The way we think and feel moment by moment has a huge influence over the results we experience. Use this simple, easy to remember strategy to keep feeling at your best when you need it most.

superman

I am very excited to bring you the first in a brand new video series: “The Life Happens Little Lessons”. These are short, snappy personal growth and development tips and insights to keep you firmly on the path of success and happiness.

In today’s video I’ll share with you a simply and easy to apply strategy to get you back into a resourceful frame of mind for those times when life wants to see what you’re made of! We all face daily challenges; its what we do about them that ultimately determines our results.

Warm wishes,

signature

Share the love! If you’ve enjoyed this post please tweet it, like it and / or leave a comment below. Thank you

Radio-microphone-440x360It was recently interviewed on Shoreditch radio by a good friend, Edward Nelson, about my journey into the personal growth world and, more specifically, what it has taught me about living a purpose centred life.

I was honoured to have been asked to be a guest and it was an experience that I enjoyed immensely. This was my first radio interview and I was a little nervous, but delighted to get to talk about my story and the impact it has had on my life and work.

So this edition of Life Happens LIVE is a departure from the normal format. It is simply a conversation in which you will learn:

  • What diamonds, horse manure and nail polish have to do with the way we experience life
  • Why your inner wisdom is like a faint flute playing against the din of a big brass band
  • How to cultivate a space for listening to your authentic self
  • Why you are already an enlightened being
  • Why it took a personal crisis for me to embark on my own journey of self discovery

I would love to hear your comments, questions and feedback on the interview. If any of the topics we covered resonate with you, please drop a line in the comments section below.

“Do not confuse peace of mind with spaced-out insensitivity. A truly peaceful mind is very sensitive, very aware.” – Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama)

peace of mind

We all want peace of mind. But how do you cultivate peace of mind in midst of a hectic day? In this post I’ll give you some strategies for remaining calm and centred, even when the world around you seems to be in a spin.

The busier and more chaotic our lives get the more likely we are to let our unconscious mind do all our thinking for us. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that we will experience an ‘outside-in’ version of the world, i.e. we mistakenly believe that it is what is happening to us on the outside that is responsible for how we feel on the inside.

When life is hectic and it feels as though we have a million things to do it can genuinely feel as though the world is racing and that we have our work cut out to keep up with it. Of course the truth is that the world is going at exactly the same speed it has always been traveling at. The only variable that changes from moment to moment is the quality and speed at which we rattle through our thoughts, giving us the perception that we are living in either fast time or slow time.

Have you ever been on a train that is sat stationary at the platform and felt as though you were already moving because the train next to you started to pull away? Well, that is how we often experience our thinking. The reality is that we are just human beings having thoughts in a relatively still world, but those thoughts can create the illusion that we are being swept away in the fast moving current of our busy lives.

So, one of the things I will often recommend to clients is that they build moments of peacefulness into their routine. There are two reasons for this. The first is that there are undeniable benefits to health and wellbeing that accompany the act of deliberate relaxation, particularly if their busy lives feel stressful to them. The second is that by taking time to enjoy a moment of peace, it becomes a lot easier to see the link between thought and feeling, which inevitably creates a doorway to a deeper and wiser level of understanding.

We might think that in order to keep on top of our immense ‘to do’ list we have to throw all of our focus and energy into keeping those plates spinning, but often the effect of that is just to become overwhelmed and less resourceful. The feeling of overwhelm is not so much caused by the length of your ‘to do’ list or the number of spinning plates you have on the go, but by what you are afraid it might mean if you don’t keep up.

That fear is just a thought that feels real.

That is not to say that whether you complete your tasks or not doesn’t have consequences, but by definition, at this moment in time, those consequences are only imagined possible outcomes that have not taken place in reality. The fact is we can never know ahead of time how anything will really pan out, so all we can do is bring our best selves to the table to give ourselves the greatest chances of success. But it is hard to be our best, most resourceful selves all the time we are held captive to the imagined pressure of our own busyness.

