Fix Yourself First

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Anyone that’s ever flown in an airplane has heard the emergency instructions –

“Be sure to secure your own mask before helping others.”

The picture on the safety instructions even show a small child and this can seem counterintuitive. What parent wouldn’t make sure their children are ok before tending to their own needs?!?

But, of course, logically this makes sense. If you don’t first focus on your own mask there’s a pretty good chance you’ll pass out (or worse) before ups can even help your child or others.

So it is with our own minds.

If our minds aren’t clear and our intentions pure, we are in no position to help those around us – especially those closest to us.

Five minutes per day – that’s all it takes to gain some perspective and quiet your mind. It may not seem like a lot but it’s enough.

 

 

What’s In YOUR Resolution?

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Here we are – 2017. While people have pointed out that it’s merely an arbitrary point in our annual trip around the sun, New Year’s Eve/Day and the turning of the calendar signifies a moment that brings reflection. It’s a good a time as any to take stock.

Zen’s focus on being in the moment means that we shouldn’t spend too much energy looking backward or forward…but, setting goals and making resolutions can be a positive way to welcome in the new year.

I would encourage everyone to find some mindfulness in their lives. A steady diet of meditation – even spending five minutes per day quietly focused on the breath – can make a huge impact. For every resolution to get back to the gym to improve the body, take some time to also strengthen the mind.

Personally I’ve made a few resolutions of my own. In addition to continuing my meditation practice and spending more time at my sangha (Buddhist community), this year I will:

  • Take a coding class. I’ver been in the digital/technology space for years and am proud to work for an agency that builds incredible digital products. And, while I am conversant in “tech-speak”, I can’t write a line of code. I plan to change that if for no other reason than to have a baseline understanding and improve my ability to engage with my colleagues. There’s no shortage of free, online options available – like iTunes University and Code Academy.
  • Develop my inner artist. At the end of the year I started reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. Great book that is now celebrating 25 years in publication and is all about how to engage your natural creativity. One of the activities the author encourages is Morning Pages – writing out 3 pages each morning longhand. These can be about anything (or nothing) and is meant to tap into your inner artist. So far it’s been very helpful. Whether I ultimately apply this “artist” approach to writing a novel, making music or simply being more authentic and creative in my work, I look forward to focusing on it.

I suppose that putting these out there – something I’ve never done, btw – makes them concrete. So, here’s to growth and achievement for all of us in 2017.