jueves, 29 de enero de 2009

From having no friends to loving everybody

Until my early twenties I was the shyest person on Earth. As a kid I thought other kids were strange and cruel little monsters. Later I still saw others as dangerous. When someone talked to me I got very nervous and tried to hide it. I thought I needed to protect myself from them. After all, I was getting mobbed a lot, so I thought if I let them know me or see my weaknesses, then they'd use the opportunity to hurt me. I was terribly scared of others, and socially isolated.

I was asked how I transitioned from having such social anxiety to my current mindset, which is basically that nobody can hurt me and that I love everybody. (See How to Connect with Strangers and Do you Love Killers? ) Such a fearless mindset makes it very easy for me to build connections and to have lots of lovely people in my life. But how did my beliefs change?

So here is the story. Please keep in mind that this post is not a how-to, it's just my personal story. I don't necessarily recommend to do the same. There are better ways to reach the same goal.


I remember the first steps very well, because I made a conscious decision to improve my social skills and I remember how I chose to do so. First, I decided to get rid of my fear of rejection. To do so, I grabbed a banknote. I chose a street with many shops in the city center, and in each of these shops I asked one of the salesclerks to change my note. Of course most of them said no. Every time, I replied "Thank you", smiled and left. This was a great exercise in hearing no! I knew it wouldn't hurt me in any way, it was just a game. But this way I got used to having plenty of people say no to me, and it made me realize that a no doesn't hurt.

I trained myself this way for a while. For example I picked a very crowded street on a Saturday afternoon and played being a beggar, asking everybody for some change, politely and nicely. The goal was the same as before: hear no and be fine. Later I switched to exercises with a more uncertain outcome. For example I smiled to every person I met. Then I said hello to every person I met. Then I started small conversations with random strangers. Etc.

Of course I got rejected a lot. Many people looked at me with an incredible disdain on their face when they thought I was a beggar. Many didn't return my greeting when I said hello to them, some said ugly things to me, and so on. But that was the goal. It taught me that no matter how bad others treat me, it doesn't affect me as long as I don't think bad of myself. I didn't think bad of myself, because I knew I wasn't really a beggar, I knew it was just for training purposes. And so they couldn't hurt me. I knew their disdain changed nothing about me. I got used to being rejected and not give a damm about it. My mindset went from "Others are dangerous and I need to protect myself from them" to "Others are potentially dangerous, but I'm strong enough to take it!".

For months and years after that I kept building courage, approaching strangers, talking to people, putting myself in exactly those situations I feared most.


These experiences proved to me that my own mind and nothing else has the power to hurt me. This was the next step. I found a book in a library which opened my eyes about this. It was a book about behavioral therapy. The author explained that not the situation itself but our judgment on the situation causes the feelings we have about that situation. What a big insight that was for me! I realized it was true. So I began paying attention to what I was thinking about the situations I was feeling bad in.

For each social situation that made me feel bad, I wrote down what I was thinking in that moment. This wasn't easy, for most of my thoughts were subconscious. But with time and practice I got used to become aware of them. So I wrote them down. Then I wrote down what I would like to think instead. More positive and empowering thoughts, which would make me feel better. My negative thoughts often sounded like those of a little child. For example in the beginning I wrote things like "Others are dangerous. They're evil. They want to hurt me." I replaced it with "Everybody is my friend. They're all friendly and mean well." Every time I caught myself thinking one of the "bad" thoughts, I consciously repeated the "good" thoughts. I also repeated the positive affirmations every single day ten times in front of the mirror.

From that moment on I decided to take responsibility for my feelings. For many months I spent countless hours working on my thoughts, and covered several big exercise books with old (in red) and new (in green) beliefs. Over time I addressed many of my issues this way, and solved many of my problems. Of course this wasn't enough to stop hurting altogether. I knew it was possible, in theory, not to get hurt if I didn't allow it, but I still lacked the power to deal with my emotions appropriately. However, alone this theoretical knowledge helped a lot. I just knew it was up to me. My mindset changed to "Others aren't dangerous. Nobody can hurt me if I don't let them! It all depends on me."


When I started working on my social skills, I had very low self-esteem and used to hate myself. So I worked on learning to love myself. I struggled a lot with this one. I said to myself in the mirror "Rosine, I love you very much exactly the way you are" - ten times a day as well. At first I felt totally stupid doing this! And I felt I was lying. But with time it became more and more true... I also progressively took better care of myself and did more nice things for myself. I believe self-love is extremely important. If you don't really love yourself, you cannot really love others.

