I’ve found it. The secret to getting more out of your 24 hours. And it takes as little as 5 minutes to as much as 15 minutes. Promise.
For a while now I’ve been crazy busy. I’ve started teaching more, more students are coming in, they want different things, new things and, most of all, they want results. I’ve been spending a lot of time planning the classes, travelling between classes, my own practice takes a while and then there’s the blog and FB page which are an invaluable source of inspiration and knowledge for me. So I’m constantly on the move, physically, mentally and emotionally. I had started to feel like I was all over the place. The more I tried to get organized, the more disorganized and panicked I’d get. But things got better.
1. A couple of weeks ago I decided I would take 5 minutes in the morning and in the night to think about where I want my life to go. And in those 5 minutes I would also think about the actions I will take today that help me in heading towards that general direction. I started to visualize what I wanted out of my life and started thinking about how my day would contribute to where I want to go. At the end of the day started thinking about everything I did which contributed to making the vision more real to me.
I didn’t realize it then, but visualization is a powerful tool to keep you on track in life. Also, a total of only 10 minutes from my 24 hours was all I needed to remind me of what I believe my purpose is and also, what I want my purpose to be. It only takes 10 minutes of thinking to gain more clarity about how you’re spending your time. I believe it’s helped me weed out all those little things that sap a lot of my precious energy (deciding what to make for lunch or what to wear, for instance). Maybe I started investing this energy into leading better classes and connecting with people more.
2. Once I realized that there has been a positive shift, I decided to add affirmations to my 5 minute routine. I read about affirmations in a book one of my students lent to me. She said the stuff I say about beliefs and actions reminded her of the book and she thought I’d enjoy reading it. I gave myself some time to think about what I really wanted out of life on priority (this was easy since I was spending 10 minutes every day thinking about this), and made a list. I then decided that I would spend an additional 5 minutes meditating upon the list. Over time I realized that thinking about the list made me more optimistic and energetic. Perhaps it’s seeing the things you want in a list in front of you. Sometimes the list makes me smile and laugh, sometimes it give me courage and optimism. But, at the end of my 5 minutes of contemplation, I feel ready to take on my day.
3. Visualizing and affirmations were working for me. And I had made my list in a pretty notebook that was, once upon a time, my diary. I used to be an avid diarist. I have a carton full of my diaries in Delhi. They start from the 4th grade. I decided that after my 10 minutes of meditation every night, I would write down 3 things that made me happy/grateful. These can be the smallest things (one of my entries is “I’m grateful there was no traffic jam on Infantry Road today and I was able to get to my class on time.” Once I started doing this, I noticed I slept better! I guess thinking about the good things in life ends your day on a good note.
So, if you really want to shift something in your life for the better, give these three things a shot. You’ll get a lot more out of your day for a lot less!
We’re in the 7th month of the year. Most of the year is gone. Now is a good time to look at those New Year’s resolutions and ask yourself if you’re on track. It’s also a good time to reflect upon how you’ve spent the last few months. Have you learned anything new this year? Have you added something to your routines/way of life/way of thinking? Is the quality of your life better now than it was a couple of months ago? Are you eating and sleeping better? Are you more fit and flexible? For the past couple of months I’ve been learning how to swim. Swimming was the bugaboo of my life. I was just so scared of … something. Now I can’t really figure out what I was scared of. Maybe every time I thought about swimming I thought about a massive angry ocean with a tornado going (I actually did.) And I also looked into the deep end of the pool and didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t see the bottom (so if I were to lose control the downward journey would be into a bottom-less pit).
But one day I told myself that I was going to give it another go. Give it my bestest shot. Which meant swimming as often as I could (even if it meant driving for 20-30 minutes to get to the pool where the really good teacher was). Which meant showing up and getting into the pool, even if it meant hanging out with the kids who couldn’t swim…and watching incredulously all those kids who could channelize their inner fish with so much finesse. I’m not sure where the fear went once I started to get comfortable in the pool. Even as I looked at the deep end, I realized that more than fear, I was looking at people with curiosity. How were they swimming? What was their secret to being comfortable in the water? And more than that, what was the difference between the way the swimmers approached the water and the way I did?
Lots of lessons for me (and maybe for you). 1. If you give it your best, you will eventually get there. 2. It’s good to observe others and learn from them. Just make sure you don’t compare. 3. Fear is only a perception. If you change your perception, you get rid of the fear. So far, learning how to swim has been the high point of 2014 for me. I hope that you a high point as well. If not, there are still a couple more months to go.