Monday, November 8, 2010

Body Combat - Physical power, elegance and inspiration.

A core aspect of success is self discipline and often this particular personal characteristic is most obvious (either in its absence or in its presence) in the area of taking care of our physical well being.  And a key area of physical well being is........ yes you got it EXERCISE!  Not everyone's favorite "thing" and yet for others a pure addiction.  It is one area where dedication is obvious and the results often apparent - thus from this aspect it could be considered the easiest area of life to have self-discipline.  For others though, it's the toughest.

In my younger years I was incredibly active horse riding, dancing at least 7 times a week, swimming all day every weekend in the summer, generally giving everything a go.  As an adult I had allowed myself several years off any sort of organized exercise regime (I felt chasing 3 children under 5 and breaking in a brumby, combined with horse riding, gardening and taking care of a menagerie of other animals probably had me covered).  But something recently drove me back to a more organized form of exercise.  I'd found that I wanted more physical energy (needed it to keep up with the kids) and felt resuming the discipline might help to keep me on track.

So I joined my local gym and am LOVING IT!  Don't love all the classes and frankly for me, pumping iron or riding a bike to music hold very little appeal, if I want to ride my bike, the fresh air with my baby on the back seems like a much better option but, as expected LOVE Body Balance and Zumba!  The surprise for me was BODY COMBAT!

I must admit the first class I took I found a little weird and also amusing. As a pacifist, being told to "imagine I was holding my attacker down by the throat and breaking his jaw" really tickled my fancy.  I knew the instructor was pushing for everything we had - and generally gets it, but it's taken a few classes to get used to it, get the hang of some of the punching and kicking combinations and especially to remember to hold my hands up and protect my face!

But I have to say for physical power, inspiration and sheer elegance, as well as mind and body discipline, there's nothing much that I've found beats this form of exercise!  And the instructors at our wonderful local gym really know how to get the most out of us and TOTALLY inspire and engage all the participants. Love to see the power come out of all the women there!  Truly inspirational and empowering!

If you are not exercising at the moment - check this out!  It will do more that get your body fit, agile and poised!  It will give you a new zest for life that you wouldn't expect and that will energize your day as well as add to your self discipline in a really fun way!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Living NOW

If you are not getting the results you would like, chances are that you are engaged in a thinking process that is leading you to where you currently are but don't want to be.  A conscious and Present moment of awareness of where your thoughts are leading you will contribute to some of the most powerful and defining minutes of your life!

A commitment to yourself in writing on who you intend to be, what you intend to do and the mark you intend to leave is a powerful catalyst to achieving your dreams.  I often ask myself, how would I like my kids to describe me, my relationships, my thinking?  With that in hand, I note what type of daily thoughts are required to get the outcome I seek, to make the mark I want to make and leave the impression I want to leave in this world.  Living in the present is a deliberate act and choice. Many thoughts are habitual and like any habit, negative ones must systematically be removed from the mind.  It takes practice, dedication, and forgiveness (you will trip up), but it is worth the journey and the sense of achievement knowing that you are ever closer to being the best you you can be!

Tools such as seminars, books, audio programs and a personal journal can play a powerful role in installing the new empowering thoughts that lead to fulfilling results.  If you don't have any good tools for this let me know because I have some award winning personal development beauties! Hooking up with the right people of a like mind, also trying to achieve more from and for themselves is also crucial.  We are human with the associated frailties of that, support in the form of a like minded community can help significantly to keep us on track!

I read a good exercise recently, try it for yourself.  Put a note up on your wall that says NEVER COMPLAIN. NEVER EXPLAIN! and see how long it takes you to successfully get through a day without doing either!  When you succeed, take the note down.  If it's there for years, at least be comforted to know how drastically improved your life is, having the note there to remind you to complain and explain less.  No excuses, no one else's fault!
Keep me posted on your progress!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mind or Matter - what are we?

The age old question of what happens when we die can most probably only truly be determined at that moment of reckoning.  Nevertheless we ponder and I'd like to share some thoughts on the subject.

