Using meditation to visualize your goals

I was listening to the Tim Ferris Podcast interviewing Dr. Michael Gervais, who is a high performance psychologist.  About 50 min into it they started talking about visualization, which Dr. Gervais refers to it as imagery with goes beyond visualizing.  He talks about creating an electric charging moment where we not only see what we want to achieve in full color, but feel it, hear it and smell it. How to do that? Minimizing distraction and training  to improve creating those imageries. Mediation, I think is the way to do it.

I personally like Sadhguru mediation practice  (Chit Shakti) that helps you visualize your goals in the short, medium and long term. I've being doing this mediation for almost 2 months.  He talks about sensing  joy when you feel your dreams being accomplished. He also mentions, as part of your visualization,  experiencing the well being that is spread around including everyone as part of your goals. It seems to me like a great focussed life purpose, which is ultimately serving others.

For example, one of my short term goals is to improve my mother's well being. I  envisioned she saying thank you to me because I found her a nicer place to live with a pleasent view with tall big trees in a place where she can walk peacefully. I imagined she is hugging me while we are sitting together in the living room looking at the branches playing with the wind. I feel her closeness, gratitude and peacefulness.

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This is what I do:

  • I wake up and drink 1/2 litter of water.
  • I go to my living room and place a yoga matt or sleeping bag on the floor.
  • I place a small cushion on top of the mat and put myself  looking east doing a half lotus position, putting my back straight and lifting my head a little bit to the sky.
  • I put my hands looking up resting in my tights and do a Gyan Mudra. The tips of my  index and thumb are slightly touching while the other 3 fingers are bended and closed together like making a container form.
  • I do deep breathing for 5 minutes. I inhale feeling my lungs and counting 10, then hold for 3 seconds, and exhale for 10 counts all through my nose.
  • I do 3-5 minutes of gratitude about big things and little things. For example, God thank you for the house that I live,  thank you because someone help me at the metro, thank you because I found a parking lot near the entrance of the gym, etc.
  • I chant OM 7 times,
  • I do the Sadhguru guided mediation to visualize, feel, touch my goals for 2, 5 and 10 years.
  • At the end, I think about what I will accomplished on my day and how I can improve (e.g. forgiving somebody that hurt me).

This practice takes me 30-40 minutes. I feel great and experience that  I'm more aware and conscious about my dreams during the day than when I  visualize them on my phone, a paper or board sporadically.  It also helps me start my day connecting to God and experiencing gratitude.

Namaste!

 

 

Successfully practicing life like a delicious kiss

If you remember a delicious kiss (maybe your first one) you might recall your heart beating faster, your eyes closed increasing the sensation of your feelings, a sense of warm filling your body, your skin smiling. You were hugged, wrapped in cage of a rare energy where you never want to leave. Your eyes might have closed again losing  your thoughts in a colorful mysterious rhythm.

What happened is that you were living that moment fully aware, fully present, engaging your senses, your mind your soul. Your purpose became making fill the other person good as well as hanging to that precious moment like nothing else mattered.

What if we did everything like a delicious kiss? What if we were able to engage fully in the present, avoiding multi tasking, multi thinking and multi others?

I work from home, have five calls in average per day,  have several projects, currently lead two program and teach. I need to keep myself focus on the important task at hand.

This is how I organized myself:

  • I don’t use a single system to track all my todos. Too many project all with their own tracker make this impossible. I allow multi todos systems and trackers to exist: Trello, GitHub, OmniFocus, list of action items from a meeting, etc.
  • I use the Pomodoro Technique to book my calendar and focus on a particular theme or project. I set aside between 20 min to 3 hours  for each theme.
  • When I’m working in that project, Im fully focused and present. I concentrate in one task at a time.  I fully engage. I do not interrupt myself  by emails or other non-related tasks.
  • In my meetings, I’m listening, putting all my energy, trying to grasp the important ideas, trying to help and finding a best solution to a problem in hand. I imagine the other people on the other side and I consciously care.  This has made my meetings much better.

