My Journey Towards Personal Growth: part 2

‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -J.R.R Tolkien

Landing in Bengaluru (Formerly Bangalore), something inside me was reawakened. A feeling that I had not experienced since 1997, when I flew into Perth, Australia and found myself alone, in a new country with no one to meet me, no plans and nobody that I knew. This was a new experience, in a new place. I was looking at the world through a fresh set of eyes. It could have been fear or excitement. I did not know, the past few years had been pretty difficult, and I became good at not feeling anything. The hurt of my divorce made me put up a huge wall around myself and I was determined not to let anyone in. Life, on the other hand, had its own ideas, and through a tiny little crack that went unnoticed by me, my fiancé had found my heart. Other than that, I had control over my feelings by simply squashing them and ignoring them by keeping myself busy.

The instructions that I received from my sister in law were simple. Once you get through customs, make your way outside the airport terminal and look for Ravi, he will be your driver and he will make sure that you get to our place.

I had a profile picture of Ravi on my phone, that was good enough and I did not think any more of it. I walked out of the airport and was met by a sea of faces, all standing behind a barrier, waving signs and calling out names or offering lifts. In an instant, I could feel the anxiety starting to kick in. I am not sure what I was expecting, but it was not this mob of people. As I scanned the crowd I paused on a set of smiling eyes, a huge grin and a head nod/wobble. I had found Ravi straight away, I knew it was him and he knew instantly who I was. Ravi too had a photo of me, a photograph taken when I was still working, in which I had short hair and was cleanly shaven. How he recognized me with long hair and a full unkept beard was miraculous. Especially considering some of my previous clients who had almost 19 years of dealings with me did not recognize me if I walked past them on the street back home.

The way we met in that large crowd was a good omen for me. The anxiety vanished, I knew at that moment that everything was All Right. Ravi was so excited to meet me and introduce me to his wonderful country, we shook hands, he grabbed my bags and the conversation started, it was as if I had just been picked up by an old friend that I had not seen for years. The journey to the house took well over 2 hours, yet it went by in a flash. Ravi was born in Bangalore and he had lived in the city his entire life. He was so proud of the history and heritage of his people, and for him, this bustling chaotic city was home. He sped along congested roads, weaving in and out of traffic constantly blowing the car horn and waving his hand out the window, while at the same time looking directly at me as he rattled away facts and stories about places of interest that we were going past. I have driven in minibus taxi’s in South Africa, and the taxi’s at home don’t seem to give one the same adrenalin rush as big city traffic in India.

After a night’s rest, we were off on our first trip to a fancy resort on Lake Kabini. Ravi, our trusted driver, my sister in law and her friends along with their young daughter, Triffy, embarked on a 6-hour journey across the Karnataka province. I think Triffy was about 11 or 12 years old if I remember correctly. I was about to learn the first lesson of my India trip. Triffy is a ball of pure energy, always on the move, and super inquisitive. Full of random facts, and a sense of wonder for the world around her. Where I saw a flower, young Triffy saw an explosion of color, food for the insects, a source of the aromatic scent, and beauty beyond comprehension. Triffy would swim until her skinny body was frozen to the bone and then want to swim some more. I remember sitting alone at the edge of one of the swimming pools at the resort we were staying at and watching the sunset, feeling sorry for myself about having lost touch with the sense of wonder that lives so large in young children. Why did everything have to have a meaning or purpose for me? Why did I have to analyze everything and then judge it according to whether it was “good’ or “bad”, “pretty” or “ugly”, “hot” or “cold”? Kids just go head first into the experience and seldom have any judgment. How do I let go of the judgment I wondered?