Some people think the mind is the brain but that seems incorrect since the brain is physical, can be photographed, operated on in surgery and is clearly physical in nature.  The mind on the other hand is not physical which leads me to the belief that whilst the brain is part of the body, the mind is part of the spirit - something greater than the body and without the same physical constraints of life and death that the body experiences.

Some religions believe that our body and mind are separate entities, and so even though the body disintegrates at death, the continuum of the mind remains unbroken.  Instead of ceasing, the mind simply leaves the present body and goes to the next life.  As I have got older and improved my meditation practices I have grown to share this view.  Geshe Kelsang Gyatso explains it as our mind in death leaving our body and going to the next life, just like a guest leaving a guesthouse and going somewhere else.

One way to gain an understanding of past and future lives Geshe Kelsang Gyatso suggests, is to examine the process of sleeping, dreaming and waking, because this closely resembles the process of death, intermediate state and rebirth into the new body.  The only significant difference he suggests is that after the clear light of sleep has ceased, the relationship between our mind and our present body remains the same, whereas after the clear light of death this relationship is broken with the mind forming relationship with a new body.

Some people remember their dreams whilst others have more difficulty.  For those who remember, the concept of waking in a new body and life without being able to remember may seem very unlikely.  For those who don't remember dreams, this may be a more easily believable concept. 

Is it important that we consciously remember from one life to the next?  Or is is enough that at an energetic and vibrational level we experience spiritual growth?  Perhaps too, the more we enhance our spiritual growth within our present physical existence, the more likely we will be able to reach a level of transference where we can remember our lessons and experiences on a conscious plane, from one life to the next.

A question that arises for me with this realization is why we can be prepared to spend so much time looking after our transitory physical being (I shudder at the thought of the amount of energy and money spent in plastic surgery) and so little time in meditation, looking after our eternal mind/spirit?  With the hustle and bustle of our every day lives, we often fail to take time out to connect with our own soul being.  Is it any wonder so many people find life meaningless, purposeless?  Is it any wonder the incidence of mental illness continues to increase at a rather alarming rate.  And yet the cure we offer is often a pill, a physical response to a spiritual problem.  No wonder drugs for mental illness have so many side effects and so relatively little success.

Personal development, the process of self awareness and understanding, is therefore essential not only for helping find our life purpose in this life and ensuring we create a life of meaning for ourselves, or for ensuring present day good mental health, but also as part of a greater spiritual development continuum.  So if you are not doing so already, make personal development, in whatever form it takes and works for you, part of your daily practice today!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happiness Is a Choice

Tonight I snuggled my two eldest children (5 & 4) into bed with a wonderful little book entitled "The Short & Incredibly Happy Life of Riley" by Colin Thompson and Amy Lissiat.  It is a joyful tale of the happy simplicity of being a rat and makes some beautifully written comparisons to the lives of people, observing that whilst rats live a very short time, it is primarily happy, doing exactly what they want, when they want with whom they want to do it, while people can live an extremely long time being unhappy where they are, with whom they are with and their lot in general. 

The story made me think of my grandmother, who at 102 was finally unable to live independently any longer due to her growing frailness.  Today she has outlived all her peers and indeed many of her peers' children, she may even yet outlive her own and yet she has been a "martyr" all her life. Now don't get me wrong, she, like all people, has many wonderful qualities, but all my life she has told me how hard she's had it, all the things that went wrong, how she had to do everything and be responsible for everyone and that she married the wrong man and they never should have come to this country (Australia) when she was a child........ it goes on and on. To be honest, I am not sure I have ever met a more generally unhappy without being unpleasant to be around person.  The one sticking point for me is the "married the wrong man".  My grandfather who we lovingly called Grumpy, and who died 17 years ago, was indeed the LEAST Grumpy person I have ever known.  He understood what she never could, that happiness is a choice.  He CHOSE to think the best of everyone, to see the good in all events, to live truly and honorably and never have any regrets as a result.  He was a truly remarkable man, yet like the rat, he died early (compared to my grandmother) having lived a happy life, while she still endures, most of the time living with a permanent level of discontent.

