Wednesday, August 31, 2011

paint-with-colors-of-virtue

Shambhala Returning
Picture Shamba Returning kindly provided by h.koppdelaney

Don't be a puppet
Everyone has their own agenda
Switch off that TV
Take off those headphones
Switch off your blackberry
Bring yourself back to the present
Listen, Listen, Listen
Your time is running out quickly
Don't drift your life away
Imagine your life as a blank canvas from today
Paint it with the colors of virtue,
the color of service,
the color of compassion,
the color of love,
the color of devotion,
Paint a picture that has never been seen before
One only you can create
Paint it with the brush of action, and the oil of intention
This picture stays with you forever





Saturday, August 27, 2011

relaxation-murky-qi-releasing-emotions

Many people don't know what Qi is, and how much we depend on it to exist. Put it this way, Qi or Prana is the reason why we are alive, when we die, all qi leaves our body, the soul energy leaves, the body returns the five elements back to its source.

I was explain this to a friend:
"The body is only running because there is an enormous amount of intelligence that is guiding it, where is this coming from? This is coming from your soul! The soul combined with the 5 elements animate the body"

In these great short video posts Master Li, my Qi Gong master talks about relaxation, murky Qi, releasing emotions, and his form of Qi Gong. Master Li is a very unique individual, I hope to take his teacher training course some day, he is really an amazing, compassionate human being. The first time I met him it was his birthday, he looked about 10 years younger than his actual age. He was Jet Li's instructor at one point, a famous chinese actor, and Coach of Beijing's Martial Art Olympic team. Enjoy the videos






Bracing for the storm...


Its been a dark gloomy day, yesterday we stocked up on gas burners, Sharon cleared up 1/2 the shelf of the portable gas cans :). Our freezers are stacked with ice packs. DC is on the outside edges of the hurricane, it has still be declared as a state of emergency. The rain is starting to belt down now, I can hear it as I write, the trees are swaying with the wind, heavy gusts of winds threaten to bring branches down.

I feel sorry for those who don't have the comforts of home today, we do take a lot of things for granted. First it was the earthquake this week, now a hurricane, what next? In my last post I shared my thoughts on the dramatic climate changes all over the world.

See the physical aspect of what we see is always the tip of the ice berg.  The bottom of the ice berg that cannot be seen is 2/3 of the ice berg.  Simarly consciousness manifest itself physically as the tip of the ice berg individually and globally, what is driving the physical is the mental undercurrents underneath.  Ask yourself what sort of consciousness is present in the world today on a mass level?  Is it kind? is it compassionate? is it thoughtful?  For a blessed minority it is, however for most it is not.

What else can we expect but chaos from mindless thinking? Unfortunately peace and order only comes from mindful and compassionate thinking.  That is the law of cause and effect, the law of Karma.  Leaving the lap of Creator, we are all bound by time, space, our actions.  You may say what has climate change got to do with consciousness, unfortunately suffering caused directly or indirectly can't just be swept under the carpet, the law of Karma is just, precise, unforgiving.  Everything is connected, studies in Princeton University has shown that intention has an influence on random events, add on this global warming, pollution, nuclear disasters, oil-spills, you get my drift.

What else can we expect but chaos from mindless thinking? Unfortunately peace and order only comes from mindful and compassionate thinking.  That is the law of cause and effect, the law of Karma.

A qoute follows from one of my past post:
Peace is in Heaven, it needs to be reflected through our actions on Earth...
Compassion is in Heaven, it needs to be reflected through our actions on Earth...
Thoughtfulness is in Heaven, it needs to be reflected  through our actions on Earth...
Purpose is in Heaven, it needs to be reflected  through our actions on Earth...
Love is in Heaven, it needs to be reflected through our actions on Earth...


I end with a native american quote and a silent prayer for grace to help us on this difficult road ahead for us and future generations.

