To get a fresh perspective on your circumstances, change your location!
If you live in the city, try getting out to the country. If this isn’t possible, go to a neighborhood park that you’ve never been to. If your only option is to go to your usual park, then go to a different part of it–not your usual walking path and not the usual place where you sit. Change it up! The slower pace may be just what you need to let go and open to your inventiveness.
If you live in the country or a town, go to a nearby city–or a town that’s bigger than yours. Is it busier than what you’re used to? Is it noisier, too?
Perhaps you feel discombobulated because the pace and the noise are jarring. Change your thoughts about this. Instead of thinking of this experience as confusing and upsetting, think of it as stimulating and energizing you in a new way. How is this sparking your creativity–how can you think of this in a way that does spark your creativity?
What would I see if I would look at this situating from the top, from underneath, from the side, or at an oblique angle? To do this when you’re looking at problems–a difficult co-worker or trouble with your personal finances–it’s metaphorical to look at it up, down, backward, inside out, and you can also do this literally.
For instance, if you live in an urban area, is there a tall building with an observation deck or a restaurant that overlooks the city? If you live in a town or out in the country, is there a scenic overlook where you’re viewing the town from a higher elevation. Is there a place where the view gives you a wide open perspective of endless open space?
Also, is there a place where you can go low? Perhaps there’s a small valley or low spot in your town. Do you have a basement you can sit in quietly for a time, or maybe there’s a restaurant or other public place that’s in a basement-like area.
The point of this is to shake it up, change the way you’re looking at your situation. This is all exploratory so you aren’t committing to anything. You’re trying to jar loose some ideas that are different from the ones you usually get from your habitual ways of thinking.
Some of the “bad stuff” about a practice of silence and meditation is that it’s too darn hard because our minds wander, we fidget, we just don’t wanna do it!, or we fall asleep!
Yep. At one time or another all of those things are going to happen to us. And, once we’ve established a practice and we’re humming along with it like clockwork, we shouldn’t be surprised if we’re blindsided by a phase of restlessness, inattention, boredom, and lethargy.
What’s up with that?!
We use this to justify not developing a practice thinking that we really don’t have what it takes, it isn’t right for us, or we’re hopeless and doomed….
No worries! Believe it or not, all of this “bad stuff” is really the good stuff!
When you’re fidgety, when your mind hops from one topic to another to another to another, when you fall asleep, when you feel resistance to doing your practice, this is your mind and body trying to tell you something!
When this happens, go with it and be the observer, as if you’re an anthropologist or sociologist who’s studying a people in order to understand their way of life.
For instance, if you’re having trouble focusing your mind, observe what topics or issues your mind gravitating toward. Observe what’s going on in your life that your mind keeps coming back to this issue or topic. Think about it on a little deeper level to find what the core issue is, such as abandonment, unworthiness, incapability, etc..
Perhaps you’re restless and twitchy. Again, your body is speaking to you. Take a moment to tune in and find out what’s going on in your life that you may be avoiding because the squirming might be because you’re trying to get away from a situation or issue in your life.
Maybe you find yourself falling fast asleep in less than two seconds. Again, tune into yourself. It might be that you aren’t getting enough sleep or taking enough rest breaks throughout the day. Perhaps you aren’t eating enough or the food you are eating doesn’t have enough nutrition. Falling asleep can be an avoidance issue so make sure you take a look at the larger scope of what’s going on in your life.
You may find that you just don’t wanna do it! Like a toddler who’s just discovered the word “NO!”, we can have the same frustratingly stubborn way, even though we’ve been a grown-up for decades! You have to work with yourself when you’re feeling this way. When I’ve felt this resistance, I’ve chosen a repetitive activity that’s fun that can be done quietly. For instance, my favorite is to blow bubbles (click here for my YouTube video about it!). Another thing I enjoy doing is doodling. I’ve also discovered that daydreaming as I gaze out my window is another method to circumvent the resistance.
The trick is to do something fun, that you enjoy; something that can be done alone and done quietly. I’ve found this helps calm my mind and my body and then I can do a little deeper pondering.
Meditation isn’t always about blissing out. It’s about discovering more about ourselves and our purpose in the world. It’s about building a deeper and richer life as a result. Yes, sometimes we get to bliss-out over it but there are times when we have to roll up our sleeves and get dirty!
As an aside, when you work with yourself through the “bad stuff” about your meditation practice, you may discover issues that are too big or too much for you to handle. In that case, I wholeheartedly encourage you to reach out to a counselor, your spiritual or religious leader, a health care professional, a support group, a trusted friend or loved one. Don’t go it alone when there is so much help and support out there for you!
Let me know the ways in which you work through the “bad stuff” of meditation. Thanks!
As you know, right now this is one of my go-to fun activities.
~Singing any old which way you feel like it in the moment
This was offered by a long-time reader of this blog. This is a great way to oxygenate your system, a fun way to move around and get a little exercise, and you can’t help but feel better after singing at the top of his/her lungs! 🙂
~Taking the time to make a delicious breakfast
This was suggested by a friend of mine who enjoys home cooking but doesn’t always take the time to make breakfasts she loves such as pancakes, waffles, and vegetable scrambled eggs.
~Sitting outside with a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper
A neighbor offered this one. He has a small “grove” of pine trees and in it nestled an Adirondack chair. Now with it lighter in the mornings, he sometimes sneaks out there to read for a few minutes before heading off to work.
