Meditations – Slowing Down: Reading Environmental Clues

Sunrise Light by Tim CarlThe key to finding more time is by using the time we have more effectively.

Most of spend our time split between three areas: 1. the past, 2. the future, and 3. the present.  If you are like most of us, you spend only a tiny fraction actually in #3…the present.  How odd is that?  We really only have one real time – the present – and we only spend, lets say 20% of our time residing there.

We sit around thinking about what we’ll be doing next, not even paying attention to what we are doing right now.  Then our minds flit to some past event, and we spend time critique, maybe regretting, what we should / could have said about this or that to some person, maybe a person that we perceive as doing us harm.  We move from worrying about a future that will never exist (your imagination is about as far from the real future as it gets), or fretting about a past that will never exist again.  All the while spending no time in the only time that does exist.

How strange is that?

As an example, you might sit there at work thinking about the rest you’ll get on the weekend and how much fun it will be to see your friends, thinking how tough work is and how hard it is to advance in the company, and maybe that that other person got a promotion when you clearly deserved it more.  However, If you work to spend time in the present, you’ll end up focusing on the task at hand, which will result in your do better and your being more productive.  This will end up leading you to becoming more happy and satisfied.  You will know that the work you did was the level of work that you are capable of.  All this and you will actually feel less tired at the end of the day.

So, simply spending time in the present will make you happy, healthy, more productive, and more rested.  It is as close to magic as I’ve ever seen.

Try this to help you slow down and being in the present.  Next time you are in a car and there is someone that gets in front of you and is driving slow, just slow down behind them.  Do not rush past with a frustrated glance.  Just slow down. Enjoy this moment.  What are you experiencing at this moment.  Anxiousness?  Acknowledge the feeling. Breathe in.

Now feel your hands on the steering wheel. Feel your foot on the gas pedal. Acknowledge your distance from the car in front of you. Listen to the traffic sounds.  How often do we drive without even being aware of driving!  Take a deep breath and thank the driver in front of you.  They have given you a great gift.  You are now aware that you are here, now.  If it helps you from getting frustrated, think that this person is saving you from an accident that may have occurred if you were speeding along.  Or a ticket.  The point is that you should be thankful for this experience.

You might be saying, ‘wait, I’ll be late.’  I say, if you got the ticket or in an accident, you’d be really late.  Plus, you might find that you are actually not late at all.  Time is relative, after all.

Here is the take home:

  • Remain in the present at every opportunity
  • Use environmental clues to help you slow down
  • Look for opportunities to find ways to become more grateful

More Than Just Your Body…

Light Through Trees by Tim CarlThink of your body and mind as very separate and different than “You.”  You are not really the physical body or the thoughts of your mind. You are something more. The mind and body change, but there is something inside you that remains “You.”

This is an important idea to grasp, because there is no way to achieve true peace and joy through the body and mind. To do this, the key will be to gain control over both your mind and body, as they have a tendency to want control — and normally they have it!

There are at least three rationale why you are not your mind or body: a) Our unique characteristics get expressed through unique outlets such as, art, philosophy, etc.; b) the mind and body decay overtime, but You have always been You; c) each and every molecule of your body is replaced roughly every 7 years — that is, the molecules that made up your body and mind seven years ago, are no longer with You, but yet you remain You.  I think point ‘c’ says it all for me.  This is a really big deal that cannot be understated.

You might think that joy and peace come through the body and mind. Nope. Your mind and body only live to survive, and once survival is assured, they actively seek out ways to maintain that survival and to have some fun along the way. That is not peace and joy.

Generally, the body wants to sit and not exert itself and the mind wants to wander in its made up world of the past and future.  They both also, desperately, want to keep you away from the You. Why? Think of the mind and body like a small puppy that has no Master. Life is great for the puppy if it has food, can play all it wants, and gets all the attention. It does not want a Master. But it needs a master to become anything more than just a wild dog. In the case of the puppy, even if never had a master, it might end up with a relatively “happy” life, but it will not have peace and joy because it has no eternalness. But you are no puppy. Within You there is something that is eternal, and has eternal influence and impact. The mind and body know this, but this is a threat to their control. They know that You are their rightful Master — they just want to keep you distracted long enough that you don’t ever exert your control over them.

So, how do you gain control?  Easy, train your body to do Your will and control your mind’s ability to wander. Easier said than done? Maybe, but start out slow:

Body: Wake early, eat at regular times, do not allow your body to dictate how / what / when you eat, exercise at least 1 hour a day –- pushing yourself when your body says it wants control (for example, when your body says let’s cut off 5 minutes from this run, don’t listen –- btw, it will do this often.).  Meditate 15 minutes a day.  During the meditation exert control over your body. For example, when you have a scratch, don’t scratch it. When you have an itch, don’t itch it. Your body will react badly to this at first. It knows what you are doing and will send out a sharp pain in your side, an itch to your nose, a hunger pain to your stomach to regain control. Don’t be tricked!

Mind: One method to train your mind is to complete the hardest items that you need to accomplish today, first. Focus on these items with single-mindedness. That is, if you are doing homework for Spanish, let’s say, just focus on the task –- do not think about what you need to do next, or about calling your friends, or what grade you might get on the upcoming Spanish test, or how much you dislike Spanish and homework, etc. Your goal is just to do the homework. That is it. Your mind will want to think about other things. Remember it wants to regain the control. Your body will sense some weakness and jump in to, saying ‘you need to get a snack’, or ‘You are so tired, you deserve a nap.’  Or, the mind and body join forces and try and convince you to put off this awful homework, because you could always do it later, and besides, you will probably do OK on test, and everyone else isn’t studying as hard as you are… etc. Acknowledge these thoughts as you might acknowledge someone walking by you on a street, but let them pass by and continue on with the homework.

The mind and body will test you. They will not go quietly into submission. You will need to be strong. You will need to be in control. You will fail in your quest, sometimes. That is fine. But if you keep trying, you will succeed. You will gain control over your mind and body, and during this process you will start to taste the joy and peace that can only come through the unique You.