Interest in Mindfulness and other types of meditation has grown significantly, and for good reason. With so many people entering into meditation practices, one of the common struggles is balancing being and doing. People notice that if you quiet your mind and don’t do anything, you can quickly begin to experience a sense of blissfulness, or at least contentment. If you stay in this line of thought it leads to diminishing the real value of a meditation practice. A meditation practice was meant to create some distance between the real you and the biological computer in your brain that constantly generates thoughts that disturb you. The end game is to be able to quiet your mind, and observe your thoughts without immediately reacting, and adding more thoughts to them.
Have you ever had one of those days, where it felt like you were really busy all day, but you didn’t feel like you got much done? Better yet, you can’t recall what all you got done. Usually that sense of busyness is as much a result of the busyness in your mind as it is the actual doing of whatever you were doing. A meditation practice will help you to stay in the moment even when you have a lot to do. You get a sense of calm in the storm, and won’t tend to overreact the events that happen that would have upset you before. If you work with your mind fully in the present, you can learn to be while you do. One of my favorite meditation practices is making the bed in the morning. I purposely start the day by quieting my mind and focusing only on making my bed without any other thoughts present.
There is an idea from Buddhism that often gets brought into meditation practices. I am paraphrasing from one of the four noble truths, but it basically says that the root of suffering is desire. People then quit desiring. This is a complete misunderstanding of this noble truth. Jesus taught something similar in the bible, when he instructs us not to chase after wealth as the heathen do. This was also widely misunderstood. You are always going to have desires, and you will always have things happen in life you don’t like. A meditation practice will help you to examine your motives and thoughts so you can make decisions and act based on your values, not in reaction to autonomous thoughts.
A long time ago success guru Tony Robbins put it this way. Again I am paraphrasing, but he said, “if you sit around all day and bliss out, they will eventually come and take your furniture.” True enough, and they will eventually throw you out of your home as well. As you go into your week, work on noticing your arising thoughts and practice not automatically adding more thoughts to them. Just observe your thoughts and don’t react. This is “being”, it has little to do with whether you proceed in “doing” a lot or a little. That choice is truly yours if you can learn to be, even when you are doing.
I have a list of six tasks or reminders I reaffirm and level up on before I set out to achieve any new goal or right after any big life challenge occurs. I call life my a surrender experiment. If you want to achieve anything big or even just prosper through everyday life, you are going to have to do and experience some things that are uncomfortable. When you take big scary steps your brain has a built in protection mechanism that will try to get you to stop taking action. This list helps me to let those self defeating thoughts pass. It is important to note that you don’t push down negative thoughts, you just acknowledge them and let them pass.
These tasks / reminders help me to set a baseline for positive change and I am sharing them with the hope they help you as well.
- Learn to enjoy life in the moment and decide I am going to be happy no matter what happens.
- I notice my brain serving negative thoughts, and just choose to relax, and accept the feeling, and move forward anyway.
- This is a lifetime practice, but it gets easier.
- Learn to live squarely in the moment.
- Sometimes we waste a lot of time reliving past failures, or worrying about what will happen in the future. I simply realize that there is only one time I can do anything and that is right now. I obviously have to plan for meetings and tasks, but I don’t worry about what they may bring.
- Do what is in front of me, without worrying or thinking about doing something else.
- This is just simply getting deeply involved in whatever I am doing so my mind doesn’t distract me by moving on to something I am not doing.
- Learn to love myself so that I am not affected by what others think of me.
- The first and most important and foundational relationship you need to build is with yourself. Work on improving your relationship with yourself. You wouldn’t cruelly criticize or beat up on others, so don’t do that to yourself. Treat yourself like you are someone else you want to help.
- Only compare your performance with past performance, not with others. You are no one else, but you.
- Build the realization of truth required to take big steps.
- The truth is that if we attempt something and fail, the stakes are rarely life or death. Consequences are rarely the worst case, and almost never bad as we think they will be.
- Most often the outcome is better than the start.
- Take big steps, and remain focused in the moment.
- Take the big step, and focus completely on it. Don’t distract yourself with other unnecessary distractions.
“When we try to make ourselves bigger in the eyes of the world, we shrink the size of our world. When we expand our knowledge of the world around us, we make the world bigger.“
Something occurred to me as I was doing my weekly reflection and planning this morning. When we try to make ourselves bigger in the eyes of world, we shrink the size of our world. When we expand our knowledge of the world around us, we make the world bigger. We as humans can be so arrogant to believe we know much of what there is to know. When we are confronted with the accusation of being a “know it all”, we logically know that our knowledge is limited. On the other hand, the inside of our own mind often reflects the idea that we may not know it all, but we know most of it.
We do this, because it gives us comfort to believe that we are in control. We have to make our world smaller in order to feel comfortable in the world. Comfort is a natural desire. This is one of the greatest limits we place on ourselves. If we realized how little control we have in our universe, and how vulnerable we are are we would be much more humble and respectful. We would also be forced to put our faith in something bigger than ourselves.
The only way we learn and grow is to expand our awareness beyond what we know. The more I learn the more I realize how little I really know. It is growing comfortable with this fact that will allow us to get comfortable with a much larger world. Most Christians will be familiar with Jesus guidance to die to self. Realizing how little we know and getting ourselves outside of our comfort zone causes us to die a little to ourselves. Realizing how small we are in the grand scheme of things. It also allows us to expand our horizons and do more with our lives.
This week maybe we can take a little time to think about the unimaginable quantity of knowledge that can be known. Maybe we can get out of our comfort zones and grow our circle of influence. There is something much bigger at play than just our small world. Let’s see if we can make a difference without having to boost our own ego.