Monday Moments: Meditation & Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a powerful tool.  As a not-so-simple man said eons ago, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

In those simple words I am constantly reminded that forgiveness is not just an essential part of being human, forgiveness is a very powerful tool for letting go.

Forgiveness plays a part in every major religion out there. It is also a crucial part of the human condition. But we must also remember, forgiving others is just one step along the path of humanity. The next step lies in your ability to forgive yourself.

The dictionary definition of forgiveness is the complete and unabsolved release of past transgressions without any expectation of payment in return.

It is an interesting definition; but it leaves out two key elements that are important in the modern world. First, it fails to include the act of self-forgiving, and second, it fails to account for transgressions that may happen in the future.

After all, forgiving yourself is a key part of getting rid of the regret and remorse you most likely carry with you from the past. Forgiveness is also an important part of starting over and starting anew. If you are always thinking about something someone did in the past, how are you going to trust them in the future?

The answer to both lies in your ability to forgive…

“You ripped my heart out, but I forgive you” “you cheated on me, but I forgive you” “you hurt me, but I forgive you.” Do these sound familiar? At what point will you say, “I forgive you, but enough is enough, and this time we are going to do things differently.”

How many times have you found yourself berating yourself with words like, “I am so stupid, I can’t believe I just did that””, or “I am so out of my league, what am I even doing here? We are going to fail miserably.” As versus how many times have you heard yourself say, “Okay, so I messed up. What happened, happened and there is no way to get it back. So, I forgive myself, let’s let it go and move on.”

The truth is, no matter how much you forgive publicly, you still harbor some guilt or shame or resentment on the inside. Until you forgive yourself and those around you completely, your words will  never have the power they should. And in the end it will sound more like “I forgive you, but you’re still kind of wrong,” or, “Okay, I forgive myself, but I’m still an idiot for not seeing the truth.”

Either way, it is still okay. Forgiveness is such a powerful part of who you are, that even partial forgiveness will help to clear the air. Just do not forget to act on it.

If you truly want to get ahead of the game, learn to forgive unabashedly and completely; and yes, even for things that have yet to occur.

You know what your own faults are. You also have a pretty good idea about the faults of those around you. Why carry them around? Why not forgive them in advance and let it go? You might be surprised at how good it feels, freed from the weight of anticipation.

Starting now, forgive yourself of the inevitable. While you are at it, forgive those around you.

That does not mean you have to accept things as they are, you simply have to welcome them as a very real part of being human, and focus your energy on fixing them, rather than holding blame.

With forgiveness, you will quickly find how much easier life can become.

When you stop anticipating what others might or might not do, and just let it happen, your temper will flair up less. When you forgive yourself for whatever slips may occur, you will find that voice of doubt will take its leave.

Learn to acknowledge life as it is for all its faults, and it will simply begin to flow.

And isn’t that what you want?

Be well this week, and forgive.

 

 

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Monday Moments: To Err is Human

The other day, I heard a father tell his son, “Do what I say, not what I do.”

His son asked him why, and he said, “Sometimes daddy makes mistakes. I do things the wrong way, and I don’t want you to learn my bad habits.”

At first I was taken aback. I could feel a touch of anger rise within me as I thought to myself, “what a minute, as a father he’s not allowed to do the wrong thing. He should always set an example for this children.” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he just had.

He admitted his own frailties. He admitted that none of us can be perfect all the time, but we can be honest about who and what we are. We can lead our children by example; so they don’t worry about being perfect all the time.

If we can just pass that lesson on to them half the job of parenting would be done. If we can just help them be more aware of who they are, and who they are not, we can help them build the character they need to make the right decisions in their lives. And isn’t that what parenting is about? Not necessarily being there all the time, but giving them the tools they need to do the right thing.

We all know that life is not a hallmark card of picture perfect holidays and Facebook ready moments. Life is all those sloppy, misbegotten events that lead to scraped knees and bruised egos. The kind that teach us to reach out for help when we need it most and to trust in the people we have around us. Life is about becoming better people, and we rarely learn those lessons if everything keeps going our way.

So the next time you start beating yourself up for not being perfect. The next time that voice in your head admonishes you for something you did or did not do, stop, breathe, and take a moment to realize that perfection is not why you are here. It is the lessons you pass on to your children that will help them the most.

We learn through our imperfections. Lessons like forgiveness, compassion, and the value of family and friends, come from those who help us in times of need. So don’t be afraid to show them your human side.

After all, as I remind myself from time to time, to err is human. To forgive, divine.

Both others, as well as yourself…

Be well,

Jeff Cannon
Simple Truth Project

 

 

 

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…and you? What are you grateful for today?

