Micro Habit Challenge 4.2 – Mindfulness beats Social Media


Another challenge is coming to an (happy) end. To be fair – it turned out to not be such a big challenge at all as I’m quite involved in ‘real life’ at the moment. I think I have to make the challenges a lot harder from now on.

So what did I learn?

  • I’m actually not as distracted by social media as I thought. Haha, it seems I had a bit of a negative image of myself here. I didn’t really have to change much. All I changed was, as I said – investing the time I spent in social media in other stuff (learning languages, writing, talking to people, reading, going for a walk…) But it turned out: I’m doing these things anyways and flightmode is my best friend.
  • I turned the 30 minutes ON social media into – what I called – “The 30 minutes of mindfulness”. I’m very ill-disciplined when it comes to exercising or meditating regularly. So I decided to leave it open and just set my alarm a little earlier to make sure I have time for any of the above. I either do some chanting, meditating, some yoga or any other type of stretching or workout depending on how I feel – maybe I even go for a walk around the garden or block – depending where I am. It forces me to observe myself before really getting out of bed. “How do I feel today?” is a good question to start on. Also it helps me to set an intention for the day. “How do I want to feel?” – My answer is mainly quite simple: “good.” What does this have to do with social media? Actually nothing. But! I realized repeatedly:
  • Tadaaa: I’m happier WITHOUT checking instagram every couple of hours or minutes. It’s such a relieve for my – anyways – strained brain to not to see all these perfectly curated pictures. And also: Without feeling the need to reply to every message whatsoever…
  • Also: In a way this exercise was a good reminder to keep cultivating self-love. Questioning is my tool and I’m the master of my mind not the the victim of my devices.

Well, what do I do now? I just continue doing the things I do instead of not-doing.

 

Micro Love

It’s a strange title for a big thing like this. Macro love would be adequate. I knew it since a long time, but I learnt it just recently.

As far as I understood romantic love is not the answer to all questions, because impermanence takes it by surprise. There is no relationship that can light up all the dark spots in a human soul.

Cool, nevertheless there are more than enough moments when I’m wishing to have somebody to walk beside me – someone whose path merges with mine.

But how could I be so blind? The love is all around me. It is just right here. Accessible in every moment of my life. If I’m open for it I receive a huge amount of love – everyday, not only every now and then.

It’s the small moments.

Recently I’m lucky enough to receive a lot of these moments – generosity, physical affection, good company, guidance,…  I don’t really know why. Last year was such a pain, but magically this year starts off with an endless flow of bright moments. I still fall into holes, but they are not as deep anymore. I can see my path always glowing – if not beneath me at least beside or in front of me.

Back to this micro love thing. There are these people who light up the whole room when they enter. They tickle out our brightest smile with their mere presence. I recently found out that I meet these kinds of people over and over again – sometimes for a day, sometimes for a week, some of them might stay for the rest of my life.

It doesn’t have to be an encounter with a person of the sex of interest or with a person at all. It can also be this sunrise that causes a wave of goosebumps all over your body. It can be the warmth of the morning sun on an early spring day. Or a good nap, a long hug, an intense smile of a stranger. You get where I’m going here.

These micro moments are macro love – the essence of our life. The love expands in our whole body and lets us shine as soon as we let it light up our soul.

 

Learning To Live


Life is too short for contemplation. To live properly means to live now. Living in the now means to surrender to the moment instead of yearning for future fulfillment. The pursuit of happiness leads either to the present or it leads nowhere. It is that simple.

To live now means to release all energy that gets tied up in our mind, trapped by ‘decision making’ and finding the (right) answers to the (wrong) questions. Because there are no questions. There is no such thing like ‘the right moment’ or ‘enough time for….’. There is only this one moment. And we got to live it. Now.

Have you ever tried to relive a moment? To recapture an experience? At best it’s an reenactment, a play, but nothing more. We can’t recall life.

Being present means letting life happen without any attempt to take control or judge. Good luck with this. There is so much energy wedged in the urge to ‘control’. We punish ourselves by always aiming for something. We have to understand that we can only live as long as we flow with the spirits. Life is like a wave of energy that conveys us into our true power. All we need to do is to trust.

