Presence is a Virtue – Part 1

sunlit-skyAfter reading quite a bit about being present, experiencing each moment fully, living in the ‘now’ – I still find it fairly difficult to practice. I was initially introduced to the concept of experiencing the present moment about 5 years ago when my brother Marc gave me a book called The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Thanks Marc 🙂  At the time I had never heard of the book but when I read the blurb I exclaimed “This is exactly what I need right now!”.

The book made me see things as I had never seen them before. It taught me to experience life as it was, fully accepting how things were without resisting them. It had never occurred to me how much easier life could be if you simply focused on what you were experiencing from moment to moment rather than thinking about the past or the future. After all, neither the past nor the future exist, right? Anything that happens is happening now. It doesn’t happen yesterday, it doesn’t happen tomorrow. This concept can be difficult to grasp at first, I had to read a fair chunk of the book to understand what the hell the author was going on about! However, I persisted with my reading and it was very rewarding.

I am currently half way through reading the book for the second time and I am struggling to ‘just be’ without identifying with my thoughts or thinking about the past or future. In order to help me be present I recently compiled a list of all the things that help me experience the present (even if just for a moment) and thought I would share it with you. The list has quite a few items so I have divided them up into separate posts which I will share throughout the week. Since it is the first day of Summer (and it is actually warm in Melbourne for a change!) I thought I would list things you can enjoy doing in the beautiful weather. For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, these exercises can be used in the colder weather too 🙂

You can experience the present moment fully by:

1. Focusing on your feet hitting the ground as you walk

  • As you walk, (whether it be in a beautiful park or simply around the office) focus all of your attention on how it feels as each foot touches the ground
  • Feel the flow of blood and energy in your feet as you move
  • I often do this when I get up from my desk at work. I also do it as I walk through the park on my way to work in the morning

2. Feel the air on your face

  • Again, as you are walking, focus on how the air or wind feels as it makes contact with your face
  • This is a favourite of mine especially on a beautiful day

3. Feel the sun on your skin

  • Any time you are in the sun direct your attention to the feeling of the sun against your skin
  • Take note of which part of your body feels the hottest from the sun’s heat

4. Listen to your surroundings

  • If you can, close your eyes (or keep your eyes open if you like) and focus all of your attention on listening to every sound you can hear
  • The great thing about this exercise is that you can do it at any time. You can even do it right now!
  • I particularly love doing this in the park when I can hear the birds singing, the wind blowing and even traffic on the nearby road
  • Remember, being present is about accepting what is happening in the moment rather than resisting it. So if you are enjoying the wonderful sounds of nature only to hear a lawn mower start, accept it and focus on that sound too. This can also be a great exercise in acceptance, especially for someone like me who hates loud noises!

You might want to try doing more than one of these exercises at the same time. It will definitely help you experience the present moment since you can’t focus on these things and think about the past or future all at once!

What do you do in order to experience the present moment?

Lisa

P.S. If you would like to know the reason and purpose for this blog check out the About page here.

One Small Step Becomes a Giant Leap

I started writing about a pretty cool topic for this post but it wasn’t emerging from me naturally like all the previous posts. I decided it was a sign to stop writing about that topic 😛 Then it occurred to me that I should write about the AMAZING impact positive reframing has had on me since writing my last post!

I must say I haven’t made an enormous effort to reframe my thoughts into positive ones –because it wasn’t that difficult! I discovered that the negative thoughts I was experiencing were the same ones over and over again. It turns out that it was only these few recurring thoughts that needed to be reframed! And, surprisingly, I only had to reframe each of them a few times before I saw a dramatic improvement! Wowsers!

