Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thought Training ... using mantras in a busy life

I opened my journal and sat there for a minute listening for the first thing to write and a little song popped into my head:

"Blue skies, shinning on me, nothing but blue skies can I see..."

How fun!

In 1994 I started journaling and every day I faithfully followed my thoughts down a negative path and wrote it all down. Since writing is magical, I never failed to find insights, inspiration and hope, but the changes I was looking for took many years --- it was a slow, grueling process.

In March of 2005 I began using mantras. My first mantra was "Think good thoughts" and I used it whenever I heard my thoughts go grumbling down a negative track. It's so easy to jump on a negative train of thought and ride it to the end of the line, except there is no end. Day after day, year after year, I stayed on that train, rumbling through the bleak landscape of negativity. I didn't know that intentionally changing my thoughts was my ticket to a new train with better scenery and a happier destination.

And it was so simple! Training myself to hear my thoughts was the tricky part. Negative thoughts made me feel so bad and that became my cue to listen in and pay attention. Then my power of choice kicked in and I could decide to stay on that train or jump off.

Mantras were the key --- my ticket --- to a different train.

I would start by repeating my mantra (my new decision, Think Good Thoughts) over and over, 20 to 30 times, and then I would look around and ask out loud, "OK, where is one?" (a good thought) and one always popped in. Often the new thought came disguised as a yellow flower in the sunlight or big, puffy clouds in a bright blue sky or the smell of fresh rain on dirt. Sometimes it came as freckles across the nose of a smiling child. Or it came as the sound of people laughing together.

Mostly, at the the beginning, it amazed me how quickly I could change my thoughts and how many wonderful things surrounded me that I hadn't noticed before. I didn't have to change locations to feel better. I didn't have to drink something, eat something, take a pill or talk to someone. It was all right there, readily available with a quick change of focus. Magic, I tell you! The past four years I feel like I've been riding a rocket to a whole new planet. It took no time at all to consciously retrain my thoughts and they've lead to joyful places and wonder-filled landscapes.

The best part is, I can arrange my mantras to fit different situations. Sometimes they're short and sweet, other times a little longer and more specific. If I find myself worrying about someone, I say things like:

  • "I love and trust in Sally's ability to manage her own life."
  • "I love and trust that Toby is having valuable experiences."
  • "I love and trust in Barbara's ability to be resourceful."

If I'm worrying about something in my own life, I say things like:

  • "I trust that I always have plenty of money."
  • "I deserve to have what I really want."
  • "Good things come to me easily."

I know these sound like simple affirmations, but when repeated over and over, they become mantras and have the power to take your thoughts to a much better-feeling place.

The magic mantra for this year has been, "All experience has value"and it covers everything. I no longer have to judge and criticize people or situations, no worry about anything or anyone is required.This mantra releases me to focus on the benefits of every experience and the value of everyone.

The beauty of mantras is that you don't have to do a lot of homework, you don't have to write out your past or list all the people who keep you stuck. Mantras are a right here, right now tool. They can be done anywhere, any time. All you need is a willingness to notice what train you're on and a desire to jump off! Mantras will provide you with a soft transition.

What a blessing!

Randy Sandknop

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Time and Deadlines

Years ago, I had a cleaning and painting business.
I worked for property managers and I had a small window of opportunity to get into each unit I was hired for and get it ready for the new tenant. It paid well for the hours allotted, but I found I wasn't fast. I cared too much what the end result looked like. I simply could not make myself do a crummy job and that's all I was given time for. I never missed a deadline but I was constantly stressed by the crunch feeling. I grew to hate it.

I started resenting and grumbling while I worked, then it grew to a running resistance going on in my thoughts all the time, even when I wasn't working. Even today, that thought pattern can come up if I'm doing similar work, like when I painted my new house last year. I caught it very early and had a blast painting, even with a tight timeframe. Thoughts are everything, as you know.

Nowadays I know more about myself (because of that experience and others like it) and I work plenty of time into my projects. I let people know that a great job takes more time then a crummy job and it costs more. I only work with people who are interested in quality. Plus, I deserve the time it takes to do my best work!

We perfectionists create interesting times for ourselves when we try to fit our style into someone else's time frame. Remember that all experience has value, and with practice, we can do a great job faster. But only if we keep a positive thought process going as we do the work.

Randy Sandknop©2008