We’re All Monastics Now

By Leo Babauta

My Zen teacher Susan recently told a group of her students at the end of a Zen meditation retreat, “We’re all monastics now.”

In this global pandemic, we’re in an era of isolation, retreat. We’re also in an era of heightened uncertainty.

This can be a terrible thing, and drive us to loneliness and distraction … or it can be a time of practice, reflection, and deepening.

We can choose to see ourselves as monks deepening into the stillness of a monastery.

It’s our choice.

If you’re staying home these days, it can be a time of endless Internet distractions … or you can open to the opportunity to use the beautiful solitude for meditation, reading, writing, contemplation, journaling. It can be a time of practice.

If you’re feeling the anxiety of the moment, it can be a time of near breakdown and freneticism … or it can be a moment to slow down and be still. Practice mindfully with whatever feelings are coming up.

You can go to the latest memes and viral videos (which are fun!) … or you can find a text and study it.

You can get caught up in frustration with how others are acting during this crisis … or you can practice opening in compassion, with compassion meditations.

This is a great opportunity to deepen into mindfulness and practice, to learn to face head-on the uncertainty and fears that arise in us, and to connect to the humanity going through this rather than disconnect from them.

We’re all monastics now — how will we use this time?

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The Practice of Meticulous Attention

By Leo Babauta

All day long, we’re only giving anything a fraction of our attention.

We’re distracted, multitasking, opening multiple browser tabs, checking phone messages and social media.

I’m a part of this like anyone else. I’m not immune, and I don’t judge.

This fractured, scattered, partial attention has many deleterious effects on our lives:

  • We never really pour ourselves into any task, fully giving ourselves to the task. We can’t accomplish a craftsman-like devotion to our work.
  • Our minds become frazzled, anxious, stressed from the constant rushing and switching. We never achieve any kind of peace and presence.
  • By not giving our full attention to the person in front of us, we are shutting out the possibility of full connection. Of intimacy and trust.
  • When we read and watch videos and listen to songs in a fractured, partial-attention mode, we lose the ability to really be with the writing, the creation. We lose the full power of the experience.
  • When we work out while listening to a podcast or checking messages, we lose out on being present with our bodies, feeling the experience of moving, exerting ourselves, being in nature.
  • When we move through the world while on our phones, or with our minds occupied with worries and work tasks, we lose out on fully appreciating the beauty of this moment. We walk through life without loving it.

And in fact, this is how we experience everything, when our attention is fractured: we experience it without really loving it. We experience others without really loving them. Not fully.

We miss out on the reverent and joyful appreciation of life, of others, of ourselves.

What are you not giving the gift of your full attention to right now? All day long?

How does that hurt you, the others around you, the people you serve, or your meaningful work?

What would it be like to create the opposite: meticulous attention?

The Joy of Meticulous Attention

To give your meticulous attention to a task, a person, an action, a moment … is to give it everything you have right now. All of your focus, all of your love. All of your devotion.

Imagine drinking a cup of tea, with reverence.

You give it your full attention, and really savor it. Really notice the tea, really appreciate everything about it. You are not watching TV or reading a book, you are in full devotion to this cup of tea, as if it were the entire universe.

Now imagine doing that with an email to a good friend. As if you were sitting down at your writing desk with pen and paper, writing them a love letter. Each email can be treated with that kind of care.

Imagine doing that with any writing task. Any reading you do, online or off. Any video you watch — full screen, full attention, full care.

Imagine doing that with every person you talk to — no checking messages on your phone, no thinking about what you’d like to say next, just listening to them, just being with them, heart fully open.

What would this be like? Could it be a way of living fully in each moment? A way of devoting yourself to your craft? A way of loving the world and every person you encounter?

The Practice

This is not about being perfect, but about practicing.