I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall its buildings of concrete are, but rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man
Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe




Wednesday, August 24, 2011

all-shook-up

It was yesterday after lunch, I sat down to do some work. I noticed the some rattling, and I thought it was unusual, it did not stop there, suddenly the whole building started wobbling, I literally felt like I was on a giant jumping castle, only it was my office on the 11th floor of the building.

It is quite concerning that there is so much dramatic changes in the world, you don't have to be a genius to work out that something is dramatically wrong, hurricanes, droughts, tsunamis, earthquakes, rise in sea levels, melting of the polar caps, the Himalayan meltdown. It is really not a coincidence. Why don't we top that off with the financial crisis, the high unemployment rates and ridiculous inflation in Asian countries. Our dream time is over, the time for change is now.

You might wander how can a single individual do about it. I say a single individual can start with oneself!

I say that the problem is a fundamental one, I say that the problem is that we as individuals, and collectively have lost control over our minds and senses. You may ask what does our minds have to do with it? I say that the problem starts at a mental level.

Let me propose a question to you, if everyone lived within their needs and shared unselfishly, would there not be a conservation and better utilization of natural resources, which would be more than enough to go around, this starts from not wasting food, to turning of the light, to adopting a simpler lifestyle, to not hoard, to having a simpler diet (preferably vegetarian or even less meat). The example is simplified but it is just to get a point across. People over the world are fed up with the selfishness and hoarding, they demand that their leaders really start thinking about the people, and doing things right by them.

We have lost the wisdom of our elders, who could counteract the bad ways of society, and provide the much needed guidance to get out of this global mess that we are in.

Do we really think out of mindless behavior we can get anything positive, out of mindless advertising that appeals to gratifying the senses for more money, out of corruption, greed, self, political and corporate agendas that anything positive and sustaining will come out of it?

Order cannot come out of minds full of Chaos and Selfishness, I say that the world cannot come back to equilibrium, until there is a significant mental shift globally. I do see this shift happening, the question is, will it be too late? There are beautiful souls out there, I pray that I get to meet them and associate with them, for I too am lost, and need the constant reminders on what is truly important. I write these blogs as a form of reminder and self affirmation to myself.

I say that the world cannot come back to equilibrium, until there is a significant mental shift globally. I do see this shift happening, the question is, will it be too late?

Food for thought, lets hope that our children can have some resemblance of peace, order and stability in the years to come. There is a native american saying that says "We don't own the land, we borrow it from our children"


Sunday, August 21, 2011

zombies-mindfulness-karma

The Colours of the Soul
Picture "The Colors of the Soul" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
We live in a world of the half dead, I say that because we aren't really living, we are existing, we aren't really thinking, we are caught up in the hurt of yesterday, and a fantasy dream about tomorrow. We are simply reacting and playing a script in auto-pilot that we have created for ourselves or one that has been created for us.

Today we will explore where this script is coming from, we will look at mindfulness as a technique which will allow you to undo this script and write a new script, one that will take you to the destination where you want to be, a destination of a less stressful life, richer relationships and better natural results!

Where is this script coming from?
We write this script everyday, consciously or unconsciously.

We are bombarded by advertising, social pressure, useless entertainment, less then perfect role models, with little time for solitude and self reflection.

It seems we are living everyone else's idea of what life should be except our own!

The script is your deep mental impressions or Sanskaras in Sanskrit.

Where does these deep mental impressions or Sanskaras come from?
These come from intent and action from the past and the present or karma, this life and many lives before.

The problem is that new scripts are being written by the momentum of previous negative scripts.

Albert Einstein once said “problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them”.


Imagine if you see things as they are, being able to truly listen, even if it is temporary, imagine if you could suspend yourself  long enough to reflect on it to determine the right response.  This technique is called mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?
As its simplest level, mindfulness is a matter of looking things as they are suspending judgment and thinking of any kind, be it temporary, however with all the attention and compassion we can give to it.

