500 Million Moments

photo-1444837881208-4d46d5c1f127Life is comprised of moments. Each moment lasting about three seconds. It can be a moment writing a proposal, a moment doing the dishes, walking the dog or a moment saying hello to an old friend. We experience approximately 1,200 three second moments in an hour and about 500 million moments in a lifetime.

The quality of your life is not determined over years and decades but by what you do with each three second moment over the course of your days.

This moment right now can be improved with something as simple as a deep breath, a smile,a hug and appreciation for what you have.

Here I am, trying to make each moment count. How about you?

Inspired reading from author Tom Rath Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life

The beautiful photo today from Patrick Hendry on UnSplash

10 Super Simple and Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Workout

fitness-061. Build Your Mind Muscle. Meditate your way to a deep sleep every night. In order to have a great workout routine, you must have a nightly relaxation ritual that does not include a couple of drinks to calm you down. Some of the best guided meditations for sleep and relaxation are here.

2. Be your Own Best Coach – but first you must listen to how you feel. Do you hold any guilt, anger, resentment? You can’t carry that extra weight to the gym. It’s not like fat that you can burn off. That baggage is heavy and more exhausting to schlep around than those extra pounds.

 

Really get a sense of how you feel during the day. Log those emotions. Do you tighten up when you see your coworker? Feel anxious when someone stands just a bit too close on the train? Feel like you want to choke the loud cell phone talker on the street in front of you? Those emotions are invaluable. They’re keys to the things that will really improve your life if you dig into them, because those kinds of emotional responses that we quickly temper are signs of an internal disagreement.

More on how to be your own life coach here.

Remember, resolving the internal disagreements that lead to unhealthy emotions and choices  are vital for improving your life.

3.You can’t head to the gym in your paint-stained sweat pants that double as your bathroom/kitchen cleaning outfit. Eventually you will want to go pro and prepare with the right workout gear. This includes clothes, water, podcast or music playlist, headphones, FitBit, etc.

My favorite picks for the gym here and more here –

 1

Nike Team Training Gymsack Black/White Size One Size

2

Nike Women’s Free 5.0+ Running Shoe

3
Aquasana AQ-6006-BLU-TR 18-Ounce Glass Water Bottle with Silicone Sleeve, Blue

4
Champion Women’s Absolute Workout Capri Legging

5

Champion Women’s Absolute Workout Sports Bra, Black, Medium

6

adidas Performance Women’s 24 Seven Deep V-Neck Tee, Midnight Grey, Large

4. Play the Leading Role in The Award-winning Film of Your Life – This is what worked for me. Weigh yourself, look in the mirror, see yourself as you are now.You are the star. This your time. Every day.  Then, in your mind, see yourself as you want to be. Visualize yourself. Want to drop 10, 20, 50 pounds or more, fit into a tight tee shirt or just feel more energized?  List the things you must do to become who you want to be. Write them down. Now do one simple thing each day on this list to get yourself closer to where you want to be during your workout. Note: you need to eat less to weigh less, so tracking calories for a 500 deficit each day is imperative to losing weight. Do this in conjunction with your work out if you want to lose weight.

5. Talk to YourselfIncessantly. I repeat the following to myself every time I walk into the gym. 123 Tone. That’s my goal weight of 123 pounds and my tone body. I have linked it to the photo of myself in my mind of what I look and feel like at 123 pounds with slim tone arms, a flat stomach and strong legs. Keep that vision in front of you as you work out. See yourself slipping into those jeans.

6.Set a time limit and and a target list of what you will perform while you are at the gym- don’t leave until you are done. Today my goal was 60 full minutes of cardio and three rounds of 22 push ups, 60 and sit-ups. Although I fought it – yes, I really did want to leave early, I did not walk out the door until I finished. It wasn’t easy.

7. Listen to Someone Motivating. If you have a smart phone, down load a motivating podcast to listen to while you are on the treadmill.  My favorite todayThe Good Life Project. Click here for more.

8.Sweat and track you success daily. I have come to understand that if I am not sweating or getting really heated up during at least a part of my workout, than, I are not working out hard enough. You have to push yourself.  But first you must know your target heart rate. It is a very simple calculation and you can find it at Every Day Health, here. After working out a while, you will be able to physically tell if you are in fat-burning mode by the way your body feels.

