Goin OM

Buddy: Hey bro wanna hang out?
You: Sure, but first I have to meditate.
Buddy: Huh!? Haha! Do you float off the floor too!
You: Nah, I just sit there and breathe.
Buddy: Lol! I didn’t know you were a guru now!
You: Nope, just a meditator.
Buddy: Ha, okay, you do you! Catch ya later!
You: Well, we can chill after I’m done.
Buddy: I’m headin out, see YA!

How many times has this happened to you? You mention to your pals that you meditate, and they just don’t get it? Well now there’s a new phrase to keep you in the cool, it’s called: Goin OM! (just say “home”, but without the “h”).

When you tell your friends that you’re “Goin OM”, they’ll know you’re ridin the next trending tidal wave. Heck, they’re gonna wanna Go-Om too! By steering away from elitist-sounding spiritual jargon, you can use a hip new way of sayin something people have been doin for centuries, if not millennia (that’s a really long time!).

What exactly IS “Goin OM”? Why it’s just a slick way of sayin you’re takin a small bit of time to still the mind — just sittin silently for twenty minutes taming your thoughts all while repeating the sacred sound of the universe: OM.

So the next time you have to tell a buddy that it’s time to meditate, just say: I’ll see ya in a few, but first I’m goin OM!

You can even hashtag it!! — #GoOm #goinOM

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Wandering Wrongly

Dear Rich, I’m a bit unhappy with life, what’s up with that?

Well dear reader, from my experience it typically means that at some point, you developed a fundamental misunderstanding of life. Fortunately, information that can correct this exists — unfortunately, because of your misunderstanding, you wouldn’t recognize it by simply stumbling across it — it’d just seem like nonsense.

The typical pattern then proceeds as follows: at some point along the way, you’ll become so unhappy with life that you’ll eventually reject and abandon every idea you ever believed in. With this blank slate, you’ll be ready to receive new information — and the only ideas left, will be the ones that more-accurately explain the fundamentals of life.

In other words, because of your misunderstanding, you’ll keep going in every wrong direction until eventually, only the correct direction remains. That makes it sound like you’re a moron, but that’s not true — you’re simply an ignorant noob that has no idea what you’re doing.

Is there a way to shortcut this wandering? I’d say, why bother. You have to do something while you’re here on Earth, right? So the search for understanding is as fun a path as any, and certainly as meaningful — don’t you think? And let’s say you did shortcut it, then what? What do you think people that understand the fundamental nature of life do?

Even if you became the most enlightened person possible, you still gotta keep busy. If you examine the people that look like they’re having a great time, they’re doing normal everyday stuff — the only difference is that they appreciate it, and through that appreciation they thoroughly enjoy it.

I mean yeah, there’s some things you could do to make things easier on yourself now, for sure. But that takes trust and dedication — and I’m just not sure you’re ready. What do you think?

Fear Dismantling 101 – Day 7

Let’s sum up so far. On day one you discovered that the only thing standing between you and the enjoyment-of-life is fear. On day two, you named Fear as an enemy that must be denied and defeated. On day three, you realized all that fear you’ve been feeding yourself results in a scary interpretation of your everyday life. On day four, you learned how detrimental the idea of random-chance is to your well-being. On day five, you learned to fight fear with fear by scaring yourself into better behavior. And on day six, you stopped thinking of yourself as afraid — you have preferences instead.

What we are developing here is a stable platform of beliefs amidst a turbulent ocean of thoughts. Fear may be a feeling but its foundation is rooted in untamed thoughts. Scary thoughts are just the meaningless musings of your mind — the problem starts when you invite those unpleasant thoughts in to stay awhile.

Your responsibility is like that of a gardener. What kind of seeds will do well in your soil? In other words, what interests you — what delights you? Plant those seeds. Uh-oh, with exposed soil comes weeds. Better plant those seeds fast. Get something in the ground already!! Just select something you like and focus on it. You can switch things up later if the results are unsatisfactory.

