For when you are overwhelmed and life feels insurmountable…

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“Bend, not break. Be like water and flow.” – Bruce Lee

Water takes the shape of the of the object it is placed into, adapting to the needs of the environment. Even when you plan for everything life often has other plans for you, and things may not always go the way you want.

Did you know that anxiety tends to accumulate in your shoulders, making us feel like we are literally carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders? I started noticing this when I worry about certain things or get anxious about an upcoming presentation. I worry that I may mess things up somehow or make things worse. And the more I worry, the more the knot tightens, and that leads to panic, forgetfulness, insomnia or stress eating. Phew. [Eats cupcake].

I found this really great tip from Olivia Fox-Cabane’s book The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism. This visualization exercise works better in a quite space where you are able to concentrate for a few minutes without being interrupted. The first step of healing is always acknowledging the pain. With your eyes closed, begin by picturing the thing you are worrying about as a heavy box or object that is sitting on your shoulders. Feel the heaviness of this box and all the expectations that weigh you down, causing this mental and physical strain in you.

The next step is to visualize a divine element such as a God/Goddess, The Universe, a Genie, whatever entity you have faith in, and imagine yourself lifting the heavy box off of your shoulders and placing it on the shoulders of the entity. Feel the lightness of your shoulders. You can rotate your neck, stretch, whatever feels right at that moment. This releases the control you have over the outcome of your performance and allows you to relax, knowing that things will fall perfectly into place.

The more I do this exercise the better I have become at dealing with stressful situations. I can let go of my anxieties about the outcome and focus on being present and adaptable to any type of situation.

Do you have any strategies on coping with anxiety? Let me know in the comments below.

Meditations on Life

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My very first post… So what do I pick to write about first?

Death, naturally.

I want to begin by looking at the end.

Today was a sad day for me. This morning I attended the funeral of my beloved neighbour, and truly one of the greatest men I have had the priviledge to meet in my life.

Our community remembers him as a generous man who always helped other people and had a child like enthusiasm about life. The funeral home was packed with people who came to pay their last tributes to this remarkable man. Even the preacher broke down in tears when he mentioned that this was the hardest funeral he had ever conducted. He had impacted so many lives around him. He was a simple man and there was nothing extraordinary about him. He wasn’t famous or ridiculously wealthy. But he made the effort to connect with everyone he met, and help them when needed.

There was something very profound in the sermon this morning. The preacher reminded us that funerals we organize are not for the dead. They have no use for it anymore. Funerals are for the living, to remind ourselves of what is important. When there is a death of a loved one we forget all our material concerns. We forget to worry about the car we drive, the house we live in, the latest trends in the world and our petty issues. Instead, we get a moment to reflect on our own deaths. Our own lives.

We start to wonder, ‘what will my legacy be?’ What will be said at my eulogy?

When you start thinking about the end perspectives change as well. At least that is what happened to me today.

I have attended many funerals, but this was the first one I had been to where everyone actually mourned the loss of the departed. He was truly a quiet hero. Unassuming, unpretentious, and always looking out for everyone. You could sense a massive loss in the community today.

Steve Jobs famously said that death is the only end result, everthing else is a mile post. There is also an ancient Buddhist practice where they meditate with a corpse for four days to reflect on mortality and to remind themselves not to get too attached to fleeting materialistic things. The Masons follow the same idea when meditating with a skull to remind themselves to achive more with the life they were given.

Of course we don’t need to go to those extremes  to start reminding ourselves to live a life with purpose. It starts with creating a vision for yourself with the kind of life you want to lead. Sometimes it’s easy to forget about what’s important in our lives. We forget to connect with the people that matter to us or spend time on doing things that makes our hearts sing.

So, what will be on you epitaph?