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Month August 2013

Watch Your Thoughts

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Every so often you see something that just takes your breath away. And that’s how I remember Liz Hayes introducing her segment on Sixty Minutes four years ago.

Because she introduced us to Braingate. A research and development programme that uses the power of people’s thoughts to give movement to people trapped in bodies that no longer work in certain ways. People experiencing paraplegia for instance.

And it’s just so brilliant. A small electrode implanted in the brain picks up their thoughts and translates these electrical signals into instructions. Much like what happens in our own bodies. But through their thoughts, people can operate robotic arms or send emails or even speak using nothing but the power and intention in their thoughts.  It’s quite something to witness people using only the power of thought to drive a wheelchair. Kind of makes you realise at a whole new level just how powerful your thoughts are, doesn’t it. So powerful that there’s a whole discussion going on about being able to use this technology to turn off lights or control your tv remote for instance just by thinking about it.

Awesome stuff.

Because they are so powerful. These tiny little things we take for granted.  And I often wonder how much time and how many opportunities we waste thinking crappy thoughts? And what we could be achieving instead.  Did you know you could strengthen a muscle just by thinking about it?

So watch your thoughts. Because the power in these little electrical impulses creates both your reality and your future.

Are your thoughts are aligned with the life you desire?

Mirror Mirror On The Wall

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It”s an interesting thing how we attract people into our lives, isn”t it. And some we walk with for a lifetime. Others for just a little while. But always, always I have discovered these people that share my life are there to reflect back to me where I need to grow. Which makes them just the right people at just the right time. My perfect match.

Because it seems that life is one never ending onion. And that makes sense, doesn”t it. After all, if we”re spiritual beings having a physical experience there is always an opportunity for us to grow and evolve. I reckon even the Dalai Lama, as enlightened as he is, still grows daily. That’s just who we are. And how we’re meant to be.

Which brings me to the point that I don’t always like what I see in the mirror. Sometimes it fills me with frustration. And sometimes other uncomfortable feelings. But then when I remember I”m just looking in the mirror I realize the gift I am being given. My next lesson in my spiritual, emotional, mental or physical growth. Sometimes all of them.

So take some time to have a look at your mirrors. Because the people that are pressing your buttons may just be your greatest gift…

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

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So you’ve got those great plans bubbling around inside. A vision for your life and how you want it to be. But sometimes it can seem a long way from where you are now to where you want to be. And for this reason many people don’t even start. Too overwhelming. And the procrastination takes over.

And we can often make the mistake of seeing other people’s achievements as overnight success. We don’t see the hard yards, or the sacrifice that has got them to where they are, one small step at a time.

The important thing with any great vision is to chunk it down. Bite size pieces.

And to ask yourself some great questions.

Questions like…

What one thing could I do today to move me toward my goals?

And then to do it!

Just one small thing each day and in a year you’ve done 365 new things. By that stage you may well be past that goal and on to the next one! And looking back, it might surprise to realise just how easy it was.

So how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

The Wisdom of a Child

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She comes to visit the office quite regularly. This pint sized little person. No more than 2 and a half foot tall. Blond curls to boot. And so gorgeous. She’d fit in her schoolbag no problem at all. She entrances us all.  And it’s at these moments the office comes to a standstill.

Five pm and I watched her leave. Her mother had called her. Time to go. She carried a huge pile of things as she headed for the car. Ipad, school bag, pencils and drawings. Pretty impressive effort for a three year old. But as she obediently headed across the grass something caught her attention. And she couldn’t resist it. Stopping to turn back. Reaching down, reorganizing everything she was carrying to capture something that had captured her. A simple dandelion in the grass. Some of us see only weeds, don’t we.  But she obviously saw so much more. And I held my breath as I watched her take a moment to respond its beauty. Willing her not to drop the ipad. But she managed it all. And her prize was the exquisite joy the flower gave her.

In that moment, the child became my teacher. It’s so easy to think we know more than them, just because we’re all grown up. But adult eyes can lose their focus, can’t they. Dulled by time. So caught up in our stuff it’s so easy to forget the simple pleasures.

