I came onto the path of mindfulness, meditation, and spirituality when I was 16 years old. I saw the TV-series Ed where the main character started experimenting with lucid dreaming.
That got me interested, and that is where my journey started. It hasn’t been an easy journey by any means, but I’m nearing a decade on this path, and I don’t regret it for a moment.
I’ve been through a lot of challenges, such as going through brief spurts of depression. I’ve felt like I wasn’t good enough, and that life wouldn’t work out the way I wanted it to. In every one of these cases I let my thoughts run wild. I started focusing on the negative instead of on the positive, and I think many people have the same tendency.
So there have been both ups and downs, but in the end they have all been there for a reason. And with each “bad period,” I’ve learned more and more about myself.
Truly living in the present moment isn’t easy, but it is highly rewarding. The best way to move forward on your own path to “here and now” is to understand the potential obstacles and plan in advance how you’ll deal with them.
1. Mindfulness takes ongoing effort.
Mindfulness takes work, but the good news is that the longer you practice, the easier it gets, and the more joyful your life becomes. Mindfulness is best practiced throughout your day. It’s not just for when you sit down and meditate. Focus on being mindful of your thoughts when you’re doing everyday tasks and it will be easier to remain mindful when things get tough.
2. There will always be distractions.
When you’re on your journey to becoming more mindful, it seems as if the universe starts throwing stuff at you just to give you challenges. The distractions could be problems in your life, drama in your relationships, or old negative beliefs popping up from your past. These are great opportunities to practice present moment awareness. They will help you become stronger, better, and more in tune with yourself. The problems and challenges we face are teachers in disguise. They are there to help you grow and to realize who you truly are.
3. Progress doesn’t always come quickly.
Progress may seem excruciatingly slow. There will be times when you attach to things and situations that you want, which will make it difficult to be fully in the present moment. It’s impossible to be mindful when you’re dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future. We all do those things sometimes. I’ve experienced it countless times in my own life. The more I want something, the more I fixate on not having it and wanting to get it. Once I release the attachment and focus on being grateful for what I have in the moment, my life seems to shift, and progress seems to happen naturally.
4. You may want to give up.
Like with any worthwhile journey, you may feel like giving up and throwing in the towel multiple times. But it is during the times when you feel most frustrated that you are often on the verge of a breakthrough. Our lives are very similar to the seasons. We go through cold, dark winters, and joyful, expanding summers. It all comes and goes. It’s the ebb and flow of life. When you realize that the challenging times are there to help you grow, you will automatically feel more peaceful and relaxed.
5. Your goals may challenge your mindfulness.
Having goals is fantastic, essential even, but when you become overly attached to them, something bad happens, just like we talked about above. You know that you’re too attached to something when you start feeling frustrated, angry, and negative. Attachment muddles our clarity. You’re likely pursuing your goals because you believe they will make you happy. Remember that when you start letting your goals pull you into a stressful state of mind. If you focus on the good things around you, you’ll feel that happiness that you think you need to chase. This will make you much happier in the long term, and, of course, right now.
6. You might forget that the journey is the destination.
Most people miss the fact that the reward is in the journey. Have you ever noticed that when you reach a goal, it’s not as exciting as you thought it would be? Sure, it feels great to hit a milestone, but if you do not replace that goal with another one, you will soon find yourself feeling unfulfilled. That’s because we are goal-seeking mechanisms. Humans need goals so they can have a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It is in the journey that we learn, grow, and become better. When you’re practicing mindfulness, remember that there is nowhere to arrive at. If you focus on what is going on right now, the rest take care of itself.
7. Sometimes you’ll want to be anywhere but in the now.
Even the most enlightened masters on earth have to deal with difficult situations and chaotic thoughts. The difference is they have learned to accept the moment for what it is. When you do this, you become the guardian of your inner space, which is the only way to feel good inside and find peace of mind, right now.
Henri writes at Wake Up Cloud and he is also the author of Find Your Passion: 25 Questions You Must Ask Yourself and Follow Your Heart: 21 Days to a Happier, More Fulfilling Life. The above article reblogged from TinyBuddha.com
Let’s face it. We all make mistakes.
Most of us know that failure is a reality of life, and at some level, we understand that it actually helps us grow. Intellectually, we even acknowledge that the greatest achievers — past and present — also routinely experienced colossal failures.
But still, we hate to fail. We fear it, we dread it, and when it does happen, we hold onto it. We give it power over our emotions, and sometimes we allow it to dictate our way forward (or backward). Some of us go to great lengths to avoid failure because of all the pain and shame associated with it. Why is it so hard to let go, forgive ourselves and move on? And how can we keep failure – or the fear of it — from derailing us?
Here are five strategies:
1. Don’t make it personal.
Separate the failure from your identity. Just because you haven’t found a successful way of doing something (yet) doesn’t mean you are a failure. These are completely separate thoughts, yet many of us blur the lines between them. Personalizing failure can wreak havoc on our self-esteem and confidence. There was a man who failed in business at age 21; was defeated in a legislative race at age 22; failed again in business at 24; overcome the death of his fiancée at 26; had a nervous breakdown at 27; lost a congressional race at 34; lost a senatorial race at age 45; failed to become Vice President at age 47; lost a senatorial race at 49; and was elected as the President of the United States at the age of 52. This man was Abraham Lincoln. He refused to let his failures define him and fought against significant odds to achieve greatness.
2. Take stock, learn and adapt.
Look at the failure analytically — indeed, curiously — suspending feelings of anger, frustration, blame or regret. Why did you fail? What might have produced a better outcome? Was the failure completely beyond your control? After gathering the facts, step back and ask yourself, what did I learn from this? Think about how you will apply this newfound insight going forward.
Thomas Edison reportedly failed 10,000 times while he was inventing the light bulb. He was quoted as saying, “I have found 10,000 ways something won’t work. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” The Wright brothers spent years working on failed aircraft prototypes and incorporating their learnings until they finally got it right: a plane that could get airborne and stay there.
3. Stop dwelling on it.
Obsessing over your failure will not change the outcome. In fact, it will only intensify the outcome, trapping you in an emotional doom-loop that disables you from moving on. You cannot change the past, but you can shape your future. The faster you take a positive step forward, the quicker you can leave these debilitating, monopolizing thoughts behind.
Don Shula is the winningest coach in the NFL, holding the record for most career wins (including two Super Bowl victories) and the only perfect season in NFL history.
Shula had a “24-hour rule,” a policy of looking forward instead of dwelling on the past. The coach allowed himself, his staff and his players 24 hours to celebrate a victory or brood over a defeat. During those 24 hours, Shula encouraged them to feel their emotions of success or failure as deeply as they could. The next day, it was time to put it behind them and focus their energy on preparing for their next challenge. His philosophy was that if you keep your failures and victories in perspective, you’ll do better in the long run.
4. Release the need for approval of others.
Often our fear of failure is rooted in our fear of being judged and losing others’ respect and esteem. We easily get influenced (and spooked) by what people say about us.
Remember, this is your life, not theirs. What one person considers to be true about you is not necessary the truth about you, and if you give too much power to others’ opinions, it could douse your passion and confidence, undermining your ability to ultimately succeed.
Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job because someone thought she was “unfit for TV.” Stephen King’s first book, Carrie, was rejected by 30 publishers. Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job because he “lacked imagination and good ideas.” Winston Churchill failed sixth grade and was considered “a dolt” by his teacher. Jerry Seinfeld was booed off the stage the first time he tried comedy. Soichiro Honda was rejected by an HR manager at Toyota Motor Corporation when he applied for an engineering job, leaving him jobless until he began making scooters in his garage and eventually founded Honda Motor Company. ’Nuff said.
5. Try a new point of view.
Our upbringing – as people and professionals – has given us an unhealthy attitude toward failure. One of the best things you can do is to shift your perspective and belief system away from the negative (“If I fail, it means I am stupid, weak, incapable, and am destined to fall short”) and embrace more positive associations (“If I fail, I am one step closer to succeeding; I am smarter and more savvy because the knowledge I’ve gained through this experience”).
Indeed, one can hardly find an historic or current-day success story that isn’t also a story of great failure. And if you ask those who have distinguished themselves through their achievements, they will tell you that failure was a critical enabler of their success. It was their motivator. Their teacher. A stepping stone along their path to greatness. The difference between them and the average person is that they didn’t give up.
Michael Jordan said it best: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Find Susan at www.authenticleadershipalliance.com or follow her on Twitter @susantardanico
Contrary to what our nervous systems might tell us, we need to learn to operate outside our comfort zones. Safety and fulfillment do not go hand and hand. When we play it safe and do things the way we are used to doing them, nothing changes. We do not grow. And you know what they say — if you are not growing, you are dying.
So, if we need to practice being outside of our comfort zone, how can we do it?
Find your edge: To actively and consciously leave your comfort zone, you need to know where it is. Think of it this way. If someone says to you that you need to do something to make a situation work — or, if someone asks you to do something: sky diving, for example — and you just flat-out say no. That is outside your comfort zone. But some situations are a little more vague. Calling someone you like and asking them out. Or, going a bit further with marketing your business. These things are not a flat-out no, usually. It is the examples that are uncomfortable but not unreasonable to us that are our edge.
Exercise your edge: You should be doing something every day that gets you more comfortable with doing the things that are on your edge. If you withhold the truth from people, practice speaking it. If you are afraid to speak on stage — my personal favorite — then take every opportunity to speak on stage. It is not about feeling good while you do it. It is about doing it.
Pay attention when you are in your comfort zone: How do you feel when you are doing something that you feel confident doing? Pay attention to this because it will give you insight into what feelings to connect with while you are exercising your edge. Practice your power and confidence: There are two pieces to this. When you are working your edge, remember to bring to your experience:
Getting comfortable functioning outside your comfort zone takes practice — just like all other parts of life. If you make doing it rather than not doing it a way of life, you become accustomed to the feeling and, therefore, it becomes easier to work with.