computer code

What’s Your Glitch?

I have been burning through the latest offerings from Netflix including Russian Doll which explores choices, redemption, and the meaning of life.  In one episode, Nadia is called into work to fix a bug. Somewhere in all the code for a computer game, there was a glitch, some poorly-written code. Nadia reprogrammed the code, and all was well with the game.  What I have realized is we can all fix our lives with a bit of reprogramming.

We all run on code. Some of the code we are born with, like how our lungs and heart know how to automatically breath. Some code we consciously or unconsciously write ourselves. We learn from our parents, our teachers, our friends, society, and our own experience how to live. We learn something once or twice and then we write our internal code as to how to respond. We don’t have to relearn every day that a stove is hot. We learn it once and then it becomes programmed in our mental database along with the appropriate response (don’t touch). Much of our programming is done in the first seven years of our lives (based on current scientific thinking). Therefore, much of how we live our life at 30, 40, or 50 is based on programming decades old. Sometimes that old programming has glitches. What we have internalized as truth worked in one specific situation years ago, but it is not the best choice nor should be applied to current situations. We need to reprogram our outdated thinking.

computer code
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I am aware of many of my glitches or character defects, and I am sure there are many unconscious glitches yet to be brought to the surface. Here are some of my currently recognized defects/glitches. I react to strong egos and the greedy. I react to those who are “too pretty.” I react to what I deem is injustice. I react to the need to label and create exclusive groups. I react to those whose desire for money supersedes the welfare of the many. I react to those who appear to have had an easy life and expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. Because of these preprogrammed thoughts, I sometimes react to people and situations based on these beliefs and not by the real situation at hand.

Much of our life we live on autopilot. We react to current situations based on the code we created decades ago. We are not in the moment analyzing and acting based on current data. We are usually unconsciously reacting based on something that happened to us when we were five. And it can get us into trouble.

I have addressed many glitches already like the belief that it is good to put work above the welfare of those I love, and have hopefully reprogrammed the ones that were causing the most frequent and damaging harm to me and those around me. Currently I am digging deeper and working through more of my programming with the goal of living every day from a place of in-the-moment conscious action versus living-in-the-past unconscious reaction. Here are the steps I am taking:

Uncover

I am taking a fearless inventory of my past and am being aware in the moment of the contentious situations in my life. Analyzing each situation, I uncover the glitches in my thoughts and the unconscious programming which are causing harm.

Be Here Now

If your mind is like mine, it goes a mile a minute. And unfortunately, my mind is usually replaying again and again something that has already happened or playing out fifty different what-if scenarios for the future. We can not change the past nor accurately predict the future. What we can do is affect the present. To help me as Ram Dass suggests to Be Here Now, I do my best to meditate every day. I find that even spending five minutes a day can disconnect me from the busy-ness of life, turn off the useless monkey-chatter of my mind, and help me center so I can make conscious decisions.

Reprogram

Using the knowledge of my defects and doing my best to be present, I can consciously choose differently in the moment. Instead of being on autopilot, I have the power to make rational and better choices acting on clear thought versus reacting from poorly-written programming. And every time I make a new, healthier choice, I am creating new programming for the future.

What are your glitches? How do you work around them? How has your life improved when you remove poorly-written programming?

dog on tightrope

Achieving Balance

Here is a dog on a tightrope. Really. It. Is. A. Dog. On. A. Tightrope. I don’t usually share cat, or in this instance, dog videos in my posts, but better way to get your attention about what balance really means. As you watch this talented guy, you will see that he doesn’t get on the rope and stand perfectly still. He is in constant motion. He is constantly readjusting. To balance on the rope, he is moving and adapting in every moment.

dog on tightropeIt is the same with our balance. To be in a state of balance takes continual readjustment.

I think the pain many of us feel is that we expect to one day reach a state of perfection; to find the perfect way to be and handle our day – and that it is repeatable in the same way every day. We believe there is one perfect state of being and once we find it life will be steady.  This steady state of perfection does not exist. As life constantly changes, so too do we need to continually shift. Balance is not a point on a graph, it is not a timetable to be adhered to, it is not the perfectly planned execution of our day. Balance is our ability to constantly shift and adapt to the ever-altering and ever-changing way of life. When things are not shifting and changing, they are dead. To be alive is to be constantly moving, shifting, changing, and growing.

Somewhere along the line, work-life balance was assumed to be a steady-state. It was assumed there was a mythic point were the needs of our personal lives meet perfectly with our work responsibilities; 8.75 hours at work, 10.2 for personal care, and 5.05 for our family each and every day, not shifting, but uniformly working like clockwork. Sorry folks, a perfect ratio of time does not exist. Work-life balance takes constant readjustment. Child gets sick – life needs a bit more time. Deadline for your work presentation is tomorrow – your career gets the focus. Unexpected guest pops by – plans are dropped and redeveloped. Throughout the week, day, and each hour we are constantly adjusting our focus and efforts to maintain balance based on the changing world around us.

