Slow for Improvement

1265 Relax and Succeed - Wonderful things will happen todayLife is filled with choices and one of the first ones we make is why, when and how we wake up in the morning. The slowest, gentlest awakening allows us to make a gradual shift from our sleeping state to our waking. Waking up at the last possible minute to a screaming alarm, means that the very first encounter that your mind has with the day is being startled into it with panic and demands. It’s not an ideal start.

If we’re tired a lot, rather than going to bed earlier, most people get louder alarms and shock themselves even worse in the morning. This exacerbates the problem when the real answer is to stop paying attention to schedules and days and time and try to pay more attention to how you feel. This doesn’t make you late if you do it right, it makes you flow. You have to have an awful lot of fun in those hours before bed before you’ll equal the life advantages to being well-rested for the entire next day.

Listen to your body when it screams for sleep. Adjust your life accordingly; don’t make it one of the many bricks you voluntarily take on that weight down your day. Even if you’re late, rushing is a compulsion but it’s generally not effective. We get out of our routine and we spend so much time getting mad at ourselves by forgetting things. That’s compounded by our own mapping out the consequences of being late, from traffic, to angry bosses, to the worst parking spot on the lot, that it just leads us to make more and more mistakes, which leads to more angry conversations when in the end the only cure would not be to fix the time but to fix your mindset.

1265 Relax and Succeed - May your choices reflect your hopesThe time you can’t change. Your approach to your day is always yours to choose. Breathe. Again: understand the value of how you start. Take a few moments to appreciate it. Don’t judge it, don’t give it weather or time or any other meaning, just wake. Then take a moment to collect yourself. You can note if you’re late that you’ll need to be efficient, but that’s setting an intention, not generating panic.

We’re not comparing ourselves to being perfect, we’re noting that our day will require us to be sharp, and so setting that tone consciously allows us to be doing what is appropriate rather than rushing to simply meet a schedule with no value placed on the mindset we arrive in. Can you see that harried days happen in your head, while the more focused ones are more of a verb; an action? We need to center ourselves over that action and not the words around the action.

In the end, most people’s lives are bad because they are completely unmanaged. People put far more attention into some trivial thing they purchase than they do toward managing their own days. Too often our lives aren’t coordinated or designed to create a rewarding life, they strictly meet the current tyranny of a clock.

1265 Relax and Succeed - The ego is nothing otherWe often still need to be places at specific times to coordinate our efforts with others, but that still leaves us with ample choices about our bedtime, our sleeping arrangements, and how we choose to wake up. Don’t let daily life experiences like that happen by accident and without consideration of how your morning can set the stage for a healthy day. Wake up gently, feel the qualities of a worthwhile day gathering, and when you feel enthusiasm for the day strike, that’s your time to move.

Don’t live out of blind habit. Take a moment in the morning after waking to simply assert to your being. What sort of day do you intend to extract from your daily events? Will you watch for their downsides or their upsides? You can always switch at any moment during your day, but no moment sets the right tone for a day like those first moments after waking. Spend them wisely.

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.

Restarting With Intention

1214 Relax and Succeed - I myself am made entirely of flawsI hope your summer’s were rewarding in many ways. As we come back together to grow and share, I’ve decided to experiment with a new mix of elements for the blog. There still will be my traditional essays, but I’ll also be adding some new approaches and revisiting some old ones in the hopes that they can help facilitate some very practical benefits in all of our lives.

Today we’ll start off by talking about starting off. The whole point of taking control of your life involves being intentional about how you live. So don’t start each day in some hazy, unfocused, directionless way. Many people will begin by speculating about their day based on opinions they’ve formed on previous days. Then, whether they day wanted to surprise them or not, they’ll unconsciously steer their day like every other, blind to any opportunities for change.

The other way to wake up is to know that your mood is in your own control. You can have a calm Captain in both light and heavy seas. So don’t wake up and let chance decide the direction of the day. Remind yourself that your conscious choices will shape your day. You need to remember to be present for those choices.

Relax and Succeed - Try less to be with someoneThe first choice you can make is to actually provide yourself the sort of stimuli that makes it easy for you to feel good. For many, the handiest and surest way to accomplish this is the same way movies do it–with music. So you can find your own song, or you can use the one I’ve posted below. For my part, I chose something with a beat and a sound that I thought could work for readers around the globe, of any age, and leave them feeling just a little pumped up.

