Meditation

Meditation

A Simple Spiritual Exercise That Could Transform Your Life – A doable approach to letting go of our egos.

At the heart of most spiritual traditions is the practice of letting go of our egoic, conditioned selves in order that we can merge with the sacred, conscious, compassionate self that resides in all of us.

The $64,000 question is: How do we do that? I like Michael Singer’s teaching of relaxing and releasing whenever these egoic energies arise inside us. Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and others all have their way of achieving this.

But this piece isn’t so much about how we let go as much as how we approach letting go of ourselves. I’ve thought of a pragmatic, i.e., effective/doable, exercise that anybody can practice.

Why letting go is so difficult

Before getting to the exercise, a few words about why letting go of ourselves is so difficult. When Mickey Singer teaches us to relax and release, that’s great. The problem is it’s too open-ended for most of us mere mortals. We wake up, start going about our days and the bombs start falling on our heads.

“Mom, where’s my blue sweatshirt?” Your girlfriend says she’s slammed and asks if you can take her car in this morning to get the oil changed. And on and on and on it goes throughout the day.

In other words, most of us have our egoic buttons pushed on a near-constant basis. As such, practicing relaxing and releasing every time this happens is nearly impossible. It’s akin to someone wanting to run a marathon, but who has never run before, starting off by running fifteen miles a day. It’s too much.

And that leads to the exercise. What if we all started by biting off a small piece that is actually chewable? Here’s how that would work.

The exercise

Set your phone timer for one hour. Do this at a time when you most expect your buttons to be pushed. For instance, I wouldn’t do this when I’m writing because I’m alone and my ego isn’t challenging me.

But from six to seven p.m., aka the witching hour, when I’m making dinner, kids are strolling in and out of the kitchen and my wife and I are struggling to control the chaos? That is prime button pushing, smoke streaming out of my ears time.

For you, that might be a particular hour at work, or commuting or doing errands. Whatever. Choose the best time for you.

One hour is doable

The whole point here is to summon your spiritual will for this one hour to be aware when someone or something triggers you. An hour is doable. Every day, all the time isn’t. At least not in the beginning.

What kinds of things are you practicing on? If you’re at work, maybe it’s some passive aggressive comment from your boss or a coworker. If you’re at home it could be a comment your spouse makes. Or something your spouse does that annoys you, like eating loudly.

It’s about not succumbing to the pull of the egoic energy

You get the idea. It’s anything that creates a field of energy in your lower self (ego) that desperately wants to drag you, your conscious self, down into the field of battle.

So what do you do? Upon becoming aware that this has happened, you immediately relax. Everywhere, but especially in your head, shoulder and chest area. Then you just watch that lower energy. Most important is not succumbing to the energy that wants to pull you down and into the fray. That’s the hard part. But if we just relax and watch, it can work.

Godzilla attacks

Here’s an example from my experience doing this last night. The first 45 minutes or so weren’t too challenging. And then, as mommy and daddy were eating dinner in the kitchen…in strode Godzilla, otherwise known as my four year old daughter. She wanted to play. She was climbing all over us, trying to grab our food, etc.

For about thirty seconds I forgot that I was on this one hour exercise. I picked her up, gently, and carried her into the living room where she had a show on. Sensing that I desperately wanted her to stay there, she high-tailed it back to the kitchen.

It was on my way back to the kitchen that I remembered the exercise. I stopped midway, took a breath and decided to go back in, sit down and start eating again. I was going to breathe, chill out and let whatever was going to happen, happen. No resistance whatsoever. What I wasn’t going to do was dive down and swim with the egoic energy that desperately wanted my company.

Nonresistance rules the day

And it worked. I think my girl sensed the nonresistance and it took the fun out of it for her. So she went back to playing on her own and mom and I finished dinner. No blow ups. No tears. No increased blood pressure for daddy.

Here’s a different vantage point that may help crystallize this for you. It is to embody this quote by Eckhart Tolle:

To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease and lightness.

That’s what we’re doing here. We’re simply not resisting anything that life throws at us. A snide comment by the boss, someone asking you to do the dishes after a massive dinner party, someone cutting you off in traffic. Anything that comes our way, we just handle it like water rolling off a duck’s back. We’re like a solitary leaf floating on top of a river, allowing the current to take us where it will.

But here’s the key thing: You’re only doing this for one hour. And then you see how it goes. I suspect that for most of you that will be a decidedly peaceful hour.

And what then? Try it again the next day for an hour. If an hour seems too long, try a half hour. If it seems too short, try two hours. An hour seemed like the sweet spot for me.

If all goes well, after some amount of time we remove the time limits and work on this 24/7.

The takeaway

It’s so simple, but so unbelievably important. All we have to do is pick an hour where we think we’ll be challenged, set a timer on our phones and then be on the lookout for when our egos get stirred.

I hope you’ll try this. At least once. Give yourself a chance to experience what life is like when you get yourself (ego) out of the way.

Because if I’ve written it once I’ve written it ten times: The work of letting go of ourselves is the most important work that any of us can do.

Give it a shot. Try it once and see what happens.

Meditation

What Eckhart Tolle’s 1977 Awakening Teaches Us About the Two Selves

The two selves. Conscious and egoic. That concept, expressed variously, forms the foundation for a boatload of spiritual traditions. Understanding it is vital to making progress on the spiritual path.

I’ve written about it several times before, but here’s another summation. The egoic self is essentially the mind. It’s the entity that creates all those unsolicited thoughts like “I’m not good enough, thin enough, smart enough…” “I’ll never get married because I’m not worthy.” Or even “I’m too good for anybody.”

The egoic mind

All of these egoic thoughts arise from the stored experiences of our formative years and after. So if your dad always told you that you were dumb, it won’t matter that you went on to Harvard and became a Fortune 500 CEO. You’ll always consider yourself dumb. That’s the power of the egoic self.

The conscious self is the real you. It’s what exists in the present moment when your egoic mind is not in the driver’s seat. It’s where real wisdom and intelligence arises.

The key to awakening spiritually is to 1. Recognize this dynamic of the two selves; then 2. Do the daily spiritual work, the chopping of the wood and carrying of the water, necessary to let go of that egoic self.

Sure there’s more to it than that, but those two points are the crux of it. So recognizing that we are these two selves is, as you can see, essential.

Most people are buried in ego

The problem is that many people are so lost in their egoic minds that it is hard for them to comprehend the existence of this conscious, real, beautiful self lurking underneath the storm of thoughts and emotions that dominate most of their moments.

