One Apple A Day #651 – merging flows

“Energy flows where attention goes.”

These few words are a powerful reminder of the power of attention.

But what happens to our energy when our attention is spread in many directions?

In my mind, I used to picture this situation as a lake feeding too many rivers. Because the water in the lake is limited, only a small amount of water flows into each river.

A logical solution would be to close some rivers, so the remaining ones will receive more water and flow with more strength. 

However, being an explorer I love to try to new things and open up new streams. So, I struggle at the idea of closing some streams of water to favour others.

But yesterday I have a small aha moment. The kind that arrives unexpectedly while you’re doing something else.

In the material world, a river can’t be moved. Not easily at least. But in my imaginary lake, I can merge more streams into one to create a bigger and more powerful river.

So, it’s no more about giving up on something but being creating in joining smaller streams into a bigger one.

One Apple A Day #646 – Recovery

I woke up with a heavy head, a stiff neck and a sore shoulder. 

I know, not a great start of the day. I’ve tried to follow my usual morning routine, but after a few minutes of stretching, it was clear that training wasn’t an option this morning.

So, I went back to bed, and I tried to relax my body.

This little experience of mine made me think of the importance of resting and recovery. Something we usually look at as a waste of time or an obstacle to our productivity.

It is so easy to overdue.

In my case, the combination of a few factors makes things worst. 

I am self-employed, so I can work whenever I want. There are no external boundaries separating working time from the rest.

I do something I love. 

I can’t remember who said, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.”

Somehow it’s true, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need to rest and recover.

Athletes are very well aware of this. Recovery is not a pause from training, it is an integral part of it.

It should be the same in any work we do. We should have recovery phases by design.

I’m not sure it will avoid waking up with a stiff neck, but I’m definitely going to put more attention on planning my recovery moments. So they won’t feel a waste of time but productivity boosters.

One Apple A Day #645 – learn, always

“What is there to learn for me from this?”

Where “this” can be any experiences or situations, either positive or negative.

This is an important question that I’ve learned to ask myself as much as I can. In particular, when I go through something adverse or painful.

“What is there to learn for me from this?”

When I find something, even the tiniest lesson, to learn from an experience I live, then that experience becomes meaningful.

I know, it can be damn hard. 

However, I always found something to learn from everything that happened in my life. Sometimes, it took me literally years to discover what was my learning. Though, once I had that. Once I had uncovered my own lesson, all the suffering faded away, leaving space for new energy to come in.

One Apple a Day #638 – love more

This morning I wanted to write about sacrality.

But then, I lowered the shield I use to protect my morning space, and the pain of the world flew in. All over the world, human beings are oppressed, killed, abused by other human beings. It is daunting.

And from my safe and comfortable place, the same questions keep coming back: “Why? What can I do?“.

To the first question, I don’t have the answer. And maybe there are no answers. But I keep going back to something I read in Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frank.

“We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfil the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

Maybe these words can help me find the answers to both questions.

If there is something I can learn from all this suffering, is that love is the only way forward. 

I know, it may sound cheesy, but that’s my personal learning.

I need, and I want to love more.

And because our answer must consist in “right action and in right conduct”, to me it means to be kind to everyone. 

To smile to the cashier at the supermarket who’s having a tough day, to greet the neighbours who never say hello, to wait patiently for the old man to cross the road. There is so much I can do every day.

I’m aware that it won’t ease the pain or relieve the suffering of all these human beings around the world. 

But that’s not a reason to not start being a better human, here, today

One Apple a Day #636 – Identity, maps and territory

The map is not the territory” is a powerful metaphor coined by Alfred Korzybski to illustrates the differences between belief and reality, between an object and a representation of that object.

Often, maybe too often, we confuse maps with territories, our idea or model of something with the thing itself.

Last weekend I was immersed in a powerful workshop about identity and change. While I was meditating and reflecting, a compelling question surfaced in my awareness.

Is identity the map or the territory?

To answer that question, I began jotting down a few characteristics of both. The map, being a representation, is finite and partial. That makes it knowable and understandable. But there also can be many maps of the same territory.

On the other side, the territory is one, infinite and whole. That means we can never know it or understand it all. All these characteristics imply that it can be known only through one or more maps. 

But a territory can be experienced and lived even if we don’t have a map.

I like to think of my identity as the territory. One, infinite and whole. 

I’m well aware that the only way to know me, it’s through a map. Some of them I draw, others are created by others. 

My writing is a sort of map of my territory. My work, my relationships, my stories. They are all maps.

We can only know someone through maps. 

But, as it happens when we travel, to really experience a territory, we must lift our eyes from the maps and look around. We must explore with all our senses, we must connect, immerse our hands in the messiness of things.

It is only when we set all the maps aside that we can really experience the true identity of someone. Even if we won’t be able to draw a map out of it.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

References:

One Apple A Day #631 – Abandon

To abandon means to give up completely something, to release any inhibition or restraint. 

There is magic in abandon. In surrendering and giving up control.

It’s liberating. It expands the boundaries of your awareness.

Unfortunately, I experienced that rarely in my life. And any time it wasn’t deliberate. It just happened.

You’re being massaged, and the masseur asks you to entirely abandon a part of your body in his hands. Like the neck or a leg, so he can apply a manoeuvre moving that part freely. 

That is something I’m not able to do. I can’t.

I can’t give up completely the control of my body. 

I can’t surrender fully to something or someone.

I don’t think it’s a matter of trust. And I don’t picture myself as someone wanting to control everything. Even if I may be blind to this.

It feels as if there is some kind of wiring in me that holds me back from surrendering, from giving up the control on what’s happening.

Yesterday evening a dear friend gave me a fascinating idea. 

