So what is all this ‘conscious living’ about? Well, it’s simply what living- what life has always been… before all of the rules, should’ves, could’ves and absolutely mindless definitions of success messed it all up!
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits tells it in an organic nutshell:
“Everything has been figured out, except how to live.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre
Do you ever have a feeling that you’re drifting through life, and not going where you want to go? Or that you don’t know how you got where you are today?
Living consciously is about taking control of your life, about thinking about your decisions rather than making them without thought, about having a life that we want rather than settling for the one that befalls us. Deciding to live consciously could be the single most important thing you do.
Are you living unconsciously now?
1. Are you in a job that you fell into rather than the job you want?
2. Are you doing things that are given to you rather than what you love to do?
3. Are you spending your time doing busy work rather than what you want to do with your days?
4. Do you wish you could spend more time with loved ones?
5. Do you find yourself overweight because you’ve been eating the food you’ve been eating for years and stuck in a rut of not exercising?
6. Do you find yourself living from paycheck to paycheck or in debt, not knowing where your money goes?
7. Do you find yourself wasting your time doing things that aren’t important rather than focusing on completing the things that are very important?
8. Do you go through your days not thinking about what you want out of life and how to get it?
For those who would like to live more consciously, read on.
A life lived of choice is a life of conscious action.
A life lived of chance is a life of unconscious creation.
– Neale Donald Walsch
How to Live Life Consciously
It’s not something you can change overnight. Living consciously is a lifestyle, a skill, an art. It’s not something you do just once, but a habit that you can form for the rest of your life.
But it is deceptively simple:
Be conscious, and think about, everything you do.
Make conscious choices rather than doing things without thinking.
It’s amazing how few people actually do this and live life on autopilot: just do what we always do because that’s what we’re used to doing. While we get back to basics and raise and revive an unencumbered, peaceful, happy, conscious generation, it’ll take time to re-program our lives, to break out of our routines, to begin to live the lives we want. It takes willful effort, energy and constant vigilance to think about our choices … all of them.
Here are some key tips that have worked for me:
1. Make reflecting on your life a regular routine. Whether you keep a journal, or make reflecting on your day part of your evening routine, or have a weekly session where you review your life or take some time away from the office to reflect on everything … it’s important that you give things some thought. Regularly.
2. At least once a year, set or review your life’s goals. What do you want to do in life? What is important to you? What do you want your life to be like? And how will you get there? Write it down, and keep it somewhere you will see it often, and take action.
3. Also review your relationships. The people we love are among the most important things in our lives, if not the only important things. You need to think about your relationships. Do you spend enough time with them? Do you show your appreciation for them? Is there a way you can improve your relationship? Do you need to forgive or apologize about anything? Are there barriers that can be removed? Communication that can be improved? Also review your relationships with others, such as co-workers.
4. Consider your impact on the world. How does what you do, what you consume, and how you live, impact the environment? How does it impact poor people in Third World countries? How does it impact the poor, the powerless, the voiceless? How does it impact your community? Your life has an impact, whether you think about it or not. Being conscious of how your decisions affect others is important.
5. Consider the real costs of each purchase. We often buy things without really thinking about what we’re doing or what they really cost. Sure, it’s just $30 … no problem, right? But that $30 might represent several hours of your life … hours that you’ll never get back. Do you really want to spend your life earning money for trivial purchases? Is that what you want to do with your life? Worth some thought, I think. Read Your Money or Your Life for more.
6. Consider the real costs of the things in your life. Our lives are filled with stuff … our houses, our offices … and beyond just the cost of buying the stuff, this stuff takes a toll on us. The stuff in our life must be arranged, cleaned, moved, taken with us when we move … it takes up the space in our life, it is visual stress. Later, we’ll have to get rid of it, sort through all of it, take time to throw it away or recycle it or donate it. If having the stuff is not worth all of that, then get rid of it.
7. Review how you spend your time. Until we do a time audit, and keep a log of our day, even if it’s just for one or two days, we don’t really know how we spend our time. And if we do audit our time, it can be very surprising. And if we know how we’re spending our time now, we can make conscious decisions to change how we spend our time in the future. For computer-based time tracking, try Rescue Time.
8. Explore yourself. Not in a dirty way. Take some time to think about what kind of person you are. What your values are. Whether you live your life according to those values. How you treat people. How you treat yourself. Think about this: what do you want people to say about you when you die? Read more: The Key to Dying Happy.
The thing about family disasters is that you never have to wait long
before the next one puts the previous one into perspective.
We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies. ~Shirley Abbott
The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. ~Erma Bombeck
You don’t choose your family.
They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.
