5 Ways To Get RICH (Spiritually) Part 2

GET INVOLVED WITH THE COMMUNITY

Throwing away limiting belief systems and looking inside yourself through a meditation practice have a profound effect on the way you look at the world. Your true potential starts shining brightly. The internal transformation brings up external change. It is impossible to describe the feeling of freedom and relief but once it’s happening you know it, there’s no second-guessing. Having said that, your are unique and so is your experience. Attempting to describe my personal experience may only hinder yours by creating expectations.

What to do next once you tap into the source of your true potential? Well as a Cyprian Norwid, a Polish poet puts it: “The Light should not stand under cover. The Salt of the Earth should not be used in the kitchen” (excuse my poor translation). Less poetic representation of the same truth is “You don’t lock up a new Ferrari in the garage” – I’m a poet and I know it! An important property of this new energy is that it likes to be shared. The more you keep it for yourself, the more you try to preserve it the quicker it diminishes. This may seem counterintuitive in times when accumulating stuff and saving money is the number one priority. The only way to get more of it is to spend it! The more you spend it the more of it you get! The energy of the true potential is unlimited. The channel through which it flows gets only wider the more you use it.

To engage with the community is arguably the best way to use your potential. By nature we are social creatures. Interacting with others in a creative way brings joy and happiness. Forget intellectualizing the process, go Frozen on it and Let It Go! If you don’t understand the reference ask your kids. Also you may check how kids use their creative potential. I bet you will not find much intellectualizing in it. Get out and join a group, book club, organise hiking trip with friends, a road trip with the family. Do what it feels right in your heart not in your head. Take the longest journey you ever going to take – from your head to your heart! If you don’t know anyone in your community who’d like to join you in your new resolution, create your own group. Public event on Facebook, a local Meetup group – sky’s the limit, and that’s exactly where you should aim. Create your own change and use fresh new energy of your true self to do it.

GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Getting out of your comfort zone – you hear that a lot, I’m sure. You know the benefits of thinking out the box and yet you hardly ever do it. Why is that? For me personally it’s the fear of unknown. Is it going to work, am I embarasing myself, what if the others can see me, what are they going to think? All these questions are the creation of the ego that tries to protect us from the external world. You may ask: what’s wrong with that and the answer is: nothing at all, however, keep in mind words of Wayne Gretzky, arguable the best hockey player ever:

“You miss 100% shots you never take”

The rule of a thumb is: if a perspective of doing something makes you uncomfortable, you should do it. Why? Because what you perceive as a problem, is an opportunity in disguise. An opportunity to grow and learn and that’s the point, isn’t it? How often do you learn something from repeating the same thing? For a perfectionist like myself there’s a pleasure in repeating the same activity until I master it. However, the true lessons and true joy lies in the new. By definition the new is something that requires us to step out of the comfort of the familiar. To do so you must focus, bring your full attention to the task and that is the secret of learning.

Getting out of the comfort zone does not mean heroic deeds. On the contrary, I suggest a simple exercise of taking a different route on the way to work. How does it make you feel? Say hello to a total stranger – I bet you hand get sweaty. If you want to keep things close to home, try to stare into your partner’s eyes for 5 minutes. People who live happy and fulfilled life learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

SLEEP

This may sound like a strange one but how many of us having trouble sleeping these days? If you check App Store, the numbers of apps that help you to fall asleep are growing exponentially. How many of us fall asleep in front of the TV, tablet, with phone in our hands? Sleep hygiene becomes a growing challenge to many. To-Do lists are growing longer, amount of sleep not so much. There is more happening in your sleep then just rejuvenation of the physical body. It’s a scientific fact that a lot of learning happens in your sleep. Do you remember from your school when you had to learn a poem by heart? You try and try and you still not sure if you going to remember it next day. To your surprise the next day you remember the poem perfectly, and the parts that you struggled with before, are right in place now. Sleep is as essential as exercise. People who sleep well are frequently much happier; they perform better at work and are more resilient.

There is another aspect of sleeping that attracts more and more attention these days. Dreams! What does it mean to follow your dreams and why is that important? There’s a quote by Dr. Steve Maraboli:

“Your Dreams Are a Poetic Reflection of Your Soul’s Wishes”

Dreams convey messages of the past present and the future. Major discoveries happen in the dream state. If you look up the greatest scientists of all times, you will find they admit to dream about their findings.

His Holiness Dalai Lama says: “Sleep is the Best Meditation”. Take care of your sleep and pay attention to your dreams. A friend of mine, who’s a trained psychologist uses dreams in her work and personal life to change people’s lives. Check her upcoming workshop here.

How to take care of your sleep? For starters make a conscious effort to prepare yourself before you go to bed. It’s a useful practice to disengage from daily activities at least an hour before you go to bed. That means not TV, no tablet, no bright screens that will keep you awake long after you go to bed. Have your last meal at least 3 hour before you go to bed. Digestion competes with sleeping. Going to bed on full stomach significantly decreases quality of sleep. Last but not least wish yourself sweet dreams!

Feel free to post comment down below. Include your own experiences and ways to get rich…spiritually. As a part of the community your contribution is very valuable.

