The Biology of Time

“The distinction between the past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” – Albert Einstein

In reality, time is not a fixed experience that follows the ticking of the clock. It is a fluid, changeable experience. Our bodies measure time in multiple ways depending upon the biological function in various cells and according to different biological rhythms. Our chronological age can vary dramatically from our biological or psychological age. We can change our experience of time through our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. In today’s meditation, we learn that the more we abide in present-moment awareness, our minds and bodies, our beliefs and behaviors, become attuned to the cycles of Nature. Life flows with the timeless rhythms of the universe.

OPRAH:

Welcome to Day 2 – The Biology of Time.  Today our focus is how to gain a better understanding of the biology of time.  I’m always fascinated by the inner workings of the body.  Each one of us has an internal clock that regulates just about every process within our own bio-system.  When I think about my own heart quietly pumping away as it has done for the last 63 years bringing life to all other areas of my body. sometimes I think about that, it just makes me want to weep at the miracle of it.

I’ve come to appreciate that my body operates at its own pace, breathing, blinking, seeing, and listening all through nature’s course.  All I have to do is stay attuned to it and will experience that wonderful state of flow where everything within me is aligned.  I realize that my body, just like yours, operates with precision.  It knows that I function best on at least 5-1/2 hours of sleep.  Anything less than that and I notice a lack of focus, listlessness, a waning energy, along with less sharper thinking.  I don’t use an alarm clock…yet.  In perfect rhythm I wake up naturally in between 7:16 and 7:23 every morning.

Most work days are filled with projects I’ve committed to, replying to emails and travel and attending meetings.  The pace can sometimes be hectic but, no matter what, everything for me begins and ends with stillness.  I describe it as a conscious awareness of my presence within the greater presence of all…everything there is.

Whether I’m paying attention to the way the sun is rising or how the mist is rolling in over the trees, I pay attention.  In that moment there’s no 3 o’clock meeting to think about or 6 P.M. dinner to plan and I don’t think about the inevitable daily challenges that arise.  I really have mastered staying in the moment.  I simply trust that when the time comes my whole self will be fully connected to the moment and rise to meet each task just as it did when I first opened my eyes.

Now let’s listen to Deepak and then we’ll meditate.

Dee:

It seems for me as well that just a few moments after opening my eyes in the morning the list of “to do’s” starts to take over my brain.  Before the fog lifts and totally fills my head, I stop to enjoy the moment, to be grateful, and to turn my will and life and “to do” list over to the care of God as I Understand Him.  In other words, I let my God drive while I enjoy the ride in the passenger seat knowing that all my cares, worries, and “to do’s” will be taken care of just the way they’re supposed to.

If I try to control and perfect my to-do list myself I become pretty overwhelmed pretty quickly.  My head takes over; my heart gets turned off.  Old behavior comes into play.  I forget to stay in conscious contact with my Higher Power.  I forget to be humble and grateful.  So I turn it all over and everything that needs to get done today gets done, usually in a way more successful way than I could have ever done myself.  Pretty sweet!

Deepak:

Looking at carefree children playing we may say wistfully, “They’re having such a good time.  I wish it could last forever”.  But children lost in play have stepped out of time; their experience has nothing to do with clocks, deadlines, or anything of the sort.  This is an important clue about how to approach the reality of time which is a fluid and malleable experience.

We assume time is like an arrow moving in a straight line from past to present to future and measured by a ticking clock.  But time is actually measured by your cells.  It’s a biological function in the body.  The body has dozens of clocks that control long periods of time like when baby teeth appear, or puberty or menopause.  There are medium-term clocks for things like sleep and digestion along with short-term clocks like the rhythm of your breathing and heartbeat.

Our biological age is not necessarily tied to our chronological age.  The body of a stressed-out, unhappy 30 year-old may function like a 50-year old’s body.  How we interpret our experience affects our biology.  Chemical changes in the brain determine whether time is racing or slowing down.  Moments frozen in time are human perceptions.  Even the experience that time vanishes when we go to sleep is an experience based in biology.

So looking at time from the inside isn’t simply psychological.  It’s the right perspective for changing anything you want.  Einstein had a profound thought about this when he said, “The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.

Go past the illusion and you realize two amazing things.  First, you are the master of time because your beliefs, attitudes and lifestyle choices alter all the effects of time.  Second, if past, present and future are illusions, you are timeless.  This may seem beyond our experience but in our meditation practice we discover that our present awareness is already timeless.  Ever-present awareness is who and what we always are.  That state of peace and calm allows us to navigate the world of clocks and deadlines without being overwhelmed by it.

Dee:

Weird to think about when I was active in my alcoholism, the “good” Dee was still in there waiting to come out.  Now that I am in recovery I must remember that the “bad (alcoholic) Dee is still in there waiting to come out.  Being active in alcoholism and being active in my recovery definitely alters my beliefs, attitudes and lifestyle choices during that time.  The “getting out of self and feelings” that occurs while active in my disease might seems comforting for the moment, but the fact that “more, more, more” comes into my brain when the first drink enters my body is so not comforting.  It’s slavery.  It’s negative.  It’s sick!

Staying in the present moment of recovery always gets me back into gratitude and humility.  I am so grateful that today I do not HAVE to take a drink.  I have a choice today.  My choice is to pass for right now so that I can avoid the “more, more, more”.  I can experience the state of peace and calm so as not to be overwhelmed by clocks and deadlines.  Peace, calm, gratitude, recovery for me all comes with and from a solid relationship with a Power Greater Than Myself.

Mastery of time is a mind-body project because both are involved in how we experience and process time.  Pay attention to your natural biorhythms, especially sleep.  Sleep resets biorhythms that have become distorted during the day.  Time becomes your friend when you attune yourself to the flow of life as your body is meant to experience it.

Dee:

While actively drinking my mind and body were enslaved to alcohol.  Life got in the way of my drinking.  I never slept; I just passed out and came to.  Good REM?  I think not.  I am now fortunate to sleep most nights without an alarm clock waking me in the morning.  Just my body and mind excitedly saying, “Sweet!!!  We’re ready to take on the day!!!”  I once again feel friends with not only time, but life itself, and, more importantly, I’m friends with ME!

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “I attune myself to the flow of life.  I attune myself to the flow of life”.  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe slowly and deeply.  With each breath allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “Shara Vana Ya.  Shara Vana Ya”.  This mantra attunes our mind and body to the cycles of nature.  As you repeat the mantra feel your mind and body absorb the beneficial influence of the universe.  Repeat it silently to yourself, “Shara Vana Ya.  Shara Vana Ya.  Shara Vana Ya”.

With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness.  Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises or physical sensations in the body, bring your attention back to silently repeating the mantra, “Shara Vana Ya.  Shara Vana Ya.  Shara Vana Ya”.

CENTERING THOUGHT

I attune myself to the flow of life.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Shara Vana Ya
My awareness is aligned with the creative power of the universe.

Dee:

My awareness is aligned with the creative power of the universe, my Higher Power, my God of My Own Understanding.  Life is sweet.  I wouldn’t go back one day, one minute, one second.  I finally feel a contentment with myself and my life that took 62 years to achieve.  Today I have many good years to give back, to live with purpose.  When I was 20 I had nothing and felt like a waste of space on the planet.  Nope.  Wouldn’t go back one second.

Aloha, and have an awesome day loving yourself…Dee

For those interested in Art with a Message of Inspiration, Recovery and Hope, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  For those interested in signing up for my email updates with new products, the story behind the art and me, the artist, and special deals, please sign up for my email updates at https://mailchi.mp/f96bf32af105/welcome.

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series, “Making Every Moment Matter”, a Chopra Center Meditation.

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HOW TO LET LIFE FLOW

Day 14 – How to Let Life Flow 

“Let everything happen to you, beauty and terror. Just keep going.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Today’s meditation is about learning to let your life flow without resistance or effort. Living in the flow is not something you figure out, or practice to get right. Living in the flow is a state of consciousness; it is the natural consequence of being self-aware in the moment. In that state of expansive, open, accepting awareness there is no feeling of lack or sense of threat. So there is no need to defend yourself, be aggressive, or resist in order to feel safe and complete. To live in the present is to flow with the universe.

Dee:

Living in the flow is something I learned to do once I was in recovery.  I learned a whole new way of life…to live from my heart, rather than from my brain.  Until getting clean and sober I rationalized everything.  As an intellectual human being I “thought” that the brain controlled everything, that whatever I set my mind to, I could get.  My mind could not get me sober.  Letting my mind go and living from my heart, in the flow, got me sober.

Oprah:

Welcome to Day 14, our final day in week two – How to Let Life Flow.  One of my favorite words right now is “flow”.  Have you ever heard an athlete, artist or musician describe what it’s like to be in the zone?  They use words like tunnel vision, complete calm, or ultra-focus.  Some even liken it to a spiritual experience, a state of elevated awareness where time feels like it’s slowed down or completely falls away.  Most of us have been in the zone at one point in our lives.  It’s that exhilarating stretch when you know you’ve found the most powerful current and everything just seems to fall into place.

Dee:

In the zone brings back an entirely different experience to me.  When I was still very active in my disease, I offered to babysit my neighbors’ child.  When they brought her to my house I had been drinking, probably most of the day.  I don’t remember.  All I remember is that I didn’t babysit.  I really don’t remember that as I was in a blackout.  But my kids told me that they came…and they left.

I hate blackouts.  Not knowing what I did is the most awful, gut-wrenching feeling.  “Fishing” for clues is a horrible task.  I could never say that “I drank too much, can’t remember what I did, please tell me.”

Quite a long time later when I was sober and working my steps I got the guts to visit my neighbors, to make my amends.  Gut-wrenching again.  Fishing again.  They told me that when they brought their daughter over so they could enjoy a nice dinner together they found me “zoned” out.  Thus, in the zone holds a different meaning to me.

So then, what causes us to get off track or feeling like we’re suddenly swimming upstream?  Basketball legend Lebron James is considered one of the most intensely focused competitors to ever play the game.  And I once asked Lebron what could possible cause an MVP like him to lose his rhythm on the court.  His response was profound.  He said, “I get off my game when I start playing for others rather than playing for myself.”

This is true for all of us.  We fall off-course the minute our intention shifts from following our heart to responding to what we think others believe.  Spiritual teachers call that mindset “egoic”.  It’s that false self creeping in, constantly trying to take us down, or to prove, or to show, or to show off.  When that happens do what you can to find and follow your flow again,  That’s what I teach all of my girls.

Dee:

Throughout most of my life I was a people-pleaser.  I know now that I was not comfortable in my own skin.  I did not know who and what I was.  I had no purpose.  I had no Higher Power.  I was living from my brain and not from my heart.  I did not love myself.  Thus I would do whatever it took to make you feel highly of me because I didn’t.  I would put you first, before my family and, definitely, before me.

Today, in recovery, I know, I feel, that I no longer have to do that.  I am finally comfortable in my own skin and even love myself for who and what I am…an alcoholic in recovery who has a Higher Power, who has a purpose to carry the message of experience, strength and hope, who can live from my heart…the flow…and stay out of my head.

If you’re in a situation where you feel out of place, uncomfortable, or it’s just not coming together, change direction; find your flow.  Follow the natural rhythm of your own life and you will find a force far beyond your own because you’re connecting to the force.  That’s all there is.

Let’s listen to Deepak teach us to let life flow and then we’ll meditate.

Deepak:

Change is inevitable, as we all realize, but we accept some changes while resisting others.  We push for the outcomes we like and reject the ones we dislike.  We hold expectations that some major event, getting married, having a child, earning a promotion, will make everything better.  And when things don’t turn out the way we anticipated we are disappointed.  These patterns of expectations and disappointment stop the flow of life, as many people experience on a daily basis.

Dee:

I love the slogan I learned in AA, “No expectations, no disappointments.”  Going with the flow is a way better, easier, freer way to live!