The process I used was fairly simple: each time a negative thought (which was usually a pessimistic internal dialogue based on zero facts!) entered my mind I simply acknowledged it, thought of positive alternatives to the negative dialogue and moved on. In other words, I fed the Good Wolf. That Good Wolf is going to be obese when I’m done with him! Whenever I engaged in this process I felt a physiological change in my body; I felt the stress and anxiety caused by the negative thoughts just melt away. This connection between the body and mind always amazes me 🙂

I imagine it would have been a longer process if MOST of my thoughts were negative, but I feel I have dealt with the ones that were getting in the way of my happiness. I had been holding on to these destructive thoughts and dwelling on them for quite some time. Simply reframing each of them when they arose on just a few occasions has made me feel like they have disappeared! They are certainly not ruling my life anymore and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. I do wonder if this is too good to be true (since it was so easy); I’m sure I will find out soon! It doesn’t matter though because if the Evil Wolf comes back, I know exactly what I need to do.

Have you been trying positive reframing? If so, what have you experienced?

Lisa

P.S. If you would like to know the reason and purpose for this blog check out the About page here.

The Internal Struggle and the Road to Positivity

Everyone has negative thoughts from time to time but it’s when you identify with those thoughts that problems can occur. I am generally a positive person who can see opportunities in even the most undesirable situations. However, I have recently been struggling to overcome the identification with constant negative thoughts. This is rather unusual for me and it is the main reason I am Crazy Lisa at the moment. Negativity + Lisa = Crazy.

I recently realised that what I have been feeling is as though there are two people inside my head fighting each other. The Negative fighting the Positive. Come on, Positive! So, it was quite serendipitous for me to discover a comic about this internal fight by Zen Pencils called The Two Wolves. The comic describes exactly what I have been going through and it offers the most simple solution! It describes the struggle within as a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf is evil and represents negative attributes such as anger, resentment, self pity and inferiority. The other wolf is good and represents positive attributes such as joy, peace, love, kindness and truth. In the end, the wolf that wins the fight is “the one you feed”. Of course, this solution seems so obvious but goddamn it can be hard to feed the Good Wolf!

After reading the comic, I thought about practical ways to feed my Good Wolf and I immediately thought of positive reframing. This involves changing the way you view situations, events and concepts with an emphasis on positivity. A study conducted by the University of Kent has revealed that the most effective methods to cope with failures are positive reframing (thinking about the achievements rather than the failures in the situation), acceptance (accepting rather than resisting what happened) and humour (laughing about the situation, if possible). You can access the full study here or read a brief summary by Science Daily here.

Another great resource I found is zonepositive.com which has a page dedicated to Positive Exercises that are aimed at reducing stress, dealing with negative beliefs, positive reframing and more. I found the exercise called Avoiding the Sinkholes very helpful and practical. It is an exercise designed to challenge negative thoughts and turn them into positive thoughts and behaviours. Exactly what I need! Hurrah!

All of the abovementioned information reminded me how simple (not necessarily easy!) it is to change your view of your circumstances. You have a choice. You can continue with the internal struggle, you can feed the Evil Wolf or you can starve it so that only the Good Wolf prevails.

Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with negative thoughts? Feel free to share it in the comments section below 🙂

Lisa

P.S. If you would like to know the reason and purpose for this blog check out the About page here.

The Beginning of My Re-creation!

This is my first official post and it marks the beginning of my re-creation! Hurrah!  So, I started doing a number of things to begin my re-creation then my boyfriend suggested that I make a checklist of the things that make me happy. Just to make sure I do them every day. Thank you, Felipe xx.

That’s how my Happiness Checklist was born! The checklist is below and so far I have checked off (almost) all of the items for the last 6 days! Go me! I definitely feel more amazing every day that I (almost) complete the list. The items are catered to me specifically and include things that always make me happy and feel balanced. Feel free to use this one for yourself or tailor it to suit you and what you love.

One thing that is not on the list (maybe it should be) is that sometimes I put entire chocolate biscuits in my mouth in one go. It makes me feel gooood 🙂

Happiness Checklist

  • Listen to upbeat music
  • Read inspirational quotes/books
  • Meditate – at least 6 spot meditations and one long meditation
  • Do something creative – e.g. photography, make jewellery, graphic design
  • Compliment at least one person
  • Do yoga

Welcome to Happy Town! 😀

Lisa

P.S. If you would like to know the reason and purpose for this blog check out the About page here.