9. Switch it up. Do not do the same thing every day. You will get bored and you will not optimize your workout. Try new machines and classes, today I did 20 minutes on the tread mill -a set of sit-ups and push ups and then 20 minutes on the Elliptical followed by another set of sit-ups and push ups and then another 20 minutes on the other machine that looks like the Elliptical but it’s a stair climber thing. Play with the buttons on the treadmill – build an incline, jog for a minute, slow walk, then speed walk, etc.

10.  Move Every Single Day. Do something active every single day. I work out every day but every day is just bit different. One day is a 5-7 mile walk with hills and stairs, another a day at the gym, another is Spinning class, etc. I don’t take a day off from movement and do not believe it would help if I did.

Do you have a workout tip that is simple, easy and effective? I would love to learn from you, so please share in the comments below.

Instant Karma and A Trip to Paradise

instant-karmaMost of us in the western part of the world believe that karma is a supernatural universal law of justice. He or she did something bad, hurtful, deceitful, etc. well, karma will get them in the end.

The reality and truth is, when the eastern sages spoke about karma, they were speaking about selfishness. The word “karma” in Sanskrit means “action” and the Buddha believed in two types of action. Bad selfish action and good selfless action. Bad selfish action promotes, protects and aggrandizes the ego which in turn leads to inner suffering, distress, remorse and guilt.

buddhaThe real suffering is on the inside and when we are unconscious of our perpetuating selfish actions, however small they may be, we continue to suffer all the time.

I stumbled upon this explanation and more from Leo Gura on Actualized.org. What Is Karma exactly? – Watch a rational explanation of how karma really works and why it’s extremely relevant to your happiness levels.

On My Book Shelf

Instant Karma is a collection of thousands of ways to create good karma for yourself and others. The advice in Barbara Ann Kipfer’s book is based on the principles of Buddhism and emphasizes the importance of physical health, spiritual growth and peace.

41w7fE7c8DL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_A few pearls of wisdom from this little gem of a book.

  • Throughout the day, ask yourself, Am I paying attention?
  • Then ask yourself, Why judge?
  • Do not expect praise or reward.
  • Give confidence to others.
  • Life is positive, only your thinking is negative.
  • See everything in your life as a gift.

Remember that looking for happiness outside yourself is like expecting to get in shape by watching others exercise.

Read more, here:  Instant Karma

Believe the best is yet to be.

 

The Miracle of Mindfulness and Mono-Tasking

thich

thich-nhat-hanh-colour“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.

Thích Nhất Hạnh

Adventure travel isn’t always about riding big waves, biking through forests and ascending new heights — sometimes it’s about wandering inside, to explore the realm of our inner worlds. I’m stoked to be going to Town Hall NYC  to hear one of the most influential spiritual leaders of our time, Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh

This week in the US, 75 monks and nuns from Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastic order launched a cross-country “Miracle of Mindfulness” tour. #miracleofmindfulness Visit http://www.tnhtour.org/ for the tour schedule.

stoke

Mono-tasking – the opposite of multi-tasking, when we are really engaged in what we are doing, that one thing right now. The unobstructed mind.

This practice helps us to become more and more awake to our presence. To wake up to recognize what is really taking place right now.

instagram-1

Interested in learning more about Buddhism and Thay? The 14 Mindfulness Trainings from the Order of Interbeings.

Read

The Miracle of Mindfulness: The Classic Guide by the World’s Most Revered Master

Mastering Your Mind Part 2 with Charlie Bradford

enlightenmentI started this blog to connect with brilliant thinkers and doers like yourself with the intention of making new friends from all around the world. It’s been less than a month and I am excited to say, that it’s working. I am inspired by what I am reading and learning from so many of you.

I recently discovered, thinker, writer and modern day philosopher,  Charlie Bradford, author of Ensouling Potential. If you haven’t read Charlie’s work, I highly recommend you do. He is an authentic and insightful explorer of life and the bigger questions about our existence. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @CharlieBrad4ord

Charlie was kind enough to allow me to ask him a series of questions. Here, he reflects on my second one.

What authors, books and/or films have inspired you?

An important book for me, as it pertains to simplicity and minimalism, is ‘The Power of Less‘, by Leo Babauta. His book really helped me eliminate all of the non-essentials from my life, and adopt the minimalist lifestyle; which gave me tremendous clarity and a greater sense of inner-peace. This next book, in my opinion, is one of the best self-development books out there, ‘How I found Freedom in an Unfree World‘ by Harry Brown. Never before have I read a book that so clearly reveals the traps we all get ourselves into, and how we deny ourselves from living the life we know we’re capable of living.

