September 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Three Techniques for Quieting Your Mind

1. Observe the space between your breaths

This technique came up in one of my coaching sessions. We tend to breathe unconsciously. If we pay close attention to our breath, however, we will find that there is a slight pause when our inhalation turns into an exhalation, and again as our exhalation turns into inhalation. These little pauses are the turning points in our breathing cycle. Our breath has been flowing into our body as we inhale, and is now reversing its flow back out of our body as we exhale. The flow reverses again as we inhale once more, and so forth.

Our breathing cycle and the flow of our thoughts are closely linked. Have you ever been so completely concentrated on something that you found yourself holding your breath? It happens when we are particularly intent on the present moment. Our entire mind becomes focused on one thing, and our breath ceases.

As we focus on those tiny pauses between our in- and out-breaths, we find that our mind quiets down at those points in our breathing. These turning points in our breath cycle will lengthen slightly as we pay closer attention, allowing for a greater pause in our thoughts.

Without holding or interrupting your breath, begin extending those brief silences in your thoughts. Focus on the emptiness in your mind as your thoughts are briefly interrupted when your breath reverses itself. Try not to suppress your thoughts forcefully. Instead, focus on the space in between thoughts and breaths. By practicing this technique, you can learn to quiet the constantly running narrative of thought most of us experience in our minds.

2. Visualize letting go of your thoughts

Imagine that you are holding a bunch of balloons in your hand. As your thoughts arise, imagine placing each of them into one of the balloons. Now focus on your hand holding the strings of the balloons. Imagine letting those balloons go. Off they go, into the sky!

Instead of looking after them or watching them float away, focus on the empty space that is now in your hand. The thoughts have drifted away, leaving only emptiness behind. As you repeat this visualization with your newly arising thoughts (which may well be: “hey, my mind was really quiet just now!”), you will find that you can maintain the emptiness of your mind for longer and longer periods of time.

3. Turn up the volume

Has your mind ever insisted on a particular stream of thought on and on, keeping you from sleep? I personally often find myself blogging in my head right as I’m going to bed. Often, we push unwanted thoughts into the back of our minds. We try to think about something else. We distract ourselves by watching television or reading a book, but the thoughts are still there and are often creating tremendous amounts of stress.

If unwanted thoughts keep turning up in your mind, take a different approach! Your mind obviously needs to express itself. So go ahead – give it permission. Take two or three minutes and focus completely on whatever thoughts are on your mind. Imagine turning up the volume on those thoughts. Give them your full attention.

Focus your mind on any one thing, and it swiftly gets bored and moves on. By focusing your mind on a particular stream of thought for a brief time, you will find that it moves on rather quickly. This technique is far more effective than trying to distract ourselves or our minds from bothersome thoughts!

-Andrea

September 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Moon River

September 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

10 Lies You Will Hear Before You Pursue Your Dreams

  1. You can follow your dreams someday, but right now you need to buckle down and be responsible. – Someday?  When is ‘someday?’  Someday is not a day at all.  It’s a foggy generalization of a time that will likely never come.  Today is the only day guaranteed to you.  Today is the only day you can begin to make a difference in your life.  And pursuing your dreams is what life is all about.  So don’t be irresponsible.  Don’t wait until ‘someday.’  Make today the first day of the rest of your new life.
  2. You’re totally screwed if it doesn’t work out. – Wrong!  This is a giant, lame load of BS.  You’re not even close to being screwed.  In fact, the worst case scenario is that things don’t work out and you have to go back to doing exactly what you are doing right now.
  3. It’s safer to stay at your day job. – Sure, I suppose.  But you know what’s even safer than that?  Going home, locking yourself in your bedroom, and never, ever coming out.  And just like that you will have flushed your entire life and your dreams down the toilet.  Remember, safer doesn’t always mean better.
  4. That’s impossible! – It’s only impossible if you never do anything about it.  The reason certain things seem impossible is simply because nobody has achieved them yet.  But this doesn’t mean that with your help these things won’t become possible in the future.  If you truly dedicate yourself to an end result, almost anything is possible.  You just have to want it bad enough.
  5. Only a lucky few “make it.” – That’s because those lucky few got off their rear ends and did something about it!  They had the drive, determination, and willpower that you have right now.  You can be one of them.  It’s up to you, and only you.
  6. You might fail.  And failing is bad. – Failures are simply stepping stones to success.  No matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be.  Either you succeed or you learn something.  Win-Win.  The biggest mistake you can make is doing nothing because you’re too scared to make a mistake.  If you can’t handle failure, then you can’t handle success either.
  7. You don’t have access to the right resources. – It’s not about having the right resources; it’s about exploiting the resources you do have access to.  Stevie Wonder couldn’t see, so he exploited his sense of hearing into a passion for music, and he now has 25 Grammy Awards to prove it.  Get it?
  8. You need more money saved before you can take the first step. – You don’t need more money.  You need a plan.  You need a budget.  Eliminate ALL the nonessential costs in your life.  If pursuing your dream requires you to leave your day job, figure out the absolute minimum amount of income that you require to realistically live.  Studying those who have succeeded with similar ventures also helps.  But above all, take baby steps.  Don’t be foolish and assume that you must have a certain amount of money saved right now, or that you must quit your day job today in order to pursue your dreams.  Instead, ask yourself, “What actions can I take right now with the money and resources I have right now that will bring me closer to desired goal?”
  9. You don’t need any help.  It’s smarter to go after it alone. – You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with.  If you hang with the wrong people, they will negatively affect you.  But if you hang with the right people, you will be far more capable and powerful than you ever could have been alone.  Find your tribe and work together to make a difference in all of your lives.
  10. That sounds like a lot of hard work. – You’re darn right it does!  But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.  I think success in life hinges on one key point: Finding hard work you love doing.  As long as you remain true to yourself and follow your own interests, values and dreams, you can find success through passion.  Perhaps most importantly, you won’t wake up a few years from now working in a career field you despise, wondering “How the heck am I going to do this for the next 30 years?”  So if you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop.  You’re on to something big.  Because hard work ain’t hard when you concentrate on your passions and dreams.

September 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Pablo Picasso

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