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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.

Making the Next Year Last Twice as Long

April 8, 2016 by  
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Is it just me or does it seem like every year time speeds up?  Today, April 8th, is my 72nd birthday. It seems like my 71st birthday was only about 3 or 4 months ago! So now what do most of us do on our birthday? Yep, we celebrate.  But do we actually rejoice that we are getting older and closer to the end of our life?  Or maybe we are celebrating that we survived one more year?

The question really is, though, is there a way to slow down the passage of time?  Before I get to my ideas on that, I must tell you that one year ago I said to my wife without thinking it through, “Ya know honey, I don’t think I want to have any more birthdays,” and she quickly and wisely said, “Oh babe, I really think you do want at least a few more!” Duh. What was I thinking?

I guess when we are celebrating our birthdays what we really are doing, or at least what we should be doing, is some thoughtful reviewing of what we’ve spent our time on and what we’ve accomplished in the past 12 months. It should be rather like what we do around New Year’s eve.  And then after our reviewing we should take time to do some planning and goal setting for the next 12 months.

As far as what I think will work to slow down the passage of time, I have noticed that when I work at becoming totally aware of the present moment, in the ‘right now’, it does seem to slow down the clock a bit.  This last year I kind of moved away from taking notice and enjoying the ‘right now’ moments and spent too much time thinking about what I am going to do in the future.  True we all need to take time to plan and set goals but after we’ve done that we really need to concentrate our efforts to do more of living, enjoying and rejoicing in the moment. And that is what I plan on doing a lot of now before the big 73 rolls around.  Yep I’m going to slow Father time down.  Let’s all try to do that and see if it will make the next 12 months more rewarding and satisfying and, just maybe, those 12 months will seem to take twice as long to travel though. Let’s all slow the next 8760 hours down by living in the great ‘right now’.