Friday, 20 March 2015

Mindfulness and positive thinking

Sharing this article written by Lori Deschene, founder of Tiny Buddha. 
I agree with it so much. Mindfulness and creating stillness in the mind with meditation (and yes, every moment can be a meditation) can bring so much peace. It is a fantastic complement to inner work (healing inner wounds and calming inner demons, as I have been writing about). If you're not at peace yet, don't give up =) We are only human. You can get there. And it might just take a shift in mindset. Change can happen in just one moment.

p.s. I copied the text here for your convenience.

See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.” 
~Dalai Lama

I was a perfectionist growing up, always trying to bang my flawed round-shaped self into a perfect square hole that couldn’t possibly contain me.

In my early twenties, I decided to focus on personal development—a positive thing, I assumed.

I figured if I worked on improving a little every day and nurturing a positive mindset, I’d feel a lot better about myself than I did when I got down on myself for my flaws. 

I didn’t take into consideration that I might become a perfectionist about positivity.
That I might catch negative thinking and feel guilty about it instead of letting it go and moving into a more positive space.

That I might muster every piece of my will to avoid negative feelings and end up over-thinking them instead of simply feeling them and letting them pass.

For most of my life, I’ve fought reality. I didn’t like the way people responded to me, so I tried to manipulate their perception. I didn’t like the world around me, so I tried to control it. I didn’t like the world within me, so I tried to escape it.

Even when I tried to be positive, I was resisting the present. If only I was positive enough, I thought, I could create a better tomorrow—then I’d really be happy.

I tried on different positive hats in my pursuit of happiness.

I’ve told myself that everything really is in my mind—that if someone appears to be mean or inconsiderate, it’s largely a consequence of how I’m interpreting things. But then I started wondering if that’s the case, what’s wrong with my mind? Why do I so frequently assume the worst first and then have to catch it and change it?

I made lists of all the things my life would involve if it was more positive: I’d volunteer; I’d be open-hearted, always eager to greet a stranger with a smile; I wouldn’t fear lacking, and would freely give to anyone who needed it. Then I felt overwhelmed by the list of things I needed to do. Who has the time and energy to be that positive?

I’ve focused on things I appreciate in life by keeping a gratitude journal. Oddly enough, I stressed about that, as well. I felt guilty if I missed a day and continually measured whether or not I was doing enough to express gratitude in my daily life.

Positive thinking didn’t bring me peace because I was still the one doing the thinking, and I hadn’t really changed. I was still fighting, judging everyone and everything, including myself, and wondering when life would finally get easier.

No matter how positive I tried to be, it never worked because I wasn’t working for it.

Working for it, for me, involves just fifteen minutes a day.

I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t experienced it myself, but a brief morning meditation has a profound effect on me. When I start the day by sitting in silence for even a short while, my mental space transforms.

Without some type of contemplative practice, my busy mind gets overwhelming. Without taking time to clear my head, positive thinking is only moderately effective because there are just too many thoughts for the positive ones to have an impact.

Positive thinking, in itself, isn’t enough for me to experience the world in a present, joyful way. 

The most positive thinking, I’ve decided, is less thinking.

I’d like to say I no longer over-analyze, get lost in my thoughts, or get hard on myself, but that’s not entirely true.

Even with tools that help me feel calm and centered, I still feel this way at times.

There are days when I fight with myself and the world and judge myself pretty harshly. It’s usually when I’ve stopped doing the things I know I need to do for me. When work gets overwhelming and people seem demanding, sometimes I don’t make those things a priority.

I am still imperfect, I still make bad decisions at times, and I still struggle with letting go. It’s called being human.

Growth is rarely a straight line. It’s more like an EKG monitor. It’s tempting to look at it with a sense of anxiety. To measure the peaks and valleys, wondering if the peaks are high and frequent enough.

But I’m learning that being positive means releasing the need to judge—to stop assessing what’s right and good enough, and whether I’ve been right or good enough, and approach each new moment with a sense of space.

It’s my job to create that space—to clear out all the thoughts that drown out the positive ones.

The biggest barrier between me and peace is my instinct to analyze why I didn’t, don’t, or might not have it. Stillness silences that instinct.

When I take time for stillness, it doesn’t matter how I interpret things because suddenly I stop telling stories about events as they happen to me.

When I take time for stillness, it doesn’t matter how many positive things I could do if I tried; I’m too busy putting good into the world to dwell on those lists.