As a young kid, I remember listening to the music of nature. We used to call it veld music. The sound of the wind blowing through a hole in the fence post leaves rustling on the trees, birds chirping, insects buzzing, farm animals going about their day. A cacophony of sounds that somehow came together and made wonderful melodies bringing along with them stories from far off places. My imagination used to be wild. Imaginary friends, distant voices carried on the wind, trees that shared their wisdom, ghosts that visited at night, these would keep me entertained for hours. Childish thoughts that I soon learned to ignore in the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. I guess when I discovered how to read, I gave up my “imaginary” physical world and dived into the world hidden in books. Here stories would come to life through printed words on a page. I would get completely absorbed into the book and that world between the covers would be as real as the physical world that I found myself in when I was not reading. When you stop spending time with people, they move on and find someone else who will play with them and slowly you forget about them. I guess my imaginary world was a little like that. It became a distant memory, which would eventually be completely forgotten.

Here I was halfway across the world, in a spiritual homeland of guru’s and ancient wisdom, and my first lesson was taught to me by a young girl.

The intention of my trip to India was not to go in search of enlightenment. In fact, as I have previously mentioned, I went because I wanted to just get some distance between me and my current life. I needed some space outside of the “routine” to just get rid of the stress and years of adrenaline. I went because I was tired of hiding inside my house and I needed to get outside again.

Once back in Bengaluru, my journey of experiencing India really began. Ravi would take me out to walk the streets in the evenings. We would go to places where I was the only foreigner, and little to no English was spoken. We ate street food and dodged sewage running down the streets. The smells of waste and human effluent mixed with spices and burning cooking oil. In some places, the crowds were so thick that I was too scared to look around in case I lost sight of Ravi and never saw him again. Something was missing though and I could not place it. Was I missing home? Was it the longing to see my children again? Was it the distance between my fiance and me? It felt as if I had forgotten about something or someone. We stopped to buy some juice. An old man took two pieces of sugarcane and crushed them through an ancient-looking hand roller. Next to him sat an old lady that I assumed was his wife. She was frail and completely grey. In one hand she held a bunch of long grass whilst her other hand gathered bits of plastic that were scattered around her and she fed this plastic onto a little fire on the ground. With the bunch of grass, she waved the smoke about to chase away the mosquitoes. The old man handed me a battered tin cup filled with fresh sugar cane juice and then he produced a straw from under a dirty old sack on the side of his cart. His eyes told a story of his life, a story of poverty and hardship and a struggle to survive from day to day. His cheekbones and eyebrows protruded making his eyes appear to be sunken deep within his face. But there was something else in his eyes. His eyes carried another story behind the hardship, a story of joy. There was a certain happiness that not even the dirt and acrid smoke from the little pile of burning plastic could hide. As I drank my juice a smile spread from one side of his face to the other. The line of his pink gums broken by three yellowing teeth. I had seen this smile before, but it was worn by a different person, yes this was the same smile that Ravi had when I first saw him standing behind the barrier at the airport. This smile, just pure joy, a level of happiness that I seldom experienced back home. It was the smile of the young village boys riding their go-karts deep in the old Ciskei back home. This smile appeared to have been “lost” to those of us living the modern western lifestyle. It dawned on me. I knew what that nagging feeling was, I understood what I was missing, what had been left behind. The “black dog”, my fear, anxiety, stress, depression, all of that was gone. It did not follow me out onto those streets of Bengaluru. Here amongst some of the poorest people in the city I was able to see that joy was stronger than any adversity. Love and Joy did conquer all. I handed back the tin cup to the old man and thanked him. Maybe he understood that what he had just given me was far more than just a sweet drink, as he took the cup from me he started saying something, put the cup down and brought his hands up as if to pray. Muttered some words and smiled. Namaste, he said, and we were on our way. I asked Ravi what that was all about, and he replied that the old man thank us for buying from him and sent us on our way with a blessing. For someone who had so little, it felt like he had given so much. It did not take me long to realize that almost every person who we bought something from would bless us on our journey when we moved on. My experience of this interaction with the sugarcane man taught me my second lesson. The joy lives inside of us regardless of the situation, deep beneath the hurts, wounds, stories we tell ourselves and our life experiences, somewhere inside of us there is a place where the joy lives. As we were walking back to where the car was parked I was once again overcome by a deep sadness, the realization that I did not know how to find that place inside me where my joy resided, that hurt. I would have to start looking within because regardless of how big my house was or how much money I accumulated in the bank, I will never be able to buy that joy or pay someone to find it for me. What a hollow victory my life had become. I felt as if I had cheated myself in the game of life in order to win the prize, and when I did finally stand on that podium with all the “trophies” I had worked so hard for and that I thought was my dream, I realized that the trophies were just empty cups. There was no glory in victory. Those years of sacrifice were in vain and they were lost forever.

