Tag Archives: meditation

Live every day as though it were your last…and first

27 Nov

He may not look it, but this little baby is inquisitive and eager to start living!

I have just completed a course on Zen meditation, and the closing talk included a well-known quote by the late Steve Jobs regarding living every day as though it were your last:

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

I like this quote – and yet it also unsettles me because I know that most days I lead a pretty humdrum existence (I get up, eat a bowl of cereal, check my email, do some work, eat something not very exciting for lunch, do some more work, maybe do some yoga, watch something on TV, sleep…rinse and repeat) and, in honesty, if I were facing my last day on planet Earth I’d probably just go completely mental. I’d probably do a whole load of stuff that would have somewhat awful repercussions. I don’t mean I’d go and kill anyone, or anything like that, but I’d probably go max out my credit cards, act like a complete loon and make a total fool of myself.

Nobody wants to see me doing that every day.

The truth is that we have to live with the fact that we do have a tomorrow, and that how we experience that tomorrow is largely dictated by how we behave today. For example, if I went out and spent £500 on a luxury meal out with my boyf tonight, tomorrow I’d be feeling pretty gross from all the food and also fairly sick at the realization that I had just eaten over a month’s grocery shopping money.

I know that Jobs wasn’t saying we should go out and be reckless every day; he was encouraging us to cherish every day and be conscious of the fact that we will run out of days. However, I do think there is a danger in adopting such a mindset. Some of us make mistakes in our lives – or find ourselves living a life we don’t enjoy – because we don’t properly contemplate the fact that what we do today does have an impact on our tomorrow. Whereas some of us take risks because we want to hedge our bets on a better future, others of us take risks because we haven’t properly contemplated the impact of our actions (or our inactions). The trick, obviously, is to find a balance between being overly cautious (always playing it safe) and following your heart’s desire.

I think this is life’s greatest challenge. It requires faith, and it demands action.

Therefore, I would like to modify the commonly given advice of “live every day as though it were your last” and suggest that we also approach each day with the fresh inquisitiveness of a baby, excited to be in this world, unhindered by cultural/parental/peer/political expectation and ready to learn, explore, and take baby steps towards creating the future of our dreams.

Is it OK to be yourself?

16 Nov

You cannot put all your trust into something this ugly.

You’d think it would be easy to ‘be yourself’, but it’s not. Not for all of us anyway. For me, I find myself quickly falling out of sync with who I am every day. I can so easily slip into comparing myself with someone else – usually a random stranger on the internet (a friend of a friend on Facebook, for example) or perhaps hearing news about a friend who’s just landed their dream job will propel me into doubting where I am in my life. Just a little nudge and I’ll fall into a modest but consuming internal ‘OMG I AM NOT ENOUGH!/I AM WASTING MY LIFE’ breakdown.

However, all the while amidst these mini crises, there will be a part of me peeking through the despair who knows these comparisons are futile, and that right in the centre of my being is someone who’s just perfect as they are. I love connecting with that part of me – that part of me who is always OK no matter what is going on externally. That part of me loves me whatever I do; she is strong, consistent, genuine, kind…she is SO HARD TO FIND SOMETIMES!

Right?

So, how can we locate our inner selves…our best selves…our only selves? How, when in the pit of despair, can we call upon our inner ‘Dude’?

Well, one practice I’m finding extremely useful at the moment is to interrupt my negative thinking by simply stopping and asking my inner self “Are you ok in there?”. And rather than answer the question with my brain, I try to ‘feel’ the response. At first, my brain will interrupt and shout something along the lines of  “No I’m not bloody alright! SORT IT OUT” but then after a moment or two I get a warm, gentle murmur from somewhere deeper – somewhere between my tummy and my heart.

It’s usually just a feeling of lightness…a sense that something is saying  “Yup, I’m OK. Chill out you dumbass” – a little hint from deep inside that it is OK to be me, and that in fact it’s the best thing I can be.

Try it: stop, enquire, feel.

(Ignore brain.)

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