Living now means simply to live – right now and now and now.

It is the pure reception of what is and not re-action to every impulse of our ex- or interior. It means self-awareness, but not continuous self-consciousness.

The only absolute truth is that nothing ever remains the same. So, why be caught up in thoughts and plans instead of just living the life?

To be fully present is an artform in a world of confusion. In reality it is so simple – just like dancing.

 

Micro Habit Challenge 4.1 – Social Media Substitution

The first week of my challenge is over and probably this is the most successful micro habit challenge so far. Okay – maybe I didn’t challenge myself enough then.

I found out that social media is not my problem anymore, woohoo. My problem are in many ways not the things that I do, but the things that I don’t do. So, instead of ‘being on social media’ for 30 minutes I decided to do something useful instead. I have to address the problem slightly different…

What did I do?

  • Quickly I figured out that my thumb has this stupid automatism. So what I needed to do was to remove the apps (Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp) to another screen of my phone. É voila – I haven’t touched instagram since roughly one week. Apparently it is not that urgent.
  • I figured out that instead of saying: I reduce my social media time, I simply have to find a useful substitution. So what I’m doing now is: I invest the 30 minutes in practicing italian right now. I placed all the ‘useful’ apps like my notepad and duolingo on my homescreen now. Facebook I check only every now and then for a few minutes a day.
  • My biggest let’s call it ‘time invest’ is actually sharing my life with my friends on WhatsApp. This also holds me back a little bit from living in the now. So, what I do now before sending a message, I ask myself, do I really need to share this? A lot of times my initial answer is no. Plus: If I want to tell somebody something, I think about the message a little longer and might even write an e-mail. This whole ‘instant-reaction’-thing bothers me since a very long time anyways.

Why am I doing these challenges?

Already by looking at my behaviour I change it. The so called observer effect doesn’t only apply in quantum physics. By surveilling my actions on my phone I change my behavior automatically. This way with a little bit of discipline it is probably possible to achieve everything.

It’s a little bit like quitting smoking. Already the question: ‘Do you really have to smoke now?’ potentially triggers a series of positive alternative actions. ‘Why not go for a walk instead?’ or say ‘hi’ to the stranger at the bus station, where you are standing right now. Life could be so simple, if we’d just live it.

 

Hintuition

What if what we want is not what we need and what we need is not what we want?

What if our happiness leads us in the right direction and not the career path we choose?

What if all we need is to smile, to give love to our surrounding and to ourselves? And that’s it.

What if everything we need will just come and what we really need will stay with us as soon as we let go?

“You are good at listening to yourself.” A friend of mine awarded me a couple of months earlier during a time, when I was not at all in tune with myself. Actually during these days I felt like I’m the worst at listening to my inner self.

I could literally see myself standing in my own way, darkening my own light. With extensive thinking I was blocking my energy channels. My intuition was not accessible. But in order to follow my path I need to follow my intuition.

I had to think about that. What is intuition? According to cambridge dictionary it is “the ability to understand or know something immediately based on our feelings rather than on facts.”

Let’s look at it from a neuroscientific perspective briefly: A situation/some sort of input stimulates our brain. This stimulus gives us access to a “library of information”. These information are stored in our system from past experiences or even transmitted from our forefathers through our DNA.

As soon as our brain accesses this library it sends us a hint. This makes us (re)act or not (re)act in a given situation. If we are hungry we eat. If we are late we hurry. And if we need to make a decision we think.

Thinking is good to a certain extend, but with a lot of thinking we easily cover up our intuition. This precious library imprinted into our genes becomes inaccessible.

With our mind we gather information about a situation whereas intuition just knows. While our mind is trying to figure out the perfect solution our intuition might already made the decision for us long beforehand. We just don’t take the time to listen.

With our busy mind we become victims of the circumstances – nothing else. If we let our thoughts control all the time we give away our true power.

We become victims of information by always trying to make the perfectly thought-through decision. What if our decision is just right there? Behind this curtain of thoughts?