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5 Ways to Get RICH (Spiritually) Part 1

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The Internet is full of articles describing easy ways to get rich. Usually an article has a picture of a busty lady holding a whack of cash or a futuristic yacht that can be yours in no time. Sky’s the limit, they say, so I give those ads benefit of a doubt. As a matter of fact I feel inspired to give you my own take on how to get rich…spiritually. Yes, that’s the catch! You got it right! Since my focus on material goods it’s only moderate, I better write about something that interests me much more.

If I learned anything is that getting rich, in whatever way, takes time. That is the nature of it. In the case of getting rich spiritually, we are talking about lifetime, a long process of gradual transformation. I can almost see those of you quitting now: “I’ve got only 5 minutes, there must be an easier/shorter way”. We live in an era of “right here, right now” but bear with me a second. Although it’s a process and it takes time, for those who have only 5 minutes – there is hope! 5 Minutes is may be just enough! If you accumulate enough of those 5 minutes periods you may get where you want to be. It’s a marathon not a sprint. The progress depends on how much effort you put in over time. If you look for a suitable example, ask yourself this. Can you get ripped in 5 minutes? Most of you would say no. Let me ask you this: can you get ripped if you work your abs for 5 minutes every day for 2 months?  If you think so, you are on the way to get very, very rich…spiritually!

5 WAYS TO GET RICH SPIRITUALLY

  1. CHANGE YOUR BELIEF SYSTEMS
  2. START DAILY MEDITATION PRACTICE
  3. GET INVOLVED WITH COMMUNITY
  4. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
  5. SLEEP

CHANGE YOUR BELIVE SYSTEM – is arguably the most important part of the process. We all are deeply immersed in limiting belief systems. For most part they are hidden from our awareness. They operate in the background like an unused app on your iPhone. They may be unseen, unused but still drain battery of your phone. What if there are a dozen of such apps in the background? The only way to save your battery is to turn them off. The only way to live an abundant life is to dismantle beliefs that limit your perception. You may ask how I can identify a belief system if I can’t even see it? A good question, which is also the answer. Every process starts with an intention and every intention starts with a question. Once you ask the right question, your perception switches on to answer it. Awareness is your faithful servant waiting to be used. For instance, if you are hungry and ask yourself what you feel like eating, within seconds comes a list. Location of the food is immediately presented to you. Sweet or savoury, hot or cold. Bare in mind this question has been asked million times before and that is why response is so quick. With a bit of time and effort in the same way you will identify your limiting belief systems just by asking what they are. Allow me to give an example of a belief system that perhaps all of us consciously and subconsciously struggle with. Unworthiness. Unworthiness is a package that comes with many small and big items that limit our freedom. I don’t deserve love, friendship, care, money, holiday etc. The list is long and each item takes a bit of space and require a bit of mental energy to maintain. Imagine for a second releasing all the limiting beliefs conscious and subconscious. How much energy would you gain? Imagine the engine in your car gaining an extra 1000-horse power! You may not use it straight away but just its sheer potential under the hood feels exhilarating, doesn’t it? How to deal with false beliefs? One at a time! You must identify it first; bring it to your awareness. Bear in mind this may come in a form of a new feeling or a sensation that you are not accustomed to. We are all familiar with the word intuition, using it, it’s a different story. Intuition, gut feeling or sixth sense – you may need to start paying attention to them. Listen to your heart and I’m not talking in a romantic way!

Not all beliefs are hidden from us. Some of them are obvious but we decided to ignore them for whatever reason. For example: It’s ok to be miserable at work as it pays my bills, I can be happy when I get home. Does it ring a bell? Have we all been there? If you strongly agree with this statement or if you jump to you feet to defend it, this is a sign you are looking for! Once you identify a belief system that causes you a headache, it’s time to face it. That requires courage. A lot of it in fact! Beliefs won’t go easy, most of them at least. Do you remember saying, old habits die hard? Habits are hiding places of false beliefs. Now, how to train your awareness to recognise situations when limiting beliefs do us harm?

START DAILY MEDITATION PRACTICE. Lucky us, meditation became more popular and accepted. You no longer need to hide the fact that you sit for extended period of time, what appears as, doing nothing. CEOs of major corporations “came out of the closet” admitting to the meditation practice (an interesting article here). The question remains how meditation helps dismantling belief systems? To start off with, meditation touches the aspect of our being where beliefs originate. It’s a non-physical but mental space. There is no particular part of the brain, upon removing of which the problem disappears. During a meditation practice you allow yourself to put the physical aside and bring your attention to the part of your being that is the source of your personality. Most of us almost never go there, for the same reason why kids don’t open the closet in which a monster may hide. It’s a sacred space that only the bravest dear to enter. It’s also the space where the most precious treasures can be found. The physical senses have no use there. As a matter of fact important aspect of meditation is to quiet your physical senses. “Silence is God’s first language”.

