Monthly Archives: June 2016

Practicing Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to things as they are.  Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness is the energy that helps us acknowledge the conditions of happiness that are already existing in our lives. We don’t have to wait ten years to experience this happiness. It is present in every moment of our daily lives. Mindfulness is when we are truly there, mind and body together. We breathe in and out mindfully, and we bring our mind back to our body. When our mind is there with our body, we become settled in the present moment. Then we are able to identify the many aspects of happiness that are in us and around us, and happiness just comes naturally.

“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you” – Lao Tzu

Practicing mindfulness enable us to recognize that our thoughts are just thoughts; they don’t necessarily represent reality. We can observe them rather than being dependent on them. It helps us to take in the richness of the moment instead of going through life with half of our attention on the past or future or our own mental gabble. By becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, from moment to moment, we give ourselves the possibility of greater freedom and choice; we become enlightened to be more intentional in choosing priorities and actions that fit our life mission.

“Refuge to the man is the mind, refuge to the mind is mindfulness” – Buddha

In this busy, hyper and connected world, we spend so much of our days lost in thought, rushing around from one activity to another, and often trying to do several different things at the same time. We often fail to notice the beauty of life, lose our connection with the present moment. And we all too often miss out on what we are doing, how we are feeling and what our bodies are telling us. We also become vulnerable to anxiety, stress, depression and reactivity. Research shows, in fact, that the more our minds wander, the less happy we become.

With mindfulness, we have the chance to really slow down and appreciate everyday activities with new eyes, new senses. By learning and practicing mindfulness and deep meditation we gain the power of familiarizing ourselves with our thoughts and our patterns, and we can shift our thoughts away from our usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life. In other words, the more mindful you are the happier you are.

In order to get the best results by practicing mindfulness and deep meditation, our mind has to be relaxed and free from all worries about past and future.  We can learn relaxation techniques to help us managing stress and teaching us how to quiet our mind.

One simple way to start practicing mindfulness, is to concentrate on our breathing without trying to change it. We just focus on our breath coming into and leaving our body. As we practice this, our mind might wander, but we can gently, without any judgement bring our focus back on our breathing again. As we begin to feel success with this task, we may wish to extend our focus to sensations we feel in our body, without judgment or trying to change these sensations. And then we can apply this practice to sounds that we hear in our environment. There are many guided mindfulness meditations online that can assist us in learning and practicing, and soon, we will experience the benefits of mindfulness in our day-to-day lives. “Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life” – Marcus Aurelius

 In addition to formal meditation, we can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing our attention on our moment-to-moment sensations during everyday activities. Whether we are doing the dishes, flossing our teeth, waiting at the traffic lights or going for our morning walk, we may slow down the process and be fully present as it unfolds and involves all of our senses.  Any routine activity can be made into a mindfulness practice when we bring our full attention to it.

Mindfulness improves physical health:

  • Help relieve stress
  • Treat heart disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Improve sleep
  • Alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties

Mindfulness improves mental health:

  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Couples’ conflicts
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Mindfulness can literally transform our entire world from the inside out. It may help us discover the feelings of fulfilment, peace and wholeness which have been within us all along. To find fulfilment and meaning in life, we need to learn how to really experience the moment and then go deeper into ourselves, and ask questions like “What is important to us, what makes us fulfilled and what do we want to do in our life?”. We need to take time away from our busy lives and allow ourselves to reflect, experience and make sense of our life.