A great antidote to the stress of hectic living is to practice a regular relaxation routine, such as meditation or guided visualisation. However, I know the reason many busy people do not indulge in these kinds of activities, even though they would love to, is the belief that it requires an investment of yet more of their time and energy. They are likely to say:

“Meditation! Seriously? Have you seen my life? Just when do you think I’m going to get the time to meditate. Nice idea, but dream on!”

So, to make the benefits mediation more accessible to exceptionally busy people I’d like to make a distinction between the act of meditation and the meditative state.

The act of meditation does require you to take a few moments out of your day, to sit quietly and remain peacefully still, just breathing and connecting to a higher level of consciousness. Over time and with practice your ability to let go of your stressful thoughts and to just experience the present moment becomes easier and more effortless. This alone is a wonderful way to refresh your senses and gain a renewed healthy perspective on your current situation. The paradox is that by investing the time into de-stressing and reconnecting to your innate wellbeing you actually become far more resourceful and are able to operate more efficiently in the time you have remaining. In other words, you will get more done in less time to a higher standard.

I’m reminded of a quote. I don’t remember it verbatim or who it is attributed to (possibly Gandhi), but it goes:

“I have such a lot to accomplish today I’m going to have to meditate for twice as long.”

It is important to remember, though, that the purpose of meditating is not simply to engage in the ACT of meditation; it is to experience the meditative state. We all naturally fluctuated in our levels of awareness throughout the day and the meditative state is just a heightened level of awareness that you can access any place, anytime, anywhere; even smack bang in the middle of your busy day. It is not necessary for you to adopt the lotus position and you certainly don’t have to hum!

If you can take 20 to 30 minutes each day to sit and meditate or be guided through a relaxing visualisation (sign up for the free ecourse for audio to help you do this) then I would absolutely recommend that you do that, but if you can’t, or simply don’t want to, then you can still experience the benefits of the meditative state while you go about your daily activities. All you need to do is draw your awareness to your senses and to become mindful of whatever it is you happen to be doing at the time; to just get really present.

There are a couple of strategies that I want to share with you to help you have greater peace of mind in the midst of a chaotic schedule.

1. Mindfulness

The best way I can describe mindfulness is that it is what happens when all of your senses get really curious about what you are doing.

So let’s say that you are typing at your computer. The first step would be to pause and to take a slow deep breath, clear you head and let your body release any tension it may have a been feeling. Then, you would start to become aware of what you are aware ofl with each of your senses, such as the weight of your body pressing down into the chair, the feel of your clothes on your skin, the temperature of the air, your fingertips on the keyboard, everything you can see in your primary and peripheral vision, all of the sounds you can hear, both obvious and subtle…

The more you simply notice and experience whatever happens to be in your sensory reality, in that moment, the more grounded in the present you will become. It is fascinating that any feelings of stress or anxiety are likely to naturally dissipate as the frame of mind that was keeping them alive gives way to the peace of the Now. It is also amazing how much more ‘task focus’ you are able to bring as you resume your work with a clear head and comfortable body.

2. ‘The Only Thing in the World’

Once you are more centred and grounded in the present, the second strategy is one that I call ‘The only thing in the world’. The premise of this is that you set yourself the intention that whatever it is you are about to do, you are going to do it like it really, REALLY matters and that it is the only thing in the world that needs your attention in that very moment.

So again, if you are typing, you would continue to be quietly mindful of your sensory experience whilst allowing your creative mind to effortlessly focus on the best, most appropriate words to type in order to convey your message perfectly. In that moment nobody wants anything, nobody expects anything from you and there is nothing whatsoever for you do except to type like it really matters.

If the thought of focusing on just one task to the exclusion of every other task that has also made it to number one on your priority list freaks you out, then it is good to remind yourself that no matter what happens you can only physically do one thing at a time anyway. As soon as you’re done with whatever is front you, the next thing you turn to will become the only thing in the world that needs your attention. The key is to just continue being mindful of the present moment.

If you think you will need a bit of practice trying out these strategies, a fun time to do it is when you are washing up. The next time you are about to do the dishes take a deep breath, relax your body and get present with all of your senses. Then meticulously clean each of those dishes like it is the most important thing in the world. I also suspect that your unconscious will accept this as a beautiful metaphor for cleansing the mind.
——————————————————————————–
HOMEWORK
——————————————————————————–

Think about your schedule for the next week decide ahead of time where and when you will have the intention of being mindful and present as you go about your work.

