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Tag mindfulness

Slow Days

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Okay, so most of you probably know I’m up north visiting the folks. And most of you also know I love life in the fast lane. But up here at Cooly, sure there’s lots going on but there’s also another opportunity presenting itself… the chance to go a little slower.

Take yesterday for example. Instead of giving in to the temptation of getting straight into work Mary and I made the choice to go a little slower. Putting away the phones and laptops until we’d done a few things for ourselves. Prioritising the time for meditating before getting outside for a bit to walk along the beach. It’s one of Mary’s favourite things. With a great breakfast at the other end before we walked back.

The thing is we achieved all of this before 9am.

An awesome way to set ourselves up a great day ahead. And we felt so good.

The thing is when we slow down it’s like we have more time. Time moves slower, we think clearer and things fall into place so much better. It’s about connecting – with world around us, with those we love – and filling up the well so we can then go about our day with a better energy, a clearer more focussed mindset, more centred. It’s about minimising the distractions.

And there are millions of distractions around us. But it’s up to us whether we choose to let them grab our attention and control our lives. Or whether we choose to do something else. To take back control and connect with what’s really important. Our relationships, our values, ourselves.

As Jim Rohn said, either you run the day or the day runs you. So before you start your day tomorrow, take a few moments to work out what you want your day to look like, then work backwards and make some choices to ensure that it happens.

How will you start your day?

We get to choose

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We had a great coaching telelcass last week. It was all about how our food cravings have nothing to do with food. We learned heaps about how it’s really our emotions driving those cravings – and what we can do to change that – and there were some real gems that came up that stretched our thinking in other directions too.

They always do.

One of those gems was all about how we approach all the things we have to do in our lives. You know, the stuff we don’t really want to do. There’s tons of it isn’t there. But how we think about it has a huge impact on how we feel. And really it all boils down to our self-talk. What we say to ourselves about the things that need to be done. Because we can either feel like we HAVE to do something – which can make us feel resentful or miserable or angry (or… you name it) – or we can instead CHOOSE to do the very same task which gives us back control and with it the opportunity to feel something more uplifting.

One of the best examples I can think of is Mary’s Mum Lou. She lived with us for many years and one of her ways of loving us was to do the ironing. A pretty dull job in anyone’s book. But Lou turned it into something else. She would whistle while she ironed turning this boring chore into something joyful. Or she’d listen to her favourite country music. It was always done as a labour of love. Seen as a privilege, not with resignation. And she was like that with all the housework. All of us felt that joy with her and in the same way we all learn things from our parents Lou has passed that gift on.

The thing is we get to choose how we look at the world. We can judge stuff we have to do as bad and make ourselves feel like crap. Or we can choose not to judge, and just approach everything we have to do as an opportunity to create something more uplifting or joyful or peaceful or happy for ourselves.

You get to choose.

Now that’s powerful.

So where will you choose differently?

In the moment

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So it was a great Sunday in Brisbane mastering stress with Nicholas de Castella this week. And while there are so many ways to diffuse from the pressures in life, the take home message is you’ve actually got to do it! No point in knowing all this stuff if you don’t actually put it into practise.

One of the best ways I know is to live in the moment.

Not worrying about the future, not agonising over the past. Just being in the present moment.

Nicholas gave us a great way to do this. And standing in the rain waiting for a cab this week my boss (and daughter) Julie was able to put it into practise. With it bucketing down in Canberra and Parliament sitting there wasn’t a cab to be seen. Despite the booking nearly 40 minutes earlier. Can’t have those pollies getting wet, can we. So Julz had a choice. She could stand there getting cranky, worrying about where she needed to be and all the things she needed to do… or she could stand there and experience the present moment. The chance to enjoy the sound of rain while she sheltered under cover. The chance to enjoy the luxury of time to breath deeply and just be there. The chance to notice her car getting a good wash. And she could do all of this just by standing in the rain. Not judging the experience. Just being present to it.

No surprises which choice made her feel better and more in control.