If we book in our calendar important time to advance our projects to achieve the goals in our lives, they should deserve that attention and concentration like a kiss. So I invite you to live your life engaging in the present, connecting with the people, listening, observing and feeling.  In other words, let’s all practice more kissing the moment. 

Spectacular structures to tell a story about your vision

IMG_0225I visited two weeks ago the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the biggest Mosque in the United Arab Emirates and the 8th biggest one on the world. The Mosque is an incredible symbol of modern art that can accommodate more than 40,000 people at the time of prayer. It clicked with me why visionaries build structures like this one to keep alive a message of their vision.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, united in 1971-1972  the Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Kalba, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain) into one federation the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Twenty years later the Mosque construction began as a symbol that would represent the unity and the cultural diversity of the Islamic world. Now every time tourists go to the Mosque, they learn the story of Sheikh Zayed and how the United Arab Emirates came to be.

IMG_0221After visiting the Mosque, I went back to my hotel and did some work. At sunset, while I was mediating siting at the shore of the Fairmont Bab al Bahr hotel, listening to the waves from the  Khor Al Maqta waterway, and looking at the other end the Mosque lightening up, a question came to me:  What structure would I like to build so others can tell a story about my vision?

I have never thought about building a physical structure. I have always dreamed on creating a huge impact on the world by technology, innovation, and inspiration. How can I help save more lives, increase live longevity, make people happier, etc.

Two topics I like very much are technology and health. I believe sharing of and analyzing   (e.g. applying machine learning) data to understand better medical illness, pandemics and environmental impacts on health can improve the world we lived in. What will the structure for me look like?  I don't know. I will say that at the moment  I'm having good conversations with other like-minded architects.

Hopefully soon I wil have a structure like the Mosque to help tell my story.

 

What to do if life doesn’t go the way you want?

What do you do if your life doesn’t go the way you want? You have 3 choices: 1) complain about it, suffer and make yourself miserable (probably in the way creating pain for others close to you), 2) acknowledge and accept the situation, or 3) if you can, do something about it.

I was talking yesterday by phone with Rocio, a very special soul, from Venezuela. Hearing how she takes life is inspirational. In the middle of a country that is passing through one of the toughest times I heard positive and laughter. I can see her smile shine in her face. Hearing her stories with her ex-husband and her attitude to not engage in discussion enforces in me the idea about avoiding fights that will not take anywhere.

Why do we like to complain and suffer?

When I was thinking about writing this blog earlier today, I heard two podcasts by Lewis Howes that helped me understand the root of the problem: 1) BioHacking with Dave Asprey, 2) Making the Equation for Happiness with Mo Gawdat.

Dave mentions three behaviors that every living thing needs to do to stay alive: run away from scary things, eat everything, and reproduce as much as possible. Suffering, as I see it, is a way to run away from reality, to run away to face the problem and not doing something about it.

Mo says that when our expectations are not met, the right brain signals disappointment and suffering is a response of that pain. Mo’s story about his approach to the death of his son is a great example of not getting stuck in the suffering but doing something positive about it. Mo wrote a book that is inspiring thousands and will probably inspire millions.

What can you do?

If you are disappointed about something, ask this question: Can I do something about it? If you can’t, then accept it and move on. If you can do something, then do something positive about it. Most of the times there is a lesson to be learned. Disappointments make us grow if we understand how to process the information.

In a bio-physical level, Dave provides hints about how to hack the mitochondria to make us better at responding to disappointments.  Some of them are: walk at least 20 minutes per day, get a cold few seconds shower, and push your body to the maximum at least once per week. Pushing the body might be interval sprinting or lifting weights. More about this in his book Head Strong.

In my conversation with Rocio, she told me that she was with my Mom when one of my aunts died. My Mom saw her family crying. She said: “please I don’t want anybody to cry when I die,  I want people to remember me happy and not be sad”. I like the idea of celebrating with good memories. Mo’s story is similar.  In the podcast he said his son’s funeral seemed more like a birthday celebration.