The opposite of flow is resistance, pushing against what is happening right now for your desired outcome.  Flow is about living without preconceptions or resistance.  However, people will say, “Sometimes I have to resist if I face a situation that is harmful or headed for failure.”

But flow isn’t about passively giving in to everything and, certainly, not giving way to negativity and failure.  Instead flow involves a trust in life to bring what is needed.  In any given situation you are open and offer no resistance.  If the present moment calls for strength, it arises.  If the present moment calls for a creative breakthrough or comment that soothes tension, it arises.

Dee:

Recovery has gifted me with a Power Greater Than Myself, a God of My Own Understanding.  It has taken many “one day at a time”s to be able to trust, surrender to, accept and embrace this Power.  But I have experienced time and time again that if I do trust and let things happen, if I turn off the self-will and control, that things do happen greater than I could ever have anticipated.  I do get what I need, not what I want.  It’s so perfect!

Any and all responses, including love, insight, truth, creativity and kindness, are available when you’re in the flow.  There is no cut and dry response.  You are as flexible in your response as life itself.

Clearly the way of life ingrained by society isn’t like this.  We are trained to have automatic reactions.  We feel safe behind the familiar boundaries the ego has created.  Being totally open without expectations may initially sound threatening.  But in meditation we experience that this open, unbounded awareness is safe.  In fact, contrary to the ego the only place without fear is total openness.  It is the place where the present moment can do whatever it likes because we are secure in ourselves.  We don’t need to defend our ego boundaries and we don’t suffer because our expectations weren’t met.

Living in the flow is an experience that needs to be nurtured and understood firsthand.  There are definite stages of letting go…working through old fears, dropping your fixed reactions and learning the art of allowing.  As the ego loses its grip a more holistic way of life evolves.  Only in wholeness can there be flow.  Achieving this new state involves a journey into a new conception of time.

Dee:

Yet another reminder from the word “wholeness”.  While in a 21-day treatment program every morning in Group we were required to introduce ourselves and say an affirmation.  My affirmation was, “I am a good person.  I am a whole person”.  Wow.  This brings back so much transitioning from active alcoholic to grateful alcoholic in recovery.

I hated myself.  I looked myself in the mirror every morning physically putting the letter “L” on my forehead because I was a loser; I could not go a day without drinking.  I felt like shit.  I was a waste of space on the planet.  I had no purpose.  I was so not “a good person” nor “a whole person”.

Is it odd or is it God that today much of my business comes from mosaic affirmations, motivational and inspirational quotes.  And I get to share with customers and people who enter my “Dee bubble” how I got started with affirmations, if they inquire.  They love it.  I love it!  The rigorous honesty.  The openness.

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “I let my life flow without resistance.  I let my life flow without resistance.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe, slowly and deeply.  With each breath allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.”  This mantra  means my individuality is the totality of life.  It reveals that our present moment awareness is always in relationship to everything and everyone in the universe.  Repeat it silently to yourself, “Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness.  Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises, or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra, “Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.”

CENTERING THOUGHT

I let my life flow without resistance.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Aham Brahmasmi
The true nature of myself is the wholeness of the universe.

Dee:

Mahalo for your time in sharing this meditation experience with me.  This is one small way I get to share my purpose…sharing my Experience, Strength and Hope.  If I don’t give it away, I can’t keep what was so freely given me when I needed it most.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in my mosaic affirmations please check out my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great day!

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series, “Making Every Moment Matter”, a Chopra Center Meditation.

Where Does the Time Go?

WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?

“Consciousness is beyond time, consciousness is timelessness.” – Osho

Over these next three weeks, we will explore that state of awareness in which every moment matters. The pressures of our family, jobs, and relationships can make us feel that we don’t have enough time to do the things that are important to us, sometimes leading to a sense of being unfulfilled.

Together we will discover that we don’t get true fulfillment through time management, but rather by living in the here and now. Wisdom traditions tell us that the present moment is outside of clock time; it is the eternal now. This Meditation Experience will show you how to thrive in the world of time when you live from your timeless self.  In the following weeks, we will learn how to embrace time as the realm of self-awareness, self-unfolding, and total inner fulfillment.

In today’s meditation, we learn that time is really about fulfillment. Using your time well comes down to how fulfilled you are in the present moment. When we feel content and centered inside, everything we do is more effective, efficient, and satisfying. On our meditation journey together, we will experience and understand that when we manage the time demands of our life from our timeless self, then every moment of life matters.

Dee:

Right here, right now, is perfect.  I sit listening to this meditation.  Typing it really solidifies it for me.  And then I get to share it.  I feel content.  I feel light.  The to-do list of my day pops in and out of my head, but this is what is in front of me right here, right now.  Taking some time for Dee will make a Dee a better person today.

Oprah:

Deepak and I welcome you to our 21-Day Meditation Experience…Making Every Moment Matter.  Like so many of you I, too, have struggled with time management.  How to honor my own time as well as the time that belongs to the people in my life.

In the coming weeks we’ll look beyond how we perceive the limitations of time.  We’ll learn how to release the power of the almighty “to do” list, reframe the constant state of “busy”, and replace those stress points with life-changing lessons in how to make every moment count.

In week one we will gain a new understanding of the principles of time in order to relieve the all too familiar anxiety of racing against the clock.  In week two we’ll explore how our perception of time is deeply affected by the wounds of our past.  By learning to let go of that angst we’ll experience how living in the moment can bring an entirely new meaning to the hours, minutes, and seconds of the day.

And finally in week three time is expanded as we understand how breathing in the depth of each moment sharpens our experience until the pressure of time is lifted all while our productivity increases.

Welcome to Day 1, “Where Does the Time Go?”  Let’s begin our first day answering the age-old question, “Where does the time go?”.  I’ve come to believe that busyness is the catch phrase, in fact a trap for all of us in these times.  Some people are so weighed down by the pressure to finish tasks, to meet goals, and check off the box that they’re folding into themselves.  Others wear their overwhelming schedule like a beleaguered badge of honor, and still more allow resentment to take hold until all those “to do’s” start to feel like “have to’s” and life quickly, as we know, spins out of control.

I remember talking with Tina Turner after she retired from her legendary music career.  She was newly married to her long time love and living in Switzerland.  She told me that despite all of the rock star attention, the awards and accolades her life onstage brought her, it also could be depleting.  Tina told me her last tour took every ounce of energy out of her but she stayed focused on the greater purpose; she knew eventually that life on the road would lead her home.  Not just to her house, but the place where she decided she wanted to be.

This was a great lesson for me.  At the time I was traveling over two-hundred days out of the year for interviews, a movie I was filming, for meetings to support the O Network.  And, like Tina, I was exhausted.  But I had not yet decided for myself what was worthy of my time.  Instead of listening to the signs along the way I started to feel overwhelmed and frustrated until finally I was no longer able to fully focus on all there was to do.

I made a proclamation to myself, finally, and to those around me that this was not the life I envisioned for myself.  I knew I was the one who had to determine what mattered most, create a different relationship with the time in my day, and allow for space in every day to restore myself.   By doing that I found freedom and maybe a few extra moments.

Dee:

In 1998 I realized that this was not the life I envisioned for myself.  It wasn’t about time or busyness.  Is was about my alcoholism.  Every moment of everyday during this part of my journey through life was focused only on the next drink.  When can I have it (is right now appropriate or will I be found out)?  Where can I buy it (did I buy there yesterday and what will they think)?  Do I have responsibilities that will be affected if I drink now (will I be fired if a co-worker smells alcohol on my breath)?

I was forced into a proclamation to myself when I didn’t show up for work.  Too drunk.  I was found out.  That was the life-changing moment for me, my bottom, when I finally had to ask for help.  My life has continued to improve since that day…

Today I feel exactly as Tina did during our conversation.  These are my glory days, this moment, this one, right now.  Your journey to make peace with time also begins now.  Let’s listen to Deepak and then we will meditate together.

Deepak:

What was the best time of your life?  If you can say, “Right now is the best time of my life” you are saying something that comes naturally to everyone when their inner life is fulfilled.  Fulfillment is what time is all about because fulfillment is what life is about.  Without inner fulfillment time isn’t on your side.

Dee: 

I really can say that right now is the best time of my life.  I wouldn’t go back one day, one minute.  I have a contentment in recovery that I never had before.  I am freer and finally comfortable in my own skin.

But that does not mean I am not going crazy right now running my own business, getting ready for the holiday selling, cleaning the house for holiday visitors, trying to get everything done so that I can enjoy my company and be my best when I’m out selling.  

I’ve been working around the clock taking time only for sleep and a bit of eating.  This is not how I usually fly.  Taking time out to listen to this meditation series and writing this blog is exactly what I need to get me back centered before getting back to a long night of work.

This redefines time management.  Instead of being about scheduling, being on time, meeting deadlines, and getting everything you want to do for yourself and with your family and friends, time management is about how you feel inside.  It’s about a state of awareness that has made time an ally on your personal path to fulfillment.

When we look at the clock and say with exasperation, “Where did the time go?”, the real question should be, “Where did the opportunities go?”  When you manage time from the inside opportunities aren’t missed.  You are less frustrated and frantic.  But when you manage time poorly every day is a race against the clock.  This, too, is an inner choice, not the fault of time running out.  At any time of the day you can feel stressed or relaxed.  Like you’re standing still or moving forward.

Dee:

Tonight when I go to bed I know I can be proud that I did the best I could.  I will never be perfect, but doing the best I can is always reassuring.  And being humbled and grateful for these accomplishments really gets me back in the moment.  I am not in control.  I have a Power Greater Than Myself to guide me and watch over me letting me know that everything is going just the way it’s supposed to.

Most people don’t recognize this choice and, therefore, let the rush of daily events dictate their mood and behavior.  Of course there are external stresses and unexpected setbacks, but really the difference between a good day and a bad day is the inner world of the person who’s having it.

We must first address some basic issues about time so that you can feel on top of things instead of never knowing where time goes.  We all heard the adage about taking time to stop and smell the roses.  Good advice.  But it would be far better to be the gardener who grows the roses and lives with them constantly.

The Worlds Wisdom Traditions have pondered and taught the mystery of time for centuries.  The first teaching was presented today.  Look inward.  What’s important isn’t the hours and minutes of the clock, but your experience.  How you relate to the passage of time makes all the difference and, ultimately, it will define how well you live in the present moment, how you age, your sense of fulfillment, and the satisfaction of a life well spent.

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “The best time of my life is now.”  “The best time of my life is now.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe slowly and deeply.  Within yourself allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  This mantra means “I am” and connects our awareness to the timeless simplicity of our true self.  Pure awareness.  Repeat it silently to yourself.  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness.

Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra, “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”

CENTERING THOUGHT

The best time of my life is now.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

So Hum

I am.

Dee:

The best time of my life is now.  So Hum.  I am.  I am the best Dee I can be.  I am not alone.  I am a good person and a whole person (my affirmation I said every day in group while I was in a treatment program).  I surely am a good person and a whole person which is night and day of the person who entered rehab in 1998 and hated herself.  I have a purpose to share with you today that you are the best you can be right here, right now, and that is perfect!

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational and Motivational Art with a Message, please check out my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com for great affirmations and quotes.  Mahalo and have a great day!

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series “Making Every Moment Matter”, from the Chopra Center.

NO REGRETS: 10 WAYS TO START EACH DAY WITH A CLEAN SLATE

No Regrets: 10 Ways to Start Each Day with a Clean Slate 

By Tamara Lechner

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“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss”—Jonathan Larson

There’s a Buddhist parable called The Second Arrow. The story explains that in life, pain is inevitable. You will experience the pain of loss, betrayal, diagnosis, or grief. The pain is likened to being shot by an arrow and is outside of your personal control. However, when you get stuck pulling on the arrow and complaining about the arrow to show people that you have been shot, the subsequent pain, anger, and suffering is entirely your fault. This is the second arrow.

Living a fully present life keeps you from rehashing your mistakes, your breakups, and the job you should have taken. It allows peace of mind. You may know this already and yet pain from the past intrudes on your present- day happiness. Here are a few tips to help you avoid the second arrow.

