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Friday, July 8, 2011

Change Your Mind - & Your Life Will Also Change - in 3 Weeks


Many people have asked me to re-print my New Year's newsletter article from January 2011 Change Your Mind - & Your Life Will Also Change - in 3 Weeks because of my 21-day program I recommend in the article, so here it is again ... if you can just love yourself enough to do it, you will find that things change very rapidly in your life (y para los hispano-parlantes, el artículo con enlaces a videos o artículos en español, también se puede pedir, acudiendo a mi website):


Here is my gift for you, my reader, as we are on the verge of entering a New Year. But even if we weren’t, or even if you read this article at any time at all during the year, you can begin the three week process whenever you wish. We want to make New Year’s resolutions, we want to change our lives, but life seems to get in the way and we wind up doing nothing. And yet, just like learning how to play a sport, or a musical instrument, or learning a new language, or learning your way around a new city you have just moved to, all it really requires is that you practice and that you keep yourself focused – on a daily basis - by spending a little time (and it truly is just a very little time) on reading or viewing something that strengthens your resolve to continue with this new practice.

In a nutshell: each day you will:

• do a brief “activity” and
• read a brief article or
• view a brief video or
• listen to a brief audio or
• reflect on a thought

Note: When the instructions for a given day indicate you should repeat something from the day before, it never refers to the bulleted activities.

The Three Week Plan

WEEK ONE

During this week you will mainly begin to practice becoming aware of your thoughts.

Day 1: Pick a time when you will have 10 free and uninterrupted minutes. Scan your day up to that point, and become aware of any time during that day that you were not in an optimal frame of mind (there will probably have been many such moments). Simply jot down a few words in bullet fashion about any or all of the moments of that day that you remember. You could jot down what had just happened, what you felt and/or what you were thinking, if you remember that.

• Read Looking In All the Right Places

Day 2: Do the same as on Day 1, but now insist on remembering what you were thinking when you were not in an optimal state and write down those thoughts in brief, bullet fashion. This process helps you become aware of your thoughts. Do this at least twice today.

• Reflect on: Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence. Aristotle

Day 3: Repeat what you did on Day 2, but this time, take note of your feelings as well. What feelings appear to manifest in conjunction with those thoughts? As on the day before, note it all down in bullet fashion. Do this at least twice today.

• Read Six Ingredients of a Good Life (Harvard Business Review)

Day 4: Repeat what you did on Day 3, but this time, take note of your body as well. What physical sensations appear to manifest in conjunction with those thoughts and feelings? As on the day before, note it all down in bullet fashion. Do this at least twice today.

• Reflect on: It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. Buddha, and: It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves. Edmund Hillary

• Read Your Attention to Bad Things

Day 5: Paste post-its in as many places of your home and office (perhaps even your car), such as bathroom mirror, refrigerator, computer screen, etc., and write on these post-it’s something such as:

• What am I thinking?
• What am I feeling?

If the above sentences cause embarrassment when you think others might see them when they come to your home, or perhaps even members of your family who don’t know what you are up to, and to whom you don’t wish to give explanations, write brief quotations instead, from favorite authors, philosophers, etc., but knowing that when you read them, you know that what they are really reminding you to do, is to think about what you are thinking and what you are feeling. Some sample quotations could be:

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Gandhi
Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. R.E. Osborn
The only people who can change the world are people who want to. Hugh MacLeod
Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome. Samuel Johnson

Repeat everything mentioned in Day 4.

• Reflect on: Forever is composed of nows. Emily Dickinson

• Watch The Opportunity of Adversity with Aimée Mullins (20 min)

Day 6: Begin to become aware of your thoughts, feelings and physical sensations as often as possible throughout the day, and certainly each time you see the post its. Make a very brief note of each time you become aware:

• On your own
• When you see one of the post-its

How many times did you notice your thoughts, feelings and physical sensations today?

• Read How Your Thoughts Change your Body

Day 7: Repeat Day 6 and each time you become aware of the thoughts, feelings, and sensations, ask yourself: is this where I want to be?

• Read Why You Don’t Want To Be Happy by Deepak Chopra

• Reflect on: We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Buddha

WEEK TWO

During this week, you will mainly practice choosing to take your thoughts elsewhere when you have become aware of them and realize they are not serving you well.