Today is also Easter Sunday, one of the happiest days for Christian followers. Suffering got converted into faith and joy. It has changed the life of billions. I just hope we can all learn to put the suffering on the past and decide to be happy.

The BELLS strategy to become great

Yesterday I attended church at the Seneca Creek Community Church. The message was very practical and resonated with lots of habits some great people I think already have in place. Mark, the pastor based his talk on Michael Frost’s book called the Five Habits of Highly Mission People. The whole point of the book was to provide strategies for living “questionable” lives to inspire others to find God. Here is my practical take on it, which is independent and doesn’t assume that you believe in God or not. For sure these habits will make us become better every day.

  1. Bless: confer prosperity or happiness by any of these:
    1. Complement others and encourage.
    2. Do acts of kindness helping others without expecting anything in return.
    3. Give. A gift is an act of thoughtfulness and love.
  2. Eat: Eat with others. It reminded me of the book by Keith Ferrari “Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time“. Plan in advanced breakfast, lunches and dinners when traveling to meetings.  Go to places where you can meet with others. I have met people at a Whole Foods in San Francisco at lunch time when I go attend meetings at the Moscone Center. In busy meetings, this place is packed and you need to share a table. Is better to learn from others while you eat.
  3. Listen: Stop and Listen. The need for listening  is why mediation is so important. Ideas don’t come when we are busy thinking. Pray, think about a problem and sit in silence.
    1. Schedule it: The trick is to put in the calendar. I do it as soon as a wake up, maybe for 20-30 minutes. I need to go sleep around 10 the day before, so I can wake up between 5 or 6. This means cut TV or others distraction before going to bed.
    2. Channel it: I like the affirmations strategy by Jack Canfield. He tells that an  affirmation needs to be concrete.  For example: “God is my unlimited supply.  May large sums of money come to me quickly and easily under the grace of God, for the highest good of all concerned, I’m easily earning Y doing Job Z“. He also suggests adding “this or something better” at the end. Why? Jack says: because Our rational mind is useful for strategic planning, but quite often God’s plans are a lot better than our plans ever could be. We need to listen to align with the plan God has for us.
  4. Learn: The book talks about learning about Jesus, which will help us act better think better, forgive others faster, etc. We need to grow or perish in our different dimensions. A way to grow spiritually is learn about Jesus and other great people.
  5. Sent: I was not sure why this habit was called this way. Here are the two ideas form this section:
    1. Reconcile with others. Make peace with others.
    2. Invite people to enjoy the beauty of the world. A great podcast that resonated with this idea, was the interview with Tim Ferris and BJ Miller. BJ Miller, who woks at the Zen Hospice Project  shared his insights about the approach to mindfulness and how to look at art.

I hope this blog is useful and inspires you to become great! God Bless you!

 

Creating Happy Moments for Others

I was sitting at the bar at my favorite restaurant having chili and wine on Friday night. I started talking to Mila and her Husband Robert. Mila is a very sensible woman. She is half Bolivian and half Spanish. After some minutes our conversation got very deep. I asked her what motivates her. She said, “Making people happy”. She knew a lot of people in the bar. She hugged them like if they were best friends. She gave her smile away without hesitating. She made people feel important and loved, even for few seconds. She inspired this post.

Last week, I also listened to the Tim Ferris podcast with Adam Robinson. Adam. talked about creating magic for others. He said that in interactions with someone else “the purpose is to delight another person”. Adam told a story about him getting a special gift  to his friend Warren Buffet. Warren earned his first cents  when he was 6 years old by selling Bemoans gum. Adam planned to find a Bemoans gum pack, frame it, and send it to Warren. The interesting part is the way the story unfolds . He finds along the way people that help him to pursue his plan.