  1. Try to notice each thing that you’re doing as a distinct event. Not just a bunch of things blurred together, but a separate thing. You open a browser tab, that’s a distinct action. You talk to someone, that’s separate from anything else you might be doing.
  2. For each distinct action or event, ask yourself what you can do to give it your full, meticulous attention. Do you need to close other tabs? Go into fullscreen mode for a writing app? Close other apps? Turn off your phone? Write in a notebook? Turn your body fully toward the person asking for your attention?
  3. Give the task, action, person or moment your undivided attention. Notice what this is like for you. See if you can deepen your attention even more. Let go of thoughts about the future and past, if possible, and turn toward what you’re facing even more. Open your heart to whatever or whoever is in front of you. See this action or conversation as an act of devotion.

It’s that simple, and that easy to forget. We slip into old habits. That’s OK. Don’t judge yourself, but come back to the practice, over and over.

Find the joy in this kind of meticulous attention.

The Invitation to Practice Sacred Retreat

If you’d like to practice this with me and a small but dedicated community of practitioners, I invite you to join my Fearless Training Program.

This month, we’re diving into a challenge that I call Sacred Retreat.

It’s simply a practice of committing yourself to doing your meaningful work with full focus, blocking it off during your day and giving it your meticulous attention. Practicing with whatever resistance comes up to doing that.

Join Fearless Training today to get articles, videos, a guided meditation, a live video training call, and support from the community in doing this challenge!

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The Importance of Meditation in Crazy Times

By Leo Babauta

These are times of heightened change, disruption, uncertainty, fear, anxiety. It can feel pretty crazy for most of us.

So how do we cope? What can we do in the middle of chaos and crisis?

This is when meditation becomes of critical importance.

Without meditation, we have no way of dealing with the anxieties coming up.

All of our old ways of coping (which don’t normally work very well) are not working at all:

  • Distraction and ignoring (how can you ignore something that’s everywhere?)
  • Procrastination and avoiding (you can’t avoid this crisis)
  • Control of all kinds (you can’t control this, though we’re all trying to find ways to control)
  • Exiting, quitting (you can’t exit from the world)
  • Complaining, lashing out at others (you can do this, but it only makes the situation worse)
  • Worrying (yep, that’s happening a lot)

So if our usual ways of coping with worry and uncertainty cannot work right now … what can we do?

We can freak out. Or we can meditate. It’s our choice.

What Meditation Can Do Right Now

Meditation isn’t magic, but it is a medicine for uncertainty and anxiety.

Here’s what it can do for us in these times of heightened fears:

  • Help us to notice when we’re caught up in anxious thoughts — when you notice this, you can do something about it
  • Help us to see the feelings that are arising for us, which we might not normally notice
  • Interrupt the thought cycles we get caught up in, that might be keeping us from being present or sleeping, by dropping our awareness into the sensations of the body
  • Help calm down and see that in this moment, things are not dangerous, they are actually OK
  • Bring calm focus when we need to get some stuff done

These are just a few things you might see from meditation. Obviously, there’s much more to it. But it’s worth practicing.

How to Form the Meditation Habit

If you don’t already have a meditation habit, don’t worry … it’s absolutely doable. If you’ve done it before but let it drop, don’t worry … just let go of any guilt and start again.

Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Pick a time. Let’s say 7am each day. Actually, it’s best to pick something you already do every single day, and tie the habit to that event — right when you wake up, for example, or right after you shower.
  2. Set a reminder. Put the reminder on your phone and calendar every day, so you don’t forget. Also put a paper note somewhere you’ll see it. Forgetting to do the habit is very common in the beginning.
  3. Set a timer for 2 minutes. When you’re ready to meditate, pick a comfortable spot (a chair or couch is fine), and set a timer for just 2 minutes to start with. Yes, that’s very short, but it’s a great way to start out a new habit — start very small, so it’s easier to stick to. You can increase it by a couple minutes every 7 days, if you do well at sticking to it.
  4. Just pay attention to your breath. It’s a simple thing to put your attention on — turn your mind’s attention to the breath, and leave it there for the 2 minutes. When (not if) your mind wanders from the breath to thoughts … simply notice, and bring the mind back to the breath. Don’t worry about getting distracted, it happens to everyone. Just keep coming back to the breath.
  5. When the timer goes off, thank yourself. A little gratitude helps to stick to any habit. Thank yourself for making the effort, and notice what good this small practice has brought you.

