growing dependence on alcohol and cigarettes. The Chinese ideogram “busy” is made up of two characters, “heart” and “killing,” and this is accurate: the new emphasis on speed and efficiency is quite literally, damaging our hearts. Computers operate in nanoseconds, and we try, vainly, to keep up, like an old dog panting along behind his master’s sports car. But a nanosecond is only a billionth of a second, and humanly cannot be experienced, so our effort to synchronize ourselves is doomed to failure. Are we happy nonetheless? Are we enjoying ourselves? We are moving too fast to come up with an answer (page 21).[1]

She is right you know. When was the last time you can actually say you were “happy”? When was the last time you laughed so hard tears rolled down your cheeks? When was the last time you laughed so long that the muscles in your face actually hurt? Is it so long ago that you can’t even remember?

McEwen goes on to write:

Consider a world without sidewalks, a world where loitering is forbidden and musing is seen as a synonym for befuddlement or confusion. It’s a world stuck in fifth gear, a world where there is no time to look forward or backwards, only the bleating nanosecond of the present. It is becoming, alas, the world in which we live (page 21).[2]

In our Buddhist and mindfulness training we learn to live in the now moment where wellness exits, where we make time for the simple things, where we do one simple thing at a time! “Oh, what a relieve it is” as they say in the Alka-Seltzer commercial. And why do we remember that line so easily and quickly? Because our lives are so frenetic and busy we always have a packet of it in our purse, or desk drawer, or medicine chest!

So here are a few suggestions to help you live a piece of your life in peace and tranquility:

Make time for the simple things:

Simply listen

Simply see

Simply hear

Simply feel

Simply love

Simply laugh

Simply sing

Simply be

Doing these things will create simple wellness in your life!

Do one simple thing at a time:

When walking simply walk

When eating simply eat

When listening simply listen

When looking simply see

When feeling simply feel

When cooking simply cook

When living simply live!


Peace of Mind: The wealth without which you cannot really be wealthy.

This I wish for all of you! Namaste, Shokai


[1] McEdwen, C. (2011). World Enough & Time on Creativity and Slowing Down. Bauhan Publishing: Petersborough, NH

[2] Ibid.


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It does seem strange that as human beings we have great fears about death and dying and yet at the same time we spend a significant amount of time “rushing through life.”  Wow, that is an unfathomable dichotomy, isn’t it?  Does it make any sense at all to want to live forever and yet we run away from every encounter in life—even the fun and loving ones?

There is an old joke about the young married couple making love one evening and in the middle of the experience one of them looks up and says, “Don’t you think we ought to paint the ceiling pink?”  I am not sure if that is rushing through life, being mindless through life’s experiences, or simply being bored with the relationship, but it sure is a sad way to spend a few of the precious moments we have been given to spend here on Earth.

Dr. Jan Chozen Bays, in her book, How to Train a Wild Elephant Simple Daily Mindfulness Practices, once again addresses this issue as she shares an exercise she calls “One Bite at a Time (page105).”  She writes, “This is actually a task about becoming aware of impatience (page 106).”  Yes, most of us eat unconsciously and impatiently, and at the end of the meal we have no idea what we ate, what it tasted like, what it felt like in our mouths, and what flavors arose from it—sweet, sour, or salty.

I can picture myself standing at the door tapping my foot impatiently waiting for my former husband to finish getting dressed for some event that we were to be attending.  After many minutes I would yell out, “What are you doing shaving Mt. Everest?”  Or more recently I am sitting in the car waiting to drive my friend someplace and waiting once again for him to appear at the door with key and coffee in hand.  I am “waiting impatiently” when I could be sitting in quiet meditation, helping him to get ready, or finding some time to read a little in one of my favorite Zen books.  But what I am not doing is practicing anything I know about Zen, meditation, or peace.

We do not “taste” the flavors of life like the couple above who missed the sweetness of intimacy between two caring people.  Or the teacher who rushed through each lesson and class to get to the next lesson or class without seeing the students, hearing their joys, sorrows, or frustrations.   Research has shown that we need to change pace every 10 minutes when teaching or training because that is the attention span of most people today.  And even in those 10 minutes we are not actually experiencing those minutes we are either impatiently fretting about the past or worrying about the future and thus ignoring the present.

Dr. Bays’ final words in this exercise about “eating mindfully” are very poignant and fun at the same time: “There can be no party in the mouth if the mind is not invited to attend.”  When was the last time you actually experienced a party in your mouth while eating or drinking something delicious?  When was the last time you had a “party in your mind” when thinking about something?  Or are you living life like the old Calvinists used to—living a life of hell and damnation fearful of going to that fiery pit of hell no matter how good they tried to be in this life.

You may not even know about the Calvinists yet you may be living like one.  I know I am at times!  When I am impatient with myself or others I am wasting “mind time” that could better be used in a positive way.  When I am standing at the door tapping my foot I am wasting “physical energy” which could better be used in a positive way.  When I am impatient with my students because they are not paying attention in class I am wasting “mind time” that could better be used in a positive way.

Have you ever watched those time span pictures on the Discovery Channel or the internet where you can see a flower grow from a seed to a blossom in a matter of seconds?  It sure is beautiful to see the process and the progress, but that is not the way nature intended it.  There is a growth process that takes days or weeks to culminate in the flower or the fruit through its energy.  There is a time of watering and fertilizing, and pulling out the weeds from the garden to give the plant room to grow.  We aerate the soil to help it along.  We tend to the plant with love and care and eventually we have the fruit of our labors.

When was the last time you aerated your “soul.”  When was the last time you overturned the impatience and allowed yourself or others to “attend the party” of life at their speed, in their time, in their way?   When was the last time you fertilized their soul with a loving comment, a little patience, or a helping hand?  When was the last time you basked in the reality that doing something slowly could actually be FUN!

“The faster I go the slower I go” is an old Chinese proverb.  Envision the last time you hurried through a task at work, school, or home and it was poorly done, wrongly done, or not finished at all and you had to start it all over again.  Maybe, just maybe, if you had tried to deliver yourself from “impatience” and taken the task on “slowly” you would have only had to do it once.

I took the time yesterday, while cleaning up my after my class, to pop a piece of candy into my mouth.  It was hard candy from Colombia called “Fruticas Love.”  It is a delicious cherry candy with a center of chocolate cream. Yum! As I enjoyed the candy I heard myself saying to my friend Jeanette, “Oh my God, this candy is so delicious.  It is sweet and sour and now that it has broken into pieces in my mouth I can feel this luscious warm chocolate on my tongue fantastic!”  So she hollered back at me, “Well give me one to taste!”  But, unfortunately, I had only brought one piece with me. But I was truly enjoying every bite, taste, and morsel of this candy!  The experience only lasted a few minutes but it could have been a life time for all I knew!

Our challenge for this week is to see how slowly we can walk through life with patience, love, and compassion for ourselves and others. Let us take this week to experience the morsel of life we are given—and while you are at it “…invite your mind to attend.”


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