As you experiment with these strategies, please do come and tell me what your observations have been at the Life Happens Facebook page.
Take great care. Namaste.

signature

“Life is now. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be.” – Eckhart Tolle

nowWhat do you think of when you think about your future? And when you do think about it, which I’m sure you do from time to time, how you feel? Do you feel happy, excited, and joyous? Or do you feel uninspired, a bit nervous, or even scared?

The reason I ask is because, to an overwhelming degree, it has been my experience that when people don’t feel good about their future the reason for that is two fold. 1) They reflect on their negative memories and feelings from the past and anticipate that it is those memories and feelings that will determine the quality of their experience in the future, and 2) They then create uninspiring or scary pictures in their mind’s eye of just how bad they think the future is going to be for them.

On the other hand when people do feel good about their life ahead that also comes down to two factors. They create compelling movies in their mind of them experiencing their lives in ways that fill them with joy and, more importantly, they are genuinely bought into the realisation that the past does not equal the future.

I’ve yet to meet a living soul who hasn’t had to encounter painful events in their life, or had to overcome difficulties, or deal with the frustration of things not turning out the way they had hoped. I’m convinced that if you were to walk up to any stranger in the street and say to them “I’m really sorry to hear about your problems”, they’d look at you with an amazed expression and say “How did you know?”

So if everybody’s history is littered with memories of the challenges they’ve faced, how is it that some get to anticipate their future more positively than others? It is because the way you feel about your future at any given moment has less to do with what you’ve actually been through in the past and more to do with the quality of the thoughts you’re having in the present about what the past and future means to you.

I have met with and coached many people who have been frightened about what they think their future had in store for them, and in every case the starting point for turning it all around has been one remarkably simple realisation.

People are never scared of what they think they are scared of, they are only scared of what they think.

Here’s why. The relationship between reality (the one that actually happens) and the reality that we make-up in our minds has been one that has confused us since the moment our brains became evolved enough to ponder such meaty topic as the past and future. Somewhere along the line we got it into our heads that the act of thinking a thought makes it true. That’s why when you imagine yourself suffering in the future, say, failing at important tasks, being unhappy in your career, or not achieving what you want out of life, you start to get an uneasy feeling right away. The nervous system takes what ever you think about – past, present or future – and acts on it as if it’s a factual event taking place right now. Of course the problem with this is that most people tend not to challenge the things they feel to be fact, so left unchecked those thoughts get free reign of the imagination and monopolise they way you feel about life.

In those moments when you think about the future it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it has already been determined in accordance with the kind of thoughts you are having about it. But the future doesn’t exist, it never has. All you have is this very moment, now. The future can never arrive because it is not coming from anywhere. What you think of as the future is just a clear empty space into which the Now can evolve, and that empty space is pure potentiality. So the question is not, “What do I want to have happen in the future?” it’s, “What do I want this very moment to evolve into?” and “How do I want it to keep evolving so that this very moment is the best kind of moment I could hope to experience?”.

I’m guessing you’ve already noticed this in your own life, that it is so much easier to make decisions and take action at the times when you can actually be there to make a decision or take some action. It’s always in the present moment. So often we spend time evaluating decisions from the past or anticipating decisions we might need to make in the future, but when it all comes down to it, it only ever happened, or will happen, in the Now. As Erkart Tolle said, “Life is now. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be.”

So, if you ever get a bad feeling about the future and you then realise that the future doesn’t actually exist, that just leaves you as a person quietly thinking a thought in the present moment – Nothing more, nothing less. Every thought you’ve ever had took place in the present moment, and a thought, in and of itself, is absolutely harmless. It’s only when you breathe life into it by responding as if it represents actual reality that it can have the potential to cause you suffering.