The point of this exercise is to demonstrate that to be spiritually responsible and psychologically healthy, we have to have those as conscious objectives and we must always be scanning the world around us for opportunities to move toward the sorts of influences and challenges that create joy and/or help us grow. To do that we need to feel vital and energetic.

I actually had a different song slated for this spot, but on Sunday I heard a singer I’d never heard before and I felt her song was a perfect fit to match my description of what I was looking for. I didn’t want to overdo it, but I wanted a beat and sound that could charge you up in a very mature and sophisticated way.

Her name is Erin Costelo, she’s from Nova Scotia, and this song is rather ironically called Low. It’s pretty groovy. Use it or whatever song helps you feel balanced, capable and enthusiastic about your own life. Learn to start your day like this every day. Make that a habit and you’ll have really helped yourself become more conscious all day long. Have a great week 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.

A New Beginning

843 Relax and Succeed - Being in a hurryAre you ready? We’re all going to make the slow-motion resolution. We’re going to undertake a weekly series of easy, enjoyable practices and meditations that will increase our peace and awareness and from that place other changes will start happening naturally.

These exercises will be designed to be manageable for your life and for the most part they’ll also be fun. Mondays I’ll set out the meditation. Tuesdays and Wednesdays I’ll offer a relatively short discussions to expand on the original idea and Thursdays will be reserved for any announcements. (I need to drop a writing day to create more time to work on the books that are being edited.) On Friday’s I’ll still put together a Dose but it will change slightly in structure.

To start this week’s meditation tomorrow you’ll only need three things. A notebook and something to write with that isn’t a keyboard. A pencil or pen–it has to be tactile. Then figure out when your quiet time is. It is much preferable that this process is done first thing when you wake up, while your mind is still clear and you can intentionally establish it’s awarenesses for that day. It’s why almost every successful writer I know–especially those with small kids–starts at either 5am or 6am.

843 Relax and Succeed - If you know meAs you achieve more peace you’ll sleep better, have more energy and you’ll naturally eat better. So get your book and pen, find your time and tomorrow we’ll start. This will be a gentle easy year-long process so if you have friends that also want to make big changes then this is the time. Share this with them and they can start with the rest of us.

Once that you see that most of what’s holding you back is your use of your consciousness you’ll simply and easily make the shift toward a better quality state of mind. It isn’t hard when you know how to do it and learning to do it isn’t hard either. It just takes practice. As you start to shift you’ll also positively impact most of the people who deal with you every day and if you have mammals as pets they’ll pick up the difference too.

This is all about mental health, spiritual development and the maximizing of our potential. You all have an amazing amount to offer this world. I’m thrilled to think what the world will look like when we’re all pointing our fantastic energies toward making our lives and the world much better.

843 Relax and Succeed - Our deepest fearFeel as you may about Kanye West but I agree with him when he urges people strongly that, rather than tell him he shouldn’t feel special despite the fact that his life demonstrates he is, we should do as he strongly suggests and feel great about ourselves too and as a result we’ll start finding bigger dreams to bring to life.

You don’t start off broken with some obligation to fix yourself. You’re here to grow. Do not attack who you have been. That person did the best they knew with what they knew. But take this year to find peace and inspiration. Do these meditations. Then be bold: say yes to invitations until you find people and activities that feel good to be around. And then trust your feelings and pursue them. It won’t remove all the pain from your life–every life has pain. But as long as the rewards are far greater it just doesn’t matter. You can have a wonderful life. Let’s go get it.

I’m really looking forward to this. Happy start to your year everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organisations around the world.

A Daily Dose of Peace

828 Relax and Succeed - You are the skySingers warm up their vocal chords. Athletes warm up and stretch their muscles. We’ll lift weights to get bigger, we’ll study for exams but for some reason we don’t feel that our mental health needs any tending. And yet when we see others and wish we were as stable and strong as they are, the only difference may be that they set their day up to succeed and you did not.

The first thing to do is to recognize the value of the morning. Your mind has been busy at night, weaving together all of the linkages between your daily thoughts. It wires in all the metaphors and chronological stuff and leaves us in the morning having integrated the previous day, but we’ve done nothing to set this new day up to be great. Don’t leave it to chance. Design it as a part of your life.

