It’s no coincidence that Easter, Passover, and Spring all happen at the same time of year; all involve re-birth. The word “Easter” is believed to be derived from the name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn (i.e., Spring), Eostre. Easter celebrates the re-birth of Jesus. Passover celebrates the Jews liberation from Egypt and their re-birth as a free people. And of course Spring is the re-birth of nature.
“The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world. Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice. But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice.” - Henry Knox Sherrill, Episcopal clergyman.
As humans we are in a constant state of physical re-birth. The cells in our bodies are constantly dividing, regenerating, and dying. The cells lining the stomach, because they’re exposed to acid, replace themselves about every five days. Cells in the epidermis last about a week. Red blood cells live for about four months in the body, while other cells can take up to seven years to regenerate—so we can say that we are completely “reborn” every seven years!
New Year’s is the traditional time when we make resolutions, or new determinations to better ourselves; to make over our lives, to be reborn as a better person. Many of us do this on a regular basis by setting goals. It is human nature to try and better ourselves.
Many of us are reborn spiritually on a daily basis by practicing meditation or mindfulness. The simple act of sitting still and peacefully allows our spirits to regenerate and recharge.
No matter what this time of year means to you or how you observe it, take time to enjoy the new sprouting buds of Spring flowers. “Stop and smell the roses,” as the old saying goes. Re-energize your mind, body, and spirit by sitting peacefully, taking a warm bath, or going for a walk in nature. Make new determinations and set new goals—never cease becoming a better you!
At no other time in history have we had the luxury of so much leisure time as we have today. In primitive times most of all our waking hours was devoted to survival: Foraging for food and water, hunting, and battling the elements. Today we have lots of free time which gives us many options: We can socialize with friends and family, we participate in sports, we can watch TV, we can go to the movies, we can go shopping—the possibilities are endless.
This plethora of free time has also allowed us to contemplate life and work on bettering ourselves and the world around us.
“I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.” Og Mandino.
At this point in history we now have the time and money to pursue the greater questions of purpose. We can ask the big questions of how to better ourselves, how to better our world, how to create peace and end war, how to cure cancer and disease—there are so many good things that we can now concentrate on.
Well, one good thing you’re doing right now with your free time (or maybe you’re doing this at work) is improving your mind and life by reading this blog. What else do you plan on doing? What is your purpose in life? Do you need a purpose or are you fine without one?
As we open our minds and pursue the bigger questions of life we are evolving not just our own selves, but the rest of humanity to come. Future humankind will be smarter, wiser, and more mindful because of the steps we take today to better ourselves, our world, and our souls.
Sometimes it seems as if life is so hard and that there is no end in sight to these hard times. Just as we are overcoming one struggle, another hardship befalls us.
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
As humans we have very short memories and suffer from “cognitive bias,” that is we perceive things in the very narrow timeframe of the most recent events. Though we may be experiencing difficulties in the present, we are unable to frame these hard times in the larger picture of our lives. Even though the majority of our lives have been good, recent setbacks have colored our perceptions to see life as “hard.”
But past victories and good times are of little consequence when we are struggling with no end in sight.
“The struggle we go through to have our prayers answered makes us stronger. If we were to immediately get everything we prayed for, we would become spoiled and decadent. We would lead indolent lives, devoid of any hard work or struggle. As a result, we would become shallow human beings. What, then, would be the point of faith?” Daisaku Ikeda, President of the Soka Gakkai International.
We need faith, hope, and optimism to help us through these hard times. Look at your past victories and you will know that you will overcome your current difficulties, too. Look at all of human history and you will see examples of those who have overcome much more dire circumstances; you have the same ability.
And whatever your troubles, you can find a moment to sit and be mindful, to empty your mind of worries and anxieties. Even a few seconds of peace of mind will give you new perspective and reinvigorate you to deal with the problems at hand.
Never give up because life offers so many rewards: Happy times with friends and family; the enjoyment of a hike through the woods, a spectacular sunrise, the tranquility of the still waters of a lake; the pride of accomplishment, of overcoming difficulties. Hardships are a part of life, but they are not life itself.
How can we deal with loss?
Bad things happen in life. We get laid off from our jobs, our cars are wrecked in accidents, and we lose loved ones. How we deal with loss is a reflection of how we live our lives.
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” Kahlil Gibran.
While a job or car can be replaced in time, maybe with great difficulty, some things and people can never be replaced. One of kind items, photos, and sentimental items that are loss can cause us great grief; they can never be replaced and we miss them in our lives.
The loss of a loved one, especially suddenly and before their time, can bring pervasive sorrow to our lives and completely change us. Losing a loved one can seem like the end of the world to us. How can we continue without them? How can we overcome our sorrow and lead happy lives again?
One way is to cherish the memory of the lost loved one. Remember the good and special times you shared with that person. Smile and be happy for the time you were able to share while they were in your life. In this way you are building a living, positive memorial to that loved one.
Another way is to do what that person would want you to do. If that person was still alive and with you, what would they tell you do to do if you had lost someone else you loved? Wouldn’t they tell you to get on with your life, to somehow find happiness again? Don’t you think that they would want you to be happy, leading a fulfilling life now?
Do not lose your life when you lose another. Live the happy life that they would want you to live. Be the person that they would want you to be. That is the best way to cherish their memory.
Where can you find love? In an overpopulated world where we are constantly surrounded by other people, it’s ironic that so many people should feel alone and unloved. How many hundreds of people do we see each day, yet we make no connections with them.
“When you're surrounded by all these people, it can be even lonelier than when you're by yourself. You can be in a huge crowd, but if you don't feel like you can trust anybody or talk to anybody, you feel like you're really alone.” Fiona Apple, music artist.
There are simple steps that we can take to make connections to those around us:
- Just say “Hi!” to: People you pass on the street; people you see every day as you wait for your bus or train; people in back or front of you when waiting in a line; people on the elevator.
- Show a genuine concern for others: Ask how they’re doing.
- Share things about yourself; your dreams, your hopes, your joys.
- Every day concentrate on the feeling of love within yourself; feel the love of loving yourself.
In a world where the norm is to keep closed and not talk to others, it can be uncomfortable to take steps to make connections with others. But after you take that first step to get out of your comfort zone, it becomes easier and you will start to see rewards; others will happily greet you, grateful that someone has reached out to them in this cold, hard world.
What about love? It is from these seeds of human connections that love will grow and blossom. Maybe a friendship that you make will develop into a loving relationship. Maybe a new friend will introduce you to your future love. Maybe your newfound love of yourself for having made bold steps to get out of your comfort zone and reach out to others will attract love to you.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote “What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.” In other words, what’s important is living your life to the fullest, passionately and enthusiastically. This corresponds to the fifth of the Six Values of The Coherent Life is Fervid Enthusiasm.
The word “fervid” comes from Latin and means “to glow.” Those familiar with The Coherent Life know the daily practice of attracting the Six Values into your life through concentrating on imaginary colored balls of fire that represent the Six Values. These balls of fire are like little suns; they glow.
So should your life glow with passion. Think about your past and what you will remember most are the things you’ve done: Going on vacation, spending time with friends and family, enjoying your favorite hobbies. It is the things that we do, not the things we buy, that give us pleasure and lasting memories.
Live a life that produces lasting memories. Go out into the world and explore, meet new people, have new experiences. It is this passion that makes life worthwhile.
How can we achieve mindfulness in an impatient world? We live in a world of instant gratification. We can get our food fast at a drive thru. We can watch movies on demand before they come out on DVD for sale. When I was a kid you had to wait until six o’clock to watch the evening news, now you can get news 24/7.
“Impatience turns an ague into a fever, a fever to the plague, fear into despair, anger into rage, loss into madness, and sorrow to amazement.” Jeremy Taylor, author.
I am always amazed by drivers who recklessly try to cut in a car or two ahead as if a gain of a couple car lengths will make all the difference in getting them quicker to their destination. I particularly find it funny during the morning work commute; do they love their jobs that much that they can’t wait to get to work?!
“There is no need for you to be impatient. If you can achieve something very easily right from the start, you will find no sense of fulfillment or joy. It is in making tenacious, all-out efforts for construction that profound happiness lies.” Daisaku Ikeda, President, Soka Gakkai International.
One of the main symptoms of such an impatient, hectic world is anxiety. We are anxious and nervous when we don’t get it now. Technology like faxes and email were supposed to give us more free time but instead have caused us to work faster and harder. In the past when snail mail was the only way to send documents or letters, people would have to patiently wait. But now we impatiently ask why it’s not here yet.
It is ironic then that the way to overcome our impatient anxiety is by being patiently mindful. We need to take time to sit and be quiet. We need to calm our galloping minds; stop thinking about what we need to do next and listen to the present.
Here are some simple tips for achieving mindfulness for the impatient:
- In this exercise there’s no need to sit quietly with your eyes closed; it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing.
- Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself; inhale and hold for three seconds, exhale and hold for three seconds; repeat a few times.
- Stop thinking and start observing; become aware of your surroundings; look, see, hear, smell; observe without judging.
- If you are not able to keep your mind from racing thoughts of the past or future, then either slowly count or repeat the mantra, “Right here, right now.”
- Your goal here is to achieve mindfulness for only 10 to fifteen seconds.
- Do this often throughout the day; the more you do it, the easier it will become.
This is a simple exercise to achieve a few seconds of mindfulness throughout your day. Having just an instant of peace in your life will make a marked difference.
How can you attract abundance into your life? It often seems like no matter how hard we work and struggle, but we just can’t seem to get ahead. All we want is to buy a little comfort to make the world more bearable: A decent car, a nice place to live, a flat screen TV, an occasional night out on the town. But often in our pursuit of some creature comforts, we find ourselves getting deeper into debt.
Where does it end? When will we get ahead? How about some freedom from the drudgery of work so that you can pursue truly meaningful work or others activities that are important to you?
