Do you sometimes experience an unsubstantiated general feeling of angst? Do you ever wish that you could do an instant attitude shift? Did you know that today many of us often live in a state of constant low grade stress arousal? Given the speed with which life is moving these days, it's no surprise.
Or it may not be low grade anxiety you're feeling. It might be very specific. Maybe you wake up in the morning with low energy or a fleeting feeling of sadness.
Or maybe you're worried about something. In any of these cases, you know you're out of flow. You have an important meeting to attend and you need to make an instant shift in your mindset for that meeting. But what do you do about it?
So here is a quick shift process. The original and comes from Thich Nhat Hanh and I discovered it in Marvin Oka's and Grant Soosalu book, mBraining.
I've been doing my short style adaptation of it ever since I learned it and I love it! It makes for a magical and instantaneous shift by setting off the endorphins and give me the energy and joy to embrace the day.
It is a Carpe Diem experience!!
So here it is:
- Start with a 1 minute round of deep long, slow breaths.
- With every inhalation imagine the breath going down to your heart and pouring down through your stomach into your hips and legs.
- With every slow deep exhalation, feel and internally say the words, 'letting go'.
- When you feel quite relaxed, SMILE. Make that smile as big as possible.
- Then swallow the smile with your in breath and let it pour all the way through your heart, stomach, hips, and down through your legs. Breathe it into every cell and pore of your body and fill your being with it.
- Do this round of swallowing your smile through your whole body and being for about 7 rounds.
- By then you should feel like your are the smile. The endorphins will be flowing and you will be back in flow!
Then go about your day and as you do, you can instantly bring the smile back by mentally repeating a round or two while you're in the midst of your daily activity.... Enjoy!
How many of you have ever experienced the challenge that comes with changing a habit. I have found that habits are like oyster glue. Scientists tell us that oyster glue is probably the strongest glue in the world. In fact, oysters don't even lose their grip under water, and in salt water at that!
Oyster glue allows oysters to cling to the rocks even in a strong tide. At some point it occurred to me that this is very much like our habits. They stick firmly in the subconscious mind. Then they direct our thoughts, actions and behavior.
And one more thing about oyster glue that stumps even the scientists. It is the instantaneous speed with which oysters can unlock their stick! In one moment a batch of oysters can pull together in a tight ball the size of a baseball. And in the next instant, they can all let go and be on their own again.
Don't you wish we could do this with our habits? How do we let go of those old patterns that no longer serve us? How do we make an instantaneous transformation? Or can we?
From my perspective, it all starts with perturbation, a feeling of discontent, like a shaking up, an inner earthquake. Those things or ways of being that used to be satisfying, no longer bring us happiness. It could be boredom with a job, an outmoded relationship, or a desire to try something new. It could be an inner frustration or an inner irritation, like the grain of sand that lodges in the oyster shell.
I call this stage the stage of divine discontent. Some old behavior no longer fits. It is the natural urge to grow. It is a small seedling of new awareness pushing forth from unconsciousness into consciousness seeking the light of day. And the path of transformation looks something like this:
- Divine Discontent - A feeling of discomfort, as if the old clothes no longer fit, a slow emergence from sleep or the illusion we were living, a sense that the old ways no longer work, a desire to shake off the past and move forward in a new way. This stage can sometimes last for weeks, months, or even longer.
- Willingness - Finally the old skin becomes so uncomfortable, that a willingness to change or to let go emerges into consciousness. Even though trepidation or fear of the unknown may play on the edge of consciousness, the old has become so intolerable that it pushes you forward.
- Decision - When the inner tension has reached reached maximum capacity and we are fully and wholeheartedly willing, a decision ensues. Two things occur here: an inner change and an outer change. As forces shift within, the forces in the universe shift too. For as we decide forward, our entire relationship with the world changes. New and unseen forces flood in to support the change.
- Action - It is here that we must consciously attend to the 'how' of change. Do we step out into the abyss to make a massive change? Or do we take it in a series of small steps as we enter the new territory? And how do you know which path is best for the particular change you are going through? This elicits the need for inner contemplation:
- Envision the end result you want to achieve. If you can't see the end result, feel the feelings you wish to experience as you 'be' the new you.
