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In all the personal development literature, probably the hottest and most read category is productivity –  specifically about  finding ways to deal with procrastination and getting things done.

This week I came across an excellent article written by Carolyn Rubenstein of A Beautiful Ripple Effect about ways of getting more done. Make sure to visit her site as there are more top class articles and excellent advice to be found there. Carolyn is also the author of Perseverance – True voices of cancer survivors.

The article was split in a two post series which I would like to summarize here for your info.

Carolyn starts by explaining how one of the main reasons of having our work flow blocked or even procrastinate about starting is because we get engulfed in a mind pattern sometimes referred to as the ‘Analysis-paralysis’. This state is when we get overwhelmed by the details or by the weight of projects and deadlines looming in our brains.

This is where we get debilitated. We get detached from the flow process and the more we struggle the deeper we whirl in the analysis-paralysis mind trap. Cheer up though cause there are also really effective ways of steering away from these self-limiting patterns. I would like to list them down in point form for you here:

Pt #1 – Weakening the analysis paralysis

1. Change your perspective: More often than not, getting stuck in a rut is more an issue about our internal perspective rather than an external obstacle that we face. The mind sometimes gets in a loop while trying to solve a problem and hence we end up spinning wheels. Carolyn suggests taking a wider, different view of the issue. It’s like having your nose stuck to a painting & you’re only seeing certain details. You move back you see the whole painting afresh. Very important. See the problem from a different angle and question whether your expectations are  realistic or overshot. If not try to realign them to middle ground.

2. Engage your right-brain: Now this is a point I totally liked. Being a right-brainer myself, I could fully dig  into it. Analysis is the domain of the left-hemisphere of the brain. It’s linear, logical analysis while the  right-brain is more intuitive, synthesizing ideas and joining the dots in a larger picture. And yes, it is more  creative. When you get stuck in analysis-paralysis, you have to switch activity from left to right and stop what  you’re doing to engage in more playful & creative tasks such as brainstorming & mind-mapping ideas on a whiteboard  with colourful markers (something I love and really works for me!!!), drawing for a few minutes with crayons or  pastels or jot down some fun & crazy ideas.

3. Move that body!: Simple, amazing & can only take a few seconds. Just move away from your chair and do any  movement and exercise – stretch, jumping on the spot, aerobics, Tai Chi, walk, etc. Moving the body is like a  portal to a more relaxed, aware and clear state of mind. This is why you feel that sense of well being after a walk  or a run. That is also why people get entranced by dancing or moving their bodies to a rhythm. (more…)

7 Kick-ass Steps to Getting More Done

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Taking risks

This is a guest post by James Adams

To get ahead, you need to take risks. Before jumping into a project, you need to assess the risks that you are willing to take. Here are ten considerations for smart risk taking.

1. Take lessons from the past

Every success and every failure has lessons to be learned. Is this a new project? If it is, there are others who have taken similar risks. Is this an improvement on an older project? What are the lessons that can be learned from the older project? Every failure is a teaching experience.

2. Set a time frame

When you prepare yourself to take a risk, establish a time frame within which you expect to see results happen. If you know that it takes at least two months to know whether something is successful, don’t start measuring results after the first month. Give your ideas time to come together.

3. Define success

Assessing the success or failure of a project means that the qualities of success have been defined. For that new website to be successful, what needs to be in place? Do you need to have X unique visitors? Do you need to make X in sales? Define your winning scenario.

4. Conquer your Fears

Fears lead to doubt. Doubt leads to inactivity. There are many people who are content to sit on the sidelines because they are not willing to take the risks required. You are willing to take those risks. Don’t let doubt and fear get in your way.

5. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Do not be so wholly committed to your project as to put everything on the line. Your venture could be a great success or a great failure. If your venture ends in disaster, have something in reserve from which to rebuild. Like in gambling, bring only what you’re willing to lose. (more…)

10 Tips for Taking Risks Constructively

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We live in a world in which egocentric views,short-sighted decisions, disrespect for our natural environment, wars over ideologies, etc (the list goes on a couple of paragraphs) are still prevalent and recurrent themes even now at the dawn of the 21st century.

Idealists like myself like to believe in an emerging culture of creative thinkers & leaders that will slowly guide us to break free from the old beliefs & power structures until we reach a tipping point after which global change starts accelerating very fast on its own accord.

Some people choose to refer to this as the global paradigm shift in the way we see the world, some others refer to it as the evolution of human consciousness. Others talk about the transcendence of individual & collective consciousness from the grips of the ego.

The latter is a nice metaphor which I opt to use for its ability to fit in diverse fields of human knowledge such as Spirituality, Jungian Psychology, Metaphysics, Consciousness studies, Systems thinking and others.