Learning self-love gave me a lot of strength in dealing with others. When you know you always have yourself to love you, it's like you're never alone in front of others: you always have an invisible friend at your side. Others also respond much better to you when you love yourself. They mirror your self-love back to you. Their esteem for you generally is proportional to your self-esteem.

When I got a bit better at loving myself, I started getting friendlier feedback, making friends more quickly. Talking to others became much easier. I wasn't so nervous anymore. Loving myself more, I was better able to accept that others might love me, too. My mindset changed to "Others are friendly" and also to "How I feel depends on me, but no matter what happens, I always have myself in my corner!"

Taking off

At this point, I don't remember exactly what happened, how and in which order. My progress was exponential: at first it took a lot of practice and conscious effort. I had many setbacks and sometimes thought I'd never succeed. But my willingness to learn self-love was the catalyst. I didn't learn it overnight(!), but alone wanting to learn it changed everything. Things began moving faster and faster, and at some point everything just happened to me and I had to let go of control.

Emotional Mastery

At some point I met a fabulous energy-psychotherapist, a wonderful woman who taught me EFT. EFT helped me a lot in dealing with particularly negative or strong emotions. It also helped me get rid of some deeply rooted negative beliefs about people. I wouldn't recommend to you the method I used with my notebooks alone. Such a purely intellectual, psychological approach is a big waste of time. The idea definitely is good, but it's way more efficient to combine this technique with EFT and with visualizations. But I'm digressing, I just want to relate my story here.

So this lady taught me EFT. She also helped me understand, accept and love myself more. She taught me how to get better at dealing with my emotions. This gave me much more Power. It especially helped me not to get hurt so much anymore. I got a feeling that "I'm safe".


I have always been highly sensitive and empathetic, but my fear had prevented me from opening up enough to other humans. All those walls I had built around myself out of fear made me feel lonely and disconnected. After working so much on myself, my thoughts and my emotions, I got way less scared. I knew I would be able to deal with it, should I get hurt. Once the fear didn't force me to shut down anymore, I became able to feel other people's emotions very strongly just by being near them, and to deeply connect with them emotionally.

Later this applied as well to people who were not even around physically. For example I could physically feel what someone who was thousands of miles away and whom I was chatting with was feeling. Or I knew how someone felt that I was thinking of without even seeing them or talking with them. This showed me that we are all connected in some way. I didn't know how this communication took place, but I added to my mindset the belief "We are all connected".


With the therapist I mentioned above, I talked about this amazing experience I had when I was a little kid, where I felt that I was being the whole Universe.

I had never forgotten about this feeling, but when I talked about it with her, it suddenly really made sense to me, for the first time in my life. I realized that we are not only all connected, but all one. I am everything that is, which means that what I call "I" is much, much more than just the little physical person called Rose.

This insight felt more like a big spiritual breakthrough than like an improvement of my social skills... but it made me much better at socializing! I was already able to connect deeply before, however my mindset still had been that we are separate persons. My default state was to be disconnected. After this breakthough, it was the other way around: I was still losing the connection very often, but my default state was to feel connected and one with everybody.

Another difference is that before this breakthrough, the connection I had with others was essentially emotional. Now, it's not only an emotional connection anymore. It feels more like a deep emotional and spiritual connection. We're not just two separate beings incidentally feeling the same. I really feel that this other person or animal or object in front of me IS me, that I AM the whole world. New belief for my mindset: "We are all one Consciousness."

Love, Love, Love

To sum it up, the beliefs I adopted in the last years are:

Nobody can hurt me if I don't let them. I'm safe.
How I feel depends only on me. I'm responsible for my own feelings.
Others are friendly
I love myself and always have myself in my corner
We are all connected
We are all one
I love everybody

Now please don't get me wrong. I am in no way claiming that I totally master all this. I still lack Courage sometimes. Sometimes I still blame others and don't take responsibility for my feelings. There are still aspects of myself that I don't love unconditionally. I still have issues with some emotions, especially with Anger. I can get quite choleric and violent! It still happens to me that I disconnect from others, that I'm scared or that I forget how we're all one. I'm far away from being perfect at all this! It took years for me to learn it and I'm still not done with it.