Meditation makes us open to the source of true potential. Meditation gets us in touch with the source. Meditation helps us to recognise our true self. Meditation is a space of no judgment just presence. Regardless of what you’ve heard and read, meditation holds something different for everyone. Relaxation that you hear so much about can be considered as a side effect of meditation. Having said that, whatever reason brings you to meditation, it must be the right reason for you! As with every practice we always learn something new about ourselves. Our beliefs are part of that knowledge. If you spend enough time with yourself you may acquire the ability of looking at your beliefs as apps on you phone. There is calculator, which I use all the time, there’s the weather app…awesome. Oh, there’s a game I don’t play anymore, I better delete it, so doesn’t take the space. In the same manner there are beliefs that serve us well, and those who may have been useful in the past but are no longer needed and just stand in the way.  Meditation may help to look at them in a detached, non-judgmental way so we don’t suffer when we need to say good bye to them.

Through meditation we gain more knowledge and understanding of the inside world, which directly reflect our view of the outside world. Keep in mind internal and external are tightly connected. Some say external is manifestation of internal. Using this metaphor our belief systems create the physical reality – not other way around. Therefore we must choose wisely what we believe in.

To be continued…

 

6 Cornerstones of Daily Meditation

 

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“If you need to do something more than once, have a system for it”

This quote comes from the corporate world but applies very well to any daily meditation practice. Meditation may seem as a mysterious activity but the reality of it resembles very much a gym workout; it’s a commitment, it includes repetition and although may be hard at times, there’s no doubt it’s good for you. Meditation is an equivalent of gym for your brain – it improves your cognitive fitness. Utilizing the gym metaphor, it’s important to have a daily routine; choose time and place convenient for you and stick to it. Frequent changes, particularly at the beginning are not recommended. How often should I meditate, you may ask? Twenty minutes, twice a day it’s a solid start but if you have time for only one session per day, it’s better to do it in the morning. Choose place that is quiet and with no distractions. Your mind is full of them and adding more may be counterproductive.

Meditation practice also resembles a scientific experiment. You start with a protocol; the more detailed the better. Then you take it to the lab and test it. There are many successful experiments to learn from. Books, scientific journals, teachers. Thank to their experience we know what works, what doesn’t and how to avoid common pitfalls on the way. Even with the best protocol there will be challenges but the ride is always smoother if you’ve got a good map. Besides, problems are opportunities in disguise, you can learn from them!

Having a protocol for your meditation practice will save you a lot of time. Rather than trying to remember what the next step is, you may consider writing it down or printing out the procedure. This way, every time you sit down to it, you feel less anxious because you know exactly what the next step is. It will also allow you to better focus your attention, knowing that everything is ready for the journey.

If you have chosen a suitable place and assigned the time for your practice, let us talk a bit about the preparation itself.

When I started facilitating meditation classes I though about an easy way to help a new person to get started without getting lost in the details of the process. As a scientist I’ve read and written many protocols, manuals and procedures and I know how important is to choose a right one before starting an experiment. This one I call:

Six Cornerstones of Daily Meditation

  1. Affirmation
  2. Intention
  3. Position
  4. Relaxation
  5. Practice
  6. Gratitude

AFFIRMATION – is  a simple verbal statement of how long you are planning to practice for. Although it may seem trivial, it’s an important first step to establish a connection between your body and mind; a verbal contract if you will. The affirmation may be very simple: “I meditate now for 20 minutes”. It is important that you say it out loud in the present tense. On the subconscious level this is a signal to your brain to start the preparation right away.

INTENTION – A clear intention makes a huge difference to you practice. If you embark upon a journey, first you must choose a destination. The road may take you to places you didn’t expect but without direction and purpose  you will end up nowhere. Intention can be simple: I want to unwind, I want peace of mind or more profound: I want to find purpose in my life. There are no good or bad intentions. There are only intentions that are meaningful to you, which you feel strong resonance with and those that means nothing to you, doesn’t matter how profound they sound. I suggest to choose the former!

POSITION –  Comfortable position is an important aspect of the meditation session. In uncomfortable position you will get tired quickly and won’t be able to focus on the mental process. Remember: meditation is the training of your mind. Find a position that you will be able to maintain during the entire meditation period. Although some may argue, I don’t belive that a purpose of meditation is to fight physical discomfort. Even in perfectly comfortable position there are many challenges that you will have to face. If you are not sure how to start, begin sitting down in a comfortable chair. Choose a position in which your feet are resting on the floor, with hands on your laps, open, facing up or down. Your back straight but not rigid. To achieve that you may want to roll your shoulders back and then drop them. In this position your breathing should be easy, unrestricted. Allow your eyes to close.

RELAXATION –  In a way relaxation should be always one of the initial intentions of the practice. Meditation is a mental activity and as such should take the body out of the picture. I’m not saying that body is not important. Physical body is manifestation of the consciousness. Focusing on the mental process will benefit the body as well. To relax your body you may take three deep breaths; inhale deeply through your nose as if you smell flowers, hold your breath for a moment, and exhale through your mouth as if you try to blow a candle. As you exhale you may release any tension and discomfort that may get in the way of the practice. Let go of expectation and get ready for the unknown.

PRACTICE – after all the hard work it’s time to dive in and enjoy the benefits of the calm and quiet. As you sow, so shall you reap. The more attention you pay to the preparation the more likely you will enjoy the experience. Some may say that meditation is not always about enjoying yourself but I say: misery is optional:) Set up the timer and dive in!