I see the world as still being dominated by ego-consciousness simply because the majority of individuals on this planet are still held by the grips of their ego. The rite of passage from ego-based consciousness to a more transendent eco-consciousness is an individual one as much as it is a collective one. Spiritual teachers like Andrew Cohen in fact believe that this shift in human consciousness operates collectively and synergistically within a group or network of like minded individuals with the same intentions & obectives.

This notion struck me as very plausible. In fact I very much believe that just like our language, thought,behaviour & belief systems do not operate in isolation but are influenced and partially determined by our social environment, so is our spiritual development. We have to start seeing things from an ecological point of view and not a mechanistic one because life & consciousness, like all other things, are networked and highly interconnected. It is no coincidence that many disciplines are now giving a lot of importance to understanding phenomena in terms of network dynamics and complex systems.

The shift from ego-based consciousness to an eco-based consciousness is also a naturally painful one. Parallels can be drawn. In our lifetime, growing up, accepting changes,taking responsibility, breaking away from the mold and leaving our comfy cocoon is never a smooth transition. But it’s part of life if we are to mature and wisen up.

I would like to suggest a few points to contemplate and meditate upon in order to open up one’s mind to the possibilty of eco-consciousness. One of my intentions is to integrate these perspectives in my general world view and habits. Here they go:

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From Ego-Consciousness to Eco-Consciousness:10 Meditations

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2925048053_6eda5f190cI was re-reading a passage from “A complete idiot’s guide to Zen living” by Gary McClain and Eve Adamson when I was struck anew by a very simple concept (don’t be misled by the title – it’s an excellent book for both newbies or otherwise and it’s a reference guide I regularly come back to).

The idea was posed in a very simple question which read: If you were to write an autobiography what would you start the first chapter with? Is it going to be something along the lines – “Someday I’m going to be….” or something like “Today I lived…”?

The question is raw and simple as it can get yet it’s profoundly intriguing. The answer defines whether you are living in an illusory self-definition of  yourself or one in which the concept you have of yourself truly reflects who you are.

Bang! It zapped me right between the eyes. It very much points at one of my failings and shortcomings. I don’t want to sound like I’m beating on my chest in guilt, but I do have to admit that I sometimes conceive of myself in terms of what I want to be or achieve rather than what I am doing at the moment. I envision myself by means of my potential self and not my actual self.

Did this ever occur to you? We are all driven by some goal or mission that we want to reach in life be that having a successful career, being leaders in a particular field, having a life full of rich experiences and inspirations and so on. And yes, we all day dream about it with our mind floating away into some imaginary future episode of our lives where everything is as we think it should be.

We project this future autobiography in our heads. We design the plot, characters and scene settings down to the slightest details and enthrall ourselves in this self-created fantasy minutes or even hours at a time only to have our playback paused or interrupted only by someone or something.
Isn’t this normal and kind of OK? don’t we all do that? Don’t we all have aspirations and dreams about how we want ourselves to be in future? Aren’t goals and visions of my self in the future necessary to make me thrive forward?

Yes and no. Yes goals are important and so is visualizing yourself having or living those particular goals but identifying yourself with what you want to be rather than what you are, presents a series of problems which are not apparent at first.  Here are a few: (more…)

What does your autobiography look like?

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One thing that constantly fascinates me is our ability to be unaware and oblivious of great wonderful things in front of our eyes on a day to day basis.

Sometimes we are so consumed by mundane problems and current affairs that we filter out a lot of information around us. This makes us lose sight of the bigger picture and the magnificence of grand things in our life journey – a journey we so often take for granted.

In many ways we lose out on creating meaning in our lives because of this simple yet inherent flaw in our nature.

Imagine how more meaningful life would be if we could every now and then step back and shift our awareness from the small picture to the big picture.

If we could escape for a minute from the reality of our daily routines, concerns and narrow habitual cycles (which we seem to drive on autopilot), we can gift ourselves with the knowledge of how special some things in life can be.

One thing which we fail to see is how special we are and I would in this respect like to suggest a couple of valid reasons why this is so. (more…)

10 reasons why you are so special

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Most of us, myself included, grew up with the notion of our bodies as  bio-physical machines that no matter how astoundingly beautiful,intricate and complex, they are in the end merely physiological.Nothing more, nothing less.

I had this general assumption challenged when I read Eugene T. Gendlin’s book called ‘Focusing’ a couple of years ago.

Gendlin considers the body to be intrinsically linked to the person as a whole and not just a separate physical system that answers to the brain’s command.He however keeps his literature free from metaphysical notions such as mind, consciousness and spirit.

The idea behind Gendlin’s concept of focusing is not novel per se. It intersects with several other key ideas from ancient philosophies such as the practice of mindfulness meditation. The difference is that he offers a series of simple practical steps to develop awareness of our inner bodily sensations and use this ‘felt sense’ to listen to the wisdom of our bodies through what he calls the six focusing movements.

