One of my favorite authors of all time, Leo Babauta, the author of Zen Habits, recently created a video training program on "Turning Uncertainty to Find Mindful Openness" as a birthday gift to his readers. But, I'm sure he can explain it better than I can. I will be following along for the next 44 days of life, starting tomorrow. I'd love it if you would consider joining us :)
"What the heck is that? It’s a video training program that I’m offering for free, to help you:
Overcome uncertainty, anxiety, fear, discomfort and procrastination
Find peace, mindful openness, gratitude and joy
Transform your difficulties and pain into growth and beauty
Overcome any struggle you’re having right now
Wow, can it really do all that?! Yes. Yes, my friends, it can. If you put in the effort to train.
What It’s About
In our lives, we have lots of difficulty: stress, anxiety, anger and frustration, plus the pain of loss and heartbreak and massive change, not to mention major illness and chronic pain and depression.
How do we deal with all of this? We can use it, as the place of transformation to happiness and peace. We can use it, as a way to awaken, to touch our inner goodness, to connect with the pain of others.
The place we find peace and mindfulness and happiness isn’t somewhere away from the pain and struggle … it’s right in the midst of it.
This program is about training ourselves to be mindful, to find peace in the midst of chaos and pain, to get good at dealing with discomfort and change and uncertainty.
This program is about simple practices that train our minds and our hearts. It’s my life’s work.
How It Works
So how does it work? It’s simple:
You train with 11 different practices, 4 days each. So 44 days total.
The daily practice sessions should take only 5-10 minutes a day.
If you sign up below, you’ll get an email every other day, with videos for each practice and a short article to encourage and inform your practice.
With each practice, I just ask you to give me a little feedback on how it’s going, to help me make the program better.
It’s mind training, training in uncertainty and discomfort, training in transforming our struggles and fear into openness and joy (as I shared in my mission a couple days ago)."
Sign up, and read the full post on his blog.
The Photo is of a piece of art my grandfather created
My wife-to-be is wired for disaster. At the first hint of trouble, her mind runs through every possible worst case scenario, and by the way she reacts you’d think all of them had happened at once.
Here’s a typical example. This morning, she woke up feeling exhausted. It was 6.30am and she had an appointment with her trainer - thankfully not me - at 8am. She was all but ready to cancel because she felt she hadn’t had enough sleep. I pointed out that we had gone to bed at 10pm the night before (that rockstar lifestyle), and even with a couple of disturbances that’s still nearly eight hours. Yet, I still had a struggle on my hands convincing her to just show up and see what happens.
Lo and behold, she had a great session, and even remarked that the weights felt light today. Notice the word “feeling” has come up twice now, once in the negative and later in the positive. I could trot out the old “how you feel is a lie” cliche but that’s done to death now. What I wanted to bring to your attention is the catastrophising that happens when things aren’t going as planned.
Let’s compare that example with my current training situation. I injured my right hip last week front squatting. It hurt a fair bit and left me limping, but I shrugged it off as no big deal. A couple of days rest and gentle somatic movement and I’ll be good to go. Sure enough, I was feeling fine on Wednesday, just in time for more squatting. Even more pain, yet I stubbornly finished my sets. More limping, more rest. Okay, no more squatting til I’m healed but still I’m comfortable with the disruption to the program.
Saturday morning and I’m down at the national centre, and my snatch has gone to pieces. The pain in my hip is so bad that I’m unintentionally narrowing my base in the receive position. I’ve seen this before in a fellow weightlifter who had hip troubles; it’s an automatic response guarding the site of pain. By now, many beginner and intermediate lifters would be out of their minds with angst about not being able to train, racked with frustration and feeling helpless.
I am going to come right out and say it….I have high aspirations for myself. There are so many places I want to go, experiences I want to try, lifestyle tweaks I want to make and goals I have set for myself that it can all get to be a little overwhelming. Couple this with the fact that I want to live a mindful life, one where I enjoy the journey and stay grateful and rooted in the present moment (without stressing out over unknown future outcomes) and this only exasperates the problem. How do you continue down a path towards growth and self-improvement, while still living in the present? How do you overcome the very human tendency towards procrastination? How do you make the time and space for positive change in your life when you’re so busy with the current version? I think it comes down to the old adage that you just put one foot in front of the other and keep walking in the direction you want to go.
If you’re like me and really want to make positive improvements in your life, you may also fall into the trap of setting ridiculously high expectations for yourself which can lead to disappointment and frustration. I can rattle of a laundry list of things I want to change, or start, or do more consistently, but the truth is while I get inspired by things I see, read, and hear; I don’t always make a plan to take action. I have noticed that the things we do consistently, we do so because they become habit. I talked about starting a blog for months and months before I actually sat down and started writing one….and I am so glad I did. Blogging has really changed my perspective on the world. I listen more and ask people to explain or expand upon their ideas because it might spark something for me to write about. I pay more attention. I experiment more because the results may be worth blogging about. And by making myself accountable for two posts a week, and doing this consistently….the whole blogging thing has become HABIT. It is now part of my regular routine, which makes it seem easy and normal, not a struggle.
This got me thinking about how I can make other changes in my life that actually “stick”. I realize that lofty goals are great and all, but you can’t tackle everything at once and expect good results. There’s a reason the tem “baby steps” is so widely used and that’s because it works. Changing one small habit is totally do-able, and it also helps you learn how to make and keep promises to yourself so you start to trust that you are capable of change. I think it’s perfectly okay to start small and build big. Sure, I can see the type of person I ultimately aspire to be, but I am gonna keep taking those baby steps to get there. My husband tells me I sometimes spend too much time “doing” and not enough time “being”. Baby steps give me the chance to “be”. They let me enjoy the journey, while continuing to move closer to my goals.
Other observations on this subject include the need for triggers. Willpower alone is never enough. Research indicates that willpower can be a finite resource, there will be days when you are tired and you use it up on other things. It’s in those situations you need to have a plan for continuing on. Which is why breaking a desired change into smaller steps can work; it creates momentum that can be built on.
Something to look out for on the path to change (for me at least), is procrastination. It’s lurking behind every good intention. I need to be mindful of the urge to go to distraction, to run from the discomfort of making a change. We rationalize our way out of starting something new, we drag our feet….and procrastination’s cousin “all or nothing” thinking, is usually not far behind. I messed up today, so I should just give up. How many times have we fallen into that particular trap?