The Coherent Life value of Profound Abundance is the state of having ample resources to allow you to follow your bliss, to do those things that you want to do. In concordance with the other five Coherent Life values, Profound Abundance allows you to live a happy, joy-filled life.
All of the Six Values of The Coherent Life are attracted into your life in the same way. All of the values are energy and energy is attracted to energy of the same type; that is, like attracts like. This is the Law of Attraction. The Buddha said, “What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: Our life is the creation of our mind.”
Thoughts are a type of energy. What we think about all day is what is attracted into our lives. If you want to attract abundance into your life, then think like a person who has abundant resources; think like a rich person. Don’t think about the rich person you want to become, but rather think about the rich person that you are.
Whether or not you realize it, you do have some riches in your life. You have a place to live, although it may not be the home of your dreams. You have clothes to wear, shoes on your feet, food to eat, a computer to use. Maybe none of these fit your ideal, but view that as only temporary until you decide to upgrade them; you are a rich person who has not yet decided to buy the things you dream of.
To focus your thoughts and energy on abundance, do the following exercise at least once a day:
· Sit in a quiet, relaxing place.
· Place a hand on your lap with the palm facing up.
· Look at your palm and imagine that there is a ball of light, like a little sun.
· Imagine that the ball of light is light blue in color, the same color as the sky.*
· As you look at this ball of light, recall a time when you felt rich, a time when you felt that you had abundance.
· Concentrate on that feeling, that emotion of abundance.
· While concentrating on this feeling, play with the ball of light; change its size and shape.
· Do this exercise for a least two to three minutes at least once a day.
The exercise is simple but it will immediately affect your life.
*Note: The reason that the ball of light is sky blue is twofold: One is that sky is the most abundant thing that we can see; two, whenever you see the sky you will be reminded of that feeling of abundance.
How do you keep a positive outlook in a negative world? Watch the nightly news and you will see all the bad that’s happening in the world. “The news media are, for the most part, the bringers of bad news... and it's not entirely the media's fault, bad news gets higher ratings and sells more papers than good news.” Peter McWilliams, writer.
But even if we deprive ourselves of the media, we are constantly surrounded by people eager to share their woes, complaints, and negative comments. How can we protect ourselves from these negative people? We can tell them to “Stop!”
And how do we protect ourselves from negative thoughts? The same way; we tell ourselves to “Stop!” The fact is that there is no difference in the number of negative thoughts that an optimist or a pessimist have throughout the day. The difference lies in the optimist’s ability to stop the negative thoughts from festering in our minds. Optimists are able to nip negative thoughts in the bud.
Just as we tell ourselves to stop thinking negative thoughts, we can tell others to “Stop!” Simply hold up your hand and tell the person “Stop!” How do we tell others to stop their negative talk without sounding rude or mean? You can use humor or be helpful. For example, “Stop! I’ve had my daily limit of negativity for the day,” or “Stop! Let me teach you something I learned about the difference between optimists and pessimists . . . .”
Comedian Bob Newhart did a sketch about a psychologist who used just such a technique. Watch it here.
But isn’t it cathartic and healthy to “vent”? That was Sigmund Freud’s hypothesis some one hundred years ago, but psychologist today find the opposite to be true. Venting or “letting off steam” only pollutes your mind and those of the people around you. It’s best to let those negative feelings go and find positive thoughts to replace them. Think about the good things that are happening in your life. Daydream about the fulfillment of your goals or your dreams coming true.
In conclusion, to keep a positive outlook:
- Nip your negative thoughts in the bud.
- When others talk negatively, tell them to “Stop!”
- Find something positive to think about like what’s good in your life or the future attainment of a goal.
There are six steps to achieving eternal happiness and joy; thus ending pain and suffering.
First you must have unshakable confidence that you can handle any problem that comes your way. You must also have the confidence that you have the strength and ability to make your desires come true.
Second, decide to be happy right now where you are. Don’t wait for some future event like winning the lottery or falling in love. Happiness is a decision. You can be happy no matter what, no matter where.
Third, love yourself. Be kind to yourself and reward yourself for being the best you that you can be. Don’t look outside yourself for love. Others will love you after you learn to love yourself.
Fourth, develop an impenetrable shield of peace around yourself. No matter what’s happening in the world around you, remain calm and at peace. No one can irritate or bug you; only you can let others get to you.
Fifth, have passion for life and everything that life throws at you, good or bad. Rush out to meet life; don’t wait for it to come to you. Your newfound confidence in step one will enable you to seek out life’s adventures.
Sixth, attract prosperity into your life. With a solid base of happiness and self-love in your life you will not want the trappings associated with trying to impress others like having an over-sized TV or gas-guzzling SUV. But you will be able to enjoy a comfortable life that enables you to do the things that you find important.
Achieving these six steps is done by living the Six Values of The Coherent Life:
1. Internal Assurance
2. Eternal Ecstasy
3. Indissoluble Love
4. Armored Tranquility
5. Fervid Enthusiasm
6. Profound Abundance