- Ask for guidance from your inner sage, your inner teacher.
- Then listen to the whisperings of the still small voice for your inner sage knows the speed and distance that is appropriate for you at this stage in your evolution.
- Trust the process. As you stay in touch with your inner sage, your still small voice will help you course correct as you go. Mistakes will be caught before they become too large and then will be part of the learning process as you get your footing in the new level.
I love the journey; learning, growing and transforming as we do along the path to higher levels of contribution. I love the metamorphosis I've gone through on my own life path.
So I'd love to hear your "oyster story". What habits have you changed? What experiences have you gone through in the process? And what discoveries have you made in your life journey.
To share your story, scroll down until you see "leave a message" under the comments section. Your email address will not be published.
Last week I had the opportunity to spend a few hours with Dr. Masaru Emoto, author of the best selling book, The Hidden Messages in Water. Dr. Emoto is on an international tour and Kona was his first stop.
I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Emoto. In this video I asked about our relationships and how we can best empower one another given that our bodies are mostly made up of water. Dr. Emoto's answer speaks of 'resonance'.
One of my passionate interests happens to be neuroscience (from a layman's perspective) and I instantly understood his answer. However, I thought it might help if I clarified it a bit.
In almost every leadership course that I teach, I recommend centering, meditation or some form of mindfulness practice. The reason for this is that these practices create a state of relaxed yet focused awareness. The over arching word for this is known as 'neural coherence' in which the brain and nervous system are functioning in unison.
The BMED Report says: A coherent brain is a high performing brain.
As leaders, when we are in a state of neural coherence, it produces a condition known as 'harmonic resonance' in any person we may be coaching or working with. The implications of harmonic resonance are far reaching and encompasses much of my work over a life time. Each and every one of us make a difference and all of our self-development progress helps those with whom we interact, our families and coworkers as well as the world at large.
Given that there is something lost in the translation, this video is simple and to the point. It seems that Dr. Emoto is referring to this resonance that occurs between two people. In other words, as we keep our thoughts and energy positive, we have a positive affect on everyone around us.
Enjoy the video and leave a comment about your experience.
Who or what defines you? An ancient proverb says that, 'The self is the self's only friend. And the self is the self's only foe.'
- What beliefs have you held that have held you?
- What decisions have you made that have made you?
- What stories have you told yourself ?
Have these beliefs, decisions, and stories become the story of your life?
- I'm not smart enough
- I'm not good at that
- I'm too old for that
- Life is a struggle
- I don't like that
- I don't have enough money
- I'm too heavy
- There's not enough time in the day
It's all the things we think we are, all the things we think we can or cannot do, all the abilities we think we have or have not. Truthfully, it is the decisions we made over the years that create the habits that determine the life we are living now.
They are the decisions we made and the stories we told ourselves repeatedly over the years until we believed them. Then we defended them as if they were the sacred self-evident truths about who we are and what we are capable of. Maybe these are the sacred cows we have to forfeit in order to discover the truth.
All of these statements limit the dimensions of a dimensionless being. We are infinitely capable, wondrously magical, remarkably more than we ever thought ourselves to be.
You are a being living in a body and this body is on loan to you for the duration of your visit on planet earth. You are the being that animates the form. You are not the form!
You are not the small limited individual that you have identified yourself as. That identity is an illusion. You are one with the timeless reality and that reality is without limitation.
When you embark upon the journey of self-discovery and become a student of the self, a window opens to another world. It is the world beyond our beliefs. It is a world of infinite possibility. And it whispers of the mystery of who we really are.
I encourage each and every one of you to become a student of the self. Step up to the window and see what you can see. Look out beyond your beliefs and attitudes and gaze upon the greatness and grandeur of the self.
- List your self-limiting beliefs, the ones that stop you from doing what you want to do, being who you want to be or having what you want to have.
- All the "I cant's"
- All the "I'm not able to's"
- All the "not enough's"
- For every limiting belief - write a reframe
Here's a few examples from above:
- I'm not smart enough --- I'm learning and growing every day!