1. Practice Gratitude

Being truly grateful keeps you in the moment. When you focus your attention on something or someone, your feelings of reverence will keep you in the moment. Gratitude (http://www.chopra.com/articles/how-to- develop-a-gratitude-mindset) happens in the now, no matter when the experience that you are grateful for actually happened.

Dee:

That I “get to” wake up every morning, rather than “come to” after a night of substance abuse, and wake up excited to greet the day, is something for which I shall be eternally grateful.  Coming out of decades of an exhausting substance abuse nightmare has taught me how grateful I am to be right here, right now, in recovery.  Recovery is my priority as is turning my life and will over to a Power Greater Than Myself.  Life has got fuller, more meaningful, and easier.  I have a purpose today to share my experience, strength and hope with others who don’t have it yet.

2. Make a No “What Ifs” Rule

Spinning on what might have been keeps you from moving forward. Your thoughts may seem to circle back again and again to the things you think you could or should have done differently. When you catch yourself thinking a “what if,” just recognize that you didn’t and move forward.

(http://www.chopra.com/live-events/weekend-within)

Dee:

I really feel today that everything happens for a reason.  The good, the bad, the ugly have all brought me to where I am in the present moment.  I am always in transition; I shall be a different person 5 minutes from now.  And I continue to learn and grow from everything that occurs within and around me.  I shall live with the “glass half full” mentality and positively move forward to be the best I can be.

3. Reframe Your Past to Make You the Hero in Your Life Story

You may tell your story in a way that doesn’t paint a flattering picture. Try to rethink your scenario in a way that has you in a position of power. For example, if you regret not going to college, instead of continuing to tell a story of regret, decide to either make a plan to get to college or to tell a story that supports the path you chose instead.

Dee:

I no longer regret that I am an alcoholic.  I no longer live in shame.  Recovery from alcoholism has created a new me.  I’m a person comfortable in my own skin, who understands what makes me tick.  I no longer have to react.  I no longer have to understand everything.  I can let go and let God, live in the moment, be humble and grateful.  Again, I feel this life journey has happened just the way it was supposed to, to make me this content and light-hearted being that I am today.  I can simplify my life and prioritize the handful of people, places and things that are meaningful.

4. Get Physical

Take a dance class or a yoga class, or give surfing or rollerblading a go. When you choose an activity that requires your focus to balance or to learn a sequence of motions, your brain will be busy doing something other than ruminating on your past.

Dee:

I have recently joined a gym that offers yoga and a wealth of other classes.  The hour or so I spend there is just for me.  I leave my head and my thoughts at the door.  And I take the time to chisel the fascia off my bones from years of neglect.  The pile of life that was and will always be on my plate is still there but nibbling away at it, one morsel at a time, seems actually kind of fun with my new mindset after a good workout.

5. Make a to-Do List

Having a plan for today keeps you from feeling ungrounded. If you fill your day with meaningful tasks (http://www.chopra.com/articles/5-reasons-to-never-ditch-your-to-do-list), you will have something to keep you from falling back into the pattern of regret.

Dee:

I have good days and I have bad days.  So my goal is to just cross three things a day off my To-Do List that goes on into eternity.  It feels so good to cross off three accomplishments.  Then it feels great to cross off one or two more if that is where I’m being called by my heart to do.  Three things is easy; three-hundred is overwhelming.

6. Go Outside

Nature is like a natural reset button on your brain. The chemicals it releases when you get fresh air and sunshine help to overcome the ones released when you are sad, angry, or anxious. Use nature to sweep away the negative.

Dee:

I am so blessed to work in my back patio.  Feeling the breeze as if God were wrapping His arms around me gets me grounded.  Being in tune with the birds helps to quiet the din in my crazy mind.  Most of my day is spent out here and my creative juices get nourished.  But even when I’m away from home I get outside daily.  It’s like a meditation or new scenery or a new outlook on life.