“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”– Thich Nhat Hanh


Basic Human Needs

Basic human needs are that of recognition. To be appreciated, seen, loved and respected for who we are.  “There is nothing, absolutely nothing, more important than meeting our basic human needs. If we focused less on retina display ipads and more on the vision of a world where all people’s basic needs are met, we will all be happier as a result.” ~ Simon Cohen

There are six basic human needs that we all look for in our lives to be happy and feel fulfilled. Tony Robbins, who is well known for his motivational speaking, books, interviews and articles; has explained in his article “The 6 Human Needs: Why We Do What We Do” that all behaviour is simply an attempt to meet these six needs:

  • Certainty: We all need certainty in life, but everybody is different in how much certainty they need. We all need assurance which can prevent us from pain and help us to gain pleasure. A life which doesn’t have a certain amount of order can cause chaos.
  • Uncertainty: This is opposite certainty, but very much needed in everyone’s life to keep the spirit up and alive. The amazing thing about certainty and uncertainty is that how each one of us responds to them so differently, as what is so exciting and normal to one person, might be distressful for another.
  • Connection: Each one of us craves for connection. No matter who we are, and what we do, we all need to be belonged, to be accepted and to be loved for who we are. We need connection with others as much as we need oxygen. It may not seem so critical most times, but I firmly believe that if we truly want to be healthy and happy, connection is one of the most important aspects of personal fulfilment and success. “One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night” ~ Margaret Mead
  • Significance: We all want to be mattered, to be heard, to be able to make a difference in the world, which in return empowers our souls.
  • Growth: Human beings are constantly growing and developing, even those who are almost entirely absorbed in struggling for material survival or aspiring for higher social achievements. But that growth has been most often subconscious, as a result of the trials and errors of life experience, rather than as a result of a conscious process of self-development. Through a conscious effort at developing our personalities, we experience new things, understand ourselves better, expand our capacities, progress our personal capability and understandings.
  • Contribution: They say we all live to serve. That by helping others we fulfil our own destiny. Inherently, we all know that we have been designed to live for something greater than ourselves. Our contribution to this world has to be measured by something more meaningful than the size of our house or numbers of our cars. Our lives are going to find lasting significance in how we choose to live them, and how we enable others to live theirs. “Using your talent, hobby or profession in a way that makes you contribute with something good to this world is truly the way to go.” ~ Simon Zingerman

Personal fulfilment is an ongoing journey for all human beings. It is the achievement of life goals which are important to an individual, in contrast to the goals of society, family and other collective obligations. And helping others to find and fulfil their dreams is one of the key component of achieving our personal fulfilment.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

My intention of writing this article is to bring your focus on one thing today and that is one thing that people everywhere no matter in a café, restaurant, train station or at the airport, on street, or at work are trying very hard to do: to be happy

Most of us are doing everything we can do to make us happy. Happiness, however, comes in various shades none of which is permanent. But the point is that happiness is not absolute and it doesn’t depend on the object of our delight itself but on the state of our mind too. We take pleasure as long as we are not bored, and to avoid boredom, we socialize, shop, dine out, watch TV and do different things.  These activities are good, but they don’t make us better human beings. What I am Trying to say is that we have to embrace happiness when it comes our ways, but we don’t let it to be our ultimate goals in life. Otherwise, we are likely to find little growth, purpose, fulfilment in our lives. And we may find ourselves living solely for our own good rather than enriching the lives of others.  “What sets human beings apart from animals is not the pursuit of happiness, which occurs all across the natural world, but the pursuit of meaning, which is unique to humans” ~ Roy Baumeister

Life is short, the clock is ticking and before we know twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more years of our lives have already gone. Maybe you are satisfied with how your life has turned out or maybe you want to do or be something more. Well, it’s never too late to start. To live a meaningful and fulfilling life, find out what matters most to you in this world and then choose to make an impact with it. “Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfilment” ~ Anthony Robbins

Helping others ignites happiness, as many studies have revealed. And by assisting and supporting others meet their needs, we help them to improve the quality of their life and have more meaningful and fulfilling life. Rather than living our lives on auto-pilot, we need to take control and seek opportunities in our lives that will add a new depth and sense of fulfilment to our lives.

“Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others” ~  Pablo


Being Lonely

Being lonely and being alone are two different things. It is always unhealthy to be lonely, but sometimes it is healthy to be alone.

Millions and millions of people would undergo almost any torture if the suffering would alleviate this most pressing fear of being lonely. They will go to great lengths to overcome it.  They will see people whom they don’t really like, make themselves subservient to people who bore them, engage in activities which they would see otherwise as a waste of time.