As such, I’m always looking for ways to articulate this concept in the hopes of opening some skeptical eyes to this fundamental human truth. Which leads to the subject of this piece: Eckhart Tolle’s personal awakening and what we can learn from it.

Eckhart’s mind-blowing epiphany

Here’s the story. Eckhart grew up mostly in Germany and Spain. By his own telling, his childhood was anything but idyllic. His parents fought constantly, he was short and scrawny and had few friends.

The one area that gave him some sense of egoic worth was his academic prowess. He graduated from the University of London then got a scholarship in 1977 to do postgraduate research at Cambridge. But he dropped out shortly after enrolling.

He was 29 at the time and suffering from depression. Events came to a head one night when he woke up early in the morning feeling so terrible that he pondered suicide. This brought on a thought that would change his life forever. It was this:

“I cannot live with myself any longer.”

Eckhart recounts what happened next.

Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. ‘Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with.’ ‘Maybe,’ I thought, ‘only one of them is real.’”

When he awoke the next morning Eckhart was light as a feather. The sound of a bird chirping, the light coming through the window, mundane objects in his apartment — everything was a precious emanation of love and beauty. He didn’t understand until years later what had happened: His egoic self had collapsed, leaving nothing but his conscious presence.

Nirvana on a park bench

Eckhart spent the next two years sitting on park benches in London, watching the world go by in a state of near-constant bliss. Lucky him! For most people, the dissolution of the ego, if it ever fully happens, occurs after many years of spiritual work.

[He recounts the entire episode in the introduction to his brilliant book The Power of Now, which you can find here. It’s definitely worth the five minute read.]

For me, the phrase, “I can’t live with myself anymore,” captures the whole concept. I, the real, conscious me, can’t take all the mind static and misery that myself heaps on that real, conscious me.

The takeaway

If you are in any way confused about this concept of the two selves, try burrowing in on Eckhart’s “I can’t live with myself anymore.” Let it sink in. It will help to clarify this foundational dynamic that most humans on earth grapple with every day.

The more we understand this dynamic and allow it to seep into our depths, the better able we are to do the most important work of our lifetime: Letting go of that “myself” Eckhart spoke of.


Meditation

3 Things I Learned on Our Family Trip to France

In the spring of 2018 my wife and I took two of our three munchkins to France. She had business in Antibes so we figured we’d make a family trip out of it.

It was my sixth trip to France, but my first with kids. Needless to say, it was far different from my previous sojourns. Here’s what I learned.

1. Don’t try to recreate old memoriesCreate new ones.

After getting married in December of 2005, my wife and I decamped to Paris for two months in the spring of 2006. She was in-between jobs and I was writing a screenplay about Theodore Roosevelt’s days as a cowboy in the Badlands of the Dakota Territory.

We had a blast. I’d write all morning while she caught up on ten years of lost sleep (she’d worked at the White House for Bill Clinton and the owners of the LA Dodgers, among other high stress, long-hour jobs). Then we’d spend the afternoon strolling around Paris — one day it was the Rodin Museum. The next it was Montmartre. The next the Pompidou. Then the Champs Elysees/Arc de Triomphe. Nights were spent eating fantastic food and drinking great wine.

[I wrote an article about that trip which you can find here.]

Twelve years later we were back, this time with our nine and seven year old kids in tow. The tendency for me would be to try and relive those great times from 2006. Go to the same museums, restaurants and day trips and expect to have the same experiences. I quickly learned what a bad idea that was.

Don’t cling to memories

Trying to relive old experiences brings a sense of sadness. Why? Because those memories can’t be relived. They’re gone. Which doesn’t mean we can’t cherish those memories. We just need to let them go and not cling to them.

My mom was a strong proponent of living life this way and, while I am inherently more of a sentimentalist than she was, her example did rub off on me. She derived excitement from what she had in the present and in what lay ahead, never wallowing in or glorifying the past.

Bottom line: My wife and I both quickly adjusted in Paris to a trip centered on our kids and not on reliving the glories experienced twelve years in the past. How did we do on this kid-centered thing? That leads to lesson number two…

2. Trying to force your kids to like what you like is a pointless buzzkill for everybody.

So we’re in Paris and we’re doing well in NOT reliving our past trip. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the delectable French food, right? Food that everybody, including our kids, should absolutely love, right?

Wrong. Our kids didn’t give two hoots about French food. Everywhere we went they would ask the same thing: Can I get a burger and fries? We resisted mightily for a while then finally gave in.

Nothing but burgers and fries in France

If they don’t want it, they don’t want it. No sense in ruining the trip over it. I did have one minor victory when I got my son to eat escargots at my favorite restaurant in Paris, La Closerie des Lilas, where Hemingway wrote the first draft of The Sun Also Rises at the bar.

We came up with things to do we knew they’d enjoy, starting with the location of our Paris apartment: Just two blocks from the best park in Paris (maybe the world), Luxembourg Gardens. It had a cool playground that we’d take them to before we headed out for the day and also when we returned. They also liked the little boats you could float in the main fountain.

Museums, of course, pose the perennial dilemma for every parent. “We’re gonna go to the Louvre and you’re gonna like it, damn it!”

Dancing in front of the Mona Lisa

One thing I came up with that was fun for my son was to record him doing the floss (a dance move that was all the rage with the kids back in 2018) in front of famous art works. I’d start with the camera focused tightly on him doing the dance, then pull out wider and show that he was in front of the Mona Lisa or Van Gogh’s Self-portrait (more on him later). I did the same thing with him flossing in front of the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.

At the Louvre, my son and daughter came up with their own game that kept them entertained: They counted the number of penises they saw in various paintings and sculptures. I know. It’s crazy. But it kept them cracking up and giggling throughout the Louvre so we didn’t shut it down.

3. Van Gogh, tranquility and artistic brilliance.

This last one is a little “out there,” but stick with me.

As I write this, I’m looking above my desk at a framed print of Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone (not to be confused with the more famous Starry Night). It was painted in Arles in September, 1888. As you can see below, the vivid colors that sparkle on the water and in the night sky are mesmerizing.

Starry Night Over the Rhone — Vincent Van Gogh 1888

I allotted three days of our trip to Arles for a few reasons. I remembered in my visit there in 1985 how cool the 2,000 year old Roman arena was and that the kids would like that. It’s also just a beautiful, quaint Provencal town.

A fascination with Van Gogh in Arles

But I also chose Arles because I knew that Van Gogh did some of his best work there and wanted to see firsthand what that was about. So that Starry Night Over the Rhone painting I mentioned? My wife and I went, at night, to the same vantage point from which Van Gogh made the painting. The lights on the bridge over the river were, eerily, almost unchanged. It was incredibly cool to look out and see what Van Gogh saw.

