Improving Linear Thinking

I tend to think that I cannot move forward unless the task at hand is complete.  I must do this (X), in order to do that (Y).  Or, I must finish this, before that happens.  Since this line of thinking aligns with a scientific mind, to continue this argument in mathematical terms – I’m implying that once X is complete, then Y can be started and completed, and thus Z will be yielded.

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Completing X, then moving to Y, yielding Z is most definitely linear thinking and a linear workflow.

In some cases, it’s absolutely imperative for this formula to be followed strictly, if one aims to achieve something; their goals, a project, a deadline.  It’s easy to say to yourself “I gotta finish this.” Some things are indeed in a linear process. Reading, for example. Reading a chapter for a class, there is truly no other way to get to the end of the chapter without reading it all the way through.

However, even within the internal map of completing X has it’s own set of variables that can backfire on our mind, and our goals. Within the mindset of “I just gotta finish this chapter, now,” might lead to mindless reading, reading without attention and yield unfavorable results, say falling short in class realizing none of the reading material was retained.

While the reading itself is yet linear, linear thinking can trap our minds into timeline that is not now. It implies the following: “I must finish this, so that ….” Anytime we align ourselves with a time that is not now, our goals fall prey to consequence. That said, some might argue that we need a timeline in order to get things done, which is undeniably true and this does not intend to disagree. It argues that, in order to be successful in what we hope to achieve, we must stay present with each moment and hold the conclusion we hope to come to light. By staying right here, moment by moment, as we gently move toward the finish line, we can keep a steady pace, nourish ourselves in the process, while maintaining endurance for the long haul. When we move forward with this mindset, the results we yield often end up better than we had imagined.

This of course is the core practice of MINDFULNESS.

 

 

 

Mindfulness, What’s the Hype?

You might say Mindfulness is a fad. It won’t last. It’s just some trendy concept right now that Google is into, therefore it won’t stick and can’t be cool. Well, you might be right. But my first question to you would be, “was Yoga just a fad?” Yoga has been transforming lives since… and continues to be the source of well-being and recovery for millions of people world-wide. The practice of mindfulness is no different. Much like yoga it is something that can be incorporated into one’s daily life. Meditation itself has many different family members, who are all different from each other. Some ask you to be out of your body, to “retreat” if you will to a better place not in the body. No wonder people become stressed out when they come back to the body and remember their deadline or that they’re back in a busy city. Mindfulness asks you to be in the body and with the body and see what is there – whether pleasant or unpleasant, offer it compassion, and let it move on. Or it can ask you to dive in a bit deeper, for more intense things that arise, what is happening, what is coming up, are you able to mentally step back, watch it and label it? Is it fear, anger, or sadness? By stepping back and watching what happens we are able to face what comes and goes with a better sense of ease and awareness. So no, you don’t need a meditation cushion, a crystal, a buddha statue or beads to practice Mindfulness daily. You can do so right in your office chair, or in the middle of the road when you need to.

Photo by:Nickolai Kashirin

 

 

Change

The secret to having more ease in life is through presence, which can be achieved through cultivating and practicing mindfulness. Although recently it has become a more commonly used word, the practice of mindfulness itself dates back several years through ancient teachings. Mindfulness teaches us train our mind to be present with our emotions so that we have a better handle of them.  It is simply the practice of being aware of the present moment. By noticing what is happening in the present moment, we can find ourselves connected to right now, instead of later today, or this morning. When we are connected to the present moment, there is only the current moment. In that moment we can dig deeper into what may be happening within ourselves, in our minds, within our bodies as we investigate our experience with the present moment. We can do this for 5 minutes or 5 hours. Being able to be in touch with our present moment experience requires learning basic mindfulness and cultivating the practice into your daily life.

