The second wind (DW #885)

We have been discussing that while we gain energy by taking action, the pull back to the old way of doing things can be very strong.
And this can be quite discouraging.
We may feel like we have run out of steam. Have no more effort left within ourselves.
But have you heard of the second wind?
The Second wind is a phenomenon in distance running, such as marathons or road running (as well as other sports), whereby an athlete who is out of breath and too tired to continue suddenly finds the strength to press on at top performance with less exertion.
In other words there will be times when we are tired, we think we are done, that we have tried everything, given our best, and think that we have no more to give. This is NOT the time to quit on important matters.
If we focus on putting one foot in front of the other, to keep going, we are very likely to experience a "second wind" – reserves of energy and motivation that we did not know...
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Use it or lose it (DW #884)

Did you know that we gain energy by using energy?
"A human being is the kind of machine that wears out from lack of use. There are limits, of course, and we do need healthful rest and relaxation, but for the most part we gain energy by using energy... It might well be that all of us possess enormous stores of potential energy, more than we could ever hope to use."
Here’s the thing: we definitely need energy for self-mastery and working on ourselves. But here’s also the thing: in order to get energy, we need to understand what fuels us and what drains us.
Here are some recommendations from Leornard:
  • Set priorities and make decisions. He says: "Indecision leads to inaction, which leads to low energy, depression, despair." What have you been putting off making a decision on? Make a  decision. Get clear on what you’re going to do. And do it.
  • Take action! (this is possibly the most important – overthinking drains our...
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The pull of homeostasis (DW #883)

We have a set point for feelings, thoughts and behaviours that have developed over our lifetime.
And just like the thermostat that keeps temperature in your home within a certain range, our feelings, thoughts and behaviours also stay within a certain range.
This is our "normal", our comfort zone, our homeostasis (the tendency towards a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements)
And so it is understandable and to be expected that when we try to change, we are going to feel a natural tug back to how things were.
And when this happens, we need to remind ourselves that nothing has gone wrong. This is simply a part of the process of change.
Just like a rocket ship when it tries to lift off and escape the gravitational pull of the earth.
(Did you know that the bulk of the fuel used in a trip to space is in the lift-off phase?  This is how strong the pull back to our old way of doing things can be)
Leonard shares...
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What is your practice? (DW #882)

What are your practices in the various domains of your life?
Most of us have a spiritual practice already. We pray several times a day, may read spiritual texts regularly.
How about in other areas of our lives?
What are your practices in your relationships? Do you have daily rituals that you practice regularly, regardless of how you are feeling? (Very important not to confuse feeling love with practicing love!) Do you have practices around appreciation, around service, around expressions of affection?
Can you make your self-development a practice? Create rituals around your meditation or journaling or reading or exercising so that it’s not a "when I can squeeze it in" thing but a firm commitment, a fundamental part of your day? A practice that you honor on your path to mastery.
Anything that you do any case, can be turned into an intentional practice on your path to self-mastery, by the way.
Simple things like washing the dishes,...
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Practice as a noun (DW #881)

You may have noticed that we keep talking about practice.
When people ask for "tips, tricks and strategies" to do anything or overcome challenges, my answer is the same: I don’t have any tips, tricks or strategies. I do have practices that work for me. Practices that when I do them, things work better and when I fall off, am inconsistent or stop doing the practices, things go back to the way they were.
Practices. It is one of the key words in my model of the world.
When I recently stumbled upon George Leonard’s description of the word practice, therefore, I was very interested.
He describes practice as a noun (rather than a verb).
"A practice (as a noun) can be anything you practice on a regular basis as an integral part of your life—not in order to gain something else, but for its own sake... For a master, the rewards gained along the way are fine, but they are not the main reason for the journey. Ultimately, the master and...
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Enjoying the process (DW #880)

Since the best way to get to our destination appears to be to focus on the path rather than obsessive focus on the destination, the journey can be much more pleasant if we actually enjoy the process, don’t you think?
"the real juice of life, whether it be sweet or bitter", writes George Leonard, "is to be found not nearly so much in the products of our efforts as in the process of living itself, in how it feels to be alive."
So, how about savouring the process, enjoying the journey, taking in the view and smelling the roses along the way?
How do we do it?
Stop, pause, look around. What small beauty, pleasure or delight are you missing by obsessively wanting to get to your destination? Simply pause and take a moment to savour it.  
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Staying the course (DW #879)

It’s easy to get on the path of mastery. The real challenge lies in staying on it." How true is THAT?!?
How many times have you started a new program and then burnt out and/or switched course? A lot? Me too!!
There are some common pitfalls on the path, says Leonard.
"Obsessive goal orientation. As pointed out numerous times …, the desire of most people today for quick, sure, and highly visible results is perhaps the deadliest enemy of mastery."
Not surprisingly this is a major pitfall for a lot of people. We are told such things as "keep your eyes on the prize". While this can be a helpful reminder to keep going when things get tough on the road towards something meaningful and important, obsessive goal focus can be an obstacle.
Love how Russell Simmons’ puts it in Do You!). He says: "I know some people say ‘Keep your eyes on the prize,’ but I disagree. When your eyes are stuck on the prize, you’re going to...
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Diligence (DW #878)

Yesterday, we looked at the various paths that lead us away from mastery in different areas of our lives.

The next logical question is, if the paths of the Dabbler, the Obsessive and the Hacker don’t work, what does?
George Leonard explains that they way to gain mastery is to practice diligently, to practice primarily for the sake of the practice itself.
In other words, focus on the PROCESS, the journey.
As one meditation teacher puts it: "Work diligently. Diligently. Work patiently and persistently. Patiently and persistently. And you’re bound to be successful. Bound to be successful."
Again. And again. And again.
We can get sooo impatient at this, right? We are programmed to want quick results. We don’t like the fact that it is going to take us the rest of our lives.
How do we reconcile this impatience with the reality of mastery?
By focusing and enjoying as best as we can, on the practices. On the process.
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The long and rocky path (DW #877)

In his book, Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment, George Leonard explains that because the path to mastery in any area is challenging, we are often tempted to look for shorter and easier ways to self-mastery.
He says that are three other paths that may entice us: these are the paths of The Dabbler. The Obsessive. And the Hacker. 
  • The Dabbler: Gets really into something for a while and loves the quick results but the moment things fade, he/she’s off to the next new thing—rationalizing that it just wasn’t a good fit. This path does not lead to mastery.
  • The Obsessive: A bottom-line type of person who wants to get the tennis stroke right on the first lesson and, when results start to slow, pushes even harder to make it work, ignoring the fact that plateaus are part of the path of mastery—pushing and pushing mercilessly to create a continuing upward curve. Then? A sharp, sharp decline. Hence, no mastery.
  • The Hacker: After sort...
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The process of self-mastery (DW #876)

How long is this going to take?
This is a question that often comes up when we are talking about working on ourselves.
We ask this question because we think that self-mastery is a project. I have a blueprint or a protocol, I work at it for a certain period of time and then VOILA I have achieved my goal of self-mastery.
Sorry but it doesn’t work that way.
Self-mastery is NOT a project. Not something that you "complete" and move onto the next task or project.
It is a process and a journey.
A journey that begins with an awareness and an intention and ends when our time on this planet does.
In other words, we will NEVER be exonerated from doing the work.
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