- August 31, 2010 -- Written by: Tim Johnson
There will always be discomfort in your life. On some level, in some facet, either physical, mental, social or otherwise, discomfort will always be a part of our lives. Is discomfort uncomfortable? By definition... yes. Does it have to be all bad? No. Here is a list of items that will hopefully help you to keep your eyes open and see some of the benefits that your discomfort can provide you.
1. Learn about the world around you.
Where does it come from? When did it begin? What are all of its constituents? Can you learn anything on the basis of observation alone?
2. Ponder interconnectedness.
What is the direct and indirect impacts of this discomfort on you? What is its impact on others? Is this discomfort caused by others? Is it caused by you?
3. Realize how your accommodations can improve.
Look around. Are there other methods or strategies that could be implemented that would not require the problem to be solved, but rather would render the situation non-existent?
4. Practice awareness.
Practice bringing attention to the situation in order to really understand it before trying to rectify it. Bringing your attention to a particular sensation and avoiding other thought patterns can help you to isolate the problem. The sensation of having a rock in your shoe is far different than the thoughts of "Why do I always get rocks in my shoe?" or "I really can't afford a better pair of shoes".
5. Understand your tolerance for pain.
This can apply physically or mentally. Ask yourself. "Okay, how much is this really bothering me?" See Pain is Only What You Make It.
6. Increase your tolerance for pain.
While pain is a signal to your brain that your body is in danger of being damaged, it often overcompensates. After understanding what your pain tolerance is, make it a personal challenge to ride that line and accept it as a simple indicator to your brain.
7. Brainstorm a solution.
What can you build/make/modify, to rectify the situation? Think about the items at your disposal. Try to challenge yourself to come up with an inventive and unique solution. By patching the problem with a carelessly thought-out solution or something that won't quite work, you're only giving yourself something to complain about and fix again later.
8. Practice "creative experimentation"
Example: There's a painful wart on my foot. How can I change my stance, foot placement, stride, etc to ease the pain? Are there other objects nearby that I could be supporting some weight on to take it off of my foot? How many helium balloons do I have to hold to alleviate the pain? This will help you with creativity, as well as take your mind off the situation and it may also provide a reasonable solution.
9. Practice acceptance
Harboring "The serenity to accept the things you cannot change" is a very powerful skill. You may need to find something, a phrase or thought, to constantly remind yourself of the goal of being more accepting to avoid getting frustrated with the practice.
10. Harbor compassion
Somewhere out there, there is someone with the same discomfort as you. Somewhere else, there is someone far worse off than you.
- August 27, 2010 -- Written by: Tim Johnson
Commonly, people pose the question: "What would I do if I had only 1 day left to live?" Answers are generally comprised of places they would go, things they would accomplish, and people they would visit. This is a good way to help you understand the things and people that are really important to you.
Imagine now, that I told you that you have only 30 seconds left to live...
I'd like you to actually put yourself in this situation now. You're sitting right where you're sitting now and wearing whatever you're wearing when you read this. And you're all alone; at least more than 30 seconds away from any other human being. Savor this moment.
What do you do with your last 25 seconds on earth?.... Do you make one last phone call? How do you decide who to call? And by the time you decide, is it worth calling? What do you say, and will you be gone before you can say it? Savor this moment.
How many things can you actually do in 20 seconds of life? Do you retrieve a favorite memory or look ahead at your unfound goals? Which memories / goals to you choose to relish? Savor this moment.
You only have 15 seconds left now. Do you panic in fear of the actual sensation of death or do you revel in the glory that was your life? Savor this moment.
Death is only 10 seconds away and what have you done with the last 20 seconds? Have you made the best possible use of them? If only you had more time to decide what to do... Take a look around. Use your eyes. Use your ears. Look at your hands. Savor this moment.
Take a deep breath of fresh air, you have 5 seconds to live. Do you realize your own human impermanence? Does all of the worry and dischord in your life seem distant? None of it means anything anymore. What does it feel like to be wearing this skin you've been wearing for so many years? Savor this moment.
You have one second to live. What does being alive feel like? Savor this moment.
Wait, you're still alive! Keep reading!
In Bushido, the philosophy of the Samurai, death is always imminent. They lived their lives as if each moment could be the last, savoring every step of the journey and always putting their best foot forward, whether it be on the battlefield or training ground, or playing with their children or drinking tea. Death is held in the highest regard and is never forgotten by the Samurai. All the moments in our lives lead up to it.
This exercise can help you gain a better understanding of the intrinsic nature of your human being-ness. Not really having enough time to prepare for imminence, every moment must be lived completely. What would change about your life if every 30 seconds was your last?
- August 02, 2010 -- Written by: Tim Johnson
Do you commute to and from work every day listening to the radio or spacing off thinking about useless things? I was on my way home from work the other day and I approached a turn trying to guess how many times I had made the turn. It was far more than I wanted to admit, so I shut off my blinker and kept going straight. It was a road I hadn't travelled before; I'd never had a reason to. And as soon as I strayed from my normal route my eyes and ears awoke to new sights and sounds that weren't necessarily awe-inspiring, but they were new and different. And the turns I made were new as well; they weren't a part of my muscle memory. I instantly starting paying more attention to my driving and became more aware of the things around me.
I saw some kids playing by the road whom I'd never seen before, and I drove by an old barn that looked like it would make a great martial arts school for when I am ready to open my school. This got me thinking about what the school will be like, and all of the details that I love to daydream about anyway.
I only drove a couple miles down the road, turned around in a driveway and headed back home, but it made such an impact in my commute to have discovered a new part of the world, and also to have triggered new thought patterns about my future martial arts school plans.
The point is: Do something different. If you've become complacent with anything in your life, mix it up a bit. Give your mind something new to think about. A new perspective can awaken new thought patterns and stir up mental and physical energy in a very healthy way.