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Posts Tagged ‘to-do lists’

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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Being mindful in life, in the classroom, at work, at home or at play can increase your powers of concentration, recognition, memory, and more.  Would you like a better relationship with your significant other?  Then using mindfulness techniques in your relationship just might help.  When was the last time you forgot his or her birthday, an anniversary, or her favorite food or that he liked his coffee black?  Want to have a better relationship with your boss, co-workers, and customers?  How mindful were you at that last meeting with them?  Was your mind wandering from to-do list to- do list so much so that you couldn’t even remember what he or she said, what they were wearing, or the color of his or her eyes or hair?  If this sounds like you help is on the way!

Russell Simmons in his new book Success through Stillness writes, “…we eventually come to understand that our happiness is derived from being present in the moment.  In seeing the miracles that are constantly unfolding around us every second, instead of blindly running past them (page 51).[1]  So here is the trick…when you catch your mind wandering, acknowledge it and invite it to come back into the present moment.  Whether you are reading a text for school or work, washing the dishes or the car, or waiting for a bus bring yourself back into the now moment.  Take a deep breath, scan your environment, focus on the person you are speaking to or the book that you are reading or the assignment that you are writing and smile. Yes, smile! Don’t put yourself down or criticize yourself for having that wandering mind just be grateful that you are beginning to recognize it and call it back to the now moment.

I like to help my students practice being mindful with a simple exercise like taking a piece of wrapped hard candy and using every one of your senses to “experience” the candy.  Yes, experience the candy.  Most of the time when we just eat the candy: We just unwrap it and throw it into our mouths and never really know what it felt like or tasted like and seconds later some of us have forgotten that we’ve even eaten it!

So try this and see what happens.  Take the candy and use all 5 of your senses to eat it. How does it feel to the touch?  Look at it before unwrapping it and after unwrapping it.  See its color, texture, shape, and more.  Listen to the sounds it makes as you do that.  Next, smell the candy and really smell it. Yes, hard candy does have some luscious smells!  Next, hold it in your mouth and feel what it feels like in there.  Is it sharp, soft, hard, feel it as it melts does it get slippery?  What happens to your saliva?  Does it taste different when you move it around your mouth from one place to another?  Really “experience” the candy.  Many of my students have noted after this exercise that this was the “best” candy they had ever eaten.  Why?  Because they actually took time to “experience” it.

What would happen if you spent your life really experiencing it—seeing the people, places, and things around you? What if you really smelled the smells, felt the textures, and enjoyed the views.  Really read the words that the author has written—really put yourself into the writing.  Really be there!  What would happen if you really looked at the cashier behind the register?  Saw him or her as a real human being with feelings, likes, dreams, and ambitions.  Like you!

Woody Allen once said that he’d never met a man on his deathbed who said “I wish I’d spent more time at work.” I have always said that when I die on my tombstone I want it written that “She died having no regrets.”  How about you? What will yours say?

Live life today—experience  it every moment, no matter how many times you have to remind yourself to “be in the now moment.”  Simply be here now!  Now is the only time there really is.


[1] Simmons, R. (2014) Success through Stillness Meditation made Simple. Penguin Group: NY, NY

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In spring colors there is no high nor low
Some flowering branches are by nature long, some short (Harada, page 5).

 When I read this in Shodo Harada’s beautiful book Moon by the Window (2011) it reminded me of the patience of spring waiting to appear after a long and difficult winter of snow and ice and cold.  It did not push itself in before its time, but waited patiently for the earth to get in just the right position when all the elements were perfect for new birth and growth.

When was the last time we waited with patience for anything?  Our society is so filled with hurry- up and rushes and to-do lists and must-do lists we find it difficult to take even a few moments each day to sit quietly and simply observe our breath.  Or to watch a flower bloom or to see a bird as it patiently follows the wind and the sun moving north and south with the seasons, instinctively knowing what the right time is.

Daily we are given the opportunity to show patience in our lives.  Some of us lose our patience while driving down the road when the car in front of us does not move fast enough, or is moving too fast and may cut us off to get ahead of us because he or she thinks we are driving to slowly.  How many times have you rushed through a meal only to get indigestion?  How many times have you finished a meal and you don’t even remember what you ate?

Are you someone who starts out each week wishing your life away?  How many times have you said, “Boy, I can’t wait until the weekend”?  Or how about, “Will this meeting ever get over I have so many things to do”?

For some of us it is a personality type, they used to call it Type “A” behavior.  But I call it Type “P” behavior!  We are missing the “Patience” gene!  The one that allows us to simply enjoy the moment in which we are living.  The sad thing is that this moment will never appear again and we may have missed a wonderful, beautiful, or mind awakening thing in the process.

