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Posts Tagged ‘Living in the Now’

Letting Go of Perfectionism

November 8, 2013 5 comments

Used with Permission from PublicDomainPictures.net (c) Daniele Pellati

Used with Permission from PublicDomainPictures.net
(c) Daniele Pellati

Everybody strives to be perfect in one way or another. We strive to have the “perfect” friendships, family, job, hobbies, etc. We also strive for perfection in our actions.

As a society we encourage and even demand not only perfection, but also that individuals constantly “reach for the stars”, and have “go big or go home” attitudes. However, the problem with this type of mentality is that many of us end up constantly feeling as if we are failures because we haven’t reached the stars, or we didn’t “win” somehow.

At its core, perfectionism is rooted in our own feelings of inadequacy. While we may strive to appear perfect to the external world, what a perfectionist is really doing is putting a nice façade on inner wounds, insecurities, and feelings of self-doubt and low self-worth. This is why so many perfectionists have a hard time keeping friends, dealing with criticism, or even taking advice from other people without thinking that it is a personal affront.

The truth is that there is no such thing as “perfect”. If we constantly strive for perfection, we will just end up being a perfect mess.

Everybody makes mistakes and we all do things that we regret. I can’t tell you how many times I have came down too hard on my son, said something stupid or insensitive to my wife or a friend, lost my temper, or just flat-out failed at something… all in the past week. The key is to not dwell on the mistakes or imperfections of life. We should strive to learn from our mistakes or missteps, and try not to repeat them. Beating ourselves up over stumbles and missteps only contributes to feelings of being a “failure”, or somehow “not good enough”. Read more…

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Parenting with Mindfulness

August 28, 2013 10 comments

My sweet boys

My sweet boys

A few weeks ago I was up all night with my newborn John. I had an extremely busy day planned, and no matter what i tried, he refused to go to sleep. As the hours ticked away, I could feel myself grow increasingly frustrated. I really wasn’t in the mood for this, I really didn’t have time for this, I really needed sleep so that I could go to work and be productive… Then it hit me. This will pass, and very quickly. Too quickly…

Obviously John wasn’t feeling well, and he was depending on me for comfort and care. While we were apparently getting our signals mixed, he still needed me, and I needed to let go of being frustrated. While I don’t relish sleepless nights with newborns, it seems like just yesterday I was on the alternating night shift routine with my wife, so that we could watch and take care of our oldest son Jase… and Jase started school two weeks ago.

I remember with Jase I couldn’t wait for his next stage of development. I couldn’t wait until he slept all night, I couldn’t wait until he ate solid food, could crawl, walk, be potty-trained, etc. Looking back, most of my anticipation seemed to be driven by more than a dash of selfishness. Once he slept all night, so could I. When he could crawl and then walk, I wouldn’t have to carry him everywhere. Eating solid foods meant I wouldn’t have to constantly prepare and clean bottles. Once potty-trained, I no longer had to check and change diapers every few hours. To say that children grow up too quickly may seem like a cliche, but just looking back over the past 4-1/2 years of Jase’s life, I can tell that it is true.

It is easy to practice mindfulness (the practice of being fully present in each moment), during slow times, meditation, or while conducting a relaxing activity; however, I think that mindfulness is especially important when interacting with our children, no matter how young or old. By being fully present in the moment, we are fully present in life. By being fully present as a parent, we are fully present in our children’s life, which is the most important thing we can do, because only then can we fully interact with our children the way that parents should. Parenting can be tiring and frustrating, but it really is the most important job we have, because our children are mirrors that reflect the lessons and general environment that we provide for them. Our parenting also has a definite impact on the type of adults that our children will grow to be. Will they be impatient, and quick to anger, or will the be kind and understanding? Read more…

Zen Moments


This is my twenty-sixth (and final!) post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I have tried to post a point of reflection or insight that I used to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I attempted to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lent itself to interesting insights and growth, because I not only had several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but I also had several days to put any lessons and insights that I discovered to work in my every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I tried to write updates as the weekly topics came up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

My son Jason and I enjoying an OKC Thunder game!