To use some of those metaphors I’ve wired in over the years: think of the brain like a muscle. New things it’ll be bad at, things it knows well it can almost do without you needing to be conscious about it. This is why things like driving seem so much easier after we’ve done it for a while. We have the wiring already built in our minds and we are merely using it. It’s the building that just takes a bit of time–for all of us.

828 Relax and Succeed - Don't tell us what you're againstKeeping up with the metaphor, the big tubes for electricity are the ones you use the most. So if you get angry a lot that anger impulse will be trying to slam dunk the basketball of mental energy through hoop that you could fit a car through. If you want to be more peaceful you’ve got to jam less stuff down that tube and use the one at the other end of the court instead–the tube for peace and tranquility and calm.

Set your alarm for a half hour before you get up, but know that when it turns on the next day that you have a leisurely full half hour to go through the waking process. Leave a note for yourself–whatever you have to do–but stay in bed or sit somewhere comfortable and just slowly wake up by thinking about your favourite things; things you’re grateful for. Really practice your gratitude. Widen that tube. Because during the day, as events unfold, that simple act in the morning will drastically impact whether you send your energy towards anger or calm.

Your brain likes to repeat things. Do not beat yourself up and think that you are worthless or a failure. No one is. The only question is: are we using our incredible capabilities to create something great or something we’ve created before? Because we can just keep getting mad and always blame it on the other person place or thing. Plus it’s us feeling the anger and that sucks. So feel love and connection instead. It’s not that hard.

828 Relax and Succeed - Periodically during your dayTune your mind like a radio. If you’re listening to half-static on a station playing angry death metal–hey that music can be fine in the right setting, but first thing in the morning whether you like it or not, you’d do better with a ballad or some Vivaldi. Actively “remember” that the day you’re going to have is going to be filled with great things. Expect them. Stretch your tubes. Tune your mind to watch for fortunate things. Get it ready to receive a signal of peace and patience.

During the day divide your day into segments. Make it a habit to check in with yourself mentally between them. Ask yourself periodically: what is my emotional state and what does that tell me about my state of mind? If you find you’re tense, or just before a big call or meeting follow this simple practice: Stand still in a comfortable pose and simply breathe 3-5 times using a 3 count inhale, a 7 count hold, and an 8 count exhale. This is very similar to your sleeping rhythm and your body knows that from years of practice so it will respond. Just stay still, do the breathing. You’ll oxygenate your brain and you’ll calm your jangling nerves. You’ll feel your chemistry change.

Feeling good will lead to good things. It’s funny, people want to go to the gym and start some new big thing just so they can feel better than they do, when it’s the other way around. If they feel better they’ll naturally want to do more with life. All they really have to do is start setting their day up the same way that most of the happy and successful ones do: by truly expecting it to be great and never giving up on that idea even in the face of challenges to that belief.

If you seek good fortune in your life you will find it. There’s no shortage of it. You simply have to watch for it. Why not start now?

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Other Perspectives #88

801 OP Relax and Succeed - I set my alarm earlyUsually the Other Perspectives series is to used to point out how ambiguous quotes can be dangerous to your spiritual health if taken the wrong way, but in this case the quote undermines your spiritual and psychological health by encouraging you to do what is already one of the modern world’s most widely practiced rituals. Getting your mind ready to be dissatisfied and judgmental is very seriously what a very large number of you do every single morning. This is a terrible tone to set for your thinking. The morning is important. You have awoken with a clear head. Do not start off your day by telling your brain to get ready to complain. Use that valuable time to wake slowly and comfortably–even if that means setting your alarm a half hour ahead and then taking a half hour to get up. That’ll also ease that rushed feeling you get. And while you’re laying there–at the time that feels appropriate to you–begin to tell yourself how you will be acting throughout the day. More patient, kinder, as a better listener–whatever you’ve chosen. Imagine you’ve already succeeded and it’s almost like you’re saying how it ended, not how it’s starting. And then slowly get up and you will over time see that this simple change will have lasting and very valuable impacts on your life. And don’t forget to tell yourself that you’re going to have a great week. 😉

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

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