I also saw the Yellow House, where he lived, the garden of the hospital he stayed in after cutting his ear off and the Café on the Place du Forum, all of which he painted.

Van Gogh spent fifteen months in Arles, then in May of 1889 voluntarily committed himself to a mental hospital in St. Remy de Provence, about fifteen miles away. In the year he spent at the asylum he painted Starry Night and Irises, two of his best-known works, along many other of his best works.

Our view of the Starry Night

I took the family to visit the asylum in St. Remy and it was fascinating. As one would think, the hospital was located in a quiet, peaceful setting. We toured Van Gogh’s hospital room and looked out his small, barred window — it was this same view that he painted in Starry Night. That blew me away.

But the main thing that struck me about the whole experience was the obvious necessity of tranquility that allowed this two year explosion of artistic genius. The quiet, peaceful town of Arles and the even more tranquil scene at the hospital in St. Remy made it all possible.

Van Gogh: it was all about Arles and St. Remy

Most people don’t realize that virtually every work you’ve seen or heard of by Van Gogh was painted in either Arles or St. Remy in those two years. Hardly anything of note was painted in the previous years living in Paris and elsewhere and he died only two months after leaving St. Remy.

To say that surpassing art can’t be created in bustling, loud cities like Paris and New York is obviously laughable. Look no further than Picasso, Hemingway and scores of others in Paris, Pollock in New York and Michelangelo in Rome, to name a few of thousands of examples.

But for someone suffering from severe mental illness like Van Gogh (most believe he had bipolar disorder), it’s hard to fathom him painting these masterpieces in a frenzied environment like Paris.

My main point is that walking around in Arles and at the asylum in St. Remy and feeling my whole being quiet down reiterated the notion that writers, like me and some of you, and other creatives would do well to find places of serene quiet to do our work. Or at the very least practice things like meditation and yoga that serve to calm the roiling waters of our minds. Because we all know that genius of any kind, creative or otherwise, emanates from the well of stillness inside us.

The takeaway

If there’s any takeaway from this piece it is this: Visit France. If you go with an open mind, it is impossible not to learn something about yourself and about life in this land of quirky, mysterious people and exquisite art, food and culture.ILLUMINATION

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Meditation

3 Things That Saved Me on My Weekend Alone With the Kids

“Girls weekend getaway.” No three words strike greater fear in the hearts of husbands/fathers than those. [A close second, for me, is “some assembly required,” chiefly at Christmas time.]

Where to start? How about this morning? It was a blast! My four year-old girl started camp today and I had to have her there by nine. Great. I got her up at 8:20, put on her current fave show (Captain Underpants), got her a baba (her word for a bottle of milk) and got her dressed.

My daughter the hair stylist

Then I woke up her eleven year-old sister. I needed her help. With what, you ask? My little one’s hair. I’ve tried. I suck. In my defense, I’ve been bald for the last 25 years so I’ve had zero practice.

Last time I tried the hair thing with her was a few months ago before taking her to school. I did the brushing and the ponytail…yada, yada, yada…she looked in the mirror when I was finished and started bawling:

“IT’S UGLY!!!!!”

I retired from the hair styling business right then and there.

So the two girls get the hair thing going upstairs while I assemble her backpack — two separate brown bags for AM and PM snack, a lunch, her water bottle and a change of clothes. [A confession: I didn’t make any of these. My eleven year-old did it all. Look again at the subtitle and its honest (pathetic) description of me as pathetic.]

Uh oh…the crying begins

Then, just when I think all is well, snafu one strikes. I hear little one crying upstairs. Seems her sister didn’t put her bow in perfectly. Then when she went to the bathroom to wet her hair I hear little one scream to her older sister,

“STOP FOLLOWING MEEEEE!!!!!!”

Five minutes of crying later my two girls and I (the 11 year old wanted to come to make sure little one made it okay — pretty awesome sister) make it out the door, off like a herd of turtles, as my mom used to say.

Five minutes after that we arrive at the camp. Correction: We arrive at the massive car lineup to drop off at the camp. I figured I’d bop over there, little one gets out and I’m on my way. Nope.

Five minutes go by and we’ve moved a few cars. Five more minutes, five more cars. And this is where that be-all, end-all mindfulness exercise saves me…

SAVIOR #1 — DEEP BREATHING

This one never fails me. See, the problem wasn’t just that we were stuck in a godawfully slow lineup. It’s that the extra minutes were killing my timing plan — I had to get my 13 year-old son to swimming by 9:30. So what did I do as the minutes ticked away?

I breathed. Deeply. Five breaths. Then we’d make a little progress, I’d look at my watch and, knowing I was getting more and more screwed on time, I did five more breaths. I kid you not I did this ten separate times.

Breathing — how I keep my head from exploding

Did I blow my stack a few times in the car? Guilty. But my head would have exploded had I not done the breathing. I’m telling you: The deep breathing thing, where you actually follow your breath all the way in and then out, is the most valuable arrow we all have in our quiver.

We finally get to the front of the line and I drop my precious little daughter who, unlike her dad way back when, never has trouble with first day jitters at school/camp/etc. I love the fact that my kids are so much tougher than I was.

Then we jet out of there and grab my son back at home…at 9:30…for our ten minute drive to swimming. Not too bad. Ten minutes behind schedule (can you tell I’m of German descent?).

Mind you, this is his second week of swimming and my first time dropping him off. So ten minutes later I drop him off at the pool. Three minutes after that, my phone rings, triggering my need to go to…

SAVIOR #2 — LAUGHING

The call was from my son:

“Dad, this is the wrong pool.”

One very loud expletive later, I do a u-turn, head back to the wrong pool and pick up my son. The following is a rough recreation of the dialogue that followed:

Me: “How could you not know that wasn’t the pool? You were there three times last week?”

Son: “I don’t know. It looked similar.”

Me: “So where’s the right pool?”

Son: “I don’t know.”

Me: “HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW!? DO YOU PUT YOUR TOWEL OVER YOUR HEAD ON THE DRIVE THERE EVERY TIME!?”

Son: “I don’t know.”

Pause…

Me: “WHERE’S THE GODDAMN POOL!?”

Son (with hint of a smile because I’ve lost it): I don’t know.

Me: “DAMNIT!!!”

At which point my son and daughter start laughing hysterically at my lunacy. Which then makes me laugh.

This repeats for two more cycles of roughly the same dialogue, followed by more laughing. And it saved me.

