Living Consciously

Living consciously means using your minutes wisely, but it’s more about enjoying them. It's completely up to you. In these next moments, feel free to wallow in self pity, be upset over the action of others, or dwell on your shortcomings.

But why?

Your future reality is a clean slate. You create it, moment by moment, with your thoughts. It’s those thoughts that make you feel happy or sad.

Choose happy! Engage in activities you enjoy and hang around people who love and inspire. And, realize you are not alone. You have access to incredible power, strength, and will. All you need to do is ask for it.

Be present

Living consciously means never being bored. When you become aware and present, opportunities to amuse and amaze appear all around you.

Life and energy is everywhere. Take notice of it. You are a part of it. We are all interconnected. The moon, sun, and the planets, the galaxies full of exploding supernovas and black holes, the fantastic living organism that is your mind and body all the way to the microscopic creatures living in the fuzz in your bellybutton.

Gaze at the magnificence of the night sky which is but a tiny spec of what is an unfathomable Universe. Know that countless others, through time and space, have stood in wonderment just like you, and that they are a part of you as you are a part of them.

Anything is possible. You are the maker of your own reality from this moment forward. You are divinea super being with limitless possibilities.

At their heart, the religions of the world teach similar messages, but over the centuries some have lost that focus. There are many paths toward living consciously in the moment.

Proceed down your own path, and always be on the lookout with an open mind and a loving heart. My own unique watershed moment was delivered to me in the form of a little brown bat.

Forgive yourself

Living consciously also means cutting yourself some slack. Everyone has done things in the past they regretwe all do. It’s time to let them go. They’re holding you back and keeping you from living in the moment.

This can take tremendous courage. (Some of us have bigger skeletons in our closet than others.) Know that you are not on this earth to suffer and be miserable.

Forgive yourself for those past transgressions, knowing full well that joy and happiness can be the norm, not just some fleeting state that teases you into imagining what your life could be like.

Once you’re able to forgive yourself, it becomes much easier to forgive others, helping you to form more meaningful relationships. 
The next time one of those unsavory events rises into your consciousness and slaps you in the face, rise up against it. Come to grips with these “regret burps.”

I call them regret burps because they rise up out of nowhere, then pop into your consciousness fully and suddenly, mocking your ineptness. Forgiving yourself starts with addressing and conquering those regret burpsone by oneas they arise.

Quiet the chatter

The undisciplined mind churns out thousands of thoughts per minute. It doesn’t rest until we sleep, but even then spirals on in a different dimension through our dreams.

Realize that somewhere underneath all that chatter is the real you. Layers of remembrances, opinions, hate, peer pressure, and prejudice can fog your perception. Following those perceptions can lead down a path that is not truly yours.

Living consciously means forging your own path. Quieting the chatter will help you get in touch with the real you who is waiting underneath. There are many techniques that help. Following are several of my favorites ...

Our garden budda helps remind us to be present.

Meditation is a powerful tool to quiet that incessant mental noise. These ancient arts have been practiced and handed down since the dawn of civilization. Don’t discount the collective work of some of the greatest teachers of all time.

Many modern teachers exist as well. Seek the method that works best for you.

Periods of intense concentration can have the same mind-clearing effects as meditation and intense physical exertion.

Being able to concentrate on one thing and one thing alone over a protracted period of time can produce similar results. Like meditation, it clears the mind, and can provide glimpses of unrivaled clarity.

Consciously identifying these activities and doing more of them is an excellent way toward heightened awareness. One of the most influential books of my young life was Flow, by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who argues these activities are a key to happiness.

Have you had moments where you get completely “lost” in a task or activity? Suddenly, you “awaken” and the last hour seemed to have passed in an instant. “Time quickening” is the term Csikszentmihalyi uses to explain that phenomena, which is characterized by intense concentration or “flow.”

In line with my own goal setting strategies, Csikszentmihalyi states activities that you love to do are more apt to produce these periods of time quickening. Living consciously exposes you to myriad possibilities for creating these periods of flow.

Living consciously means at times quieting the chatter. Intense physical exercise can help clear your mind and lead you to your authentic self.

Intense physical exercise is a great way not only to condition the body but also the brain. This is not for everyone. Keeping your body relaxed and your brain under control as your body’s defenses kick in against the pain is an acquired taste and skill set.

I’m not talking about a casual jog or workout here. The intensity level must be ramped up so the brain is completely preoccupied with physical complexities and sensory overload.

I first discovered the positive, mind calming affects of intense exercise as a professional athlete, when I was subject to ridiculous physical extremes. You must know your body well enough to distinguish between “good hurt” and “bad hurt.”

Be cautious here. Intense physical exercise can lead to serious health problems and even death, so please check with your physician before attempting.

That being said, there are plenty of ways to reach this state, even if you’re older and have physical limitations like I now do. You just need to be smart about it. That’s why I like exercises that involve momentary muscular failure.

Love your life

Living consciously means you start loving your life more right now. Forgive yourself for those past misdeeds, quiet the chatter to get in touch with the real you, and live each moment more consciously than the last.

If you drive to work, do you let others dictate your mood? Someone cuts you off or tailgates you. Do you choose to let the anger rise up inside you, to have that incident ruin your day?

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. Choose to ignore it. Adjust your rear view mirror as well as your attitude. Revel in the wind in your hair, the blue sky above, and the trees along the way. Those negative and angry thoughts will rule your day if you let them.

Instead of looking for and finding the bad in people, see and appreciate the good.

Living consciously means enjoying this moment more, and then loving the next one, and then the one after that. Isn't that the whole idea?