It’s pretty simple, but you have to notice the benefits or you’ll put off the habit.

Zen Habits Meditation Room

If you’d like to meditate with me and the Zen Habits community, we’ve created a Zen Habits Meditation Room on Zoom to help people during these uncertain, anxiety filled times.

We’re aiming to have three meditations a day:

  • Morning meditations, guided by Coyote Jackson, who is operations director for the Zen Habits team
  • Mid-day meditations, led by me (Leo Babauta), just 15-20 minutes
  • Evening meditations, not guided — just sitting together silently

Read here for the current schedule (it might change) and the link to the meditation room. Join us!

Daily Meditation Challenge in April

One more offering from us … we’re holding a Daily Meditation Challenge in April in our Sea Change Program. We’d love for you to join us!

The challenge is designed to help you form the daily meditation habit.

Here’s how it works:

  • We give you a challenge to commit to meditating just for a short time every day, with tips on how to do that.
  • We give you articles and videos every week, including guided meditations, to support your challenge.
  • I hold a live video webinar in the middle of the month, with a talk and Q&A session where you can ask questions.
  • We have a community of people doing the challenge together, including weekly check-ins to give you support and accountability.

Ready to give it a shot?

Join Sea Change today (free for 7 days).

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4 Mindfulness Practices That We Need Right Now

By Leo Babauta

In the middle of the chaos of the world right now, what can we do to take care of ourselves?

Let’s talk about a handful of simple mindfulness practices that can be helpful.

  1. Breathe deeply into the belly. This is one to start with, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. We get caught up in our heads, stuck in a cycle of thoughts that are rarely very helpful. So to get out of our heads and into our bodies, we can do deep breathes, into the deepest part of our bellies. Do several breaths like this, maybe for 30-60 seconds if you have time. This not only calms you down, but helps you to be more present with your body and surroundings.
  2. Check on your feelings, give yourself compassion. Turn your attention to the sensations in your body, and notice how uncertainty and fear/anxiety might feel for you right now, as a bodily experience. This, again, helps get you out of your thoughts, but also it’s important to notice how you’re feeling. Practice giving these feelings some space, letting them be (it’s OK to feel anxiety!). Then see if you can give them some compassion, to take care of yourself when you’re feeling uncertainty or frustration.
  3. Find calm in the middle of a storm. When the world is full of chaos, can we find calm? Find your breath. Let the swirl of thoughts calm down. Notice the light around you, notice sound. Notice the beauty of the moment. Widen your awareness beyond yourself, and feel the peace of a moment of stillness. You can still take action, but from a place of calmness.
  4. Send compassion out to others. Once you’ve practiced compassion for your own uncertainty and fears … once you’ve found a moment of calm and centeredness … you can open your heart to others right now. They’re afraid, they’re feeling anxious. Open your awareness beyond your home, to the others in your neighborhood and city, to others around the world, to your loved ones and strangers. Feel the worry they’re feeling. Send them compassion, from the deepest place in your heart. Let it flow out as a healing salve to everyone. Notice how this feels. Notice how it might change how you interact with others.

Let these practices help you through this troubled time, my friends.

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Dealing with the Immense Uncertainty of the World

By Leo Babauta

The world is in a state of fear and uncertainty right now, and it’s stressful and overwhelming for most of us.

This kind of fear, stress, uncertain and overwhelm can have some really strong effects on our lives:

  • Constant fear and stress can cause anxiety problems, worsening sleep and health, depression and anxiety
  • In a place of fear, we can often make bad decisions
  • People can panic, overreact because of fear, and cause widespread confusion and disruptions
  • Our relationships can deteriorate when we’re operating from a place of fear
  • We become less productive, less focused, when we’re stressed
  • It has an obvious impact on our happiness, including the impacts from all of the above

These are just some of the strong effects from a constant sense of fear, uncertainty, stress and overwhelm.

So how do we cope with this?

Obviously, there’s no easy answer. Let’s talk about what I’ve found to work, and what I recommend right now.

Dealing with the Uncertainty & Fear

The first thing is just to acknowledge that we’re feeling a lot of uncertainty and stress about the world situation. Bring awareness to the feelings you’re experiencing, and acknowledge their presence.

