“It is hard to fight an enemy who has an outpost in your head.”

“It is hard to fight an enemy who has an outpost in your head.”

—Sally Kempton, master of meditation and yoga philosophy

Image of a man with someone's hand over one of his eyes

Image from Unsplash by Ioana Casapu

This morning started off with a loving kindness meditation. I was instructed to direct positive, affirming words toward myself, those close to me, and others in my extended communities.

From time to time, we all can be hard on ourselves when that old, familiar inner critic attacks. For some reason, it seems easier to defend and fight the external enemies we can see in our personal and professional worlds.

EXERCISE:

How can and will you exercise your own loving kindness muscle and direct its positive energy inward to live a happier and more fulfilling life?

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?

Muddy water let stand will clear

“Muddy water let stand will clear.”

—Tao Te Ching, Classic Chinese Text

Image of feet jumping in muddy water

Image from Unsplash by Roopak Ravi

Is your mind muddy?

To what degree are your thoughts, emotions, and feelings stirred up by the rapid, moving waters of daily events?

At such times, it seems impossible to see even inches ahead, and we often can feel paralyzed or lost.

Today’s quote – a Chinese proverb – suggests we can all find greater clarity by slowing down and letting those muddy issues blocking our view settle out, so we can once again move forward.

Over the past two years I have instituted the daily practice of a 10-minute meditation, using an app called CALM. This resource continues to get better with additional tools, including their popular sleep stories to clear and settle one’s mind at bedtime.

EXERCISE:

Check out CALM at the website or at the app store. Please consider replying to this post with the mind-clearing strategies that work best for you.

Anger is an Acid

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

—Author Unknown

dark image of a man's fractured face

Image from Flickr by katmary

Research has shown that angry outbursts have a damaging effect on the heart, and increases the risk of a heart attack twofold.

This seems to be the case with expressed as well as repressed anger, when we try to hold it in.

Other harmful aspects of anger include the risk of stroke, and a weakening of the immune system, diminishing the body’s ability to protect itself and heal.

EXERCISE:

Consider any or all of the following strategies to reduce or perhaps even prevent anger’s harmful effects.

  1. Breathing Exercises
  2. Muscle Tensing Exercises
  3. Doing #1 and #2 Together!
  4. Meditation
  5. Exercise and Physical Activity
  6. Time in quiet, natural surroundings

 

We can only be said to be alive

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

—Thornton Wilder, 20th Century American Playwright and Novelist

Image of Phil Colllins in a suit

Image from StubHub

In 1989, Phil Collins, the multi-talented musician and singer, released his popular and catchy song “Another Day in Paradise.” If you have 4 or 5 minutes, watch this video.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve been humming this tune and tapping my hand on the steering wheel of my car for all these years, without really listening to the lyrics.

The key phrase of the song is “Oh, think twice – it’s another day for you and me in paradise.”

Perhaps it was my meditation on gratitude this morning that had me think twice and be far more conscious of the abundance of daily treasures I often overlook.

EXERCISE:

How can you think twice and be far more conscious of your daily treasures, to be more alive and fully appreciative of the paradise around you?

You Can’t Grow Yourself Unless You Know Yourself

“You can’t grow yourself unless you know yourself.”

—John Maxwell, American Author on Leadership

Last year was my Big “60.”  I read Daniel Pink’s new book, WHEN: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing recently. Pink points to certain dates, times, and even years in which people tend to embark on the more tectonic shifts in their lives.

My journey and exploration includes books, blogs, podcasts, and a year-long practice of daily meditation. With over 100 hours of quiet reflection, I am seeing more and more opportunities for growth in the hopeful years ahead.

EXERCISE:

What activities and efforts can and will you engage in today and in the years ahead to better “know yourself to grow yourself”?

Seeking Happiness Outside Ourselves

“Seeking happiness outside ourselves is like waiting for sunshine in a cave facing north.”

—Tibetan Proverb

How would you like a 10% return on your investments year after year?

Most people would be pretty happy with those results, except, perhaps, for some venture capitalists!

How does that relate to today’s quote? 10% Happier by Dan Harris is a book I highly recommend. Working on himself through his meditation and mindfulness practice, Harris tamed the voice in his head, reduced stress, and still kept his edge.

Meditation has allowed me to create far more sunny skies, because I’ve realized that we create our own weather through mindful self-awareness.

EXERCISE:

Consider picking up Dan’s book, or another resource on the value of daily meditation to help brighten your world.

I highly recommend the CALM app if you are just beginning this practice.

Take Care of the Moments

“If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.”

—Maria Edgeworth, 19th Century Anglo-Irish Writer

Image of a Zen Pond

Image from Flickr by gillyan9

A few months ago, I reintroduced daily meditation into my life for many reasons, including stress reduction, greater self-awareness, enhanced patience, and an overall increase in mindfulness.

I have a strong desire to be more present to the people and events in my life.

Although my mind experiences many “trips down memory lane,” and adventures into the day ahead, I am making progress in being in the moment. One significant benefit I’ve experienced is a far greater capacity to choose my thoughts, perceptions, and reactions to events around me.

I also find myself being far more intentional and more productive and fulfilled.

EXERCISE:

What strategies might you employ to be more present to the moments of your life so the years ahead are even more rewarding?

minds full of mystery

“Human minds are more full of mystery than any written book and more changeable than the cloud shapes in the air.”

-Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women

Image of human head with electrical impusles

Image from Mind Motivations

Over the last few years, I have become increasingly interested in the power of our minds to influence our lives.

I recently recommitted to the practice of meditation, to more fully appreciate the mysteries and changeability of my mind.

In my initial efforts to meditate—years ago—I believed that I was doing it wrong, because of the adventures my mind would take during a ten-minute guided or unguided journey. With the incorporation of an app called CALM, I have learned to be more patient with my mental misadventures, and to improve my capacity to be present to my inner and outer worlds.

EXERCISE:

Consider meditation or another form of mindfulness practice to help you masterfully shape and change the world around you. Read about the most popular apps in the Psychology Today article.