During the time I have been writing this blog post my mother has entered the room several times impatiently needing my attention and so I stopped, thought about the topic and with “patience” helped her.  Living with a family member with special needs, be it Alzheimer’s or other mental or physical disability gives us plenty of time to practice patience.  It is not easy at times and I do lose my temper or get upset, but each day as I practice the 10 Paramitas it just gets a little easier and easier.  My “P” gene is showing up more and more!  How about yours?

Many years ago I had the privilege to work in Spain doing training for a multinational firm and I was shocked about the schedule with which we did our training. It was nothing like what we do in America.  In the U.S. we start between 8 and 9 a.m. and end between 4 and 5 p.m. with two short breaks and a lunch.  In Spain they started at 10, took a coffee break at 11 and went for a two hour lunch between 2 and 4 and ended at 6 p.m.  Wow!  What a difference.  They all think American’s are crazy with the number of hours we put in at work and how few vacation days we take each year.  The Spaniards know how to have patience, relax, and enjoy life!

This week let us practice being more like them and growing the “P” Gene!  Find some time each day to practice patience with yourself and with others.  Find some time to simply sit, simply watch the grass grow, or the snow fall, or play with your kids, your dogs or your cats.  Each time that monkey mind interrupts with your to-do list just let it go by and simply keep on sitting or playing or watching the grass grow or the snow fall.  Then ask yourself how you felt in mind, body, and spirit when you gave the “P” Gene a little chance to grow.

This is just like the plant you tried to grow in the paper cup in grade school.  If you pulled out the seed everyday it would not grow, once you saw it sprouting if you pulled out the small growth you would have killed it.  You probably can hear your teacher asking you to have patience and soon enough you’d see results.  And guess what —you did!

What results would you like to see in your life today?  With patience they just might appear!

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Yikes, another year coming to an end and I haven’t even completed all the goals and to-do lists for 2012!  The older I get the faster time goes and the more fun I’m having the faster time goes. When I am feeling sad, mad, bad, or bored the time seems to be endless dragging like the car with a flat tire screeching and thumping along. Sometimes I feel as though—soon there will be no time left at all.

Some people think the world will end in a few days as they follow the Mayan Calendar.  When I’m feeling down some days I hope that the Mayan’s were right, but when I’m feeling great I’m sure hoping they are not!

So how do I plan for the next minute, hour, day, week, or year?  Do I just let it come as it comes, do I set my goals? Do I plan, organize, collate, separate, and loudly pronounce “the New Year is coming!”  But who made up time anyway?  I’ve always figured that we had time just so we didn’t have to do everything all at once.  It was a great idea to be able to stretch things out, take one thing at a time or simply rest and relax and say the heck with it all and pull the covers up over my head!

Several years ago someone thought of a great idea and they began publishing a magazine entitled “Simple Life.”  I’ve looked at it several times and even found some wonderful things in it. I even decided to take up the mantle.  And so, over the years I have moved from a 4 bedroom home to a 2 bedroom home and I even lived in a one-room efficiency apartment.  I especially loved that (so little to clean!) until the squirrels moved into the attic and kept me up all night dancing and prancing like a family of sugar plum fairies dancing in the night.

But without my goals I feel like I would be a rudderless boat just floating around the ocean.  I can’t imagine a life without goals.  Even the Buddha had goals he searched and searched for enlightenment for many years, through many pathways, until he discovered it.  Then he continued to teach and spread the word to anyone who wanted to listen.

In the Metta Sutra of Shakyamuni Buddha he says, “May all beings be happy. May they be joyous and live in safety. All living beings, whether weak or strong, in high or middle, or low realms of existence, small or great, visible or invisible, near or far, born or to be born, may they all be happy.”  Is this yet another goal?

Jesus had goals.  He set down the Beatitudes didn’t he?  He taught, shared, prayed, and lived a life for others to emulate.  It is written in Matthew 5:18-19 just after the listing of the Beatitudes these words:

“For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

To me it sounds like a very powerful set of goals that he was laying out for each of His followers to begin accomplishing.

It looks like even Steven Covey with his books and CDs and DVDs filled with tips on goal setting was just following in the path of those two great masters.  So you may want to set goals for your life, live those goals freely and fully, and then watch your life move in the direction of those things that you have laid out.

If you don’t set goals you may be letting the winds of fate, and time, and circumstance rock you like that small boat on the Atlantic trying to cross the sea to a new land.  Life is a magical experiment that needs to be played with, tested, viewed, reviewed and begun each moment of each day of each year.  And who cares if my goals from last year have not been finished or fulfilled I can try to get them done in 2013. I can throw them out like that old warn out pair of sneakers I let go of last week or I can just wish and hope and dream that my life gets better rather than worse.

But regardless of which way I chose, the path is mine to live.

 

 

 

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