Often we want to ignore the feelings, or we’re just operating on autopilot and not really aware of it. But then we’re operating from that place of fear and stress, and these emotions are driving us without us being aware of it.

Next, see if you can give the fear and uncertainty some space. That means to turn your attention toward it, and let it be in your awareness … but with a sense of spaciousness, as if you’re giving it a wide open room to just be. You don’t need the feelings to go away or change, they are just going to be in your awareness with a feeling of having space around them, letting them exist as if you could even welcome them.

This is a way of taking care of yourself. When we’re feeling fear, it’s important to nurture ourselves, take care of the feeling. Give it space, and allow it to be in your awareness.

Third, see this as an opportunity to practice. We often close ourselves off to fear and uncertainty, but they can be really powerful things to practice with. They are incredible teachers! Let yourself pause for a few moments to practice with this, because uncertainty and fear and stress will always be a part of your life – you won’t ever be free of them! They show up whether you want them or not, so why not get good at being with them?

This is an opportunity to practice mindfulness with your fear and uncertainty. Open to the opportunity, instead of turning away to distraction and busyness.

Fourth, practice welcoming it and giving it unconditional friendliness. This might sound strange when it comes to fear, because for so long we’ve had an adversarial relationship to fear and uncertainty. We don’t like them, because they feel like stress and pain. But we don’t have to relate to fear this way. We can be more open toward it, even friendly.

So start by trying to welcome it. Allow it into your experience. Even be warm towards it, as you might welcome a good friend.

Then try to give it some unconditional friendliness. It’s an amazing practice. See if you’re able to bring the kind of warmth and friendliness towards it that you do with a loved one. You don’t need the feeling to be any certain way, you can be friendly with it no matter what.

Fifth, let yourself feel the openness of the moment. This one is a little harder to explain, but bear with me. If you can relax and open your awareness wider than the narrowness of your thought patterns or narrative … you can experience the openness of this moment.

Let your awareness open wider than your body. Let it take in the room all around you — light, colors, shapes, sound, textures, sensations on your skin. Feel the relaxed, open nature of the moment — fluid, changing, not fixed, unknowable, dynamic, spacious. This is the nature of our world, the root of uncertainty. It’s actually beautiful to behold. Let yourself relax into this openness.

That can take practice, don’t worry if you don’t feel it right away. Keep practicing with it!

Sixth, open to feeling connected to others through your uncertainty and fear. As you sit in stillness, as you feel the sensations in your body, as you welcome the feelings and practice friendliness with them, as you experience the openness of the moment … you can also feel a connection to others.

Think about everyone else in the world who is experiencing similar feelings of discomfort and uncertainty. Similar levels of stress, fear, overwhelm, anxiety. You are not alone — so many others feel it right now! In this way, you are all connected. Let your heart feel this connection to others going through similar experiences. Send them compassion and love, wishing them well.

In this way, our fear and uncertainty, in these very uncertain times … become an opening for connection and compassion. This is transformative. Try it right now.

The world is in a state of intense mass uncertainty. Don’t shut yourself off to it, ignore it or try to control, distract or exit.

Open yourself to this, because it is a powerful time to practice.

Learn More with Me

If you’d like to practice with me, there are two offerings this Saturday (March 14) and one ongoing program where you can join me:

  1. Zen Dharma talk on Fearlessness with Susan O’Connell (and Leo) on Saturday: I’m joining my Zen teacher Susan in giving a free dharma talk on the idea of fear and practicing fearlessness. It’ll be my first dharma talk ever! It’s tomorrow — Saturday (March 14) at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern. Watch online here.
  2. Fearless Purpose Online Workshop (Saturday): A couple hours later, Susan and I will be conducting a 3-hour workshop called Fearless Purpose. The in-person event has been canceled, but you can still participate online. We’re still holding this workshop because we believe it’s so important right now. It will be from 1-4 pm Pacific / 4-7 pm Eastern. You can still sign up for online participation here.
  3. Fearless Training Program: I also offer an ongoing program called Fearless Training, where we train with uncertainty in the mindfulness methods I talk about in this article. I invite you to join us and train together! Check out Fearless Training here.