This reminded me of a book I read recently Love Does by Bob Goff. Bob helps others achieve their dream by creating fun and magic. It is a very inspirational and almost unbelievable book. One of the first stories is about a guy planning  to propose to his girlfriend using Bob’s Backyard near the coast. Bob have never met this guy. He found the guy to be very passionate about it. Bob decided to help him. As the date gets closer,  the plan gets more sophisticated. Bob, to delight the young man plans a big surprise by getting the coast guard to shoot of canons  from a firefighting boat when the new fiancée said yes.

Lewis Howes at the School of Greatness has a great short podcast about focusing on giving. He provides a great example about how small actions can impact people  lives, like a man taking his shirt  putting it on  a shivering man on a street  He recalls that one of the happiest moments was going to a third world country helping build schools with the Pencils of Promise foundation. Making people happy makes you happy!

So, my take away:

For my future interactions, business or social, I will try my best to:

  • delight the other person
  • make him or her feel good
  • be a great listener and ask details about what the other person is expressing
  • understand better his or her needs
  • sincerely complement
  • create acts of kindness (KindSpring provides great ideas)

I will also try to give 10% or more of my income to my church or a good cause.

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” ― Zig Ziglar

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

 

Purposefully crafting your daily yeah moment

lalisI was looking at my daughter swinging on a tire last Sunday afternoon. She was playing. She was enjoying life, rejoicing in the moment. I heard her say “yohoo” several times.

Kids don’t have any concern about what’s next, no big responsibilities. I think this is the reason they are free to just enjoy and don’t worry. They can craft dozens of yeah moments in a day.

We as adults don’t swing as much anymore. We get dizzy faster, or at least I do. We are thinking about how much time we have left to go home to do stuff. I thought, well at least we should try to craft every day a precious moment, a yeah moment. They can come in randomly, but I think it needs to be purposefully planned.

 

The feeling of a yeah moment is like the sensation you experience when you hold your baby minutes after born, receive an award because of your achievement, or when you kiss someone for the first time after a long anticipation. Your heart beats faster. Dopamine levels go up. You face gets red. You cry.

It is hard to get events like this every day. But, what if there is an activity that we can often do and we can give ourselves a pad in the back for the job well done? So I sat down and jot ideas to craft a yeah moment:

  • Business: Succeeding in getting new members for my organization, getting more people compliant to OGC standards, giving great talk or giving a great class at UMBC.
  • Personal: Writing a blog post that can help a lot of people, sing a song, dance salsa, get into the mountains with my bike, and run.

You need to be thoughtful about this. And even before it happened think about the yeah moment. I went home after teaching yesterday night and while having the late dinner I said to myself: “Thank you God because you allow me to give a great class, students laughed, they were all able to install and run Python, they learned about Big Data and I finished on time. Yeah !”. Yes, I purposefully finish with a “Yeah”, felt happy, and took a zip of wine.

I also decided that I will write at least one blog post per week and run. I want to create as much yeah moments I can in a day. And, I have found I get a higher yeah moment when running.

I run around a beautiful small lake in Kentlands in Gaithersburg, MD. This is how it looks:

This is what I do:

  • Due to the fact that I am a Lion chronotype (which I discovered after I read the Power of When book) my best exercise is at 5 PM.  I can testify that it is working for me. After years of trying to do exercise first thing in the morning I changed my schedule.
  • I put Pandora, “Happy” station.
  • I start Runmeter. Being a data geek I track all my runs and bike rides. It is a free app and synchronizes with Strava. Strava is fun because it allows you to compare to others. I take it as benchmark app.
  • I run about a 5K at least 3 times per week. It is divided in segments approximately as follows
    • 0-1 miles: Happy warm up with happy music. Normal pace.
    • 1-1.5 miles:  Yeah sprint moments: I try to feel I’m a super athlete. Two to fours sprints (5-10 seconds) to speed as much as I can.  The music helps a ton. These sprints create several yeah moments.
    • 1.5 miles – 2 miles: Gratitude. I disconnect from headphones. I recap the day and give thanks to God about good things that happened during the day, e.g. people I had lunch with, people I have helped, great emails that I got, the great weather, etc.
    • 2-3 miles: Goals recap. I think about my goals and leave the ideas flow. I read my main goal from my phone (See previous post). Creativity pumps in crazy during this 5 minutes period  (ok 8-9 minutes period).
    • 3-3.5 miles. Happy music again. Warm Down.

