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Fully Present Wakefulness

August 2, 2019 by  
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So, what can we do to make our lives happy and contented as we age, like when you are over 55, 65 or, like me, at 75? So much of our lives depend on our thinking and it can be a bit of a challenge to put and keep the positive thoughts our minds.

I came across an interview I did years ago with the world-famous skier Stein Eriksen. He had so much passion in his life even up to shortly before he died. In the interview, I asked Stein if he had as much passion in the process of becoming a world champion as he did when he won the gold medal. And he said he absolutely did, that he both enjoyed and was totally passionate about his workouts, and his many, many practice runs down the snowy slops of Norway and Utah. He built in his mind what he was going to do each day and he almost always did it, even in his mid to late 80’s.

That passion and determination most always starts with our brain and what we are thinking. I read a cute comment recently: “Don’t believe everything you think.” It is so easy, especially as you age and know that your time on this planet earth is so much shorter than when you were 25 or 30 or even 50 or 60, to let go of that passion. Our “self-talk” can really lead us down the wrong path.

So, one big thing, or big THINK, we need to do as we get closer to the end, is to be very mindful of the little negative self-talk that goes on in our brains. Then we need to work on changing that little voice in our head to do some major positive self-talk. If you meditate even for just 10 or 12 minutes a day this can help with changing your negative self-talk to positive self-talk.

Quoting from Pema Chödrön’s book Living Beautifully, “The key practice to support us in this mindfulness is being fully present right here, right now. Meditation is one form of mindfulness, but mindfulness is called by many names: attentiveness, nowness, and presence are just a few. Essentially, mindfulness means wakefulness–fully present wakefulness. Chogyam Trungpa called it ‘paying attention to all the details of your life.’”

As we get older, it’s even more important to live in the right now moment and, of course, that takes a lot of positive self-talk. Pema also wrote that, “The specific details of our lives will, of course, differ, but for all of us, wakefulness concerns everything from how we make dinner to how we speak to one another to how we take care of our clothes, our floors, our forks and spoons. Just as with the other aspects of this commitment, we’re either present when putting on our sweater or tying our shoes or brushing our teeth, or we’re not. We’re either awake, asleep, conscious, or distracted. Chogyam Trangpa emphasized mindfulness and paying attention to the details of our lives as ways to develop appreciation for ourselves and our world, ways to free ourselves from suffering.”

Additionally, Pema wrote, “You build inner strength through embracing the totality of your experience, both the delightful parts and the difficult parts. Embracing the totality of your experience is one definition of having loving kindness for yourself.”

This type of thinking and action certainly has made me more productive and keeps my mind busy. That along with setting a schedule and coming up with some new goals that fit my age and stage has been quite wonderful. At first it seemed quite silly for me to pay total attention to getting dress or taking a shower, but I have found it to be a good, and important, experience.

Celebrating Life

February 5, 2016 by  
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I just flew from Kauai into Salt Lake City. Yep from the beach and palm trees to snow and cold—brrr! We are staying in Utah for just a few days. We made this special quick trip from paradise to the snow country of Park City and Deer Valley Utah for the grand celebration of the life of the legendary world champion skier and our dear, wonderful friend, Stein Eriksen.  In my January 2nd blog I talked about my 2016 New Year’s Resolution to follow Stein and Francoise example of being a great friend; my goal is to be a much better friend and cultivate more and more friends.

When you live 88 years as Stein did, a celebration of life makes so much more sense than that thing they call a ‘funeral’.  My message this week is a simple one.  Life is so very short and no one knows when their life is going to end but we all know that it will end at some point.  So to have a fuller life, we all need to celebrate each and every day. Or as my license plate on my new Tesla reads, “CARPIDM” which is an abbreviated version of ‘carpe diem’ which, of course, means ‘seize the day’.

Let’s set a goal to make every day count and make every day a celebration of our lives and spread that celebration and up beat feeling to all those around us. And do more of that celebration with our family and friends.  Live in the now! We all know we should do that so let’s be more aware of the importance of living in the now and in today and do it every day.  Remember, even if you live to be 100 years old that’s only 36,500 days and for me that only leaves 10,160, so I certainly need to practice what I am now preaching to you!

 

 

A DIFFERENT TYPE OF NEWS YEAR RESOLUTION

January 2, 2016 by  
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In most years past I, and probably you too, have set new year’s resolutions to make more money, get in better physical shape, or to scratch off another item on your bucket list but I had a major brain change a couple of days ago because of a very sad event. A man I consider my older brother passed away on December 27th. I had wanted an older brother ever since my actual older blood brother died right in front of me when I was all of 15. Stein Eriksen was Norwegian and maybe because of me being part Norwegian we hit it off big time many, many years ago. He was no doubt the most famous skier on the planet and was considered the founder of modern skiing. He won a silver and a gold medal in the 1952 Olympics and 3 gold medals in world championships in 1954. But all that fame and the money that followed was not the best part of this man. He the nicest, gentlest and kindest guy you would ever want to meet and you couldn’t ask for a better friend.

Stein was 88 years old and still full of life until the very end. In fact, 16 days before he passed we spent the evening with him celebrating his birthday along with his wonderful and beautiful French wife, Francoise, their son Bjorn and 2 other friends. He was the life of the party. My wife Kimberly and I had also had the great privilege of traveling the world with Stein and his wife. We skied together in Park City, Utah, and played tennis everywhere from his cabin in Montana to Gstaad, Switzerland. We often played with the famous tennis champion Roy Emerson, the very man who introduced Stein to Francoise many, many years before. We even cycled around the islands of Croatia when Stein was in his early 80’s. And I will never forget the long barge trip we took on the scenic Seine river in France. Francoise, being French, made it even more special and, yes, we did tip back a few glasses of good ol’ French red wine.

This past Saturday we got a call from Francoise telling us that Stein had been in the hospital. She said they were sending him home to live his last days and we had better come to the house as soon as possible. By the time we got to the house he was semi-conscious. We tried to communicate with him but the most he could do was wiggle his toes trying to answer some yes and no questions. The next day he was totally unconscious and with his family and a few of his friends at his bedside, this great and wonderful man slipped into what lies next. My incredible friend and big brother was gone.

Stein’s death really didn’t hit me until the next day. Those last two days in his bedroom I found myself being the comforter to his wife and family to the best of my abilities, but the day after he died I fell apart and a piece of me died. I had lost another big brother.

Now as I face a new year when I usually set new year’s resolutions that revolve around money, health and travel, I have a totally new perspective. I want to follow in Stein’s footsteps and gather more friends and, most importantly, be a better friend to others. Money, success, and fame are little tiny things when compared to good friends. Yes, these resolutions are hard to quantify but that’s ok. I’m going after them with all my heart and all my energy.

Next week, I am going to talk about why so many people set resolutions but fall short virtually every year. You might be surprised at what science has found when it comes to this subject.