Saturday, March 08, 2008

Daily Inspiration

Several weeks ago I decided to end my rushed mornings... waking up and getting in the shower right away, making coffee before drying my hair, trying to gulp it down while putting on makeup, and then heading directly to work. I've been starting my days like this for so long, always clinging to any extra sleep I could get. Occasionally, I would make attempts to get up early to get some things done, but never just for the sake of easing into my day peacefully and with perspective. So, this is how I've been starting my days now, with the daily reading by Mark Nepo in The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, and by reading a verse and reflection/interpretation from Wayne Dyer's Change Your Thoughts- Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao.

Both books are incredibly inspirational, providing such simple and profound messages. Neither one is self-help like whatsoever (I tend to be turned off by self-help stuff... it strokes the ego versus truly getting at the soul and the essence of what matters). Nepo's Book of Awakening is so lovely and inspirational. Each day, Nepo presents a very brief but profound message, simply inspiring one to be present to what is and find peace with daily struggles and self. At the end of each brief daily passage, he asks you to sit and meditate on the message with guided thought exercises, which can easily be done in a few moments and which serve as a great meditation to return to throughout the day. I love this book. Nepo's voice is so compassionate and reassuring. I feel such a wave of peace and acceptance when I read this. Each daily message inspires me to embrace the present and accept my struggles and self.
I have to thank Take A Year Out again for recommending Dyer's Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life. He apparently had been looking for a great modern interpretation/consideration of the Tao Te Ching, written by Lao Tzu around 6th century BC. Dyer examines each verse and spends two or three pages discussing the verse in modern terms but without minimizing or disregarding the timeless significance of the verses. Much of the Tao seems to really emphasize being present. One is encouraged repeatedly to be present in life, not always anticipating or desiring for something or some outcome. The beauty of living fully in a moment is undeniable and more often now, I find myself really feeling that fullness of being present. The Tao also emphasizes awareness and helps one see that possessions, power, and recognition are desires of the ego, not the soul. For me, that constant reminder has brought about so much peace and reassurance. I find myself increasingly aware of the tremendous disparity between ego and soul and can quickly identify my ego trying to dominate my soul, seeking things, more money, etc.

Truly, since I've started making these two books a daily morning ritual, I find that I enter my day so much more willingly and peacefully. It's so easy to lose perspective in this world and I accept that I will lose perspective throughout my life, many times over. But for me, if I can return to that peaceful perspective rather immediately, I feel truly balanced. Surprisingly too, things that I have historically felt great anxiety and anticipation over, seem to just smooth out when I'm living in the moment and not trying to forecast life.

I wish everyone could start their day in such a way... with just 15-30 minutes of perspective and peacefulness with themselves. It makes all the difference in my life.


Anonymous said...

Since I've started working from home, I find my mornings much more peaceful. When I ~have~ to be somewhere before 10am I have a difficult time easing into my day.

Richard said...

I am glad to hear you have managed to find some balance in your life. It is something terribly important. The problem is that the specific technique of balancing depends on each person. I know that for myself, I need at least two hours after work to decompress - something Sofia doesn't understand because for her there are things to be done, responsibilities to be taken care of (and I think she is headed for burnout).

Full balance is still elusive for me, though. I like browsing through the Summit Consulting Newsletters. This is from his first one back in 1999

One of the worst mistakes I've ever made was to "compartmentalize" my life. It dawned on me a few years ago that I don't have a "personal life" and a "business life," but simply A LIFE.

@function of time: I am just the opposite, by 11, 12 o’clock, I am pretty much in coast mode anything productive having been done earlier. If I get up at 10, I consider the day over.

Randal Graves said...

I generally get up around 5 and after I do all the morning stuff, I have anywhere from 15-30 minutes before I have to catch my bus. So, I write. Even if it's nothing finished, just to get some ideas down. Plus I'm lucky in that I do take the bus. Don't have to worry about driving and can concentrate on listening to my tunes.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could get up and get things done. Lately, it's been extremely difficult for me to concentrate so I end up "working" for 10 hours just to get what should take 3 hours. It's weird. I'm at my PC early, but I can't focus until late morning. There's nothing like stumbing out of bed to the pc just to sit there and moan with coffee for a few hours! :-)

Richard said...

@function of time: I know all about that feeling when things take much longer than they should. While I am not entirely successful in combating it (ok, ok, I am mostly unsuccessful), one thing that does work (when I actually feel motivated enough to do it) is to just do it and not worry about whether it is perfect or good enough because 9 times out of 10 nobody is going to notice the difference between something properly done and something mostly done right - they only notice if it is done or not.

Some people are not morning people. A friend of mine is most definitely non-functional before noon.

I hope you get out of your funk soon, it is not a fun place to be.

@breal: sorry for cross posting in your blog.

b said...