After the timer goes off, don’t get up just yet. Now it’s time for a short reflection.

GRATITUDE – is a step often forgotten after you just descended from the heavenly stillness. There’s a chance that you didn’t enjoy the session. Regardless of your perception every session is beneficial. The only bad meditation is the one you didn’t do. You may express your gratitude in many ways, as an example: put one hand on your heart and say: thank you for the time I was given and the wisdom I received.

This is a very personal take on the meditation practice and it’s not my intention to convince anyone of validity of this approach. At the same time, if you disagree with all or any points, I’d love to hear from you. There’s no such thing as a critique, there’s only feedback and it’s always welcome. Please use the comment section below.

Helping Betty the Sweettooth

Betty the Sweettooth

Helping others comes very naturally to most of us. The same with showing compassion and gratitude towards a friends, partner, even a stranger. We are deeply moved by images of suffering people in the news. The situation changes when we try to show the same attitude towards ourselves. For some reason is almost impossible to be a caring friend of yourself. Our loving nature flies out of the window when dealing with our own wrongdoings. The saying goes: “We are the harshest critics of ourselves”.

A wise person could offer an eloquent explanation here. I’m not going to do it! Instead I invite you to an experiment that may help you to turn the inner critic into a helping friend. I will call this project Helping Betty the Swettooth. Let me start with introducing you to my friend Betty. She an adorable gal! Cheerful and bubbly, always smiling, a great companion, with cute dimples in her cheeks. She has only one problem: choclate! She cannot help herself to reach for a piece every time she’s a bit stressed or under pressure from her boss. You know how it is:) After having the whole bar her stomach hurts and she doesn’t feel good.

So she asked me to help her out and remind her next time when I see her overindulging. Without hesitation I agreed: “It would be my pleasure to help you Betty!”. Now, when I see her reaching for her favorite treat I lovingly invite her to reconsider and guess what: she always does, moreover she appreciates my help very much because her stomach doesn’t hurt any more!

Our personality has many layers and each of these layers require our attention. Some traits take care of themselves, others need special treatment and there’s nothing wrong with that. Creating a character out of a problem may assist you in dealing with it better. Turn your weakness into your strengt. Bob the Grumpus, Jenny the Procrastinator even Harry Judgmental are really nice fellows if you only help them to deal with their problem! And since you love to be helpful it’s a WIN-WIN situation:)

PRACTICE:

  1. Pick one thing from your everyday life that you have difficulty dealing with.
  2. Imagine a lovable character that could play this role. Be creative and take your time.
  3. Give your character a cute name, have some fun with it, no need to be too serious, regardless how serious the problem is.
  4. Make yourself acquainted with your new friend. Let him/her describe the problem and offer your help.
  5. From now on every time during the day you notice the problem, turn to your new friend and try to offer assistance in most KIND a LOVING way.
  6. Spend a couple of days getting to know your new friend.
  7. Making friends is much more fun than dealing with problems!

THE FORCE AWAKENS (within you)

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When I was five years old I went to the cinema for the first time with my sister. I saw the first instalment of Star Wars. I still remember the opening scene when Darth Vader boards the rebel ship. For a long time he appeared to me as the scariest movie character ever. Then there was Princess Leia; I couldn’t take my eyes of her – the innocent fascination that only a 5-years old is capable of. Star Wars have become my favourite movie. I watched it many times growing up, peeling the layers of truth behind it. At first it was the Galaxy far, far away, a science-fiction dream of every young boy. For some reason I was always fascinated by space ships, star systems and galaxies. Then, there was the lightsaber “a weapon for more civilized times”. It wasn’t as crude as laser guns and blasters. It reflected the character of its owner, a Jedi Knight. You can imagine how much I wanted to be a Jedi, wield a powerful weapon and be respected wherever I go. The countless adventures on a board of the fastest starship in the galaxy.

Although I couldn’t put it in words back then, I always felt attraction towards Star Wars that was beyond the obvious. Have you ever thought why millions and millions of fans are so deeply, one may say religiously, attracted to the franchise? Why Star Wars became to many so much more than a movie? I guess, every fan has its own answer. At first you follow your eyes, mesmerised by the fast action and twists in the plot. The more you watch it the less you pay attention to the adventure itself and start recognising the underlying dynamic that governs it. Some may say it’s about the eternal battle between good and evil. A bad guy shows up ruling the first part of the movie and then the good guy makes his appearance and saves the day in the second part. Well, maybe. For me however the secret ingredient is THE FORCE.

Force […] a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.

Yoda

I just came back from the cinema, 30 years after seeing Star Wars for the first time. I must confess I’m a bit shaken…not because the movie was good or bad, I let you judge it yourself, but because the emphasis on the force. Even Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford), who was always a non-believer, admits in the movie that the force it’s real!

The FORCE AWAKENS not only in the main character but in the whole franchise. I dare to say that if Star Wars admits to spirituality that we no longer have a choice but to admit that we also are “Luminous beings, not this crude matter”. The time has come to recognise our true nature and rich our full potential!

Rob Monroe in his books invites us to explore the nature of the reality in his famous affirmation:

I am more than my physical body. Because I am more than physical matter, I can perceive that which is greater than the physical world.

