The Three Best Ways to Ride the Waves of Change

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I am currently reading the book “21 Lesson For The 21st Century” by Yuval Noah Harari. If you have not read his books, especially “Sapiens,” then I recommend you do so. Yuval all is one of the great minds and writers of our time.  One topic in his latest book that he reiterates frequently is that with the exponential growth in technology and the oncoming explosion in artificial intelligence we humans are going to need to reinvent ourselves continually. Another word for reinvention is change.  It may sound exciting this continual wave of change, but there is a downside to that. We, humans, don't particularly like change. We’re really not made for change. We are a collection of our habits, so we're going to have to learn to become much more flexible in changing and reinventing our habits just to keep up with the machines.  In my personal life and professional life over the last few weeks, I have experienced a great amount of change. Now I'm not saying I've done everything perfectly, but I have been able to maintain my composure and keep my usual calm attitude and disposition. I'll share with you the three ways that I have been able to accomplish that.

1.  Daily exercise – There are numerous reasons to exercise daily for our physical health, but it is also important to our mental health.  When we engage in some type of movement, it gets us out our heads and into our bodies. Yoga and weightlifting are my exercises of choice.  While doing either, I am able to disconnect from the obsessive thoughts of how I wish things were like they use to be. Exercise also releases numerous hormones into your body that help your overall mood and disposition.  You can’t always lead with the mind. At times you have to let the body lead, and your mind follows. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to engage in vigorous exercise every day, but it is necessary to get some type of body movement daily.  I could be as simple as taking a long walk. I try to walk my dog twice a day for her and me. I would also suggest that once in a while to not bring your earbuds or phone and just listen while you walk. We were not designed through evolution to be sedentary.  Movement is required for our bodies and our minds to function properly. Remember that for most of the past 100,000 years we were hunters and gathers. It is only recently in our history that we spend so much time not moving.

2. Reciting A Mantra – I have established the habit of repeating mantras in my head.  My favorite mantra is “Let Go, Or Be Dragged.” Impermanence is the name of the life game.  Every moment is new, but our evolved brain does not see it that way. It likes to cling. This is why we are a collection of our habits.  Habits save mental energy, and our brain uses more energy than any of their part of our body. When I say to myself “let go or be dragged,” I keep reinforcing the mindset to not cling.  You can build a habit to counter the brain’s natural tendency to produce repetitive thoughts. How does one establish the habit of repeating a mantra throughout the day? I did it by making reminders in my phone and sticky notes around my home and workspaces.  

3. Vipassana Meditation - Without question the best method for me to let go or be dragged is meditation.  Specifically, Vipassana Meditation. For years I thought that Vipassana Meditation was simply a breath meditation, but it goes much deeper than that.  Vipassana for me now means the Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka in his ten-day course. Practicing the acceptance of Anitcha (impermanence), which you will repeatedly hear during the ten days, is the foundation of his Vipassana Meditation.  If you don’t want to take one of his ten-day courses, then I would suggest you just practice a breath meditation. You can count your breaths or consciously follow the in-breath and the out-breath. I think it is helpful to use one point to follow your breath such as the inside tip of your nose or your chest or abdomen as it rises and falls.  I once heard a Buddhist monk suggest that you can imagine a little man or woman hanging on the tip of your nose and watching the in-breath and the out-breath for you. That is fun to do. Of course no matter what your point of focus is you will quickly and repeatedly get lost in your thoughts and begin to wander. Great, this is exactly the best practice to appreciate impermanence.  If you are able to get to the point where you can get past just a few seconds before your mind wanders, then you learn to appreciate that every breath comes and goes. Nothing lasts. Every single moment is new. What holds on to the past is only your mind.

Until Next Time,

Rich Decker

Mindful Accord and The Hero’s Journey: A Mindful Accord  Podcast