The Side Effects of Happy Moments

Reading this you must be thinking “side effects of happiness?” how can that be. For many, including myself, happiness is success. It’s not something that comes with success it is success. But with it, without a true understanding of happiness, it can come with side effects. When we experience the “highs” of happiness, true the “lows” will follow. Those moments when everything is wonderful, our jobs are going well, relationships are at ease, our lover told us something sweet that morning, we had a fun night out with our friends. Yet, everything can change the next day.  It’s easy to not want to cling to the unpleasant moments, but what about pleasant moments? If we find ourselves clinging to pleasant or happy moments as “now everything is amazing”, eventually we will come back down, something will change and we will be with discomfort again. The best practice toward happy moments is to treat it just the same as the unpleasant moments, with gentleness, ease, and ultimately with non-attachment.

Clinging is Suffering

I drove past LAX on the way to Hermosa Beach and a plane flew right over my head. The moment I saw this, I knew I’ve been holding onto something I’ve held onto for a long long time.

Sometimes we cling to things that we feel are right for us. We cling to career paths, to jobs, to people, to situations because it is part of our comfort zone as we feel it will bring us happiness and success.The Buddha calls one of the greatest forms of suffering to be “clinging,” and freeing ourselves of clinging means freeing ourselves from suffering. However, be gentle with yourself in the process.  Clinging is indeed a form of suffering because from it we cannot take flight. But once we dare to detach ourselves from things that hold us back, we truly can SOAR.

Letting Go

About letting go. It’s a tough one. We don’t want to let go. It’s losing the fight. But what are we holding onto? It’s hard to let go. Especially when we know something exists, and we’ve felt it, seen it, experienced it, it’s beautiful and has had life. But it cannot be at this time. It is one of the hardest things to accept as human beings. We want what we want. And if we had something or someone we loved and it didn’t work out, we replay what went wrong “rehashing” and try to make up better turn of events, or a different dialogue to fix what already happened or we practice what we would say if the person or the situation presented it self again “rehearsing.” Both are avoiding the present moment. As difficult as it is to be here now, we must. Even if in this moment we do not have “him” or “her” or “it,” it is the only moment we have. Best thing to do is sit with the discomfort and offer yourself compassion – it is okay to be hurting that he or she or it is not with you at this time.  Let it go and those or things meant to be will come back with new meaning.

Keeping Doors Open

We often are not okay with the turn of events and we also tend to want what we want. We are human and it is part of our instinctual behavior. People, jobs, invites, money, things, love, or situations in our favor. When we don’t get those things we suffer. We do anything we can to repair, strategize, manipulate or construct life and situations to provide our wants and needs.

When we practice “being with what is” or mindful acceptance – we are actually leaving the door open for what or who we lost or what cannot be at this time, to come back to return into our lives or hearts again. By trying to force the situation to be different, or consuming the heart with what “could be” or what you hope to be, trying to force or cling to what is not now, we’re actually trying to create definition to the situation – because we are deciding now what will be in the future, right now.

You are essentially closing the door.

By simply practicing acceptance for what is now, whether pleasant or unpleasant – you’re letting what will be in the future, be undefined and in the future and by doing that you are leaving the door open.

With all things, practicing acceptance of what is now, frees us from suffering.

Warrior Kind of Happiness (a la Drew Barrymore)

A bit of a personal post:

I was obsessed with Drew Barrymore as a teen and now I can appreciate even more who she is and why she was my childhood hero and inspires me so much today. Looking back I realize I related to her having to grow up fast due to circumstances and that her inner child wasn’t able to be then but has been throughout her adult life. It takes a great amount of courage to let people see your inner authenticity and innocence. It is what makes her a beautiful human being inside and out. Caught her on the cover of Good Housekeeping, turns out she spilled her heart about the art of happiness, to which I instantly was flooded with one hundred smiles :))))). This is truly a statement about HAPPINESS : .
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“I finally figured out that it’s not the word “happiness” that’s so powerful. It’s the word choice!” Happiness is not this yellow, blithe, floating thing. It’s something that takes a tremendous amount of work. There’s a warrior aspect to being happy. You have to fight for it. And only when you’ve got that kind of earned happiness is it really good.” – Drew Barrymore