When I sink into stillness, it doesn’t matter how many things I write in my gratitude journal; I’m too busy appreciating the world in front of me to worry about jotting it down.

Today, I feel peaceful. In this moment, I am not trying to be positive. I created space for myself to just be. And that, I’ve learned, is the most positive thing we can do for ourselves.

You hold the power

"You have the power to open your front door and take on the world. You have the power to create change. You are strong. You are brave. You can build the life of your dreams. Your potential is infinite. Let go of what weighs you down. Release the fear. Release the excuses. Release the toxicity. Breathe in the love that life is offering you. Stand up. Dust off your wings. Be free. Begin.
~ Creig Crippen

Happy first day of spring! Spring is a season of new beginnings. If you have not started yet, start to build the life that you dream of, right here, right now. What are you waiting for? =) No more excuses. You have the strength to move past your fears. The time is now. Open the door to your heart. The life you are waiting for is waiting for you on the other side.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Go easy on yourself!

When the going gets tough, remember that you are not alone! =) Everyone is on their own learning journey, so go easy on yourself, love =)

Monday, 16 March 2015

When you say, "I love you"....

From the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh =)

"When you say "I love you" it means "I can offer you true peace and happiness". In order to be able to offer them, you must already be able to offer them to yourself."

I wish you a good week ahead loving yourself and your loved ones! 

Friday, 13 March 2015

Breathe, smile, the present is bright!

Good day everyone! Did you have a good week? 
Just sharing this story I came across today!

I love this story =) It reminds me so much of my friend who valets our cars in my workplace, whom I featured some time back (read his story here!)

As my friend K says (with a slight variation), Breathe, smile, the present is bright! ^_^

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

No pain, no gain

Today I overheard someone say, "Why is life so hard? Why can't it be easy?"

To which I reply:
"Here’s a little truth for you: Everyone has moments or days in which they struggle. Throughout our lives, we will be presented with challenges, lessons, storms, tough situations, and difficult experiences. We will feel, we will hurt, we will cry—and we will grow. We’ll experience moments where we feel like we’re being presented with more than we can handle. But when you truly think about it, would you want a life where you do not feel deeply? A life where there are no moments of struggle? Would you prefer to live a life of numbness? A life that is a robotic, mundane experience?

It is the courageous that feel deeply. It is the brave that experience all of life. It is the daring that find the strength to confront fear, to discover themselves, to journey within, and to embrace life. We are blessed to have moments of struggle. We are blessed to have the ability to find the lessons in life’s challenging moments. We are blessed with the tenacity and the perseverance to overcome. Every experience is a blessing. Be courageous. Embrace all of life. Be love."
~Creig Crippen

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Of oysters and bread

Oysters and a piece of bread taught me a life lesson this week.

Last weekend, I went to one of my favorite shops for oysters. For many hours before lunch I was imagining how sweet, succulent and juicy the oysters will be (yum!!), salivating at the very thought. As it turns out, I was disappointed. No sweet oysters this week. My friend described them as creamy. I couldn't taste it. It just wasn't the sweet ones I was looking forward to, and that was that. I barely tasted the seawater. I was so disappointed I couldn't enjoy what I spent the day before dreaming of.

Fast forward to this morning. I bought my favorite bread from Hong Kong, the pineapple bun, at a local Taiwanese bakery. I woke up with excitement, heated the bun up with anticipation, and took my first bite. ... Nope. Not the pineapple bun that I was used to. Once again, disappointment tried to creep in. But I asked myself, 'Am I going to let this become another oyster incident? Or am I going to enjoy this bun as it is?' (It has custard in it) I removed all my expectations of how this bun was supposed to taste like, and proceeded to appreciate it as it is. What a surprise! I had not realized how long it had been since I last savored a piece of bread in this manner -- the texture and flavor was so vivid, every bite was an experience in itself. It didn't matter that the crust was a bit salty (which would have been weird otherwise), the saltiness complemented the sweetness of the bread.
I was no longer eating pineapple bun to eat pineapple bun; I was enjoying my breakfast.

How often do we pass life and experiences by, dismissing them as insignificant or undesired because we were expecting something else? How often do we fall short of enjoying (or even getting upset over) a meal, an event, an interaction with a friend/colleague/family member/significant other, because we had an impression of what it should be and it turned out to be different? Why do we hold on to the expectations at all? Why don't we simply enjoy how life unfolds in each moment, and appreciate what life has to offer, for what it is?

Isn't it funny how the smallest things can sometimes teach you something big? Life is amazing that way =)