The time had come for me to leave the security of Bengaluru and my friend Ravi who was not only my driver and guide but also my interpreter. Time to leave the comfortable hospitality of my brother and sister in law, leave behind the air-conditioned room with en-suite bathroom and every comfort that one could desire. It was time to move and not get into a comfort zone. Next stop Hampi…..

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”-Bill Bryson

To be continued……….

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My journey towards personal growth.

The old saying goes that life is about the journey, not the destination. It is a common statement that is often thrown around and seldom taking seriously.

From a young age, I was taught that it is the destination that counts. Whilst I was often told to enjoy the journey, real life constantly showed me that it was the destination that was the ultimate prize.

It began at school. I wrote exams and got marked on how well I did. The final report card is what counted. Where did I place in the grade? How many A’s did I get? Did I advance to the next grade? Always working towards something that lived in the future.

On the sports field, it was about who scored the most points, which kid crossed the finish line first. The guy that held up the trophy was the winner. Me, I was never that kid on the podium. That made me even more determined to make it count when it really mattered.

At University the race continued. The drive to be number 1, the best of the best. We were programmed to make sacrifices in the moment to ensure a greater reward in the future. It is about the destination, not the journey. I dropped out of university in my second year. My plan was to go traveling, surf uncrowded waves and find my passion. But I needed money. I needed a job.

The “journey” then started when I got my first “real” job in the insurance industry. The culmination of years of hard work and diligent studies and I had finally arrived. I got my first paycheck only to find that it is not enough to let me pay off my student loan, go travel and follow my dreams. Someone came and “advised” me to think about my future and save for retirement. Plan for the Golden Years, squirrel away, make sacrifices now so that one day, in some distant future, I would be financially secure enough to enjoy the fruits of our labor and enjoy what remains of our journey.

Making money felt good. I studied and worked hard. The more I worked the less my dreams of traveling and freedom called to me. I had a new dream. I saw the destination. If I just worked hard, became the best at what I did, invested wisely, it would only take me the better part of my life to finally reach a point where I could relax and focus on the journey. Sacrifice now and you will get a chance to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

I was always living in the hopes of a better future. Studying new courses, reading to future proof myself and the business. Training hard for races that were on my calendar. Everything that I did was geared towards some event in the future. I found success by doing that, and I accomplished most of my personal goals. They came at a price, but I had the certificates, medals, and trophies to show off my successes. I had a nice house, a nice car, a small property portfolio, comfortably large paycheck and the security of knowing that my income stream would just keep flowing provided I kept my foot on the gas.

The journey is more important than the destination. Who even believes that? People who are lost or that do not achieve their high-level goals or targets could lean on that as a comfortable excuse for not crossing the finish line first. It is all about the destination. I just needed to look at my life and it was apparent. I had arrived.

I really love quotes and sayings. I often even get the opportunity to live them out as well just to drive the lesson home. Like the saying: “Pride comes before the fall.”

Yes, that was me. Last year, things were looking great, well financially at least. I was however under extreme stress. I was working long hours and chasing every opportunity that came my way. Give a busy man something to do and he will get it done, type of lifestyle. I was living the dream, a 7000 square foot home on a piece of ground measuring 24000 square feet, overlooking the ocean. I was engaged to the most beautiful woman, she was driven, intelligent and connected to her spiritual self. My children were all doing well at school getting good grades and achieving on the sports field and with their extramural activities. I was made. From the outside, I had it all. I could bask in the glory of reaching the destination I had set for myself. The only problem was that the journey itself was no fun. I hated getting out of bed in the mornings, yet I did. I had lost my passion for what I did, yet I was still focussed on continuous learning and high service levels. I had locked myself into a pair of golden handcuffs. Internally things were starting to fall apart. Reaching the destination began to feel like I was chasing the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I was unhappy, in fact, I was depressed. I had to keep on going none the less, the system “needed” me. I was a critical cog in the machinery and without me, none of this would work. The pride comes before the fall.