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The Power of Getting Clarity

By Leo Babauta

Before I started Zen Habits, I was in a place in my life where I had a beautiful family, but I was stuck and dissatisfied with myself.

I knew I wanted to change things — my health, finances, job, way that I was approaching life — but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do about any of it. Most of the time, I just ignored all of this, and distracted myself.

I didn’t have any clarity on what I wanted or what I needed to do. This lack of clarity is felt in all of us very deeply, so that it shows up in how we talk, how we hold ourselves, how other people feel us. It affects our relationships, our jobs, our health.

Then I got very clear that I needed to change. And clear that I wanted to quit smoking, start running, become vegetarian, start waking earlier, and start writing more. I went on to do all those and more.

Clarity helps us to focus, to take action, to feel energized.

A lack of clarity causes stress, inaction, a scattered focus, relationship difficulties, confusion on teams.

Some examples of areas to find clarity in:

  • Your mission in life
  • Your morning routine
  • Your financial plan
  • What you need to do to improve your relationship
  • How you’ll get healthier
  • What others expect of you; what you expect of them
  • How a meeting will be run
  • What your boundaries are in each relationship

As you can see, this is a pretty broad topic — it can apply to every part of our lives. And we don’t have to be perfect, and we don’t have to get clarity on everything this week. It’s something to bring awareness to, that we can improve over time.

But the more we find clarity, the more we’ll have focus, calm, motivation.

How to Get Clarity

OK, great … we want to get clarity in our lives … how do we do that?

I’ll share some things I’ve learned for finding clarity:

  1. Create some space. When we’re unclear on something (how we should reach a goal, for example) … most often we put it off instead of getting any clarity. Instead, try creating some space to get clarity. Carve out an hour. Half a day. A weekend. (Depending on how big the thing is that you need clarity on.) Then do the things below. But carve out the space.
  2. Journal, iterate. Write about what you need clarity on — it doesn’t have to be any solid answers, or any kind of coherent writing. Just let your thoughts pour out. Stream of consciousness. Just give yourself space to reflect.
  3. Meditate & contemplate. Similarly, you can go out in nature and spend some time in solitude. Go for a walk. Sit on a rock. Meditate. See what comes up for you. Hold one question in your mind: “What do I want here?” Or something like that. See if anything emerges as you hold the question.
  4. Talk to others. Share your thoughts with others. Share what you’re not sure about. What you’re afraid of. Hear their thoughts. Just the act of talking it out is valuable — you’re giving space for your thoughts and feelings, and having them heard. Often you can get clarity from a good conversation.
  5. When you have a little clarity, write it down. If you have some kind of answer, any kind of clarity at all, write it down as simply as you can. Two sentences. Putting it down simply helps it become more clear. And then you can start to take action on it.
  6. Take action to get clarity. Many people think they need to have clarity before they take action, but it often happens the other way around. Have the slightest bit of direction? Go in that direction, take the first steps, see what it’s like. You’ll learn more from doing than going back and forth on things. For example, as I started working on my mission, I got clearer and clearer that this is what was meaningful for me, but I also got clearer on how I’d go about doing it. Maybe in a couple years, I’ll have even more clarity, but I’m not going to wait for that in order to take action. Start moving, and learn from that.
  7. Reflect after you take action & get clearer. As you set things in motion, it’s useful to step back every month or two to see how things are going. What have you learned? What’s getting in the way? Use what you’ve learned to get even more clarity. Write it down simply. Take action again.

And repeat. 

What areas of your life need clarity? How is the lack of clarity affecting you and those around you?

Are you ready to create the space to get the clarity?

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Undone: The Unprocrastination Challenge

By Leo Babauta

This month, I’m issuing a challenge to all of you procrastinators … and no, you can’t make the joke that you’ll do it later!

The challenge is called Undone: The Unprocrastination Challenge, and it’s a part of my Sea Change Program.

The challenge is to set aside an “unprocrastination session” every day — it just has to be 5 minutes, but could be longer — and work on the things you’ve been putting off.