For your reading and learning pleasure –

The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life

and How to Free Your Mind 
How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. –

On the more Spiritual and Esoteric level, I receive great benefit from studying the ancient wisdom teachings, such as ‘The Tao Te Ching’ by Lao Tzu, ‘The Dhammapada’ (the sayings of Buddha), and other Philosophical and Metaphysical teachings regarding the hidden aspects of life. I really love exploring deep knowledge. The recent philosopher, Alan Watts, also had a profound impact upon my developing mind, as well as the philosopher and writer, Manly P. Hall, who spoke a great deal about our greater capacities, and the importance of becoming a living symbol of all that is good and right.

On Writing

When I first got into writing, I had two books to draw inspiration from: ‘If you want to write’ by Brenda Ueland, and ‘Ensouling Language‘ by Stephen Harrod Buhner. The latter being a more non-conventional, free-spirited approach to writing. Both were very beneficial in helping me find my voice as a writer.

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit  and
Ensouling Language: On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life

and Film

In terms of films, there are so many to draw upon, The T.V series ‘Lost’ made a huge dent in my life back in the day. I was really attracted to the journey of self-discovery that each of the characters were going through, and how each of them had an unfolding destiny within them. Three films that have served as inspiration in recent times, have been: ‘The Shift: From ambition to meaning’ with Wayne Dyer, ‘Living Luminaries’, which presents many great teachers. And I’ve also found the new movie, ‘Lucy’ to be very illuminating, as I can see where that film is coming from. All of these films and many others have contributed in some way to the unfolding pattern of my life, and I’m sure the same can be said for many other people too.

What books and movies have influenced you along your path? I’d love to know. Please share on the comment thread below.

The Busy Trap, Turks & Caicos and the Art of Slow Travel

Parrot Cay

If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are.  It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing.

Busy, so busy, crazy busy.

It is is pretty obviously a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation. “well that’s a good problem to have!” “Better than the opposite.”

This frantic self-congratulatory business busyness is a distinctly upscale affliction. Notice it isn’t people pulling back to back shifts in the ICU or those taking care of their senescent parents or holding down three minimum wage jobs that have to commute to by bus, who need to tell you how busy they are. What those people are is not busy but tired, exhausted, dead on their feet.  

 It’s almost often said by people who’s lamented business is purely self-imposed- work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily. Classes and activities they’ve encouraged their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety because they are addicted to busyness and dread what they might face in its absence.  –  excerpt from Tim Kreider’s “The Busy Trap”

The Art of Slow Travel

I’m leaving this Sunday for an impromptu week on Turks & Caicos –  Parrot Cay to be precise.  My husband was called down on a design and build mission and I get to tag along. You see we don’t do vacations, we do “adventures”. Sailing excursions where we squeeze six humans on a 35 foot boat for 18 days. Camping trips with small babies up the Cape coast for three weeks. I don’t really understand the concept of doing nothing. It frightens me like nothing else.

So, unfortunately, I’m already worried about the wi-fi. Really? Well there goes 100 hours of meditation practice down the drain. Will I have a bike? 24/7 internet access? transportation to island hop? Access to anything I might, need, want, desire?  What if I get tired of the beach? Will I be “trapped” on this beautiful slice of heaven? And to think I’ve been dreaming of going on a silent meditation retreat. Who am I kidding? Laughing very hard at myself right now.

This neurotic anxiousness of being left out (a bit of FOMO I gather) reminds me of a brilliant essay that Tim Kreider wrote for The New York Times a few years ago. It’s called Lazy, a Manifesto.  For anyone who feels the same, it’s a quick must read- the full essay here The Busy Trap, Tim Kreider and one of my favorite book of short essays buy the same author –

We Learn Nothing: Essays

While I do feel incredibly blessed with this opportunity to go, I ask myself, how will I learn to slow down, savor and enjoy this gift of a “vacation”? Perhaps I will meditate on Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice and enjoy a moment of nothing.

If you can find a moment to sit, wherever you are, stay there and enjoy nothing. Just enjoy your in-breath and out-breath. Don’t allow yourself to be carried away by your thinking, worries or projects. Just sit there and enjoy doing nothing; enjoy your breathing and the fact that you are alive . . .

Taken from Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh: 365 days of practical, powerful teachings from the beloved Zen teacher

In the meantime, if anyone has suggestions about what to do or see in Turks & Caicos – I would love to hear suggestions.