Even modern science recognises the role of consciousness and non-physical in the fabric of reality. The famous double-slit experiment that baffled Einstein and other scientists is one example. Emerge of quantum physics that explains so much and yet does not make any sense to many (not because is difficult to understand, it just does not make sense at times!). Every respected scientist (I’m talking nobel prize winners like Planck, Heisenberg and Schroedinger) admitted to existence of non-physical. So, how wide can you open your eyes? What is there, outside of the box? Are you not too afraid to look?

I invite you today to simply recognise the unknown, the mystery, the incomprehensible and sit quietly in its presence.

MASTER YODA MEDITATION (5-10 PRACTICE):

  1. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for the next couple of minutes.
  2. Sit or lie down so you feel comfortable. Close your eyes.
  3. Breathe deeply through your nose and on exhale release all the tension from your body. Take as many breaths as you need to relax.
  4. Tune into your body. Feel the blood flow, feel the breath, the heartbeat.
  5. Now expand your awareness outside of your body. Recognise the presence of the objects around you, the floor you are sitting on, the room. How do you connect with everything and everyone around you?
  6. With your eyes closed imagine a vibrant, white energy that surrounds your whole body. Imagine that energy expands and encloses everything around you. Imagine that energy being a binding force in the fabric of reality. Stay with it for a couple of minutes and enjoy the connection, knowing that you are a part of larger reality.
  7. Come back to your body. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  8. Bring your attention to your the centre of your heart and express gratitude for this time you’ve been given. Thank the Universe (perhaps send gratitude to the galaxy far, far away!).

Different states of *MIND*

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I took a walk along the beach this morning. On a sunny, warm day with a light breeze dolphins decided to swim by. I sat in one of my favourites cafes to have breakfast. Coffee was delivered with latte art on it. I ordered my favourite meal and enjoyed peaceful atmosphere of early morning staring at the ocean. Few people passed by in no rush. I cannot imagine a more perfect day.

Then I brought to mind similar days from the past and tried to remember whether I enjoyed them as much as this one. As a matter of fact I found a few with a small remark attached to them: you live in the paradise and you don’t pay enough attention to it. I also remember a couple of other situations when I imagined how great it’s going to be when arrive to the beach have a game of volleyball and go for a swim. I also recall the exact situation happening and me not paying attention to it.

What has changed? The place was the same, beach, sand, sound of the morning surf. It was not the outside that changed, it must have been then the interior, the personal perception.

The world around you does not change as quickly as your perception of it!

The whole situation brought to mind one of the talks by Bruce Lipton where he describes the honeymoon effect. When you in love everything looks vibrant and beautiful. Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, even your noisy neighbours don’t bother you that much. You want to share your love and affection with the whole world and nothing can spoil your mood. Once the honeymoon is over, you wake up and can’t hear any birds, flowers need water again and the neighbours…well, you seriously consider calling police on them. As much exaggerated as it sounds, that’s how we operate. The same situation may produce very different response depends on our state of mind. One may ask, what can I do to always hear “the birds and the bees”. Well, everything starts with awareness. Our brain is programmed (or we programmed our brain, to be precise) to automatically react to certain kind of situations. Someone taps you on the shoulder, you turn around. Someone pinches you, you shrink. You see the red light, you stop etc. Gazillions of preprogrammed responses, some very basic another very elaborate. Ones you recognise an emotional state, you may start responding to it rather than reacting. Reacting is automatic and you don’t control it (i.e. brain-autopilot), responding is when you are aware of your action and its consequences. Imagine taking a bite of your favourite fruit, you take it, you, chew it then you swallow. Now, do the same but imagine the texture of it, how juicy it is, its flavour, focus on chewing and pay attention to the changes over time, now swallow it. If you took time to imagine it, you may notice that your mouth watered a bit. Action performed million times eventually become hardwired into the structure of the brain. It does not require much thought or consideration and most importantly is fast. You may call it an instinctual response. There are situation when this is very useful, even life saving e.g. you see a football approaching at high-speed, you rise your hands, protecting your head and face, reflect the blow, great! Now, consider a football player doing the same thing during the game; how embarrassing.

You may ask yourself, why I am telling you all this? Well, firstly our behaviour depends on the state of our mind. A mindful person controls the outcomes (i.e. enjoy life), mindless (i.e. absent minded) person drives on autopilot and missing all the good stuff (e.g. morning coffee by the beach). Secondly, we can control the sate of our mind. As obvious as it sounds, we frequently choose not to! Hiding behind our phones, tablets, TV sets we are missing a good part of our lives as it passes by us. People complain that the life is short. John Kabat-Zinn says: “If you want to live longer life, try to be present for more of your moments”. State of mind in which awareness is in every present moment seems to be the key to success.

What is your state of mind right now? Feel free to share it with others in the comments section. You may find that we are not so different!

