Waking Hour – Restless Ego

Don’t you hate it when you’re tired but you can’t sleep? I made the mistake of having a second cup of coffee yesterday followed by a massive piece of my Mom’s famous and insanely delicious Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie right before bed and bam, there I tossed. And turned. What is it about 3am that feels so dark? Why do we insist on dredging up every mistake from the past and every fear of the future right then? I think the Ego knows we are ripe for the plucking and takes advantage. The Ego frequently does its best work while our mind tosses and our body turns. It loves to marinate in itself, re-telling its favourite storylines. The Ego cannot exist in the present which is why it is forced to relive the past over and over as it longs for the good old days, cringes over past mistakes and replays hurtful conversations and failures. Why? Because it was the one who was most affected. Hurt. Humiliated. As we learn to become more fully present we start to see through this ruse and the door on the past can begin to close.

It’s impossible to be fully present while stuck in the past which is why counting sheep or focusing on your breath or listening to the faint sounds of your space often break this cycle of unrest. But the Ego is crafty! And a survivor! So instead it turns our attention to the future citing the importance of planning ahead/ micro-managing our life. Nice one ego. The Ego is an escape artist and will do anything it can to wiggle off from the here and now. Why? Because when we’re present and aware we’re in the driver’s seat and the ego is forced to take a back seat where it seethes and plots its return. The Ego is absolutely the most obnoxious back seat driver in history and when we’re triggered (over-tired, hungry, stressed) it can wrestle the wheel away from us. That’s why this often happens in the dead of night and for some of us, day never comes.

Ok, this post was a bit dark. And yes, it can sure feel dark at 3am. But it’s all an illusion that we can break by dropping the storyline and returning to the present. The place where life actually happens. The say it’s darkest before the dawn. Mindfulness is the dawn we can enjoy at any time which is why our Waking Hour meditation and quiet time is so crucial. Hope you’re seeing improvement!

Waking Hour -Travel Edition

Hey y’all. I leapt on a plane early yesterday morning to begin a long day of travel. 3 planes later I arrived in South Carolina where I’ll be hanging with my Ma for the next 10 days. I thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss morning routines when you’re not in your routine. For instance, should you still have a morning routine when travelling? The quick answer is,… do you still want to feel better?

My plane didn’t leave until 830am yesterday so I was able to sleep in a bit. I don’t know about you but I never sleep well before travelling. Too many hyper emotions going on. . Regardless, the question of “should you still do Waking Hour when travelling,” is an important one. I chose to! After tossing and turning all night I finally got up at 430am and wouldn’t you know it, I immediately felt better. It’s like deciding to Wake Up readies the body to Wake Up. Yes, I even did a workout. I cut everything in half so my Waking Hour was actually an Hour (instead of 2) but I did it. The result was the most enjoyable day of travel I’ve ever had. In the past, I’ve had some control issues with travel often feeling anxious in airports and slightly claustrophobic on planes but I had decided beforehand I would be Awake to whatever would be rather then trying to control how it should be. All 3 planes were amongst the smallest, squishiest and most turbulent I’ve ever been on (the Universe accepted my challenge) but I literally flew through the day experiencing an unrivalled calm. So yes, I absolutely think Waking Hour is important while travelling. If we don’t put our minds in a state we’ll find ourselves put in a state of mind along with old habits and fears.  For years, I just put up with a stressful travel day telling myself, “travelling is stressful.” It’s not. Travelling is whatever you choose it to be. And I chose calm!

I’m currently sitting on my Mom’s deck in the gorgeous South Carolinian sun. As an Islander, sun in January is a luxury.  Even with the 3 hr time change I am blogging having just completed my Waking Hour. Sorry Ma for the loud 40min banging session, Shaun T loves his jumping movements haha.  As I sit, I feel an unrivalled peace. In the past, my first morning travelling anywhere I would awaken with slight nausea, mental fog and an unexplained resistance to a new place I could not control. No wonder I felt bad. Instead, Pema reminded me again today that the only thing I’ll ever be able to control is my own experience of a life out of control. And every life is. Life is fluid, constantly changing, never the same. The sooner we can become ok with this, the sooner we can be anywhere, experiencing anything, and be ok. I’m learning to be ok and it’s saving my life.

If you would like some extra encouragement, let me know! If you know someone who could use this encouragement, please share this by clicking at the bottom of this page! If you haven’t already “liked” us on Facebook, that would be sweet too. Thank you so much for joining in the journey, it’s much more fun then walking alone.  See you back here tomorrow!