When I was young and upset my mother would say,
“Ten fingers, ten toes, be grateful for those.”

As she lovingly touched each one, distracting me from whatever or whomever it was , and the hurt went away.

It was a meditation of sorts as her fingers touched my hands, my toes, my heart.

It was a reminder that led me to what was right in the world, rather than what I had to be sad or upset or angry about.

It still reminds me to this day, to ask myself “what am I grateful for today?”

As I touch each digit while breathing slowly, deeply, evenly into myself.

 

And you? What are you grateful for today?

Monday Moments: Art of Listening

There is more to listening than simply turning your ear in the right direction.

To truly listen is to turn down the volume on your own thoughts. To stop anticipating what is to come, and to just allow whatever song or conversation is happening to simply unfold on its own.

There is a saying that I often heard an old teacher of mine say in class, “before you can sip, you must first empty your cup.”

It is deceptively simply, but not so easy. For to empty your cup, you must lower your defenses, let go of your ego, and prevent the auto-responses that our old brain puts up to protect you.

If you are not sure what that sounds like, just wait until you start hearing that loop in your head play back to you. Yes, that loop that wakes you up at four a.m., or that interrupts your thoughts when you least expect them. Listen to it for a moment before you allow it to grow in volume. then gently place your attention on a sound, a sight, or upon your own breath as you let that though go.

That thought, and others like it are the interruptions that prevent you from truly listening to what is going on around you. When you free yourself from your own opinions and your own ego, you prevent yourself from discoloring whatever it is that is being said.

Free from that bias, you can prevent yourself from being misled by your own mind, so that you can truly hear what is going on around you. Free to hear a voice that can spark an idea or cause you to miss an opportunity for something truly wonderful; and why would you ever want to do that?

After all, it is YOUR life.

Why not live it YOUR way?

Thank you in advance and be well.

 

 

 

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Monday Moment – A Productive Mindset with Meditation

There is more to a productive mindset than being focused at your desk, because there is more to your work than the time you spend at your desk. Having a productive mindset is about creating a flow that connects your work, your play, you waking and your sleeping hours together.

Having a productive mindset is about a balance between your up-time and your downtime so that your subconscious brain continues to produce the aha moments in your life when you least expect them. And that does not happen if you are filled with anxiety, stressed, or worried about your life; personally or professionally.

Those seemingly random ideas that end up being the aha moments of brilliant breakthroughs you wait for? They do not come out of nowhere. They are not sitting on a cloud that you wander into. They come, like anything, out of the hard work of your subconscious mind, and that subconscious mind only works when the noise and distractions that so often clutter it are gone. so learn to let go, not just to relax, but to open your mind up to all the wonderful possibilities waiting.

Years ago, when I was producing or ran my own agency, I found that I separated my work into several categories. The hours I actively worked on a project – perhaps two hours a day – were the only ones that “really counted,” or so I told myself. The hours I spent researching, thinking, and developing creative solutions for my client’s issues somehow did not really count as “real work.” Oh, and those hours I spent pondering in bed or during my commute – it was as if those did not even exist.

Looking back, I remember the stress and the anxiety. I also remember how there were never enough hours in the day for all the work I had to do. I remember how my anxiety often prevented me from coming up with the kind of solutions my clients so badly wanted.

Oh, how wrong I was. For it was in those seemingly wasted moments that my brain was actually free to work in its own way. It never occurred to me that the flashes of brilliance that came while listlessly staring out at the ocean on a weekend, or while feeling the water splash on my face while in the shower, only came when I felt calm and balanced and open. Rarely did they appear when I was at my desk, in my mind, “actually working” the few hours each day that I actually gave myself credit for.

It is funny, in a way, that is wasn’t until I was able to step away from my desk that I was able to see the solution that was there all along, waiting for me.

To fixate the results that end up on your desk to the time you spend at your desk is to dismiss the real work you put in all along the way. And, I equate that mindset to the post-war, industrial world most of us grew up in.

Yes, when we were an industrial nation, work was a much more physical task. The time that mattered was the time you actually spent farming, or fishing, or building. But this is the 21st Century, and your physical labor is often not what drives your results. The decisions you make at home and at play, with friends and family all influence your frame of mind, no matter what your occupation. And if your mind is filled with anxiety and distracted by the noise of your life, then there is no way that you will be able to come up with the solutions that equate to success in today’s world.

If instead, you are calm and rested, the solutions will come to you whether you are at the office every day or not. So learn to balance the different aspects of your life; both personal and professional. That includes finding a thread between work and play, health and finances, family and love and spirituality, even with your own sense-of-self. It is there waiting for you, if you know what to look for.

