Don’t Worry About What you can’t Control

Don’t Worry About What you can’t Control

Don’t Worry About What you can’t Control

why not just live in the present moment and enjoy life as it comes?

I’m pretty sure that everyone reading this remembers where they were and what they were doing when 911 happened.  I had just walked into a conference room at work to attend an all-day “Stress Management” class with about 20 other colleagues. The guy sitting next to me asked if I had heard what happened…

Stress Management.  What an appropriate topic for the day! Turns out that the guy teaching the class was retired military and had worked at the Pentagon for 20+ years, so he was particularly distracted by the entire event.  We didn’t have smart phones then, nor even television in the room so we had to go to our cars to listen to the radio at breaks to keep up with what was happening. 

He did an amazing job with the class, but the one take-away I’ve never forgotten was “Don’t worry about things you have no control over”.  That is so true!  Hard to accomplish, but true. 

What is worry, anyway? It’s such an important word that it’s used as a verb and a noun. As a verb it means  to give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.” As a noun, the definition is “A state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.” Worry is simply allowing the mind to have its own way concerning a particular event or train of thoughts.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you’re depressed you’re living in the past, and if you’re stressed you’re living in the future.” Think about that saying, and you’ll realize how true it is. We have no control over the past because it’s already happened. We can definitely learn from it, but don’t relive it or dwell on it. We can shape our future, but the future can’t happen until it’s in the present moment, so why not just live in the present moment and enjoy life as it comes? When you think about it, if we’re “in the moment” then it is impossible for us to worry, period.

As Avi teaches, the most effective way to step away from worry is to be in the present moment. To get into the moment, sit quiet, breath slowly, and watch your breath. Your body is always in the present moment, so just focusing on your body or a part of your body will keep your mind from wandering everywhere. Every time your mind starts to go to a worrisome thought, bring your focus back to the breath or your body. It’s a continuous battle, but being mindful and living in the present moment is without a doubt the ultimate weapon to combat worry. – Theresa

What matters

What matters

What matters

I’ve never climbed in the Himalayas but I’ve read a lot about those who do. And it is there climbers encounter above twenty-five or twenty-six thousand feet a place known as the Death Zone. It is so named because at that altitude there is a variety of conditions that if not overcome will painfully kill you.

Of course the most obvious one is the thin air. Even with supplemental oxygen the body won’t perform with its usual efficiency. And because one’s faculties are typically impaired there,  a climber is more exposed to falling, various forms of edema and other potentially fatal results. Weather is also likely more extreme and dangerous, causing many climbers to bivouac in places where survival is unlikely at best.

A very small percentage of climbers ever experience the Death Zone of the highest mountains in the world and for good reason. It’s just too dangerous.

However, in life there are some reasons we might live in our own Death Zone of sorts. In fact, we can’t avoid it. It’s living knowing that at any moment our life on this earth could end. We could be gone or someone we love simply won’t be around. Morbid? Creepy? A little out there perhaps? Yes, in some ways. What would we do if death were looking us in the eye all of a sudden? 

I think the answer gives us some essential things to think about doing NOW without living in some sort of dark, fearful place in the process.  Let me suggest a few. 

First, make the most of every moment you can. No, none of us can savor each second of every experience, but we can slow down and enjoy people and opportunities a bit more.  We can quit cramming so many things into our lives and running by people we love as though they are hardly there. We can stop and watch our kids and grandkids longer, spend a few more minutes with a spouse or friend and just enjoy little special moments of nature that occur every day all around us.

Second, take inventory. Be brutally honest about how many things you’re doing that really matter for the long-term versus those that are just because everyone’s doing them. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with leisure, goofing off now and then and simply having fun. But are we letting the temporary push aside the eternal and the things we think we should invest in for our gain steal time from the people we want to invest in because we love them?  Have we pushed the most important things and experiences into the I’ll-do-them-someday-when-I-have time category?

