Saturday, November 28, 2009

Productivity, Burnout and Happiness

Happy Beings
"Love Letter" Blog

Productive: Is it cracked up to be what we are told?

Easily we get bogged down. We feel burdened by an encumbering workload and an endless to do list.

Do you know what I’m talking about?

We have so many things in process and yet too many yet to get started. In our minds, one idea about what should be done is colliding with the other. We live in a world were getting things done is equivocal with being productive, and we have all learned from a wee age that we must not shun our individual responsibility in being productive. We learned that productivity adjoins us with our acceptability. And, certainly we have learned to seek acceptability.

But productivity as many of us have learned to perceive it, is not always what it is cracked up to be. Productivity can often run against the grain of wellness. By climbing on the productivity treadmill we easily forego a calming and fulfilling activity like actually walking in a park. We give up the joyful sensations of observing, feeling and being one with a total experience. We relinquish our enjoyment of the present moment for some gamble on a future payoff. Yet we are suckled on productivity and thusly use a lifetime to nurture ourselves on it.

Productivity is often mistaken for effectiveness. Productivity is usually likened to getting to a goal by virtue of the shortest distance. It inherently holds little tolerance for mistakes, and accepts no excuses for falling short of a deadline. Thusly productivity is linked to satisfaction vis-a-vie perfection (ie…perfection equals productivity). Productivity as we have come to know it does not include waste, ineffectiveness or inefficiency. Those who are most productive receive the golden star. They went from “A” to “B” with minimal or zero glitches. Staying on task, they got in done in a specified timeframe.

One frequent problem arises with those who are consumed with being productive. That problem is commonly known as burnout. Many of us, who have traveled miles along the endless productivity road, have done so with the following question lingering within: “Why am I spending my life this way?” Or, “Is this what I am really meant to do?” If one of these questions or similar questions begins to arise, then you know that burnout is on the horizon. These kind of shooting-star-like questions are first-line symptoms of something that is more intense and mentally de-habilitating.

If you experience burnout or would like to put it in check before it shows up, then you may realize some relief by pondering the following questions. Is this what I want to be doing 10 or even 20 years from now? Is this the way I want to spend my life? Or better yet: “If I keep on going as I am, what does my life look like down the road? Am I excited about what my future presents? Do I have a purpose for my life? What is the meaning of my life?

If you are experiencing some degree of burnout you may find that you are glazing over the answers to these questions, or if the questions are not registering as palatable, then it may be time to take a self-audit.

Ask these questions and ponder your answers. What would have to change about my life for me to be happy? What would have to change about my work- life for the dissatisfaction to be removed. How is my dissatisfaction tied into productivity expectations? Am I an approval chaser?

The final question to help put things in perspective is: Am I doing what really and truly matters to me? If you are affected by this article or stymied or provoked while reading it, then that is a favorable sign. In any case you can benefit by knowing that you are either living out your purpose, or that purpose is still awaiting. I’m not “diss-ing” productivity. Rather I’m pointing out that when we indulge ourselves in the mindless pursuit of being productive, then our wish for finding happiness is linked to something outside our calling. When that happens we must chase the expectations of productivity in order to be who we are expected to be.

But is that who we really want to be?

Here is a suggestion: Read the article again, one paragraph at a time, but backwards. It may take you on a slightly different pathway and instill a profound linage on self-observation. Don

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Remembering Our Reality

Happy Beings
"Love Letter" Blog

“Even before being born we were being called forth by Divine Intention”

In spite of the movement of many toward a happier and peaceful way of life, many, many others continue to be enormously troubled. They feel that on a fundamental level something is still missing or lacking, and therefore are unable to grasp a way to permanently fill the emptiness within.

In the pursuit of a happier life and a more acceptable self, we often become increasingly troubled. We can “walk” through some very dark emotional valleys in our lives, where our love of self seems to have been eroded away, and the raw surface of painful feelings remain both over-exposed and unprotected.

Some of us are burdened with persistent moods of restlessness and discontentment. We feel as if we have been cheated or passed-by, and are therefore dismayed because life isn’t what we thought it would be, or didn’t turn out the way that it was supposed to.

Others must tolerate an existence that presents an endless series of frustrations and disappointments, causing them to feel as if they are trapped into fighting one battle after the next, making their struggle with ongoing conflicts and contradictions seem perpetually inescapable. These unfortunate folks suffer because of gnarling stress brought on by the collision of repetitive, rehashed thoughts.