However, since I got so much into Personal Development and am progressively getting better at loving and accepting myself, at staying in the here & now, at making conscious and deliberate choices, etc, this mindset is becoming more and more true in my life. I feel more and more safe, connected and in love.

I feel very much in Love with the whole planet now. I feel very much in love with you :-)

I still have no friends!

As you can imagine, I have no social anxiety anymore. I don't think others are dangerous anymore, I don't think I need to protect myself in any way. I'm not scared anymore. I can talk to any stranger, have no problem opening up, and I can connect with others easily. I never feel lonely.

I'm saying that I have no friends because for me now, a friend is not something one can "have" in the first place. There are many adorable friends in my life, but having friends is not something I explicitely want or do intentionally. I don't consider socializing to be an action anymore. It's a way of being. The friendships in my life are simply an external manifestation of my inner state of mind, they're an expression of who I am.

As a consequence, I don't fear to lose my friends. No matter how many people disappear from my life, the Love and Connection I feel inside will always manifest as loving and interesting people to connect and have fun with.

People like you. I love you. <3

lunes, 26 de enero de 2009

One New Habit A Month Challenge

I told you we're switching to warp drive. So, to begin with, this year I want to learn a few new habits. In 2008 I got used to journaling a few pages every day and I really like it. I'd like to have more of such empowering habits.

Every month, starting on the 19th of each month, I'll start practicing one new daily activity. I chose daily activities because they're easier to get used to than things that you do just a few times a week. The goal is to have the new habit run on auto-pilot after a few weeks, without me thinking about it consciously. I want to get so used to doing it every single day that, at some point, not doing it would feel strange. Like when I don't brush my teeth, it definitely feels like something's missing.

I have already reached that point with my journaling habit. I have decided not to make it a conscious goal anymore. However, when I go for a day or more without journaling, I miss writing my morning pages and naturally go back to writing them. That's exactly what I want to achieve with those new habits too.

I'll have no fixed time in the day to do it. The goal simply is to do it every day until it's automatic.

For the time between January 19th and February 19th, I am currently implementing the following new habits:

Block One:

Thirty minutes or more of fast walking every day
Fifteen minutes or more of dancing every day

Block Two:

Five minutes or more of meditation every day
Daily chakra cleansing and opening
Daily spiritual connection

I admit, this is not one new habit, it's five of them.... But you know me! Why keep it simple when I can make it complicated?

Moreover, all these are no brand new habits. It's things I was already doing, just not every single day. Now I'm doing it every single day.

Things are going very well for now. I usually walk for 45 to 90 minutes rather than 30, today it was even more than two hours. I also meditate longer than five minutes a day. But I set the target lower, the point simply being to do it every day.

I totally enjoy dancing around like crazy in the living room to some very loud music. The chakra cleansing and opening takes just two or three minutes, it's no biggie.

As for what I call "spiritual connection", I recently got a reading with Anna Conlan, and she gave me some homework to do. It's some kind of "prayer" that I shall say every day for three weeks. So that's what I'm doing. Later I'll either drop this habit or, if I like it and miss it, I'll write a "prayer" of my own making, or replace it with connecting to my spirit guides or something.

I don't know which new habits I'll adopt next month. We'll see.

Who wants to join me? Let's acquire new habits together! :-)

jueves, 22 de enero de 2009

How To Learn Meditation

I am in no way a meditation expert, and that's exactly why I'm writing this article. Because you don't need to be a meditation expert to talk about meditation, or to do it. It's the easiest and the most natural thing in the world. Everybody can do it, and everybody can learn it in five minutes.

You'll need to practice to get good at it, and that will take more than five minutes, that's true - but the goal isn't to be good, it's to practice. And you can learn how to practice in five minutes, right now.

If you would like to meditate, you don't need to be a particularly spiritual person. You need no special clothes or incense sticks or sitting in lotus position or anything like that. You can do it everywhere, any time, and three to fifteen minutes a day are enough as a time investment.

What is meditation about?

I sometimes read that meditation is about "disciplining" or "controlling" our mind, but I don't like this way of putting it. Words like "discipline" and "control" have a hard, rigid connotation that doesn't consider the great Love and Freedom there is in meditating.

Meditation for me is simply about practicing deliberately choosing what we focus on, in a very gentle and soft way.

