THE 2 REALMS OF EXISTENCE, WHEN AND WHERE TO USE EACH ONE


I would like to begin this post with a mea culpa of sorts. In my books I advocate using the separation of mind and body to our advantage, especially in stressful situations. In fact, I have been quoted as saying “There is no law that says your mind and body have to be in the same place at the same time.” This is indeed true and can be helpful when you are in a stressful situation. It can also be used for motivation. Please allow me to explain both.

Let us say your boss is pressuring you for a deadline, or just being the pain bosses can be on occasion. As you practice patience and compassion in an effort to remain employed, you can go somewhere else in your mind. I transport myself to a beautiful beach in Jamaica sipping out of a coconut. It also reminds me that the job I am working will help me get to that destination. When I am working out at the gym feeling like I am going to have to start breathing through a brown paper bag and wondering if I wouldn’t be better off at home laying on the couch eating a pizza, I think of that same beach. This time I imagine how I would look sitting on the beach in my current shape. Usually, that is enough to help me power through the remainder of my workout.

So far this all sounds pretty good doesn’t it? There is one word of caution. In using this I have become a little too good at it. What do I mean by that? There are times when it serves us to have our mind at body in the exact same place and time. For sake of continuity and because I love writing about the tropics when it is below freezing here in Wisconsin where I live, we will stick with the Jamaican beach example. Let us say you finally reach that fabulous vacation you have been saving for. Now you are on the beach with the one you love enjoying the sun and frigate birds. It would serve you well to be both physically and mentally present in the moment. Paying attention to all that is transpiring and soaking in the ocean water and the memories. You should make an effort to not only remember, but relish in the sun on your skin and the joy in your heart.

What do we as humans tend to do? We do the exact opposite. When the boss is yelling, everything is in chaos and you have only been at work for an hour, what do we think about? How little your pay seems to match what you have to put up with? How many hours you have yet to struggle through? Wait….is that clock actually going backwards? Why are there not more windows in this office? When we finally make it to vacation or even just home from the office do we focus on all of the great things we finally have in our grasp? Often, the answer is ‘no’. We then think of how much the vacation is costing. We worry about the pet we left back at home. Or worse yet, we begin to have thoughts of having to go back to the office.

We can do a lot to correct this lack of being present with exercises to take control of our mind. A daily practice of meditation, even 5 minutes a day to start, can be very helpful. If you are unsure or just not familiar with meditation there are several CDs you can purchase (Brain sync is one of my favorite companies) or even just look at guided meditation on YouTube. Then you just pop on some headphones, sit back, relax and follow along.

Even more simple is taking time to be fully in the moment. As I write this I am sitting at a coffee shop. I can pause and notice the mingling of music and the blend of voices. I can feel the fabric of the chair I am sitting on. I can smell the aroma of fresh ground coffee beans. I can even pause, take a sip of my coffee…feel the texture of the cup against my lips, notice the temperature, smell the scent of the coffee and taste the mix of the slight bitterness of the coffee mixed with the mellow flavor of coconut milk I added.

Try doing this while engaged in a host of different events. You could try it while you are at a stop light. Notice the feel of the steering wheel in your hands. Smell the air in your car. Do you have the windows open? Can you smell fresh air? Can you feel a breeze? Maybe you are in a cold climate like me and can feel the heat coming out of the vents? Notice the sound of the engine, the passing cars, the birds chirping outside. Just make sure you notice when the light turns green again or you might also be able to notice the sound of the horn of the driver behind you.

Start practicing the separation of mind and body at the appropriate times. When you work, work hard. When you play, play hard too. Soak in the joy when it is there and escape back to it when it is not.

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A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS SECRET OF VACATION

By now most of you know that Margie and I enjoyed a well-deserved vacation at the Luxury Bahia Principe in Runaway Bay Jamaica. Here I am at the resort holding one of my favorite books. I presented several copies to different parties while I was there. The manager of the hotel actually called to give me his feedback and inform me that he was going to share several of the tools contained in the book with his staff.

Earlier this week on my YouTube channel Neil Panosian, as well as last week on this very blog, we looked at the benefits a vacation can bring you before you leave. In this post we are going to talk about the benefits you can receive from your vacation, but look at the dangers associated with it.