My son Jason and I enjoying an OKC Thunder game!

Z= Zen Moments: Zen moments are moments, often unexpected, of mental and/or spiritual clarity and insight. Zen moments are the times in our life where clarity and insight breaks through the mental and spiritual clouds that can build up during every day life. These moments can happen at any time, but some of my most profound insights and experiences have occurred somewhat out of the blue after I have been ruminating on a seemingly endless topic for quite some time, or when I just take a random moment out of my day to relax, meditate, or reflect.

I have also experienced several of these moments out of the blue with my wife or son, where their laughter, a smile, or a simple hug blissfully places me smack-dab in the here and now, where I cannot help but relish in the beautiful simplicity of the moment. During these moments, the mental clutter and buzz of normal life fades away, and living in the now, is truly blissful.

Some may see moments such as these as a distraction, or even a possible anchor for attachment; because after all, bliss-hunting or bliss-seeking can easily lead one to fall into a never-ending trap of attachment, seeking, depression, and even addiction. However, these moments of clarity, insight, and general bliss, really help to keep me going on my spiritual path. Life isn’t about asceticism, where the one who gives up the most wins the most, the Buddha tried that method and failed miserably. Life should be embraced and enjoyed. Life should be blissful, peaceful, and serene. Read more…

Virtuous Living

December 17, 2012 2 comments

This is my twenty-second post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

Used with permission from Flickr Creative Commons, and Photopin.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36821100@N04/3896331106/(c) Aristocrats-hats 2009

Used with permission from Flickr Creative Commons, and Photopin.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36821100@N04/3896331106/
(c) Aristocrats-hats 2009

V= Virtuous Living:  Living a virtuous life, a life of high moral and ethical standards, seems to be a rarity in today’s fast paced, and often disconnected world. More often than not, we tend to commend people on their conquests, rather than on their morals and ethics. In many ways virtue goes against the flow of modern life, because it requires one to focus on the means, rather than just on the ends. Virtue requires one to take into account the feelings and needs of others, rather than focus solely on one’s own desires. Virtue also requires one to keep their word, and live in a manner that garners and deserves the trust of others.

Virtue is an essential element for anyone on the spiritual path,  because virtue embodies the concepts of unconditional love and charity that all religions teach. Virtue is also essential for anyone wanting to live a happy and fulfilled life, because one who lives a virtuous life will enjoy less internal conflict, and garner closer and more meaningful relationships with family members, friends, co-workers, and even strangers.

In order to practice virtue, you must first learn to control your mind, because the mind is the root of all thoughts and actions. You must learn to control your mind in a manner that will garner positive thoughts, and empathy towards others. While it would be nice to simply say that you only need to suppress unvirtuous thoughts, it can be more complicated than that. In order to cultivate virtue, you must undertake a good bit of introspection, and when unvirtuous thoughts come to the surface, you must be able to discover and deal with the root cause of those thoughts. At times it is also helpful to simply reflect on a situation before acting, so that you can undertake the most virtuous action possible.

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” -The Buddha Read more…

Unplugging from Technological Chaos

November 19, 2012 6 comments

This is my twenty-first post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

Last sunrise before breaking camp!

U= Unplugging from Technological Chaos: I am often amazed at the amount of general noise that is present in modern life. It seems that almost every moment of my life is filled with electronic noise that seems to be constantly vying for my undivided attention. My iPhone is constantly alive with various buzzes, dings, and chirps (The ringtone of which I have changed to crickets, to make it a bit less raucous), which notifies me of the arrival of emails, Facebook, Twitter, or text messages. Television programs are interrupted every 10 minutes or so with loud and flashy commercials, which all seem to try and convince me that I am either inadequate and am in need of fixing, or that I need to spend more money, and more often than not a combination of the two, all the while seemingly trying to throw me into a light and sound bombardment induced seizure. 😉

Because of the noise saturation and general hectic pace of modern life, the chaos caused therefrom can seem to just be a natural part of modern life. However, there is increasing evidence that the fast paced and noise polluted environment of modern urban and suburban life, is actually damaging to our health. Several studies have shown that noise pollution can cause our stress hormones, and other stress induced physical responses such as heightened blood pressure, to increase dramatically. As the stress responses increase, we can become constantly anxious, nervous, distracted, and even depressed.