At the end of the story my children asked me why lots of people are unhappy when they have so much while rats who have nothing are so happy.  And I thought about this for a minute when I realized something that I have been brewing on for a couple of weeks since the death of a dear friend (something I hadn't realized I'd actually been processing).  It's the fact that we can THINK that makes some of us unhappy.  Paradoxically, it is also the fact that we can THINK that makes some of us extremely happy.  So I said, "We choose whether we will be happy or unhappy by what we think, because it is what we think which ultimately determines how we feel.  And our feelings are very good guide posts to tell us when the thoughts we are having are poor and we should change them."

Let me explain.  If my partner sits on the couch at night, next to the freshly washed clothes in the basket but doesn't fold them, and this happens for a week on end, it's my CHOICE whether this bothers me (makes me unhappy) or not and this is simply the result of what I THINK about what is happening.  If I think, "bloody hell, how can he sit next to the clothes every night and not fold a single one and then every morning ask me where, such an such top or pants or whatever are", then I'm probably going to be pretty miserable!  I might even feel unimportant and neglected and even go so far as to see him not folding the clothes as being directly related to how important he sees me and our relationship.  I can actually carry that thought process a very long way down a very dark abyss IF I CHOOSE!

However, if I either CHOOSE not to think about it at all, OR CHOOSE to think how funny it is that he doesn't even seem to see the washing there waiting to be folded and still needs to ask where things are, then I might even find the EXACT SAME SITUATION a thing of great amusement.  Note, the factual event hasn't changed at all.  The only thing that has changed is HOW I SEE IT.

We CHOOSE happiness or otherwise by the thoughts we CHOOSE to have.  And as intelligent human beings it is our personal responsibility to actively choose thoughts that benefit ourselves, and our own well being as well as that of others.  As adults and parents, it is our absolute responsibility not to allow thoughts to become so habitual that we don't even actively realize we are having them and they are influencing how we feel.  We should never be caught saying "xyz made me feel ....."  or even "you are making me very angry", because it simply isn't true.  But even more importantly we must teach our children, what we now have to teach ourselves and what we did not learn as children; how to think ACTIVELY (by choice) rather than PASSIVELY (by habit).  It takes a lot of effort at first and we will probably always have relapses from time to time but it is our responsibility to think kindly on that and still persevere with the practice. 

So how are you thinking today?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Uncertainty - A Success Killer or Your New Friend?

No matter how confident and self-assured we may feel most of the time, we all have times in our lives when uncertainty creeps into our sphere.  If you think successful people don't know those uncomfortable feelings, those moments of fear, confusion, anxiety, short term sleeplessness, hot and cold waves that come over you and make you sweat (no its not menopause!), powerlessness and those niggling butterflies that steal your appetite, you are wrong!  And, if you thought I was going to share with you some secret tool to rid yourself of uncertainty forever, so you never have to experience those feelings again, then I am afraid I have some bad news for you!  Life is cyclical, we will necessarily move in cycles from periods of certainty to uncertainty and back again because as we grow, discover new levels of freedom, influence and desire, our vistas open and we quite simply outgrow our certainty. 

Thus uncertainty is NECESSARY!  Yep, sorry there is no way around it.  If you are a human being who is going to grow, to avail yourself of new learning opportunities, to blossom into the amazing you that you are meant to be, you are going to experience those sensations and those awkward moments. The good news is that by virtue of its cyclical nature, uncertainty is TEMPORARY.

The difference between those who succeed and those who become too scared to make even the slightest movement in their life, is how we deal with those panicky urges that accompany uncertainty.  Do we let the fear overcome us, run away, get a beer and sit in front of the TV and try to pretend it isn't there, or do we sit down face to face with it, shake hands, make it our friend and avail ourselves of the amazing opportunity for transformation that it represents?  .

Unfortunately many people will do the former.  They have got so used to where they are at, so "comfortable" that they don't actually want too much to change.  The problem is that life isn't like that.  The nature of life is that it is expansive and gradually they will get a growing level of dissatisfaction.  The thing is that this is so sublte that people don't even know it has snuck up on them.  We all know someone like this, they are the ones who grumpily snap "Nothing!  I am happy?"  when you ask them what's wrong with them.  And on some level they actually believe it!  In fact, at different times, we have probably all BEEN this person hiding in the illusion of comfort, squashing down those feelings of uncertainty and dissatisfaction that are ordained by the universe to make us grow.  To make us be bigger than ourselves and to become all that we are meant to be.

The irony is that without even realizing it, by unwittingly trying to buck the expansive nature of life, stay in a place of comfort (lack of change, certainty) and avoid the temporary uncertainty, we are actually creating a perpetual state of discomfort. Failing to embrace temporary uncertainty and discomfort will inevitably bring about a perpetual level of uncertainty and discomfort.  It's kind of like the difference between having an acute illness (one that comes, hits suddenly and obviously, we treat it and then it goes) or having a chronic illness (one that sneaks up slowly, you might not even really realise you are ill, your energy levels have declined and you are becoming depleted, and then stays for a long time, maybe you don't do much about it and is really hard to get rid of).

 If you imagine life as a wavey line with the crest of the wave being comfort and the gutter of the wave being discomfort, then they have got to the comfort spot and decided to stay there, which on the face of it may seem like a good idea and certainly may FEEL in the short term like a good idea.  But the reality is that the waves of life and growth are of increasing intensity (they slope upward), so eventually if you don't go up and down the wave, and instead try to stick to the top, you are going to get thrown by the natural slope!  Every surfer knows that if you don't ride up and down the wave, according to conditions, and instead try to stay at the crest, eventually you'll wipeout!

Have you been,or are you now in a state of perpetual discomfort or uncertainty that feels like it has gone on for some time?  If so, you are not embracing the natural need for change and the uncertainty that comes with that, that universal expansion requires and you have actually allowed your fear to block your own growth.  So what's the answer to that discomfort, what's the trick to ensuring uncertainty is temporary and you don't become "stuck" in it's perpetual state?  EMBRACE!  Open up to change.  Accept not knowing and being temporarily "out of control".  Seek support from others who will offer support during the transition rather than try to suggest you ignore it.  Read some inspiration.  Research YOURSELF and discover something new!  Find the THING that is driving you forward, then HOLD YOUR FAITH and be comforted in knowing "this too shall pass" but even more than that, "I will be a better me for having this experience!"

Life is a journey.  Are you going to ride the plane, only look within the cabin and pretend you never left the ground?  Or are you going to relish the rush of the take off, take the window seat, and soak up those moments when you are so high up it's scarey BUT you also get the clearest view and an amazing new perspective, so that when you are back on the ground you can hold on to the new inspiration to fuel your being, and bring your best you forward to share with the world?  The choice is YOURS!

Friday, August 20, 2010

$86,400.00 - The Bank of Time

This post is not original but I do not know where it came from.  It came to me via an email and I really wanted to share the message it contains.

Imagine that you had won the following prize in a contest.

Each morning your bank would deposit $86,400.00 in your private account entirely for your use. However, this prize had rules attached to it.

The first set of Rules:
  1. Everything that you didn't spend during the day would be taken away from you.
  2. You may not simply transfer money into some other account.
  3. You may only spend it.
Each morning the bank opens your account with another $86,400.00 for the day.

The second set of Rules:
  1. The bank can end the game without warning; at any time it can say, "it's over, the game is over"
  2. It can close your account and you will not receive a new one.
What would you personally do?  You would buy anything and everything you wanted, right? Not only for yourself but for all the peple you love, right?  Even for people you don't know, because you couldn't possibly spent it all on yourself, right?  You would try to spend every cent, and use it all, right?

ACTUALLY THIS GAME IS REALITY!  Each of us is in possession of such a "magical" bank.  We just can't seem to see it.  THE MAGICAL BANK IS TIME! 