I wonder what beauty awaits you at this very moment in time, that you may not yet have discovered…

Gut Instinct

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Have you ever wondered about the wisdom of those gut feelings we all have? You know, the little voice inside that whispers, and sometimes even screams if we’re not paying attention. Urging us to do this or not to do that. And it’s saved countless people, countless times. It’s such an important skill to have, isn’t it. To be able to listen to this inner wisdom. But I wonder, how often do we act on that wisdom.? How often do we disregard it?

I heard they actually train spies to go with their gut. Not their head, not their heart. But with their gut feeling. Because it’s so important, isn’t it. And most people don’t realise there is a good deal of science behind gut instinct. And how it works. Because the more we discover about the brain the more we understand how it all comes together. Understanding ourselves. It’s one of the last great frontiers, isn’t it. This brilliant mind we all possess. And don’t always make the best use of.

The brain gurus that know all about neuroscience will tell you our brain and our gut are intricately connected. In fact they call the 100 million nerve cells in our gut, our second brain. Can you believe there’s more nerve cells in our gut than there are in our spinal cord? And in any given situation our brain is processing millions of bits of data at lightening speed. Working out the best way forward. Sending it’s chemical messages through our bodies to make sure our response is the right one. Have you ever stopped to acknowledge just how brilliant you really are?

There’s a story of a fireman who saved his entire crew from dying in a fiery furnace. Gut instinct it was. And when you understand that our minds retain the memory of everything we’ve ever encountered, you can understand why a new situation that doesn’t seem ‘quite right’ can set off the alarm bells. And on this day, this firee was listening to his inner wisdom. As he stood within the flames, his subconscious mind scanned the memory of every fire he had ever fought. Comparing it to this one he faced now. Everything happening at lightening speed. He wouldn’t even have been aware he was doing it. But the gut feeling he felt in response told him this one was different.  And it took him only seconds to respond to the little voice that said ‘get out’. Ordering evacuation for his entire team just before the backdraft hit, just before the whole building blew sky high. A hero because he followed his gut instincts. Powerful things those.

Is there a situation in your life you need to follow your gut instinct with? It’s so important to listen to our inner wisdom, isn’t it.

Day Dreams

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Days like this just beckon me to swing in the hammock and dream away a few hours.  And while some might see this as indulgent, my experience tells me otherwise. Because when we’re relaxed and in that space the messages we send our subconscious are all the more clear. And it knows what to do. To make it all happen. I love that idea that the conscious mind is like a camera. After all, it’s the part that takes the photos which then imprint on our subconscious. And so I am sure I feed my mind only the images of the future I want to enjoy. Carefully stepped out frame by frame.

And I think back to my younger days I was caught daydreaming in class. Didn’t we just cop it. Or those times when to stop and daydream was mistaken for laziness.  As a culture we’ve learned not to dream, haven’t we. Had it beaten out of us. Because being busy is seen as a sign of strength. Not dreaming. What a mistake we’ve made. Because when we slow down we are at our most creative.

So it’s no wonder we all work so hard. Because we don’t take the time to plan it with our minds first. And it’s just common sense that all great creations begin with an idea, isn’t it. That computer or the phone you’re reading this on was once just a thought in someone’s mind. Thoughts made real. Hey, did you know you could strengthen a muscle by visualising it almost as much you can by actually moving it! Not suggesting for a moment you should be just lying around in that hammock all day, but imagine what you could get done in half the time by putting your mind on the job as well as your time and grunt.

So when was the last time you stopped to actively day dream? Where are your dreams taking you?

Shit Happens

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Last week I was driving behind this truck working its way slowly up the hill. And just as I noticed the unfortunate creature sticking its head over the top (no doubt on the way to the abattoir), a river of effluent poured out the bottom. Completely spraying the front of my car. Of course, two choices presented themselves. And so I made the choice to laugh out loud and drop back a little to prevent a repeat performance. There’s nothing like a good laugh to diffuse a situation, is there.