Deliberately choosing what we focus on is very important in regards to creating our reality ("We attract what we focus on") and to reaching our goals ("Always focus on what you want"). Therefore, meditation is a great tool that will help you create the life you want. If you practice deliberately choosing what you focus on regularly while meditating, it will be easier for you to do so in all other situations too.

Why meditate?

Aside from training your ability to choose what you focus on, meditating also has other great benefits. I love it. It raises my vibration. It calms me down. It makes me feel happy and relaxed. It allows me to re-center myself and to re-connect with my Soul when I feel a little disconnected or lost. It makes me feel peaceful. It's a pleasant way to take a short break when I'm working. It clarifies my mind and makes me more creative. I don't know what effect it has or would have on you, but I'm sure it's positive too.

Meditating regularly is even better. It has all of the above benefits, but when I meditate regularly those are permanent, not only present when I meditate. It globally raises my consciousness. It also improves my overall awareness for my emotional state. Experiencing a higher vibrational state on a regular basis helps me notice much faster that I'm feeling bad when I do.

I once meditated three times a day for three to five minutes each, every day, for an entire month. It was great! During that month I felt much better, much more centered and peaceful than I normally do, even though the external conditions were more challenging than usually. During that month I also had a few spiritual experiences, including an impressive out of body experience, and I'm sure that's no coincidence.

That's why my first One New Habit A Month Challenge will be "Meditating for at least five minutes every day".

How to meditate?

Meditating is very easy. You don't need any particular ritual, but if you like rituals, then of course you can invent one for yourself. You can light a candle or incense sticks and sit in lotus position if you think that's cool, but you don't need to. No need for contorsions or tiring positions either.

You can meditate while walking, sitting on the couch or lying on your bed. It doesn't matter. What's important is that you feel comfortable. I usually meditate sitting on my office chair with my feet on the desk. I also love meditating while I'm walking or doing the dishes. Meditation is not something highly spiritual, out of this world. Integrate it into your daily life!

Just feel comfortable. Also wear comfortable clothes that you feel good in. If you're a beginner, make sure you won't be disturbed. To feel safe and free to relax it's better at the beginning to know that nobody will come in or disturb you in any way.

I also recommend using a timer. It allows you to immerse yourself in your meditation completely without keeping track of the elapsed time in the background of your mind. You can use a kitchen timer (provided it's silent when it doesn't beep), or your watch, an alarm clock, your cell phone, whatever.

How long and how often should I meditate?

As I already said, meditating regularly is particularly beneficial. So, every day would be optimal, or even two or three times a day. But you don't have to. If you just do it when you feel like doing it, that's perfectly okay too.

If you're a beginner, start with two minutes. That's enough. Then, when you like those two minutes, you can progressively increase your meditation time.

I know some people meditate for half an hour in a row, or even more. This happens to me too sometimes. But I think it's not necessary to meditate that long in order to feel the benefits of it. Three to fifteen minutes are enough, especially if you do it every day.

Whenever you meditate you raise your consciousness. I'm convinced it brings more to do so for three minutes ten times a day than for thirty minutes only once a day.

Different meditation techniques

Here I'm sharing my favorite ways of meditating:

Counting Meditation

I guess counting meditation is the easiest way to meditate. If you're an absolute beginner or a very intellectual person, start with this one.

This is how it works: breathe in. When you breathe out, think "One". Breathe in again, and when you breathe out, think "Two". Breathe in, breathe out, think "Three". In, out, "Four". Then you start anew: breathe in, breathe out, think "One". And so on. One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four...

If you start thinking of something else, don't beat yourself up. Don't try to control your thoughts in any way. When you notice you were thinking about something else, simply go back to breathing and counting, starting with "One" again. If at some point you suddenly don't know anymore what number comes next, start with "One" again too.

In the beginning it might be like "One, two, three, one, two, one, one, two, three, four, one...". That's perfectly okay. The goal is not not to think at all. The goal is to gently bring your attention back again and again to what you chose to focus on, in this case the counting.

Don't try to control your breathing in any way either. It's perfectly okay to breathe irregularly or fast or any way you feel like breathing.

I love counting meditation while I'm walking. Sometimes I count my steps, and sometimes I just think "Left, right, left, right, left, right...".