The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted
with people you might never even introduce yourself to,
had life not done it for you.
~Kendall Hailey,The Day I Became an Autodidact
The lack of emotional security of our American young people is due, I believe, to their isolation from the larger family unit. No two people — no mere father and mother — as I have often said, are enough to provide emotional security for a child. He needs to feel himself one in a world of kinfolk, persons of variety in age and temperament, and yet allied to himself by an indissoluble bond which he cannot break if he could, for nature has welded him into it before he was born. ~Pearl S. Buck
I referred to Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book Excuses Begone in a past post. Following are a list of the prime excuses that Wayne refers to, and then a positive affirmation to repeat to yourself in an effort to change both your thoughts and your brain patterns.
The book is an excellent read for anyone – even if your life is good, you will recognize some of the excuses holding you back from being great! He goes into fab detail on the symptoms and basis of each of the excuses listed below, as well elaborated steps to change your thoughts… change your life! (That’s another of Waynes infamous books!!)
List of 18 excuses followed by affirmations:
1. It will be difficult – I have the ability to accomplish any task I set my mind to with ease and comfort.
2. It’s going to be risky – Being myself involves no risks. It is my ultimate truth, and I live it fearlessly.
3. It will take a long time – I have infinite patience when it comes to fulfilling my destiny.
4. There will be family drama – I would rather be loathed for who I am than loved for who I am not.
5. I don’t deserve it – I am a Divine creation, a piece of God. Therefore, I cannot be undeserving.
6. It’s not my nature – My essential nature is perfect and faultless. It is to this nature that I return.
7. I can’t afford it – I am connected to an unlimited source of abundance.
8. No one will help me – The right circumstances and the right people are already here and will show up on time.
9. It has never happened before – I am willing to attract all that I desire, beginning here and now.
10. I’m not strong enough – I have access to unlimited assistance. My strength comes from my connection to my Source of being.
11. I’m not smart enough – I am a creation of the Divine mind; all is perfect, and I am a genius in my own right.
12. I’m too old (or not old enough) – I am an infinite being. The age of my body has no bearing on what I do or who I am.
13. The rules won’t let me – I live my life according to Divine rules.
14. It’s too big – I think only about what I can do now. By thinking small, I accomplish great things.
15. I don’t have the energy – I feel passionately about my life, and this passion fills me with excitement and energy.
17. I’m too busy – As I unclutter my life, I free myself to answer the callings of my soul.
18. I’m too scared – I can accomplish anything I put my mind to, because I know that I am never alone.
Sir Ken Robinson TED Talk 2006 (youtube): “How Schools Kill Creativity”
See other TED Talks by Sir Ken here… or there are plenty more on youtube!
Making of TED Art installation at the Vancouver Convention Centre:
Thoughts… on thoughts. Executive Coach Jo Banks teaches clients how, exactly, to change their thoughts – and the effect it can have on their lives:
Jo Banks, Exec Coach
This week’s quotes were from an interview with Tessa & Scott prior to their silver-medal victory – too long for archives, available here! Here’s a few quickies:
“Our trainer says it’s important to have white-noise time. Time when you’re not focused on anything, and that can mean watching a TV show, or doing breathing exercises. Anything that takes your mind off all the stress of competition.”
“We thought more time meant we were training smarter and harder which would get us to the top. Instead, we burnt out. We’ve learned now to make effective use of our time on the ice, but also to get that recovery and let our bodies rest. ”
“I get really nervous and with that comes doubt. I can get very quiet and internalize things. So I have to be conscious to express my nerves to Scott and to reframe it into a positive thing.”
“Visualizing [your goal] is huge in our sport. We spend a lot of time on that. It’s an important part of our training because by the time we get to our Olympic moment, we’ve already been there 1,000 times in our heads. So we know exactly how we’re going to react.”
“Always adapting has helped us, and it’s fun to find new solutions to get the same results.”
“I don’t know if there is a way to de-stress completely. I’m just always thinking about my breathing, and slowing it down, focusing on my thoughts.”
Teachings of Lao Tzu, most from the Tao te Ching.
“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts,
you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.”
“The wise man is one who, knows, what he does
If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.”
“Those who know do not speak.
Those who speak do not know.”
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”
“The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”
“A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.”
“If you understand others you are smart. If you understand yourself you are illuminated. If you overcome others you are powerful. If you overcome yourself you have strength. If you know how to be satisfied you are rich. If you can act with vigor, you have a will. If you don’t lose your objectives you can be long-lasting. If you die without loss, you are eternal.”
“Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?”
“The flame that burns Twice as bright burns half as long.”
Embracing Tao, you become embraced.