They say S**T Happens! And it does. Sometimes piles of it. But what is more important than the stuff that happens to us, is the way we respond.  Because that’s something we do get to control, isn’t it. And we always have a choice.

This guy who calls himself The Happy Buddha tells a great story about two arrows. The first arrow – those things in life over which we have little or no control, can stab us in the heart. That’s just a part of life isn’t it. But what do we usually do? We pick up a second arrow and stab ourselves in the heart with the thoughts that run through our head. Pretty stupid, huh! The stories we create about the situation. Making our situation and how we feel, so much worse.

Losing a job, a failed relationship. The first arrow can be so many things, can’t it. And I’m not pretending they’re not painful. They are. And they are a part of being human. But what we tell ourselves about these experiences is so much more important. And over the years I’ve come to realise no matter what happens, I can take a moment to pause before responding. And I can check the thoughts running through my head. If I tell myself it’s all useless I will only increase the misery. But if I take the time to notice instead the opportunity that comes with each and every experience, and change the thoughts running through my head, then I give myself a gift.

So take the time to notice your thoughts. Notice your stories about the situations in your life that cause you pain. What are you telling yourself? Is it possible that you could you be telling yourself something better? How would that affect your day? How would that change your life…

Gratitude

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I drove in to the office this morning with a strong sense of gratitude. The sun is finally shining again, for Canberra it’s actually warm outside and the day is pure magic. What a trifecta.

And what I found was that this sense of gratitude just seemed to snowball. Because there are so many things we can be thankful for, aren’t there. As soon as I thought of one thing, another one came to mind. And it continued for some time. The windscreen must have felt so good.

But the great thing about gratitude is that it makes us feel good too. Happy, feel good chemicals flow through our bodies whenever we think those thankful thoughts. Not only does gratitude make others feel appreciated, it causes us to shift gear in our brains. And that turns on the happy juice for us too. A pretty awesome bonus, huh. Every wondered why people say grace or a take a moment’s pause before a meal? Because gratitude has physical consequences. Religion aside, the simple act of thankfulness slows us down, bringing us into the present. Enabling us to switch out of our stress and busyness and switch on our happy feelings. Which naturally switches on our digestion. Makes sense, doesn’t it. Such brilliant engineering.

But even more than this, gratitude is the very best way we can affirm our hearts desires, giving ourselves the very best chance of receiving them. Simply by giving thanks as if we have already received them. And by releasing those feel good chemicals, we can lock in the idea of what it is we want. Straight into our subconscious. You know, that awesome gift we all have. It’s a real treasure house so many people are yet to discover, let alone make full use of.  And like a dog with bone, an idea once locked in to your subconscious has no choice but to take form in your life. Just give it the idea of what you want, and get out of its way, because it will do everything in its power to get it for you. No wonder they say, be careful what you wish for.

So for what you already have and the good things yet to come, what are you grateful for today?

An attitude of gratitude. It makes sense to practice it daily.

All Cocked Up

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So we have this rooster. He’s kind of adopted us. A runaway from the farm next door. Not surprising. The farmer pens him up, clips his wings and shoots him with rat shot trying to keep him from straying. And they reckon nature’s harsh. Besides, our hens probably look much happier. And so for the past month or so he has ventured over despite the ensuing punishment. Not much point in trying to send him home, he only comes back the next day. Roosting in the trees at night. Cleverly avoiding foxes. And he doesn’t bother us. In fact the girls seem pretty happy about the new arrival. And he’s quite the pretty boy.

Well last week, he decided our place was home as he put himself to bed with the girls. Half his luck. Quite a harem. And we decided it was time to sort this out once and for all. A casual visit to the neighbour and we offered to buy him a new rooster. It seems he had been traded in for greener pastures. But to our surprise the neighbour didn’t want a new rooster. In fact, he was just about ready to end the rooster’s days on earth and send him on to those greener pastures in the sky. It turns out he was just bringing him home any way he could because he thought  the rooster was bugging us. But truth is we weren’t bugged at all.

