Friday, 23 May 2014

If I were 22...

In a recent series of articles entitled “If I were 22…”, bestselling author and MD Deepak Chopra offered some life advice to twenty-somethings who might be feeling lost or unsure about the direction their lives are taking.

Feeling uncertain about what path to take or what choices to make can be tough at any age, but it can be especially difficult as a young person. The pressure to make the “right” decisions early on can cause a lot of anxiety and hardship – particularly when there are so many career, travel, or study options available.

While some people might feel paralyzed by the uncertainty in life, Chopra gives us a more positive outlook on things.

Speaking from his own experience, he writes:

The greatest thing about being 22 is that none of these traps have closed. The instinct to be free is very strong when you're young. The flame of discontent is still fueled by idealism. If you consciously attune yourself to the best in your nature, you will be holding tight to the invisible thread. The world's wisdom traditions declare that Dharma is real and can be trusted. Uncertainty isn't something to fear. It's an absolutely necessary prerequisite if you want to kick-start the age-old process known as the beginning of wisdom.

Chopra adds that by attuning ourselves to certain things, we can embrace feelings of uncertainty rather than be trapped by them. Here are some of his suggestions:

-focusing and reflecting on your sense of empathy with others
-accepting that you deserve to happy and have fulfillment in life
-understanding that you are unique in the universe

How does uncertainty play out in your life? If you have felt lost or paralyzed by not knowing in the past, how have you dealt with things? Perhaps just viewing uncertainty as a tool instead of a burden can help us tune into ourselves and the larger world around us.

For further reading, you can view the full series of articles “If I were 22…” here:

Friday, 16 May 2014

It's that Time of Year Again...

If you’re in high school or university, you should be just finished or wrapping up your studies in the next month. It’s always such a surreal time – disbelief that the school year is over, the scramble to finish last minute assignments, the saying of goodbyes to friends for the summer (or longer), and perhaps the trepidation of moving onward to something different altogether.

For those of you who are graduating, first of all, I say congratulations! It’s such an exciting, celebratory, and equally terrifying time. Good luck with commencing the year, and even more good wishes for the next steps you’ll take after accepting your diploma.

As part of the theme of this week’s blog post, I like to talk about a young woman named Marina Keegan. If you haven’t heard of her, she graduated from Yale in 2012, where she was a prolific writer and student leader. She was also her class’ valedictorian and wrote an incredibly moving commencement speech called “The Opposite of Loneliness”. Just days after her graduation, she was killed in a car accident. She was 22.

In her address to her classmates, Marina summarized her time as a student like this:

We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life. What I’m grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I’m scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place.


But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clich├ęd “should haves…” “if I’d…” “wish I’d…”

We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lay alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.

What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.

You can read Marina’s full commencement address here:

If you’re interested in reading more of Marina’s work, you can read her collection of essays and stories published this past April, also entitled ‘The Opposite of Loneliness”.

Friday, 2 May 2014

A Few Thoughts on Mindfulness

It seems as if all of us are so busy these days– and we just keep getting busier. Juggling work, school, family, personal relationships, and our free time simultaneously can be absolutely exhausting.

This balancing act in life may never go away, but it turns out, there are some pretty effective ways to manage the stress of our busyness. It all starts with mindfulness, which is defined as the practice of cultivating a focused awareness on the present moment, as both a daily habit and a lifelong process.

Some people might automatically think of meditation as a way to become more mindful, and that’s definitely one aspect of it. But, you’ll be glad to know that there are a lot of mindful acts you take part in right now, as part of your daily routine:

1)   Focus on your breathing - If you’re feeling really overwhelmed, try be aware of how you are inhaling and exhaling in that moment. Don’t worry about trying to breathe a certain way, just listen to your body’s natural way of taking in and releasing oxygen.
2)   Take a walk, even a short one - We all know that exercise is good for us physically, but more and more, studies are showing that movement can have a positive effect on us mentally, such as reducing stress and getting our creative juices flowing.
3)   Being aware of yourself in the moment – This may sound difficult, but it’s actually quite simple. For example, if you’re feeling particularly anxious about something, simply take note of that anxiety. How does it physically make you feel? Is your heart beating faster than normal? Do you feel hot? Is your mind racing? Rather than trying to force yourself to calm down (which may only add to your stress), just try to be aware of how your mental state is manifesting itself physically. Having this kind of awareness is healthy, and is a better option that ignoring how you’re really feeling!

Burnout, fatigue, and stress seem to be an entrenched part of life these days. But, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone in feeling these kinds of emotions. Taking a few moments of your day to be aware of your present thoughts and feelings can go a long way to helping you become more in tune with yourself and your thoughts.

For further reading, please check out this article entitled “Habits of Mindful People,” which this blog post is based on:

Have a restful weekend, everyone!