- I'm not good at that --- Up until now I haven't been good at that but I'm learning more every day
- I'm too old for that --- 70 is the new 50!
- Life is a struggle --- Life is a challenge but I see the opportunity in every challenge and I'm on it!
Have fun with this. Rewrite your script and you rewrite your life!
I wanted to share this quote that I found somewhere on the internet. In reflecting, I thought it to be the perfect adjunct to our discussion on the power of decisions to direct the course of our lives!
So I took a photo of sunset from my house and added the quote to it. I hope you like it and I hope it inspires you to reflect as much as I have.
I thought it appropriate to add 2 new promises or commitments to my self on this day of the Chinese New Year. So I am extending my meditation in the morning and walking 3 days of the week. And so in Cantonese...
KUNG HEI FAT CHOI
'Congratulations And Be Prosperous!'
You are not your body. But you are living in a body. You are not your mind. But you have a mind. So it's best to understand how to manage it for best results! And understanding the power of habits can help a lot!
If we didn't have habits, we'd get up in the morning... or we wouldn't. Then we'd go to the basin to brush our teeth... or we wouldn't.
When a 2 year old doesn't brush his teeth, he's in a learning mode. But when a 30 year old doesn't brush his teeth, he has a social problem!
We need habits - healthy habits, that is, because healthy habits set us free!
Healthy habits give us time for higher order thinking. How often have you found yourself planning your day on the drive to work... or thinking through a conversation you want to have with your spouse as you're on your way home from work... or mentally walking through how to broach an uncomfortable conversation with one of your people at work while you're taking a shower.
Putting certain repetitive behaviors on automatic while the brain goes on a private vision quest to plan or find solutions to problems is how our body-minds conserve time and energy. If we had to think about every single thing we do every day, there would be no time for higher order thinking - ever!
Instead, we go on auto-pilot every day at some time or other. When our habits kick in, our brain goes on a creative adventure - whether strategizing, visioning, or problem solving. And in this way, automaticity provides for greater creativity.
This isn't new information. We all know that we should form healthy habits. In fact, most of us know how to make our lives better - more happy and successful. It isn't that we lack knowledge. It isn't even that we lack execution.
We decide what we want. We see it. We feel it. We can almost taste it. Notice the 'almost'. We take a stand for the new vision. We launch the exercise program. We start the diet. We start like a steam engine. We roar ahead with vigor for the vision and then we lose steam.
Most of us don't quit intentionally.
But when the evidence doesn't show up quickly enough, when the going gets tough or we aren't in the mood, we just kind of peter out. When we don't get the immediate feedback we need our enthusiasm dwindles. Our passion evaporates. And we stop just before the miracle.
So here is the secret that leads to success:
- Take a stand for your vision. Start your exercise program. Or take up the new hobby you've been thinking about. Take the first step; do something!
- Do it with no expectation of an immediate result.
- Even when there is no evidence of a change, keep doing it. Know that you are laying new neural pathways in your brain and that it takes time.
- Eventually, the new pathways will become deeply entrenched. And as they do, the old neural pathways will begin to prune themselves from disuse.
- It is then that the evidence will begin to show up.
So what is the difference between mediocrity and brilliance?
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Take a stand for a vision of who you intend to be, even in the face of no physical evidence... until the evidence shows up!
Don't wait for others to show you who are. Don't wait for circumstances to dictate or define you! Define yourself!
This is not grand-standing. It is not wishing or wanting. This is the heart and soul of be-coming. I am speaking about living life as a creative act! At its worst, it's living with paradox on the creative edge of life... At its best, it's exhilarating, inspiring, heady and wonder-ful (as in 'full of wonder').
Human beings are deciding beings. Decide who you intend to be and how you want your life to be. Then, create yourself and your life in the image you envision in your mind and heart!
Ask yourself these three questions:
- Who do I intend to be? - In other words, who do you wish to be. But turn that wish into an intention.
- What qualities do I intend to exhibit in my life and in relationship with others? These might be things such as kindness, compassion, resiliency, optimism, enthusiasm and so on.
- What is my purpose and what will my life look like when I am fulfilling my purpose? (Envision what you will be doing and how you will be doing it.)