It’s a training, and in the challenge I provide videos, articles and a live webinar to support your training and show you proven methods to overcome the old habit of procrastination.

You can do this, absolutely. I’ve seen thousands of people get a lot of stuff done that they’ve been putting off, and many of them saw a permanent shift in how they tackled hard things.

If you join Sea Change and do this program with us, you’ll get:

  1. Articles, videos and tips on this challenge
  2. A live video webinar with me where you can ask questions
  3. A community that will give you support and accountability
  4. Weekly check-ins
  5. The opportunity to join small teams for deeper accountability and support
  6. A habit app to help you track your habits

Are you in? Are you up for this?

Let’s do it!

Join Sea Change today (7 days free, then $19/month after)

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Coming Back to Powerful Habits (plus 6 Powerful Habits)

By Leo Babauta

I was talking with a client about how he felt constantly behind on his email, Slack and other messages and small tasks.

I suggested having regular times to do those things: 15 minutes in the morning and evening each for email and Slack (for a total of 30 minutes, twice a day), for example.

He laughed and said, “Leo, I’ve tried that a thousand times and it hasn’t stuck!”

I totally get it. We’ve tried to form some powerful habits, and they work for a little bit, until they fall off.

But we can always come back. In fact, coming back to a habit might be the most powerful habit of all. Coming back, over and over again, just like we return to the breath, over and over again, after letting our minds wander.

It’s the nature of our minds to fall off habits. Sometimes it takes a dozen attempts before it really clicks. Sometimes more. Falling off the habit isn’t a problem — it’s just a part of the experience of shifting patterns. The problem is that we think we should never fall off a habit, and so we let ourselves get discouraged.

Think of it like brushing and flossing your teeth — you might somehow fall off doing it, but that doesn’t mean you should stop doing it altogether. Just start again the next day! You know it will be good for you.

How to Start Again

So here’s how to practice with coming back to powerful habits:

  1. Notice that you’ve fallen off, and notice what the effects are. Are you feeling more scattered, more behind? This is what we do to ourselves when we fall off a powerful habit.
  2. Set an intention and just start again. Take a breath, let go of discouragement, and just start.
  3. Make adjustments this time, learning from the last time. Do you need more reminders? Need to make it more fun and rewarding? Need some accountability? In this way, the falling off and returning becomes a learning process.
  4. Encourage yourself. Be as encouraging as you can. If you notice yourself discouraging yourself, stop immediately and find a way to encourage yourself. Have some phrases ready that help, find a motivational song or video or quote, ask others for encouragement. Do whatever it takes to encourage yourself.

It’s that simple. You might find yourself veering off course, but encourage yourself to stay on course, or to get back on course as soon as you can. It’s absolutely possible!

Some Powerful Habits to Come Back To

Here are some habits that I’ve found myself returning to, over and over, because I know how powerful they are for me:

  1. Meditation. This one is obvious, but it needs to be included on this list. From time to time, I’ll fall off meditation for a week or two, but I always come back. Right now I’m very regular, and it shows in my life in many ways.
  2. Email & messaging processing sessions. Two blocks a day: 30 minutes in the morning (about 15 mins for email, 15 mins for other messages like Slack), and then another 30-minute block in the evening. I process through them Inbox Zero style, trying to clear out as much as possible in the time allotted. Having two blocks like this, in the morning and evening, means I can trust that this will be taken care of, and I don’t have to worry about it all day long. It’s really a godsend, give it a shot (or come back to it)!
  3. Single-tasking sessions for important tasks. Pick an important task, and clear everything else away. It’s what I’m doing right now, as I write this article — a full-screen app, no distractions, full focus. There’s incredible power in this simple habit. Do it over and over, throughout the day, and you’ll see yourself get an incredible amount done.
  4. Regular blocks for the other tasks. I’ve found it great to create regular blocks for certain tasks, just like with email: a block for finances, a block for writing a book, a block for my most important project, and so on. Creating blocks like this means that these important areas will get taken care of.
  5. Daily gratitude. It seems so trite to recommend a daily gratitude session, and yet those who do it will know how powerful it is. It can transform your thinking, from negative and complaining to fully appreciating everything and everyone in your life. It can transform how you see yourself, instead of thinking of your shortcomings and doubts, thinking of what you’ve done well, what you love about yourself. And it only has to take a few moments a day.
  6. Daily exercise. Well, almost every day. It doesn’t have to be a lot. But it’s a basic act of taking care of yourself. And I’ve found it to be a great time to think, to reflect on your life, to come up with ideas.