Okay, your sprouts are still small, so weeds remain an issue. Weeds are the thoughts that don’t belong in your garden, they’re nuisance plants that take resources from the plants you prefer. Pluck them, dismantle them, then tend to the sprouts and thoughts you care about. Why would you ever water weeds and let them grow in your garden? Keep those unpleasant thoughts outta there!

Within a well-pruned mind, fear cannot run rampant. And here’s a little exercise you can do to make the pruning process easier. Start by breathing — which hopefully you’re doing already… in… out…. Keep breathing… in… out…. Now, as you exhale, mentally say the word “om” (I usually pronounce it like “home” but without the “h”). Why silently say a word? Just to help you maintain focus — because eventually you’ll notice that you’re not saying the word anymore. When that happens, simply start saying it again.

It’s a little game you’re playing: Maintain the Om. One part of your mind will want to wander everywhere else but Om. But another part of your mind is trying to keep Om at the forefront. Eventually you’ll get better. And if you do this for twenty minutes everyday, you’ll get some good practice ignoring your thoughts and focusing your mind.

Fear Dismantling 101 – Day 6

Starting today, you are no longer afraid of anything, you simply have strong preferences. For instance:

I’m not afraid of heights, I just don’t enjoy the sensation of being up high.
I’m not afraid of crowds, I simply prefer smaller less-crowded venues.
I’m not afraid of going out, I just prefer a lot of alone time.
I’m not afraid of driving, I just prefer slower forms of transportation.
I’m not afraid to go up and talk to people, I just prefer to be approached and engaged by others.
I’m not afraid of strangers, I just prefer to interact with people I know.
I’m not afraid of blood, I simply prefer bodily fluids to be properly enclosed.
I’m not afraid of unusual noises, I simply prefer to know the source of sounds.
I’m not afraid of spiders, I just prefer them to maintain a greater distance.

These are mere preferences like any other — take cheesecake for example, I simply don’t prefer the taste or texture of it — it’s not that I’m afraid of it. You just prefer some things over others — no big deal. And you know what, preferences shift and change over time. For instance, I used to dislike oatmeal-raisin cookies, but nowadays I actually like them.

You may think this is mere semantics, a superficial bandage over a festering wound — but no, the way in which we define ourselves makes a difference. When you walk into a room with all eyes upon you, that’s not fear you’re feeling, but excitement — you’re energized for the upcoming presentation — accept and savor that energy.

The world isn’t a scary place filled with frights, it’s a grand buffet filled with delights of all shapes and sizes. You get to pick and choose whatever you want from the selection before you. This world is all things to all people, everything you can imagine is right there for the plucking. Your role as guest is to focus on the items of interest and pass-by all the rest.

How rude it would be to criticize the options provided for the enjoyment of others instead of simply grabbing whatever it is you like. For example:

You: What is all this mustard doing here!! I hate mustard!
Waiter: But sir, that’s for the guests that enjoy mustard, here’s some foods more suited to your palate.
You: Gah! Disgusting mustard! It’s all I can think about!
Waiter: Sir, why don’t you have a seat over there away from the condiment section.
You: This place is grotesque! How dare you have something I don’t like!
Waiter: Sir, this buffet has everything, in fact here’s some chocolate-lava cake!
You: I’m too upset to eat!!

So you see how unreasonable it would be to complain about life and all the things you don’t like about it. Therefore, your goal for today is to re-label the things you “fear” as things you simply don’t prefer. When we encounter things we fear, our reaction is severe whereas when we encounter things we don’t prefer, we ignore them and move on.

Additionally, seek out and focus on items and circumstances you truly enjoy. Ideally, you should be so busy engaging with ideas and activities you enjoy, that you have no time or attention to spend on the things you don’t enjoy. Who goes to a buffet only to grab the stuff they find distasteful? No one!! You grab the tasty stuff and go back for more of the same!

