I have received many emails, messages and phone calls from people as they progress through the program and the practices. I thought I would share with you how I have progressed with each practice and how they have had a positive impact on my happiness, health and well-being.
1. Body Scan
I find I have some built up tension in the fingers and toes but a quick scan allowed this to reduce and I felt relaxed and clearer in body and mind. Overall my body feels strong, especially in the lower back and core section, with not too much pain, tension or stress present. I started doing this a few times a week, mixing it up between long guided scans up to 50 minutes to shorter guided 10 minute scans. I also started doing my own quick scans from 1 to 5 minutes on the train, bus or sitting at the park or beach. I found it a simple way to bring calm, concentration and clarity to my mind. My body felt less tired and heavy too.
2. Go Tech Free and re-connect to yourself
I've been spending more and more time without my phone since I had my tech free day on a Sunday. I didn't use my phone, watch TV, or even read the paper. I walked outside, read a book, had a coffee catch up. Since then I've been more aware of how often I use my phone and I consciously leave it at home whenever I can. If I'm heading for a coffee at a specific time, I don't need my phone. If I'm going swimming, I don't need my phone. I've even been aware of not looking at emails or social media in the morning - it has been great in all areas and flows on perfectly from the body scan and tech free challenge.
3. Stretch Yourself and try something new
I swam further than I had before because I wanted to consciously stretch myself. I would normally stop at 16 laps, but kept going to 24. I found that when you make the effort to really stretch yourself for your personal, physical and mental growth you're more likely to do it. I found that I am capable of doing new things and doing them better than before, the trick is deliberately trying to do it. I went to a new Yoga class. Tried new poses that I'd never attempted before. I swam in the freezing water of a small cove when on a bushwalk. I would previously have thought about how cold I would be after or how I would dry off for the walk back - but I jumped in and upon my exit, the sun came out and dried me instantly as if congratulating me on diving in boldly.
4. Curiosity Challenge
Ate at a new restaurant. Drank coffee at 3 new cafes rather than the old ones - meeting new people as a result. Went to a new yoga studio. I put Collagen in my morning smoothie without ever really knowing what it actually is. I now don't have it. I didn't eat oats because I thought it was too carb heavy. I was more curious and saw how amazing it is for body and mind and I started having it a few mornings a week. I even saw the differences between standard oats and 100% organic oats that are locally produced. I choose the latter. I spent one morning without eating. I instead drank tea, cup after cup of green and peppermint tea. I wasn't hungry - do I normally just eat because it is the morning? Do I normally just eat because it is lunchtime? I was curious and I see that by listening to my body I saw how I did so many things throughout the day out of habit and programming.
5. How are you?
I'm feeling fresh and inspired. This feeling of inspiration seems to go up and down and seems to be in a constant battle with the arch enemy that is doubt. But today is one of those inspired days where I feel my body is healthy and free and my mind is sharp and ready to strike. This could all be coming on the back of a dedicated super-clean diet full of highly nutritious natural foods, moving the body more and more each day, getting increased vitamin D, hanging out with like-minded people and jumping in the ocean several times a day. I see that inspiration, passion, positivity, energy and zest is all related. I haven't watched TV all week, I haven't read the paper - is it a coincidence? I think not. If I want to feel how I feel today I need to make sure I keep doing these things I love, every day. If I want to keep self-doubt at bay so I can keep pursuing the things I love then I need to live an inter-connected life full of interests, which automatically flows onto to everything else.
I was asked to Author a book for a successful businessman. I wasn't sure if I would have enough time or even be inspired enough to do it, and do it well. I spent the first days doing Google searches about writing this kind of style in this kind of fashion. I Googled costs, time frames, similar style books. I researched the industry and this man. My decision wasn't really any clearer and I still didn't know whether I should commit to the big task. I even asked a few friends and family about what they thought. I had asked everyone around me, even strangers, I had read articles from strangers, but I never sat with myself and asked me. What do I want to do? After all it was never about the industry, the topics, the cost, it was only ever about whether I wanted to do it from a passion and inspiration standpoint. All that time wasted before I even asked myself.
7. Stop and Do Nothing
This comes on the back of the Tech Free challenge and all the other practices perfectly. Less time with my phone led to more time by myself naturally and organically. When I would jump out to check the surf I would normally grab my phone and then spend 5 minutes looking at it or covering up some time by calling someone. Now I would stand under the sun, breathing, chilling out and just enjoying watching the waves. Things were slower, easier and this again flowed onto more positivity and energy. I then started drinking a cup of tea without looking at my laptop but just sitting on the kitchen bench or even on the ground. 5 minutes of nothingness that was so much more than nothing. So much better than 5 minutes of wasting time turning on the TV, or reading an article. Stopping brought greater freedom and control into my life. Boredom - what's boredom? Loneliness - how can you be lonely?
