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Stillness in the Modern World

Stillness:

It is that wonderful quality of being fully present no matter where you are. It is a pure mental state cultivated on the Buddhist path to nirvāna
A Buddhist might call it upekkha. A Muslim speaks of stillness when they use the word aslama, in terms of submitting to Allah’s will. In Hebrew, the word is hishtavut. In the Bhagavad Gita, the epic poem of the warrior Arjuna, the word is samatvam. The ability to be Still – is the ability to be truly present without feeling the need to do anything. It is the focused calm that comes from a balanced mind— and to at peace with yourself and the world around you. The ancient Greeks spoke of euthymia when they contemplated that state of stillness.

The concept of stillness, to be centered as the chaos of the world spins around you, and, as one master once taught me, to observe the circus as it spins around you and to act only when it is necessary. “A true warriors never acts out of anger,” he would say, “be still and let them come to you. Simply hear only that which needs to be heard. Speak only what needs to be said and possess the quiet that comes from being still.

Stillness is that quiet moment of inspiration from which to draw your best words and ideas as you need them. It is when your inspiration comes from within. To be able to reflect while being an active part of a conversation or to be able to search through your memory in order to have the right answer when it is called for.

Stillness is that ability to step back and reflect while others scramble for an answer.

Stillness is also the art that allows you to make room for gratitude and empathy. Most important stillness is the seed from which your spiritual center of energy grows. It is one of the most powerful forces in creation from which to draw when you need it most. Those of you who charge ahead with big plans and even bigger dreams will find both dashed to pieces before your true battles really begin.

To those unfamiliar with it, the idea of being still can be a little ephemeral, but it doesn’t need to be. Stillness does not just happen it is a virtue that can be developed over time. It comes from hard work. It comes from sitting in meditation, practicing in order to access the focused calm that is within you. When you train your mind to be still, it is like muscle memory. Your mind remembers how to find the pathway to the stillness that is within you. What follows are some exercises you can perform to bring stillness into your life and to make it easier to access when you need it most.

Write. I am not a fan of the word or idea of journaling, or keeping a diary. The idea of it just reeks of the need to do it every day and if you miss a day you are filled with regret and a sense of failure, just because you missed a day of writing down your thoughts when you had none or when nothing of note happened.

So don’t journal. Simply write when you feel the need to write. Write when something big happens or when you feel the need to express something that upset you when dealing with an issue, or that made you excited or unbelievably happy.

I think it was Anne Frank who wrote “Paper is more patient than people.” It is, because it allows you to watch as your own thoughts unfurl and whatever issues and opportunities roll out in front of you as your pen moves across the paper. Both are a door to your inner spirit and your subconscious mind. They have a way of helping you explore your inner self without it seeming like an intrusion. With each word you become more willing to take the baby steps of self-exploration in writing than through speaking.

See The World As A Monk Does.

Beauty is everywhere, you simply have to slow down to see it. The beauty of the world you pass through is in the details. It is also in the grand design and in the interconnections that become apparent when you slow down to notice them. No two people see the world in the same way. Everyone has a different perspective that is born from their situations and their personal histories. Each has learned to interpret what they see in their own way. Learn to see the world as it appears to you. The important part is not how you see it, but that your slow down to enable you to see it, smell it, hear it and feel it however you want to.
Simply remind yourself to stay in the here and now, in your present moment without the need to follow your ego into the next moment by anticipating what will happen next.

Remind yourself to stay in the moment and observe everything as it arrives to you. Be aware of the raw data that you are receiving before your brain has the time to layer its own issues on top of it.

Every monk translates the raw data, free from interpretation and in their own way. Stop and observe the world around you, as it truly is. Let go of the preconceived notions of how the world should be and accept it as it is. The same things that prevent you from seeing the world as it is prevents you from finding your inner stillness.

Clear your mind and allow your heart to be filled by whatever comes to you. See the details and the vista. Be aware of the colors. Be aware of the aromas from a meal as you savor your way through it. Let your taste buds come alive as to the flavors wash over them. Let your ears follow the individual notes of the music playing, and give your fingers the freedom to explore the textures of a garment or a tapestry.

Reduce Your Inputs.

After ten brain surgeries and six weeks of radiation, I have to be careful with the level of input I allow in. Even if the raw data from those inputs are good, they can still overwhelm me. When that happens my brain gets flooded with information and I go into a seizure. So its very important for me to monitor my brain and mind so that I know when to leave a loud restaurant or a theater performance as both can overload my brain and send me spiraling. It’s just as important that you do the same. You simply have a higher level of tolerance than I do.