Then it happened. Burnout; Nervous Breakdown; Major Depressive Episode. The health professionals all had different labels. The truth was, I was broken. Pride comes before the fall. Here was the inevitable fall. In the matter of a single moment sitting in front of my computer screen, my entire life changed course. Nothing would ever be the same again. I did not realize it at the time and thought that a day off was all that was required. It was not to be. The psychologist had a serious talk to me and I realized the seriousness of the situation I found myself in. I kept wondering how I had missed all the signs? It was plain to see, constant high blood pressure, inability to sleep, growing anxiety, lack of boundaries, stress, the list was almost endless.

My journey had begun.

For the first time that I can recall I had no destination in mind. I was broken. I did not want to be anywhere or do anything. I had lost the will to live and I didn’t care. Looking back at that time I don’t even recall having thoughts. I either lay in bed or sat on a chair under a blanket. I simply existed, as if in some strange comatose state, whether this was brought on by the breakdown or the handful of tablets that I was required to take every day I am not sure. None the less I was little more than an inanimate object. My fiancé took great care of me, prepared meals, handled whatever business fallouts were taking place, encouraging me to rest and give it time, inviting me to try to make tiny steps towards recovery.

This was not how I imagined the journey would be. After all, when they say that it is about the journey, not the destination, one would think that the journey should at least be enjoyable. I could find absolutely no joy in anything.

There is also a saying that: “every cloud has a silver lining.” Fortunately, that has also proven to be true for me. My brother in law bought me a return ticket to go visit them in India, and I accepted the gift as I needed to just get away from the world. In March this year, I nervously embarked on a journey to go spend some time with them in India. I did not have any plans to do anything in India, and the main reason for me going was just to get away from everything for a while. Even if the only thing I did whilst I was in India was stay in their house for 6 weeks that would have worked for me.

Something inside me shifted though. The moment I said goodbye to my fiancé and stepdaughter and walked through to departures I knew that I was on my own from here. I knew that it was now up to me to create the context for how this journey would unfold.

…… to be continued

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Learning to Meditate

Following on from my last article, I have been asked by some people if I could explain to them how one goes about practicing mindfulness meditation.

So here goes, I will try put it into words.

I have read that meditating is a bit like learning to ride a bicycle, once you’ve learned how to do it then it’s a process that you will have access to for the rest of your life.

Where do I learn to meditate?

We live in a time where any information that we desire is just a click away. There are some great meditation tutorials on the internet, and with a little searching, you can find a program that suits you. So, a good place to start would be Google or YouTube. Provided the tutorials are not complicated with lots of jargon, you should be well on your way to beginning to develop your practice. There are some very good meditation tools out there and most of them take the time out to explain in a manner that beginners can understand them.

I would suggest that when you are starting out, choose a meditation method that’s easy to pick up. There are many different techniques out there and whilst some are simple mindfulness practices you can also find techniques that profess to connect you to your inner wisdom or inner peace and a range of other programs. It is important to find one that will be aligned with that which you are seeking.

When I first started I used a very simple breathing meditation. I also did slow walking meditations which I first heard about in Paulo Coelho’s book The Pilgrimage. For the past 6 months, I have been using the very useful Headspace App. I really enjoy the Headspace program as they have a whole range of programs within the app. You can also choose the length of time for your session and they give you a step by step explanation whenever they introduce a new topic. Go over to Headspace to check it out.

Right, so now you have watched a few YouTube videos maybe even downloaded a program or app, you are ready to get started. The trick here is to practice and give it some time. Think back to when you first learned to ride a bicycle. It is unlikely that you were really good at it the first time. If you were anything like me, you lost skin, shed tears, went through periods of intense frustration and wanted to give up but somehow you persisted and then one day as if by magic you were gliding along. You were riding on your own, freedom and independence were yours until you tried to stop. There you were once again picking your bike up off the floor, knees stinging, and vision blurred by tears, but that feeling. Oh man, that feeling of actually being in the zone riding. That is kind of like my meditation journey, when I am in that zone, just for that moment everything is perfect, but then my mind thinks of something, a noise distracts me, and I find myself sitting with my legs crossed on a mat yet again. Keep at it, it gets easier over time.