What will you choose?

Mastering Stress – tickets still available for Sydney June 28, Melbourne July 5, Adelaide July 26. Call the office (02 6247 8336) to grab your seat.

Believe it or not

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If a 30 second ad can sell you a product, could a 30 minute soap opera sell you a belief system? You betcha it can.

The whole industry of advertising is based on the fact that as humans we are suggestible. In other words, we are capable of taking on other people’s ideas. But it doesn’t just happen in advertising. How many of us have taken on our parents’ ideas, our teachers’, our cultures’, our religions’ without really examining if those ideas are of benefit to us or not.

After all there are so many ideas and beliefs that can sneak in there and really screw us up so it’s really worth checking them out for ourselves.

The problem is we often don’t even realise that those beliefs are there. Taken on board without us even noticing they just tick away at that subconscious level, influencing our thoughts, our actions and in the end the world we create for ourselves.

So how do you uncover the beliefs running your life? You could start by listening to your self-talk. Become the observer. Notice what you say about different aspects of your life. Pick one area, for example let’s say relationships, and begin to notice what you say to yourself about the people in your life. Your feelings, your thoughts. And then notice the patterns. What seems to keep happening in your relationships with others. What do you keep attracting? What do your bust ups, what do your arguments reveal about what you believe?

As Gandhi said, ‘Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny’. Makes your beliefs pretty important then doesn’t it.

Knowledge is power and once you know what you believe if you don’t like it, you can do something about it.

Are you living your life or someone else’s?

What beliefs are you passing on to those around you?

A bit about ankle biters

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How much fun did you have as a kid that you don’t have now?

I was a teacher once. And looking back I reckon kids have so much to teach us as adults rather than just the other way round. It’s just so tragic that we can grow up and lose so much of our natural born curiosity and energy for life. Doesn’t happen to all of us, but it does happen far too often.

So what do kids know about how to do life better than most adults?

First of all they are SPONTANEOUS

As Nike says Just Do It! And kids sure do. Okay so they don’t always stop to consider the consequences but at least they have a go. As adults, how many of us take so long to work out if something is the right thing for us that we miss the whole damn opportunity? Kids are spontaneous. They know how to shake things up. And that keeps life exciting.

Being spontaneous, they know how to LIVE IN THE MOMENT

How good would it be to be so in the moment that nothing else matters? And sure it drives us crazy but what a fantastic way to be. So absorbed in what you’re doing that you lose track of time and place. Now that’s really living, not just existing.

And then they’re PERSISTENT

How great are kids at nagging you for something they want. Wearing you down like dripping water. And they won’t give up until you give in. They’re pretty smart. Even when you say no they find a way to persist.

That’s because they’re SINGLE- MINDED

When they want something they just go after it with both barrels. And nothing will distract them.

Not to mention they QUESTION EVERYTHING

Until they get their own way. Sure it another thing that drive’s you crazy. But I reckon one of the greatest attributes of leaders is to challenge the status quo and bring about change for the better. So questioning is something we should encourage don’t you think.

And I guess kids are just NATURALLY INQUISITIVE

Get into everything don’t they. We’re all born with a zest for life. The naturally inquisitive gene is there, it just gets hidden over the years as the day to day grind wears us down. But just stop and watch any kid pull something apart to find out how it works. Do you remember ever doing the same thing?

Last and probably most importantly kids know how to PLAY

And if we do more of that too, it will keep us young and vibrant and healthy.

Learning to let go of the seriousness of life even for just a little while is so good for us.

So what can you do today to let your inner child in you come out to play?

A little bit of awareness goes a long way

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Mary and I have had the great pleasure of meeting up with a lot of people recently who’ve been attending our courses, sometimes over many years. And it’s such a beautiful opportunity to share with people on a deeper level. One of the things we hear most often is how people have begun to live more consciously as a result of our workshops. Becoming aware of how they are thinking, how they are feeling, how they are responding rather than just living on autopilot, day in day out.

