Category: Mindfulness

The zen habit of stillness

You probably have friends and acquaintances who are always rushing about and complaining about their lack of alone time. Maybe they don’t even say anything about it because they don’t know any other way to be. Every moment, they’re busy. Maybe you’re one of them.

If you examine the lives of overly busy people, you’ll probably find that they’re not contented, happy people. There’s always so much to do and so little time. Perhaps you’re reading this because you feel rushed yourself and want to slow down and reap the benefits of being still.

Two Kinds of Stillness

You can be quiet in body and quiet in mind. Both are important. Being still physically saves you a lot of energy and effort. You feel less exhausted by the end of the day. Mental quietness has a similar effect on your psychological, intellectual, and emotional energy.

All you have to do to achieve stillness of body is to finish your chores and then relax. Even while you’re completing your tasks, you can conserve energy by using little movement. To get an idea of how to do this, just watch a monk in action. Or notice how a cat relaxes.

Stillness of mind is more challenging to achieve. However, this kind of quietness is much more critical to overall contentment.  

How do you feel when you get some shocking news? How about when you finally reach your target at work, win an award, or find yourself suddenly in a crisis? You feel a rush of adrenaline and you’re off, letting off steam in a gush of emotion, words or action.

So if this is such a natural response to big changes, why do you need to cultivate stillness? When you’re in the middle, when you’re centered, you can see both ends of the spectrum.

When you refrain from reacting in an extreme way, you can control your response to the situation. You can be objective. Most importantly, you can learn from your circumstances and use them for self-development.

From another perspective, when you’ve cultivated internal quietness, you’re less likely to face extreme ups and downs.

Try these tips to develop a still mind:

1.     Stop. In an extreme situation, pull away from the circumstance for a moment. Take a deep breath before you react.

2.     Listen. Listen carefully to what’s being said. If your mind jumps the gun with words you feel compelled to speak, bring it back to the moment. Return your attention to what the other is saying.

3.     Think. Contemplate why you’re facing the situation. Did you play a part in creating it? Is the other simply mirroring you? Is there something you need to learn from this circumstance?

If you take these steps, you’ll be able to avoid overreacting or reacting negatively in haste. This means your response, if and when it does come, will be the right one for the circumstances and for you.

 The Importance of Silence

Another way to develop mental stillness is to practice silence. Speak only when necessary. Speak only when you have something of consequence to say or something that will help the other.

Before you speak, examine your motivation for saying what you want to say. Is it to further the welfare of the other? Or is it to praise yourself or prove that you’re right and the other wrong? A need to always be right is the basis of much conflict.

Moreover, when you’re habitually silent, your words have more effect. People pay attention when you speak.

As you work toward greater self-awareness, try cultivating internal stillness. Just follow these guidelines as a start. As you practice, you’ll realize many rewards.

I see the world through fresh eyes

“Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life”. 
Joni Eareckson Tada.  

​I alter my perspective of the world each day. I find wonder in familiar things and recognize the extraordinary nature of ordinary events.

I slow down and notice the miracles that are occurring all the time. Caterpillars transform into butterflies. Tiny acorns grow into mighty oak trees. I become grateful and develop a sense of awe.

The earth provides resources that keep me alive without any effort on my part. I receive food, oxygen, water, and sunlight.

I seek a personal connection with the events I observe. I explore important memories. I think about how I can contribute to the world.

I put aside old assumptions. If I have a disagreement with a coworker, I accept their truth so we can view each other as friends. It does not mean that I have to agree with them.  I just have to understand that everyone has their own perspective of life from where they are at.

I pay attention to all my senses. Sights become more vivid and I enjoy my commutes to the job sites because I am grateful that I still have a job and my own business.  Sometimes I leave my house real early in the mornings and I observe everything: the sun rising to flood the world with light and warmth, the clouds forming, the fog lifting and all the wildlife that is out forging for food as I also respond to aromas, textures, flavors, and sounds.

Some of my best lessons come from children and animals. I have had dogs and their unconditional love is a constant reminder to love with no expectation of return.  Dogs teach me just to enjoy the time that I have with the ones that I love. Right now, I have a cat who teaches me the joy of napping in a sunny spot, with no stress or cares of any kind to trouble my slumber. It is said that if you want to get a new outlook on life, be sure to look, through the eyes of a child.  Children find wonder everywhere and teach you to view even the mundane events of the day with awe.

Today I rediscover the world. I look at everything as if it was my first time and I appreciate the significance of all that surrounds me.

Self-Reflection Questions:

1.     What is one amazing event that happens every day that I could stop taking for granted?
2.     How does it feel to challenge my old assumptions?
3.     What is one routine office task that I could make more stimulating by seeing it with fresh eyes?