And I often wonder how often we get the story wrong. Make the wrong assumptions (would it be appropriate to suggest we go off half-cocked so to speak?). And it’s only in looking back we realize that what we thought was the case was really something else entirely. Well it almost ended in tears for the rooster. A near miss. He’s one lucky guy.

Is there a situation in your life you need to get clear about? Maybe now’s the best time of all….

Watch Your Language

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Canberra has some awesome road signs. Truly some of the best I’ve ever seen.

And I often wonder just who the brains trust is that dreams them up.

Because someone somewhere is getting paid for this stuff.

PEOPLE DIE ON ACT ROADS. That should encourage the tourists.

But there’s a special one that takes the cake for me.

And it simply says

THANK YOU FOR NOT SPEEDING

The sign may as well say

THANK YOU FOR SPEEDING

Because our subconscious mind works that way. It doesn’t hear the NOT. And so all these signs achieve is to implant the very idea of what they are trying to stop.

Speeding.

If I said don’t think of a green frog.

What are you thinking about?

language2A green slimy creature you’re now trying to get out of your head?

What happens when we tell our kids NOT to get into trouble.

They’re now thinking about trouble, aren’t they.

And if we tell someone it’s not scary you can bet your bottom dollar they’re now feeling a bit of fear.

It’s called the law of reversed effect.

So at the risk of sounding like your mother… watch your language. It can do wonders for your communication.

Beyond Eternity

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I was listening to breakfast radio last week. Driving in traffic, so I had the dial on classical. You know, to keep the calm vibes flowing as I dealt with all the other drivers on the road. It’s incredible how the type of music you listen to affects your brain.

But the thing that really got me was when this very conservative radio station asked a truly awesome question.

‘What’s beyond eternity?’

I bet it had some people choking on their cornflakes. Challenging the here and now. After all, how do you even begin to answer a question like that?

And they began to tell the story of Arthur Stace. A man probably better known as Mr Eternity. A Sydney legend. And yet an ordinary man who had had his  share of challenges. For a long time addicted to alcohol, he found faith in a higher source and turned his life around in the most beautiful way. And the gift he gave was to chalk the word ‘eternity’ on Sydney pavements to inspire others. Twenty four times he avoided arrest. But the most incredible thing is he was illiterate. Couldn’t even write his name legibly. It turns out the only word he could write was ‘eternity’ in that hauntingly beautiful script. Even he couldn’t understand it.  Because it’s one of those great mysteries, isn’t it. How magic happens when we’re in flow.

Just before the 9am news, I held my breath in wonder at a listener’s response…

‘We are in eternity, we just have to still the mind and live in the present’

It kind of slowed things down. One of those awesome ‘aha’s that made me stop and reassess.

What’s beyond eternity? If we’re already living it I guess that means we have all the time in the world, doesn’t it. And I wonder in realising this, how will you choose to live your life today?

Bird On The Wing

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I was taking a moment out last week. Sitting there, looking out across the paddocks. Carving myself out a peaceful interlude in the busy-ness of life. It’s important to do that, isn’t it.  And then it caught my eye. An eagle in all its magnificence. Soaring gracefully. Catching the currents. Almost a meditation just sitting there in its presence. Mesmerized by it’s beauty. It seemed effortless.

And I had to laugh. Because in the very next moment a bunch of black and white feathers grabbed my attention. A magpie. Working really hard. Wings beating furiously as it moved across the sky. It was really making very heavy weather of it all. If only it had realized.

Because it got me to thinking. Two birds. Both with the same gift of flight. But using this gift so differently. One choosing to soar while the other is caught in struggle. Blinded to all the other possibilities.

It’s an awesome gift that as humans we have a brain that allows us to make choices, isn’t it. Choices about how we’re going to do life. Because if we don’t like how it’s working, we can always make a better choice, can’t we.

I wonder what you could do right now to make your life a little easier…