 

 

Waking Hour -Bear Attack

Image result for bear

I leave for an early morning flight tomorrow and so I thought I’d sleep in this morning because I deserve it ok. By 630 Angie was nudging me awake saying, “it’s time for Waking Hour.” I resisted saying, “I will, just later cuz I need to sleep..” That’s when she said, “hey, I want to do this and your my Guru so..” It was the kick I needed. Thanks hon.

  • Meditation is getting more natural. Thanks Sam. I’m slowly learning to resist the need to control my thoughts or react to every thought that comes into my hyper active mind. As a wise person once said, “you don’t have to believe everything you think.” Just see the thought and let it pass. If it’s a negative thought, practice the pause and bring your attention back to the one constant in this world – your breath. From there, see what’s in front of you and move forward.
  • Chapter 2 of Pema’s ‘Taking the Leap’ was excellent. I’ve read the book a few times but this morning I still had a eureka moment. We all feel the universal background hum of negative thought.  It’s usually an unexplained yet general edginess, boredom or restlessness. Pema reminded me that it exists because of our lesser self’s desire to find “permanence in an impermanent world.” Our world is fluid, open, unfixed and always changing thus we have little control over our outside circumstances. Our lesser self cannot stand this and so it resists this reality or worse tries to control it. The result is always frustration, anxiety, fear and if left unchecked it can evolve into a deep neurosis / despair. The good news is we have complete control over our reaction to this unchanging reality.  We can choose not to react! 2 analogies are helpful here.
  1. Pema’s Poison Ivy. When we react to the negative mind hum we are essentially scratching an itch. The temporary relief we feel after scratching quickly becomes a permanent problem as the scratching causes the itch to spread like poison ivy through our body strengthening the mind hum (neurois, anger, anxiety, fear, sadness etc) making it far worse. The more we scratch the worse we feel. What if we didn’t scratch?

This second analogy came to me during my reflection time.

`  2.  Bear Attack: When we see a bear in the woods we instinctively want to run from it.  When we do, this seemingly logical decision backfires as it guarantees a terrifying chase that we cannot win.  The fact is, we will never be able to out run a bear. What if we didn’t run? What if we stayed where we were giving control back to the bear? The bear would either move on disinterestedly or move closer and upon recognizing we were not a threat, move away completely. Negative thoughts work the exact same way. If we can learn to stay with the thought that angers us, terrifies us, or tries to break our heart we will see that it’s just that, a thought. It has no power over us unless we give it power. The moment we recognize that the chase is over, relief is not far behind. I have practiced this habit over the years with great success yet I still need almost daily reminders to not run. Speaking of power, if negative thoughts can cause us this much grief, imagine what positive thoughts can do? This is what emotional planning is all about. The power of practicing positive thinking! Our mind prefers to dwell on the negative as it think’s it’s job is to keep us safe. What it doesn’t know is we are safe so it can actually focus on helping us gain fulfillment. It needs our help though which is where Waking Hour comes in! I would still like to hear your experience with this! Send me a message!

Conclusion: I keep forgetting to do my Emotional Planning time. The positive visualization has been used with great success by top performers in every walk of life. If you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.

 

 

Waking Hour – Day 1

For the next while, I plan on sharing my Waking Hour journey with you in hopes of inspiring you on your own. Speaking of sharing, if you are finding this helpful please share this with your family and friends so they can benefit as well. I would also LOVE to hear about your own Waking Hour journey. Please post all relevant comments here, facebook or share on your own page. 🙂 Happy Waking!
 
Jan 2. Day 1.
 
– Terrible sleep. Was woken up half a dozen times and became increasingly frustrated as the night went along making it even more difficult to find rest. Finally got up when our cat Benny violently banged on the door at 6:20am, per his adorable tradition grrr. Upon opening the door my lesser self did not greet Benny with kindness and understanding. Sorry about that Benny.
 
– Once my mind knew we were still committed to Waking Hour, I immediately felt better and the lack of sleep no longer mattered. I threw on my workout clothes and headed into the kitchen to make coffee. I discovered the way to become un-triggered is to pause and then move forward coming back to the moment.
 
– I wanted to check my stuff online but resisted the temptation. Felt a surge of positive energy.
 
– Began morning with Sam Harris’s Waking Up app and started with his Day One meditation. 10 min later I felt a mixture of calm and disappointment as my lesser self began evaluating how I could have performed better. I reminded lesser self that it was missing the point as meditation is about noticing not correcting. Lesser self apologized yet maintained his mischievous smile. It’s a handful.
 
– Moved onto reading Taking the Leap by Pema Chodron. She reminded me to pause when triggered, breathe, notice what’s happening, release what’s happening and get back to the moment.
 