5-10 MIN PRACTICE:

  1. Set an alarm for an hour from now (assuming that you are not going to bed).
  2. When the alarm rings stop for a moment and take a deep breath. Hold it and check your state of mind. How are you feeling? What state are you in? What emotions are you experiencing? Exhale.
  3. Spend a minute of two assessing your state of being. Be curious about it. Imagine your are a scientist in the lab taking yourself under microscope. What do you see? No need to judge, just observe. Perhaps you find something interesting?
  4. Now, bring your awareness to the room or your present location. Try to notice something you didn’t pay attention to before. Let yourself scan for something. Try to use each of your senses, search for people, objects, smells, sounds, check taste in your mouth.
  5. Enjoy the moment.
  6. You may set up your alarm again and repeat the experiment anytime.
  7. Thank yourself for being present, thank the Universe for the opportunity to fully experience.

+++ Evolution Today = Revolution NOW +++

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We are witnesses of continuos changes on every level of our being. Change is perhaps the only constant in the Universe. If changes occur slowly we call it Evolution, if they occur fast we call it Revolution. Someone said that people don’t change, they just become more of the same. I see how this is true for myself. I also see how much misery it brings to my life. Hidden behind a wall of superstitions, expectations and assumptions, we wait for the world to stop and join us in a carefully constructed castle of our wishful thinking. No wonder we suffer so much trying to resist the change. So much energy invested in the battle that cannot possibly be won. Life is evolving, that’s a fact; we may jump on board and adapt or stay behind and suffer consequences. The bad news is that our brains are embedded with old software; an equivalent of Windows 3.11 perhaps. We have very fast processor that unfortunately runs a very old operation system which main functions are: survival and reproduction (i.e. 95% of the time). For the raining 5% of the time, some of us, may use higher functions like kindness, compassion, creativity etc. The good news is, we have ability to override the system and program new functions. How to do it? Wait a second, let me tell you a story first.

For the first billion years of life on Earth the world was ruled by bacteria. The evolve, grew and did pretty well. Then bacteria rich their limit and realised (literally) that they no longer can grow as an individual and need to form a group. That group was surrounded by the external layer and as a result ameba emerged. Ameba is in a sense a cluster of single cells that specialised in performing specific functions. Ameba is no different to a human being in its functions: it can move, eat, reproduce, excrete and has a primitive consciousness. A consciousness that creates an urge to evolve. That was the case for another billion years until ameba reached its limit and only way to further evolve was to form a community where each unit takes a specific function. History repeats itself, and as you can imagine the same process went through a couple of more iterations until a human being in the present form started ruling the Earth. The morale of the story is that the basis of every evolutionary breakthrough is the community. We live in a society prays individualism and independence. We have forgotten that “no man is an island” and survival of the individual is very much dependent on the happiness of the collective. In the world where most 80 individuals own as much as 3.500.000.000 individuals, which is half of the human population. Recognising the needs of your fellow human being is not only a right thing to do, it’s a necessity that our survival depends on. You may ask yourself a question how we suppose to coordinate our efforts to achieve a harmony in the world, which is so out of balance. Let me use an example of a human body. Human body consists of more then 37 trillion cells – that is a BIG number! Each of those cells has it’s function, each cell communicates with others, adjust its processes to be part of the whole. Nervous system it’s a network that allows communication between parts of the body. If everything works harmoniously we are healthy, if some cells decide to rebel, there’s a response of the whole body, and the whole body (i.e. you) experience discomfort. Imagine if there’s no communication amongst cells and some of them decide to no longer be a part of the whole and do what they will. A cancer starts to spread and I don’t need to tell you what are the consequences of that. The bottom line is: a harmonious communication and cooperation is a must. Wellbeing of one cell depends on the wellbeing of the part and vice versa.

Now, let me extrapolate the evolutionary process a bit further: single cell ->> ameba ->> complex organism ->> … ->> human being. What’s the next step in evolution? What is the next step for humanity? It may be a wild guess on my part but it seems that the Internet acts like some sort of nervous system that connects human cells. As every organism, humanity needs energy – we get it by burning fossil fuels. We excrete – produce tons of garbage. We grow – 10 billion very soon. Our society possesses all the functions of the living organism, doesn’t it? Think about it for a second. Can one cell ignore the rest of the body and live happy life independently?

10 MIN PRACTICE:

  1. Settle down in a comfortable position. Sitting or lying down. Take a couple of deep breaths through your nose and exhale through your mouth releasing all the stress that accumulated in your body.
  2. Ground yourself in the place where you are (home, office, indoor, outdoor). Recognise your environment; is is quiet, is it noisy, is there someone else near you?
  3. Keep your eyes open.
  4. Drop into your body and recognise the processes that are going on right now: blood circulation, function of your brain, different sensations, getting oxygen to your blood stream, new cells being born, old cells die. Be aware of 37 billion units that form your body, that connect in one living organism.
  5. Stay with that awareness for a while.
  6. Now expand your awareness to your nearest surroundings, your room, your apartment, your house. Recognise living and nonliving parts of this unit. What is the purpose of each living cell? What is your purpose?
  7. Now expand your awareness even further. Include your suburb, your city, country, continent. Let the awareness expand indefinitely.
  8. Allow yourself  to be a part of a large organism. You are a very important part of it. Consciously connect with all the cells, all the people.
  9. Bring back your attention to your body.
  10. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  11. Thank yourself for this time. Express gratitude to yourself and the Universe.

