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Archive for January 2nd, 2010


Tweaking our lives in the New Year 2

Posted on January 02, 2010 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated January 03, 2010 12:00 AM
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A new year always brings the resolve to change things. Only a cynic will not think of how he can improve, change or tweak something in his life to have a greater experience. I know some people who start the year with a haircut or a makeover of sorts — buying a new dress or a shirt just to feel different and good and thus be encouraged to carry out their New Year’s resolutions.

As someone who has broken many resolutions by not carrying them through, or worse, not even getting started on them in many instances, let me give you some straight advice. One thing I learned (and I saw an article on the net that confirms this is true) is that if you want to introduce a new habit, you must commit to doing it 21 times in a row to make it stick. For example, if you resolve to exercise every day for 15 minutes, you must do so for 21 days straight. If you miss one day, start again from one and continue till you hit 21 times straight. If you can do that, it is practically guaranteed that you will more or less pursue your resolutions faithfully and feel good about yourself.

Now that we know how to make something a habit, here are some suggestions on how to make for a better, more expansive, creative and happy year ahead. If any of these suggestions catches your fancy and you actually pursue it, the good effects may go beyond one year. You may even set yourself up for a vigorous growth spurt in ways that may last the rest of your life.

I have tried all of these suggestions over the past 10 years and they have helped me grow and handle my life in better, more empowered ways. For whatever their worth, they may work for you as well. They come personally recommended.

1) Join a book club. If you are crazy about an author or about a subject, look for a group or form one to be able to discuss the book(s) at length and share experiences. I joined Neale Donald Walsch and Eckart Tolle book clubs and they were a great source of inspiration and growth. On top of that, I was able to meet like-minded people who have not only helped me in my spiritual search but have become great friends. You can find existing groups on the net, or you can post so people can find you. In Sydney, I sometimes meet with a Ken Wilber reading group and it is always a rewarding experience.

2) Join a personal growth workshop. There are many workshops offered in Manila that can give you a life-changing experience. About eight years ago, I took a workshop called “Re-parenting the Child Within” (or RCW) under Sr. Harriet Hormillosa. This is a three-day affair where the participant is given the chance to deal with childhood issues that may continue to affect him or her. I can tell you that it is a very powerful workshop. I have personally gained a lot by letting ago of baggage that had prevented me from being a more functional adult.

Pardon this commercial, but I also run a creativity workshop called “Tapping the Creative Universe” which will be having its 50th run this January. I recommend this for people who want to get out of a rut, or are stuck in between jobs, careers, dreams, relationships and can’t seem to move forward. This is a life game-changer in the sense that it will give you the impetus to unblock and awaken to your creative, joyful self. I have had different types of students through its many runs — students, housewives, CEOs, lawyers, religious people — and they tell me that it works. My students of seven years back are still in touch with me and say that they continue to be on a roll in constant self-discovery and growth.

3) Engage in a spiritual practice that involves a lot of self-investigation. For some, this means contemplative retreats where they can peruse their inner selves with great intensity and honesty. For others, it could be the mind-body approach of yoga
in its many variations.

In my case, I discovered Zen practice around 10 years ago. The practice of zazen, or doing Zen sits, has put me on an even keel, at the very least. It has helped me center myself in the midst of the glitz and the ego-excesses that public life imposes on a person. It has helped me cope with a lot of my mid-life issues. I have experienced what I call True Seeing that has helped me see things just as they are. Zen is one of the greatest things that I have committed to. It is not easy and in many ways it will “break” you. But what you will discover inside yourself will amaze you.

I cannot say much more about it because Zen is something you must discover for yourself. It is not for everyone though. But I know it will not interfere with your religious beliefs. I do my practice with nuns, priests, religious people and even non-believers. Follow my Zen teacher’s advice: If you are serious about taking it up, don’t even read about Zen. Just sign up for it.

4) Commit to a sport. I believe that a period of growth that an individual experiences must involve all aspects of his or her personhood. An intellectual giant who is physically weak, or is a moral cretin, is not fully integrated. Much of the mind and spirit is already answered for in the practices I have suggested above.

So I am pushing the idea that the physical body must also be cared for. Committing to exercise — or better yet, a sport — is always good. Studies have shown that starting exercises at any age has great benefits. In the past, I took up cycling and running where I pushed myself to the limit. I have gone through 15K non-stop runs, and completed a Luneta to Tagaytay cycling tour.

These days, I engage in walking and occasionally spend some time in the gym. I like long walks because it gives me time to be alone. It is good for both body and mind.

5) Start a journal. I began journaling tentatively many years ago, and I discovered that I actually enjoyed it. Soon, I took the bold step of making my musings public via blogging. I have been doing this for a while now. In the process, I have come up with four books, and a fifth one is on the way.

I find the act of writing therapeutic, and since it commits me to something regular, it encourages me to be open to life so I have something to write about.

I will probably continue to do all of the above plus add a new resolution. It will be to do charity or civic work on an organized and consistent basis.

Someone once asked, “Have you lived 10,000 days, or have you lived the same day 10,000 times?” The overall goal in these things I have suggested is to experience a fuller life where you will find yourself more present in everything you do.

May we all have a fulfilling, creative, healthy, spiritually uplifting, intellectually challenging and happy new year ahead!

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