– After visiting the loo I headed down to my cold garage to do my Insanity workout. Brrr. Within 10 min I was wishing there were more windows to open. Utilized meditation techniques to focus on my movements and push through pain to form new limits. My lesser self screamed out for rest and thoughts of what are we doing next. Still with its mischievous smile.
 
– After workout I enjoyed a nice warm shower followed by a nice freezing cold shower. I focused on the cold allowing it to massage my tired muscles and relax my active brain. Upon pushing back the curtain I stepped into my day.
 
This process lasted about 100 min. It felt like a fraction of that.
 
Reminding myself that the point of Waking Hour is not to compete with myself but simply be in myself as I wake to the day. That said, great first day especially considering I had a crappy night. Already excited for Day 2!
 
 
 

Waking Hour

Jim Rohn famously said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” For years, I’d start my day scarfing down sugar in the form of cereal before crashing on the couch where I’d mindlessly scroll through social media and emails. By the end of the hour I would feel empty, unmotivated and unprepared to start my day. You can imagine how the rest of my day went. Never in-the-moment, I would over-react when things didn’t go my way and under-react when things did. I was busy, but accomplished very little, often going to bed feeling like I had wasted another day. Know the feeling? It sucks.

This feeling eventually inspired me to commit to something I call Waking Hour. The concept is simple. If we are going to take back our day, we need to start by taking back the first hour. Here’s what it looks like for me. I hope you will join me as we take back our lives together!
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Note: Upon waking, it is crucial that you resist the urge to check your phone. This includes texts, social media, email and especially the News. It’ll all be waiting for you once your Waking Hour is completed.
  1. Get up at the same time each day. A lot of new research is showing this simple commitment is critical to keeping both our bodies and minds in good shape. It doesn’t have to be 500am, but it should be a specific time. Pick a time and stick to it.
  2. Drink a glass of water as soon as your alarm goes off. Not only will this eliminate morning nausea and mental fog, it will give your body what it needs to get moving. I take a glass of water to bed at night so I can hydrate when I inevitably wake up at 3am but also to make my morning ritual easier.
  3. Put on your workout clothes (more on this later). I lay mine out at the foot of the bed the night before so my mind knows upon waking, “we’re doing this.” 
  4. Make a cup of coffee (black is best) or tea and grab a piece of fruit (banana, apple or piece of sprouted grain toast). Stay away from cereal/ processed sugar. The caffeine will help bring your mind back online.
  5. Sit in a comfortable space where you will not be disturbed or distracted. Make sure you choose the right space as it will be your new morning space. You may want to inform the rest of the household of your Waking Hour commitment so they won’t disturb you. This is one advantage to waking up earlier than everyone else.
  6. Start with a morning meditation/ prayer that works for you. If you struggle with meditating on your own, I recommend Headspace and Waking Up with Sam Harris. These are easy to use apps for your phone or tablet and they will guide you through 10-20 minutes of focused thought. Both are currently offering free trials on their membership. The benefits of meditation are too numerous to list, although the top two are likely: increased focus, decreased reaction (anger, anxiety, etc.)
  7. Reading/Journaling time. Meditation will massage your mind readying it for inspiration and challenge. Take 15-20 min and intentionally read through a chapter (or two) of a book that speaks to you, challenges you, inspires you. If you loathe reading, listen to a TED talk as most authors have given talks on their work. The nice thing about the TED website is you can search for those subjects or issues that connect with you. I like to take notes using Evernote as I find it stays with me longer and is always there to remind me when I forget. It also syncs with all my devices. 
  8. Emotional Planning. This is exactly what it sounds like. Emotional planning is a logical extension of meditation and your inspirational reading time. Take 5 min and visualize your day. Picture how you will respond to the inevitable unreasonable child, needy co-worker, insensitive boss, idiot driver, distracted partner, important presentation, disappointing news, etc. Visualize yourself responding calmly rather than over-reacting. It’s amazing the difference this makes.