My kids love it when I irrationally lose it. They always laugh. And then I laugh because they’re laughing.

Final note of irony/infuriation to button up this story. My wife, who knows where the pool is because she dropped him off the first few times, had informed me by text a few hours earlier that she would be out of pocket from 8:30 a.m. until 10. Why, you ask? Why was she out of pocket?

BECAUSE SHE WAS GETTING A MASSAGE!!!

The juxtaposition of me, blood pressure at 476/249, and my wife, oohing and aahing on the massage table was, let’s face it, pretty humorous…In retrospect!

When in doubt, laugh

The moral of this part of the story? When things get comically bad, laugh. See if you can laugh at the sheer absurdity life throws at us at times.

By the way, in case you were wondering, my sister lives in the same area as the pool and knew where the other one was. My son was twenty minutes late, but a full-blown fiasco was avoided.

I take half a dozen kids to the beach

The third and final story of my weekend with the kids occurred when my daughter asked if we could go to the beach. I said sure. “Can friend 1 come?” Sure. “Friend 2?” Sure. “Friend 3?” Sure. So me, my three kids and three eleven year old girls headed to Crystal Cove State Beach.

They swam for around two hours straight. All of them. Exhausted and hungry, the girls asked if I’d take them to get milkshakes at Ruby’s Diner.

Side note #1: These milkshakes cost five bucks a pop.

Side note #2: My eleven year old is on this streak of asking us to buy her fast food, clothes, Starbucks crap, etc., EVERY SINGLE DAY. Twenty bucks here. Thirty there. I’ve had it.

Kids need to hear the word “No”

Also, the kids in our town can be really spoiled and I don’t want that for my kids. Sometimes, oftentimes, these kids need to hear the word “No.” Which was exactly my response to their milkshake request.

Well, about five minutes later, I watch two of my daughter’s friends spelling out in the sand, in four foot long letters: ANGER ISSUES, presumably aimed at you-know-who. My son quickly came to my aid and erased it…Then proceeded to draw an obviously phallic figure in its place, which, after much laughing on his part, I had him erase as well.

My compromise offer to the girls was a trip to the supermarket where I’d get them an ice cream of some sort. As we pulled up to the Ralph’s, which has a Starbucks inside it, my four year-old yells out,

“Daddy! I want a cake pop. Chocolate!”

Well, cake pops are two bucks a pop, for a measly blob of chocolate cake on top of a stick.

So we go in, leaving my son in the car with the four year old. The girls get their ice creams and we get back to the car. It was then that I employed the third in my triumvirate of sanity saving acts that weekend…

SAVIOR #3 — I LIED

I get in the car and the first thing I hear is,

“Daddy, where’s my cake pop?”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry, honey, but they ran out. They didn’t have any.”

What ensued was a mild storm of “But I want my cake pop.” “Sorry, but they ran out.”

The truth would have caused WW III

Had I told her the truth, that I didn’t get her a cake pop because they’re vastly overpriced and, more important, thoroughly unhealthy, all hell would have broken loose. Am I proud of this act of deceit and treachery? No. Was it the best thing for me and my daughter? Without a doubt.

If I’m being honest, there was a fourth savior that helped me through this past weekend, but just a teeny tiny bit. That of course being the FDA approved (not really) elixir of vodka mixed with half of a freshly squeezed grapefruit. Don’t judge, I really need the Vitamin C.

The takeaway

So what’s the takeaway from all this nuttiness? Breathe deeply, a lot, when you get stressed. Laugh, as much as possible, when the absurd becomes comical. Lie sparingly, if at all. And finally, have kids, if for no other reason than they provide the best field you’ll ever find for practicing mindfulness.

That and bring you a depth of joy that can’t be expressed in words.

Meditation

The Interplay of These 3 Spiritual Entities Explains Our Inner World – According to my favorite yogi, Mickey Singer

In writing articles about spiritual matters my only “rule” is that they be helpful in some way. Most of the time that means illuminating different aspects of spirituality to the point that people have an “Oh, I get that,” reading experience.

Most of the time that illumination comes not from ideas I’ve come up with, but those of spiritual beings far more awakened than I’ll probably ever be. People like Ram Dass, Eckhart Tolle and an idea from today’s featured yogi, Mickey Singer.

What I’m trying to bring to the spiritual table

My main addition to the spiritual game is expressing these higher beings’ ideas in language that resonates with readers in such a way that they penetrate deeper into their beings. At least that’s my hope and intention.

So onward to Mickey Singer. While listening to one of his lectures about his bestselling book The Untethered Soul, I heard Mickey describe the three, what I call, ‘spiritual entities’ inside us.

The three are: mind, consciousness and shakti/prana/life energy (I’ll explain that later). The interplay of these three forces determines the entirety of our inner spiritual condition. How? First, let me describe each of the three forces.

MIND

The mind is a field of energy that acts, as Mickey says, like a computer. We have thousands of experiences in our lives and each one makes an impression that gets stored in our minds.

Some of these experiences make deep impressions. Some people saw the movie Jaws in 1975 and to this day have trepidation about swimming at the beach. That is a strong impression.

Or your father was verbally abusive to you growing up and now, early on in a relationship, your boyfriend yells at you for the first time. This cuts you to your core. If your father was a sweet man who never even raised his voice at you growing up this wouldn’t have as significant an impact.

When our computer buttons get pushed

When these impressions, or inputs in computer language, are stirred, like the yelling boyfriend, they result in the mind creating thoughts. “Uh, oh. He’s a screamer. I’m outta here…”

Some of these mind created thoughts can be strong enough that they create emotions, which also get stored in our “computer.”

The totality of all these thoughts and emotions create that field of energy we call the mind. The crucial point is that the mind is not who we are, though most humans mistakenly believe it is.

CONSCIOUSNESS

This is the entity inside us that is us. It’s the force that exists only in the present moment. It’s what observes, without judgment, everything happening around us in any moment.

SHAKTI/PRANA/LIFE ENERGY

This one can get a bit “out there” so I’m going to settle for a simple, but no less accurate, description. Shakti is the life energy that courses through us. When we feel good, our shakti flows freely. When we feel down our shakti is blocked.

Going deeper on this would entail things like, is shakti our soul or spirit? Is it the energy that emanates from “the one source,” which it returns to once we die? The truth is in there somewhere, but, in my opinion, is unknowable to humans.

Most important is that this energy within each of us is, in its natural state, pure love. Pure joy. Some go so far as saying that this love/shakti is God him/her/it-self. This is the view of Mickey, Ram Dass, Yogananda and numerous other saints and traditions.