I should exhaust myself out. Do something physical that burns all my energy, that wears me out and leave me empty.

Maybe at that point, where there won’t be any energy left to build resistance, I’ll be ready to surrender.

Time to plan something.

Can you surrender totally to something or someone?

One Apple A Day #630 – Being Kidful

A lot of colours and the word “kidfulness” shine on my BeTheChange card this morning.
This card is one of my favourites, so I sat down to meditate on it.

By the way, kidfulness is not even a proper word.
It’s not in the dictionary. And maybe this is why I love it even more.
The word itself is an act of kidfulness.

When I was a kid, and my vocabulary was limited, it was common to create new words and names to reference the things for which I didn’t have one.

Anyway, I picked this card. And I love it so much that I wanted to write something meaningful and exciting.

So, I thought it was a good idea to start from my childhood. I spent some time retrieving memories, but nothing exciting emerged from that exploration.
A dead end.

Then I thought that “kidfulness” is a kind of superpower. I set out to explore this direction, thinking of what would be the characteristics of a superhero with such incredible power; kidfulness.
Another dead end.

Time was running out, and I had nothing valuable to share.
Just some failed experiments.

And then it hit me. Isn’t that being kidful?
Experimenting with things.
Because for a kid, everything is new, and nothing makes sense, yet.
Everything is experience and experiments and play.

And sometimes what kids do have no sense, apparently. Their activities lead to no results from an adult point of view.
However, they are tremendously important.
And they are not scared to share what they achieved with others.
Until we, adults, bring judgments in the picture and the idea of success and failure.
So, here I am.
After fifteen minutes I haven’t reached a point, I’m not even sure there was a point to achieve, but I’m sharing what I wrote anyway.
As a kid would do.

One Apple A Day #625 – Inhale and Exhale

Inhale and exhale.

Breathing is such a simple action. So simple most of the time we don’t pay attention to it.
Yet, it is the essence of life.
Inhale; new air is pulled within your lungs, oxygen is taken all around through your blood feeding your cells.
Exhale; the stale air that has finished its job is flushed out, the carbon dioxide is released back to air.

Inhale and exhale.

It is so easy to forget to breathe. Sometimes, while I’m doing something intense, like a physical exercise, I realise that I hold my breath.

So, this morning I was sitting in my usual place, waiting for the inspiration to come so I could start writing. But nothing was emerging from the chaos of thoughts spinning in my mind.
Then I realised that I was holding my breath again.

Inhale and exhale.

I’ve been holding my creative breathing lately. Exhaling maybe, but forgetting to inhale. Flushing out a lot of ideas and words without breathing in new inspirations through experiences, reading and conversations.

Inhale and exhale.

One Apple A Day #623 – stop barking and get out

Last day of September, a foggy Monday morning outside. As usual, I pick my BeTheChange card, and it says “Integration”. What a powerful word to ponder and write on upon.

I fold in my favourite position on the sofá, I start the soft music to create the right atmosphere, I close my eyes, and I focus on my breathing. I let the word sink and move freely, so new connections can manifest and words for my morning writing emerge to the surface of my awareness.

The loud barking and snarling of my dog pull me back abruptly in the here and now. The barking spreads to the other dogs around. It looks like we are under attack. I stop the music and get up. If someone is invading us at least, I want to look them in the face.

And there they are, the scary enemies; a group of kids walking to school outside the gate. 

I don’t know if it’s common to all dogs, but mine has this funny feature. When she’s inside the garden, behind closed gates, she is incredibly alert. Anytime someone gets close to the entrance, even if they are only walking by, she goes crazy as if her kingdom is under attack.

When we take her out for a walk, she becomes just the cutest and most quiet dog. Nothing is a danger, and everything becomes something to discover. It is as if one she’s out of the boundaries of the garden, fear is replaced with curiosity.

I sit back on the couch to write this post, and this thought keeps spinning in my head. Isn’t it the same for everyone? If we close ourselves behind the gate of our own world of stories, ideas and beliefs, fear is triggered when someone approaches our gate. At least until we’re not sure they’re friends. But if we cross that threshold, if we get out, then curiosity takes over. With nothing more to protect, we open up to the infinite magic of the universe.

This small story is also a reminder that inspiration can hide in the most unexpected places, like a dog barking and disrupting your meditation.

P.S. the one in the photo is my dog.

One Apple A Day #618 – Goals and Aspirations

The man in the photo is Tyson Fury, a controversial British boxer and heavyweight world champion. His story is remarkable on many levels. He suffered from mental health issues after reaching the top of the world. He almost killed himself, and then he came back. 

You can find plenty of articles and videos online about his story, and as much as I’d like to write about it, I have only 15 minutes to finish this post.

The reason I’m writing about him this morning is a short video about him that I saw yesterday on Instagram. I think it is a short montage of this longer documentary about him (in case you want to watch something different tonight).

“It was all about winning bells and being a champion, but when you’ve done all of that, what’s about you then […] but if I train every day and I’ll stay in shape, then I’ll be happy forever.”

These words he shared in that video made me think at the difference between having a goal and having an aspiration.

I found the following definitions in an online dictionary.

  • Goal: the end toward which effort is directed
  • Aspiration: a strong desire to achieve something high or great

The way I read them, the goal is about the object we want to achieve. The aspiration is about me. Is about the vision I have for myself and my life. 

They are both fundamental and connected. To realise my vision, I have to divide it into goals on which I can act. To make my goals meaningful, so I won’t fill empty when I get them, they must be aligned with my aspiration.

“While goals can leave us feeling deflated and disappointed once we’ve achieved them, aspirations are never fully completed; we can get up every morning feeling motivated by them all over again.” — from Insight by Tasha Eurich