It involves non-doing, something that may be strange to the western world, how can the mind not being doing anything, truth is the mind needs an anchor to be focused on, doing one thing, and then the mind disappears into that one thing, thinking disappears, time disappears.

It requires you to be totally devoted to what you are doing there and then, focused totally on the activity at hand.  It could be a meeting at work, doing a toastmaster evaluation, doing homework with your kids. Use what you are doing to anchor yourself in the here and now, delaying self gratification, until the impulse to act is brought under control, and can be directed for a purpose.  Acting with purpose, builds new useful habits, a new useful script, it does not matter how small or big the act. A little positive change every day, builds a big positive change over time.

It can also reduce stress gently and naturally, and is the basis of a formal method used successfully for that purpose called MBSR.  Stress is the number one killer according the American Medical Association, causing at least 80% of all disease.

It asks for us to be present here and now, not in the past or the future but the now.  There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says “If you want to know your past – look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future – look into your present actions.”   There is another biblical reference that says the same thing "As you sow so shall you reap".  The results of tomorrow will depend on the quality of your choices today plain and simple.

Imagine if you could write a new script that reflected who you really want to be:
Would it not help you become a better human being? 
Would it not benefit those around you? 
Would it not benefit your community, and maybe even the planet?

We talked about why we are in Zombie mode, its because of our deep mental impressions or script that are created every day.

We need to be able to rewrite our script so that it takes us to where we want to be, a more happier, peaceful and rewarding life.

We can use mindfulness as a tool to interrupt ourselves just long enough to establish a new script that will let us focus on the present, establish deeper relationships and make the most of the opportunities of learning that come every day of our life.

It all starts by being mindfully present today, now :)

“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln



For further reading on mindfulness I highly recommend Jon Kabat-Zinn's book "Wherever you go there you are" which discusses mindfulness in a great amount of detail.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

enjoy-journey-and-learnings-in-between

My son was born 3 months premature, I remember driving home petrified not know what was going to happen!  Through Grace he was born with minor issues, although he was in an incubator for 2 or so months.  He could literally fit into the palm of my hand, the simple tasks of breathing and eating was a challenge for him, you could see the effort he expended on each breath!

His challenges did not stop there, at about 4 years of age he was diagnosed as being globally delayed in all areas of development of at least 18 months.  He was in real danger of having a mental disability.  He is now 7 years, and going to a normal school and coping quite well, I could not be more happy with his progress.

It was a 3 year journey to get him  back on track, we got the right guidance from the right people, we had faith in them, we persevered and worked patiently with professionals and at home on the most remedial of tasks, like how to hold a pen, how to tell past, present and future, what a fruit was, what a vegetable was and what was the difference.

Though my son was disadvantaged on many fronts, he had some key strengths which none of my other kids displayed, that was of empathy and ability to smile and make light of every situation.  He did however have issues of confidence, once he got confident in accomplishing the smallest of tasks,with the right encouragement he was able to try bigger tasks.  We were extremely grateful that he had the gift of empathy and compassion, and he is a blessing in our lives.

From this simple story there are many important elements that we can apply in our lives to reach our destination and enjoy the journey and learnings in between.

Right Guidance comes from the Right People, following them requires a certain amount of initial Faith, with Patience and Perseverance and the Right Encouragement we build Confidence in the Guidance and Truths given, and with our inherit Strengths to overcome our weaknesses, Persistence of effort we are able to achieve almost any task given, and be Grateful for many lessons learnt in overcoming the Challenges.

My lessons learnt from this is one of deep Gratitude and Humility, and a sense of how we take simple things for granted.  I remember sitting in the LifeStart support group, with one father saying about his child with down syndrome "Unfortunately unless we can do something about the extra chromosone, there is really not much I can do other than to give my child all the love and support possible".  That just ripped my heart out in that meeting.

Be thankful for what you have, know that it is enough, and know that you can make it through any situation with the help of Friends, Family and Grace.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

lion-that-thought-it-was-sheep



We are born as lions, we die as sheep.  This is a story of one lion who rediscovered itself.

