A lot of what I’ve been writing about over the past few weeks seems to have been on energy, streamlining your life, and putting the focus where it most matters.
￼But none of it means anything if you’re draining down your battery. You can go and go, get everything accomplished, but if you’re too tired to enjoy it, what’s the point?
So what reenergizes you? For me, it’s solitary times. It’s spending moments in contemplation away from the pull of anyone else’s agenda. Certainly, I like being of service, and helping where I can. But this can easily lead to burnout. (I mentioned Alex Strohl’s advice previously.)
There are times when drastic measures are needed. Complete revamping. But that’s not about recharging. It’s more of attempting an upgrade.
When we go through the day, we tend to live in reactive modes. Taking inputs, and responding.
Like I wrote yesterday, carving out time is one way to establish creative time. It’s because time spent outside of incessant noise is time spent with yourself.
Meditation and mindfulness will produce the same result, but only with practice.
“Tis the gift to be simple, tis the gift to be free.” – 19th Century Shaker Song
There is immense enjoyment in the simple task if you know how to look for it. Sipping coffee, brewing tea, or shaving, for example.
Not only can it be pleasurable, but it can also be meditative. In Thich Nat Hahn’s The Miracle of Mindfulness, he mentions a book of meditations titled The Essential Discipline for Daily Use. A book of small sentences designed for the reader to “take hold of his own consciousness.”
When the mind engages wholly in the simple task, then all troubles seem to fade away.
Two weeks in a row. I’m still feeling good about it. Calling it Weekly Rundown, that is.
What I’m Reading: Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life by Terry Brooks. Coming out of John McPhee a few weeks ago, I wanted to give this one a try. Concise, fun, and a little “out there”, I’ve enjoyed reading it so far. One thing that did throw me off a bit was the intro by Elizabeth George, who derided some authors who could only produce one book. Whereas I do respect a person’s opinions, I think anyone who has at least sat down to write a book, even if it’s just one, deserves some consideration for their efforts. But that’s a minor thing, at least for me.
What I’m Listening To: The Nothing But Major Gifts Podcast. This episode deals with keeping Major Gift Officers. So I’ve actually worked for two organizations, building a development program from scratch for them. After about ten months at each place, they felt the results weren’t worth the money or effort that they were putting in. Best practices require one-to-two years for that level of relationship building. After my last stint, mired in aggravation and dealing with an unresponsive ED, I decided that I’d never take on a fledgling development department again, unless perhaps a contract was in place for a period no shorter than three years. Anyway, if nonprofit administration is interesting to you, check out the Veritus Group and their podcast.
What I’m spending my time with: Meditation. I’ve been trying a new 3x daily meditation practice (most days… I’m committed to every day for a month. Working my way up to it.) I was recommended this practice from a yoga teacher I practiced with last week. In theory, it’s a way to rest your internal programming – pushing through all of the negative buildup that accumulates. Here’s a link to Elephant Journal for an article I found, but it doesn’t really explain the three times daily practice.
Other things of interest to me this week:
- Seth Godin’s post on mediocrity, and how corporate policy is about consistency, not necessarily excellence.
- Society for Psychical Research. A leftover from Mary Roach’s Spook, I was curious to see what kind of activities that they investigated.
- Dude – a brief history from The Atlantic. “You know… if you’re in to the whole brevity thing.”
- Trying some new recipes in the kitchen, this time experimenting with Indian cuisine. My first endeavor will be this weekend making Aloo Matar, but here’s a link to some basics.
All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. ~ T. E. Lawrence
A dream is a powerful tool, and one which, if fully invested in, will transform the lives of all who come in contact with the dreamer. The greatest results come from a full and unwavering commitment to the dream – I think of those who dedicated their lives to the pursuit of one thing (or at least a specific track) and climbed their way to that mountain.
Many books have been published on the subject, such as Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, or Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins. The fact is, the mind is the greatest resource we possess, and learning to harness it is a challenge. Especially in the world of cluttered lives and information overload that we inhabit.
Think on your one thing. Meditate. Maybe it’s more than one thing. That’s okay. Find your focus, and make forward motion.
I started intermittent fasting a few weeks ago, on a trial basis for health and energy purposes. I noticed something, more of a byproduct than an intentional effect:
Meditation becomes easier in a fast.
We’re accosted by thoughts arising from Monkey Brain (or lizard brain, or whatever you’d like to call it). It tells is to eat, procreate, find shelter, drink fluids. It also sends the irrational fear signals. And the criticisms. It’s insidious, and it’s always going.
Now, with a lack of food it tends to focus more on hunger. I become used to thoughts of “is it time to eat yet?” I can learn to tune those out easier, and it’s mostly sending me those thoughts. I’m then able to filter past them and listen to more higher-level thoughts.
It’s been an interesting endeavor, and I’m enjoying the increased concentration from the intermittent fasting.
I’ve been working out a 168-hour timeline for the week, planning out days. Without overlap, it looks something like:
- 56 hours – Sleep
- 50 hours – Job
- 10 hours – Writing
- 10 hours – Dining/meal prep/shopping
- 9 hours – Side hustle
- 7 hours – Reading for pleasure / studying
- 6 hours – Podcast & video recording/editing
- 6 hours – Yoga/exercise
- 4 hours – Music gigs
- 4 hours – Meditation
- 3 hours – Radio show
- 3 hours – Nothing
Now, I rarely sleep 8 hours per night. I haven’t been as faithful in my yoga practice as I should be. And I do write sometimes during gigs when I’m not singing. So there is overlap.
The problems come when other things creep in and I have to decide which items to omit from the daily list. And things will crop up. Date night (which should be every week). The film that I just have to say (a lot coming out this summer). And other activities that require some measure of concentration on my part – I’m thinking of the garage that needs an overhaul right now.
And I look at Benjamin Franklin’s daily schedule in awe, and can’t help but wonder how he managed it. (Of course he didn’t, but it didn’t stop him from trying.)
“Continue to act thus, my dear Lucilius – set yourself free for your own sake; gather and save your time, which till lately has been forced from you, or filched away, or has merely slipped from your hands. Make yourself believe the truth of my words, – that certain moments are torn from us, that some are gently removed, and that others glide beyond our reach.”
Being mindful of our time is the first key to freedom, to success, and to many other attributes we aspire to. It is a component of Zen, of meditation, of prayer, and of business. Being present.
Seneca’s assertion to gather and save your time is the fundamental principle of mindfulness.
“…if you will pay close heed to the problem, you will find that the largest portion of our life passes while we are doing ill, a goodly share while we are doing nothing, and the whole while we are doing that which is not to the purpose. “
He continues on asking Lucilius to pay close heed to the problem of time slippage. Stick to the purpose! Which means knowing the purpose.
And what is your purpose? How can you know if you’re wasting time not chasing it, if you’re not really sure what it is?
Or maybe the problem isn’t that you don’t know your one purpose – rather, your purpose is so complex and multi-faceted that you must proceed down several avenues at once to achieve it. And if that is the case, then your attention to time must be even more strict.