Moreover, they will artificially try to overcome their feeling of loneliness by watching Television, listening to the radio, playing back the tape recorder. They may finally have to resort to eavesdropping on neighbour’s quarrels.

A number of organizations try to deal with this problem, bringing people together in social settings of one kind or another. How successful they are, I do not know. What I do know is the universality of this problem. Its conquest is far more important than that of Mount Everest or any other mountain peak; its conquest is, in my opinion, far more significant than the conquests of North and South Poles, or any past, present and future conquests of outer space.

First, let us define the word itself; what does being lonely mean? Being lonely means different things to people. Many people think of being lonely as being alone, in the physical sense; if one sits alone in his room, meditating, one is therefore lonely.

I disagree with this conception, the lonely person may rarely be physically by himself; he may spend most of his time with other people; he may never know what it means to spend an evening home, reading a book, knitting, or thinking.

The problem of loneliness is not one of being alone, it is one of feeling alone. It is the feeling cut off from others, it is the horrible feeling that separates one from the others, and that other people are walking around in a world alien to oneself.

“People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world.” ― Kim Culbertson

Many people have confessed that they feel most alone in large crowds of people where feelings of genuine closeness are lacking. Cocktails, noise, loud music may be an insignificant camouflage when they hide the lack of real human contact, when they obscure the human need to make a meaningful connection with other people. “It’s better to be alone than being with someone who makes you feel alone”

On the other hand, Henry David Thoreau, the great American Philosopher, is the classic example of physical solitude without tortures of loneliness. He spent long periods of time writing, thinking, enjoying his feelings of living freely. “I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude” Henry David Thoreau

Henry James, the writer is another example, who remarked that although often alone, but he didn’t feel lonely. I knew a man like this, who was living in Iceland. His companions, mostly ice, snow and barren land, but he was cheerful. There was no prisons up there in the North and the boys who committed offenses against society were put under his supervision because he put them to work on farms fifty and one hundred miles away from his cabin, but he nevertheless helped them with his kindness and by instilling in them a sense of the dignity of manual labour. Many of these boys changed in basic ways and became good members of society.

Serving humanity as he did, this man felt a sense of self-esteem, a proud connection with other people, so that he didn’t feel lonely.

He enjoyed simple activities such as smoking his pipe or reading a book; when he saw his boys, he advised them quietly and listened to their reports of progress in their work and in their feelings. When he met other people, he would tell stories and enjoy their company.

But when he was alone, even for days at a time, he was never lonely. With not one other human being in sight, he was not lonely.

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be” Anne Frank

This is the way it should be with all people. And yet, as medical progress enables people to live longer lives and the world’s population increases, the problem of loneliness is more acute.

There are three agents which help healing loneliness. Awareness, Acceptance and Compassion, and here is how it works:

Awareness:  Embrace your feelings and choose to bring your awareness to your experience. It is vital, therefore, to learn to connect empathically to any painful, or unpleasant emotions such as the hollowness in your chest, the tightness in your throat, or the heaviness of your body. And if you feel an urge to cry, then allow yourself to cry freely.

Acceptance: Instead of running away from loneliness, choose to stay with it. Loneliness can cause feelings like abandonment, solitude, or isolation. Acknowledge when these emotions are triggered, and remember that they are only feelings not fact. Feelings can change quickly based on circumstances and attitudes. You may feel lonely one moment, and the next moment you may receive a phone call from a friend, relieving you from feeling lonely.

Compassion. Remind yourself that loneliness is a universal experience that affects every individual at one time or another. Being and feeling lonely is not shameful or humiliating; it is a part of everyone’s life at some point. And as you show compassion for a friend who suffers from being lonely, you would express compassion toward yourself, and toward others who may feel lonely around you.

“Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for” Dag Hammarskjold


Conquering Fear

Conquering fear doesn’t happen instantly or automatically. It is the result of deliberate intention, and conscious action towards doing things that scares you. As a result of overcoming your fears, you grow as a person, and expand the possibilities that surround your life.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by fear – so much so that it prevented you from doing something you wanted to do?  Believe it or not, this is a common problem faced by many people daily.