A screenshot from the Strava app:

run-results

Final thought: Will be great to have a yeah moments tracker or a yeah diary.

 

Think like a winner: Lessons learned from a 5 year old

I have found that board games are one of the best activities to spend time with your kids. It is a great time to talk about life in general, how their day went, who do they played with at recess, what they learned, and what it’s bothering them most. It is a great time to teach them to be patient and to stop and think about making decisions.

My daughter is 5 years old and her favorite game is the matchmaking memory game. Cards are all placed facing down. Players take turns to pick two cards. If the cards match, the player picking the cards keep them. The player that has more matches at the end of the game is the winner.

I try to play hard, to concentrate and to memorize the position of the cards. I repeat the name, the image and create a story around it. They are like 50 cards. It is hard to make a consistent story of the cards spread everywhere. The incredible fact is that she ends up wining most of the times without any effort of internal repetition or effort to memorize any card. This weekend I found the reason.

When we were playing last Friday, she suddenly stopped and said she wanted to write something in her notebook. I said I was fine. While she was writing, I was looking at the cards trying to remember the images of the ones we had turn over in the last hands.

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Then she showed me the note and I understood why she wins most of the times. She really wants to beat dad. Her desire is so big she wrote it down “Win the memory game”. She showed the note to me with excitement and really meaning it. Her sparkling eyes told me everything. It is not about how hard you work and concentrate on the details of your job or work. It is more about your desire to be triumphant. That desire will overcome the obstacles, will bring all the energy needed to pursue your dreams, will make you concentrate on the important tasks, and might beat your dad in a board game.

Take your goal and put all your desire on it, write it down, flip the cards and make it happen.

 

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You might guess what happened at the end of the game…  I lost again!

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Goals and daily affirmations with Evernote

The book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, written first on 1937, explained the importance of dreaming and having faith in your desires to become rich. An important part of the process is to see your goals 2 or 3 times per day and repeat daily affirmations to engrane in your subconscious mind your desired dream. This will connect to infinite intelligence and open your creative thoughts to get what you want. The Secret Film is great movie to better understand the science behind it.

Most experts talk about how to materialize your goals in  vision boards in physical means like cork or poster boards or even small cards that can fit in a wallet. This blog will outline the technique that have been successful for me to make available goals and affimations in a digital world.

To be able to revise my goals and see my affirmation 2-3 times per day, I needed a digital mean. I travel and go to conference about 20% of my time and I work virtually mostly in coffee shops and shared office spaces. My requirements were as follows:

  • I wanted to be able to look ay my goals from my computer.
  • I wanted to able to look at my goals from my phone, even when there is no internet. I found out that when I’m flying I have the time to mediate about my goals but there is no wifi. Also, some places are still disconnected from the cellular grid (e.g. Shenandoah Valley in VA, where I had  great hike last year).
  • I wanted to be able to keep track of the different revisions of my set of goals.

Solution: Use  Evernote

I have being using  Evernote since 2008 to capture ideas, meeting notes, important receipts, wine labels, scan business cards, etc. It synchronizes almost on real time and you have access to your notes in all devices or via the web site. If you have only one goal note , Evernote will work great. For me, having one note helps me laser focus on a particular goal, that I can also combine with one affirmation.

Process:

  1. Create your goal with and affirmation as a note in Evernote.
  2. Create a shortcut based on that note. Here is a tutorial to create shortcuts.
  3. Put the shortcut on the top.
  4. Done.

This is how it looks in my mac:

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This is how it looks in my iPhone:

evernote-1-note-iphone

Would love to hear is this works for you and if you have better ideas of how to put your goals and affirmations using other tools.

Here are some links about vision boards and affirmations: