Trying Your Hardest…An Epiphany !


trying hardThe other day I was sitting with my daughter, helping her with her homework.  Earlier in the day I had received and email from her teacher, letting me know about some of the struggles she had been having in class.  The comment that struck the largest chord, was that when working by herself, she would have difficulty focusing on her work and act as if she could not do it, but when the teacher would work one on one with her, she had no problem.  Ugg, my goal for my job as a dad, was to cultivate an independent, self thinking little lady!  The irony.  Well, so I had to come up with something that would “encourage” her to start doing her work independently.

Of course, at first, I was grilling her on the importance of being able to do things for herself and giving examples of when she did start doing various tasks on her own…i.e. walking, talking, taking a shower and so on, how proud she felt and expressed so. That, of course, elicited the glaze over in the eyes and eventually a rolling to go along with it. I had to do a reset and think.  I thought to myself, the teacher mentioned that when she was working alone, she was having issues staying focused.  Hmm, so instead of giving her encouragement and motivational talks, i would give her a specific task.  “Try your hardest,” I said (wow, I just made the world shake…right…ha).  I went on, “Try your hardest to focus on  every little movement, every little thought, every little part of the task at hand.  In this case, it was writing her name and a sentence, with proper placement of letters, proper punctuation, proper sizing and so on.  So, each letter, for example, I would tell her to “try your hardest” on each part of the letter as she wrote it.  To “try your hardest” to pay attention each moment with each movement of the pencil.  I then told her to “try your hardest” to recognize when she was not “trying your hardest.”  Then when she recognized that she was getting off track, to take a deep breath and blow it out.

epiphanies

That moment, KABOOM, I had an epiphany!!!  It’s amazing how often wisdom comes out of my interaction with my daughter.  What I realized at that moment, was that “Trying your hardest” is a fantastic tool, a fantastic reminder for bringing oneself into the moment.  To bring oneself completely into focus.  Just this simple phrase can initiate ones ability to reset the mind, and focus on the task at hand.  Very much like we train ourselves in meditation, to keep the mind in the moment by staying focused on one point and noticing when the mind is no longer focused on that point and bringing it back.  The only difference being, this is a way to bring our focus back during our everyday experiences.  Regardless of what it is, making breakfast, doing a spreadsheet at work, talking with a client, doing homework with a child, or writing your letters….tell yourself, “try my hardest” at every aspect of the task.  I tried it after my epiphany, and it was amazing how quickly I was able to observe my mind getting off task, and when I told myself to “try my hardest”, that I got right back on task.

Really, its nothing you haven’t heard before.  My parents always used to tell me to try my hardest and do my best.  Of course, I probably got the glaze over my eyes with a subsequent roll, but the truth is, whether they knew it or not, there was wisdom in those words.  The problem was, my interpretation of the words and subsequent defensive reaction of, “I am trying my hardest!,” was based more on being obsessed with the outcome of whatever task I happened to be engaged or the fact that in all reality I had other things on my mind, other “tasks” that i would rather be doing.  Funny the struggle between parent and child!

wandering mindThis, as we all know, is the plague of the human mind, always wandering somewhere else, anywhere else, instead of being focused on what is going on right now!  It is the scourge of productivity!  It is the nemesis of a peaceful mind!  It is the creator of all stress and misery!  Yes, I know, a bit dramatic, but it is the truth!  For a mind that is in the moment, can never be stressed, can never be miserable, for it is in this state that it can process all that is necessary to make it through.  It is in this state, that the machine we all call our brain works at its highest efficiency with the least effort.  It is the state in which we can observe our true nature, our true self, the energy that exists beyond that which we call…I…me.

So, “try your hardest,”  it is nice reminder, a catch phrase if you will, a reset button, for bringing the focus back to the moment.  Just like my daughter, when writing her name, what exactly was trying her hardest?  Trying her hardest was to place attention to every part of the construction of writing her name.  From the grip on her pencil, to the placement of the pencil on the paper, to every movement of her hand while making each little line or curve, to the proper spelling of the word, to the orientation of which she would write it.  Who knew there was so much involved in writing a letter, let alone a word. Yet, ultimately, it was placing all focus on the task at hand, on the moment!

happy childSo I say to you, my faithful reader….go out…and challenge yourself to..”TRY YOUR HARDEST”..  Remind yourself, as you meander through your day, creating your masterpiece of life, to “Try Your Hardest” to focus on each and every moment of your creativity!  To “Try Your Hardest” to be aware of this gift we call life, and live it in its only reality, which is, moment to moment!  Of course, as is with anything, the more you “Try Your Hardest”….the easier it will become to find yourself being in the moment and living a happier….more peaceful….and more productive life.

I wish you all much happiness….much peace….and much success with this beautiful thing we all call life!!!

28 Day Meditation Challenge


Hello out there, to all of you engaged in the experiment and to those not as well!  Someone passed along a Facebook link to a 28 Day Meditation Challenge.  So many folks spend so much time making an effort to better their bodies through some sort of physical exercise challenge (especially during this time of the year) , how about putting some energy towards a mental exercise challenge.  Give it a try, it can”t hurt!  If you have any questions about meditation, feel free to contact me or leave a response on this post.  The link is as follows.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/28DayMeditationChallenge

Much Peace and Happiness to you all.

The Dying Art of the Creative Moment


My eyes opened, as the sound of Moonlight Sonata, so eloquently created by a Mr. Ludwig Van Beethoven, calmly gave introduction to a new day.  The shadows of the ceiling fan fluttered as if there were a butterfly, readying itself to land upon the window cill. I turned over to the warmth of my little Pug Ling, as she shook her head and greeted me with a gregarious snort as her imperfectly curled tail tried to follow the wiggle of her back end.  As blurred visions of the grand adventure of epic proportions I experienced before my waking moments, drifted off into the lost Dewey Decimal System of my mind, I came upon a faint moment that struck a conscious vibration of disapproval and even anxiety.  This moment of intensity quickly dispersed as two familiar spheres of green and yellow and brown came into sight, encompassed by a halo of soft light, and the sound of “good morning daddy”  that reverberated a flow of the most enlightening vibration of peace and happiness, nourishing every cell in my body, from this little light of my life, as if she were the sun giving life to the avocado tree outside the window.  I reached out to embrace this little light of my life, Luciana her name, the Italian equivalent for light, so appropriate, so true to life, and she expressed a whimsical  ahmmm which let me know that all was good in the world and that she was now ready for her day!

Talk about being in the moment!  Its amazing the detail that comes into focus during an experience such as this.  Ah, the creative process, what an amazing tool, an amazing gift, an amazing discovery.  Simple really, just allowing oneself to be completely in the moment and create, not bound by any future or past limitation….this is where the masterpiece is, well, created!  Likely, why it is the starving artist that so often is the true creator of such bliss.  For to create for the purpose of gaining favor or income for that matter, will always taint the process.  Creativity is a flow, a flow of the sum of all that is, and then an attachment to something in that flow….ah….a creation is born.  Then how, can i give full attention to this attachment if I am anywhere other than in the moment?  Ah, I cannot, therefore my creation is distorted by its insignificance.

Writer’s block for example, what is writers block?  Most of the time, i think it is due to the desire to create.  Sounds crazy, right?  Maybe not,.  For the creative process is being bound by not the desire to create, but for that entity, that attainment, that goal in the future that has elicited this desire to create….unfortunately no longer allowing the artist to be completely in the moment.  Maybe why we see the creative process becoming a relic, a cyclical copy of what has been.  As the creative process has been hijacked by the almighty dollar.

When I write, i am in the moment , for if I am not, i no longer have anything creative to say.  For just as creativity, wisdom is only found in the moment.  It is the essence of the flow, it is the constant that can be observed, only in the moment.  Not bound by the noise beyond the flow.  Find the flow my friends, embrace it, live it, be it……and CREATE!!!!

So you wanna know about meditation….eh??


ImageLast week I wrote about an experience I had during meditation, and of course this produced a couple of messages asking about meditation.  What technique I practiced?  How does one get the same experience I described?  Is there one meditation better than the other?  We human beings are such funny animals, often confused with the concept of simplicity and have this funny little way of creating complexity out of it.

When I first started my quest for meditation, I had many of the same questions and spent so much time analyzing the different practices, different sitting positions, different sitting areas, you name it…I analyzed it!  Of course, I eventually realized that this is my nature, but that discussion is for another day!  Well, finallly after going through all of the analization process, I picked a particular discipline and dove in! (I’m not going to get into specifics, as to not lay influence, one must find their own path.  If you truly would like to know, send me a message and I will happily go into it further.)  I will say, it was one of the most difficult things that I have done in my life, but of course one of , if not the most important as well!  As I have mentioned before, it is the most important tool that I have, as I meander through this river of life!

So you wanna know about meditation…eh???  It is very simple, in fact its the backbone of this experiement I have been talking about!  It is the objective observation of your point of focus, moment to moment.  No, really, its that simple, but as I mentioned above, we are very complex animals, whose minds, well,  just don’t like simplicity…or atleast fight it, tooth and nail!!  You see, meditation is the retraining of the ole noggin.  Well, the ole noggin, its kinda fond of those old habits of the mind (some refer to that as the ego) and isn’t real interested in this retraining!  So, well, its a gonna fight ya!   But rest assured, persistance and patience will prevail!  Just like a child, persistance and patience will always give better long term results!

So, the objective observation of your point of focus, moment to moment.  Hmm, what exactly does that mean?  There are many forms of meditation, in fact I am pretty sure most reading this post have engaged in some sort of meditation at one point or another.  There are those that do mantra (chants), those that focus on an object, those that focus on bodily sensations, those that focus on breath, those that focus on sound.  So, what do all of these have in common?  Well, there is a point of focus.  So, how about prayer?  How about physically working out?  How about playing a video game?  How about a crossword?  How about doing a painting?  How about working on a physics problem?  These are all things that one often becomes completely absorbed, completely focused in the moment, and in my opinion are all forms of meditation.

Now, the real tricky part, the objective observation, becoming third person, really…just being.  Where one is able to allow things (feelings, thoughts, fears, desires)  beyond that point of focus, to materialize, quikly observe them as they materialize, and be completely objective towards them, accept them for what they are and really allow them to eventually pass, all the time keeping the attention on that point of focus!

Yes, your mind will wander!  Yes, you will give more attention to those thoughts rushing through your head!  Yes you will react to that funny feeling in your leg, or that itch on your arm!  That is where the objectivity is most critical!  That is where going, okay, I lost focus on my point of focus for a bit, no big deal (get used to saying no big deal to yourself), and reset and begin your meditation again!  Little by little, with great patience and persistence, you will start to experience the beauty in retraining that ole noggin of yours!  For this is the immediate goal, retrain the mind to be focused, moment to moment!  Eventually you will observe your true nature, and it will be easier and easier to accept it for what it is, and when this happens you will see the retraining process become easier and easier.

So, why is it that I am retraining?  Do an experiment on yourself and I promise you will understand why!  Although our greatest asset in the creation of our masterpiece, the mind, it is also our primary source of misery, really our only source, our greatest enemy!  Throwing anchors of fear in the past and shooting arrows of desire to the future (or vise verse), not allowing us to experience the only true reality of what is going on moment to moment!  So picture each one of those anchors and arrows with a big rope attached and the other end hooked to you!  Yow-ch, sounds pretty painful!  The beauty of retraining the ole noggin, is that it gives us the opportunity to let go of those ropes, pop those hooks, accept those arrows and anchors for what they are, and just let go of those ropes that are attached to them with the power of objectivity, the power of…well…”no big deal”!  Understand, you will throw those anchors and shoot those arrows again!  But, now you have gathered this beautiful tool of meditation, of awareness, of retraining the ole noggin and maybe you won’t throw or shoot them as often, or maybe you will not hold onto the ropes as long as you once did!

This has been my observation of meditation.  I hope it helps in some way.   I wish you all strength, patience and persistence on your journey through this beautiful river of life, but most of all I wish you much peace and much happiness!

Mind of Peace..from…Peace of Mind !!


In honor of the International Day of Peace, I thought a post on Peace and the Mind would be aprapos.  So often on this journey of mine, the term “Peace of Mind” has come up.  Whether it be in conversation with others on the path, or reading a book, while writing, or just a little conversation I have with me, myself and I,…. “Peace of Mind” was a pretty hot topic.  For isn’t that the goal?  I once thought that, until I found that place and experienced something totally unexpected.

I’m not sure I have discussed in previous posts,  that I have practiced meditation for quite some time.  Yes, this practice has been an integral part of this journey and a “super tool” that I have used to help float along this river of life.  Through this practice, I was able to experience a place where I was able to quiet the mind, and when I say quiet the mind, I mean total and utter silence, what I would certainly call “Peace of Mind.” (I am not going to go into a discussion on meditation, as that is for another day).  I remember thinking to myself, “Wow… man… that was the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced!”  I had been fortunate enough to get a small glimpse, experience a tiny taste, of the ultimate truth, my true nature!  “I certainly  must be doing something right,” I said to myself, ” going down the right path!”  You wouldn’t believe the flow of thoughts that ensued later that afternoon after that experience.  Then “BAM” it occurred to me, “there I go again,” the mind just going at it again, like a white water flow of craving and self-absorption.  I suppose the only difference was the acute nature in which I was able to observe the thoughts, and what they were.  Honestly, I will tell you that this observation was a much more important part of my lesson learned that day than the actual experience of a completely quiet mind. It was at that point I realized, I observed, I truly experienced, the true nature of the misery I bring upon myself.  It was the point at which I understood how unaware I was in my everyday existence to the flow of thoughts and subsequent “holding onto them” that elicited their corresponding reaction.  It was probably one of the most prolific experiences of my life, to actually observe the actual workings of this mind/matter phenomena!!  Needless to say, this moment  took my own personal experiment of self observation to a new level.

So, great, cool, good for me, I had a really amazing experience…..And?  Well…sure, I did, but the most important thing about the experience was the understanding that I got from it, it clicked!  It was during that moment of true awareness, that I understood not only the importance of that “Peace of Mind” moment, but  I also observed just how critically important the moments following, the time spent after that moment.  For it is this time that the opportunity for transformation takes place, for the re-training of your mind.  It was also at that point I really, well, believed, that I could truly transform my mind, break the habits that I have held onto for so long, alter the cycle!  With this realization, it became completely apparent to me that the same could be said for the inhabitants of this world.  You know, you can hear it a million times….”Change the world, by changing yourself..”, but until you experience the true nature of change within, it is a very hard concept to grasp.

So, the point is, when you experience those times when you are fortunate enough to get that small glimpse…that beautiful feeling,  of “Peace of Mind”, make the most of it, (and no it doesn’t have to be as acute as the one I experienced that day).   Whether it be a moment of silent prayer, or that sunrise on the beach…or maybe just observing the smile of a child, or painting a picture of a peach.  Understand that “Peace of Mind” is experienced when your mind is completely focused, focused on that moment.  You will feel it, you will know, it will likely send a feeling of comfortable warmth through your body, and you’ll feel like a little lightbulb shining on all those around you.  Then, do us all a favor and yourself as well, when that little moment is over.  Take a second, or two, or even a minute, or ten, and send good wishes of peace, to all the world over!  This is the process my friends, something all of us can do,  to create a “Mind of Peace” from “Peace of Mind”,  just take a minute or a few.  (okay, i’m no poet, but it was fun trying!)  Realize, that small moment you experience, opens that opportunity to change your position in the river, to alter your path, and that alteration is completely dependent upon the thoughts you choose to join you on your flow.  It may not be comepletly noticable at first, or maybe it will, but you have the power and most importantly you have the choice.  Much Peace to you all on this International Day of Peace and I wish you all much luck on your journey and much happiness each day through.

The Essence of Life…Your Masterpiece!!!!


I posted a comment on Facebook yesterday in response to, “If only science and reason were easier to get people to believe in than flying men, a kingdom in the sky, ..virgins…and such..”.  My response, I think may have been taken a bit out of context, but it went something like this.. “Imagination is the mother of creation!!!  Desire and fear are her tools!!!  The human mind is her soil!!  And Chaos is her bloom!!!.”

Since embarking on this journey of self-realization and experiment of self observation, I have been fortunate enough to see things for what they are and use this information to better meander the path I follow.  Many times, the observations made are completely contrary to the reality I understood…I lived.. at one time or another.  The truth is, this beautiful thing we call life, is very much like a never-ending canvas, to use to create our own little…or grand…(depending on one’s nature)….masterpiece.

Imagination, most certainly is, the mother of creation.  For it is that imagination, which allows our energy, our true nature, to flow upon the canvas.  Fear and Desire are at the very root of our soul…..our mind….and these are the tools that are used to paint upon this glorious canvas.   For it is the essence of these two words that give color to the medium we choose for our masterpiece.  They are the ebb and flow of every stroke that is made!  This magnificent planet of ours, universe for that matter, so completely perfect, is ripe to offer the artist an unlimited palette of sensory experience, that the possibilities are limitless.

The mind is her soil, ah, this beautiful garden of creativity, so fertile with the descriptive that define one’s footprint.  The blueprint for which her tools are used.  Transforming with every moment, with every reaction to the plethora of sensory experience presented.

Chaos is her bloom.  As formally defined… Behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions… this work of wonder, this masterpiece…with the illusion of control…has quite the opposite.  For as any true artist knows, creativity flows from the depths of the mind, of the soul, of nothingness…with reckless abandon…with chaos…to form the most randomly beautiful bloom from the seed once planted in the soil.

So I say to he, that lies waste to the flying men, kingdom in the sky…virgins…and such… Wait just a minute!  For the day may come that science and imagination come to the realization that they really are one!! For one day, they will meet upon the understanding that it is one thing that separates, as well as combines the two, and that is limitation.  For it is limitation that is the essence of fear and desire and to get beyond this limitation is to experience that for which many call God.  For it is this essence, this limitless entity that provides the canvas to create ones masterpiece.  It is that constant flow of energy in the river of life and beyond.

Allow this energy to flow through you.  Make proper use of the tools, with as fertile a mind as possible. Let the creativity of your imagination cultivate and bloom into a masterpiece…bursting with the vibrance that defines the one and only you!!!  But most of all…smile…and BE HAPPY! (or not..your choice!)

No More HOMEWORK !!!


My 5-year-old started kindergarten this year, and of course the dreaded cycle of homework begins.  I thought maybe it would be a novelty for her and that she might be enthusiastic about the whole idea, at least in the beginning.  Well, maybe not so much.  The other day she proceeds to throw a fit as we sat together working on her assignment.  She has struggled a bit with her fine motor skills, so writing her letters can prove to be a task.  As the flow of whine, (not wine, although the thought could have occurred) continued, all of a sudden she belts out, “No More Homework!!”  Ah, those vibrations of frustration were running rampant in the room.  Of course the old learned habits of talking about “grades” and “homework is just a part of life and we gotta do it,” came out …and I quickly thought to myself….red light!  The ole scientist came out and started observing the situation and the response I was giving.  Grades???  Just gotta do it????  Talk about lack of motivation, but seriously, that’s kinda what our education system is built upon.  (The education system here in the U.S., that is for another post, as I have plenty to say about that, but I digress). Anyways, so I take a step back and let her take a break, we drink some water together and then we sit back down.  I proceeded to tell her the story of her first step, and was very detailed about that moment and included the emotion of the moment in my story.  How she had a look of “I’m gonna do this” but also a look of “I’m not so sure about this.”  Just picture dad recreating the moment and truly including the emotion, with the jumping up and down and cheering and of course the encouragement after a fall, the whole thing.  Also describing the look on her face upon completion and the flow of giggles that followed that first step!  I really tried to re-create that moment.  It was very cute, she definitely got a kick out of it.  Okay, so the point.  After telling the story, we talked about homework a bit.  I told her that first step did not happen right as she came out of mommy’s belly.  I went over the different stages that she went through to get to that point, with much animation of course.  Then I asked her if she knew why it was that she made that effort to learn to walk, even though at first it was hard and frustrating to her? No answer…. ” To make it easier for you to get around”, I told her, making reference for her to imagine having to crawl around school all day.   So I drew the correlation to homework.  I said, “We do homework to make things easier for us as we go through life.”  We went on a little further, and eventually got through the homework without the whine (or the wine).

Did my explanation of homework to my 5-year-old sink in?  I would like to think so, but the point of this story is this.  If there is something in your life you dread doing, and I would tend to believe that there is not one person on this earth that does not get this feeling at one point or another in their life, let your scientist come out and take an objective look at that task you dread.  Objectively come up with the true purpose for that task.  Let’s say for example taxes.  My mind says I pay taxes because i have to, to keep from getting in trouble.  Truthfully, why do I pay taxes?  To support the infrastructure of this great country, to make life a little easier in some weird, twisted way.  There is always some negative noise that surrounds things that we dread (and taxes are certainly a big one), hence why we dread them.  Dread only comes when we give energy to that negativity.

(Alright, I’m gonna get a little deep here, but bear with me.)  Picture the flow of thoughts going through your head like a big river of energy and the thoughts as little balls of energy.  So we have this magic fishing pole that will catch the little balls of energy (the thoughts) for which we give attention, regardless of their nature (positive or negative).  Remember, we choose which thoughts we reel in with our pole.  As you well know, each illicit a different feeling.  Yet the nice thing about it is that we have the power to throw the little ball back into the flow of energy, you know, let it go.  The irony is that it is often harder for us to let go of that little ball of negative.  Why?  Because it is out of some sort of fear that we catch it in the first place, and fear, as we all know, illicit all sort of reactions, and we give exponential attention to it, heck we mount it over the fireplace, trying to protect ourselves from it.  Of course, the longer we hold onto it, well the more it attracts more little balls just like it, and it truly becomes a struggle to manage it.  Eventually, well, you know.

So positive thoughts that we reel in, what’s the difference?   The difference is that these are easier to (in essence) let go, for there is nothing to protect yourself from, nothing to fear….(well except the desire to have the feeling these little balls illicit, or lack thereof…but that’s for another day).  Positive thoughts, finding the positive in our day-to-day experience gives us the ability to enjoy and take part in the true nature of the experience because we are not bound by the insecurity (or limitation as I like to call it) of fear.  Do yourself a favor, do your homework, make life a little easier, limit your limitations, make best use of your magic fishing pole and most of all, be happy all the way through!