~Reading in a fun book
A young mother who does a lot of technical reading for her job loves to wake up a little early and read her latest fun book–or mind candy book, as she calls it! 🙂
An artist friend of mine enjoys doodling first thing in the morning. She doodles shapes, symbols, or random strokes; sometimes she uses graphite pencils and sometimes she used magic markers or crayons.
A friend of mine has a high pressure management position and she likes to fold origami. In the mornings when she does it, the activity becomes a meditation for her. And afterward, not only is her soul nourished but she has a pretty flower or animal to show for the efforts, which boosts her spirits. And the origami also boosts the spirits of the person she gives it away to. Cool!
I know what you’re thinking: what the heck is ironing doing on this list of fun activities to do in the morning?! Believe it or not, I have a friend who enjoys ironing early in the morning. She likes that it lends itself to meditation. She also likes the smell of the hot iron on the cotton fabric–it connects her to her childhood and memories of her mother. And she and her family have crisply pressed clothes in the bargain!
As you can see, there are a variety of different activities. The common thread through them all is pleasure. Each of these activities weren’t something that the person had to do; they were activities that the person chose to do for the simple fact that it gave them pleasure.
Feel free to share the activities you enjoy doing in the morning. Thanks! Remember to add them to your morning routine!
James Allen states that there are beginnings we have no control over, for instance we may have been laid off from work and now we’re facing the beginning of unemployment and the process of looking for a new job. He advises to not focus on these beginnings, aside from taking care of our responsibilities, but rather to focus on the beginnings we have total and complete control over. He says that these types of beginnings are of vital importance because they create the complex web of results that then make up our life. He went on to say that these beginnings are controlled by our thoughts and mental attitudes, and the resulting daily conduct and actions we take.
According to James Allen, the first beginning to focus on—the easiest one to take control of—is the start of a new day, namely when your alarm clock first rings. He suggests answering these questions because “…much happiness or unhappiness depends upon the right or wrong beginning of the day…”:
~At what time does the alarm go off?
~Do we immediately get up?
~In what frame of mind do we enter the sacredness of a new day?
~How do we go about getting ready for the day?
One of his suggestions is to rise at an early hour, even if we don’t have to because this will help “…start the day strongly by shaking off indolence.”
Then this statement jumped out at me: “…How are you to develop strength of will in mind and body if you begin every day by yielding to weakness?”
He’s telling us to stop hitting the snooze button and to get up when our alarm first goes off.
I get his point that by hitting the snooze alarm, we aren’t really getting a few extra Zzzz’s—in fact researchers have shown that hitting the snooze alarm does not help; the “extra sleep” you get is not restful. James Allen is saying that when we hit the snooze alarm what we’re actually doing is telling our mind and body that it’s okay to procrastinate, it’s okay to indulge ourselves, it’s okay to go for instant gratification.
James Allen goes on to say: “Self-indulgence is always followed by unhappiness. People who lie abed until a late hour are never bright and cheerful and fresh but are the prey of irritabilities, depressions…and all unhappy moods.”
He then goes on to say that hitting the snooze alarm is like an alcoholic taking a nip in order to brace him/herself and steady his/her nerves for the upcoming issues in the day.
It’s our self-indulgence in hitting the snooze alarm that creates indolence and avoidance that is creating the issues–it’s our weaknesses and our pandering to our moods and emotions that are at the root cause of the issues that we’re avoiding!
James Allen adds: :…Men and women are totally unaware of the great losses which they entail by this common indolence (hitting the snooze alarm): loss of strength of both mind and body, loss of prosperity, loss of knowledge, and loss of happiness.
James Allen isn’t the only one who urges getting up early and getting up right away. Earl Nightingale, Brian Tracy, Wayne Dyer and other successful people join him in this. One of James Allen suggestions for this “extra time” is to take a gentle walk in Nature. Earl Nightingale, Brian Tracy, Wayne Dyer, and others advise filling the time with studying sacred and/or inspirational writings, studying the industry in which we work, and pursuing other avenues of self-development and education.
Usually I get up the first time the alarm rings. Occasionally, though, I’ve let myself sleep a little later, commonly on the weekends. I have noticed that James Allen’s statement is true: I seem to be a little less focused and less productive on the days I allow myself to catch up on my sleep. In fact, I had been wondering if it wouldn’t be better to get up at my normal time and take a short nap during the day if I need it. I guess James Allen’s answer would be YES!!!
This week’s challenge is to get up on time—when the alarm first rings. Let me know the differences you notice in your week. Feel free to leave your comments below. Thanks!
As we head into the weekend, take a moment to read over the following quotes. Choose one that resonates strongly with you and let it perk on the back burner of your mind as you go about your weekend chores and routines. Then take some quite time where you can be alone and undisturbed and mull over the quote you’ve chosen. Jot down the thoughts, insights, and ideas that come to you.
How can you incorporate what you’ve discovered into your days so that you can have a richer, more fulfilling life? Feel free to share in the comments below. Thanks!
Your Friend and Pep Pal,
Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. – Stephen King
Everyone has inside them a piece of good news. The good news is you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is. – Anne Frank
In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently. – Tony Robbins
Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known. – Garrison Keillor
Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out. – Edwin Markham
Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do. – H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. -Corrie Boom
Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable. -Walt Disney
Crafting a deeply meaningful, soul-prospering life