Most people don’t realise this is one of the great secrets of change… becoming aware.

Why? Because when you become aware, you give yourself the opportunity to step back from a situation and make a different choice. Awareness is one of the first steps to change.

Unfortunately the world is full of people living on autopilot. Taught how to act, and think in a particular way from a young age. Never questioning. Never noticing that the life they are living, the thoughts they are thinking are not really theirs but somebody else’s. What a waste of precious life.

But once you’ve mastered the ability to notice what you are thinking, notice how you are feeling, notice the choices you are making, in other words observing yourself as you would somebody else, it doesn’t take long to make massive changes. Just this weekend we had the pleasure of talking to a woman who tells me she is now unrecognisable as the woman she was 12 months ago. Her life has opened in wonderful ways she could not even have dreamed of.

I salute everyone on this journey to awareness. It takes great courage to be honest with yourself, being open to noticing your strengths and weaknesses. So much easier to blame the world and those around you.

But what do you gain by blame?

What could you gain instead by becoming more aware?

Getting some perspective

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Listening to the news is bittersweet. While I love to stay on top of the latest and greatest, there are the stories that break my heart.

Take this week’s tragedy. Two young boys found wandering on the highway after seeing their dad killed by a train. To know such pain at only 5 and 6 years of age. Who knows how they will process the trauma of that.

What I do know is that they will never be the same again.

And it puts it all in perspective, doesn’t it. You know, those first world problems we all worry about. They pale into insignificance, don’t they. And as painful as it can be to hear these stories, if we stop to process the gravity of what other’s have to deal with, it can help us to be so much more appreciative of all that is right in our lives. Grounding us once again in the now which is the only place to really be. Helping us get clear on what’s really important. Connecting us, one human being to another.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to shape a person’s destiny. I have to trust this is true for these two little boys.

So as you send this family your loving thoughts, take a moment to gain some perspective on the big and small things that may be troubling you and give gratitude once again for all that is good in your life.

Kissing the chicken

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There was an interview some years back on Enough Rope. And it was the kind of interview that just stays with you. Andrew Denton interviewing a former leader of the Klu Klux Klan. And he tells the story of how one old black preacher man defeated them all.

The Klan were out to get him, but he never missed a beat. When they set fire to a cross, he asked them if they’d like marshmallows. When they turned up in white robes outside his house, he just laughed and told them Halloween was still months away.

But the piece de resistance… the old preacher in a restaurant about to eat a plate of chicken when he was surrounded by 30 Klan members. Threatening to do him whatever he did next to the chicken.

And so he took a moment to think… before picking up the chicken and kissing it.

As MasterCard would say…. priceless.

The Klan leader didn’t know what to do as the rest of the members fell about laughing. And they never harassed him again.

One old preacher man who used his mind – and his heart – to defeat the KKK.

Such power to be found when you just stop, look around and think…

Where can you kiss the chicken?

 

Seeing Blind

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I was looking for a book one day. So sure it was on the shelf. So sure it had a particular colour cover. So sure it was a particular size. But I couldn’t find it. I scanned the shelf three times. And then gave up.  Convinced it wasn’t there. That’s when another member of the family came in with a different memory of the book. A memory of it being another colour. And another style. Smart arse found it in one minute.

And it was there all the time. I just couldn’t see it. Blinded by my own beliefs about what it was like. How it should have appeared. And I find this often happens with people. So sure things have to be a certain way that we can miss the very thing we want that’s right in front of our noses.

Beliefs. Some we’d even die for. How incredible is that? After all, beliefs are just thoughts. Thoughts we just keep thinking. Just thoughts we are so sure are true. And that’s what they become for us. Because we keep on thinking them. But I often wonder how many were ever really our beliefs to begin with. Or have we just picked them up along the way? Somebody else’s ideas we’ve taken on as our own. Some we’re ready to die for and they’re not even ours in the first place.

So what beliefs are blinding you? And what beliefs are you better to leave behind…

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…

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.

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?