We all live in a world that is overloaded with noise and activity. Your brain uses energy to evaluate each of the sights, sounds, smells, and touches you take in. With every step you take, your brain is monitoring the firmness of the ground beneath you, your balance, the risk of danger, and many other factors that go into your ability to maintain your balance and your gait.

While your brain represents just 2% of your body weight, it accounts for 20you’re your body’s energy use. That means during a typical day, your brain uses about 320 calories just to think. Different mental states will affect the way your brain consumes energy.

Napoleon taught his secretary to wait a week before any letters. Churchill refused to look at any idea that had not been reduced down to a single sheet of paper. It was their way of making sure they were not overwhelmed with information.

In both cases they wanted to limit their input so that they would not be overwhelmed. In the contemporary world you live in, it’s important to allow your brain to find its stillness, so that you do not let your energy be drained by meaningless facts and figures that are not relevant to your life.

Enjoy A Long, Slow Walk

I don’t mean take a power-walk or go for a run. I mean take the time to enjoy a slow, leisurely walk. Allow the inner-working of your subconscious come alive as your brain is distracted with the details of balancing your body as you walk and of the world around you as it tries to keep you safe in the world.

Hemmingway was famous for getting through hi write’s block by taking long walks along the rivers of Paris. Nietzsche said that his best ideas came to him on his a long walks. Nikola Tesla developed his idea for his rotating magnetic field, not in his laboratory, but on a walk through a park in Budapest. It is arguably one of the most important inventions of all time, and this was in 1882.

Remove Yourself From Outcomes.
My best martial arts master was Grand Master Bong Soo Han taught me that when trying to break a board, do not stop at the board, but punch through the board, at a spot several inches beyond it. “Do not think about the outcome, simply punch beyond it. The broken board is simply proof of where your fist had been.”

You must not focus only on the what is in front of you. You must learn to let go and focus on what will be.

Weekly News Is Enough.

The news-cycle just doesn’t move that quickly. I know some people think it’s a 24 hour cycle, but when is the last time you saw something completely new and unexpected happen in a 24 hour time period?

Nightly news just isn’t news. Take a break. Give your mind and body a break from it. Read a book, enjoy a dinner out. Dive into a conversation with abandon. Don’t worry the news will still be there for you when you’re ready for it.

You can still be informed by the news without being saturated with it. Besides if you spend all your time and energy watching the news, you will never have enough to process it and to create real change in your world because of it.

6 Simple Tips For Better Meditation

If you don’t think you can meditate, it is really not difficult to sit and weave your meditation into your life. In fact it is really quite easy.  Just follow these simple tips and don’t forget to smile as you do.

You may even surprise yourself when you realize how easy it is and what a lifesaver it can be in the worst and best of times.

 

1. Create Your Space:

Try your best to meditate in the same space every time. You don’t need Zen-like images of serenity nor do you need your place to look like a formal Buddhist setting. All you need is for your space to hold your energy. When you site you should sit within yourself. The last thing you need is to carry the baggage that comes with a 1,500 year old lineage.

That lineage is there to teach you the meditation techniques they have refined, that is all. It I up to you to find the ones that work for you so that you can weave them into a tapestry that works for you on your terms. That is what your practice is all about, creating a meditation that works for you in the realities of the contemporary world you live in.

 

2. Set A Time:

Set a time to meditate. Don’t buy into the whole “I have no time to meditate” excuse. Try earlier if you must or take a shorter shower. Perhaps you can shorten your morning tea ritual, and if that old brain of yours says you can’t possibly meditate without tea, then just tell it yes you can and begin. Remember your rain is not the boss of you, it is simply an organ that processes all the input that comes in through your five senses.

Think of your morning meditation as a game of distractions. Your mind will try to distract you from your daily practice. It will tell you, you can’t possibly meditate without a cup of tea. You can’t possibly sit for thirty minutes with that hair hanging out of place, tickling your forehead.

Well, guess what, you can. Simply scroll through your five senses and settle into the space you are in, right here and right now

 

3. Dedicate Yourself:

Dedicate yourself to your practice. Dedicate a time and place for your meditation he night before. When you rise in the morning your mind should already know where and when, making it for you to simply follow along. When you first open your eyes put one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Feel yourself breathe and remind yourself of your promise to meditate. Even speak the words out loud, “I promised myself I would meditate at 8:00 this morning and I will keep that promise.”