Function of Time... I used to work almost entirely from home and I now work one or two days a week at home. Those days really are nice. I love just lounging in my sweats all morning, even while working. There is such a peacefulness to those days. But even when I go into work, I am such a better person for that hour of reading, coffee, yoga, just easing into the day. When I have to be somewhere at a certain time before 10am, I too don't feel much at ease. Fortunately, when I do go into work, I get there around 10am! I know... I am SOOO lucky! :)

b said...

Richard... Thanks for that link. I really tend to agree with his outlook on balance. As you likely know from reading my blog these past couple years, I've gone through many attempts to strike balance in my life by various means. I've come to discover (and will hopefully continue to accept and appreciate) that trying to exert control over my life by compartmentalizing, allotting time to various interests and responsibilities, only makes me feel more out of balance and frustrated. When I simply stay aware of those interests and obligations, I manage to incorporate them into my life pretty effectively. There are bound to be times in which I have more time to devote to interests and times when I am pulled into my responsibilities more deeply. But trying to exert a continually equal balance among such is impossible and only frustrates me.

It is really amazing to me that when I am mindful of my interests, goals, responsibilities... but not obsessive or anxious over them... things tend to flow rather smoothly overall.

And yes, we all need to decompress and find peace, and we each have different needs where such is concerned. I can only imagine how challenging that can be with children!

b said...

Randal... wow! Really, 5am?! But that's great that you carve out time for writing. That is something I really like about public transportation. You don't have to worry about focusing on the road or traffic, etc. That is definitely quality time for reading and writing... especially with a family at home... I'm sure you appreciate it all the more!

b said...

Richard... Please, cross post as much as you'd like! :)

Cavalock said...

thanks b for another great post. i'm also trying to find a balance to my life, to not let my ego take over me. although i dont think in my case, its really 'ego'...i dunno, its more like my temper or a darker side of me, i think.

i tell myself i'm out of the rat race, i guess its partly true since i dont crave for $$$ or such.

The Franco Fille said...

I wish I had the time to just pause in the morning. It would be nice! But maybe I can take 10 minutes before I go to bed to decompress.

b said...

Cavalock... You don't know how happy it makes me, to hear that someone has found inspiration in one of my posts here. Thank you. I think what often plagues us regarding balance is a sense that things have to be equal from some statistical measurement... our moods and actions must be always "level" or that notion of 50/50 percent-wise. I think balance is just being centered within yourself. Dyer's book on the Tao Te Ching is a huge help for me in that regard...understanding the flow of life/the Tao and the immense sense of balance that comes from just being.

Ego isn't really just self-inflated importance. It is so much more. It is that unnatural desire for more things, for more status, for approval from others, etc. It comes from a conflict between social values/expectations/ideologies and our true self/inner self/natural flow of life.

Frustrations, feeling down... that isn't necessarily the ego. Sometimes that is just us working through whatever we are experiencing and if we are honest with ourselves, we will feel those feelings and then free ourselves as a result of openly feeling and expressing such. Feeling "down" can often indicate that you are becoming more in tune with who you are and your true self. There seems to be a lot of inspiration and opportunity in that.

It's great that you don't find yourself desiring money as much. I'm feeling the same. Don't get me wrong, I still want some things but the biggest difference is that I know I can happily live without them. I don't want my job or things to own me. There is such a burden in that way of life that really prevents us from living freely and heeding our true path.

You're doing great, Cavalock. I'm happy to know you!

b said...

Franco Fille.. thanks for visiting my blog! I too thought that I could not squeeze 30 minutes into my mornings for such reflection, but I forced myself and now it has become such a necessary part of my day, just as showering has! I re-read both passages before bed too but find that starting my morning with such inspiration is really beneficial. It sets a tone for my morning and often, I need a reminder midday to keep that perspective amidst daily stress and frustrations. It is great to finish one's day with some kind of decompressing too, to find peace and center oneself again. Even with my daily inspiration, I find that over the course of the day (especially when battling traffic!), I lose sight of that peacefulness and harmony. :)

Best wishes incorporating that time into your day. Maybe start with 15 minutes in the morning and go from there?

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about getting the book by Wayne Dyer. After your recommendation i most definitely will. :-)

I love your morning routine. I need to practice it more, lately i've been running like a lunatic. haha. I'm sure it makes all the difference in the world . Have you read 'The power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle? That's another fantastic book. Highly recommended. :-)

b said...

Hi, Zen! I definitely recommend this interpretation of the Tao. Each verse is broken into a great reflection and interpretation... so easy to incorporate a verse in a day. It truly has brought about such an increased sense of peace and balance to my life.

Haha. Yes, I know the running like a lunatic routine, as I did it for so much of my life. I find that starting my day this way is so beneficial. Even when I don't get enough sleep, I still look forward to getting up early and enjoying my coffee and these daily meditations. I can't recommend it enough. Although the stress and hectic pace are still there, this helps me return to calmness rather quickly.

Thanks for the recommendation of Tolle's "The Power of Now." I have not read it but will certainly add it to my list! Merci!