Which Life-Stream are you connected to?

steam_mountains

Today I had a realisation: we are constantly switching our attention between various data streams. Another realisation: for most of the time our consciousness is connected to Monkey Mind Life Stream, which, as you may imagine, is a very poor use of our awareness. Every second we have is a chance to choose from myriads of different data streams and yet for most of the time we choose the one, which is the most repetitive (i.e. 80% of our thoughts are the same) and arguably the dullest. Even looking outside of the window may provide richer experience than the data stream from our heads. The best part is, we always have had the choice. We may choose what to pay attention to. Most of us are very bad at it and keep our awareness on an auto-pilot, which results in listening to the internal chatter. But let’s have a look at the choice we have. An example of basic data streams that came to my mind would be: nature, environment around you, an interesting person (connecting to that data stream is called listening), your own body. Our five senses are channels through which we can receive data. Which channel you choose the most? For most of us it would be the sight but why limit ourself to only one channel if we’ve got 4 more at our disposal. This is obviously only the surface. Our 5 senses allow us only to receive our reality. What about the astral planes that so many astral projectors are talking about. Again, it’s only a matter of switching from one data stream to another. This may obviously not be easy, since most of the time we drive on auto-pilot but whose choice is that? Mine and mine only! We may drive on auto-pilot for most of our lives, do the bare minimum (i.e. go to work, pay bills, be a good citizen and die). Media knows exactly how to create those streams that not require any engagement on our part. No worries mate, just relax and let us drive you.

I believe my observation is nothing new. Tom Campbell talks about something similar in his book My Big TOE. However, when you realise something by yourself, when you experience an ah-ha moment, this is very different to reading about it. You suddenly evolve from a state of Believing to the state of Knowing. This is a profound change. You look at the world and decide what to choose: monkey mind or the spacious awareness.

5-10 MIN PRACTICE:

  1. Take a couple of deep breaths. Breath deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth. This is important to bring extra oxygen to your brain.
  2. Sit down on a chair which gives you a back support. Make you posture straight but not rigid. Keep your eyes closed or gently open but not looking around.
  3. Bring your awareness to your environment. What data stream are you connected to? Recognise the source of the information coming to all your 5 senses.
  4. Now consciously connect to a different data stream. An obvious one would be a sensation in your body but feel free to choose any that gives you a strong input. What do you feel? Which senses are involved?
  5. Switch between senses. Explore different combinations. Are you able to process data from two senses simultaneously? Apply curiosity.
  6. Disconnect from the current stream and find another one of your interest.
  7. Repeat investigation.
  8. End the process by connecting to the centre of your heart. Can you sense the beat of your heart? Can you hear it?
  9. Finish your practice by acknowledging your effort. Thank yourself and the Universe for the time you have given yourself.

P.S. Did you use the smell as the source of your data? Smell is one of the most underutilise senses. Being located very close to the memory centre in your brain, can be very useful in remembering things. Perhaps you can remember a time when a smell has triggered a memory from the early childhood. Your nose can tell you many stories!

DIFFICULT QUESTION

Doubts

At the beginning of this year I came back from a trip around the world. It took me almost 8 months. I visited 5 countries on 3 continents. I lost a couple of things on the way including almost 10 kg of weight (some on each time zone)…

I go on a trip like that every 2-3 years and every time my purpose is simple: get myself out of the comport zone and to meet new people. If you think about the second reason, It’s kind of included in the first i.e. meeting people often requires a lot of courage. This, however, only applies if you really want to meet them. Let me share with you a story that illustrates my point.

A couple of years back I was volunteering in an orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata. I love working with kids. Their authenticity and creativity always inspires me. We had our routine which included a morning gathering, individual classes, music, dance and arts&crafts. Every kid, with no exception, loved talking to the microphone during the gatherings. Volunteers had to make sure that everyone has their chance. We always asked the same simple question: how are you today? The answers we received ranged from a burst of laugh, simple smile to elaborate 30 seconds show from those kids that ability allow it. Most of the orphans had some physical disabilities, almost everyone was mentally challenged to various degree. However, all of them had one thing in common: they took the question seriously! It was a real question that required a full engagement on their part. It was their chance to shine, their chance to share with other kids and volunteers, their time to be present. I cannot describe the fun we had together.

Recently, I facilitated a meditation session during which the above memory came back to me. I decided to ask the participant the same question: how are you today? It is very important to me that every student is connected with him/herself and with others before we start the session. They are always new people and creating a sense of community is crucial. The first person replied automatically: thanks, I’m good. The second responded in similar manner. When it came to Thomas, he looked at me curiously and said: you are ACTUALLY asking me!!! (exclamation mark rather then a question). In this instant something amazing happened. A simple question so frequently answered without a thought, transformed the relation between us. There was a connection, there was understanding, there was a fundamental shift of awareness. It didn’t take hours, cost much money nor took much effort. The only ingredient that made it happened was a genuine intention to engage with other human being.