Stick with your program every day for at least a week. If after a week of practicing you find that you do not like the method, then look for another program or method. Find one that works for you. The aim is to bring a sense of living in the moment, ease, flow, and peace. If you not experiencing that then don’t try so hard. Meditation requires letting go not holding on. There is a program out there that will work for you.

Meditating first thing in the morning works really well for me. I get it done before my day gets started, and I find that starting off my day with a meditation practice sets up the mood for my entire day. Find a time that is going to work for you and practice your meditation at the same time every day until you develop the habit.

You can create a little ritual for yourself that you do before every meditation. This will signal to your brain that you are now going to be meditating and you will find that you get into the zone much quicker. A ritual can be anything from lighting a candle to sitting in the same spot.

Most importantly have fun. Meditation should be an effortless practice that leaves you feeling better than you felt before.

If any of you would like to come an learn to meditate in India with me this December check out our upcoming retreat, The Happy Hearts Retreat. We are only taking four people along with us so if you would like to be one of the four get in touch quickly.

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Why Meditate?

Meditation is very often misunderstood. It has been associated with all sorts of “New Age” thinking; Occult Practise and much hullaballoo. Here is my take on this.

Meditation refers to a state where your body and mind are consciously relaxed and focused. There are various forms of meditation, however today I am referring to the simple mindful meditation process. People who practice meditation report increased awareness, focus, and concentration, as well as a more positive outlook in life. I can personally vouch for this as I have practiced meditation daily for almost a year following my burnout and the results speak for themselves.

Meditation is most commonly associated with monks, mystics and other spiritual disciplines. However, you don’t have to be a monk or mystic to enjoy its benefits. And you don’t even have to be in a special place to practice it. You could even try it in your own home. Right now there are numerous apps and online programs to guide you through basic meditations. A quick search online will get you started in no time.

Although there are many different approaches to meditation, the fundamental principles remain the same. The most important among these principles is that of removing obstructive, negative, and wandering thoughts and fantasies, and calming the mind with a deep sense of focus. This clears the mind of debris and prepares it for a higher quality of activity. In doing so we train our minds and we can control our thoughts when our thoughts no longer serve us.

One might have negative thoughts about your work overload, over-bearing boss, social media bombardment, traffic congestion or any other thought that does not bring you a sense of calm or control. Through mindful meditation, you can learn to notice these negative thoughts and choose to dwell on them or let them pass and change your thinking. For me, I like noticing the “spam” thoughts and replacing them with more meaningful thoughts.

One does not need to assume the typical meditation pose that is commonly associated with the traditional Eastern Meditation. Whilst there might be some benefit of adopting that pose (I have not explored this) I find that for me the key principle is to be in a comfortable position conducive to concentration. This may be while sitting cross-legged, standing, lying down, and even walking.

If the position allows you to relax and focus, then that would be a good starting point. While sitting or standing, the back should be straight, but not tense or tight. In other positions, the only no-no is slouching and falling asleep.

Loose, comfortable clothes help a lot in the process since tight-fitting clothes tend to choke you up and make you feel tense.

The place you perform meditation should have a soothing atmosphere. It may be in your living room, or bedroom, or any place that you feel comfortable in. You might want an exercise mat if you plan to take on the more challenging positions (if you feel more focused doing so, and if the contortionist in you is screaming for release). You may want to have the place arranged so that it is soothing to your senses.

Silence helps most people relax and meditate so you may want a quiet, isolated area far from the ringing of the phone or the humming of the washing machine. Pleasing scents also help in that regard, so stocking up on aromatic candles isn’t such a bad idea either.

The principle of mindful meditation is simply to control your focus. You could try focusing on a certain object or thought, or even, while keeping your eyes open, focus on a single sight. Personally, I find that simply observing my breath as it flows in and out is one of the fastest ways for me to experience an energy shift. I would describe an energy shift as a change in thoughts, feelings, and emotions. For example, if I am feeling anxious, I will meditate to bring about a sense of calmness and control, that would be my energy shift.

One sample routine would be to while in a meditative state silently name every part of your body and focusing your consciousness on that part. While doing this you should be aware of any tension on any part of your body. Mentally visualize releasing this tension. It works wonders. Start at the top of your head and do a full body scan right down to the tip of your toes.

In all, meditation is a relatively risk-free practice and its benefits are well worth the effort (or non-effort remember we’re relaxing).

Studies have shown that meditation does bring about beneficial physiologic effects to the body. And there has been a growing consensus in the medical community to further study the effects of such. So, do not wait any longer, start now in creating your health and well-being…start meditating today!

If you are still unsure of where to start or you would like to know more about mindfulness meditation, then please get in touch with me.

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The Circle of Influence

Just over a month ago I launched my first Mastermind group: The Circle of Influence.

I would like to share a story of two people that were interested in being part of the group. Let’s call them J and Silent Bob.

Neither J nor Silent Bob had the money to pay for the program. However, J decided that he needed to shift his mindset and do something different to get different results. Silent Bob thought that he could make the shift by himself, and besides, he did not have the money right then.

Somehow, J managed to come up with the money and enrolled in the program. Silent Bob said that he would join the next Mastermind group.

The ticket sales for my next Mastermind group will be closing shortly, so I thought I would call Silent Bob and ask him if he would like to join us this time. But oh dear, he still doesn’t have the money.

J, on the other hand, sent me an email last week. In one morning alone, he secured four new clients and set up an appointment for another. He spends less time trying to find clients and less time closing the deals. J has already made more money from the lessons he has learned than he spent on the course itself. In fact, he did that in a single morning after just three weeks of the program.

Tomorrow is week four and I am excited to hear what feedback J has from this week. I already know what Silent Bob achieved as he told me when he once again put off joining the program. No surprises but business is slow, and there is no money and no time to do this program.

Why did J’s sales suddenly increase and where did he find this extra time?

The way I see it, J has committed to shift. He took massive action, made a financial investment at a time when money was hard to come by, and he has committed to the program. J is simply following a proven process and doing the work, and the results are speaking for themselves.

Are YOU a J or are you a Silent Bob?

Are you going to take action and take control of your business? Are you willing to follow a proven process, which you get to customize to your specific needs to start generating more money?
Do you believe in yourself enough to invest your time to learn and redesign some of your sales processes?
OR
Are you going to keep doing what you are currently doing and hope that things will change?

If you choose to be Silent Bob, one thing that I can guarantee is that you will save yourself the cost of joining the Mastermind group.

However, if you choose to be J, there is no limit as to how much you will increase your earning potential. You get to hold the pen to your chequebook and you get to choose what numbers you want to make.

There are a limited number of spaces available for the next online Mastermind group, and if Silent Bob has done the smart thing and made the mind shift there will be one less.

Be like J and follow this link to book your place. Your click determines your future.
South African Clients

International Clients

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The Art of Magic

What is magic? My gran (Ouma) was a magician. She used two wands, and in a matter of no time at all could create wonderful works out of seemingly meaningless objects. Objects that were work of her passion, love, and creativity. I still have one of these objects that I treasure dearly.

Her magic ability was turning a ball of wool into wonderful knitted items. Even though the knitting ceased many, many years ago I still have a jersey that she made. I remember the clicking of her knitting needles as we sat next to her chatting away. The thin strand of wool transforming into a knitted sheet, like a page magically appearing out of our office printer.

I see magic all around me. The flower that senses the sunlight and can unfold her delicate petals to soak up the light. The fish that has mastered the ability to breath underwater. The bird that has understood the limits of gravity and defied this universal force that holds us bound to the earth. The list is endless. Even the very act of taking a breath is magical, think about it for a moment. We breathe in this invisible, odorless gas that is all around us and our very lives depend on it. Try holding your breath for 5 minutes and see how quickly you start believing in the magic of fresh air.

So, what is the point of this post? What am I getting at?

It is up to each of us to open our eyes to the magic that is all around us. Anything can be magical. I push some buttons on my keyboard and these words appear on the screen. Yes, there is logic behind this and this is all by design but is that not the essence of magic. I do not know to build the components of this computer or how to write a program to make it work, but someone does. For me, though this is the magic. Some magicians have abilities that appear to be supernatural, yet for the practiced magician, it is akin to the kid at Microsoft working on the update for the next version of Microsoft Word.

Where do you choose to see the magic in your life, and how would your life be different if you noticed the magic all around you?

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When last were you bored?

Remember those long holidays when you were a kid and eventually ended up getting bored of being at home? Or sitting as a passenger in the car and wondering when you will ever get there?

We have three children, and very often our youngest will come complain to Tania or I that she is bored and there is nothing to do. Our response is generally off you go, go find something to keep you busy or read a book. We purposefully create unstructured time within our lives for the children to learn to use their creativity. Science and research show that boredom is beneficial for children and fosters a sense of independence.

As an adult though, when last were you bored? I am sure that many of you might wish you had a little time to indulge in a childhood luxury like boredom (or going to bed early). Yet adults are always busy. We never have time to be bored because life is filled with important things. Pause for a moment and consider how you would genuinely feel if you were bored for an hour? Don’t read on until you have an answer for yourself.

Studies release early in 2017, show that the average adult spends 135 minutes a day on some form of Social Media. (The Statistics Portal – statista.com) That is 2 hours 15 minutes. Another source (socialmediatoday.com) claims that in your lifetime (if you are an average social media user) you will spend 5 years 4 months on social media. This excludes surfing the internet to browse websites. That is enough time to climb Mount Everest 32 times or walk the Great Wall of China 3.5 times.

So, if you are not bored maybe you should put away the phone, or whatever device you are reading this article on.

Now imagine for a moment that you do take a social media sabbatical. I want you to cast your mind back to when you were a young child, maybe staring at the rain from behind the window mumbling about how boring the day is. Imagine that there is nothing to do, absolutely nothing. Really connect with that feeling of having nothing to do and facing the dreaded boredom. How does that make you feel? Do you start to feel anxious about all the work or chores that you need to get done? Do you feel that you have better things to do than just sit around and be bored? Or, do you feel a huge weight lifted off you and you breath a sigh on relief and soak up in the joy of having absolutely nothing to do for the next 2 hours and 15 minutes? Do you feel different from what you thought you might feel when I asked you at the end of the 3rd paragraph of this article?

What could you learn about yourself if you stopped doing what you are automatically doing everyday and allow yourself to be bored? Do you think that you might rediscover an old hobby that you never have the time for, or start dreaming about starting that new activity that you had forgotten you once wanted to try out? Could it be that there are some monsters inside your head that you would rather not think about, so you just keep busy?

If you find that it has been years since you felt bored, then why not set aside some time for yourself to do nothing. Resist the temptation to read a book or to fold the laundry, resist the temptation to turn on the tv or to check your emails. Give yourself a few minutes and just ease into the state of boredom as if it is a nice deep hot bath filled with the most glorious smelling bubbles and relax.

For those of you who do manage to bore yourselves, please comment below and let me know how it went.

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Two things I gained from being Mindful

Since the middle of April this year I have spent over 68 hours in meditation and completed just short of 270 sessions ranging from 3 minutes to 40 minutes in duration. My average time of meditation is around 15 min per session and I often end up doing more than one session a day. All of this has helped me live a far more mindful life.

What does that mean? A more mindful life.

Firstly, I find I am far more present in my surroundings. Whether that be alone on a walk or engaging with people, I am more focused on being fully immersed in the here and now and not caught up over thinking or wondering what to do or say next.

Secondly, I have found this to have a huge impact on my work with clients. I have no anxiety about needing to come up with any answers or solutions. I can listen fully to my clients and really pay attention to not only what they are saying but also to how they are saying it, and what it really is that they are trying to get across. Most of us are not very good with words, ask anyone who feels misunderstood about saying something that escalated into an argument. Many of us will ask a question when we should be requesting our intention.

For example:

My bugbear with this was always as follows: “Gabby, would you like to go have a bath?” To which I would always get the same reply, “No thanks Dad.” So, I would then need to say: “It is bath time, please go bath.” And so, the dialog would continue.

Now I simply tell the person what I would like. For example, I now say: “My Gabby, it is time for you to have a bath, please will you go bath now.” No question, and it works for both of us.

This works with my clients as well, especially when closing a cycle of coaching. I listen, I understand what the client is looking for and then offer them a solution which I then follow up with my request. My request is that I would like them to get started on the program with me right away.

Has it been worthwhile? In my mind, undoubtedly so. (did you see what I just did there….In my mind… 😊 ) Yes, without a doubt, it has been worth every single minute. In fact, not a day goes by in which I do not practice at least one form of mindfulness.

Over the next few posts, I will expand on some of the other benefits that I have gained from my mindfulness practices.

I would like to encourage all of you to go mindfully into this weekend. That does not mean that you need to sit in quiet contemplation, but rather just be present in the moment. Whether you are enjoying a beer with friends, having your haircut or sharing a meal with your partner. Soak up the moment, take note of the smells, the sounds, the sights, the taste and your feelings and emotions. Let it be like a multi-dimensional photograph, one that you can replay next week when you stuck in the traffic or daydreaming in the office. Try it, I can guarantee that you will thank yourself.

Follow my facebook page My Every Day is a Holiday to get a glimpse into the journey of mindfulness as it unfolds in my life.

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Problems?

What problems are you facing today? Somehow our problems often seem bigger than they really are. When you consider that someone lost a wife today, someone was diagnosed with terminal cancer, someone’s business was closed and they can no longer support their family or their staff.

Even when we feel like we have had a bad day, our problems are often insignificant.

Instead then, let us focus on the things that we are grateful for.

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Friday -was your week successful?

Friday, time to take stock of my progress. Every Monday we set deliverables for ourselves at the office. They live on a board across from my desk, so I see them every single time I look up from my keyboard.

This week was a 60% week for me. While 60% might not seem like a successful week, I can assure you that had I not set my deliverables I would have no idea how productive I was. The other thing that you would not know is that the 2 weeks before were both 30% weeks. So by having my Friday check-in I can assess my progress and work towards closing off any outstanding tasks that were prioritized for the week. This helps me set tasks for next week which are achievable, yet outside my comfort zone.  I can reassess some of the commitments that I have made and fallen a little short on, and check to see if they are still aligned with our companies Vision and if they are projects that I might potentially need assistance on. We consistently plan, implement, measure, adapt and learn in this office. We set our sights very high, and commit to achieving the grandest versions of ourselves. Yes, we fall short of the target, but falling short is still a long way ahead of those that are not aiming at anything. We will never reach the perfection that we aiming at because in order to do so we would have to stop learning and growing, and it is in our nature to learn and grow.

One of my coaching clients is nearing the end of their coaching engagement with me. We did a check in to track the progress and I am happy to say that by week 10 of 12 we are ahead of schedule and have accomplished a breakthrough in areas that were not even the original focus point of the coaching. We know this because we have been tracking the progress every week and monitoring the improvement on a consistent basis. Early on in the coaching engagement, the weekly scores were often sitting at 20 – 30%, we are now consistently seeing 80% weeks and the weekly goals have become far more onerous and challenging.

How do you monitor your progress? Do you know exactly what needs to be done in order to accomplish that which you have set out to achieve? Or are you too busy being busy to know how effective you are from one day to the next?

Just as a high-performance athlete has a coach that monitors his progress and designs specific programs to capitalize on his strengths so to do the high-performance individuals that choose to work with me. One of my greatest joys is getting feedback from my clients letting me know that the work I do makes a profound difference in their lives.

We are now approaching the final quarter of 2018. Are you on track to achieve everything you wanted to this year? If not, I invite you to get in touch with me and let us work together to make it happen.

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