Whatever it Takes. Four New Ways to Grow Today

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Surrender and Slow Down

Expect some pain today. When faced with problems during the day, I like to think of them as growing pains.

You see, the counter-intuitive (and funny) thing about embarking on the path of personal growth is that it’s not going to be all cake and cookies. Read: 7 Harsh Truths About Personal Growth.

However, whatever you do, don’t add to your pain and problems. Slow down, see life as it is, not worse than it is. Please don’t make it worse with a second  arrow.

What’s a second arrow?

“If you get struck by an arrow, do you then shoot another arrow into yourself?” 

If we look at the way we move through the day, when something happens, when we have pain in our body, when somebody treats us in a way that feels disrespectful, when something goes wrong for someone we love, that’s the first arrow.

Our mind and body go into a reactivity that does not help to bring healing. We blame others, we blame ourselves. That’s the second arrow. – Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance.

second arrow

What I’ve come to learn and accept is that there is always a solution of the highest good, but it may not be aligned with what we think we need.  Our job is to surrender to the fact that the Universe has a plan far better than ours. I’ve found that the more I surrender to the Universe’s plan the easier it is to move through the discomfort of uncertainty.  @GabbyBernstein Read: The Universe Has Your Back

 Connect meaningfully

Heart to Heart

If you look at it this way, it becomes clear. If you don’t add value to another person’s existence, then you will not be missed when you are gone.  Read: 13 Simple Ways You Can Have More Meaningful Conversations.

 

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Understand the Payoff

of Putting Things Off

The payoff you get for procrastinating is that you don’t have to do the work. You don’t even have to try. It’s so much easier to stay the same, to stay small.  Hell, you’re use to it. It’s comfortable. You may not like it that much, but it kind of works. You know what to expect from your day. The work is easy. You are complacent, but you can deal with that. That’s the payoff.

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Once you begin to realize that doing the same things you always do will give you the same results you don’t want, then you realize the hard part is starting.  You have to put in the effort and be okay with stumbling and bumbling around for a while. It’s like walking through a dank and dark tunnel without a torch. Starting something new is really hard and frightening sometimes.

 

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The Temptation to Control and Repair Everything Around You

When life is uncertain – and when is it not really? – I feel the need to try to control the people around me. It gives me a false sense of security. If I can control what they do, then maybe I can control some of the results. The outcomes.

And we all know, no one really wants us to control them. So, this only has me feeling more frustrated. I am wasting all that control energy doing something that is absolutely frustrating. The only thing I can control is me and my attitude.   I must be like water.

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Go with the Flow

Try this. Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless. Be water My Friend.

In order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature. This is the true meaning of ‘Be water’. It is the complete and unconditional acceptance of the self. Where the self itself melts and becomes formless, fluid and flexible. When you attain that state, you are water

Read: How to Stop Trying to Control Everything

Turning Your Worries into Wonder

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Today let me carve out time – time out of my busy schedule to nurture my soul. To do the real living. Not just the busy work.

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Let me not rush into another day without taking moments for myself. Time to meditate, move and to feel my wild heart beating.

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Let me remember to acknowledge that this day is another chance to create something valuable for the world.

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Let me take all of my worries and turn them into wonder, so I may creatively transform my concerns into care.  When I worry about having enough money, energy, health or friends, may I learn how to generate new ways of seeing my problems and new ideas to design a life that heals myself and others.  Today I will strive to see and to know that nothing lies beyond my capabilities if it is a must.

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I know that I will sometimes fail, but failure offers insights that are invaluable to my growth.

How to use fear before it uses you  – Anthony Robbins

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Today let me generate new, fresh ideas to solve my problems and to create something better, something brand new.  Ideas that are useful, helpful and brilliant that will help not only me, but others who are trying to make their way in this world while becoming better versions of themselves.  I must remember, no ideas is so big that I can not take the first step.

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming an Idea Machine by James Altucher

Becoming better starts with taking care of me. Nurturing my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

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10 Ways I Can Nurture Myself Today

  1. Set reminders on my smartphone to stop during the day to stand up and stretch.
  2. Forgive someone who has caused me pain.
  3. Listen to an inspiring podcast from Tara Brach.
  4. Remember to eat a light, low-carb, healthy lunch.
  5. Stay thankful for everything I already have.
  6. Go for a long walk when the rain lets up.
  7. Call my husband and laugh for five minutes on the phone.
  8. Pray a little each hour while asking for guidance and humility.
  9. Take care of a nagging problem. Deal with it head on.
  10. Discover new music while having dinner.

Oh to be Anti-fragile to be a part of Things that Gain from Disorder

Each day I remember to nurture and care for myself, I get one step closer to becoming a stronger version of myself than yesterday. Some nurturing things will work better than others. It really is a matter of trial and error and protecting myself from getting stuck, transforming when necessary but keeping a sense of broad freedom and opportunism.

Experimenting with new ways of living by trial and error = freedom.

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Reclaiming my Personal Power

The black swan is a graceful reminder to move from any position where you feel powerless and at the mercy of external forces; it is time to reclaim your personal power.

Cherish My Unlovable Parts. Turn them around. Realize how many of my bad thoughts and actions can really be useful.

  • Obsessive worrying demonstrates that I actually care.
  • When channeled correctly, my panic-like anxiety is like a fiery ball of glorious energy.
  • My anger and frustration is simply a hidden desire to make life better.
  • My apparent laziness and constant shortcutting is really a search for a more efficient and productive way to create.
  • Wanting to do it all while feeling confused in simply my inner child looking for guidance while letting the world know, I want to contribute.
  • The resentment and rage I sometimes have can be directed into a forceful power of purpose.

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Is This The Person You Want to Be?

Our motives are goal directed activities that energize and direct our behavior. Our motives support what we do, how we behave and what we put forth in the world.

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Sometimes our motives are simply the presentation of how we hope the world perceives us.

Powerful . .

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Intelligent . .

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Foxy. . .

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Strong. . .

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Compassionate . . .

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Sometimes though, we have to make choices. Choices between doing what we want to do and what we must do.

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Doing the right thing may not necessarily match our goals. The right thing may be miles away from our true desires. It isn’t necessarily the thing that will make us happy, get us noticed, respected or appreciated.

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When we remove our selfish motives and realign our priorities to match what is right before us that must be taken care of now, we are free to do the work that matters. The sometimes thankless work.  The work that serves others.

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Feeling Unappreciated

It’s difficult when people are indifferent to our work and to our achievements. We do and do and do  and get no damn respect. No appreciation, zero gratitude. We feel affronted.

Maybe it’s time to review why we do what we do and why we get upset when nobody notices.

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The reward for doing the right thing is not recognition. The reward for doing the right thing is self-respect, a calm heart and a mind at rest.

When you let go and do what is right and give up all thoughts of acknowledgment, it’s actually quite liberating.

 

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There is peace of mind that comes with doing the important work without applause.

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Fresh vs Familiar

To “see-saw”

To change rapidly and repeatedly from one position, situation, or condition to another and back again.

My mind is twisted in a knot this morning, it is see-sawing back and forth between wanting to rewind my mind, my attitude and my approach to life back to a time when the day  brought something new, inspiring and very fresh to

. . . the comfort of this moment now, the familiarity and “security” of knowing how things will probably pan out.

I’ve been lying to myself. I think I don’t like to be too comfortable yet I try to control it all. Perhaps if I didn’t try to command the day so much with lists, tasks, goals and the determination to “get it done” . . perhaps a few hours of letting it all go – letting life unfold. . .

The day is brand new, the possibilities are endless. Only as endless as I pave the way and invite new experiences into my life. Personal growth doesn’t come to me. I must seek it out every day.

 

This is beyond feeling “uncomfortable” and learning something new. Every day I am learning, growing, stretching my mind and body to learn how to film, edit, write, expand my vocabulary, create art. I break things, mess them up, get completely frustrated and spend hours trying new software programs. I fumble and fail miserably in the new fitness class. By 10 pm, I roll into the bed, collapsed from mental and sometimes physical exhaustion. I’ve squeezed the juice out of me.

I think self-awareness may begin with letting go, losing control and living life without the comfort of a “to do” list.

How about you? Do you ever yearn for a fresher approach to the day? What do you do to keep your mind open?

Side note: I have been using this crowdsourced Power Thesaurus but if you have a great writing tool, please share it. I have heard the Hemingway App is rather useful.

Letting Go of Judgement

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“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”

Rainer Maria Rilke.
Read: Letters to a Young Poet

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Inspired by Tara Brach’s Dharma Retreat Talk “Letting Go of Judgement” 9/05/2015

“Letting go of “adversive” judgement does not mean letting go of wise discrimination,” Tara Brach.

Inviting Your Troubles to Tea

buddhaThe night before the Buddha attained final enlightenment he had a visit from the demon king Mara. Mara represented all the anger, doubt, fear, striving, craving and greed of the world. He came to tempt the Buddha.
Instead of ignoring Mara or driving him away, the Buddha calmly acknowledged his presence, staying “I see you, Mara
He then invited Mara to tea as an honored guest.
It is suggested that we do the same when we are pained with trouble (whether real or imaginary). When we are feeling jealous, fearful, angry, frustrated, we examine these feelings with a compassionate heart, filled with self-love. We invite troubles to tea.
Instead of running from what troubles us, avoiding what is painful to face while only trying to seek happiness, we need to deal with all of life’s struggles head on, or they will continue to haunt us.
tea settingTea 101
Wake up with Matcha or Peppermint; Sleep with Kava or Chamomile; Ward off a cold with Echinacea or White Tea; Digest with Ginger or Lemon; Detox with Dandelion or Nettle; Soothe an upset stomach with Fennel or Ginger; Energize with Mint or Green; De-stress with Lavender or Ginseng.
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 Tea Supplies
 Soma-Water-Pitcher-01Filter your water

Soma Sustainable Pitcher & Plant-Based Water Filter

 bonavitaInvest in an electric tea kettle

Bonavita Dual Voltage 0.5L Travel Electric Kettle

My favorite morning tea

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Traditional Medicinals EveryDay Detox, 16-Count Boxes (Pack of 6)

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KENKO Tea – Matcha Green Tea Powder – USDA Organic – Japanese Culinary Grade Matcha Powder for Lattes Smoothies Baking -100g Bag [50 Servings]

 

compassion A lesson a day from . . .

Teachings of the Buddha (Shambhala Pocket Classics)

Real but not True – a Mindset for Success

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If you suffer from even just an occasional attack of anxiety, worry or ruminating thoughts, this post has some very useful tips on how to stop the spin cycle of subcortical looping, ie. excessive, repeating thoughts of worry and fear. These are therapies and tips that I have been researching and trying on myself. They are not to replace professional medical guidance.

First, a few book quotes from  Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness

Worrying as a Way of Controlling the Future

The thoughts spinning around and around in our minds can be very convincing. We build elaborate scenarios of failure and chaos and believe them to be true. This may be very creative, but not conducive to happiness! Worry is a very real kind of mental suffering. I know because I come from a lineage of worriers myself. My mother used to joke that when she couldn’t think of anything to worry about, she’d really get worried. “It was my way of making sure I was taking care of things,” she says.

These are the thoughts that hold us back from doing the things that will bring us success. 

Phantom Problems

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Our minds can get stuck in worrying about phantom problems that we convince ourselves are real. As Mark Twain put it, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

Reasonable planning for the future can give us direction, but obsessing about what might go wrong puts us in a perpetual state of stress and rarely brings about positive results. 

The Problem with Chronic Worry is that it Solves Nothing and Causes Stress

“New solutions and fresh ways of seeing a problem do not typically come from worrying, especially chronic worry. Instead of coming up with solutions to these potential problems, worriers typically simply ruminate on the danger itself, immersing themselves in a low-key way in the dread associated with it while staying in the same rut of thought.” – Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence.

Read more Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

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Health Problems Associated with Obsessive Worry

Not only does worrying drain your energy, chronic worrying will eventually manifest into insomnia, sleep disorders, stomach problems, heart issues, binge eating, headaches, anxiety and depression. I personally have suffered through IBS and severe panic attacks and have been seeking guidance and help my whole life. However, I no longer want to feel this way.

Your Worry and Thoughts are Real, but Not True

So how do we wake ourselves up from the suffering of obsessive worry and anxiety?  Tara Brach, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of The Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC (IMCW) suggests you shine some light on the worry by asking yourself a series of questions that begin with – What am I believing right now? Are you believing you will fail at something in the future? That something is wrong with you? That doom and gloom is right around the corner?

While the beliefs you have and those ruminating thoughts running your mind may feel very real they not necessarily true and they may be causing a very real physical effect on your body – like tightness, anxiety and fear.

Illusion exists because it’s not investigated.

As soon as you start questioning these thoughts and beliefs and shine a light of investigation on your fear-based loops you can begin to wake up out of their grip.

Question Your Beliefs

Shining the light of awareness on our worry really helps.  Byron Katie the founder of Byron Katie International (BKI), an organization that includes The School for the Work and Turnaround House in Ojai, California recommends we ask ourselves some powerful questions as we investigate the validity of our worry.

Take a moment to answer these questions. (Note, this is not a one time quick fix, in order to really do the work, these questions should be asked over and over again, it’s a practice.)

What am I believing right now?

Is it true? Do I really know that this is true?

What is it like to be living with this belief?  What does it feel like? Do I feel small? Contracted? Sad? Defeated?

How has this affected my life to be believing this?

How would I be if I didn’t believe this to be true?

These questions and post was inspired today by this amazing talk by Tara Brach. Click here to listen to more Releasing Limiting Beliefs   

Suggested Reading: True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart

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Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

I am researching and studying the benefits of a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Here are a few tips I have picked up a long the way. They have certainly helped me lighten up from the weighted suffering of worry.

Pause and Breathe

Mindfulness interrupts the tape loop by bringing us back to the moment so we can respond to what is actually happening right now. Mindfulness meditation shifts the mode adopted in response to thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness meditation involves a particular kind of attention and mental stance: deliberately, intentionally and non-judgementally paying attention to the present moment. Just one minute of mindful awareness can break the sub-cortical looping and rumination. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out. Just focus on that breath moving in and out of your body.

Look for Triggers

Triggers are warning signs and triggers for rumination include tiredness, inactivity and irritability. It is important to watch your mind and become aware of any of these emotions, which can lead to bouts of anxiety and obsessive worry. These can be counteracted by taking better care of yourself ie. plenty of rest, exercise and nutrition.

Get up and Move and maybe Join a Team

Cognitive behavior therapy has found that exercise and sports that are action focused and have us directly engaged in an experience can help release worry and rumination. Think yoga, tabata, tennis, skiing and team sports. Participating in sports that require your attention and engagement may really help you immerse in a sensory experience which will help you break the pattern of fear and worry.

Start a New Project

Shifting your activities from routine chores and obligations towards more self-fulfilling and absorbing activities will help you refocus your mind on something new. So will taking a more mindful approach to cleaning the house, running errands and folding the laundry.

Slow Down and Reduce the Rush

CBT therapists will encourage patients to slow things down while only focusing on one thing at a time. They will ask their patients to pace their activities without taking on too much which also may help  reduces the sense of “rushing around” and “being under pressure”.

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When we lighten up and let go of real but not true thoughts, we make room for more in our lives.

What have you tried that has helped? I’d love to learn more.

 

The Secret to a Super Successful Day

the-coolest-hotel-in-every-state-and-dcThis human being is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

Some momentary awareness,

Comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house and
empty of its furniture.
Still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

Meet them at the door laughing,

And invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

Poem by Rumi

A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings

On the other hand . . .

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“The sweetness of adventures is in unpredictability. Life is a great thing, it’s new meetings, feelings, changes. I do not fear anything, and everything interests me. I could travel, be friends, visit as a guest. What more could I wish for? The fact that we could sit, watch, speak and normally cross the street – that is already happiness! One should value, what one has.”
Marat Safin

Home is Everywhere We Are

While I have lived and have traveled to some pretty amazing places, I have always felt that my true home, my refuge, was in my heart and in this present moment right now.turtle_scientific_illustration2_thumbHome, you have sought it everywhere, but you are already there.

Home, the flowing river of the heart.

Love holding you in close embrace.

Home, it’s not a place but a state of being.

Enjoy more poetry from Danna Faulds
Go In and In: Poems From the Heart of Yoga

Courage, Grit and Grace

It takes courage to come home to the here and the now. To arrive in the place in our heart, our home, to feel the connection to what is real right now. Courage to feel the real emotions we may not want to feel. The anger, the resentment, the fear. I am incredibly inspired by Tara Brach’s Meditation Talks and her first book Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Today I choose the courage to feel what is real over the temporary comfort of numbing the pain. It takes courage to seek the answer to the question – What am I unwilling to feel?  The process can be painful, but it is also quite liberating.

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The root of the word courage “cor” is Latin for “heart”. True courage requires living with heart-felt intent.