Fear has the power to hold you back from taking risks, following your dreams, or becoming successful at anything you attempt to do.  If you allow it to control you for long enough, it can eventually erode your quality of life and keep you locked in a prison of inactivity.

What many people fail to realize is that fear is nothing more than a conditioned response.  It’s a natural reaction to a frightening or unfamiliar situation.  While it is usually automatic, there are things you can do to overcome it.

1)  Check your expectations.

One major contributor of fear is the prevalence of negative expectations.  Do you usually find yourself expecting the worst in every situation?  Do you worry obsessively about what could go wrong, rather than focusing on your strengths and capabilities?

If you make a conscious effort to expect the best, see the positive side of each situation and keep reminding yourself that you can handle more than you often think, you’ll find yourself with much less fear to deal with.  Even if feelings of fear do manage to creep into your consciousness, you’ll still be able to keep them in perspective and balance them against an underlying sense of confidence. “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear” – Nelson Mandela

2)  Discredit your fears.

Experts will tell you that the majority of things you fear will never come to pass anyway.  While this may be true, it sure doesn’t feel that way when fear has a chokehold on you!  However, if you look a little more closely at your fears when they arise, you may be able to dismiss at least a few.

For example, if you have a fear of public speaking and your boss wants you to give a presentation at work, you might feel like your life (and perhaps your livelihood) is on the line.  You may fear getting fired, or worry that your colleagues will lose respect for you if you don’t do a good job.

But is any of this likely to happen?  In most cases, no.  Rather than worrying about what “might” happen if you don’t give a solid presentation, you might brainstorm ways to help improve your performance, such as being well prepared, practicing your delivery on friends and family members, writing notes to yourself and so on. . “When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

3)  Do the very thing you fear.

When you remember that fear is simply a feeling, it loses much of its power.  It can’t harm you and except in truly threatening situations you can choose to ignore it and move forward anyway.

If you weigh the pros and cons in any situation, you may decide that the possibility of negative consequences is minimal so there’s nothing to stop you from ignoring your fear and going for it!  This will be determined by you on a case by case basis, of course.  The point isn’t to become reckless with your decision-making but rather to empower yourself to know when a fear is groundless and easily overcome. Every time we face a fear we gain the three important qualities that Eleanor Roosevelt has mentioned in her quote: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt

4) Have faith.

When dealing with fear, it always helps to have faith that a higher power is watching over us. The most threatening fearful thought we experience is not one of inadequacy, but one that confirms the extent of our true spiritual power. We must free ourselves from our own fears in order to demonstrate love to others by helping them get free of their fears. “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter” – Francis Chan

5) Practice Meditation.

Meditation changes the state of our mind’s affair by increasing the stability and strength of our attention. By meditating we can direct our attention away from fear and focus on the cycle of our breathing or the reassuring stability of the body at rest to help us connect with our own inner stillness and silence. These moments of peace and stillness are one way in which meditation can help us to overcome fear. We can eventually learn to intensify this ability to concentrate our minds so that during our meditation practice all of our attention is filled with the breath, or the mantra, or the prayer. This type of complete meditative absorption is deeply peaceful. In the moment of full absorption there is no room for the experience of fear. “As gold purified in a furnace loses its impurities and achieves its own true nature, the mind gets rid of the impurities of the attributes of delusion, attachment and purity through meditation and attains Reality” – Adi Shankara


How Do You Define Success?

How do you define success? Is it about wealth? Is it about power? Is it about happiness? Success means something different to every person, like beauty, it exists in the eye of the beholder. It depends on every one of us to determine what success means to us and do something to bring it forth into our lives.

The late Zig Ziglar, one of the most respected experts on success and motivation argues in his book Born to Win, that: “Success cannot be defined in one sentence, but instead it is comprised of many things. One could argue that the definition depends on the individual and one size does not fit all”.