People ask me, "How do you make sure you have a great day - every day?"
I had to stop and think for a moment. "How do I make my day great every day?"
And then I realized that I have a daily ritual. And it starts the moment I get out of bed. I begin my day by making my bed. In fact, I make my bed every single day.
The first time I was asked this question, I hedged on the answer. I felt as if I was an obsessive compulsive bed maker. But then I realized that my bed is the first thing I see in the morning and the first thing I see when I come home at night.
As I started to analyze my feelings, I realized that I couldn't stand coming home to an unmade bed. No matter how good a day I've had, an unmade bed brings me down. I need to leave it fresh in the morning and find it fresh at night.
So if you don't do it already, start making a new habit tomorrow. It might seem like such a silly thing. But it works for me!
Test it. Try it. See what happens when you apply it. Think of it this way. It's not an exercise in discipline, it's an exercise in happiness. Make your day by making your bed!
Having a great day every day is as easy as 1, 2, 3 -
- Make you bed!
- Visualize a great and magical day with all things in flow!
- Give thanks for 7 wonderful things in your life!
I was reading an article on Dwight D. Eisenhower this morning. The article said that Eisenhower's remarkable optimism was not by birth or destiny, but rather by self-determined intent. It reminded me of an essential piece of core training for the brain.
It's a crucial piece that was handed down by Aristotle. And many leaders, men and women who have taken up the project of self-growth by decision rather than destiny, have used it down through time.
Aristotle said, (and I paraphrase) 'If you want a virtue, act as if you already have it. And then it will be yours.' This 'ACT AS IF' principle has gone through many iterations over the years. But it's essential teaching remains the same. Act first and then you will become what you pretend to be!
During the war, Eisenhower used this principle to maintain confidence and optimism in front of his troops. He felt it a requisite precondition for maintaining the morale of his men.
You too can use this principle in your life. First act, then be! Act as if you are what you want to be and you shall become it!
- Clarify your intention. Ask yourself, "Who do I want to be?"
- Make a list of how you feel this kind of person would behave. What would they do? How would they act? What words would they speak?"
- Just do it! Start doing the things that you have listed.
- Move from theory to practice (we call this praxis). Get up every day and recommit again and again to the praxis of acting as if you are who or what you want to be!
Thoughts turn into things. But are we really clear at every moment of the day that our life is a mirror of our thinking? Or do we know it intellectually? Is it cerebral or is it heart-felt and visceral?
Do we know it with our minds but continue to live as if there were a disconnect between what we think and what is happening in our lives?
Down through time, always and forever, the truth has been hidden in plain view. History is filled with truths that have been hidden in plain view.
- Although gravity was always true on our planet, it took Newton to reveal it as a law.
- Even though the earth has always been round it took Columbus and a few other navigators to return from their voyages beyond the horizon line to prove it.
- Archimedes displaced water as he entered a bath and realized that he displaced the volume of water equal to his own volume. (How many millions of people have stepped into a tub and not seen the truth hidden in plain view?)
Today, as with every other time in history, our thoughts are hidden in plain view for all of us to see. Much like the Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, all we have to do is pull back the curtain to see the truth about the wizard. The curtain represents our mental paradigm, our beliefs and opinions.
And up until very recently, our lives just happened to us. We were the victims in a series of events the centerfold of which was us.
Today we know that if we want to catch a glimpse of our thoughts, we need only look at the lives we have created for ourselves. With constant random thoughts and repetitive patterns of thought, we are unconsciously creating our reality all day long.
What do you spend the majority of your time thinking about? Scientists and psychologists tell us that approximately 80% of the thoughts we think today are thoughts we thought yesterday. I believe Deepak Chopra said it was as high as 90%.
What are the repetitive patterns of thought that float through your mind on a daily basis? Our lives are a mirror of our thinking. Transform your thinking and you transform your life.
Start to observe the random thoughts that ricochet periodically through your head. Ask yourself whether or not they serve you.
Just for today:
- Pay attention to your attention.
- Take a deep breath and delete the negative thoughts as you catch them.
- Take a deep breath and energize and enhance the positive thoughts as you spot them