First the secret. I mentioned that Margie and I had spent time looking at videos and brochures prior to our departure to get our spirits up, and because the Wisconsin winter was especially long and tough this year, to keep our spirits up as well. The same thing will be applied for after vacation. This time the videos and pictures we will be watching will have us in them, because we took them! Not only will these be great for an emotional boost, but they will also be great for creating our vision boards. In my case it will also be a great motivating factor for the gym as well. There were so many fun and great moments on this trip, I was thrilled we could capture them. This includes a great snorkeling video I was able to take thanks to my new waterproof phone case.

This all sounds great, doesn’t it? What possibly could be dangerous about taking pictures and videos? The main danger, other than not watching where you are walking, is that you may miss the event for want of capturing it. With Margie taking cake orders and myself running several internet pages as well as keeping in touch with several publishers, we are both on our phones more that I would like. On vacation we made a concerted effort to limit that. We were also aided by what proved to be sketchy internet service and an issue with Facebook.

There is a thin line between wanting to capture the memory and being able to live the memory. There is nothing worse than going through your vacation photos only to find what you missed out on. What can we do to balance this out? Two things jump to my mind right away, but I would love to hear your suggestions as well.

One of the best things to do is to decide ahead of time pictures you might want to capture. Before Margie and I left on our vacation we knew a few of the things we were going to do. We were going to tour a coffee plantation, swim in the pool and ocean and enjoy several restaurants on the property. We also discussed where we would like pictures of us. I think we did a great job of capturing many wonderful moments. We both also wrote in journals to help record some of our wonderful moments we shared. Dividing the duties up between members of vacation party can make things a little easier as well. That way one person is not always behind the camera.

The second thing that jumped to mind may seem obvious, but is worth noting. Decide on moments that will be ‘phone and camera free’. Time to just enjoy and relax, to be in the moment. After our vacation was done we looked back on our pictures and were able to both savor the memories as well as appreciate the times we did not take pictures. I think it is important to learn from each vacation experience. That presents the opportunity to make each successive vacation even better. Some great examples is knowing what is worth packing and making sure to get rest before you leave. There was not much to regret on our wonderful tropical escape, but one thing we both agreed to do differently next vacation is to get some sleep the night before. Between jet lag and lack of sleep we lost half a day of vacation. It was great to rest in the tropical breeze, but I think we may do that differently next time.

YOU NEED TIME FOR THIS

All of us have things in life that we don’t like to do. Cleaning the bathroom, doing the dishes, waking up early on our day off. Life is full of things that drain our happiness as well as our energy. The crazy thing is we really drag these items out. I am not necessarily talking about the actual act of doing them, although in some cases that might happen too. What I mean is we start dreading them long before we actually begin them. In the course of doing them often we can spend as much time complaining as we do acting. If we don’t do so out loud, we often spend countless moments cursing under our breath.

What I am suggesting? Certainly not whistling and dancing with one hand, toilet brush in the other? Not exactly, but if you can find a way to do that let me know. What I am advocating is striving for a little balance. We can do this in two ways. First, spend time every day on something you enjoy. Whether that is eating a Kit Kat or a taco. Maybe it is sitting down to a nice relaxing cup of coffee or tea. Perhaps listening to your favorite music? Whatever your moment of bliss is, make sure to schedule it. When you do, spend a few minutes getting excited about it before you actually begin. Think about how good that Kit Kat will taste, or imagine what toppings you will get on your taco. Hard shell, soft shell or both? Think about the scent of the coffee brewing or the feel of the warm liquid as you sip it. Then pay attention as you prepare the activity. Get excited as you brew the coffee. Smell the tea bag as you open it.

Lastly, be present while you are engaged in the activity. I can’t recall the times I have been looking forward to a particular dinner and I am half way through before I really slow down to enjoy the taste. With the delicious meals Margie creates that is about as close to a sin as you can get. Slow down and pay close attention to every detail of happiness. Why not? Enjoy it to the fullest. Use as many of your senses as you can. Feel the chocolate melt in your mouth as you eat the Kit Kat. Hear the crunch as you bite into it. Smell the chocolate. Enjoy the look of the perfectly formed wafers. Taste all the mix of flavors with each bite.

Second, try if you can, to incorporate some things that make you happy into some of the activities you dread. Of course you shouldn’t have a Kit Kat in hand and a toilet brush in the other. The potential for disaster certainly looms in that one. If you can however turn up some great music while you work, why not? Maybe treat yourself to a Kit Kat or taco after you finish cleaning the bathroom. I would, however, recommend washing your hands. It may even give you a little joy in what otherwise would be an arduous task.