Making decisions could be so easy. Arouses an idea a feeling of happiness/excitement/fulfillment? This warm feeling in the stomach that expands in the whole body? The feeling of “I just have to do it.” Then this is might be the way to go even if our mind wants to tell us something else. This is the ‘hint’.

But there they are: Thoughts and doubts tie up our intuition. And beneath this corset? There is the ‘hint’ unable to be transmitted to our consciousness.

All the thinking holds us back from experiencing. But this is how we learn – through experience. This is how we update our “intuition library”.

We can not “know” what we want, we can only feel it. We get to do what makes us happy from the core of our being, but we need to listen closely.

Am I the only one who understands this only now? I need to meditate on this. (Soon an article about meditation is overdue.)

 

Micro Habit Challenge 4.0 – Social Media Breakdown

“The one who knows something, but doesn’t act accordingly only knows it partially.” This is the rough translation of a quote by french philosopher J. M. Guay, which I found in “Geistestraining durch Achtsamkeit” by Nyānaponika, a Buddhist monk. [I haven’t found the correct english equivalent title yet.]

As I found out in the past changing my behaviour takes time. At the beginning of my ‘journey’ I tried to achieve all at once – I still do on many levels. Slowly I understand I have to take one step at a time in order to climb that mountain.

What I found out recently is that I still distract myself with so much stuff from achieving my daily goals (which adds up to my overall life goals). The thing I still abuse the most by far is social media.

I keep telling myself that facebook is important to keep up my social connections and instagram inspires me.

BUT – let’s face it – mostly it holds me back from living in the moment – the only thing that I really want to achieve in my life. Additonally to that I’m wasting my time instead of investing it into articles like this one. Plus – I become a victim of my device.

I get caught up in reaction to the notifications on my phone. And this is unacceptable.

It’s time for another micro habit challenge. Here we go Nyānaponika. I will get there eventually.

So – what am I gonna do?

Limit my time on social media (including whatsapp) on 30 minutes daily for the next two weeks – man, writing this down it sounds a lot. But probably I reduce the time I spend on my phone already around 200%. Yeees, I have to be clear with this – no matter how painful or emberassing.

I don’t want to push too hard and still want to take the time to answer messages.

What had changed already?

– Today is already day two. Yesterday was easy. Already the decision was liberating and I was in flightmode allday – actually I spend only a couple of minutes online – good start, haha.

– I already feel like having some control back. I want to use my phone and don’t let my phone use me. Technology has advantages and that’s why I want to keep using them.

– Limiting the amount of time helps me to prioritise length and content of my messages. Let’s see if the quality of my overall conversations increases by the end of the first week.

Why I’m doing this?

Interestingly my experience shows that writing this stuff down here on this blog helps me to manifest things.

About a year ago I pointed out “I suck at meditation”. And guess what – since I found the “valve” I get access to this gap between me and my thoughts once in a while – more and more often over the time. I don’t have a regular practice but I practice multiple times a week at various times.

This makes me more than gratful – thanks Nyānaponika – or better say Erich Fromm for introdrucing me to this teacher of mindfulness.

Cheers, I let you know how it went next week.

 

Overdoing Life

I admire people who target one goal at a time and just go for it. For me every day is a new beginning. I want everything at once everyday. I exhaust myself with constant input. My goals are changing constantly. My dreams are chasing each other like clouds in the sky.

Is this insanity? Or is this detachment? I’m not quite sure. For sure it doesn’t get me anywhere – where I’m wishing to be. And THIS is attachment. The idea of having an idea, where I want to be. Haha, take this life.

My perception of time is completely off. What is possible within a day, a year or a lifetime? I really don’t know. There are these moments that change everything. These moments are out of my control. But I can control which direction I’m heading.

Yeah, yeah – My energy resources are limited. I only have this one life. I need to stay grounded. I’m aware of all these things. I’m not stupid. But the concept of ‘making a living’ seems so foreign to me – so ‘made’ up.

I don’t know how all these people ‘do’ life? To me it just happens.

Am I ‘overdoing’ it or is everyone else?

 

Learning To Fly

Sometimes I feel like a bird who has wings, but doesn’t know how to use them.