Day 8: Repeat Day 7 but today, as you ask yourself Is this where I want to be, you begin to choose to be in a different place in your thoughts. Here is an example:

• A scenario you have imagined about an ideal place or situation in which you would like to find yourself. The more detailed it is, the better, because you will be able to totally enter the scenario and enjoy it, noticing that your state of inner well-being will have changed: imagine yourself on vacation, or imagine yourself working in your ideal profession, or imagine yourself with the home life you desire, or imagine yourself perfecting a hobby or sport

• Read Different Vibrations, Different Results

Day 9: Repeat Day 8, but include at least one time during the day this other alternative for changing your thoughts: as you become aware of thoughts that are not serving you well, that are sabotaging you, go for a brief, 10 – 20 minute walk, a walk that we could call a “mindful” walk because during the walk you are going to do your utmost to be fully mindful, aware, of yourself, your body and your surroundings. Start out by noticing your feet as they touch the ground, your legs as they move forward, your torso as it also comes forward, your arms as they swing by your sides, your shoulders as they move rhythmically, and your head as it rests on your neck. Notice the breeze (wind, rain, sunshine) on your face, notice all the smells, aromas, perfumes you are able to perceive, notice everything you can hear (a child laughing contagiously, a dog barking, a car braking, the wind soughing through the trees, etc.), and thus be totally aware not only of yourself but also of your surroundings.

• Watch Dan Siegel & Goldie Hawn on TED about MINDFULNESS (19 minutes)

Day 10: Repeat Day 9. 100%

• Read Reacting to External Things

Day 11: Repeat Day 10. 100%

• Reflect on: Truly the greatest gift you have is that of your own self-transformation. Lao Tzu

• Listen to: Aria at the Acropolis (Yanni) and observe what the sound of it does to your inner state

Day 12: Repeat Day 11. 100%

• Read Is Your Universe Friendly or Hostile?

Day 13: Repeat Day 12. 100%

• Reflect on: Let him who would move the world first move himself. Socrates

• Watch The Best Gift I Ever Survived (Stacey Kramer) 3 minutes

Day 14: Repeat Day 13. 100%

• Watch Deepak Chopra on the Heart (4 minutes)

WEEK THREE

During this week you will mainly practice consciously choosing alternatives to those thoughts that are not serving you well, that are of most benefit to you, and thus you will grow and stimulate the habit of doing this on a daily, 24/7 basis.

Day 15: As you repeat Day 14, each time that you become aware of thoughts that do not serve you, and also during your mindful walk, begin to bring your thoughts to something you are grateful for in your immediate presence. As you will have practiced being aware during the previous week, finding something to be grateful for, will be simple. The contagiously laughing child, the frolicking puppy, the butterfly, the bougainvillea climbing up a white-washed wall, the brilliant blue sky, the deep dark rain-filled sky, the falling snow, the sound of the waves lapping on the shore, the sound of lawnmowers, the smell of freshly-mown grass, etc. It makes no difference what it is … the important thing is to notice something that fills you with gratitude for its very existence. Notice that as you feel this gratitude, your inner state of well-being improves. Notice that as you do this more and more often – even though each time you do it, it’s only a nano-second of time, your inner feeling of peace increments. This is worth gold and will serve you for the rest of your life.

• Reflect on: We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. Dalai Lama

Day 16: Repeat Day 15. 100%

• Watch The Benefits of a Calm Mind by the Dalai Lama (3.5 minutes)

Day 17: Repeat Day 16. 100%

• Read All You Have is Now

Day 18: Repeat Day 17. 100%

• Reflect on: Past and future are in the mind only - I am now. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

• Read Different Vibrations, Different Results

Day 19: Repeat Day 18. 100%

• Watch: Habits of Happiness with Matthieu Ricard (20 minutes)

Day 20: Repeat Day 19. 100%

• Reflect on: Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world. Wayne Dyer

• Listen to: Glorianna by Vangelis and observe what the sounds do to your inner state

Day 21: Repeat Day 20. 100%

• Reflect on: The word "buddha" means being awake, which means not being identified with thought, because being awake means being in the now. That's the only place you do not identify with thought. Paraphrase from Eckhart Tolle talk.

What you have just done in 21 days has begun the process of changing a neural pathway in your prefrontal cortex. If you continue with this, it will strengthen so rapidly that you will have a hard time not doing it in future, because the neural pathway associated with your earlier behavior, where your negative thoughts were running your life, has become weaker.

And therein lies a large part of the secret of being in charge of your thoughts. By doing this you have begun to free yourself of all that previously enslaved you, of all that previously made you believe that your life was not in your hands. By doing this you give yourself peace, joy and harmony. By doing this you see light where before there was darkness. By doing this, you give yourself freedom.

May your New Year be filled with freedom, joy, harmony and peace.

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