Society loves to run Jedi Mind tricks on us: you need to be thinner, you need to be richer, this is the car you need to buy, this is the droid phone you’re looking for and so on. It’s brainwashing and it can be hard to resist the constant barrage.
I’ve tried the 10 day mental diet challenge and it is a real challenge; I had to start over many times. In this diet, what you are abstaining from is negativity. It was incredible how many negative thoughts I had; it was worth the struggle, to be mindful of what I was thinking and to work towards replacing negativity with positivity.
The 21 Day Consciousness Cleanse is really amazing: it’s all about getting back in touch with your purpose and passion, being kind to yourself, acknowledging yourself, dropping what is old and doesn’t work, accepting responsibility, being present and the list goes on and on. It’s a fantastic experience that turns the volume down on all the stuff that doesn’t really matter.
Of course good old fashioned affirmations are always helpful for inoculating yourself against mental traps.
The shadow consists of our unowned and unintegrated characteristics and usually we project these on to others. You’ve heard of the politician that fights for the sanctity of marriage and is caught cheating on his wife, or the evangelist that preaches against sexual sin and is caught with a prostitute. Shadow work is the process of owning and integrating these characteristics to be more psychologically healthy and freeing up the energy associated with hiding or fighting them.
I’ve heard someone describe dealing with our shadow as keeping beach balls under the water in a swimming pool. We are spending so much energy to keep each one “hidden” and once we see what we are doing and learn to let go, we have more energy to spend on other things. I’ve used a couple shadow work techniques, the first was the 3-2-1 Shadow Process by Ken Wilber and the Integral Institute.
In this process, you enter into a dialogue, spoken or written, with the issue that triggers you using 3rd, 2nd, and 1st person language. At the end of the exercise you own the trait that triggers you. This process has been so helpful in finding out why certain things bother me so much; the resilience and groundedness that comes from integrating these traits is awesome. The other technique I’ve used is “The Work” by Byron Katie. In this process, you enter into an inquiry with the issue that triggers you; you open yourself up to truth an amazing things happen. She says “I don’t let go of concepts – I question them. Then they let go of me.”
Are you serving technology or is technology serving you? It can be easy to get talked into buying the latest and greatest gadgets to solve all kinds of problems but those new gadgets create new issues. Now you get to think of backups, antivirus, passwords and on and on. It can be just as easy to resist new technology, to stay away from the newfangled mobile gizmos all those teens have. Of course the goal is to find that happy medium, where the technology you’re using fits your life style and is setup to just work.
It can feel difficult to find that balance, but it doesn’t have to be. Shameless plug: I know a Technology Consultant who can help out with this. Or if you’re the do-it-yourself type, lifehacker is a fantastic resource to live a technology empowered life.
With so much information available at our finger tips it’s easy to feel overloaded with information. Clay Shirky says in his book Here Comes Everybody, that information overload isn’t new, we’ve been suffering from it since the invention of the printing press; that’s when suddenly there were more books than a person could read in a life time. The issue then is organizing and filtering the information.
One way to organize the data you’re interested in is to use an “aggregator” like Google Reader. The way it works is you visit news websites or blogs, click on the subscribe to RSS link or icon, paste that address into Google Reader or click on the provided option to connect to Google Reader and it’s set. Any new news or blog posts for every website you do with with will show up in Google Reader. That’s the organization part. Now you can quickly scan through the website names and headlines and see if anything grabs your attention.
I love the Getting Things Done methodology, which might be summed up this way: Knowing what you need to do and being crystal clear on how to do it, even in the midst of chaos. Productivity seems like an art; some people “do” so gracefully that it’s inspiring. David Allen says: “When you know what you’re doing, efficiency and style are your only improvement opportunities.” I think that’s a noble goal.
Another thing he says: “You can only feel comfortable ‘not doing’ when you know what you’re doing.” I see that as a justification for play time, meditation time or nap time; either you have things done or you have the confidence of knowing when and how you’ll have those things done.