Maybe this is all about learning to fly?

Spreading the wings is might be the hardest part.

So, what can I do about it? I will just keep practicing.

 

Learning To See

“People look at these statues, take selfies but they don’t know what they are looking at.” Since over a week I’m in Florence for no real reason – well, even as a nomad I need to be somewhere at times.

People ask me: “What are you doing here?” Haha, I haven’t seen all the sights of Florence at all, but I had the most intense encounters with the city itself. It forces me to stop. It pulls and pushes me, but mostly it captivates me between its dramatic walls. Within its history it helps me to write mine.

The introductory expression of disgust by a guy that I met on the way made me think. To be fair – I don’t know what I’m looking at either, but I’m paying attention – to the details.

For sure you know this feeling: You move to a new city or a different part of town. On your way to the supermarket a beautiful flower catches your eye on the sidewalk. All of a sudden you notice the ragged garden behind the overgrown fence. How could you not notice this beautiful gem in the middle of your hood?

There is so much to see if we look around. And I’m not only talking about museums, sights or gardens.

A lot of times we are rushing through life not noticing what actually happens around or within us. C’est la vie. That’s life. Yes, but what if we miss important waypoints, because we don’t take the time to actually look around?

Maybe life is only half lived if we rush through it. If we with our western mind always try to calculate instead to observe. Instead of letting a situation speak to us we are making assumptions quickly. Instead of observing we are trying to solve a problem immediately.

Don’t get me wrong – of course we need to target our goals. Of course we need to tackle the challenges of a humans life. But honestly: When was the last time you really spend with just “being” and letting everything else be?

We need to take action, but when do we actually take the time to wait and see? To look and listen? Not only to the other person or to Michelangelos’ David statue but also to difficult situations, to our feelings or our emotional reactions in certain moments. They are there for a reason. Every challenge, every feeling is here for a reason and wants to tell us something.

A lot of times – maybe there is not even any action necessary. Probably this is how we ‘lose track’. By not taking the time to observe and let the insights come to us.

It is all already thought, but the learning process never ends and I’m endlessly grateful.

 

The Universe Doesn’t Understand “No”

Imagine you grow a tomato plant on your windowsill. You plant the seed and a couple of days later a tiny seedling is making its way towards the sun. Would you think: “This is not a tomato plant.” ?

No, you would water and nurture it. At some point – sooner than later – this plant will carry fruits and provide you with vitamins and minerals.

I get nothing done by being busy telling myself “I’m so unproductive”. My perfectionism clearly is holding me back from growing on any level. I screw myself deeper into the spiral of negative thinking with every negative thought that I phrase.

Instead I need to focus on the progress I already made. Not even this – all I have to do is to set my intention right, the rest will follow. To rephrase this: “We learn despite of ourselves.”. This is something the wise Don Juan is pointing out in Castaneda’s learnings. (“The teachings of Don Juan”) And it is so true – to me still surprisingly true.

Right now I’m not able to make any decisions for the future. I beat myself up and up and up for being so confused and unable to set my target right. Instead I should be grateful for having many opportunities and directions to go – the decision will come by itself anyway as soon as I go along.

It is possible to project this belief on any given situation, any “subject of learning”. The limiting belief of “not having” something [love, money, health, success] is holding us back from receiving it.

This seems to be not my personal problem, but a problem of our western society. We don’t even see the wealth and the opportunities that we have. Instead we always need something more. “I have enough” is the new “I want more”.

Now I’m sitting here in the shine of the candle light. It is early morning of what we define as christmas eve over here on my end of the world. I’m still protected by the dark of the night. I’m a bit irritated, because I don’t understand how this thought could dawn me only now?

But hey, here we go again. There it is again: the limiting belief system. A healthy thought should be: “Thank you for the insight, universe (or who ever feels responsible)”.

This is another example for: “Our thoughts become our reality”. If something is not happening yet, it is still about to grow.

Let’s keep watering the plants. We can only harvest the fruits of the seeds that we sow. Instead of being afraid of creation I turn my fear into creation.

Peace out and merry christmas to everyone!