There once was a lion cub which was lost, and found some sheep.   The sheep raised the lion as one of them.  The lion forgot that it was a lion, and acted just like the sheep, until one day another lion came about.  The other lion said to "sheep lion", what are you doing?  You are just like me.

The "sheep lion" was afraid, and tried to run away.  The lion did not give up, and followed, he got hold of the sheep lion and said, ok, "lets look at our reflections in the pool of water on the other side of hukamba mountain", after that I will let you be.

The sheep lion agreed to leave the comfort of his current reality.  As they walked the Lion talked about their heritage, their ancestors, their strengths and their struggles, and their war with the Hyenas.  The sheep lion was inspired, and by the time they got to the water, the sheep lion was afraid no more.

They stood next to each other.  The sheep lion looked in the pool of water, and saw the resemblance to the other lion, they looked almost identical.  The other lion told him to drink the water, as the sheep lion drank the water, he flashed back 25 years ago, where he was in the exact same spot with the same lion next to him, only he was a cub.

He remember the lion saying "Son, I love you very much, we are very proud of you, always know that you are the king of the Jungle, don't ever forget that".  As this was happening, the lake was being ambushed by a bunch of hyenas.  Dad caught hold of me and flug me across into the water on the other side of the lake, then raced towards the advancing hyenas.   I remember being scared, running frantically until I found a place to rest.  When I woke up I was scared, and terrified, and did not know where I was, the sheeps found me and looked after me, slowly I forgot about my heritage"

He turned around and looked at his dad, tears wept down his cheeks, as he embraced him and said "Dad, I am so sorry I forgot, I just got too distracted, I got too comfortable, I got too lazy". Dad replied "I am just glad to have you back Son, you do will now value the Gift of being a Lion, as you are able to know what a lion is not, most Lions take this for granted, this is a valuable lesson, it will make you the best King there ever was".

Both lions went to the top of Mount Hakambu, and roared.  The whole jungle shook with fear, as they knew that a new King had arrived.

We find ourselves in a similar predicament with our lives.  We live our lives as "Sheeps", when we are really "Lions".

We know that there is something wrong, but we distract ourselves, until we are reminded through grace alone of the heritage we have as spiritual beings having the facility to express that spirituality on earth and exercising that infinite potential within us.  We are love, we are compassion, we are leaders, we have just forgotten it...

Somehow this journey is not wasted as only in ignorance, we can truly appreciate the gift of being Human, and rediscover who we really are, spiritual beings having a human experience, not human beings trying to have a spiritual experience.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

toastmaster-speech-speech-9

Please listen to my Toastmaster Speech 9 - Invest 10% in yourself by clicking here.  Pease forward speech until the first applause (approx 1 minute in), I hit the record button on my IPAD while they were introducing.

Following my previous posts on the pregnant pause and communication.  I tried to incorporate various elements of powerful communication techniques into the speech, that I have been reading about particularly techniques used by Obama.

These techniques included:
- Relating to the audience - use of current events or a theme that the audience can identify with.
- Personalizing the speech - my direct experiences and conversations "my spiritual mentor said to me".
- Pregnant pauses - I used the pause to plant myself still, or to start of moving across the floor space, like in Qi Gong, a pause is used to change in breath and movement.
- Use of repetitions - "we were not designed too"  was repeated to emphasize the point, I used repetitions on sounds "you can enjoy your life, and others can enjoy you".
- Variation of pitch to emphasize point.
- Use of incorporating various known figures into the speech, Amy Winehouse, Dalai Lama, Iyenger
- Use of rhetorical questions - "do we pay more attention to ourselves than our cars?" to support the argument.