As a society we are starving for genuine interactions. Almost every relationship starts on the surface and that’s where it remains on most part. How about we step up and say: no more bullish, no more small-talk, how are you today?!?!? The exclamation marks are again on purpose because it seems this question has to be shouted to be heard. Pretending we are ok, is no longer enough. According to various surveys loneliness is admitted by us much as 70% of the adult population. Another interesting fact: people age 18-35 seems to feel as lonely as those over 60 years of age. In the era of the Internet and Social media this is shocking? Being surrounded by friends and family does not mean that your emotional needs are fulfilled. Rick Jarow explains this phenomenon by showing what we are addicted to. At the bottom there is the food addiction. The food addiction represents our need for nourishment. Instinctively we reach for food every time we feel undernourished emotionally. Compulsive eating spreads like a wild fire amongst developed societies. Rather than stoping for a second and asking: what is that I need? we grab another CocaCola, hoping that it will bring us joy and fulfilment promised in its commercials. The internal dialog is as important as the communication with others. How do we supposed to ask real questions to others if we never ask them to ourselves? Let’s nourish our real, emotional needs rather then our primal instincts.

ASKING DIFFICULT QUESTION (5-10 MIN PRACTICE):

  1. Look around. Make a conscious connection with your surroundings. Recognise the fact you are a part of the environment. Realise that you are not separate from it.
  2. Now, take a couple of deep breaths. Inhale through you nose, exhale through your mouth as if you blow a candle. Make sure your brain have enough oxygen.
  3. Shake your whole body, shake it well. Rub your hands together so you can feel the heat. Shake them off.
  4. Now, sit down with your legs crossed or in the comfortable chair so your back is straight but not tense. Make sure your body feels comfortable. Recognise any obvious tension and release it on the exhale.
  5. Bring your attention to your body.
  6. Now, ask yourself a difficult question. A question that brings an emotional response. Perhaps a question you’ve been avoiding for a long time.
  7. Name the emotion that it brings. Recognise the area in your body that is affected by the emotion. Perhaps it’s your through, your belly, your shoulders.
  8. Imagine shape, texture, size of the emotion. Anything that will help your left brain to connect with the emotion.
  9. Now take it in your imaginary hands and sit with it for a couple of minutes. Observe how it changes, how it evolves, how it moves. Connect with the discomfort. If it is too much just take a deep breath or two.
  10. Now, being aware of your body and the emotion say “I welcome you [name of the emotion]. Observe how your body reacts.
  11. Release the emotion from you imaginary hands and let go.
  12. Take a couple of deep breaths and sit still for another minute or two.
  13. Thank yourself for the time you’ve given yourself. Thank the emotion for teaching you a lesson, whatever that may be. Express gratitude to yourself and the Universe.

Discover Your Inner Resources

Man-inside-note-head

School, college, university, postgraduate, PhD, MBA…and then what? So much knowledge at hand and very few tools to actually use it. My friends with university degrees work as bartenders and waitresses in foreign countries. Media and advertising promise: with yet another qualification you will secure your dream job. The mantra of today is: TOMORROW is going to be a better day, perhaps next year, after I finish university, get visa, get slimmer, get six-pack, do this, do that but 6 months later you find yourself in the same place with the same problems.

Recently, I went to an entrepreneurial event where people were presenting their lifework and how they achieved success. On the list of their achievements were no degrees or diplomas! As a matter of fact, some of them were university dropouts. What they had in common was passion to what they do, passion that entranced the audience. Everyone listened, wondering: how can I get this? As far as I’m concerned, there are no degrees in passion, there are no university courses that teach how to tap into your inner resources. Yes, everything you need is already there, waiting to be discovered. If you need a proof, ask yourself: when was the last time I felt really happy? What was the situation? Based on my experiences I can answer: when I was with my friends, when I shared a deep conversation, when I was doing what I really love! What qualifications can contribute to your state of mind?

the best things in this world are for free

As a academic teacher I always wonder how to talk to people so they listen. I’m familiar with concepts of NLP and books on how to attract attention. The times I capture audiences the most, were not those when I used the techniques but those when I genuinely put myself out there, spoke with passion about things I believe in. I didn’t hold back and made myself vulnerable. No one was applauding. The greatest reward was the silence of the intent listening. When you speak from your heart rather then from your head, that’s when you connect with people, that’s when people listen, that’s when you listen.

There is a gap between you and yourself. The gap filled with silence. Listening intently to this silence and you discover the abundance.

5-10 MIN PRACTICE:

  1. Take a couple of deep breaths. Inhale through you nose, exhale through your mouth as if you blow a candle. Make sure your brain have enough oxygen.
  2. Stand up or sit down. Make yourself feel comfortable. Release any obvious tension. Shake your body a bit if you must.
  3. Ground yourself by imagining roots growing form the bottom of your feet. Those roots connect you with the centre of the Earth. Make a strong intention to release all the emotions that may get in the way of this practice.
  4. Bring your attention to the centre of your heart. Imagine a point of light representing all your inner resources. Name them. Name them again. Name them one more time.
  5. Imagine this light exploding into million crystal pieces filling the space around you as far as you can perceive.
  6. After every explosion there’s a deep silence. Immerse yourself in this silence and stay there for a couple of minutes.
  7. Bring back your attention to your body.
  8. Thank yourself for this time. Express gratitude to yourself and the Universe.