Despite this, the successful people share attributes which don’t happen by accident or luck. They originate in habits, built a day at a time. What we have to remember is: If we live our lives, the same way as most people do, we will get what most people get. If we settle, what we are going to get is a settled life. But if we give ourselves our best, every day, our best will give back to us.

Here are the traits that the highly successful people cultivate:

  • Take responsibility for Your Life: You are totally responsible for your life. This is the foundation principle you must embrace if you plan for happiness and success in life and work. You have to stop blaming others for your failures, and take responsibility for your mistakes. No one can live your life for you. You are in charge. No matter how hard you try to blame others for the events of your life, each event is the result of choices you made and are making. “The moment you accept responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you gain the power to change anything in your life.” ~ Hal Elrod
  • Live Your Life On Purpose: What separates motivational and successful people from others is that they believe they’re doing what they were put here to do. Not living life on purpose consists of expending just enough effort to get by with the least amount of problem. But when you live life on purpose, you are aiming to be the best you can be. Being successful means finding a cause you believe in, building your business around it and contributing something to society. “If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you.” ~ T Alan Armstrong
  • Be Willing to Pay the Price for Your Success: Often times we get comfortable in the situation that we are in. Getting comfortable doesn’t mean that we like the situation that we are in, but it means that we get into a comfort zone. Our comfort zone is a place where we are used to the routine or familiarity of a situation, yet we don’t feel capable or want to do anything to make the necessary changes to get out of that situation.  There is always a price to pay for our achievements but in the long run we will reap the reward of peace, happiness and fulfilment. “There is a cost for everything that you want. Clothes, furniture, successful career, relationships. You or someone else has to pay for what you want.  Even the things that you get for free. Someone put time, money, their heart and effort into whatever you received”.
  • Stay Focused: We live in an age which our focus is on short-term gains and instant gratification. We want immediate results, even in areas which naturally take time. If we do not get success rapidly we move on to the next fad. In the long run most of us achieve little if anything at all. How do we avoid falling into the trap of short-termism and achieve the success we are longing for? The answer is to stay focused on our long term goals, and invest our energy and resources to achieve them, even when we see so many others going for the quick fix. Focusing requires giving up something in the present because we are investing our time in something that will pay off big-time down the road. Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” ~ Winston Churchill
  • Become an Expert in Your Field: One distinctive factor that all successful people have in common is their desire to be seen as an expert in their profession. Whether they’re administrative professional, a CEO, or a NASA engineer, expertise is something to strive for. So regardless of who you are or what you do, make the decision today to work at being the best in your field. How? By surrounding yourself with people who elevate you. By spending time with people who are experts in your field, you will naturally “catch” some of their wisdom, as expertise is contagious.
  • Never Give Up: “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” ~ Earl Nightingale. When you face an unexpected obstacle in life how do you respond? Do you give up, or do you keep pressing on? Successful people don’t give up. They commit themselves to reaching their final destination. They may not ever get there, but they don’t allow hurdles to prevent them from trying. This means continuing on despite failures and disappointments. When you’re fully committed to achieving your goal, giving up is not an option. You must be willing do whatever it takes to make it happen.
  • Create an Effective Action Plan: Many of us set goals, but not many of us create massive action plans to see those goals through to fruition. A powerful action plan take you from wherever you are right now directly to the accomplishment of your stated goal. With a well-designed plan, you can achieve virtually any goal you set out to accomplish. A goal that isn’t written down is merely a wish or fantasy, and is likely to stay that way.
  • Don’t Delay: “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.” ~ Harold Hill. Nobody knows how much time they have left to accomplish their dreams, and we must remember that we don’t have forever. Life is short. There is no degree for “Live your dreams.” You qualify yourself by showing up and working. You get permission by deciding. Successful achievers know this too, and they go after what they want as energetically and as passionately as possible, for as long as they have. “Don’t wait for tomorrow for something you could do today. Your future self will either thank you or shamefully defend you”.

Success can be defined in many ways. I believe we accomplish success when at the end of a day we can say…this was a good day. I look forward to doing it again tomorrow.

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”