Third, say what you want to say now. I’ve often thought we should have everyone’s funeral before they die if possible. That way people can say to another’s face what they want to say about them and would likely say once they’re gone. Well, in a sense and in the same way we would be wise to say what we want to say to people before one of us is gone. Do we need to forgive, tell them we love them or that we are proud of them, let go of some past hurts or remind them of how much they meant to us?  Do it now.

What is the Connection Between Stress and Creativity?

What is the Connection Between Stress and Creativity?

What is the Connection Between Stress and Creativity?

What is the connection between stress and creativity? Let’s first understand what exactly stress is. Stress is a fight or flight response of the mind triggered because of fear. This fear can either be real or perceived. When the mind is gripped by fear, it can race faster than normal, making it extremely difficult to stay focused and relaxed. In a way, stress is the absolute destroyer of our sanity.

Throughout the day and even during the night our mind is constantly in stress. Our mind is constantly chasing something (worrying about the future) or trying to run away from something (thinking about the past). This constant running and chasing creates stress. Over many years of this constant running, stress builds to eventually become a chronic problem sapping our vital energy and creativity.

Let’s rewind our minds back to our childhood and answer one question very sincerely. Are we more creative now or were we more creative when we were children? Of course, we were more creative during our growing up years. The sheer amount of learning that happened in our early years of life is proof of this. We solved more problems during the first 5 years of our lives than in the last 25 years combined

We have gotten so used to thinking about the future and dwelling on the past that complacency toward constant stress has made it immune and strong. So strong that it is becoming more and more difficult to identify and deal with stress. We just think it’s normal.

Creativity is a natural state of the mind. When the mind is not in stress, when it is in the present moment, it wants to solve problems; it wants to use its energies to positively express itself in many ways. A stress-free mind is a creative mind.

Creativity is not a domain of life. It is an essential and integral quality of our being. Not only are we a part of the creative expression of existence, existence is also a part of our creative expression. Stress can completely drown this creative force by not allowing us to rest and relax. When the mind is racing between the future and the past it is impossible for us to be creative.

Only when we slow down, take deep breaths, and just be in the present moment, can we be creative. This moment is all we’ve got; nothing was ever created in the future, and the past is just that–it’s the past–it’s gone. Enjoy this moment and embrace the creativity that flows from being in the present.

The Art of Self-Sufficiency

The Art of Self-Sufficiency

The Art of Self-Sufficiency

Many years ago I was at a job interview and the interviewer asked the question, “What are your goals?” By that point in my life I was getting weary of the 8-hour-per day grind, listening to employees whining and complaining about everything, and just feeling like I was missing life.

My answer to his question was a very matter-of-factly orated, “I want to be retired from corporate life, living in a cabin on the river, in as self-sufficient a manner as possible by the time I am 35 years old (I was 32 at the time). He laughed, and his response was “Yeah, I read Mother Earth News too.” Is it just me, or does everyone dream of living their own life on their terms?

I got the job, and when I was 36 my late husband and I bought 88 acres on a river in Cumberland County, Tennessee. A year later the place I worked for offered an early retirement incentive for folks who wanted to retire, so I did! We cut and milled trees to build a cabin, purified our own drinking water, had a composting toilet and a small garden, and I played in the woods a couple of years. We needed more income, so I had to go back to work for 14 more years. At least I got a taste of it for the time being.

You might think that you need lots of property, lots of knowledge, and lots of money to be self sufficient. Not so. There are many different levels of self sufficiency, and all of them feel good. Of course, a lot of folks start out with growing some of their own food to become more self sufficient. You do need some property to grow the veggies, but a very small (10×10 garden) will produce a surprising amount of vegetables.

Making your own soap and body care products such as shampoo and moisturizer is another way to avoid chemicals in the store bought products, and get the satisfaction of doing it yourself.  Making clothes, doing your own mechanic work, building construction–it all gives one great satisfaction, but there’s another way of being self-sufficient that most of us never even dream of.