To gain balance sometimes we need to add one thing, sometimes another. As I tend to lean towards being a stressed-out Type A, I often write about bringing calm and self-care to my life. But sometimes I need deadlines, focus and concentration. Perfect balance is not just adding one thing. It is the pendulum swinging from surrender/peace to concentration/effort. Back and forth, and back and forth, in a continuous state of movement.

As you head into this new year, do not set resolutions to bring you what you think is perfect balance. No one formula exists which will work every day and in every situation. Instead, set a resolution to go about your day in a state of constant readjustment. It is in the moment by moment choices we make that we find happiness, good health, and success. The plan you make now for the rest of 2019, will be foiled by the gifts, glitches and unexpected changes which will happen over the next 365 days. Focus on the next 24 hours, not the next 12 months. See how focusing on the moment will give you the power to find as much balance as you can each and every day.

Wishing you all the best in the new year!

macchu picchu

Enlightenment

Currently I am part of an amazing group of women focused on their growth. One day we talked about enlightenment. I said I felt I had a moment of it when I was in Peru. It is something I still get glimpses of, but not at the depth I had there. They asked me to describe what my experience of enlightenment was.

macchu picchuBelow are the elements I recognized as part of my enlightenment experience. What I notice is if I can regain one or more of these elements, I can return to that peace in my daily life. Each element addresses something that can cause us pain, and by removing it we can find peace.

No Judgments

Judging ourselves, others or circumstances causes us pain. When we give something meaning, good or bad, is when we get away from the truth and into our interpretation of the truth which creates pain. I wrote about the peace of releasing judgments in a recent post where I shared an old story about how releasing the self-created highs and lows of life, provides more peace and contentment.

No Labels

One step further than no judgments, is releasing labels and words. When we label something, we have created a judgment – young or old, boy or girl, happy or sad. To find the peace of enlightenment, release words themselves. Once you label or name something, you have categorized it in your mind and it is no longer a magical thing existing on its own. Also releasing words detaches us from our self-created world. When we just see and experience things without a label, we experience the peace of unconditional existence.

No Desire

Desiring something means we are not unconditionally accepting of the current moment. We are saying what we have and where we are is not good enough. True enlightenment is being at peace with the current circumstance whatever it is. It means pure acceptance of this moment and not feeling the pain of wanting something better or different.

No Time

When in a state of enlightenment, the past does not exist or influence our current experience. There is no worry or hope for the future. It means being completely present in the moment without ties to the past or expectations for the future. It is the ability to be fully present in this and only this moment.

No Self

As we release judgments, labels, desire, and time, we begin to let go of the meaning of the self. Enlightenment is releasing the ego and personality. When we are not judging or labeling ourselves, we are free to just exist. When we release desire and time, we are in the moment. Imagine if you could release all your baggage, all your judgments, and just experience the liberty of being. It is experiencing from outside your physical being and mind. It is allowing yourself to be separate and independent from the human experience.

At One

When we are no longer tied to the self, we become at one with all. We no longer feel the separation created by judgments. We lose our self and blend into the wonder of all.  Instead of feeling lost and insignificant when we release the ego, we instead gain all existence. We no longer become a single drop of water, but can experience what is means to be part of and wholly the ocean.

When you are having a challenging day, see if you can experiment with one or more of these concepts. Start by spend 10 minutes every day and try to remove your words, judgments and labels. Be at one with what is around you without interpretation.  See if this new way of being can bring you peace. Namaste.

customer service

Making a Human Connection

This past Easter, a fire erupted in a local parking garage. Thankfully no one was injured. Although hundreds of cars were destroyed.

We park our trailer in this garage.

After a few days wait, we were able to access the garage and remove our trailer which was thankfully unharmed in any way. We had to find alternative storage as the garage would not be reopened for over a month. We found a place to store it and waited.

While we waited, I attempted to receive a refund for the time we paid for but could not access the garage. I talked to the mall office who sent me to the garage office which was inaccessible. A security guard gave me the phone number of the woman in charge, who never answered her phone. A friend obtained and called the number for the garage management parent company in Mexico City. On the first call we were told to call back because the individual we needed to speak to was on break. Next time we called there was no answer. At this point, I was measuring the importance of how much we paid for the missed month versus the effort to receive a refund. I laid the issue to rest.

customer serviceA week or two later, after the garage opened, I happened to be in the area with some time to kill. I walked to the garage office and asked for the woman in charge. After a few minutes she, and the two little dogs that accompany her at work, appeared. I was preparing myself for what I expected to be a terse conversation, when she introduced herself, shook my hand, looked me in the eyes and said, “Mucho gusto.”

In Spanish, “Mucho gusto” means approximately “pleased to meet you.” All at once we were not manager and customer but two human beings making a human connection. I smiled. She smiled. All the tension dissipated and we had a cordial conversation. In my broken Spanish, I was able to negotiate an extra month on my contract. Problem pleasantly and easily resolved in 15 minutes.

When was the last time you had to call the cable company or return something damaged to a store? What attitude did you go in with? Did you expect to be denied? Did you feel wronged, entitled, or outraged? Did you have anger blurring your mind?  When you entered the conversation, what happened? Did you get your issue resolved? If you did, did you feel good afterwards or did you still feel painful, angry indignation?