7. Remember, Happiness is a Choice

In every moment, you have the choice to be happy. Victor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust and founded the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy,” is quoted as saying, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” If you are choosing regret as a pattern, consciously make the decision to replace regret with a different emotion. Happiness (http://www.chopra.com/articles/where-do-you-stack-up-on-the-happiness-scale), hope, excitement, or curiosity are a few good ones.

Dee:

Living with a positive mindset sure beats the other option.  It changes EVERYTHING!  Even when tragedy occurs keeping a positive outlook rather than sitting on that pity-pot allows forward movement.  And who wants to go back?  I wouldn’t go back one day!

8. Start with a Mantra or Affirmation

If your day begins with a thought like, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life” or “I’m excited for what today will bring,” it keeps your focus on the present and future. Choose a positive affirmation (http://www.chopra.com/articles/daily-affirmations-your-hour-by-hour-positivity-plan) to start each day.

Dee:

I still go back to 1998.  I was in a 21-day alcohol treatment program in Reno, Nevada.  Our days were rigorously scheduled from sunup to sundown and beyond.  In a group community session we started each day stating an affirmation.  I made up “I am a good person; I am a whole person.”  At that time after decades of an exhausting journey of substance abuse, I felt anything but good or whole.  I was a horrible mother, horrible wife, horrible person.  I was a waste of space on the planet.  I didn’t know why I was even here.  I hated myself and looked in the mirror with my hand shaped like an “L” on my forehead and called myself a loser.

Today “I am a good person; I am a whole person” is still my mantra, my affirmation.  And today I feel good in my skin; I love myself for who and what I am at this very moment.  I embrace my journey and my past and my future.  This didn’t come overnight.  One day at a time, just like in Alcoholics Anonymous.  Everything in baby steps.  Be kind to yourself.

9. End with a Highlight Reel

Getting to sleep can be difficult if your thoughts keep circling to what could have been. Try counting your blessings instead of counting sheep. It makes for a nice transition from waking to sleeping state and sets your mind up to begin positively the next morning.

Dee:

Again, baby steps.  It takes practice and patience to get to the place of living positively, gratefully, humbly.  But it’s sure worth the time and effort to get to the place where “there are no big deals”.  Everything is perfect at this moment.  Be joyful.

10. Avoid Comparing

Social media like Facebook or LinkedIn has a way of showing you the highlight reel of your friends’ lives. Make sure you don’t compare their highlights (http://www.chopra.com/articles/comparing-yourself-again-4-tips-to- survive-social-media-envy) to your unedited version.

Life isn’t a contest. Wherever you are at this time is exactly perfect for you; otherwise, you wouldn’t be there. Discover Deepak Chopra’s daily habits to find peace and happiness—no matter what is going on in your life—at our Weekend Within retreat. Learn More. (https://www.chopra.com/live-events/weekend-within/).

Dee:

Unlike the new focusing on the bad happening in the world, social media mainly focuses on the good.  We rarely see the good the mankind is accomplishing in the world.  It doesn’t sell news.  We rarely experience the tragedies, depression, heart-ache our friends are going through on social media.  There’s a time and place for sharing those feelings and social media is not the place.  That’s why in AA we have a fellowship and we have sponsors who know us, love us, understand us and don’t judge us.  So don’t compare yourself with those on social media.  You haven’t walked in their shoes now know the whole story…  Just love yourself for who you are today, share the gifts that God gave you with the world, and know that everything is perfect at this very moment…especially YOU!!!

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in inspiring Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a “be kind to yourself” day!

About the Author

Tamara Lechner (/bios/tamara-lechner) Certified Instructor: Meditation

Tamara Lechner is a happiness expert and Chopra-Certified Primordial Sound Meditation (/articles/what-is- primordial-sound-meditation) Instructor. Her mission is to be so happy that those around her cannot help but step into her light. She enjoys writing, speaking, and teaching about how a positive mindset affects business, relationships, health, and life satisfaction. Tamara is often found throwing epic parties or walking barefoot in the sand. Join her on The Happiness Trajectory (http://www.ahamoments4u.com/free-online–the-happiness- trajectory.html), a free online mindset reboot, or find out more about her at… Read more (/bios/tamara-lechner)