The most wonderful aspect of life that I discovered during my self-sufficiency exploration was the spiritual part; the part that no one can see but me. Taking control of that aspect of my life has been the most amazing journey. Most people don’t pay any attention to their innermost being, but it’s as real as the nose on your face. And truthfully, the only way to access it is through self-sufficiency; after all, it is the self.

I discovered that my self is not some pie-in-the-sky abstract theory, but is truly a reality. The way to access your self is through sitting quietly and watching your thoughts. After doing this for some time you will realize that your mind isn’t interested in being with your body because it’s always off on some tangent, and your body isn’t part of your self because it changes all the time and your self doesn’t. The realization that I was a crowd of three was just the beginning.

After sitting quietly on a routine basis for several months, I also noticed that I didn’t get upset over things that used to bother me. My patience with others increased, my desire for entertainment (tv, movies) drastically reduced, I didn’t enjoy drinking alcohol as much, and I found myself reading more books and finding company with like-minded people. Seems like discovering my “self” made me like me a lot better. You’ve probably heard the saying, “How can you expect someone else to like you if you don’t even like yourself?”

It’s time for us to let go of the excessive amount of external stimulation we’ve got going on in this day and age and go inward. If people would just start slowing down, sitting quietly, and introspecting, there’s no limit to how wonderful the world could be. It’s time to become self-sufficient!

Mind and Sleep

Mind and Sleep

Mind and Sleep

All of us at some point in time have had trouble sleeping. No matter what we do, the body wants to sleep, but the mind says, “No way!” Why does this happen?  Sleep is our birthright!

Sleep doesn’t just happen (or not happen) during the night. How you sleep is affected by what goes on during the day. If your day involves constant thinking, jumping from one thing to another without any rest, then guess what? That’s going to continue into the night.

We need to understand that life has no upper and lower limits. We can work ourselves to death, we can think ourselves to death and we don’t realize it. We think that, “Oh, it’s just thinking; it’s wonderful, it’s nice,” but you can go crazy, you can go mad just by thinking. There’s really no upper limit since the mind is not a limited phenomenon. It’s only the body that is limited; the mind is totally free to imagine whatever it wants to imagine. It can go deeper and deeper into layers and layers of thinking where you can get totally trapped.

Our minds are like the engine of a car that we never shut off. We leave it running continuously, day after day, year after year, letting it just go crazy with thoughts. We need to learn how to shut the engine off when we’re not using it so we can get some rest! The way to do this is to incorporate “conscious rest” into our daily routines.  Conscious rest is simply to sit quietly and watch your breath. Each hour, if possible, sit for 10 minutes and just watch your breath. When a thought comes into your mind, just let it go; don’t entertain it. The monotony of watching the breath can magically keep thoughts at bay because your mind can only handle one thing at a time; if you’ve got it tied up watching the breath, then there’s no room for any imaginary trips of horror into the future or depressing dramas from the past.

This is going to seem impossible at first, because the mind has never been approached like this–it’s had free rein to think whatever it wants, whenever it wants. To gain control, you’ve got to be persistent. Just think: If you work for 8 hours per day and are able to sit 5 or 6 times during the day (and a little after work as well) and practice watching the breath, after a week or so you’ll start getting the hang of it. Then, the next time you lay down to sleep and your mind says, “I’m going off on a tangent now,” you can say, “No way–I’m watching the breath. You be still.”

And sleep will come.

Enhance your Yoga Practice

Enhance your Yoga Practice

Enhance your Yoga Practice

Yoga is a complex practice with challenging physical and spiritual aspects. It’s not hard to master the basic poses, but it does take time and effort to rise from beginner to expert yogi. Learning from an experienced teacher at a local studio can help you level up and improve your skills. But many yoga lovers also enjoy practicing yoga at home, with the help of the right tools and technology. We’ve put together some tips to help you get the most out of your yoga practice, whether you’re at a studio or in the comfort of your living room.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Yogis

It’s hard to avoid doing this, but comparing your own progress to those around you will just make you feel discouraged and won’t help you improve. The person on the mat next to you might look like they’re effortlessly tackling a tough pose like Pigeon Pose, or it may appear that they’re less distracted than you when meditating. But they have their own weak spots, just like you. Sometimes practicing at home can help you focus on your own progress without being distracted by the competition.