I used the pause to plant myself still, or to start of moving across the floor space, like in Qi Gong, a pause is used to change in breath and movement

The written speech link is here, however I tend not to use the notes in the speech, you have to allow for your personality to come out during the speeches, and select topics that are dear to your heart.  Johnny Depp only selects roles that he can relate to, that are already in him, so he can bring it out with a certain degree of honesty.  To read more about this please look at my post on the hedgehog concept.

you have to allow for your personality to come out during the speeches, and select topics that are dear to your heart

There were a couple of mistakes I made and improvements I would like to make for next time.  I tried to incorporate pausing in the speech, but I found myself looking at the ground during that time, I did not know what else to do!  X said, that wasn't to bad, as it showed I was thinking, however I need to have more variety.

My next speech is my final one in the Competent Communication Series, I am thinking about doing a speech on the "Latent Potential Self", basically to talk about the latent potential within all of us.

As you can see there is a lot involved in communication, and speaking is only one part of it, listening is the more  important thing!





Sunday, August 7, 2011

pregnant-pause


Foot constantly on the Pedal
In today's hectic world, it seems everyone has got their "foot on the pedal" constantly, everything is go, go, go!  From eating at ones desk at work to not even acknowledging a someone walking in the opposite direction.  We are all too "busy", one never has the time to do anything!

I think personally that we are scared of inactivity or we have distorted views about what would happen to us if we were a bit more balanced.

The Pregnant Pause
I like the term "Pregnant Pause", because it implies that the pause is not just an empty pause, it is going to give birth to something, its full of potential!

"Pregnant Pause" implies that the pause is not an empty pause, it is going to give birth to something, its full of potential! 


As with Yin (Rest) and Yang (Activity), hitting the pause button is important for almost everything.  Its important not to neglect the natural pauses that happen in your life, the pauses are just as important as the activity.

Don't neglect the natural pauses that happen in your life, the pauses are just as important as the activity.

In giving speeches, a pregnant pause, allows the audience to let important points sink in, in conversations it allows a natural point for think, and others to come in.  

Holidays allow a pause button on the high pressures of every day life.  Sabbath is a traditional pause for Jews, I think its great tradition, just to have a day of rest with family for that quality time for bonding to happen.

In Bowen Therapy, muscle stimulation, is alternated with periods of inactivity for the body to check and heal itself.

In Qi Gong, stillness concentrates the Qi, in Yoga the mountain or the corpse pose, allow the body to rest in between poses, I believe there must be a healing element like Bowen Therapy.  The most enjoyable part of a yoga session is the 5-10 minute at the end in Corpse Pose (Savasna)  

Savasana offers the possibility of “…every day, a little ‘bit dying.” Pattabhi Jois 

 If today was your last day
We all need to pause and reflect and die a bit everyday, imagine if it was your last day would you take time to hit the pause button, and think through what is most important in your life, how the day has gone, what you have done right, what have you done wrong, what would you like to change?

Here is the chorus of one of my favourite songs by Nickelback:



If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have?
Would you call old friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories
Would you forgive your enemies?
Would you find that one you're dreamin' of?
Swear up and down to God above
That you finally fall in love
If today was your last day




Saturday, August 6, 2011

communication-skills-key-to-success


Happy Birthday Mr President
Barack Obama turns 50 this week, the first non-white president of the United States.  Follow from my last post, Obama is a person I admire and respect.  A big part of his success to achieve presidency is his communication skills.  To get there is a testament to his own personal leadership and competency,  coming from a humble poor family.  It shows anyone is able to achieve greatness with the right focus, attitude and skills.

Communication is not just Speaking
I was pinging a fellow Toastmaster, and I said to her, that it is a 2-3 year journey to achieve competency in communication (anything else too), but at the end of it you can basically combine the mastery in communication with any field at work, at home, with friends, at church etc to propel yourself to the next level to get a promotion, to deepen relationships and so on.