What powerful habits would you like to return to?

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Master Your Relationship to Time

By Leo Babauta

The truth is, most of us have a pretty adversarial relationship to time.

There’s never enough. We’re always behind. It goes by too fast. We can’t do important things because we don’t have enough time.

None of it is helpful. Most of it is bullshit.

Let’s take the first one: there’s never enough time. This is powerful because there’s some truth to it: time is limited and precious. We will die, and while we don’t know how much time we have left in this life, we do know that it’s limited. It’s helpful to remember that we must make the most of our limited time!

But time is also abundant. Think of the past few years — it might seem like they passed really quickly, but actually we had so many hours we can’t can’t them. We had a huge abundance of hours. Maybe we didn’t spend them wisely (I know I misspent quite a few hours), but we had plenty of time. We still do, today and this month and this year.

The key is to see this abundance, and feel it in your body. It’s like the abundance of oxygen in the air all around us: it’s limited and precious, but we have plenty of it and can breathe freely and with joy. In some situations, oxygen is so limited that it can be life-threatening … but most of the time, we have more than enough for our needs.

That’s true of time. We have more than enough for our needs. We can do amazing things with the time we have — look at da Vinci and Gandhi and Rosa Parks and Tolstoy and Curie. It’s not about how much time we have, but how we use it, how we experience it.

With that said, I’d like to propose a handful of ways we can shift so that we can master our relationship with time.

  1. See the gift in the time that we have. Every day that we have is a huge gift. We get to have this time! We get to use it to make something, to love, to feel joy and laughter, to listen to music, to see nature, to move, to read, to feel. This is incredible! Instead of looking at how little time we have, we can appreciate the time we have as an incredible, powerful gift. Every hour is a tremendous gift. Every moment. Can we see the gift in the time that we have, and appreciate it fully? How would this shift how you feel about your day?
  2. Use the time intentionally & joyfully. If every hour is a gift, are we going to waste it? Or can we use it intentionally, for something that is important and meaningful to us? (Btw, rest is important. Self-care is meaningful.) Can we use this gift as best we can? And can we experience it with joy, with full appreciation? How might this shift how we use our time?
  3. Be honest about your priorities. A lot of time we use time as an excuse of why we’re not doing something, or as a reason to say no. We all do it: “Sorry, I don’t have the time.” This is a way to honor our boundaries, but it’s not fully honest. We all have the time — we just need to prioritize it, because the time isn’t unlimited. We choose to spend our time based on what is important to us. If we’re not out helping the homeless or saving orphans … it’s not because we don’t have the time. It’s because we’ve chosen to prioritize earning money, taking care of our family, taking care of ourselves, or doing something else meaningful. If we’re honest to ourselves about our priorities, then we don’t need to use time as an excuse. We can just say it’s not my priority right now, and then see the things we’ve chosen as priorities as the way we’d like to spend our time.
  4. Create space in your day. If you have some clear priorities, why not create the time to make them happen? We often feel that we want to prioritize something, but don’t have the time. Then we need to make the time. If we can’t, then we just have to admit that it’s not a priority right now. If it is a priority, let’s see if we can create the space.
  5. Don’t let things get familiar. Most of us have experienced the feeling that time is flying by faster and faster every year. This is likely because of a phenomenon where we don’t notice things when they get really familiar. It’s like driving past your neighborhood on the way home, without seeing any of it. It’s all familiar and you’re on autopilot. That’s how we experience much of our days — things get really familiar and we don’t notice it. What if we stop letting things get too familiar? What if we look at everything as if it were the first time we were seeing it? Time would all of a sudden become less blurry, and we’d be fully in the moment.
  6. Imagine you’re going to die in a year. This might sound gruesome to some, or too dark … but contemplating our death is a way to shift our relationship to life. To shift how we relate to time. So if you imagined, for example, that you were going to die soon … you might spend the time you have left more intentionally. And here’s something that’s fairly certain: if you know you only have a short time to live, that time suddenly slows down and becomes much more vivid. That’s what happens when we contemplate death — time becomes vivid, slower, real.
  7. Savor & be fully present to slow down time. If we think of time as a treat to be savored, we can become fully present with it. Think of the hours of your day as a delicious beverage, waiting to be sipped and fully tasted. How delicious! How wonderful it is to be alive. Time isn’t just sands slipping through our fingers, but pleasure being sipped into our mouths.