Let us all schedule some bliss in our day. When we do let us make full use of it. Drink every last drop of joy and happiness out of the situation. Be totally present and treat it as a sort of mini vacation if you can. I would be elated to learn some of your moments of bliss. What activities bring joy into your life? Share them in the comments below!

RELISH THE NOW

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Here is something great about being older,  you know how to appreciate and live in the moment. Have you ever noticed how in reflecting upon some of your greatest moments you often find yourself thinking “I wish I would have paid more attention to that”. Maybe it is just me. Take vacation for example. My last trip to the tropics was one day more than forever ago. I find myself forgetting what the ocean air smells like. The accent of the local people, the taste of the food. At the time you can become so involved with enjoying the experience that you forget to look around and soak it all in. As I’ve grown older though I not only look forward to more things I try to appreciate them not only after the fact, but while they are happening as well.

My latest example happened just the other night. After a long week apart and a morning helping her daughter purchase her first car, which we enjoyed being a part of. We were starting to really miss each other. Even though we DJ together Thursday through Sunday and I bartend while she is the DJ on Monday, the time is usually spent talking with our friends and singers, or looking up songs and addressing computer issues. What this means is by Tuesday we are really longing for time together. This particular Tuesday We began the day excited to go to the car dealership with her daughter and pick out just the right car. The whole experience was quite fun, but lasted all morning and then I had to leave them to go to work. I work until 6pm, by then I was really eager to go home to bed. Still my lady had been busy herself. After her daughter had taken home her new dream car, my lady Margie had met with some ladies to discuss details of a specialty cake she was going to create for them. She was also quite worn out by the time I got off of work, but asked me if I could stop off for a cup of coffee before coming home as she was working on a surprise for me. I was really tired and may have even heard a whisper from my pillow asking where I was, but seeing how she was taking the time and effort to do something nice for me after a long day herself I was more than happy to relax at the local coffee shop.

Here is where it gets good. As I walked through the door I noticed she had made the house clean and it smelled of candles and incense. She lead me by the hand into the kitchen before telling me “Wait the surprise is not in here” This was followed in the same manner in my office, and a few other rooms. Finally stopping in our hallway she said “ok, here it is”. She opened the bathroom door and showed me where her effort had been. After cleaning the entire bathroom, she had filled the bathtub with Epsom salts scented with eucalyptus and mint, lit candles and poured a cold glass of wine. “Take your time, there is more” she said as she left me there.

As I lowered myself into this amazing world I must confess the writer in me was the first to kick in. “I have to blog about this!” was my very first thought. Then something great happened. While I was figuring out what exactly to say I began to focus on every detail of the experience. First was the scent. The eucalyptus and mint had a calming yet invigorating effect on my brain. Then the feel of both the salts and hot water on my body. It was both calming and healing all at once. Aches and pains that had been there for a week straight began to melt. Then I looked at the tropical colors and decorations all lit by the candles and thought how much it all resembled the finest spa. Then the taste of the wine, cool in contrast to the hot water. As I lowered myself into the bath the world was still and quite, silenced by the water covering my ears. That is something you do not get in the daily world of quick showers before work. I forgot how much I enjoyed the simple pleasure of being under water. as I looked up I saw clouds of steam floating over my eyes. I watched as they danced around each other before disappearing as they cooled. Something I had probably witnessed but never noticed until that very second. Then the feeling of gratitude for the amazing efforts of the lady that put this all together.

This was followed by a series of other wonderful events that continued to spoil me. I took the time to notice and appreciate every detail as much as I could. I also tried to employ as many of my senses as I could. Then when I recalled the event as I did while writing this blog, it seems as real and amazing as can be. Far too often I have had great moments only to fail to recall the details, just that they were fun, romantic or happy. By being present, not on my cell phone or thinking about what is for dinner the next day or a million other worries not only was the event so much more enjoyable, but so is the memory. By the way the evening concluded with watching one of my favorite movies I had been wanting to watch for weeks followed by some of the most blissful sleep I have had in ages.

So here is the takeaway on this one. Starting right this very moment do your best to be present. Enjoying and taking in whatever circumstance you find yourself in. Out to eat? Notice the decorations in the restaurant and the waiters personality. enjoy the aroma of the food as it arrives at the table. Feel grateful you do not have to do the dishes after. Enjoy the looks and conversation of the people who took the time to join you. Enjoy every second of every experience in life.

Feel free to share this post as well as your own memories you enjoy in the comments below. To conclude I want to again thank my beautiful lady for not only making this blog possible, but the evening and the memory as well.