Always We Hope — Lao Tzu

tree fort by Tim CarlAlways We Hope — Lao Tzu

Always we hope
someone else has the answer,
some other place will be better,
some other time,
it will turn out.

This is it.

No one else has the answer,
no other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.

At the center of your being,
you have the answer:
you know who you are and
you know what you want.

There is no need to run outside
for better seeing,
nor to peer from a window.
Rather abide at the center of your being:
for the more you leave it,
the less you learn.

Search your heart and see
the way to do is to be.

Abide at the center of your being.

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Reading Environmental Clues – Staying in The Present

El Capitan Reflection by Tim CarlLike I’ve mentioned before, the 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%, at best, 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 critiquing, 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 exist.

Sunrise morning by Tim CarlHow strange is that?

As an example, you might sit there at work thinking about the rest and relaxation 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 another 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.

Fall in the vineyards by Tim CarlTry 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 and let it pass. Now look at the view. How often do we drive without even being aware of driving! Take a deep breath and thank the drive in front of you. They have given you a great gift. The present. If it helps, think that this person is saving you from an accident that may have occurred if you were speeding along. Or a ticket. Or whatever. 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:

A) Remain in the present at every opportunity
B) Use environmental clues to help you slow down
C) Look for opportunities to find ways to become thankful

…and breathe…

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.

If you need more time – try slowing down

Frog in Lettuce by Tim Carl

Frog in Lettuce

The key to finding more time is by effectively using the time you have.  Like the rest of us, you may feel constantly pulled this way and that, running from here to there, constantly fearing that you don’t having enough time to even take care of yourself. You might get up in the morning, hurry to get ready for work, and then rush to eat — there are probably many days that you feel exhausted even before you leave for work! You may often ask the questions: How can I find time to eat health? Or, how do I take better care of my mind, body and spirit, and how to I balance everything that is pulling at me? The answer to all these questions is: You must slow down. Way down. But how? You already said you don’t have enough time.

Try this short experiment.

Next time you find that you are your busiest, sit down for 5 minutes. Watch the world rush around you as you just sit. Breath deep. Do not think about what you are planning to do next. Do not think about what  you did in the past. Don’t judge yourself or others. Now, stand up and go back to what you where doing. But this time focus wholly on one element of the task for 5 minutes. For example, if you are sweeping the floor (this is something you should master!), just sweep the floor. Focus on the back and forth. No planning or thinking of the past or future. Just sweep. Feel the motion and smile at the result. Try this when you are writing, cooking, finishing homework, crunching numbers for a report, etc.

Doing this, If you’re like most people, you’ll find that you actually gain time. Strange, but true. We are all spending so much time worrying about the past or the future that we are actually loosing time. Focus on what you are doing and you’ll find you do a better job, have more time, and even feel better. Doing this certainly puts things in perspective.

Try this experiment every day for 10 minutes and, then, when you feel ready, expand the experiment to include more time and more activities. There are some other experiments that I’ll highlight later, but this is an easy, fun way to start.