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?
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.
Life is an incredible platform for existence. Every day we meander through our lives at slower or faster paces performing hundreds, even thousands, of tasks that are completely second nature to us and require no conscious thought. This is an incredible capacity and should be wholly appreciated.
People who teach meditation and life improving techniques often discuss awareness. Practitioners are encouraged to meditate on their breathing, their sitting, their walking, their immediate physical surroundings, etc. These awareness meditations can have a profound mental, physical and spiritual effect on a practitioner. However, it can be difficult to comprehend the intention of these exercises. It’s a foreign, ambiguous concept for most people to “be fully aware” and I think it is often misunderstood or misconstrued.
Reduce the learned simplicity of tasks
Here’s a different method to raise your awareness in a more physical, understandable way. Take for example talking on the phone, flipping a light switch, handing someone money, drinking tea, using utensils… etc. These are tasks that you’re probably not very well aware of because you learned to do them at such a young age and have become complacent in doing them.
Today try performing all of these simple tasks with your left hand. Performing these tasks with the left hand will bring you back to the time of your youth when you were still learning coordination and everything was a new experience. Things like dialing the phone, eating, and using a computer mouse took more concentration on the task at hand and, therefore, gave you more awareness of what you were doing. Try this and let me know how it feels!
Reference previous post: The Pain is Only What you Make It - Mind over Matter
With every impact, blood seeped out of my aching knuckles as I struck the wall-mounted training pad over …and over …and over again. Right, left, right left, right, left… My senior instructor, in his naturally menacing manner bellowed, “Punch harder!! I better feel the building shake! The pain is only what you make it.” as he walked out of the dojo and went upstairs to eat his lunch…
There were two of us testing for our black belts that day and we both took a healthy breath, focused in a little closer to our targets …and we punched harder. As our fists throbbed and knuckles stung, his words resounded in ears, and we persevered. My mind sunk into contemplation and became detached from my current situation. After many years of martial arts training, I knew the capabilities of my body, and I knew how it would react to certain types of damage. “They’re only knuckles. They’ll lose their skin and bleed. Since I’m human I know they’ll heal.”
“If the pain is only what I make it, then the fact that I’m stuck in this situation is unimportant.”
Physical pain is only a response to outside stimuli, and it tells a brain that there may be damage occurring at a certain location on the body. Essentially, it’s an electrical memo sent from your nerve endings to your brain and can be thought of as merely a form of communication. Well, if you are already aware of what is happening with your body, then you have no reason to read the memo. You have the option to disregard the memo in order to more effectively get your task done. Of course, the same philosophy can be applied to more than just the physical sort of pain or suffering.
“I know that I am in pain now, but I know that some time in the future I will no longer be in pain.”
Knowing that pain is temporary is also helpful. When you begin to realize that the climate of life is always changing, then you will always be prepared to embrace the approaching climate, be it painful or joyful. If this is the case, what difference does it make that there is pain now?
Image by KayVee.INC via Flickr
One-hour meditation too much to handle? 20 minutes? 5 minutes got you beat? Here's a new approach to meditation with one very westernized quality about it. It's very fast.
This method is less focused on meditation, but more about trying to sit peacefully and achieve a brief moment of clarity, or clarity of presence. This way of thinking comes from Zen philosophy. The idea here is to create an instantaneous state of mind, or state of being wherein your awareness or understanding of your immediate surroundings or situation is increased. Try not to exert effort when attempting this. It will inevitably lead to failure and regret. Failure to do something that you didn’t “try” to do, is not really a failure. If you want it to be a sunny day and it turns out rainy, you did not fail. If it rains, it rains; if it’s sunny, it’s sunny.
Hints to help you achieve a moment of clarity:
- Focus on your heartbeat until you can feel it pushing the blood throughout all of your arteries.
- Create a phrase or sentence that describes what it feels like to be alive.
- Look at your hand and try to understand that no matter what happens in this life, all that's sure is that you will have this body.
- Picture yourself from a bird's eye view. Visualize whatever you're doing at the moment and zoom out little by little to picture the room, building, trees, street, town, state, country, continent, planet, galaxy, and all of the cosmos.
- Imagine you have just been born and are seeing all of the things around you for the first time.
- Do not concentrate, just pay attention.
- Do something you absolutely love doing. Something that engages your mind and body 100%.
- Rise to a challenge that is slightly more than you think you are capable of.
- Breathe silently and listen to the other sounds your body may be making.
- Focus on your skin until it begins to tingle.
Have a nice day!
I woke up this morning and the words "Inspiration Age" were ringing in my head. Not sure why, but when I got to thinking about it, akin to the industrial revolution of the 18th & 19th centuries or the Space Age which began in the 50's, it does stand to reason that the first part of the 2000's will forever be remembered as the "Inspiration Age".
Our world is on an extremely fast and volatile evolutionary path, and wherever we end up 50 years from now, what we do TODAY will have been the inspiration that crafted it.
In this article I've listed what I believe to be the major contributors to today's inspiration.
Of course today's buzzword is "Green". This is getting engineers optimizing existing products and creating new technologies across the board as well as take a closer look at the entire Earth, its processes and their interrelations as a system. But this inspiration is not just limited to engineers, everyone conscientious enough is taking a fresh look at their daily life and coming up with new ways to optimize it that would have less of an environmental impact.
Budding New Technologies
So many technologies are in their infancy right now and there is much more research and learning being done than actual development or commercialization in the fields of cloning, consumer space flight, nano-technology, thought controlled devices and many more.
Revolutions in personal communication devices present an interesting topic for inspiration as well. New developments in everyday devices are revolutionizing how we go about our lives. What this means to me is the combination of all of our cool new gadgets into one tiny little device: Phone, Camera, PDA, Music player, and any other form of communication available “out there”. This has been on the horizon and greatly anticipated ever since cell phones started taking pictures and on the forefront of this effort is the iPhone which has been the first to really nail this. (it sounds to me like everything else pales in comparison – sorry Blackberry users). All of you people (myself included) who have been expecting this product for some time now, have provided a great deal of inspiration and motivation for product development engineers. Thanks everyone! From all of us.
These devices allow creative minds to focus on creativity, drawing inspiration and creating inspiration rather than organization of thoughts or communication.
There seems to be a large presence of people out there who have become very interested in optimizing every facet of life. Relationships, chores, work, parenting, making money… or just day-to-day tasks - hence the creation of this blog. ☺ I think this is a fascinating concept and, like the convenient devices discussed above, the idea is that if you can optimize certain tasks so that you don’t need to spend as much doing them, you have more time to spend focusing on the more enjoyable things in life. Enjoyable things inherently offer more inspiration to people because you can generally allow yourself to contribute 100% of your focus to these things. If you are attempting to enjoy something against your natural instinct you most likely won’t allow yourself to be completely immersed in it.
Another benefit to "life hacking" is that it offers an entirely new subject to scrutinize – The optimization of life itself. This is completely new and very creative in itself. It provides inspiration for the scrutinization of a vast number of other subjects that we currently take for granted or accept for what they are.
Otherwise known as the Net Generation, Generation Y, Echo Boomers, and iGeneration, Millenials are basically the generation following the baby boomers. Many business owners are afraid of Millennials because they are known to expect too much of the work place and they have the desire to shape their lives according to their own personal schedule and goals as opposed to committing to a life and goals dictated by a company's progress. I can understand why this would be frightening to an employer, unless of course the employer is, themselves, a part of the millennial generation or at least understands them.
This leads to an exciting evolution of all businesses adapting this millennial mindset and being able to happily accommodate a world that moves faster than ever. Daily market changes, trends and expectations will be accommodated much easier and with greater success.
Life is extremely tenacious, we’ve been reminded of this throughout 300 million years of evolution. When life struggles it pulls out the heavy artillery. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, if you will… In our current economic state there are a lot of business tactics that are being used to ensure a company’s success through this hazardous economic environment. There is creativity being used everywhere in business right now to build stronger practices and keep companies alive. This will undoubtedly contribute revelations on heartier methods to the western industrial world that can be used in the future that will better accommodate a more diverse economic environment.
A New Awakening
This is along the same lines as the life hackers and millennials. Overall, it seems like today's society is becoming more aware of the intricacies of daily life and is making "living happily" more of a priority. I recently read by Eckhart Tolle. It is an amazing book about the new spiritual revolution of today’s world. It coincides directly with the rise of eastern religion in the west and life hackers, and living happily. As stated above, when we are enjoying what we’re doing and living contently overall, it is easy to become completely immersed in all that we do. This then makes it easier to draw inspiration and create inspiration for all others. – Awakening to your Life’s Purpose
Sharing of Ideas
Digital mediums such as blogs, e-books, networks, social groups, etc, make sharing ideas and knowledge a snap. This is pretty simple, the more ideas, the more inspiration available.
Cheers, to the inspiration age! It's a lot of hard work that we've got to do now to create a better future for everyone.
What do you think? Is this possible? 50 years from now, what will you be calling today's years?
Read this article at MiniLifeHacks.com
I am a big advocate of "effective focus", as it has been referred to at ZenHabits.com. I believe the difference between CAN and CAN'T is largely a factor of how much focus is effectively given to a certain task.
In high school some friends of mine had a band and were looking for a trombonist. A trombone conveniently came available through a friend and I was pretty excited about a potential opportunity for me to join the band, but I’d never touched a trombone before. “Have no fear!” I told myself. I took the trombone home and spent every spare minute learning about the instrument. Not just how to play it, but more.. I learned the construction of it, the adjustments available, how many different ways it could be held, where its center of gravity was.. etc. When learning to play it, I was in a private place (my back yard) with zero distractions, where I could listen to the sound of the instrument and feel it’s reactions to my breath and that was it.
Three weeks later I attended my first band practice, and after one more week I played my first show. I stayed with the band for another 6 years and had a lot of fun. I dedicate that to two things in particular: Confidence in myself, and the ability to focus.
Image via Wikipedia Try closing you eyes and walking through your house or around you office. It's hard but it's good for your senses and kind of fun (as long as no one gets hurt).
Now switch from trying to use your eyes, and turn your ear sensitivity to 11. Listen carefully to your footsteps or the sound of your clothes swishing against each other and you can actually start to hear sound patterns as this noise bounces off nearby objects and start to recognize telephone poles, buildings, and even doors from their sound patterns. These sound patterns are just simple changes in the reverberant qualities around you that are inherent to the immediate environment.
It's the same as when you drive by fence posts or telephone poles in your car; you can hear them whoosh by, but they're really not making any sound, it's just the sound of the car that you hear reflecting off of them.
This is a great way to increase your awareness of the things around you as well as your own sensory perception. And yes, it's kind of like a primitive form of radar, just like what bats use. But it's only primitive because we never learned to use it!
Take a look at my new blog on my meandering experience in learning echolocation