I've always been very open and honest and thankfully always had a great network of people that I spend time with every week. These people have become great platforms for growth and creativity and more importantly have taught me about the great art of listening. This week in particular I was very focused on analysing the kind of judgements I would naturally make when listening to someone speak. I found that I would generate labels almost immediately and categorise them just as quickly. Surrounding myself with these people and always being open in airing my thoughts and ideas has allowed me to always be comfortable with who I am and what I am doing. Sharing is probably something that naturally and organically grew courtesy of my environment but even being more aware of how I share and how I listen was very important for me this week.
9. Gratitude Dairy
I'm grateful for;
Two legs and two arms. My eyes so I can see, ears so I can hear. My healthy body and my healthy mind. Friends, family. Opportunity. The bewildering pallet of possibility.
1. Spending time with my three brothers for the first time in over 6 years.
2. The opportunity to create a strong and vibrant company and work on projects that inspire me every single moment.
3. Being able to dive in the ocean every single day. Rain, hail or shine.
4. A healthy body. A healthy mind.
5. I can walk. I can see. I can hear.
10. Working Meditation
Here I found the body scan, stop and do nothing, the how are you and the gratitude diary all did wonders in allowing me to be more focused and concentrated whilst working. They gave me greater clarity which allowed me to simply be where I was and work on what I actually was at that time. This meant I could create better quality work, finish sooner and then jump in ocean more often. Thank you working meditation.
11. Do a Good Deed
I spent today aware of the need, or want, to do some good deeds. No plan on the specifics but anything that was good by nature. I quickly found that the opportunities for good deeds are actually endless. In the morning I picked up rubbish on the sand at the beach, soon I was just naturally picking up the odd pieces where ever I happened to stumble upon them on my walk to the car, train, cafe etc. I helped an old lady carry her heavy groceries to her car. She was struggling and person after person just walked past ignoring her. I asked and she very happily accepted my offer. We walked together for about 50 metres chatting, before I dropped off her bags and she emphatically thanked me with a huge smile from ear to ear. The friend I was walking with at the time actually said it was strange that she would let a stranger carry her bags. I think it is far stranger that we live in a world where people think someone will steal your bags and run away. Maybe that is why person after person just walked right past her. Maybe that is why we need people doing more good deeds every single day. After this one day of consciously doing good deeds, I just do them naturally. I saw a disabled man struggling to take off his necklace at the ocean baths, so I just walked over and gave him a hand - I got a great conversation out of it too - so we both benefited.
12. Walking Meditation
I was meeting a friend and I had 20 minutes to spare. I could have sat on social media or hid out in a bookstore. I chose to try my walking meditation, even though it was right in the middle of the CBD of Sydney. Thousands of people rushed past me, heads down stuck down in their phones, ears full of music, people stuck in their heads, people just rushing somewhere in the future or somewhere in the past. I walked slowly, just feeling each foot on the ground. I listened to the cars, I smelt the fresh air mixed with pollutants, I felt the odd cold gust of breeze hit my face. I breathed, I stayed with my body. I didn't let it wander down the road without me. I didn't let it slip behind me into yesterday either. If you can do walking meditation in the middle of the city and find peace, calm, de-stress and relax, then why can't you do it anywhere? Why can't you do it every day? Since this day I've tried to feel more when I walk. Feel my feet. Feel my breath. Feel what it's like to be alive, instead of continuously choosing to be asleep.
13. Eating Meditation
When you eat with the TV on you eat faster. You don't chew your food. You don't even taste your food. You don't even look down to see what it is that you're chewing. We become like robots, just another activity that we do when we are pretty much just fast asleep. Walking meditation helped me a lot when it came to eating. I found more comfort and peace in just doing what I was doing instead of what I was doing next. Turning off the TV, eating slowly, chewing and tasting became an event in itself. I realised that I eat so many times a day but usually just out of habit and just to get to the next better thing. Eating meditation brought life back into eating and eating is great!
14. Chore Meditations
I chose brushing my teeth. It was a great practice to give myself 1 to 2 minutes of calm and concentration to start each morning whilst doing an activity that I had to do anyway. Why not combine the two. Instead of just creating another story and letting it guide me for the next 10 minutes or 2 hours, I chose to just brush my teeth and see how that feels. Then this flowed onto the shower, washing the dishes and all of a sudden I became alive and more open to life and everything in it.
I hope you all enjoyed some benefits from this program and we hope you continue to practice. Happiness is a skill - let's train for it...