Breathing Meditation

Breathing meditation is the same, except that you don't count. Instead, you focus on observing your breath. You can focus on how the air enters and leaves your nose. Or you can focus on how the air wanders through your entire body.

It's a bit more difficult because it's all about feeling and the mind has nothing to say. Again, don't try to control your breathing or your thoughts. When you notice you're thinking, don't resist it. Acknowledge the thought, let it go in peace, and bring your attention gently back to your breathing.

Presence Meditation

I totally love this one. Presence meditation is about focusing on being in the here and now. The goal is to be fully present and aware of what's happening inside of and around you.

First, feel your inner body. This means, feel your body from the inside. Feel the energy in your feet. Then in your legs. When you're able to feel them, go up, though all your body, till you feel the inside of each part of your body. Then you can feel your whole body as one single energetic field. Concentrate on this feeling for a while, going deeper and deeper inside your body. (I learned this in Eckhart Tolle's Power of Now, you can read more about the inner body in this fabulous book if you're interested).

Now that you have built your inner awareness, turn your attention outwards and observe what's going on around you. You're hearing the sounds, smelling the smells, feeling your body touch the chair you're sitting on, etc. Maybe some emotions will surface too.

The point is to not react to any of this. You simply perceive it. Observe it, but don't react to it in any way. Accept it peacefully. And always keep a part of your attention on your inner body.

As usual, no control, and when you drift, bring yourself backvery gently.

I love the Presence Meditation when I'm doing simple things, such as washing the dishes, doing the laundry or cleansing the windows. It would be perfect if I could be in such a state all the time!

Love Meditation

Love meditation is especially good when you feel unloved, lonely or disconnected. But you can also practice it every day for no particular reason. I use it very often to send Love to others.

Take a little bit more time for this one. Sit or lay down, breathe slowly and deeply through your nose into your belly, close your eyes, and focus on loving yourself. Don't do it with your mind, don't think about reasons for loving yourself. Depending on your dominant sense, find a way to express your love for yourself without thinking.

For example you could imagine how you are smiling at yourself and gently hugging yourself. Or you could visualize yourself surrounded with a bulb of shining green light. (Green is traditionally associated with the heart chakra. I always use it as a symbol for Love because it's my favorite color. If you don't like it, it doesn't matter. Just pick any other color that you like and are able to associate with unconditional Love.) Alternatively, you could remember a song with a loving vibe that you like and imagine humming it for yourself. Or recite some kind of loving ritual prayer, like "May I feel safe. May I feel loved. May I be happy. etc.".  Dunno, get creative. You need to find something that you really resonate with.

Same as with the other meditations: if you have unwelcome thoughts, let them go in peace and gently go back to concentrating on loving yourself. Do this till you feel deeply accepted and loved by yourself.

After you're comfortable with loving yourself, extend this feeling of Love to others. Focus on some person that you have no issues with, and send Love to him or her in the same way you were sending Love to yourself. Hug them or visualize them in loving green bulbs or recite your love prayer for them. Feel how you love them, how your heart is connected to theirs and your Love flows from you to them. Love is infinite, you can never run out of it. Share your Love.

Start with people you are close to and have no problem with, then gradually expand your love to friends, acquaintances, colleagues, to people you don't know at all, to people you have conflicts with, and to people you hate. You can include animals, trees, plants and inanimated objects as well.

I have noticed that when I regularly send Love to someone I have some problems with, those problems tend to disappear!

In case you don't feel comfortable with loving yourself to begin with, practice only the first part of the meditation till it feels natural to you to express loving and nurturing feelings towards yourself. If you don't truly love yourself, you cannot truly love others.

Mirroring Meditation

I particularly enjoy this one, it's a lot of fun! But you need a partner to do it. Here is how it works:

The passive partner does nothing at all except for breathing. That's a perfect opportunity for him or her to practice one of the other meditations.

The active partner mirrors his or her partner's breathing. Let's say you are the active one. Then you try to follow exactly your partner's way of breathing. This means you have to focus on your partner and copy him or her. He or she should not help you in any way, for example by breathing particularly slowly or regularly! It's your job to follow the other person no matter what she or he does. That's the fun of it.