Set (Realistic) Intentions and Goals

The best way to avoid comparing yourself to other practitioners is to set your own personal intentions and goals so that you can measure your progress. You might want to talk to a yoga teacher about the best goal schedule for your specific yoga level. You can use yoga-specific apps on your phone to track your goals, or set intentions using a more general goal-setting app. Create weekly or monthly goals that are reasonable but challenging, and don’t forget to set reminders on your smartphone to keep your goals fresh in your mind.

Practice Meditation, Too

For many people, tackling the physical aspect of yoga proves to be easier than the spiritual side. Fully embracing traditional yoga means mastering your mind as well as your body through meditation. Meditation sounds simple–just think of nothing!–but in reality, it can be hard to calm your mind and focus on your breathing in today’s hectic environment. You might find that a good instructor can help guide you through successful meditation sessions. Or you might prefer to practice meditation in your own home using an app or online videos.

Turn to a Newer Smartphone

These tips can help you make progress in your yoga practice, but having the right tools is key to making these strategies more effective. One important tool for practicing yoga at home is your smartphone, whether you’re using it to learn new poses, find guided meditation videos, or set your yoga goals. If you’re looking to upgrade your phone, you might want to look at the series of Samsung Galaxy S10 phones, which offer a high-quality display and good battery efficiency. Fans of the iPhone can turn to the iPhone 11 Pro for its fast performance, which would come in handy when you’re streaming yoga videos and lessons.

Learn to Accept Failure

Even though we’re talking about setting goals and working toward mastery of physical poses and mental control, it’s important to keep in mind that failure can (and should) be part of a healthy yoga practice. There will be days where you just can’t find the flexibility for the tricky poses and days where your mind refuses to be still during meditation. It’s part of the learning process, and keeping your goals and intentions in mind can help you see your progress over time rather than focusing on small failures. If you’re struggling with a particular challenge, it’s okay to revert to something simpler and try again another day.

Whether it’s getting into a tough pose or taking steps toward more mindful meditation, there’s always a tool that can help you. With these suggestions, we hope that you’re able to improve your yoga practice and see even more of yoga’s benefits. Namaste!

Image by Mark Zamora on Unsplash. 

About the Author:

Sheila Johnson created Well Sheila as a place to not only share her story but inspire others to put their physical and mental health first with a regular wellness routine and daily self-care.

Her website address is: wellsheila.net

Finding a Meditation Teacher

Finding a Meditation Teacher

Finding a Meditation Teacher

As far as beginning a meditation journey is concerned, you don’t have to worry too much; just begin. Listen to videos, start practicing it. Just try it out on your own. In the journey, in the process, you will connect with some teachers.

You will connect with people. Keep in touch with the community; keep in touch with the idea of meditation. Keep exploring and keep reading.

The teacher will not find you. You will have to find the teacher. The teachers are simply there. Nowadays they are doing a lot of marketing. Trust me when I say this, “We’re doing a lot of marketing.” Still, it’s all about the student.

The student has to find the teacher and he/she must have the willingness to learn.

This deep desire to find a teacher and surrender to the process of spiritual awakening is slowly disappearing. The desire is there, but since it’s not strong–anything and everything–even a small negative criticism from people around, turns people off. They might be going to a teacher and they might be learning, but if there’s even one streak of negativity, they drop off.

It’s not going to make much difference to the teacher, but it’s going to make a lot of difference to you. It is not easy to find a meditation teacher who you can trust, and begin this wonderful inner journey, but you’ll have to keep searching.

In a spiritual way, you have to keep searching for those signs, and you have to go and meet the teacher. It cannot just be online searching; it cannot just be reading books. The best way to know if you have found the teacher is to actually be with the teacher.

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