How many of you have ever over packed for a trip on an air-plane? How many of you, once you reach at your destination, realise that you don’t need most of what you brought? You make a mental note for next time not to bring so much.

But, now with all the new luggage rules and regulations, you really can’t take too much with you anymore. So, the decision has been made for you. Isn’t life like this too? When we were children, our parents made decisions for us. But, when we become adults, we start making our own decisions.

Needless to say, some of these decisions are not always the best. But, this is how we learn. Picture your life as the backpack.

We are born, we go to school, we play and we grow. Our backpacks are pretty light as we have others taking on responsibility for us. Our parents, teachers, siblings and extended family members are all helping us to carry our backpacks for us.

Then, we grew up, graduated from school, got a job and started taking on responsibility for carrying our own backpacks.

At this point of time, the weight is bearable as we embark on what is called the Journey of Life.

The funny thing is that most of us could not wait to get here! Somewhere on the way to adulthood, we may have had heart-breaks or loss that weighs our backpacks down, but we are young and strong and keep going. Eventually, most of us get married and start families.

This increased responsibility starts adding more weight to our backpacks. But, we are oblivious of the added weight, as our hearts are light with the love for our spouse and our children.

Time goes on and the roles that we play within our relationships start to take their toll. We are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and so on. The straps are getting uncomfortable. The added stress starts putting impact on us, and we react by overeating, overworking, drinking, taking drugs, indulging in infidelity, or just plain checking out.

Our bodies become heavy, tired and sluggish.

Then, as we go along, comes more to add to the backpack: problems in our relationships, at work, with our children or our families. The straps start digging in, can you feel them?

Just when we think things are getting better, our parents start having health issues. Now, we are juggling our own family, our parents, and whatever else is going on. Can you feel the weight? Are the straps leaving gouges on your shoulders yet?

Sometimes, it gets to the point when the weight is almost too much to bear. We cannot take and go on anymore. Our strength is gone. Some may give up at this point, some may check out, using drugs or alcohol to numb themselves to the world around them. Some will walk away from their responsibilities, or wish that they should.

What is the difference between those who walk away from their responsibilities and those of us that carry our backpacks fully loaded, so to speak, and still get up every day and still take care of our families, do our jobs, visit our parents or hang out with friends?

The answer is simple.

The former ones lack spirituality and values like faith, love, compassion, forgiveness whereas the latter ones keep these values intact in their life. They make a choice everyday of what they put into their backpacks to offset the weight.

They make a choice everyday to lighten their load. They choose having faith in God, their coaches and their family members, and, most importantly, in themselves also.

What are you choosing to put into your backpack, called life?

Is it anger, pain and suffering, or is it love, compassion and forgiveness?

If it is the latter, you are well on your way to lightening your backpack. So, take care of and be conscious of what are you choosing today? What are you putting into your backpack? I know what is mine. You can remake or repack your backpack by choosing and putting values in it I leave you with an option to repack.

Don’t let what is in your backpack at present define your life. You can redefine your life by choosing or putting values and spirituality in it and thereby lead a value-based life.

Originally at https://www.speakingtree.in/blog/life-as-the-backpack

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This morning, like every morning, I sat cross-legged on a cushion on the floor, rested my hands on my knees, closed my eyes, and did nothing but breathe for 20 minutes.

People say the hardest part about meditating is finding the time to meditate. This makes sense: who these days has time to do nothing? It’s hard to justify.

Meditation brings many benefits: It refreshes us, helps us settle into what’s happening now, makes us wiser and gentler, helps us cope in a world that overloads us with information and communication, and more. But if you’re still looking for a business case to justify spending time meditating, try this one: Meditation makes you more productive.

How? By increasing your capacity to resist distracting urges.
Research shows that an ability to resist urges will improve your relationships, increase your dependability, and raise your performance. If you can resist your urges, you can make better, more thoughtful decisions. You can be more intentional about what you say and how you say it. You can think about the outcome of your actions before following through on them.

Our ability to resist an impulse determines our success in learning a new behavior or changing an old habit. It’s probably the single most important skill for our growth and development.

As it turns out, that’s one of the things meditation teaches us. It’s also one of the hardest to learn.

When I sat down to meditate this morning, relaxing a little more with each out-breath, I was successful in letting all my concerns drift away. My mind was truly empty of everything that had concerned it before I sat. Everything except the flow of my breath. My body felt blissful and I was at peace.