The Interplay Of Mind, Consciousness And Shakti

How these three forces align and interact determines the totality of our inner condition. How does that work?

From the above, I hope it’s apparent that the pot of gold at the end of the spiritual rainbow is the unfettered flow of shakti. That is the state of pure joy and love.

Why we don’t feel awesome all the time

Well, if that is our natural state, why don’t we all feel like a million bucks 24/7? Because our shakti is blocked from flowing into our consciousness. What’s blocking our shakti? Mind.

Here’s one way of looking at it. We have our consciousness. Below that is our mind. And below that is our shakti.

The mind is in the middle. It’s that energy field of mind that blocks our shakti from flowing up and into our consciousness.

Shedding our mind energy

So how do we get rid of that mind field of energy so our shakti can flow and we can feel nothing but peace and love? We let go of it. Every time one of those mind impressions/computer inputs comes up in our daily lives, we immediately relax, breathe and let it go. Each time we do that, it’s one chunk of mind energy that flows up and out of us. One less impediment blocking our shakti.

You might be asking, “Is it even possible to fully let go of our mind/egoic self?” Yes, it is. Proof comes in the form of many Indian saints, like Yogananda, Meher Baba, Neem Karoli Baba and many others. These people exude joy and love.

Mickey Singer says that when somebody casually asks him, “How are you doing?”, he surprises them by saying, “I’m ecstatic!”

I’ve never been in the presence of one of these higher beings, but those who have say that they can literally feel the love pouring out of these people and that that itself is a deeply moving, spiritual experience.

Ram Dass’s life-changing moment in India

In fact, probably the single most important moment of Ram Dass’s life occurred when his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, simply looked at him a certain way on the day they met. Ram Dass said that look caused his heart to wrench open; he began crying uncontrollably. Just that look of total love and compassion, in that moment in 1967, started Ram Dass on a yogic journey that lasted until the day he died in 2019.

So yes, gaining access to that vast ocean of shakti is powerful. But it’s not easy. It takes years, decades of work; for anybody, including yogis. The constant letting of that mind/egoic self that acts as a dam between our consciousness and that ocean of shakti.

But it’s worth every second of work, as painful as it can be at times. Because it’s the ultimate spiritual landing spot.

The takeaway

So what’s the point of all this? To give you a different, but understandable picture of how our inner worlds work, with the hope that any clarity provided will aid you in your travels down the spiritual path.

I’ll close with some words from the great Yogananda. This is what he taught to any of those fortunate enough to find the vast ocean of love/shakti inside them:

“When you find this ocean, jump in…And drown in it.”

Meditation

Why All Celebrities Should Meditate

I’m honestly not a big celebrity watcher. I don’t read Us or People, not even in the grocery checkout lineDon’t watch TMZ. I did watch the Kardashians for a season, but that was it.

But I find the psychological-spiritual dynamics of celebrity fascinating. What must it be like to have thousands (millions) of total strangers cheering, jeering, judging or staring at you?

Being a celeb is no picnic

From what I’ve seen of it, the experience of celebrity has a mostly negative impact on one’s life, especially those who achieve fame in their teens and twenties. Sure, there’s lots of money, comforts and privilege, but most celebrities are more than a few French fries short of a Happy Meal.

This was mystifying to me for many decades. Money? Fame? Adulation? What’s not to like?

Why Paul McCartney doesn’t do photos

But after ten years on the spiritual path, I understand better why it’s hard to be a celebrity. One anecdote pretty well captures the situation for me. It comes from an interview last year of Paul McCartney, who I’d imagine would be on any top ten list of the most celebrities in the world over the past sixty years.

Paul talks about what it’s like to be constantly stopped on the street by fans, most of whom ask to take a photo. What he said was fascinating and illuminating.

I tell them ‘No, sorry, I don’t do pictures.’ And then I’ll say, ‘I hope you don’t mind. I’ll chat to you.’ And then I’ll spend bloody five minutes with them, explaining that if I do pictures, I suddenly feel not like me. I feel like this famous celebrity. And you know what I always say? I say it reminds me of the South of France — come and have your picture taken with the monkey. Suddenly I’m that. I’ve got to be myself.

There it is. ‘I feel not like me… but like a celebrity.’ Not being seen for who we are can be deeply injurious to the psyche, whether you’re a celebrity or a regular person.

Young celebs suffer the most

But when millions of people don’t see you for who you are, especially when you’re young and YOU don’t even know who you are, that becomes a serious problem. Just ask Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Lindsay Lohan and Shia LaBeouf.

But I’ll take it one step further and then get to the meditation part. Both celebrities and the non-famous among us say, “Hey, you don’t know the real me. I’m shy/temperamental/hardworking/smart/not-very-smart…” The list goes on.

The point is that those traits don’t even come close to describing the “real” person. Those examples all flow from our egoic minds. The real us is the still, conscious presence inside us. The problem for most people, celebs included, is that they think ‘smart, dumb,’ etc., is who they are. It’s not.

Meditation connects all of us to our essence

And that’s where the meditation comes in. Because what meditation does is help quiet the mind that is telling us we’re dumb, shy, super-cool, whatever… It allows us to connect with the true essence of who we are.

Creating a life where we’re connected with that essence is the most important work anybody can do. But it’s especially helpful and healthy for celebrities, who are constantly told, by millions and millions of people, to identify as something they’re not.

Many celebs meditate. A short list includes Oprah, Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith, Clint Eastwood and Jerry Seinfeld (whose meditation practice I wrote about in a recent piece).

I hope ‘Jessie’ meditates.

For the sake of celebrities who suffer from mental illness or addiction, I hope that list grows. I especially hope that the parents of younger celebs like Billie Eilish, Millie Bobby Brown, Debby Ryan and Skai Jackson, get their kids meditating.

In the final analysis, many of you may be thinking, “Celebrities meditating? Who cares?” I’d understand that sentiment.

But famous celebs have multi-million people followings. Getting the word out to their fans that meditation has done wonders for them could, I’d posit, be the most important and beneficial contribution any celebrity makes to the world.

Meditation

Eckhart Tolle’s Powerful Teaching: Using Boredom to Propel Us Into Being

As a member of Eckhart Tolle’s website I receive emails alerting me to his latest teachings and talks. The June teaching focuses on using boredom for spiritual growth.

Using boredom? Seems crazy, right? It’s not. Eckhart shows how boredom provides a profound opportunity for entering a state of presence. How?