Putting your action into overdrive

If you are seeking success in your life, you will need to learn how to take positive action every day to accomplish your goals.  After all, doing the least amount of work will likely lead to mediocre results.  So instead, put your actions into overdrive and make the most of your efforts.  You can truly make every action you take a positive one that builds momentum and propels you forward.  You will feel better about what you are doing and your gusto for life will inspire those around you.
Turning positive actions into a positive life
When you put your best foot forward in all that you do, you will develop an intense passion that will be unmatched.  Sometimes you may feel like sitting back and doing as little as possible, but you will enjoy your life more when you are engaged in the things you love to do.
Life is more fulfilling when you are passionate about your work and family.   Even though it may seem challenging to look at everything with passionate and positive eyes, such an outlook is possible.  If you are unsure how you can summon more passion for a project or task, there is one tool that will help you build momentum by utilizing the power of a positive mindset.  So, what is it?  Positive affirmations.
What are affirmations all about?
Affirmations can help you take positive action by redefining how you think and feel.  These affirmations are positive statements that activate your mind and encourage you to push forward.  Once you implement affirmations into your life, negative self-defeating thoughts will be a thing of the past.
For instance, I sometimes get frustrated and start judging myself for the poor decisions I have made in my past while overlooking all the wonderful, positive things that I have attained through hard work and many trials.  I find it helpful to repeat positive affirmations such as, “Focus on today, know that this situation (whatever it may be) is temporary and I am on the path to accomplishing my goals.”  These positive affirmations help me remember that this is a journey, and to remember to be aware of the simple pleasures and gains I experience every day of my life.
If you need a positive thought, for example, you can say something like, “I infuse my mind, heart and spirit with past achievements, new ideas and a fresh attitude.”  Constantly repeating positive affirmations will help you create a positive outlook in just about any situation imaginable.
Positive affirmations allow you to set your goals, envision them and reaffirm them each time you state it.  This positive statement only needs to be something you desire for yourself.  Every morning as I start my day at 4:45 I tell myself that it is going to be a good day and that what I am doing is serving my purpose.  Through continuous repetition, I make it my reality.  After all, my words are powerful because they elicit emotions and inspire action.
Affirmations are generally very simple and can help you make lasting changes in your life.  Take one step at a time.  If you are having a hard time finding the motivation, try an affirmation such as, “I am building momentum with each step I take.”  If your actions are in alignment with your positive mindset, you will begin to see and feel results nearly instantly. Affirmations have the power to change the way you think and feel about yourself.  Using affirmations I have changed the way my life was from one of struggle to one of thriving. I have become happier, healthier and a more balanced individual.  I have put my actions into overdrive and accomplish more in less time. 

If words can move mountains, imagine what you will be able to do when your thoughts, attitude and actions are aligned.

Developing positive habits

I have a unique life. I have a full-time job as a carpenter, and I own my own business as a certified life coach. My job allows me the opportunity to experience many of the challenges life can and does give us to learn and grow.   My habits determine the quality of life I enjoy. Poor habits lead to poor outcomes. Positive habits bring positive results. By adding positive habits and eliminating poor habits, I can expect to live a fuller and happier life.

I view poor habits as limitations. One of my poor habits that I had was avoiding taking control of my finances for the fear of being judged by other that my finances were out of control. I took control of my finances by asking for help and learning more about myself and the limits that i had with creating and using budgets. The poor habit created a poor quality of life for me because I was always working form a deficit. Being aware of your poor habits allows you to diminish them so that you can replace them with positive ones.  I do my best to minimize my bad habits. This makes it easier to instill good habits and create a positive future. Poor habits can be stubborn, but I am very persistent. I can overcome any poor habit.

I work at installing positive habits. I had to rewrite the story and think of my budget as a spending plan. It started the process of taking control of my financial destiny. I took ownership of it: I made the phone calls that I had to, setup payments, and I know where every dollar goes.  I know that good habits create a wonderful life. The things I do each day matter down the road. My future is limitless if I create habits that support my efforts. New habits can be challenging to create, but I have the commitment to persevere.

About 5 years ago I realized that my poor quality of life was only temporary and that I had the power to change it . When my life is challenging, and it is daily, I examine my habits and make the necessary changes. I am comfortable adding positive habits or deleting poor habits. I make these changes constantly and I choose to keep reminding myself in order for the new positive habit to take hold.

The most powerful way for me to stay focused on the positive habits is to remember my purpose, which is “To leave everyone with a positive experience so that they can have the life they truly want, there by changing the world.” It is what moves me to do everything I do. Today, my resolve to develop positive habits and drop poor habits is higher than ever. I choose to make constructive changes in my behavior. I can change my future through my habits. My habits control my destiny. Habits are one of the most powerful forces in the universe. I choose to harness this force.

Self-Reflection Questions:
1.     What are my three most destructive habits?
2.     What are my three most effective habits?
3.     What would be the best habit I could add to my life? Which habit would be the best to drop?