Only when those elements are in balance, will you be free enough to truly deliver the kind of results that you can be proud of. Only then will you be truly productive, feel accomplished, and satisfied every day and every week.

Remember that having a Productive Mindset is about more than being productive at your desk.  It is about creating a thread throughout your life in a calm and focused way.

So breathe, smile and remember to give yourself a break from time to time.  That is what will create a focused sense of calm across all of your efforts; at work or play, with family or friends, or even when you are all by yourself.

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Monday Moments – 13 Milliseconds

Thirteen milliseconds is how long it takes for your brain to process the input it is being fed.

It is fast, lightening fast.

13 milliseconds is not a lot of time to process all the images you see, the sounds you hear, the smells you smell, the tastes you taste and the sensations of touch to reach your brain and form your sense of the world that you live in. In that fraction of a second, your brain is layering it with all the feedback it receives from your parasympathetic nervous system to assess if you are safe, or stable, or not.

Technically this means two things:

1) You Are Living in the Past: A fraction of a second is not long, but everything that you think is NOW, has actually already happened, and you are still living in the past. That means being here, being now, in the present, is an impossibility – even if by just 13 milliseconds.

2) Your Thoughts Filter Your World: In that fraction of a second, your brain’s perception of the world around you is influenced by whatever it is you are feeling. If you are angry, the will seem just a bit angrier. If you are filled with doubt, hate, or self-loathing, the world will be filtered through that emotion. It will acquire a tinge to it, a very different tinge than if you are to filter the sights, sounds, and smells through feelings of Love, compassion, or equanimity.

There should be no doubt how fast the processing power of the brain is. There are more than 100 trillion connections in the brain, with new ones being formed every time you create a new memory. And if the brain is able to process all the information your body produces, it is certainly able to filter that information with whatever you are feeling in the moment.

Not only does that mean your brain is still more powerful than any computer developed, it also means your thoughts, your emotions, your heart plays just as big a part in how you perceive the world as your eyes, ears or nose do.

Just think about that as you go about your day and your week. Think about where you are in your emotions throughout your day, and then think about how that may cloud, or clarify, your judgment.

Love, Hate, Anger, Empathy, Compassion – they are more important than the points on the compass for finding out where you are in the world and in life; especially if the world isn’t looking quite as it should for you.

So why not guide your life in the direction you want it to go by training your mind to dial your emotions to where you want them to be?

This is YOUR life.
Isn’t it time to start living it YOUR way?

Monday Moments – The Sounds in Your Life

You live in a tactile world, yet not everything is soft.

You touch the granite of the buildings as you pass.

You touch the cold glass and steel of the car before you enter.

You enjoy the hard foundation that Terra Firma provides you.

So why do you allow yourself to grow angry at the hard sounds of your life?

Perhaps it is time to rethink your approach to them.

Instead of turning away from the harsh sounds, embrace them and welcome them. Allow them to flow into the wonderful cacophony of white noise that is your world. Instead of viewing the experiences of your life as good or bad, begin to see the world as it truly is.

Learn to limit the noise in your life as you create harmony in the sounds that are all around.

  • The people talking at the table next to yours? Let it go.
  • The noise of the traffic? Let it go.
  • The annoying pitch of your boss’s rant?  Let it go.

See the world as it is all around you.  Refuse to let your brain weave patterns for you as you grow aware of the substance rather than the noise.

Take the time taste the air with every breath. Smile at the scents as they play upon your tongue. Enjoy the thoughts your mind creates. Just do not feel the need to live in them. Be aware of each, without feeling the need to respond.

Hear, taste and smell the details of the world you live in – then decide what to focus on and what to let slide into the background of your world.

Are you actually nervous, or are you smelling the pheromones of an ancient beast about to attack?

Is it your ego playing on your response based on 40,000 year old programming, or is there really a modern day threat?

Make sure the choices you are making are truly your choices, and not some pattern created by that fight or flight response that kept our ancestors alive.

Be aware of the noise in your world, and choose what you want to let it and what you want to let go.

It truly is up to you…

After all, it is YOUR life.

Why not live it as YOU want?

Monday Moments – Short Sits

Short Sits

For most of us, the idea of sitting on a hilltop for an hour is a lovely idea. The reality, however, is a far cry from that dream.  Rarely do we have an hour.  Rarer still is there an empty hilltop to sit and enjoy.

Perhaps it was realistic 3,000 years ago when meditation was first introduced, but today, nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is you have more stress in the first thirty minutes of your day, than someone did in an entire day 3,000 years ago.