First, let’s define what we mean by boredom. It’s how we feel when nothing is happening. You’re sitting in your car at a red light and there’s nothing going on. A commercial comes on when you’re watching a live television show. You’re on a long airplane flight, you’ve finished your book and there’s no television on the seat top facing you.

In the old days, let’s say fifty years ago, many would have dealt with each of the above examples by just sitting there and doing nothing. But now? Boredom, aka having nothing to do, has been virtually outlawed by society.

Today, that person at a red light picks up their phone and checks to see if any texts have come in. No texts? Check the Twitter feed. A commercial on television? Pick up your phone and check Instagram. A long flight? Use your iPad to watch movies or play games.

As Eckhart says:

“There’s a whole industry designed to help us avoid boredom. Television, video games, magazines, and our phone’s online distractions.”

We in the world of 2021 are addicted to “doing” something every moment of the day. What we’re doing is feeding the insatiable appetite of our egoic minds, which crave constant stimulation.

This isn’t a good thing. As 17th century French philosopher Blaise Pascal famously wrote:

All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

In other words, humanity’s problems stem from our inability to resist the pull of our minds and merely sit in presence. Sitting in presence, in the absence of thought, is where the gold lies. It’s where we find ourselves. Eckhart expresses this beautifully:

You are never more essentially, more deeply, yourself than when you are still.”

One could make the case that the work of our lives is practicing NOT getting sucked into our minds. Over and over and over…Until we reach a place where our still, conscious self is in the driver’s seat of our lives most of the time instead of rarely.

And this is where working with boredom enters the picture. It’s a perfect practice “field” for building still presence in our lives.

Here is Eckhart’s four step boredom practice. Let’s use the airplane flight example to illustrate. You’ve finished your book and your mind immediately starts looking for the next thing it can “eat.”

The first step is to simply notice when you’ve become bored. Just be aware of that.

The second step is both the most important and difficult — sit with the boredom and do nothing about it. Don’t pick up the phone or put on the music, etc. Simply sit with the discomfort, the urge to do something.

Third, focus your attention on the inside of your body. As Eckhart explains it, “Feel the aliveness in your hands, your arms, your feet, your legs.” Feel the energy coursing through you.

The final step comes when we work our way through the bored feeling into a state of aliveness. Eckhart refers to this as going through boredom and into being. It’s the payoff, so to speak. It’s where we experience the depth that comes with entering the present moment. With no thought. No ego.

We look around and marvel at anything that is part of our field of awareness — a painting, books on the desk, trees bending in the wind outside the window, the song of a mourning dove. Ordinary sights and sounds like these, experienced from this state of conscious presence, take on a heightened sensation that dwarf any mind candy like texts, TikTok videos or the latest on Instagram.

So that’s the practice. Four simple steps.

1. Notice you’re bored.

2. Resist the urge to satisfy that boredom with any mind stimulus.

3. Focus on the sensations of your inner body.

4. Stay with your inner body until you feel a sense of deep presence/aliveness, after which survey your field of awareness.

It won’t be easy at first. We’ve all grown accustomed to quashing boredom the moment it rears its supposedly ugly head. It will take practice.

But that sustained practice will improve our ability to reap the most important thing that life has to offer: Living in the moment. After all, the present is the only place that life has, does and will ever occur.

Finally, if you’re a follower of Eckhart’s work, I highly recommend joining his website. I’ve been a member for ten years and have loved it. There are scores of talks he’s given and all sorts of helpful content. It costs about twenty bucks a month. You can access it here.

Meditation

Jerry Seinfeld’s Meditation Experience Should be a Wakeup Call to the Business World

I’ll confess at the outset that Seinfeld is my favorite show of all time. A conservative estimate is that I’ve seen every episode at least four times. George, Elaine, Kramer, the Soup Nazi, Puddy…I love it all.

The show ended in 1998. And yet…When I’m feeling overwhelmed or highly perturbed about something, I’ll borrow from the George Costanza hospital room scene when he thinks he’s had a heart attack and is going to die, and say to my wife, as George did to Jerry:

“Kill me, Jerry. I want you to kill me.”

My four year old daughter even blurts out at me now and then the almost-correct Kramerism I taught her:

“You’re killin’ me, Jerry!”

Jerry, the star-writer buried in work

While many of you may have watched the show, and even consider yourselves aficionados, I came across something about Jerry that shocked me…in a good way. Here’s the story. Because Jerry not only starred in the show but co-wrote it, along with Larry David, he was ridiculously busy…for nine straight years.

As he tells it in this clip, the pressure was almost unbearable. Why? First, the name of the show is his name so he didn’t want it to suck. Second, once the show hit its stride, the pressure to churn out comedic brilliance twenty-two times a season increased exponentially.

My WEST WING comparison

I witnessed this myself when I worked as a television writer on the Emmy-winning show The West Wing. My boss, Aaron Sorkin, also put tremendous pressure on himself to deliver topflight scripts twenty-two times a season. Part of our job was trying to keep his spirits up when he was stuck on a script.

But Aaron left The West Wing after four seasons. Jerry did Seinfeld for NINE! Nine seasons of acting on AND writing the show. So, what does Jerry credit for getting him through the pressure, the hours and the insane workload for nine years?

MEDITATION.

He said there’s no way he could’ve done that show for so long without meditation. Here’s how he did it. For nine straight years, when everybody else took their lunch break, Jerry went into his office and meditated for twenty minutes. He’d eat his lunch when everybody started working again.

Meditation as plug-in charger

What did the meditation do for him? He said it was literally as if he were a cellphone and the meditation was a charger. It simply gave him a huge burst of energy that lasted throughout the rest of the day.

Working hard in most jobs means lots of active thinking. Lots of mind use. In almost all cases this leads to some level of stress. And as the stress builds our work product deteriorates.

Jerry looks at that from the angle of energy. When we work hard our energy depletes and meditation recharges us with energy, like a battery. Good explanation.

A bathtub draining stress

I like this one better. When we push ourselves to the brink at work, think of it as a bathtub inside us that gets filled with stress. When we meditate, we pull the plug on the bathtub and slowly let that stress pour down the drain. When we open our eyes, we feel fresh and ready to go.

The application of this to the business world is patently obvious. Think of how much productivity gets wasted around the globe by workers who just plain peter out, mentally and physically, during their workday.

It boggles my mind that companies don’t pay their employees to learn how to meditate. And then strongly urge them to meditate sometime in the early to mid-afternoon every workday.

Startups need meditation in a big way

This is especially so for startups, which, like Seinfeld, require the formidable combination of long hours AND creativity. It’s a complete and utter no-brainer.