Try each of these, and practice them by fully inhabiting each practice. Give yourself fully to the practice, and see what shifts. Your relationship to time might never be the same.

from zen habits https://ift.tt/2P8RC1K

Cut Through Addictions & Distractions: Feel the Discomfort & Uncertainty

By Leo Babauta

Our lives are pervaded with addictions and distractions.

Social media, shopping, favorite websites and video services, alcohol, cigarettes, biting nails, porn, drugs, sweets, fried foods, soda, coffee, gambling, gaming, workaholism, complaining, avoiding, procrastinating, perfectionism, fantasizing, rationalizing, self-hating, sex addiction, drama addiction.

These addictions are some of the most common ways we have of soothing ourselves when we’re stressed or feeling bad about ourselves or others. When we’re feeling anxiety, insecurity, depression, anger, sadness, pain. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, bad about ourselves, self-doubt, uncertainty, discomfort.

We sooth ourselves with our addictions, until it feels like we can’t stop.

The first step to dealing with the addiction, of course, is to recognize that it’s a problem. I remember rationalizing for years why it was OK for me to smoke cigarettes. And to overeat. And to procrastinate. So many rationalizations! It wasn’t until I was willing to admit it was a problem that change was even possible.

I had to be willing to face the problem.

So the next step is resolving to take action. To make a change. There can be months between the time you admit there’s a problem, and the time you actually flip the switch in your brain to take action.

Once you resolve to take action and face the problem, the next step is to recognize that you’re doing the action to sooth yourself from discomfort and uncertainty.

You’re trying to avoid the discomfort and uncertainty by going to your addiction. The problem is that this works … until it doesn’t. At some point, the addiction itself becomes the cause of your stress, uncertainty and discomfort.

So recognize that you’re trying to sooth yourself so you don’t have to feel uncertainty, stress, discomfort.

Then here’s the trick: cut through the addiction by letting yourself feel the discomfort and uncertainty.

Give Yourself Permission to Feel the Discomfort

We don’t want to feel discomfort. We try to set up our entire lives so we don’t have to feel uncomfortable — our lives are set up in deep comfort and addiction, with as much control as we can create.

We have created a cocoon around ourselves. But the cocoon is a prison. It traps us into comfort so that we can’t do anything uncomfortable. It traps us in our addiction. It keeps us locked into our fears.

What if we could break out of the prison? What if we could gain true freedom to do anything we want, no matter how uncomfortable and uncertain? It would be incredibly liberating!

So here’s the training: let yourself feel the uncertainty and discomfort.

Try it right now: drop your attention into your body, and notice the sensation of discomfort and uncertainty. Bring curiosity: what does it feel like?

When you feel the urge of your addiction pulling you … don’t run to it! Pause, let yourself stay in the discomfort of not indulging in your addiction … and feel the discomfort, in your body. Feel the uncertainty that you’re trying to avoid with the cocoon.

Feel it fully, opening to it. It’s not a big deal. You can handle this.

Stay with it, as long as you can. Give yourself some compassion in the middle of it.

Fall in love with the moment, uncertainty and all. Discomfort and all. It’s a part of the uncontrollable mix of love, meaning, uncertainty, discomfort, and beauty.

Try this, and see if you can free yourself of one addiction this month, by not needing to run.

from zen habits https://ift.tt/31P0b6O