Replay the situation in your mind. What if you started off by introducing yourself and by taking a moment to truly connect to the other person as a human being. What if the issue was now secondary to the importance of treating the person across from you as a living breathing being with feelings?

Next time you need to address an issue or when someone confronts you in an aggressive manner, stop. Breathe. Connect as two individuals. Remember that you are speaking to a person who deserves as much respect and unconditional love as you do.

mindfulness

Daily Mindfulness

Last week we explored the definition of mindfulness. But how does one reach a level of constant mindfulness?  The first step is experiencing what I call the “State of Gray.”

The State of Gray is simple, and yet can be very difficult. Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, calls it being in the now. Martha Beck, author and columnist for O, the Oprah Magazine, has called it doing nothing, and most recently, wordlessness and oneness. Back around 500 BC, the philosopher Lao Tzu called it wei wu wei, or doing not-doing. Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, calls it refusing to obey the voice of knowledge. Buddhists refer to it as mindfulness. I like to call it the State of Gray, a peaceful space between black and-white thinking. No matter what this state is called, how it is described, or how one gets there, it is the very simple concept of turning off the mental monkey chatter of our left brain so we can truly be in the moment. Being in the State of Gray allows us to be free from thoughts of the past or future, free from judgments and expectations, and free to just be and experience. Excerpt from From Type A to Type Me

The State of Gray can be found in many ways. It can be found in through the practices of meditation or yoga. We can be helped to find the State through guided imagery or hypnosis. Some can even get there through solitary redundant movements like runners’ high, knitting, or playing solitaire. In my book I go into a deeper explanation of the State of Gray and how to get there. What I would like to share here is how to move from the State of Gray being a small portion of your day, to being the way you approach your life.

mindfulnessOne of my frustrations is when I meet someone who proclaims that they live a mindful life because they practice meditation for XX hours a day. Yet when I meet them, when they are not in meditation, they are not mindful. It may be true that they reach a zen state during their practice, but when they interact with the world they do not carryover the same state of acceptance, clarity, and compassion. The goal is to not to just find a pocket of peace but to bring that peace to everything you do and everyone you interact with.

The State of Gray gives us the foundation of mindfulness then, with practice, one can bring mindfulness throughout the day. Knowing that you ultimately control your body, mind, and emotions gives you the power and means to become mindful. We often feel controlled by our emotions. We allow our body’s distress to cause our negative reactions. We let our minds run wild with regrets of the past, fears of the future, or judgments based on our bias. Yet the truth is we have control over our reactions to our emotions and our body. We have control over the path our minds take.

Starting today, notice when you are reacting in a way you do not find pleasant. Then follow this simple, yet challenging steps:

  1. Stop
  2. Notice the trigger of the issue.
  3. Notice your unconscious reaction.
  4. Determine what part of your reaction you control.
  5. Then shift your reaction to something more positive.

When you are mindful, when you are truly aware, you have the power to create the life you want and the person you want to be.

art movement creativity

Living Fully

Last week I wrote about an incident over the holidays where guests marveled at the view I said I was “too busy” to see which made me aware of how my words were creating my life and the importance of those words. This incident also brought another issue to light, I am not taking advantage of the amazing opportunities surrounding me. When I started this blog I thought we were going to explore carpe diem or seizing the day, but the truth of this issue is bigger. The larger issue is that we are not living fully.

I work. I complete normal household chores. When I have a few minutes to relax, I stare at a movie or read a book or zone out on Facebook. With an amazing rooftop and pool within reach and a beach a short drive away, why do I spend most nights and weekends cooped up? I are not using the amazing amenities around me because I have been conditioned that nature, experiencing, and creativity are not important. As a society, we are totally engaged in mental activities which do not involve our bodies, our senses, our hearts, or our souls.

Our society tends to focus on mental acuity and business success. As Ken Robinson said in his TED Talk, “As children start to grow up, we educate them progressively from the waist up and then we focus on their heads, and slightly to one side.” Our education system is focused on obtaining a job in the workforce not for creating a full person. Schooling and the careers which result systematically breed conformity. Creativity, individuality, and self-exploration are not encouraged. Logic and the societally defined “real world” are all important. There is no time for play. No time to move. No time to explore. We find comfort in the rules. We feel safer when things are perfect, contained, and uniform.

But we are only living half a life.

art movement creativity

We are not using our bodies. We are not exploring our creativity. We are not tapped into our intuition. We are not gifted with the joys of deeply experiencing our senses. We are not stopping to smell the roses and soaking in the wonders all around us. Instead we are trapped in our minds. Imprisoned by responsibilities. Suffocated by conformity.

I challenge you to take time every day to engage in your full life. Dance. Paint. Create. Tell a joke. Explore. Touch. Smell. Play. Trust your intuition. Start noticing how a whole new you starts to take shape. Notice how you begin to be aware of your legs. Notice how you start seeing beyond your laptop. Notice how being fully grounded in your full self makes you feel whole again.

Notice that I am not saying to throw out thinking, education, or business. We just need to add the other half back into our lives. We are bringing together two halves of a whole which have long been disconnected.

And if you don’t mind now, I am doing to stop using my logical analytical brain and go color.