As you’ll see from the above video of Seinfeld, he touts the use of Transcendental Meditation (TM), which centers on repeating a person-specific mantra over and over for twenty minutes. TM is what the Beatles learned in the 1960s from its creator, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Oprah, Mick Jagger and a host of other celebrities swear by TM.

I’m of the view that meditation is meditation. It’s just placing your attention on something happening in the present moment, whether your breath, a mantra or sensations in your body.

Meditation is about what we aren’t doing

I agree with Michael Singer who says that the whole point of meditation isn’t really what we’re doing, focusing on our breathing, etc. It’s about what we’re not doing when we meditate — being stuck in our heads, at the mercy of a swirling cacophony of random thoughts. It just so happens that when we do that, we drain the tub of our stress and feel newly reenergized afterward.

Finally, there are many more profound benefits flowing from meditation than just feeling energized, something I’m sure Jerry Seinfeld has experienced. He did say in this Good Morning America clip from 2013 that his meditation was crucial to allowing him to work hard on his comedy work (stand up every weekend and his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffeestreaming show) and also feel like he could be present with his three then young kids.

Better than recharging our batteries

But if businesses, both large and small, induced their employees to develop a regular meditation practice, those workers will garner much more than increased energy. They’ll also experience decreased anxiety and depression, greater focus, strengthened immune systems and a slowing of age-related cognitive decline.

And as I’ve written in several previous articles, they’ll garner something even more important than the above: They’ll become better, more compassionate parents, spouses, friends, coworkers and overall human beings.

So let’s go business world. I know some of you are on to this whole meditation thing, but most of you aren’t.

If you really want to be ‘master of your domain,’ get your employees to meditate.

Meditation

5 Ram Dass Sayings That Sum Up the Spiritual Path

Ram Dass captivated an entire generation of spiritual seekers back in the 1960s and 1970s, a period of intense cultural turbulence. His Be Here Now, published in 1971,is in any conversation of the most influential spiritual books of the past 100 years. It’s a must-read for anybody interested in spiritual growth (here’s the Amazon link.)

Born Richard Alpert in Boston in 1931, he had a privileged upbringing as the son of a railroad president. Academic success led to teaching stints at Stanford and Harvard. It was in the early 1960s at Harvard that Ram Dass famously (infamously?) teamed up with Timothy Leary to study how psychedelic drugs (chiefly psilocybin and LSD) could deepen one’s understanding of consciousness.

India beckons

After becoming disillusioned with Leary’s approach to psychedelics, Ram Dass went to India in search of a greater understanding of his inner world. It was there, in 1967, that he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, who gave him the name Ram Dass (meaning ‘servant of Ram,’ a Hindu deity). He devoted the rest of his life to spiritual teachings, dying in 2019 at age 88.

Ram Dass resonated with so many people, especially Americans, because of his highly relatable persona and language, both written and spoken. The following quotes of his bear that out. They also serve as a concise road map for the spiritual path.

1.The game is not about becoming somebody, it’s about becoming nobody.

What he means: This is precisely what I mean by relatable language — “the game” and “becoming nobody.” Love it! The ‘game’ is life. ‘Becoming somebody’ means following the typical egoic path that so many pursue — money, fame, power. ‘Becoming nobody’ (which is also the title of a documentary about Ram Dass) is about shedding our egoic selves.

Why it matters: This one sums up the whole spiritual ballgame — that life is about shedding ourselves. Nothing else. Just the continual process of letting go of ourselves every moment of every day. That’s the path.

2. The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.

What he means:So much of human suffering occurs because of what we add on to unpleasant situations. Examples: You break your arm and it’s painful. And you say to yourself:

“Damn. This really hurts. It’s never going to go away. And it’ll probably never heal so I won’t ever play golf or tennis again or be able to pick up my kids. This is terrible…”

That story we tell ourselves above and beyond the unpleasant situation is the resistance and it is that which causes untold suffering for us.

What’s the healthy way to respond to painful situations? Do the opposite of resistance: Acceptance. In the example above, your inner dialogue is:

“Wow, my arm hurts. I don’t like it, but that’s what is.”

And leave it at that. No need to venture into speculation of any kind. The only thing that is real is what is in the present. And in the present, there is just the pain. So leave it at that.

Why it matters: Practicing this is profoundly beneficial. In fact, in the almost ten years that I’ve been immersed in the spiritual path, I’d say that this one concept is right up near the top in terms of value added to my life. When bad things happen to me now, I don’t resist. I accept. That doesn’t mean I like what’s happened, but by accepting and not resisting I save myself an ENORMOUS amount of angst and heartache. I wrote an article about this that you can find here.

3The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal.It can’t be organized or regulated.It isn’t true that everyone should follow one path.Listen to your own truth.

What he means: The tendency for many is to want a concrete checklist of items to punch as they travel the spiritual path. Meditate fifteen minutes a day…Check. Read Eckhart, Mickey, Deepak, Ram Dass…Check. Do online spiritual courses…Check. Go to spiritual retreats once or twice a year…Check. Enlightenment diploma, please.

It doesn’t work like that. There is no set path. I think meditation is a huge help for most people. Why? Because it facilitates the only thing I can think of that is indispensable for traveling the path: Listening to the voice/intuition inside us, which Ram Dass calls “Listen to your own truth.” Beyond that, we need to strike our own path.

Why it matters: It is of enormous importance that spiritual seekers keep their focus on the internal, not the external, i.e., constantly looking to the outside world for guidance. Our inner selves know the right path for our journey and it is different for everybody.

4.I would like my life to be a statement of love and compassion — and where it isn’t, that’s where my work lies.”

What he means: We might be a present, compassionate boss at work, a selfless Rock of Gibraltar for our friends…but moody and aloof at home with our spouse and kids. Ram Dass wants us to take an honest look at our lives and see where we can become even more compassionate. Then work on that.

Why it matters: Evolving and growing into a higher being, as Ram Dass did, requires this kind of practical self-awareness. Where are we coming up short and how can we improve in that area? It’s almost businesslike, which I love. It’s this vigilant self-awareness that separates the truly higher beings like Ram Dass and Eckhart Tolle from the “spiritual leaders” who have sex with their followers or verbally abuse them.

5The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”

What he means: Quieting our racing, egoic minds is another way of describing the entirety of the spiritual ballgame. One could go as far as saying that our loud, thought-filled minds cause more damage to humanity than anything else. But when we quiet our minds, through meditation and mindfulness, we open up a connection with the Universe/God/Nature/the Supreme Being.