After a while most people are able to see, or at least understand the idea that the future is not what we usually think of it as being in our heads. After all, intellectually we know that the future hasn’t happened yet, so how could we possibly know how things are really going to turn out? What can be more of a mind bender though is the idea that the past doesn’t exist either. That one really catches people out! “But surely the past must exist, we’ve been through it haven’t we? We’ve had the physical experience of it and can remember it clearly.” That may be true, but when all of those things in ‘the past’ happened, when did they actually take place? In the present moment. There has been no disconnect between that present moment and the one you are experiencing right now. You didn’t leave it behind, you brought it with you!

Right now you may be thinking that I’ve lost the plot, or you might even be wondering, “So what? Why is this significant?” Well the reason that it is significant is because when we believe that our past still somehow exists, it also encourages us to believe that all the hurt and pain we’ve experienced also still exists, but is out of our reach; crystallized in time gone by. If we think that pain still exists in the past but we can’t reach it, then we become more inclined to feel held ransom to it effects.

But even when you think about the past and get that realistic sense that its echo lingers on and that it is following you around, that isn’t the past. That is just a process of thought that is taking place in the present moment. It is nothing more than electricity jumping between neurons in your brain, in the Now. It’s not the past that hurts; it is what you do in the present moment to make a mental reconstruction of old painful experiences that allows the same old feelings to stay with you.

I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t think that we have a past or a future, just that we need be clear that the past and future are just concepts that can only exist when we think about them in the present moment. When you live in the knowledge that everything you’ll get to experience in your entire lifetime happens in the continuation of the now, that’s when you can make some real quality decisions about what you want you life to be about. Not later, right here in this very moment.

One of my all time heroes Byron Katie said “Isn’t the past kind? It’s always over.” What she meant by that is the very instant an event takes place it’s already gone, and can only live on as a memory trace in the mind. So if someone was to come and slap me around the face, while that’s not one of my favourite experiences, almost immediately it’s over. Sure, I’ll make an instant creation of it in my mind and replay it like its happening again and again; I may even take some further action, but the point is that what ever I do or feel next is only related to my thoughts in the present moment about what I remember taking place. It’s not what happened to me that determines the quality of how I feel, but what I do with it inside. Which brings me onto one of the most important lessons I believe anyone can learn if they are seeking true happiness and peace in their life.

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional – but you have to provide that yourself.

We all have to go through painful events – that’s just part of life. We fall on hard times, we lose people close to us, we get betrayed, and we find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. And the pain that is associated with those events needs to be dealt in what ever way is appropriate, because it creates change for us. The way we clear a space for ourselves to adapt to the change is to feel things like sadness, anger, disappointment, frustration… but those emotions are only designed to be temporary states that serve their purpose. Once we’ve processed those raw emotions, then we can re-stabilise and get on with the rest of our lives. The reason suffering is optional is because it requires you to have to build a bigger story about why everything is so terrible and to imagine wider unpleasant consequences. The lingering emotions are no longer to do with the actual events themselves, but a response to the quality of thoughts you’ve added into the mix yourself to spice things up a bit.

I remember about six months after my mum died I was feeling pretty sorry for myself about all the things that I’d lose out on because she isn’t around anymore. My kids would never get to know their Grandmother, she won’t see me getting married, Christmas will never be the same again, etc… But I realised that the major cause of my bad feeling at that time wasn’t that my mum had died, but that I was allowing myself to create unpleasant life like scenarios in my imagination that gave me compelling reasons for why it was necessary to be even more upset. When I was willing let go of my suffering and the story about what it all meant, that just left me with the sadness that she is gone. The sadness I could do something with; it allowed me just to grieve, which is all I really needed to do.

The wonderful thing about knowing that your life only ever happens in the present moment is that it opens you up to this perpetual opportunity of choosing how you want to feel. Regardless of what you’ve thought about your past or future up until now, the only questions you need to answer are “So how do I want to be feeling about my life right now?” and “What would I love to do next?”


Homework


So that’s your homework for today. If the past is gone and the future is just a clear open space of pure potentiality, what do you need to be doing or planning for in this very moment to make Now evolve into something amazing?

And I’ll leave you with this quote from the French writer Antoine de Saint Exupéry:

“As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it”


Take great care. Namaste.

signature