By going out of your mind you come to your senses

“By going out of your mind, you come to your senses.”

—Alan Watts, 20th Century British-American philosopher

Image of a man facing the sunrise with arms outstretched

Image from Unsplash by Zac Durant

Have you ever considered that going out of our minds was a good thing?

Not in the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest way, but in a quieting the inner voice/monkey mind way.

During a recent meditation session, the instructor led me through an exercise that focused on each of the five senses. With this shift of focus, I noticed a considerable reduction and even a few momentary stoppages of mental chatter and a greater sense of calm and presence.

EXERCISE:

Consider spending 60 seconds on each of your five senses. Make a note or two regarding what you perceived:

  • Sight
  • Hearing
  • Touch
  • Taste
  • Smell

Where in your life would going out of your mind and coming to your senses have the greater benefit?

When something small loudly demands all of our attention

“When something small loudly demands all of our attention, its noise often drowns out the whisper of what’s enormously important.”

—Craig Groeschel, American Clergyman

Image of a woman whispering to a child

Image from Unsplash by Sai de Silva

We live in a very noisy world. If you are like many folks these days, the decibel levels and shiny object distractions have reached new heights and the pace is accelerating exponentially.

Although there are extraordinary opportunities through the abundance of these worldly demands for our attention, we all require gaps in our days to recharge and renew.

EXERCISE:

Create two lists for your personal and professional life. Label the first list Important Whispers and the second Loud Demands.

What strategies can and will you employ to increase the time for items on the first, and reduce or perhaps eliminate items from the second?

A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.”

—Author Unknown

Image from mujercountry.biz

Lombard Street in San Francisco claims to be “the crookedest street in the world,” with eight hairpin turns packed into a one-block section.

Life, for many of us, rarely takes a straight path. We are all faced with many bends in the road that require our full attention if we are to reach our destination.

If you happen to travel Lombard Street, you can, of course, travel at a slow and safe pace. If, however, you were a Grand Prix racer, which may correlate to the speed of life these days, what heightened diligence would each turn require?

EXERCISE:

Regardless of the speed of your life, what bends in the road are just ahead, requiring your fullest attention?

Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody

“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.”

Kid President (Robby Novak)

Image of "Kid President" Robby Novak

Who are the special people in your life who make you feel great just by being around them? Take a minute to investigate all of your personal and professional communities today, and even those in the past. Who are the special folks you look forward to seeing, with considerable anticipation and delight?

Now, what makes them so amazing? What unique qualities and super powers do they possess that are so magnetic and wonderful you can’t help but feel extra fantastic in their presence?

Among all the attributes you discovered, I bet one of them is that they focus most of their attention on those around them, and not on themselves.

EXERCISE:

How and where will you focus more of your daily efforts being somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody?

The pause is as important as the note

“The pause is as important as the note.”

—Truman Fisher, American Composer

Image from Flickr by Ben Rogers

Do you enjoy music? If so, what types of music do you prefer?

Prioritize this list from high to low based on your preferences:

Pop Hip-Hop Holiday Electronic
Swing Classical Rock Folk
Rap Reggae Disco Jazz
Blues Chamber Country Bluegrass
Alternative Show Tunes Baroque Dance

Although the instruments used in these various forms of music can be different, it is perhaps the pauses, or rests, as much as the notes that are played that give each genre its own special sound.

EXERCISE:

Consider your life as a form of personal symphony. Where would paying even more attention to the pauses, to resting between your life notes enhance the melodies in your world?

If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention

“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”

—David Allen, Author of Getting Things Done

When was the last time you sat down to watch TV, search the web, or venture into your inbox, then found that somehow, hours of your life were stolen?

Our frenetically-paced world has more time thieves than ever, and if we are not careful we can all fall victim to it.

Fortunately, more of us are becoming aware of these time heists, and are learning to set up our own security systems and keep the intruders at bay.

EXERCISE:

Today’s quote coaches us to exercise our own attention/mindfulness muscles and better allocate our time to more deserving pursuits.

One strategy I often pursue with my coaching clients is to create a time log or journal that tracks where time goes when it “flies.”

Gathering the Honey

“It is not the bee touching the flowers that gathers the honey, but her abiding for a time upon them, and drawing out the sweet.”

—The Mother’s and Young Lady’s Annual, published in 1853

Image of a bee gathering nectar

Image from Unsplash

Pollination and making honey are the two primary jobs of bees. Most of us have seen those nature shows on TV in which the brightly colored flowers put on their spring display to attract these amazing creatures.

Upon close inspection, the journey from flower to flower involves the bee’s hard and enduring work of nectar-gathering. The fortuitous by-product of their efforts – the wonderful honey they produce – is achieved by the flowers passing their stores of pollen to a neighboring blossom.

EXERCISE:

What personal or professional projects are not progressing as you wish due to your less-than-optimal attention and efforts? Where would greater intensity, persistence, and tenacity help you achieve more of the sweet success you seek?

Guests see more in an hour

“A guest sees more in an hour than the host in a year.”

-Polish Proverb

Image of Barry on the bridge overlooking the Sydney Opera House

Barry and the Sydney Opera House

For my 60th birthday, my wonderful wife Wendy surprised me with a “Bucket List” vacation to Australia and New Zealand. I take adventures such as this with my senses wide open, even though they can be exhausting.

The sights, sounds, tastes, and feelings make experiences like this magical!

Surprisingly, a good number of the people we met who live and work in Australia and New Zealand saw their worlds as “normal,” with only reasonable pleasure and satisfaction in what we, as tourists, experienced as amazingly beautiful and extra-special.

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways can you more fully explore and take greater delight in the world right around you? You may wish to invite a guest, friend, or colleague to visit your home and express what they see and appreciate about your world.

obstacles and dreams

“In one hand I have a dream, and in the other I have an obstacle. Tell me, which one grabs your attention?”

—Sir Henry Parkes, Member of the Australian Parliament

Image of a dictionary with "focus" highlighted

Image from Flickr by Mark Hunter

Today’s quote reminds me of the saying, “Where your attention goes, your energy flows.” Since energy is what moves the world, it makes sense to heed this advice.

What are the issues that grab your attention, personally and professionally? How is directing your attention there influencing and impacting your life?

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways can you stop focusing on your obstacles and put more time and attention to your most cherished goals and dreams?

Doors Don’t Slam Open

“Doors don’t slam open.”

—John Shanahan, Director for Defense Intelligence, The Pentagon

Image of an open door in a field

Image from Flickr by My Wave Pictures

When was the last time you heard a door slam shut? What was the cause for this abrupt action? Did it involve you and others in your life?

What relationships or opportunities were perhaps damaged or lost due to this occurrence?

Without question, closed doors and slammed doors are commonplace for people who have a “go for it” approach to life. It can be as simple as someone in your personal or professional world saying “NO” to something you want or desire.

People of courage, initiative, and grit always find new and better doors to open, thus creating their own “YES” and the lives they desire.

EXERCISE:

In what ways can you open more doors and realize the greater possibilities that lie on the other side?