The answer is not stressing about finding a quiet place to sit for two hours, or even twenty minutes. That is not necessarily the most effective way to meditate in today’s world anyway.

The fact is that research is showing us that sitting for shorter periods of time more frequently actually produces better results for those seeking to reduce stress, find balance, and yes, even reach their inner calm.

So, the next time you feel anxiety or panic come on, or when you realize the trigger for your stress is going to be in that meeting coming up, sit for a short time.  Just three to five minutes will do.  Then take a very short break of maybe thirty to sixty seconds, and sit again.

Just be mindful of whatever it is you are doing during your break. Keep the rhythm of your breath going and try not to lose your natural ease. Smile to yourself as you sit again, and feel the joy in what you are doing.

What you will find is that taking short breaks like this will extend your meditation and create a living meditation within your world.  You will feel your life become richer and more inspiring than ever before.  It will help you mind the gap between your seated meditations and the very real life you live every day. It will also take the clumsy, irksome and solemn nature out of a more traditional practice.

Very quickly, you will find the barrier that once separated your meditation from your life disappear. Instead, the distractions that once undermined your work, and even your meditation, will fade away – leaving you in your natural state, free from the mind-chatter that once used to cause such dismay.

As I have often said, “A meditator may leave a proper meditation, but a proper meditation will never leave the meditator.”

After all, it is YOUR life.

Why not make it YOUR meditation?

Monday Moments – Touch The Earth

Every year life seems to rush a little faster.  It is as if the universe itself seems to speed up a bit, to spin a little faster each year.  It is why it is so easy to feel like you are spinning out of control.  Like a top, just one rotation away from toppling over.  It is also why it is so important to touch the earth when you can.

You do not need to have a secret ceremony for this.  You do not even need to cross your legs in lotus pose. You simply need to pause for a moment. To take a nice, slow breath; down deep into your lungs, and place two fingers onto the ground around you.

It is said this is what Siddhartha Gautama did just before realizing enlightenment to become the Buddha. It is how he answered the demon Mara, who attacked him with his armies of monsters to frighten him from his seat. When the demon asked the would-be-Buddha “who will speak for you,” Siddhartha reached down to touch the earth with his hand, and the earth itself cried out “I bear you witness!” As the tale goes, when the morning star rose, Siddhartha realized enlightenment and became the Buddha.

The act of touching the earth is an act that is called The Earth Witness Mudra. It is both grounding and revelatory that helps the man or woman seeking enlightenment to stay in tune with the fundamental structure of the universe.

But, even if you are not seeking enlightenment, it can simply be a reminder of where you came from.  It can be a way to balance yourself in your day, as if you were a Buddha.

You don’t need to meditate to do this.  Just breathe down deep into your lungs and smile as you touch the ground beneath you.  Then enjoy the feeling of calm as it creeps up your arm and fills you with balance.

After all, it is YOUR life.

Why not live it YOUR way?

Monday Moments – Passing Meditation on Thoughts

12,000 – 50,000 – That is how many thoughts researchers estimate pass through your head in a day.  That is how active your brain is, even if you do not meditate.

The good thing is, they do not all need to be a part of your life.

You see, your brain was not designed for today’s world.  It evolved over time, and its main function is still to keep you alive. Yes, the brain is a magnificent organ, but it was hardwired to:

  • Observe the world around you
  • Associate that input with all of the memories you have
  • Produce thoughts to keep you alive

That is what it does, it watches, it reads the signals, and it produces thoughts to help you survive. Most of these thoughts originate in the old, primordial brain.  That is why so many of your thoughts are based on fear, rather than the higher-level, creative thinking that is better suited for today’s world. This is also why it is so important to be aware of them, and to let them go. Simply – they were programmed for a different time.

It is not until you are in a safe place that the executive function of your brain is allowed to play. This is where your hopes and dreams and happiness live. So while at some point your brain can be a pathway to your higher self, for the majority of the time it is still an organ, and its primary purpose is your survival.

I am sorry, but that is just how the glorious structure of the human brain evolved.

Just remind  yourself, the next time you are feeling depressed or afraid or frozen in place, this is not you, and you are not your brain.  This is just how your brain is programmed to work.  Smile at its beauty, and then remember that the last time it evolved was 40,000 or 150,000 years ago, and you live today, now, in the present. 

You don’t even need to meditate to do this.  Just breathe down deep into your lungs and smile as you decided what it is that YOU want to do today.

After all, it is YOUR life.

Why not live it YOUR way?

 

 

 

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