Friluftsliv Day

1222 Relax and Succeed - FriluftslivAllow this meme to act as a signal–as a sign–in your life. You want to be more peaceful, you want to slow down and reconnect, you want to feel more natural. Well then, start by feeling more of nature itself. Let’s not forget, the concept of cities and buildings are still very new to human beings. A massive part of your brain was built around being out doors.

Whether it’s a walk to get something you might otherwise drive to, or maybe a lunchtime park-walk with a co-worker, or even just paying a bit more attention to the trees and grass while watching a child play their outdoor sport. The idea is to get your busy egotistical thoughts out of your head where they create suffering, and instead use your awareness to take in all that nature has to offer–including more peace of mind for you.

Make your choice now. Take action to enact that choice at the appropriate time today, and then know that you have taken actual steps forward, toward your psychological and spiritual goals. By simply dedicating some small amount of time to intaking the world rather than filling your consciousness with words, you will gain significant benefits both immediately and over time. Breathe.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

The Friday Dose #134: Your Mind Your Body

1043-fd-relax-and-succeed-90-of-your-bodyYou could do the experiment without risk anyway, but most of you have waited until science caught up before you would even consider that maybe your mind could impact your body. You are starting to accept that our attitude about healing could actually impact our physical healing, etc. How you think you feel has a lot to do with how you actually feel. This is a large part of a shaman’s power.

I’ve put them in previous Friday Dose’s: people whose behaviour defies science. Some stop themselves from freezing, others generate large amounts of heat, some demonstrate bizarre strength or unusual healing. Physical feats are done regularly today that were believed impossible only a few years ago. There’s a hospital in France that doesn’t use anaesthetic for operations; it’s all hypnosis; it’s all in the mind.

Placebos are likewise. There’s no company pouring money into research and who knows, maybe even some money preventing it. Even our health is a threat to someone’s market if they make money off us being sick. But that doesn’t mean placebos don’t point to a general impact your mind can make on your body. You’re a giant system. Start living like that’s what you are and you will begin discovering strengths within yourself that begin in your imagination.

Dr. Michael Tétreault Discusses The Placebo Effect

You’re stronger than you currently think. It’s time you accepted the idea that you too can be a peaceful, powerful person. Tune your mind. It’s yours and it’s remarkable.

Have a great weekend everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Friday Dose #131: Even When It’s Hard

1023-fd1-relax-and-succeed-comforting-lies-unpleasant-truthsI have a dear friend who was robbed, conned and sued for something she isn’t actually responsible for and all of that happened in a span of two weeks. When that happens it’s pretty easy to ask yourself why the world’s being so tough on you. That inclination is fine; we have a lot of programming in our lives that suggests to us that good things happen to good people. But so do bad things.

As Shakespeare suggested, what makes things good or bad is our thinking–our personal thinking. That thief wasn’t robbing their house, he was robbing a house. The con man didn’t pick her, he picked her job title. And the lawsuit is a deflection of responsibility by someone who made simple mistake and they just happen to be the only people to deflect that toward.

1023-fd2-relax-and-succeed-teaching-your-child-goodThe same holds true even for something as serious as cancer. We’re 10% us-cells and 90% other cells. Almost 70% of your body weight is other microscopic creatures that live on, in and off you, or rather we live off them. You are one big symbiotic system. You’re more like the Earth and they’re all the plants and animals.

We think cancer is a disease, but to cancer it’s just cancer. It’s cells don’t intend to kill or hurt us, they simply are being cancer cells and so they’re not cooperating in with the cells around them. It’s okay to go through some powerful emotions as you think about that, but just remember the pain is caused by cancer but the suffering is caused by the resistant thinking. Starting there is normal. The level of our health depends on how rapidly we can shift ourselves away from that resistance.

Scott Hamilton is now facing his third bout with cancer and here he discusses how he wants his family to face that idea. Of course it’s not good news and clearly he’s in pain; but it’s not unfair, it just is. He takes the pain but won’t add the suffering and he wants his children to know how to do that too. It’s one of life’s most valuable skills. In this way the cancer becomes a teacher, making Hamilton and his family mentally stronger and healthier themselves. Life is mostly opportunity. But it has its harsh bits. Such is the nature of yin and yang. I wish him the very best.

Scott Hamilton Approaches Brain Cancer With a Clear Mind

Be grateful. Things change fast. What you want isn’t as important as what you have. Enjoy it.

peace and a hug, s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Everything Changes

995-relax-and-succeed-if-things-are-going-wellThis was written out longhand. In cursive script no less! It’s amazing how much that changes the writing process inside one’s head. The reason I’m handwriting is because I intentionally don’t use a smartphone but I wanted to write about the experiences I’ve been having while sitting in the emergency department of a hospital.

I’ve been on a huge time-crunch over several months due to unexpected circumstances and the stakes are very high: the care of my parents. My best friend had come into town to help me get the fantastic amount of work done that’s required for me to prepare for my parents. After close to two weeks of 5am to 1am workdays she was on her way out for a dog walk and she ended up slipping on the stairs, tumbling head over heels and she broke her arm and dislocated her shoulder! One second you’re on a dog walk and the next you’re in emergency.

Everyone in this waiting room had concerns this morning. Everyone had fears and stresses and worries and yet now those are flickers at best. Every bit of energy is focused on their arm, their stomach, their heart. Family members from all walks of life converge in the waiting room where all differences vanish. In this room no one cares where you’re from or what language you speak or what religion you are; in here we’re all just people with loved ones in pain and danger. It really brings people together.

995-relax-and-succeed-be-careful-how-you-judgeSome of us respond to the care with gratitude and some with fear. The fearful ones sound angry and are often met with harsh tones back from staff which is understandable. No one likes to be spoken to in unpleasant ways and yet at the same time I doubt we should expect the best behaviour from people rushing into this building. Certainly everyone I’ve spoken with feels like these are some of their worst days and they’re likely to be on their worst behaviour. Fear is best met with compassion. That benefits both parties.

What’s interesting is the state of everyone here. They were themselves earlier but now they are the relative of the person in trouble. Their own identity has been abandoned and random thoughts about their life has been replaced with random thoughts about what’s happening right now. Everyone is looking at their lives from a new perspective. Everything suddenly potentially means something different.

I’m lost too. This leaves a lot up in the air for me and even more for my incredible best friend. But rather than let my mind reel I kept my mind still and I observed. I watched the elderly Indian man go from very polite and patient to very argumentative all in steps that matched the news he got about his wife, who he clearly loves a great deal. You could see the shift as he added each new narrative element every time a doctor or nurse came by with the news he didn’t want. And yet the staff that encountered him later in the process would walk away with the impression that he was unpleasant person when that wasn’t accurate at all.

995-relax-and-succeed-its-amazing-how-a-personWhether it’s us getting hurt or someone we love, almost no one sees these experiences coming. Which means if you’re not having one now you’re actually experiencing that really tough luck to notice–the absence of trouble. As Richard Carlson used to say, people are mad the one day every five years that their alarm doesn’t go off, but they fail to be grateful the other 1824 days when it did ring.

Situations like this remind us of what’s really important. I’m lucky, almost everyone in here is in for something far more serious than my friend is. I felt genuine gratitude for that. And my connections with others here might have been under difficult circumstances, but they have been heartfelt and I would include them as positive interactions. Empathy feels a lot like love. I look for opportunities for it selfishly.

The people in this waiting room made this part of my stay much less stressful and one could even say they collectively helped. I think we all got helped in that room. I wish them all well with their situations and I head off to find a way to post this blog. In the meantime, ask yourself what would happen to your life if you suddenly had to go in surgery and then be grateful you don’t have to have those experiences. And when you do have painful experiences just remember, they’re not bad either, they’re preparing us for our futures as the frailer people we’re all destined to become.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Stretching Our Spirit

Relax and Succeed - Nature is busy creating absolutely unique individualsThere are a lot of ways to be beautiful. Like many things in life though it can take time to come to appreciate certain kinds of beauty. Much like young people start off entirely selfish and grow towards ever-increasing empathy (if they’re healthy), when we’re young we also start of with relatively shallow ideas about beauty and (if we’re healthy), we expand those ideas to include more and more things and therefore people.

It’s natural for a child, tween, teen and young adult to recognise physical health as is manifested by our genes and our habits. If someone 10,000 years ago was too lazy to hunt that would be reflected by being underweight, whereas being able to eat a lot would be a sign of success in a  pre-money pre-symbolism world. And if you’re raising kids, obtaining food is the bottom of Maslow’s Pyramid. You do that before anything so it makes biological sense that we would want to be with someone who can look after themselves

To actually have a child a woman would be in competition for a mate with other women and therefore the qualities that denote physical success would be more attractive to the men who also want to see their lineage move forward in that wonderful way nature has.

977 Relax and Succeed - You are beautifulAs we actually attempt relationships we find out they’re about more than just the sexual attraction and the food. That can get a person pregnant but if sharing the food only lasts a short time then the children are in jeopardy, so having a male who feels dedicated enough to stay long enough to protect those offspring also makes sense. So then commitment to the relationship becomes important.

Again we grow and we realise that commitment only comes from certain temperaments reliably, so now we’re looking for the right personality. How nurturing is someone? How courageous? How enjoyable?

Eventually the child-rearing years are over and now the commitment does not have the bind of the children which is why a lot of divorces happen within a few years after the kids are independent. But if things prior to that have been so enjoyable and secure it can be in both parties interests to stay linked. This is based on appreciation.

977 Relax and Succeed - The more we can appreciateIt is possible to move quickly through this evolution if we can come to grasp these individual ideas as a larger concept: we get that people stay because we treat them well and we treat them well because we appreciate what they bring into our lives. That’s why when we’re young we can wonder how a woman can be attractive with stretch marks and yet when we’re older we see those as signs of life’s greatest achievement.

The problem comes in when we compare because everyone is viewing things from a different perspective. Like the old Indian stories about the four blind men studying an elephant, one can think its tail is like a rope, another can find the legs like a tree, another finds the tusk like a spear and the last finds the trunk like a snake. A younger person does not yet have the capacity to appreciate the larger meaning of a stretch mark and so they can see it as a scar rather than a symbol. So the problem isn’t the stretch mark on the older woman, it’s an illusion created by the younger person’s limited ability to appreciate due to having less experience in life.

It’s much the same with anything. Men can historically look at moneymaking  (aka food-gathering) as the main skill, but as we come home from some hunts wounded we come to realise that care and support after the hunt can be what enables us to hunt better tomorrow. In this way people grow toward each other in mutual interdependence, which is a form of appreciation–the highest form of awareness. Meanwhile in a thought-based comparative world where two people are less skilled at appreciation they will end up co-dependent, thereby making the relationship unhealthy for both the parents and any children.

977 Relax and Succeed - You will b e too much for some peopleDo not apply the perspectives of others to views of yourself. You have no idea by looking at someone where they are on that shallowness-appreciation spectrum. You were on it too so don’t lament that someone else is, but don’t apply it to yourself any more than you should use your thoughts to compare yourself today to your younger self from an earlier time. The comparison itself is what generates the pain. It is the result of a thought-calculation. There is no comparing in appreciation. There is no room in our consciousness for anyone or anything other than what we’re appreciating.

Love yourself wherever you are on this spectrum. There is no need to hurry or to cling to any point. We each move at our own pace which is fine, because if we don’t use our thoughts to generate the judgments and comparisons then we’re not anywhere on any spectrum–we simply are. And that is the very best place to be.

Go be. Go be whoever you are now. Trust me. That person is beautiful and perfect.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Reactions to Failure

Staying conscious is being mindful. If your head isn’t full of self-conversation then much more of the world can get inside you. You notice more and that’s helpful. So when a friend and I were recently disagreeing about an important issue we were working on I noted quite clearly that in the middle of the discussion of the good friend said, “have you eaten?”

972 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes when things are falling apartMe being upset lead to a friend asking if I’d eaten, meaning she had related my mood to my food. I trust her so we ate and I did feel better as my body chemistry regulated. It turned out I just needed some sugar. You could leave it at that but if you’re going to think don’t ruminate, meditate. So I spent the next two days meditating on how that happened.

In that meditation I recalled another similar experience where I had snapped at a different friend for very little reason. At the time my reaction had been so strangely immediate that it registered with me. I remember meditating then on the fact that I loved the friend so it didn’t make sense, plus I hadn’t been thinking any relevant negative thoughts. So what was the cause? My disappointment over how I treated my friend was what motivated my meditations.

After more consideration I realised both situations reminded me of when I got upset really easily for about eight months when I was in my late teens. I was going through a growth spurt and my off-balance chemistry gave me a different personality for a short time. And now here was a friend responding to me being unreasonable by asking me if I’d eaten. Food relates to body chemistry. Can you see if you’re more aware that the truth becomes obvious? The question was, how did it happen?

972 Relax and Succeed - Never regret anythingSometimes the big challenges in life are so obvious and huge in our lives that they cause us to miss some of the smaller implications. A few years ago I underwent my life’s most difficult period where rather than an 8 hour day and a 40 hour week I needed a 40 hour day and a 280 hour work week just to avoid disasters, but that in turn lead to a series of sub-decisions that were far less conscious. Life can deliver us more than we can handle. That happens.

There is no good way to prioritise the very serious and absolute demands presented by very elderly and sick parents, a book deadline, your life’s work, the needs of clients and the business that pays your equally important mortgage, or even your basic life obligations like the fact that you need to eat, drink, sleep, grocery shop, and personally groom, plus you’ll have needs relating to everything from house and yard work to necessary car repairs or maintenance and of course there’s the never-ending administration that life requires.

I knew during that time that I would be letting friends down and I accepted there would be a price. I worked with my doctor on a plan for so little sleep and so much work and I developed a special diet, but even then I accepted there would be both a price and a limit. I worked off an insanely inhuman schedule that I still can’t believe I maintained.

972 Relax and Succeed - A friend is someone who understandsDespite all that effort I was still constantly letting everyone down, including myself. I never had enough sleep and I had quietly developed terrible eating habits over time. I was still eating healthy, but I would often go to bed at 2am realising I hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 5am the previous day. And there in my mediation was my answer: In my busy-ness I had accidentally learned not to eat.

Because historically we can be chased by wild animals the desires to eat and to pee can be deferred to later. Pain stays, the desire to eat comes and goes. I got so used to dealing with not being able to eat that it became an unconscious habit to just immediately dismiss the desire. I needed to get conscious about food again.

For the next several weeks I watched myself closely. Sure enough, once I was watching I caught myself tons of times deferring the desire to eat. As often as possible I would remember to respond to it and I’m currently about half way to re-teaching myself to eat when I’m hungry. That’s how busy-minded we can get: we can forget something as basic as eating.

972 Relax and Succeed - Don't deny what's occurringSo can you see that I’m now glad the friends reactions were pain because I care about them? And I’m glad one defended herself by asking me if I’d eaten? Without those signs that I was off the path how could I have rediscovered the path? I needed those ditches to help me find the road. Of course we always want to treat loved ones well, but part of love is that they can help us make it through tough times like that and then we can do the same for them. That’s how love serves.

So now I’m grateful that the universe has taught me to appropriately value food and that my friends were patient and now that I do have the time to eat I’m getting conscious enough to actually do it. So this can help you too if you remember that if you have a problem don’t focus on the problem itself, ask yourself what its source is.

Believe you are a good person that is lost not a bad person that needs changing because that is the greater truth. If you approach your mistakes that way you can see your innocence and then make the change without guilt. Speaking of not feeling guilty, another great truth is that I’m hungry right now so, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to get something to eat. In the meantime, you have yourself a stellar day. Bon appetite.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Friday Dose #120: Your Nature

968 FD Relax and Succeed - We are natureThe only problem with this is: if you make something this cheap and easy then no one wants to believe it could be the solution to a big problem. But it is.

You are an aspect of nature. Yesterday I discussed the value of you communing with other aspects of nature; other people, animals, plants, earth, water, air. This isn’t some unpleasant assignment or painful procedure, this is freeing your body, seeing interesting things, breathing more deeply and slowing down.

Below I’ve included something funny yet meaningful to start us off and we’ll follow that with two fascinating videos. Immediately after you watch this first one seriously consider booking something to do this weekend with a friend or friends that involves you in actual nature, experiencing nature. And no, golf doesn’t count. 😉

Next we’ll take a peek into an excerpt from a TED Talk given by Suzanne Simard (the entire talk is available here.) She exposes some fascinating facts but pay particular attention to how similar we are to the world around us. Remember, your DNA is not that far off a banana and grasping and respecting that reality is worth a lot to you. Plus it’s just amazing:

And finally I leave you with a documentary I have literally searched for since my days living in Budapest. It’s called, Dream Window: Reflections on the Japanese Garden, and if you’d like to see an HD version apparently the Smithsonian has one. This film discusses the beautifully elegant and spiritually sophisticated relationships between the gardens, the gardeners and the people who visit with intention. It’s a great way to expand yourself on a rainy afternoon. It may be the most peaceful documentary you’ve ever seen. Enjoy.

You want your life to be happier and you want to be healthier. Go outside this weekend. Just don’t get lost in thought. Forget goals. Be with nature.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.