Why it matters: Allowing ourselves to hear the Universe/God…provides the opportunity to live our highest life, where cues are taken from our inner world, not from our externally influenced egoic mind. I can’t think of anything more precious than that.

The takeaway

Ram Dass is one of the great beings to have graced this world, a deeply compassionate man who truly “got it.” It’s worth incorporating his relatable words into our hearts as we make our way along the spiritual path.

Meditation

Two Ways That Golf Teaches us How to Thrive at Work

I’m visiting my brother Dan in Pauma Valley, California, this weekend. About forty miles inland from San Diego, Pauma is located in a stunningly beautiful valley surrounded by two mountains, one of them Palomar, atop which sits one of the great observatories in the world.

It also has one of the best golf courses in California. With its mixture of natural beauty, great golf and remoteness, it’s no wonder that the likes of Bill Murray and Huey Lewis own homes here.

As I get ready to play a round with my brother, it seems like the right place and time to write about the direct correlations that playing golf have with doing well in our work. In other words, if you apply the following two necessities for playing good golf to your job, you’ll kick major butt.

What are those two things we need to be successful on the golf course?

1. Compete against the course, not other players.

In golf, the player that hits the fewest shots wins. Simple enough. So whether you’re playing with friends, your siblings, or in a tournament with 100 people, to win you need to hit fewer shots than the others.

And what’s the best way to do that? To not think one lick about what the other players are doing. Put another way, the best course of action in golf is to compete against the golf course, not those you’re competing against.

Why? The answer is so important that it gets special bold treatment.

You compete against the course because that is the only thing in your control.

If you’re out on the golf course playing against that obnoxious guy at the office that you desperately want to beat like a drum, your best chance of beating him comes if you ignore how he’s playing. Just do your best against the course. And if he plays out of his mind that day and beats you, that’s life. Short of cheating or poisoning his beer can (neither of which I endorse) there’s nothing you can do about it.

But I’ll tell you this: If you expend a lot of mental energy cringing every time he hits a good shot and silently celebrating every time he hits a crappy shot, your score will suffer and his odds of beating you increase. You maximize your chances of winning by placing 100 percent of your concentration on your game.

Focus on YOUR work, not your colleagues’

What’s the corollary to your work? Put all of your focus on your work. All of it. Don’t worry about what others in the office are doing. If you put everything into your work and wind up selling 52 cars this year and your coworker sells 65 and wins the trip to Hawaii, hats off to him or her. Snooping around on them and constantly wondering how their sales are going will only result in you selling fewer cars.

It’s also a major energy suck to be one of those gossipy looky-loos with the snide comment always at the ready. Not only does our work suffer when we do this, but our psychic well-being does as well.

Advice from my executive dad

My dad was a Fortune 500 CEO who made his way to the top of the corporate world by keeping his nose down and doing his work. He always told me in my early working years to focus on my work and not worry about what everybody else in the office was doing.

That’s the life lesson here. We can only do our best. In fact, by definition, we can’t do any better than our best.

So play against the golf course in your work. Then let the chips fall where they may.

2. Place ALL of your attention on the shot you’re hitting.

In golf, as in life, the tendency is for our minds to wander. So when the ten handicap golfer pars the first six holes he heads to the seventh tee and thinks, “Holy crap. I could shoot par (72) today. My best score ever!” Then he proceeds to dump his drive into the lake on his way to a triple bogey. Bye, bye 72…

Believe it or not, this comes into play at the highest levels of golf. A player who’s been on the PGA Tour for ten years but never won a tournament plays amazingly well and leads through the first three rounds. All night long he can’t stop thinking about how great it would be if he won his first tournament (btw, a HUGE accomplishment in golf). The next day, in the final round, he can’t shake that thought. The result? He shoots 78 and loses by ten shots.

Bottom line: In golf, the great ones focus on nothing but the shot at hand. Whether they’ve just hit the best shot of their life, or the worst shot of their life, their attention is focused on the next shot.

Tiger Woods doesn’t think

The quintessential example of this is, no surprise, the great Tiger Woods. I remember countless times when some golf commentator would interview Tiger on the 18th green after one of his innumerable, magical finishes and gush, “Wow, Tiger! You were two shots behind with two holes to go and you went birdie, birdie. How did you do that? What were you thinking?”

Each time Tiger gave some variation of this answer: “Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about anything. I was just trying to stay in the moment and focus on each shot.” Most important is what Tiger wasn’t doing — thinking about whether he was going to win or lose the tournament. Or thinking about how great, or terrible, his last shot was.

And do you know why Tiger focuses like a laser on the present moment? Because he’s the most competitive human being on this planet and he knows that staying present gives him the best chance of winning.

At work, focus on the present moment

How does this translate to the working world? Simple. Put all of your focus on doing only what’s in front of you. Don’t waste energy, like the golfer wondering if he’ll win his first tournament, thinking about past or future work items.

Going back to the car dealer example, if you’ve sold 25 cars and need to get to 30 by the end of the month to win the trip to Hawaii, DON’T THINK ABOUT THE TRIP TO HAWAII! That’s a distraction that will hurt your sales performance. Put every ounce of attention you can muster on selling as many cars as you can.

Bjorn Borg wins and doesn’t know it

One other sports story captures this beautifully. The phenomenal Swedish tennis player, Bjorn Borg, was once so fully focused in a tight match that when he won, he didn’t even know it. The guy came up to the net to shake hands and Borg was like, “Oh. It’s over. Great!” EVERY fiber of his being was so trained on each moment, each shot, each point, that he lost track of the score. THAT is concentration at its finest.

The point: We humans produce our best, in everything — golf, tennis, writing, selling cars, parenting, ‘spousing’ — when we approach such endeavors from a place of focused presence. Because that’s where our genius resides; not in our thinking, jabbering, egoic minds, but in the brilliant, still silence within that can only be accessed when we are in the moment.

You might be thinking, “Great. Be present at my job. I’d love to. But my mind wanders all the time! What the heck can I do to help myself be more present?”

Answer: You can meditate.

Meditation — it’s just practicing being present.

Meditating is just practicing being in the moment — by watching our breath or any number of things happening in the present moment. I started eight years ago and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. It takes a modicum of discipline and commitment, mostly just in the first few months, but boy is it worth it. If you’re looking for a place to start, check out my free, simple program at davidgerken.net.

And by the way, that Tiger Woods guy I wrote about earlier? His mother, Kultida, is a Buddhist from Thailand who had Tiger meditating from an early age, something he continues to this day. ‘Nuff said…