Communication is not just speaking, it is understanding and connecting to others with respect and empathy and as equals

Communication is not communication without any of these elements.  It is not just about speaking, but listening, empathizing, connecting and doing the right thing always, sitting on the rock of integrity and respect.  Communication skills has been one of my biggest challenges, going to the worst school in NSW Australia, didn't help.  I was fortunate though to meet some excellent role mentors though.  I still struggle with communication and my old bad habits, however I try to improve it every day consciously, half of it is just listening and acting on your inner "golden compass", and tapering your response with genuine concern for the other person.  I need to apply it to all aspects of my life including my family.

A Place to Practice Communication
The Toastmaster Club is an excellent cheap way to learn and practice communication, it provides a safe haven to learn critical speaking, listening, non-verbal communication skills which benefits one in all areas of life.  I am 2 speeches away from completing my Competent Communication (CC) manual, I look forward to some of the other modules particular Story Telling.  Here is a personal testament that I can relate to.

Further to my note on my colleague, I was telling her that all elements of the Toastmaster CC manual was in the keynote speech by Obama above.  Obama uses body language and hand gestures, "pregnant" pauses, connection to the audience, personal stories and emotions, powerful descriptive vocabulary, pitch variation and tempo and so on.  Just watch the end of this speech on how he issues a call to action increasing the intensity of his voice and his emotion, with a powerful unifying message.

You don't need communications skills if we are all Mind Readers

Its a pity that Communication Skills are so neglected as a core competency for success almost everywhere.
 Communication cannot be taken for granted, unless we are all mind readers!  
Spend time improving this core skill, and it will reward you handsomely in the future in all aspects of life.  


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

drink-coffee-with-gandhi

I am reading Robin Sharma's book at the moment "The Greatness Guide", I really like this book and his style of writing really resonates with me.  I admire Robin Sharma, his book "The monk who sold his ferrari" was the book which got me started on writing, he is sort of a role model for me.

On his chapter "Drink Coffee With Gandhi", where Robin is reading a book by Gandhi "My Experiments with Truth", he says:

"Reading a book by someone you respect allows some of their brilliance to rub off on you". 

I totally digg this statement, I would go further rubbing shoulders with the people you admire, gets into their minds and understand how they think, and increases your own understanding of the subject.

A human being is a respository of knowledge.

Jim Collins author of good to great also says always work out "Who" first before you work out the "What", if you admire certain people or what they are doing, chances are you like their habits or their role subconciously, and you should really be "hanging out" with them.  Try taking them out for coffee, helping them out, taking to them, bouncing ideas of  them, asking them to mentor you.

I know no more of a powerful way than to learn than to associate with or read about the people that  you want to be like.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

doing-yoga-qi-gong-outside



Finishing up my holidays, back to work tommorrow.  Its been a whirlwind of a holiday, which I have enjoyed very much, to Canada, Las Vegas, Florida & New York.  It will take me a couple of days to get into the swing of things. 

One of the things I have been doing is Yoga & Qi Gong outside.  I am sure that is how nature intended us to do exercise, I must say I think it adds another element of spaciousness and Qi. 

There is nothing I like more than lying down in "Corpse Pose" looking up into the chandlier of the hanging leaves over me and listening to the free sweet songs of the chirping birds, feeling the rays of warm light and the cool morning breeze against my skin.

The chinese indicate that Qi is all around us, and advise not to practise Qi Gong in a room that is not well circulated.  Assuming this is true, Yoga and Qi Gong, and any sort of exercise would benefit from doing it outdoors.

I understand Qi as the soul energy (Heaven) interacting with the 5 elements (Earth) to give a "Life Force", this life force has to flow like water through all our energy circuits of our body.  Yoga and Qi Gong, helps remove any blockages in our minds and bodies, and lets these subtle currents flow.  The Earth also has a healing resonance called the schumann resonance which is around 7.83 Hz from memory.  The sun and the moon also have their subtle energies. 

Be creative to find spots outside to exercise, parks, rooftops, balconies and experiment with different timings, sunset, sunrise etc.