In short, the chaos caused by the constant buzz of technology, can cause us to be physically and mentally unhealthy.

I think the extent of noise pollution, and the almost instant relaxation associated with unplugging from the constant buzz, became clearer to me during and after my recent trip to Colorado, where the remoteness of our camp meant very limited cell phone service. At first, the lack of technological connectivity seemed very odd and almost eery. How on earth was I going to manage without being able to constantly keep tab of my social media accounts and my email listservs?!

After a few days of withdrawal, I began to thoroughly enjoy the sense of connectivity with life that is so often hard to achieve with the constant buzz of modern life. Mindfulness was no longer something I had to necessarily strive for, or constantly remind myself to re-engage with, because without technology, my morning coffee and breakfast were enjoyed without interruption, the crunch of snow beneath my feet, and the bite of a cold wind and snow was fully felt, and the smells, sights, and sounds of the mountains were fully experienced. Read more…

Nourish Your Life

August 27, 2012 7 comments

This is my fourteenth post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

N= Nourish Your Life: I have noticed, that most people tend to focus on what we “have” to do in our lives, rather than the things that we “want” to do. Therefore a great deal of time and energy is spent on the mundane aspects of life, rather than on the things that bring us happiness and joy.

This can lead to the mentality of just “phoning it in”, or “going through the motions” when it comes to life. In order to prevent this, I have found it helpful to make sure that I set aside time each day for things that I want to do, things that nourish my life and bring me happiness, so that the mundane things don’t start taking over. I have basically tried to make the things I want to do, part of the things that I have to do, so that the things that bring me happiness don’t get pushed aside when life gets busy or hectic.

I have found that setting aside time for reading, writing, meditating, and spending time with friends and family, helps to keep me balanced and sane. These things bring me a sense of peace and joy in my life, and if I let them go when things get busy, my life quickly seems chaotic and unbalanced.

In addition to just enjoying life more and being happier, I have also found that by making time for the things that I enjoy doing, I can better focus on work and other tasks that I have to do, because I am more mentally and emotionally fresh, than I would otherwise be. Read more…

Mindful Living

August 20, 2012 5 comments

This is my thirteenth post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

Used with permission from Bramstone Photography (c) 2005, via Photopin.com and Flickr Creative Commons. http://www.flickr.com/photos/badboy69/2333409688/

M= Mindful Living: Mindful living (mindfulness) and living in the now really go hand-in-hand, and while many people may view them as being the same, and even use the terms interchangeably (myself included at times) I think there are some important differences. While living in the now, and mindfulness, both involve rooting your thoughts and emotions in the present, mindfulness involves much more focused attention on your physical sensations and emotional states moment-by-moment. For example, if I have a major deadline looming at work, living in the now would involve not allowing that deadline to become a stressor, and instead direct my focus and energy on remaining calm while working diligently on the project in a focused manner (all I can do is what I can do right now, if it can’t be done until tomorrow, then don’t worry about it). Mindfulness takes this a step further by directing your attention to your physical states, sensations, and emotions. Is my breath becoming rapid and shallow, am I starting to feel anxious, do my hands fill cold and clammy, are my head or neck muscles becoming tense?

Mindfulness requires a sort of constantly flowing, moment-by-moment examination of life, it requires you to direct your full attention on this very moment, the right here, right now. This can be difficult, because in today’s fast-paced technological world, we are constantly being bombarded with ringing cellphones, text messages, email alerts, television chatter, etc. This causes us to pay more attention to the external world, than we do on our own thoughts, sensations, and emotions. Mindfulness practice is extremely important, because it forces us to slow down, and keep our emotions and physical responses in check during stressful situations. Mindfulness also, allows us to really drink in and enjoy peaceful, relaxing, and joyous moments. Basically, instead of letting the “monkey mind” bounce our thoughts and emotions around like pinballs in the game of life, mindfulness forces us to slow down and truly “experience” life in all of the wonderful detail available to us. Read more…

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