Fear Dismantling 101 – Day 5

Today I’m going to share with you one of the most powerful weapons you can use to defeat fear. Ready? It’s fear itself. In other words, you’re going to use fear to fight fear. Stay with me here, this is important.

For years you’ve allowed fear to control many aspects of your life. In other words, fear appears with a suggestion and you just do it. You’ve been well-trained by fear to listen, obey, and not complain. Well why stop now?

“But Rich, I thought the whole point of this was to dismantle fear!?”

That’s correct, and this is a sneaky way to do it. Here’s the premise: you need to start pretending that whatever you think in your thoughts will come true. For example:

You: I’m kinda worried about my sister, what if something bad happens to her on her trip… oops. I’m not worried about anything… no worries here. If I think bad thoughts they might come true so I dare not think them.

Another example:

You: I know I’m a hypochondriac, but this time I think I’m really developing something serious.
Fear: Hm, I like where this is going… maybe it’s life-threatening….
You: Oh, you again. Ah, never-mind. If I think it’s true then it will be true, so I’m no longer going to pursue this line of thinking.

Make it plausible in your mind that whatever you imagine has the potential to manifest in the world. And a slightly different example:

You: I’m going out for a run.
Fear: Are you sure you want to do that? It’s dangerous out there. Plus, you might get injured.
You: Hm good point. Although if I stay indoors, there could be a gas-leak that blows up the house.
Fear: Holy sh*t! Get out immediately!! Run!!!
You: Oh, good idea, time for a run.

By pretending that negative thoughts will actually come true, you can scare yourself into dismantling them or even scare yourself into doing something you actually want to do — thus using fear to fight fear.

From experience, I can tell you that this is one of the easiest and most effective techniques to use in defeating fear. And the more fearful you are, the more powerful it is.

Your goal for today is to identify negative thoughts whenever they surface and then pretend they’ll come true if you keep them in your mind. You wouldn’t dare to continue contemplating them, so you better switch the topic and focus on something else immediately. And here’s a tip: if you’re already pretending that negative thoughts will come true when you ponder them, also pretend that positive thoughts will come true — so ponder those instead.

For bonus points, try scaring yourself into doing something you want to do but is currently blocked by fear. In order to get yourself past the blockage of the initial fear, imagine an opposing fear that’s even more frightening than the initial fear, something that could happen if you don’t do the thing you want to do.

Fear Dismantling 101 – Day 4

One of fear’s greatest tools is the idea of “random chance”. In a world where random chance exists, ANYTHING can happen at ANYTIME — and that’s a scary prospect. In a random world, something horrible could happen in the next five minutes — or twenty horrible things could happen in a single day — who knows — that’s randomness for ya. In a world ruled by randomness, everything you create could collapse at anytime: relationships, careers, long-term goals, plans, projects. In a random-chance-based world, investing in anything, even in your own life, just doesn’t make much sense.

Lucky for you, the world isn’t random. Phew! Random-chance is merely a belief system. It’s great if you want to add some intensity to your life but sucks if you’re already having a hard time. So for you, random-chance is not a thing anymore. Say bye-bye! Now let’s see your new way of thinking in action:

Me: Why are you here?
You: Chance.
Me: Um. Okay, let’s try that again.
You: In this location or why was I born?
Me: Any of it.
You: Luck?
Me: Try again.
You: My life is a gift given to me in order to experience existence and I am lovingly led along a personal path through this wondrous world, observing all the delightful dramas and captivating comedies that unfold before me.
Me: Hm, good job.

If you want to defeat fear, you have to defuse one of its most powerful weapons. And in order to defuse random-chance, you’ll have to go the opposite direction and think in terms of a benevolent well-designed world. You are no longer a helpless hairless-ape struggling for survival on a giant rock hurtling around an even bigger fireball — no, that idea is too intense for you. You must now think of yourself as a rider on a world-class amusement-park attraction, sitting in a nice little car being pulled along an exciting journey known as “your life”. You’re well taken care of and everything will be okay.

I know what you’re thinking… “But Rich, is that true??” Honestly, it doesn’t matter — you can believe it earnestly or simply use it as a mental trick to disrupt fear-based thoughts when they surface. The point is, that you’re replacing any instances of random-chance-based reasoning with a more comforting form of reasoning. Here’s an example:

You: I think I’ll start a business.
Fear: Are you nuts! That won’t work out! Anything could happen! You’re a fool for even thinking it!
You: Huh, yeah that does sound stupid, how could I ever be successful in these turbulent times. Wait a second! That’s fear talking! This world isn’t random, I have a path that I want to pursue and I know it’s my purpose to follow it. Besides, I’m here to enjoy myself and this is what I want to do!

Anytime fear offers up random-chance as a reason not to do something, you must short-circuit it by offering a more pleasant alternative. Another example:

You: I should go for a bike ride and enjoy the outdoors.
Fear: Yeah, if you like dying! Or you could simply get injured in one of a hundred different ways!
You: Ha, there’s those fearful little thoughts again. You know what, I haven’t died yet, so something sure seems to be looking out for me. And what a nice day it is, perfect for biking, perhaps it’s a day designed just for me. I’m going out and I’m going to have a great time.

Your homework for today is to identify instances where you’re utilizing the concept of random-chance. Once found, develop some alternative explanations that paint the world as a safe place that’s lovingly looking out for you. Also, think about how little you actually do to ensure your own survival — appreciate the fact that you’ve been alive all this time despite the potential for accidents, disease, and disaster. Contemplate the idea that maybe, just maybe the world has been on your side, helping you along the entire time.

Fear Dismantling 101 – Day 3

I was out walking with my friend yesterday in the morning. We were on a wooden bridge that cut through a densely wooded wet area. My friend dislikes alligators and I teasingly mentioned the possibility of them being right next to us (they do live in the area). Then I started staring at the dark dank water and noticed how close it was to the bridge, merely a couple inches below. AHH!! Holy sh*t!! Oh, it was only a squirrel, two feet in front of us hopping to a tree. Phew!! My friend smacked me and we laughed and went along our merry way.

My friend and I were scared of a sweet little squirrel — why? Because we set the stage for fright. If we had simply ignored the image of alligators when it entered our thoughts, the image wouldn’t have been at the forefront of our minds — but as it was, we were ready to interpret the sudden movement of a squirrel as an alligator. I’ve walked past many squirrels plenty of times, and not once did I imagine them as alligators until I allowed my mind to fill-up with frightening images.

The point being: the more we entertain scary ideas and images in our minds, the more frightened we’ll be. Scary thoughts lead to scary interpretations of our surroundings. For instance, if you watch a scary movie before bed, suddenly the normal house-settling sounds become sources of terror. So for those of us prone to worrisome fear-filled thoughts, we MUST avoid filling our minds with frightening material that paints the world as a scary place.

Movies, TV shows, books, the news, Internet forums, anecdotes from acquaintances, even stories we tell ourselves — anything that paints a dire and dour picture of the world must be avoided. Think of it like any diet: if you want to be well and in-shape, you consume the most healthful sources of food available — whereas if you want to be unwell and out-of-shape then just consume junk food. So start looking for material that paints the world with pleasant hues, then keep consuming it instead of the darker stuff.

And don’t shrug this off — you’ve already proven that you can’t handle a diet of scary stuff or else you wouldn’t be so anxious about life — you’d be enjoying yourself right now instead. Just as some people can tolerate gluten or dairy products, some people can handle horror stories or gritty reality dramas. But not you, you’re going on a fear-free diet. And that’s your homework for today: identifying and avoiding scary influences. In addition, seek out some interesting lighthearted stuff that makes the world feel cozy.