 

4. No Content, No Contest

Don’t check your social media feeds. Let Facebook, Twitter and Instagram be. Your texts and your emails will be there for you when you are done. Also, don’t look at the TV or check the newspaper. Each will set your brain moving in the opposite direction of your meditation.

 

5. Meditation Before Contemplation

If you just want to meditate then simply sit and breathe and let go of your thoughts. If your intention is to contemplate a specific issue or aspect of yourself then decide to do so after you meditate. Meditation will clear your mind and provide you with a clean slate upon which to contemplate whatever issues are rumbling through your head.

If you are going to contemplate, make it personal, keep it from being abstract, create a mission statement up front if that will help you keep your focus like I want to improve my relationship, or I want to improve myself, or I want to improve my apartment. It’s all fair game but by making it personal you will stay on that topic whenever you veer from your path. Repeat your statement when you feel yourself losing your direction.

 

6. Live Your Meditation

When you finish your meditation don’t just leave your stillness behind. Take it with you. Begin to weave what you need from your practice into your day. When you read your emails and recognize your stress rising from that panicked email your boss just sent, simply breathe as you contemplate each step required to complete their assignment. Break it down into manageable steps and then think through each one.

Remember the old adage about how to eat an elephant?

The answer is simple, bite by bite.

 

 

 

Click here to learn  more about how I can help you create a deeper, richer, more relevant meditation that you can bring into your life today and everyday.

 

Be well and I hope this helps.

 

 

Eliminate your mind chatter

You don’t have to open your head to clear your mind.

Mind chatter. What’s it there for and what can you do about it?

The key to getting rid of your mind chatter is to learn to be okay with it. “Mind Chatter” is simply the thoughts that your mind “thinks” are relevant. Those are the thoughts your brain creates every moment of every day. It is simply what your brain does and there is no way to shut them off. So learn to be okay with them rather than obsessing on them.

Researchers estimate we have about 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts every day, which is about 3,000 thoughts an hour. If you are struggling to stop those thoughts from coming arising – you simply can’t. Your brain was designed to think about options to all the what if scenarios in order to keep you alive.

The issue is that not all those thoughts are relevant to the 21st century world you now live in. Instead of getting caught up in them, learn to smile and to thank your brain for doing what it was created to do so well. Learn to accept each thought as you assess them. Ask your mind if this is a thought that is really relevant for what you are doing right now, in the moment you are in. If so, then you may want to contemplate that thought and follow it to wherever it may lead. If not, then let it go.

I spent many months in a hospital bed recovering from 9 different brain surgeries. There was absolutely nothing to do, so I learned to enjoy what my brain produced as a way to entertain myself. Sometimes I would follow the thoughts and allow myself to go along for the ride. At other times I would let them go so that I could be alone with myself, focus on my rehabilitation, or to relax into my pain and enjoy the experience of being right where I was in that moment.

If you are overwhelmed by your thoughts use your 5 senses to pause your brain by bringing it into the physical world that is all around you. Look around and ask yourself what you see. Start from the furthest point in your field of vision and work back to where you are. Next, ask yourself what you hear in the distance and then move inward as well. Smell, touch, taste – they all work as a wonderful distraction to refocus your brain and mind on the present moment of your reality.

To schedule a personal coaching session or to learn more help online or off visit us here

Always remember that life is a game of distractions. Your brain distracts you mentally with the thoughts it creates. But you can distract it with your reality through your five senses to return yourself to the real world around you.

Let me know of your experiences with this and if it helps you.

Jeff

Perception of Me is a Reflection of You

Your perception of me is a reflection of you

It takes 13 milliseconds for your brain to process the input it receives. That means everything you see, hear, taste, touch, smell has a brief pause from the time your eyes, ears, nose, mouth and fingers sense it to the time it becomes recognized for what it is.

In that brief moment your brain connects the input you are experiencing with all of the memories you have ever had or could ever imagine having in order to classify what is all around you as good or bad, safe or unsafe, friend or foe. It also uses whatever is going on within your life, your emotions be it anger or love, as a filter for what is going on in the world around you.

Your emotions and your experiences, the breakup you just went through or the new love you just met will help your brain classify how you perceive the events in your life at any given moment in time. All those memories, emotions, hopes and direct you to choose one path over another. They are the why behind the what that you decide to eat, drink, work on or escape to. Your need to eat something richly satisfying to get over a slump of depression or to eat something high in fiber to take on the day are chosen, not by you, but by your 40,000 year old brain as it struggles to guide you through the contemporary world you live in.