In essence, the focusing method is a way to use awareness of inner bodily sensations as an entry point to an inner mental space. So far this is perfectly the same methodology as mindfulness meditation – using inner awareness as a way to get into the ‘gap’ between our thoughts and, to use Eckhart Tolle’s words, access an undercurrent of stillness beneath our frenetic stream of conscious jitter. This is the first of the six focusing movements, Gendlin calls ‘clearing a space’.

The way that focusing parts away from meditation and mindfulness techniques is its application. Focusing uses the awareness of inner bodily feelings, usually in the stomach,chest or throat areas, in relation with a problem or an issue.

So for example, I might be having a creative block due to stress at work and I might use focusing techniques to ‘reach into’ the ‘felt sense’ (say a tight constriction in my stomach). The technique also involves staying with the felt sense for a while and using a ‘friendly nonjudgmental approach’ to get a deeper insight of my subconscious causes of the creative block. (more…)

Let your Body Talk – Accessing the Inner Wisdom of your Body

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At 36 years of age I am considered to be relatively young…at least by all those belonging to higher age groups than mine. Being in your mid-thirties is a curious thing. It’s like being in a passage way, a midway stage that does not belong anywhere in particular.

You haven’t yet reached that maturation peak in your life and yet you are irreversibly not young anymore, only perhaps youngish depending on perspective. In any case I feel I have somehow switched lanes from one ‘life-stream’ to another.

Let’s be clear, we feel change throughout life all the time as we go through different stages of development and experiences. Yet there are milestones in life in which the change is more meaningful and in a way you are more mindful and conscious of that change.

I used to think that maturity is very relative in the sense that some people can be more mature than others even though they are younger, hence pointing at the fact that age is only a correlated but not necessary cause for maturity. life experiences and character dispositions are the real factors.

I have come to suspect that this is not entirely true. In a way I started believing that even though maturity is more or less relative, there are certain points in life in which your consciousness changes and this happens by time. Hence time is still an important factor.What I am trying to say is that maturity and change in consciousness are influenced mostly by experiential time but also influenced by our biological time. The former is relative the second is more or less standard with little variations.

I feel going through a point in life where I am more conscious of meaningful changes in life. This is driven by my experiential time but determined by my biological time. looking back I have come to identify 5 major changes that characterize my maturity.
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5 Things I am Changing as I Grow Older and Wiser

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Instincts

This is a question that I often hear when people are in doubt, confused or lacking enough confidence in external information to arrive at a sound judgment.

I am however not at all pleased to use the term ‘instincts’ in the title, or anywhere else for that matter. The word ‘instinct’ generally means having a preset behavioral pattern which is genetically encoded and inherited. In other words it is a behavioral template that organisms follow unconsciously and automatically. It very much alludes to a general lack of free-will and creativity.

I believe that the real ‘instincts’ that guide us through indecisive or difficult moments in life run in opposite direction to unconscious and automatically responsive behavior.

In fact it involves our ability to momentarily ‘awake’ from those unconscious cycles of behavior and see through the veil of socially and individually constructed realities. It is a temporary transcendence beyond the compulsive patterns of thought and emotional habits that are ultimately not authentic but socially induced.

Trusting your ‘instincts’, or as I prefer calling it ‘listening to your heart’,is like connecting to a ‘web of consciousness’ in which energy and ideas flow naturally and freely. I have written something about this in the past here.
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Can I Trust my Instincts?

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This is a guest post by Carol of Straightlinemeditation.com

Better than your Guru? Seriously, take your time to read the following method designed to help you break one of the biggest barriers of meditation: the mind’s uncontrollable wandering. For those who have tried meditation or practice it regularly know this problem very well.

You might have thought or believed that Gurus have come to a point in their lives where whatever action they pursue they do it effortlessly, perfectly and successfully. You might imagine that Gurus have achieved an absolute dissolution of mind and can sit down in meditation and instantly turn their mind’s activity on or off at will. Yet even Gurus are plagued by the mind’s natural tendency to wander and drift off in daydreaming and frenzy trains of thought. I would like to propose a method that is proven to solve this age-old problem: “Feedback.”

Why Meditation Needs Feedback

Attention is the key to success in meditation. Attention makes it work. When you sit down to meditate however, even with the best intentions, the mind wanders. Attention is hard to hold on to, but why? Why is attention so hard to hold on to? The answer holds the solution!

It’s because you lose attention without knowing you are losing it. In meditation, attention slips away unseen. To a research psychologist with an interest in skill learning, the solution is obvious: meditation needs feedback. (more…)

How To Meditate Better Than Your Guru: The Feedback Solution

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