“Muddy water let stand will clear.”
—Tao Te Ching, Classic Chinese Text
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.
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.
“Do you want to be happy? Let go of what’s gone, be grateful for what remains, and look forward to what is coming.”
Image from Unsplash by Luis Cortes
Through my mindfulness efforts over the past few years, I realize that I live in three different time zones. At certain times, I reflect on the past and hold on or grasp for what seems like “the good one days.”
The bulk of my days, I try my best to remain present, in the moment, so that I can make the most of the here and now, and be grateful for all I have.
Of course, we would not be human if we did not demonstrate a healthy curiosity about the years ahead, knowing that our actions today can manifest our visions for the future.
How and in what ways can you increase your own happiness and life satisfaction by letting go of what’s gone, being grateful for what remains, and looking forward to what is coming?
“Can I get Caller ID for the voices in my head?”
Work on Caller ID technology began in the late 1960s, and eventually came to most of us between 1984 and 1989.
In 1995, call waiting technology arrived, to help us screen incoming calls when talking to someone else.
In a world that seems to always be trying to reach us, these boundary-setting technologies have helped a bit.
As many of us increase our self-awareness and mindfulness practices, no other outside influence compares to the almost constant voices in our heads. Many people experience considerable tugging and pulling in directions they would prefer not to go.
Where would gaining additional mastery of noticing your inner voice provide you with the greater peace of mind you desire?
“No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of worry can change the future.”
Image from Unspalsh by Lesly Juarez
The practices of guilt and worry are actually habits we form through our lives.
Close your eyes and look back in time at your upbringing under the influence of friends, family, school, religious institutions, the economy and the media, who always thrive on drama.
Take a few minutes to look also around your world as it exists today, and into the future to see what conversations or inner chatter occupies some or much of your thoughts.
Given that this line of thinking often results in frustration, exhaustion, uneasiness, and upset, ask yourself: How does my thinking this way help?
Assuming your answer to the question is “It Doesn’t,” what alternative strategies can you try to reduce or eliminate guilt and worry from your life?
“Everything comes to pass; nothing comes to stay.”
—Matthew Flickstein, teacher of insight meditation
What do weekends, holidays, vacations, and happy times have in common?
What do colds, the flu, Mondays, and boring meetings have in common?
What does the first list have in common with the second?
If your answer was that they all come and go, do not last, or that, in mindfulness terms, they are impermanent, you are correct.
Whether you are happy that certain events occurred, or are sad they have come to an end, the law of impermanence is something of which you can be certain.
How can you apply the law of impermanence in your personal or professional worlds in the days and weeks ahead? How might that maximize the Ups and minimize the Downs of life?
“The more you eat, the less flavor. The less you eat, the more flavor.”
Image from Unsplash by Kawin Harasai
The next time you sit down to enjoy one of your favorite meals, try this:
For the first ten minutes, eat only three to five mouthfuls, paying particular note to the texture and flavor of each bite you mindfully chew.
Next, take a “Thanksgiving Size” portion of the same meal, and chow away. Make sure you go beyond your level of satiety to the point of moderate discomfort. Pay particular attention to your awareness of texture and flavor.
Where and how would the practice of eating less in a more mindful manner bring you greater pleasure and perhaps a bit smaller waistline as a bonus?
“Speak when you are angry and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”
—Ambrose Bierce, 18th Century American Writer and Civil War Soldier
Image from Flickr by Sid
When was the last time you lost your temper and really let someone have it? Perhaps you even rehearsed your speech and shared your seemingly justified attack articulately with equally practiced volume and gestures.
What happened after the initial “feel better” burst of adrenaline and getting things off your chest?
If you are like many, you may have experienced considerable fallout, and repercussions much like the aftershocks of an earthquake.
Where would counting to ten or a hundred, or simply holding your tongue more frequently, dramatically reduce the number of regretful interactions you experience?
“Mindfulness gives you time. Time gives you choices. Choices, skillfully made, lead to freedom.”
—Bhante Henepolo Gunaratana, Sri Lankan Buddhist monk
We’ve all heard the phrase, “The choices we make make us.”
Do you agree? Perhaps if we were all able to make even better choices, we would experience the freedom and fulfillment of an even more wonderful life.
Today’s quote suggests that through increased mindfulness and greater self awareness we can all find time to make better, more discerning choices about how we spend this precious resource.
How can and will you invest a bit more time on a daily basis to strengthen and build your mindfulness muscle?
If you are new to such practices, consider starting with 5 minutes in the morning or evening in a practice such as meditation, gratitude reflection, or some form of life review, to enhance this skill.