Each morning we receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life, and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is NOT credited to us.  What we haven't lived up that day is forever lost.  Yesterday is gone forever.  Each morning the acount is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your acount at any time.......WITHOUT WARNING.

What will you do with your 86,400 seconds?  Aren't they worth so much more than the same amount in dollars?  Think about that, and always think of this:
Enjoy every second of your life, because time races by so much quicker than you think.  Take care of yourself, and enjoy life!  LIVE LAUGH AND LOVE MORE!  And make it a GREAT day!

Is Procrastination Holding You Back?

Procrastination is probably the number one reason why people "fail".  Fail to achieve what they want, fail to get what they want, fail to be what they want.  But WHY do people procrastinate?  They are generally putting off something that they find too hard, too unpalatable to them, or too scarey!

Sometimes we procrastinate because of something to do with the task at hand.  It might seem too threatening, too difficult, too boring, impossible to finish or a waste of time.  Perhaps we don't quite know where to start, or don't want to ask for assistance from someone for those aspects we are unsure about.  Perhaps it seems like such a big job that we feel we will never complete it so why bother starting, or perhaps it just simply doesn't appeal to us and therefore seems like a waste of our time.

Sometimes our procrastination is a factor of who we are! Perhaps we suffer from perfectionism and until we feel we can undertake the task to perfection we put off doing it at all.  I have a friend who is a brilliant painter and writer and yet does neither, the work just never meets his very high expectations of himself and so he doesn't start.  Perhaps we thrive on adrenalin.  Many of us will have been "last minute" students who do their assignments the night before they are due.  I myself undertook a 10,000 word dissertation for my degree, scrapping everything I had done on the last night it was due and starting again.  This aspect is further exaccerbated if we have done this successfully in the past, finding that we have great success or get good marks acting at the last minute.  And then again many of us will lack self confidence and so put off things we are unsure about perhaps internalizing all our past failures believing that we were the factor of the failure and that another would have had success, or externalizing the positives and believing that any successes we have had are actually the result of other factors and not essentially our own work.

Regardless what the reasons, the truth is, if the task has appeared on our to do list and we have asked ourselves "do I really need to do this thing" and it has remained there, then eventually we must undertake to do it.  Until we do, the task continues to take up valuable space in our head and actually avoiding the task will over time, take up more time and energy than the doing of the task itself!

We've all procrastinated at some point.  The trick is to overcome what holds us back.  So what is the antidote.  It's really very simple.  MAKE A DECISION.  Then START!  TAKE ACTION!  One small step at a time.  Break the task down into bits we feel we can achieve and just simply begin.  There quite simply is no other way. If we need assistance, identify who and where we can get it, that in itself is a step, an achievement, it also helps make the task seems achievable, surmountable.

Successful people do the things others find hard or unpalatable to do.  Successful people don't procrastinate!  So, if you are not having the success in your life that you would like to have, take an inventory. Are there things that have been sitting on your to do list for too long?!  Things that you are avoiding!  Decide if you really need to do them.  If you don't then simply take it off your list and forget it all together.  If you do, make a list of the things you have been procrastinating over.  Next to each one, identify why you have been avoiding the task or procrastinating over it!  You may have to do some soul searching to get to the bottom of this, but it is worth taking the time and being very honest with yourself.  This will help you to identify the first step you need to take to overcome your procrastination (perhaps seek help from another, perhaps take steps to raise your self confidence etc)

Once you have done this, next to each task/item, write down 3 things that are essential for you to do to get the task done.  Do the easiest one first.  The start will give you some momentum, and a sense of achievement.  It will reduce the size of the task because after all, mostly the size of it, has been created entirely in your head.  Once you have done this, you will find continuing to complete the task so much easier.  Once you have done this with one of the areas you have been procrastinating in, you will find it far easier to tackle the next.  If you continue to do it, taking action will become a habit, and avoidance and procrastination will become a thing of the past and your life and success will take a significant turn for the better.  But the bottom line is YOU and MAKING A START.   So what have you been procrastinating over?