And still, many others possess heavy hearts that are stuck in the grips of a dark and lingering gloom. They are left to feel lonely and sad because they can’t find a way to fit-in, suffer from feelings of abandonment, loss of a loved-one, or because they can’t seem to make a relationship work.

Why does this happen to so many of us?

The simple answer is: it happens because we have forgotten who we really are. In the perpetual pursuit of ways and measures that will prove our acceptability, we have distanced ourselves from the truth. The truth that we have forgotten is that we are one with a realm of consciousness that does not require us to meet a pre-determined level of acceptability. We forgot that we were born with pureness of heart and mind, and that pureness continues to be who we really are.

Even before being born, we were being called forth by Divine Intention.

As the gap grew between who we really are and who we are trying to be, we forgot about our reality. We forgot that we are totally acceptable and naturally happy. We became distracted. From a young age we are taught that the myth that was created about our self is the truth. This myth continues, being perpetuated by a reality that speaks to us about our lack of acceptability. This myth relentlessly communicates to us that who we are is not yet acceptable and we must do something other than what we are doing in order to come up to the compliance standards of a conventional reality. Don

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What Is Meditation?

Happy Beings

"Love Letter" Blog

What is meditation? What does it do? Why can’t I do it? Why is it such a struggle?

These are common question that arise when the topic of meditation comes up. So I thought I would use the Love Letter as the way for you to access an answer to these common and frequently asked questions. These are the simple answers.

Meditation is the practice of shifting one’s attention. During meditation we shift our attention from the continual series of random thoughts that arise, and instead focus awareness on a specific involuntary activity that occurs each moment; that activity is our breathing. In doing so we train our minds not to follow the random and often meaningless thoughts that keep popping up, and rather focus on one innocuous, neutral and natural activity - breathing. During a routine day the mind is drawn to thoughts about both the past and future, so the mind is afforded little dedication to just being in the moment. During meditation, as the mind jumps from one thought to another, we disrupt the continuum. In doing so, we make ourselves aware of how the mind continually operates in an unchecked fashion, continually doing what it has done, what it has been trained to do. During meditation we consciously shift the mind’s attention away from raising one thought after the next. We do so by redirecting our attention and instead of following the thoughts we notice the breath.

Meditation causes the meditating person to release his or her consciousness from the uneasiness that often invades and takes over the mind. The active ego-centered mind has been equated to a wild monkey that leaps from one tree branch to another. The monkey-like mind is caught up in much the same activity; leaping from one topic to the next.

Often these thoughts bring with them a myriad of distressful and unwanted feelings. Meditation is the practice of quelling arising thoughts and releasing undesirable emotions and feelings.

During meditation we allow any thought to come forth, then simply shift our attention by noticing our breathing. We do this over again, never grappling, nor being determined to trade one thought for the other. We avoid any tendency to struggle or wrestle with arising thoughts. Any and all thoughts are welcome. The thoughts are simply observed then released. If the thought returns, again it is set free.

Many people struggle with meditation because they believe it to be a time engaged in silent war, where the focus is on ridding one’s self of all thought. So, naturally in

such a case, the time used for meditating seems long and enduring. It is like being in the midst of a losing battle. The meditation becomes a long drawn out boring exercise in which expectations are never realized, nor is the desired outcome achieved. So what do these people do? They quit. In doing so they lose out on the peacefulness and true self-awareness that meditation offers. People experience self-defeating feelings because they do not know what meditation is intended to do for them. Nor do they really know how to meditate.

To enhance the calmness of our minds, in Happy Beings meditation sessions we involve ourselves in the interchange of both silent meditation and guided meditation. During the guided meditation, the meditation guide speaks and the group focuses on the message that is being communicated. Specific messages are rooted in visualization exercises; which assist in helping the meditating group to relax and be rid of the continual stream of thoughts that would otherwise run ramped.

Over time the practice of meditation brings clear thinking to the mind. By continually shifting our attention during the mediation sitting, we teach ourselves to intervene on the “monkey” thinking process, and begin to see our lives from a more objective and practical perspective. We learn to elevate our level of self-love and to discover the Real Self, the One that previously has been dimmed by an overindulgence in “monkey” thinking. Love to all of you. Don

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