The world as you see it is a reflection of everything you are going through at any given moment. If it is why when you are in Love the world can be a brilliant place where hope is found in every object you touch, every scent you smell, every taste you bite into. It is also why that same moment can be a dark and scary place to someone who is seeing it from a very different perspective.

For those who are upset everything can seem just a little darker and a little less inviting. That same cerulean sky is suddenly a darker shade of blue. It is still blue, just not quite as bright as it may seem to you. It is no different for the people you interact with. Your suspicion of, or anger with, someone is not just based on their actions but your own as well.

This distortion is why you mirror yourself onto the lives of those around you. You assume what you are experiencing must be the same as those around. Whatever fear is pulsing through your veins must surely pulse through their veins as well. If you are suspicious of someone’s actions it may not be just them, it may be your own feelings of self doubt that you are struggling with that are mirrored onto them.

Your own emotions can create a circus mirror that will cause you to see a skinny person or a fat person in front of you rather than the person as they really are. Your distorted view of the world and those around you is more often off base than it is on because of how you perceive reality rather than how it really is.

It is not until you awaken to the fact that your brain creates your world that you can truly be free of your distorted version of reality and begin to live life in the real world and in a whole new light.

The next time you think someone is undermining your efforts, take a moment to breathe and to bring yourself back down to earth. Think about what is going on in your own life and how that could distort your view of your friends and your community.

Did you recently lose someone who is dear to you? Did your boss choose someone else for “the big project?” Think about how all of these things might affect the way you view the one you Love and have always trusted. Do  you really want to throw that Love and trust away because of what your 40,000 year old brain suspects someone else did?

Take a moment to cool down before you rush into something you might regret. Even though you are convinced you are in the right, just know that the world around you is not always what it seems.

 

Be well and I hope this helps.

 

 

j.

Your Perception is A Reflection

Your perception of me is a reflection of you.

 

It takes 13 milliseconds for your brain to process the input it receives. That means everything you see, hear, taste, touch, smell has a brief pause from the time your eyes, ears, nose, mouth and fingers sense it to the time it becomes recognized for what it is.

In that time your brain connects the input with all of the memories you have ever had or could even imagine having in order to classify it as good or bad, safe or unsafe, friend or foe. In that brief amount of time your brain uses whatever is going on in your life as a filter for what is in front of you and all around you.

Your emotions, your experiences, the breakup you just went through or the wedding you are about to go through guide you to classify what you perceive as important or It takes 13 milliseconds for your brain to process the input it receives. That means everything you see, hear, taste, touch, smell has a brief pause from the time your eyes, ears, nose, mouth and fingers sense it to the time it becomes recognized for what it is.

In that time your brain connects the input with all of the memories you have ever had or could even imagine having in order to classify it as good or bad, safe or unsafe, friend or foe. In that brief amount of time your brain uses whatever is going on in your life as a filter for what is in front of you and all around you.

Your emotions, your experiences, the breakup you just went through or the wedding you are about to go through guide you to classify what you perceive as important or unimportant in your life at this moment in time. All those memories, emotions, hopes and dreams are what direct you choose one path over another. They are why you decide what you want to eat, drink, work on or escape to. Your need to eat something richly satisfying may help you get over a slump of depression or to eat something high in fiber to take on the day are chosen, not by you, but by your 40,000 year old brain as it struggles to guide you through the contemporary world you live in.

The world as you see is not made up of the input you are taking in. It is a reflection of everything you are going through in this moment. If it is why if you are in Love the world is a brilliant place where hope can be found in every object you touch, every scent you smell, every taste you bite into.

If you are upset, everything grows just a little darker, a little less inviting. That same cerulean sky is suddenly a darker shade of blue. It is still blue, just not quite what it may seem to someone in the throes of Love. It is no different for the people you interact with. You suspicions or anger with someone is not just based on their actions, but your own as well.

This same distortion is why you mirror yourself onto the lives of those around you. You assume what you are feeling and experiencing must be felt by those around you as well. Whatever fear is pulsing through your veins must also pulse through their veins as well. If you feel confused by someone’s actions, suspicious of their reasons, it may not be just them, it may be your own feelings of self doubt that you are struggling with.

Your own emotions can distort the circus mirror to make you see a skinny person or a fat person in front of you, rather than the world as it is in reality. Your distorted view of the world and those around you is more often off base than it is on – because of how you perceive reality rather than how it really is.

It is not until you awaken to the fact that your brain creates your world that you can truly be free of your own distortions and begin to live life in the real world and in a whole new light.

