God’s temples

We went walking through the Redwoods last weekend. It’s not surprising that certain groves of trees have been revered as sacred all over world since the beginning of time. They seem to be gateways to the unseen world around us.

The groves were God’s first temples. – William Cullen Bryant, A Forest Hymn

It just is 

…”I had a discussion with a great master in Japan… and we were talking about the various people who are working to translate the Zen books into English, and he said, ‘That’s a waste of time. If you really understand Zen… you can use any book. You could use the Bible. You could use Alice in Wonderland. You could use the dictionary, because… the sound of the rain needs no translation’.”

– Alan Watts

The crazies and quiet ones

In every big city I've lived in, I’ve come across people who talk to themselves. I’ll be sitting on a bus and hear someone start a loud conversation and my first thought is that it’s a loud obnoxious phone call, or maybe it’s two friends having a lively conversation – but after a quick glance I realize that it’s just one person having have a solo conversation. I’ve seen this on the city streets as well, someone will walk past me muttering to themselves or start shouting at unseen people. Their eyes are glazed over and it’s like they are on a different planet. They are lost within themselves and have disconnected from everyone around them.

The only difference between the talker and everyone else sitting quietly on the bus trying to ignore the “crazy” guy is that the quiet people's dialogue is INTERNAL vs EXTERNAL. Everyone out there has a similar chatterbox going on inside their head. Conversations like “I have to reply to that email today”, “I thought that was rude!”, “I shouldn’t have lost my temper this morning (sigh)” “I love her”, “I’m hungry”, “I should’ve answered that question differently”,  “Why didn’t he text back”, “I hope the test results come back okay,” “When is the package arriving?”, “I need to workout tonight”, "I feel good", "I feel shit" etc.

Imagine if everyone’s INTERNAL dialogue was EXTERNAL. It would be a noisy bus ride. If that’s the only difference between the crazy / angry guy on the bus then who is really crazy?

The mind is a playful monkey. From time to time you have to catch yourself from being sucked into an internal dialogue with yourself. Calm the monkey with a few deep breaths, get out of your head and get into the moment.

Compound Beauty Part 2 of 2

In the previous post I wrote about my neighbor and her beautiful garden. She’s always working on it. Her clippers are always in her right hand as she wanders through the garden. She’s a quick draw and will snip a dead shrub or feral branch in the blink of an eye. Her clippers are close at hand and she’s prepared.

Here’s lesson number two: Part of constant tweaking and improving is that you got to be prepared with the right tools. Make it easy to improve and tweak. Structure your day so that you have time to exercise, eat a good breakfast so you don’t snack on junk during the day, buy healthy food so that when you want to snack you have good food close by, set up filters on your email so that you give full attention to the right people.

Equip yourself with the right tools and it’s easier to improve day to day.

Compound Beauty Part 1 of 2

I have a neighbor with a green thumb. Her garden is wonderful. It’s like the one in the film The Secret Garden, but in California. It’s full of flowers and trees like roses, maples and nasturtiums. With the flowers come humming birds, dragon flies and bumbles bees. It’s a beautiful place to just sit and be. Here’s what I’ve learnt from her style of gardening: Always be improving. Whenever she’s out in the garden she does a little weeding, clips a branch here and there, tames an unwieldy mint patch or waters a thirsty lemon tree. Maintaining her garden isn’t done once a week, it’s an ongoing labor of love. The result is a wonderful living and breathing sacred place.

It’s a good lesson for work and relationships. Always be clipping and making small improvements. Small improvements accumulate like compound interest – it starts to gain it’s own momentum. Next time you are mindlessly checking Facebook, stop and ask yourself a question: Instead of infinitely scrolling to nowhere, where could you be clipping, weeding or watering in your own life?

Square breathing ◻️

My brother @socratixsw1 introduced me to a incredibly powerful deep breathing practice. It’s a relaxant after stretching or before bed.

Inhale for 5 seconds; hold your breath for 5 seconds; exhale for 5 seconds; when you’ve emptied your lungs, don’t breathe in again for 5 seconds; then inhale for 5 seconds. Repeat for 1 minute or 3 cycles.

5 seconds in, 5 seconds hold, 5 seconds out, 5 seconds no breath. Draw the square in your head – 4 sides of 5 seconds each.

Start out with 3 sets which gets you to 1 minute. The 3 sets will turn into 6 sets pretty effortlessly once you find your stride.

Momentum in the wrong direction

It’s a lot easier getting into something than getting out.

Buying something is easier than returning it.

Hellos are easier than goodbyes.

Interviewing is easier than resigning.

Hiring is easier than firing.

Signing a lease is easier than breaking a lease.

Falling pregnant is easier than raising a child.

Dating is easier than breaking up.

Starting from scratch is easier than fixing something that’s broken.

Dropping bombs is easier that rebuilding a war torn city.

Life’s operating system is wired to make us commit to something. It’s not wired to help us make the right choice, it’s our hands on the tiller. 

Momentum is a powerful thing, but be careful when it’s in the wrong direction. When it’s right, you’ll never look back. 

 

 

You’ll never believe the three things I’ve discovered

Now that I have your attention. Take your fingers off the mouse pad or stop scrolling on your phone. Pause, take a deep belly breath and list three things you are grateful for.

I’ll start:

  1. Hot coffee in the morning
  2. Breakfast with the family
  3. A deep breath on a blue bird day

Try it. The list might surprise and delight you.

 

 

 

9 exercise, dieting and sanity tips – Part 2

I received a lot of feedback on my 9 exercise, dieting and sanity tips, so I decided to pontificate some more on the topic. I’m planning on turning these daily musings into a book, so this will be in the Mind / Body / Spirit section…which is basically the whole book! 😛

Here goes:

Eat slow cooked oats in the morning – prep them the night before in a slow cooker. The downside is that you have to clean the pot every day, but they are way tastier than instant oats…so you’ll keep doing it. Oats is a blood sugar stabilizing way to start your day and a full portion will see you through to lunch.

Write down positive mantras, be specific and say them out aloud daily. Use the notes app on your phone as a way for easy access. Keep tweaking them – it’s a fun dream boarding exercise and the list will hold you accountable. If you are brave then share them with your close friends and family – they will also hold you accountable.

Unfollow complainers, negative people and cynical people on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Only follow people on Facebook who are proximate. It’s not normal to be reading about someone you went to school with and haven’t talked to in over a decade.

Twitter is like the Ring of Sauron. If you get too close and don’t treat it with respect then it’ll consume you. Twitter is a powerful source of knowledge and wisdom, but it’s also filled with hate and darkness. Handle with care, choose wisely who to follow and mute the negativity. Don’t get sucked into the manufactured outrage and hot takes…Twitter can turn into a Kangaroo court very quickly which is unfair and cruel.

Don’t watch cable news…ever. It’s not news, it’s unhealthy entertainment masquerading as news. Breaking news is commoditized, it’ll find you if it’s important enough. If you have a healthy, hand picked list of people you follow on Twitter then you’ll get the knowledge you need versus the unhealthy news firehose.

Build up a rainy day fund of credibility with people you work with…so when the shit hits the fan or you drop the ball on something – you have a credibility cushion. If you are running hard and moving fast then the shit will hit the fan and you will drop the ball at some point.

Listen more, talk less and pause before you respond to a question.

The Nutribullet is the best and only juice blender you should use. People give up on juicing because the set up and washing up is such a hack. The Nutribullet makes it super easy to throw in some fresh fruit, veggies and water and get it done in under 5 minutes. I drink the juice from the same blending cup and the blades are safe and easy to clean. No fuss, no mess. Set it up at night before you go to bed so the morning is a like a well oiled machine.