Supple, breathing gently, you become reborn.
Clearing your vision, you become clear.
Nurturing your beloved, you become impartial.
Opening your heart, you become accepted.
Accepting the World, you embrace Tao.
Bearing and nurturing,
Creating but not owning,
Giving without demanding,
Controlling without authority,
This is love.
Other people are bright;
I alone am dark.
Other people are sharp;
I alone am dull.
Other people have purpose;
I alone don’t know.
I drift like a wave on the ocean,
I blow as aimless as the wind.
I am different from ordinary people.
I drink from the Great Mother’s breasts.”
Have you heard of Six-Word Memoirs? I just clued into it recently and think it’s pretty fun – and thought provoking!
Try writing your own – maybe one for what’s alive in your life right now; and another that you would leave for the world if you left it tomorrow. It’s not about wisdom – but authenticity.
Here’s my quick one: Right path, wrong direction, u-turn allowed.
(More accurately: me-turn!)
And here’s a few from folks you might know in name but not in spirit… and folks you’ll know right away after reading their words – even though you’ve never heard of them in your life!!
For more, check out Smith Magazine book: Six-Word Memoirs by writers famous & obscure; or website: http://www.sixwordmemoirs.com/
Stole wife. Lost friends. Now happy.
-Po Bronson, author What Should I Do With My Life, NurtureShock and more
Secret of life. Marry an Italian.
-Nora Ephron, American journalist, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, producer, director, and blogger.
“I’m working as a low-level clerk in the federal government even though I have a biology degree. Every morning I wake up thinking I wasted four years of my life in college. One day, though, I’ll put myself on the right path and become the forensic scientist I’ve always wanted to be.” – Taneika
Being a monk stunk. Better gay. -Bob Redman
Dad died, Mom crazy, me, too.
– Moby, American singer-songwriter, musician, DJ and photographer. He is well known for his electronic music, vegan lifestyle, and support of animal rights
Well. I thought it was funny.
-Stephen Colbert, is an American Democrat, political satirist, writer, comedian, television host, and actor.
Liars. Hysterectomy didn’t improve sex life.
-Joan Rivers, comedian and actress
Stole wife. Lost friends. Now happy. -Po Bronson, author What Should I Do With My Life, NurtureShock and more
“When I was 12, my mother and her fiancé were murdered. The crime remained unsolved until the police reopened the case seven years ago. Forced to relive the loss of my mother, I tried nearly every self-help healing method available to overcome my past. Finally, a Buddhist lama made me realize that I am not my trauma.” – Susan
The good child. Until I wasn’t. -Tara Hill, 44
“For years I lived exactly as I was supposed to. At 42 I changed my life:
I left a job at a Catholic school that I’d held for 20 years and my husband
of 21 years. My family sees me as a rebel, but I’m happier living for me.”
Former Doc. Now wears a smock. -Amy Harrison, 35
As a second-year psychiatry resident, I finally admitted to myself
that medicine wasn’t for me—art had always been my passion.
Now I’m studying for my teaching certification in art education.”
Stage 4 cancer made me live. Melanie Barbour, 34
“At 31 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My doctors told me I didn’t have much chance of survival. Three years later, some of the cancer is gone, but I’m still in treatment. Believe it or not, I feel more alive than ever. I used to be self-conscious, but now I realize the importance of connecting with other people. I get out there, socialize, and speak my mind.”
“As a 5-year-old, I’d take a seat at the kitchen table and watch as my great-grandmother prepared white coffee—essentially warm milk with a splash of Folgers—before sitting down with me for an early-morning chat. Today every cup of coffee I pour reminds me of our brief but special moments together.” – Michelle
I live my best life now. – Terrie Ten Eyck, 56
When I was homeless with my baby daughter, I vowed to own a business
and drive a Jaguar someday. For 18 years, I’ve run a corporate leadership
training program, and I leased an XJS convertible for two years
just so I could live my dream.”
“I was single until I was 20, and over the next two decades, I had nine children. My husband and I divorced when I turned 40. For the next 20 years, I raised my family and worked at a state prison, where I processed inmate records. At 61 I decided to retire; since then I’ve volunteered, taking 19 trips with nonprofit groups all over the world. I’ve taught English in China, Italy, India, Romania, Poland, and the Cook Islands. I’ve also done environmental work. In Peru, I helped a scientist survey a forest; in Belize, I collected data on seals and dolphins. Every day I do some sort of exercise, so I’m in good health. That’s why I’m wondering what to do for the next 20 years. And maybe someday I’ll write a book about my life for my great-grandchildren.” – Wahana
Thoughts about thought… from Eckhart Tolle