For about four seconds.

Within a breath or two of emptying my mind, thoughts came flooding in — nature abhors a vacuum. I felt an itch on my face and wanted to scratch it. A great title for my next book popped into my head and I wanted to write it down before I forgot it. I thought of at least four phone calls I wanted to make and one difficult conversation I was going to have later that day. I became anxious, knowing I only had a few hours of writing time. What was I doing just sitting here? I wanted to open my eyes and look at how much time was left on my countdown timer. I heard my kids fighting in the other room and wanted to intervene.

Here’s the key though: I wanted to do all those things, but I didn’t do them. Instead, every time I had one of those thoughts, I brought my attention back to my breath.

Sometimes, not following through on something you want to do is a problem, like not writing that proposal you’ve been procrastinating on or not having that difficult conversation you’ve been avoiding.

But other times, the problem is that you do follow through on something you don’t want to do. Like speaking instead of listening or playing politics instead of rising above them.

Meditation teaches us to resist the urge of that counterproductive follow through.

And while I’ve often noted that it’s easier and more reliable to create an environment that supports your goals than it is to depend on willpower, sometimes, we do need to rely on plain, old-fashioned, self-control.

For example, when an employee makes a mistake and you want to yell at him even though you know that it’s better — for him and for the morale of the group — to ask some questions and discuss it gently and rationally. Or when you want to blurt something out in a meeting but know you’d be better off listening. Or when you want to buy or sell a stock based on your emotions when the fundamentals and your research suggest a different action. Or when you want to check email every three minutes instead of focusing on the task at hand.

Meditating daily will strengthen your willpower muscle. Your urges won’t disappear, but you will be better equipped to manage them. And you will have experience that proves to you that the urge is only a suggestion. You are in control.

Does that mean you never follow an urge? Of course not. Urges hold useful information. If you’re hungry, it may be a good indication that you need to eat. But it also may be an indication that you’re bored or struggling with a difficult piece of work. Meditation gives you practice having power over your urges so you can make intentional choices about which to follow and which to let pass.

So how do you do it? If you’re just starting, keep it very simple.

Sit with your back straight enough that your breathing is comfortable — on a chair or a cushion on the floor — and set a timer for however many minutes you want to meditate. Once you start the timer, close your eyes, relax, and don’t move except to breathe, until the timer goes off. Focus on your breath going in and out. Every time you have a thought or an urge, notice it and bring yourself back to your breath.

That’s it. Simple but challenging. Try it — today — for five minutes. And then try it again tomorrow.

This morning, after my meditation, I went to my home office to start writing. A few minutes later, Sophia, my seven-year-old, came in and told me the kitchen was flooded. Apparently Daniel, my five-year-old, filled a glass of water and neglected to turn off the tap. Oops.

In that moment, I wanted to scream at both Daniel and Sophia. But my practice countered that urge. I took a breath.

Then, together, we went into action mode. We got every towel in the house — and a couple of blankets — and mopped it all up, laughing the whole time. When we were done soaking up the water, we talked about what happened. Finally, we all walked together to our downstairs neighbors and took responsibility for the flood, apologized, and asked if we could help them clean up the mess.

After that, I had lost an hour of writing. If I was going to meet my deadline, I needed to be super-productive. So I ate a quick snack and then ignored every distracting urge I had for two hours — no email, no phone calls, no cute Youtube videos — until I finished my piece, which I did with 30 minutes to spare.

Who says meditation is a waste of time?

by Peter Bregman
[Peter Bregman is a strategic advisor to CEOs and their leadership teams. His latest book is 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done.]

Originally at http://blogs.hbr.org/bregman/2012/10/if-youre-too-busy-to-meditate.html

Once Buddha was traveling with a few of his followers.
While they were passing a lake, Buddha told one of his disciples, “I am thirsty. Do get me some water from the lake.”

The disciple walked up to the lake.
At that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy and turbid.

The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink?”
So he came back and told Buddha, “The water in there is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.”

After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake.
The disciple went back, and found that the water was still muddy. He returned and informed Buddha about the same.

After sometime, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back.

This time, the disciple found the mud had settled down, and the water was clean and clear. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.

Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said,
“See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be, and the mud settled down on its own — and you have clear water.

Your mind is like that too ! When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own.
You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.”

Having ‘Peace of Mind’ is not a strenuous job; it is an effortless process!

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