Archives: April 2013

The Time is Now

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss

I regularly feel challenged by time. I want more time to do everything I want to do, learn the things I want to learn, be with my friends and family, and just relax once in a while. Yet time holds me prisoner in its unstoppable progression.

Ultimately, what is most stressful about life is our relationship with time.  Modern life is a multitasked existence. In our pursuit of productivity, we have perfected the art of constant partial attention such that our enjoyment of the things we do is equally fragmented. Spending time with friends, we think about work. Working, we wish we had more time to spend with friends. Though we may speak on the phone, read an email, and eat at the same time, we have not tripled our efficiency as much as diminished the quality of each experience.

If time holds us captive, it simultaneously offers the key to our liberation. Our shackles belong to the past and the future. In the present moment there is no past or future that is not contingent upon our attention to exist. Learning to manage our attention is the best way to manage our relationship with time.

Quality of life is proportional to the quality of our attention. Presence is focused attention on the current moment. It’s a choice and a practice. We choose to be present with our work, our friends, and our families. Then we practice and practice and practice.

In my own experience, this practice has been training myself to give attention to one thing at a time and being fully attentive when I’m having a conversation. I try to catch myself and breathe deeply whenever I feel my mind wander. In the pursuit of building a better relationship with my mind, I’ve found meditation, exercise, and diet to be the three pillars of progress. The key ingredient, though, is a continuing commitment to myself to be present.

Presence doesn’t make our schedule any less hectic. It does, however, change our relationship with time. Each moment becomes more satisfying, less consumed with worrying about what’s next. Time begins to revolve around our attention, instead of our attention revolving around time. That shift is the difference between freedom and bondage. It is the freedom to live life on our own terms, taking the time to do what’s important to us. It is the freedom to experience each moment fully, our attention undiminished by thoughts of elsewhere.

There is no magic analgesic that will grant us presence and mental acuity. Building a relationship with the mind takes work. Being present is a commitment to our own humanity. We exist to participate in life, not stress it’s future nor lament it’s past. Time only gives us one chance to experience the beauty in each moment. Now.

The Virtue of Selfishness: May 7, 2013

Being selfish is generally considered a bad thing, but what about when we’re being true to ourselves?  Can we really be selfless if we’re not happy?  Can we serve others if we feel depleted and overwhelmed?

The greatest contribution we can give to others is our own excellence.  In order to truly give of ourselves, we have to know ourselves – know what we actually have to offer.  What does this mean though and how can we distinguish between being selfish for the right reasons and being selfish for the wrong reasons?

This meetup will explore the relationship between selfishness and selflessness.  What is the difference between serving and pleasing?  How do we truly serve others?

To register, please click here.

The Human Spirit

“There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.” – Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States

This week I sat down to write about the human spirit. I wanted to understand how is it that something common to every human being is so difficult to grasp. No doubt this is the domain of religion, but my inquiry is more practical in nature – what does it mean to be human? Though my quest did not yield the articulate definition I was hoping for, it left me with a powerful thought: the human spirit offers us the capacity to persevere in pursuit of truth.

Our most rewarding endeavor is to build confidence in our beliefs and cultivate the wherewithal to actualize them. We are born to contribute by creating. From that intangible space between mind and heart emerges the palette of creativity. Our thoughts are manifest through action, each a stroke of the soul’s paintbrush. Life is the canvas upon which our spirit renders it’s masterpiece.

Each of us struggles with limitation in a very personal way. Without limitation we would have no individuation. Humanity would be a canvas of even monochromatic brushstrokes. Our perceived limitations offer the kaleidoscope of human experience. The apex of our potential is where we find the full expression of our being.

In striving to realize our full potential we encounter the source of our fulfillment and frustration. That which is most true to us, the deepest desire in our heart, is rarely a straight and easy path. In my own life, I’ve endured lots of failure and even spent a year living in my car. I’ve been in situations where I simply did not see a light at the end of the tunnel. Worse than failure, is ambiguity. Not knowing how to move forward, being stuck in limbo. It’s painful and can make the strongest person want to quit.

The alternative, however, is not being true to oneself. It is to diminish the human experience, settling for an easier life at the expense of our heart’s joy. We let ourselves down and sell others short the benefit of our full grace. Each of us is an example of what is possible and, by virtue of that, inspires greatness in others. Our greatest contribution to those around us is our own excellence.

When there’s a truth that we are aching for, when a person yearns to fathom the color of their own soul, the human spirit gives us the capacity to see it through. How ever many times we might fall, the human spirit gives us the strength to get back up and try again. Inevitably, persistence begets progress. One day, despite all odds, we accomplish what we set out to create.

We overcome limitation when we change our perspective. We tend to think of ourselves as existing in one time and place, but we don’t. The present moment is only the tip of the paintbrush. It takes time to create a work of art. Our journey begins with the first stroke and our spirit, that intangible essence which makes us human, sees us through to the last.