Of course you can pick an unknowing passive partner too. I totally love doing this with Minnie. Minnie is the cat I share my home with. She loves to sleep on my desk (especially exactly on the most important papers I'm just reading). When she's lying around like this, I often do the mirroring meditation with her. But sometimes I also pick random innocent victims on the bus, in a shop or at the library and follow their breathing, when they happen to be close enough for me to hear and see them breathe.

In case you lack empathy and would like to have more of it, you could start with practicing this meditation as a fun way of aligning yourself with others.

More meditations

There are countless other meditations. You can focus on observing and labeling your thoughts, or on focusing on some object (like a candle). You can use music to meditate, either as a relaxing background while you practice some other meditation, or as the object of your focus. There is plenty of meditation music on youtube. You can find many guided meditations out there too. Another idea is to google Vipassana meditation.

If you're interested in a book about meditation, I recommend The Three-Minute Meditator by David Harp & Nina Feldman. It is simple, unpretentious and down-to-earth. It explains how to integrate meditation into your daily life, and contains many interesting meditations, visualizations and much more. I discovered the mirroring meditation in this book, although it has another name there. I really like this book.

So. You can start right now. I wish you a lot of fun, O Great Meditator! :-)

domingo, 18 de enero de 2009

Thirty Years in this World!

Today's my birthday. I was born exactly thirty years ago, at my mother's home, with only an elderly family doctor as medical assistance. My mother says he spent the night nervously drinking coffee. It was his first birth in a long time.

I was born on a door. "Uncle Denis" - that's how we kids used to call the doctor - had decided that my mother's bed wasn't hard enough. Without further ado he unhinged a door and placed it on the bed for my mother to lay on.

My mother says that as soon as I was there, I looked around with a fierce frown and made my dissatisfaction clear by grunting vigorously. Then I grabbed with both my hands the scissors Uncle Denis wanted to cut the umbilical cord with. My character doesn't seem to have changed much since my birth. ;-)

I'm very, very happy to be thirty! Honestly, I didn't think I would be that happy. Thirty is 2*3*5. Of course it's the product of the first three prime numbers, so that's not bad. But not as cool as 29, which is a prime number on its own! However, I must be decimal system biased, because those three full decades impress me. I'm very happy and excited that I survived for thirty years.

When I was born I was almost blind, I could just see light and dark. I got my first glasses at the age of 18 months. For twelve years the doctors trained my eyes. Now I can see enough to get along well in life, even without glasses. I see only with one eye and have no 3D vision, and sometimes I bump into something I didn't think was that close,  but heck! who cares. I feel so damn thankful.

When I was seventeen I had an accident, I collided with a car and fell on my neck. At the hospital they said it would have broken had I not been very flexible. I didn't like the idea that my last thought would have been "Shit!". A few years later I was diagnosed with a beginning cervix cancer, that fortunately was operated out before it could become a real cancer. In my early twenties I went through severe depressions and almost killed myself several times.

When I look back, my life in those thirty years has been full of struggle. So in some way I feel lucky that I made it to my 30th birthday. I'm damn proud of myself, too.

Plus, I've always had the belief that "Real life will begin when I'm thirty." I don't know why but I've always thought that. And now that I'm thirty, I feel SO happy. So excited! It's like now the truly exciting and joyous part of my life can begin! Yippee!! :-)

Fasten your seat belts, we're switching to warp drive!

lunes, 12 de enero de 2009

Being the Whole Universe

I had the most important spiritual experience of my life so far at some point between the age of one and four. I'd like to share the story with you.

That day, I was outside, surrounded with very high grass. I found an enormous white stone, quite flat. Many little red points were moving around on it. I found it very amusing to watch them. Out of curiosity, I pushed one of those little points with my finger. It stopped moving. Oh! I tried the same on other red points, and they all stopped moving. That was fun! I used the little red points to draw some nice geometrical shapes on the stone. I just watched them closely, my finger above them, and when one of them was in the right place, I pressed it.

Suddenly, something very strange happened. I felt smaller and smaller. It was like shrinking to the size of a dust particle. I felt so extremely tiny, a microscopical part of a colossal, dark, impressive Universe. At the same time I grew bigger and bigger and expanded to an enormous size. I was as huge as the Universe itself! Even vaster, as I was containing it entirely. It was even more than that - I was the Universe. I could intensively feel the whole world as being me.

It was an amazing feeling that I never forgot. Being simultaneously so minuscule and so gigantic, such a small part of the Universe and the Universe itself, blew my mind. I had such an encompassing awareness of everything that is. I've never felt so much Power and Peace at the same time.