The next time someone seems to be undermining your efforts, take a moment to breathe and bring yourself back down to earth. Think about what is going on in your life and how that could distort your view of your friends and your community. Did you recently lose someone who is dear to you? Did your boss choose someone else for “the big project?” Then think about how that might affect the way you view the one you Love and have always trusted. Do you really want to throw that away because of what someone else did?

Take a moment to cool down before you rush into something you might regret. Even though you are convinced you are in the right, just know that the world around you is not always what it seems.

Be well and I hope this helps.

j.

A Mindful Legacy

What you do every day is what creates the legacy you are living and the legacy of who you will be remembered for well into the future. It is your legacy that you leave behind as you pass on to whatever awaits. It is the same legacy that precedes you as you pass through this world. It is the way people think of you before they even meet you.

Reputation, karma, legacy, they are all the same. The more people you lie to, cheat and steal from, the more people you undermine, the worse and worse your reputation, your legacy, becomes. The worse your reputation and your legacy become the less people are willing to trust you, to work with you, and to extend a form of credit to you.

It is more than your Emotional Intelligence, your legacy is a kind of credit score for the compassion people are willing to extend to you. The higher your score, the more compassion, empathy, and forgiveness people are willing to give you, before even meeting you.

There are some people whose legacies are not worth the karmatic paper they are written on. We all know who they are. Their reputation precedes them. At one time they could do anything they wanted to. But over time people have learned, and suddenly one will find people are no longer willing to work with them. Lawyers recognize them as those not willing to pay their bills nor to take council when it is given. They turn them down. Business and political leaders are not willing to read their resume because there really is no need. They have already seen their reputation, heard their legacy, and have a feel for how they do business, enough so, that they do not even want to waste their time going through the motions of a meeting – even if just for a cup of coffee.

At the same time, those who have created a good legacy for themselves, who carry a spotless reputation can travel the world, free from suspicion and free from the actions of their past. The interesting thing about a legacy is that it is not just an external object to be traded as if it were a commodity. It is the way a person carries themselves. It is part of the internal baggage we all must account for. We have all seen it in people, some people just feel slimy, as if they just crawled out of some primordial swamp.

When you give somebody your word, you know in your own heart that your word is your bond. In that moment the people you have cheated revisit you. Your own legacy rolls past you. It is something the person across from you can see in the flicker of your eyes.

That flicker is what causes them to charge a little more, to set the rates a little higher, or to hold back on their trust a little harder. They will think twice, and listen to their suspicions with just a bit more gravitas.

Yes, you may think you can fool the people you work with, but you only end up fooling yourself. In time your legacy will catch up with you for better or worse. When it does will you be ready for what it holds for you? Would you still make the choices you are about to make today when that day arrives, or would you change your actions to create a legacy worth living with?

You can you change your legacy you know. Simply be aware of your actions and be willing to step back from the circus, enough to change your actions and shape your legacy before it is locked into place for all time.

After all, it is your life. It is time to live it your way.

Be well and I hope this helps.

Meditation on Tea & Intentions

This morning has been one of meditation, tea and intentions in my New York apartment studio. I woke to the warmth of this late spring day.  A comfortable reminder that we still have June, July and August to get through before feeling the cooling breeze of summer’s end.

My wife was up early for her flight.  I helped her with her bags and returned to bed, only to wake and have some tea at nine.  There was a time when I would have started to work, losing my focus and my steam as the day passed by me by.  But today I sat in a calm meditation. I closed my eyes, to spend a mindful moment in calm. Thirty minutes later I sipped my tea as the intentions I set came to realization within the tasks of the day ahead.

I knew my day would fill quickly enough, as most days do, with writing and clients, calls and naps of various lengths. I have found balancing my day between work and rest laid out a productive path for me.

There would be moments of meditation and moments of re-calibration as long as I chose to take them.  This moment I was in was one such moment.  Rather than share this morning with clients or friends I chose to be greedy and use it all myself.

I breathed into my tea and enjoyed the rich smoky scent of my Lapsang. The aroma my cup returned to me was deep.  I enjoyed the flavors with every sip. I admired the brownish color and smiled at the quiet calm that settled in. Sight, sound and smell were all focused on just one point.  A point of calm.

“This is what I will do with my day,” I announced to no one in particular.  “I will live it mindfully, and get all of my tasks done with a calm smile and calm pace.  Not hurriedly  or frenetically, but with the balanced calm of accomplishment.”

I checked off my first task and smiled at the progress I had already made.

Why not join me and do the same?