    person running near street between tall trees
    Photo by Philip Ackermann on Pexels.com
  9. High Intensity Workout. Your mind should now feel calm, focused and ready for the day. Now it’s time to ready your body which is easier because you’re already wearing your workout clothes! The fact is, our body needs 30-40 min of heart pounding exercise, sweat and physical challenge at least 4-5 days a week for us to continue to age safely and function efficiently. Note: Depending on your blood sugar levels, you may want to grab another piece of toast or fruit before your workout. I currently do my sweating at Monkey Bar , but there’s literally a million free workouts on YouTube you can stream at home if going to the gym is not your thing. My go-to at home workout is anything by Shaun T, especially his Insanity program. As good as it feels to see your body respond, I workout primarily for the unrivalled dopamine rush I get and the reservoir of energy it gives me for the rest of the day. A wise person once said, “Exercise is not what I do but it makes everything else I do ok.” Exactly.
  10. Cold Shower. Now that you’re soaked with sweat, it’s time to shower. While finishing your shower turn the water all the way to cold. Here’s where your meditation will come in. Calm your mind and allow the frigid temperatures to complete the healing work on your body. The benefits of cold showers are too important to ignore. I’ve been taking 1-2 min freezing cold showers for years and in that time I have noticed a dramatic difference! My ADHD/Type A personality has levelled, my muscle soreness has disappeared and I have not gotten sick even though all my family and friends have been sick around me. If you’re a naturally anxious/high strung person, this could change your life!
  11. Protein Rich Breakfast. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be starving by now. Resist the temptation to go through a drive thru or scarf down processed sugar/white flour in the form of cereal/bagels. Yes you “earned it” with your workout but you still need to fuel properly. Besides, an influx of sugar could send your mind reeling, undoing all the great work you’ve done in Waking Hour. Protein smoothies are a great option if you have dietary restrictions but if not, I prefer 3-4 soft boiled cage free eggs on sprouted grain toast. Boil the eggs for exactly 4 and half minutes. Silver Hills makes great bread.
  12. Start your day! Congratulations!! Your mind should feel focused yet calm. Your body should be surging with energy. You are now ready to start your day!

 

Conclusion: The 12 steps outlined above usually take me 90-120 mins. You can and should adapt these steps to fit your own schedule. I’d rather you have a Waking 30 Min then none at all. The point of Waking Hour is to ready your body and mind for your day and ultimately live a life of greater meaning, purpose and fulfillment. So let’s get started! I’m right here with you. In the words of my fitness guru Shaun T, “come on yall, let’s goooooo!”
Motivated by others? Consider joining Go Tandem!

 

Are you stuck?

‘Stuck’ can sneak up on you. You’re flying through life working hard and taking care of your family when bam, a deep realization hits you seemingly out of nowhere, “I don’t like my life.” Your fast paced life suddenly feels like a treadmill that you can’t get off.  This feeling of stuck is universally loathed and often stress ensues. Stress is a normal part of life and while it can often be a good thing, the stress that comes from feeling stuck can be toxic.

The best way to figure out if you’re stuck is to try and move off the treadmill. If you find this impossible (I have way too much to do) try to slow the treadmill right down. If you find this just as hard (I have too many responsibilities) you are likely stuck and need to unplug until you get things sorted out! We recommend finding a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed (backyard, nature trail) and once you’re alone without your phone it’s time to dig in.”Why don’t I like my life?” Depending how badly stuck you are, the answer often comes quickly. SLOW DOWN. Sometimes, the realization will be deeper and it can hurt. I’M STUCK ON A TREADMILL THAT’S GOING NOWHERE. As painful as this experience can feel in the moment, the realization is often the worst part. From there, you will either live in denial and encourage more pain or you will gradually make a plan to get unstuck and finally take the steps towards living the life you actually want.  These first few steps (we call them leaps) are critical and are not meant to be taken alone! I’ve gone through this same journey and would love to help you on yours.

 

What do you want to do?

We all have plans to do what we want to do but often we are stuck only doing what we have to do. Going to work, paying the bills, providing for our families, investing in our future. Money has a way of driving most of our decisions and although money is important, it is not the most important. What is the most important is living the life you want to live which is why often the first leap is a leap away from what you have to do.

No, I’m not suggesting you stop paying your bills or providing for your families but perhaps you should quit your job, change careers or start that business?

What if you could do what you have to do by doing what you want to do?

10 years ago I was doing what I had to do. I was going to work, paying the bills, providing for my family and even investing a bit in my future. I was a good responsible citizen of the world. There was only one problem– ok 2  problems. I no longer believed in what I was doing. Also, I was miserable. I had been miserable for years but figured, “it would be irresponsible to quit,” so I continued working.

One night, my wife Angie came to me and said, “it’s over.” Thankfully she was talking about my career and it was just the push I needed. The next day I gave notice that this would be my final quarter knowing life was too short do what I thought I had to do. 8 months later we were lost on a mountain in Spain as part of a 3 month back packing trip through Europe.  When we returned to Canada, it was tempting to go back to doing what I had to do. Instead, I moved forward with what I wanted to do and launched my first business. I was a small business owner on Vancouver Island doing what I wanted while still doing what was needed.

For the past decade, I’ve been doing what I have to do BY doing what I want to do. I’d love to help you take the leap and do the same!