One Apple A Day #745 – time off

A few months ago, I took two weeks off from coffee. Mostly to be sure that a lovely morning ritual wasn’t becoming a mechanical routine.
It’s a good practice I learned a few years ago.
Because everything can become a hamster wheel if we don’t pay attention. We begin things because we need or love them. Then we keep doing them because they gratify us and they become habits.
And it’s a great thing as long as we remember why we are doing them.
Who are we in that practice or ritual?
Even the most beautiful and joyful practice in life can become mechanical if we don’t pay attention.
So, sometimes it helps to take some time off and take ourselves out of the spinning wheel, to observe and sense.
A pause, to remind ourselves what is important.
Why that thing is important in our life.
Taking a pause is particularly important with the things we love to do, our passions. Because those are the things that can become our invisible prisons if we don’t pay attention.

One Apple A Day #744 – you in the practice

It’s not the practice; it’s the “I” within that practice that matters.

It’s a profound insight I received from a coach yesterday evening, during a webinar. 

Do you ever get caught in the process, so focused on doing it right, that you forget to listen to yourself?

I do. 

Because I love the practice, because I invested so much in creating the process, or because I fully trust the person who taught me the exercise. Whatever the reason, sometimes I am so focused on finding the right practice and executing it in the right way, that I forget what really matters.

Me.

As I wrote yesterday, I am the one who gives meaning to everything I do and experience. What’s the point in doing perfectly something meaningless? 

The practices you do are essential, and you should choose them wisely. But the most important thing is to keep listening for yourself within whatever practice you do. 

Does it make you grow? Does it help you achieve what you want or become who you want? 

Does it make sense?

Right now, here.

One Apple A Day #735 – where are you?

I don’t know where I am.
I really want to be here and now.
I did my exercises. I tried with my meditation.
Nothing.
This morning, my mind is all over the place.
Everywhere but here and now.
I can’t hold a thought for more than a few seconds.
Does it ever happen to you?
What do you do when your mind escapes in all directions?

Out of habits, I open my laptop and create a new document.
And this white page before me softly pulls me in.
Like a moth towards a summer light.
One word. Two words. One sentence.
Little by little, my mind goes quiet.
Now, I’m here.

One Apple A Day #723 – pay attention

“Instructions for living a life.

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.”

Mary Oliver

I should probably stop here. 

What else could I add to Mary Oliver’s poem?

Yesterday I wrote that action precedes inspiration and that through deliberate creative practises, we can learn to be inspired. 

However, something was missing. 

Attention.

It all starts with paying attention.

So, this morning I wanted to write about it. About how inspiration ensues from the quality of our attention.

But it’s all there. 

In that poem by Mary Oliver.

It is just perfect.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

That is the power of attention at work. When we really pay attention, we silence all the noise, all the distractions, all the decorations so we can see the essence of it all.

One Apple A Day #717 – choose or chase

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”

Mary Oliver

They say that energy flows where attention goes. In every moment, our senses are flooded with signals. They are so many that our mind can’t really process all of them without overloading and getting stuck. According to a study by a neuroscientist named Manfred Zimmermann, 99.9996% of the information that you sense, goes unnoticed by your mind. 

And it is on that tiny fraction of information, that we source our words and actions. 

What defines the direction of our attention? 

Is it a conscious choice or an unconscious one? 

Sometimes I feel that my attention is informed by a chase. Something I need or have to achieve. I know when my attention is chase-driven because I always feel a step behind. My vision is narrowed on the object of my pursuit, and the rest of the world becomes blurred. I soon go out of breath and find my self exhausted. 

In contrast, when I choose where to put my attention, my vision opens, time expands, and I feel energized.

Think about the things you’re giving your attention right now, do they make you feel energized? Is it a chase you’re in, or is it a choice?