And then I understood that those little red points on the stone were tiny red spiders, living beings, and that I had been killing them. I suddenly got a sense for what Death is, not only an idea, but a very concrete feeling for it. I also understood that I did not have the right to play with their lives the way I had been doing it.

What happened that day shook me to the core. It was the most impressive experience I ever had so far. I still remember this feeling very well, it played an important role later in my life. For instance in developing my social skills. More about this in my next post!

jueves, 8 de enero de 2009

How a kitchen timer saved me

Do you know this feeling that you have so much to do that you cannot afford the time to do anything?

I am often nervous because there's so much I want to do. I have so many goals and projects! So many great things to achieve! This makes me quite nervous.

I still work with my paper scrap system. I totally love it! It's a great method to organize myself and to decide what to do next. However, this alone doesn't solve all problems.

Whenever I do something, I tend to think "I have no time for this now, there's so much to do, I have no time...". This nervousness prevents me from fully concentrating on my task at hand. I don't really pay close attention to what I'm doing here and now, because subconsciously I'm thinking about all the other things I want to do and about how I have no time. The scraps of paper tell me what to do, but they're not able to make me calm down enough to actually do it properly.

This of course leads to poor productivity. And poor productivity leads to making the problem even worse: I end up with even more things to do in a shorter time. What a pain in the ass. It's frustrating and even leads to insomnia.

But not anymore! I found the solution: a kitchen timer.

There are two ways I use it:

When I want to do something that will yield a specific result and can be done in a short time, like doing the dishes, I give myself x minutes, set my timer, and try to complete the task within that time frame. The deadline is the timer ringing.

When I want to work on a bigger project, like writing my eBook, or when I want to do something with no particular outcome, like meditating, I give myself x minutes, set my timer, and focus on this activity for x minutes. This is called timeboxing in personal management.

Using a timer has great advantages. The biggest one, for me, is that it allows me to calm down.

I have a bad sense for time. I often completely lose track of time. Sometimes I start doing something and don't notice that I spend hours on it. I even miss appointments because of that. I usually never know how long I've been doing something, or how long I will need to do something, or what time it is. Btw, this seems to be a common trait in cyclical scanners.

Because of this, starting anything makes me nervous because I don't know how much time I will end up spending on it. In the background of my mind, I'll be nervous and permanently ask myself what time it is or how much time I have left. Wearing a watch or having an alarm clock in front of me doesn't help: I'll just end up checking the time every thirty seconds, unable to concentrate.

A timer changes everything. When I know the timer is there and will let me know when my time limit is reached, I'm able to truly relax. It doesn't stress me out: unless it's ringing, it's silent. I don't need to look at it, I don't need to mentally keep track of the elapsed time, I don't need to ask myself what time it is now, I don't need to take care not to forget anything. I am free to focus completely on what I'm doing!

The timer creates a safe space for me to play. It gives me permission to completely let go and get lost in my ideas, knowing very well that something will bring me back into reality when I need to.

This is especially great when I'm meditating. Meditating has always been very difficult for me, because subconsciously I always tried not to lose myself in complete timelessness. But that's exactly what's great about meditating: the timelessness. Now I'm able to enjoy it, knowing that the timer is there to call me back.

The timer is very reassuring. It's a great guardrail.

It's also reassuring to know it will only be x minutes. Even when I have plenty of things to do, investing x minutes for one of those is not a catastrophe. I know it won't be more than that, and that there will be enough time left for the other things as well. This too has a calming effect on me. It gives me permission to fully concentrate on this one task without worrying about getting all others done as well.

When the task I'm working on is boring, it is particularly reassuring to know it will only be x minutes. ;-)

When I use the timer as a deadline, trying to complete something in less than x minutes makes it more challenging, more exciting, more interesting than just doing it within no particular time frame. Doing the dishes is trivial. But "Will I manage to do the dishes in less then three minutes?" is a lot more fun. :-D

I'm in love with my timer! I take it everywhere with me. It's such a relief for me to have it. I even use it when I don't need it at all. For example to read a chapter of a book or to journal my three daily pages. I know these are tasks that don't take long and I really don't need to set a timer for that. But I feel better when I do. It just gives me such a wonderful sense of security and freedom. :-)