Mastering Your Mind with Charlie Bradford. Part 1

enlightenment

I started this blog to connect with brilliant thinkers and doers like yourself with the intention of making new friends from all around the world. It’s been less than a month and I am excited to say, that it’s working. I am inspired by what I am reading and learning from so many of you.

I recently discovered, thinker, writer and modern day philosopher,  Charlie Bradford, author of Ensouling Potential. If you haven’t read Charlie’s work, I highly recommend you do. He is an authentic and insightful explorer of life and the bigger questions about our existence. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @CharlieBrad4ord

Charlie was kind enough to allow me to ask him a series of questions. Here, he reflects on my first one.

MJ: Charlie, how long have you been thinking about tapping into a higher awareness and mastering the mind? How did you become such a deep thinker?

CB: Well, It all started for me when I was in my late teens. I had been reading a lot of great material on simplicity, minimalism, Zen, meditation, the power of the mind, which opened me up to a new world that I was eager to dive into. I grew up with video games, movies, and homework. Before I knew it, I was reading about the infinite potentials of the mind. I’m on-board, where do I sign!? I loved this new sphere of knowledge that I had dived into. Even prior to my teen years, I was very much inclined to read Buddhist philosophy, but lacked the mental facility to fully appreciate what I was reading. But none the less, it planted a seed in my young mind that would eventually lead me to the importance of simplicity, self-control, and mind-mastery.

Seeking Some Enlightenment

So I made it my personal mission to investigate all kinds of knowledge, wisdom, philosophies, books – old and new, exoteric, and esoteric, anything that would enlighten me to the true potentials that lie within each and every one us, and more importantly; how to actualize that potential. I began exploring the importance of Mind, Body, and Spirit, as well as the fundamental principles of Nature. I renounced almost all of my possessions, gave away my television, my video games, changed my diet, my attitude, and started doing my own homework. I had cleared the pathway so that I could receive Truth in my quest for it.

Training the Mind to Relax in the Face of Uncertainty

I’ve always loved exploring deep questions. It’s not about answering them. It’s more-so about getting the mind comfortable with uncertainty. The mind is constantly trying to make sense of everything. So by enquiring in profound matters such as, Why are we here? What is Life? What is Death? What is the Ultimate Plan? Where are we all going? We begin to train the mind to relax in the face of uncertainty. This is similar to the use of Zen Koans, phrases used to stray the mind from its ordinary processing. I’m amazed at the level of insight you can receive simply by concentrating upon a single question! I’ve become compelled to entertain all kinds of questions, especially during meditation, or out in nature where I can let my mind unfold. There were many key points along my path that led me to this conclusion: We are far more than we could ever know within the scope of one life time.

For the next three Mondays I will post more questions for Charlie, but if you have any, please free to ask them here.

A Beginner’s Mind, The Power of the Mindful Pause and Cultivating Self-Compassion

smile

As with everything I do, I try to keep a beginners mind.  Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.

Although I’ve been challenging myself daily to improve my mental and physical health and wellness, each morning requires a daily reset – a reboot to remind myself of my hopes, dreams and aspirations.   If I don’t awake each day with this reminder to tread this path leading to a more deliberate and intentional life, than I backslide. It’s similar to training at the gym, I find that my mind must also be trained, daily.

The Power of the Purposeful Pause

Communication experts will tell you to be aware of the power of silence between conversations. When the other person finishes speaking, take a breath, relax and smile before saying anything. They know that “the pause” is a key part of improving communication and relationships.

I’ve been reading Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance and I am going to share  her mindful technique of practicing the purposeful pause.  Now, while pausing when having a conversation with others is always an intelligent idea, pausing to listen to the conversations happening inside your own head is another. To bow to this experience happening within and around you, whatever it is, right now.

For example, if I’m worried about an argument I had with someone and thoughts of revenge fog my brain, I pause, accept that this is how I am feeling right now, I do not fight it and just accept it and let it go. It’s powerful. Actually recognizing the pain helps make way for a better decision, a better outcome.

Cultivating Self-Compassion

We can practice radical acceptance (note: Tara is not talking about building a victim narrative here), by pausing and then meeting whatever is happening inside of us with an unconditional friendliness and compassion. The way you might treat your best friend or brother or sister.

I practice remembering that I cannot be a fair weather friend to myself. I will not push away anger, jealousy, or pain. Instead I will treat myself with compassion and understanding and recognize the anguish of this moment. This will allow me to create a safe haven for my vulnerability and to be present to the healing that can happen in my mind.

Recommended Reading from Tara Brach
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha