Thursday, July 28, 2011

3 Years

The pain is gone.

I'm happy now. :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Job Chapter 1

I've decided to change my daily motivational reading to an analysis of each chapter of Job, one of the books of the Old Testament. The study of religion has always fascinated me, and I believe that Job represents one of the best teachings in the Bible. In short, the Book of Job tells us that no matter what happens to us, even if we lose everything, we should still remain humble and thankful that we are alive.


Job Chapter 1 introduces the character called Job. Job was righteous, in the sense that he was blameless and upright – he feared God and shunned evil. He was wealthy and powerful not only in terms of material wealth (many animals and servants), but was also blessed with many children. It would seem that his initially wealth and power was God’s reward for his righteousness.

Job was simple. This is shown by the fact that he sacrificed an animal for each of his children after they had feasted. He did so without knowing whether or not his children had sinned and cursed God in their hearts, even though feasting is not necessarily a sin. Even then, Job prays for his children.

In Job 1:6, the enemy appears. However, in the original version of this Book, the enemy is represented by the “sons of God” and the “adversary”. In the Christian Bible, we interpret this as the angels and Satan. However, in the original text, Satan is not stated directly and angels were not mentioned as well. Upon further research, it seems that the “sons of God” were the old gods of the Jews, who have been put under the control of the one, Yahweh. In Job 1:7, the “adversary”, was divine being who has been sent to the world to search out man’s sins and accuse them.

The “adversary” has come to report to God that man has been sinning. God told him that Job is one who does not sin. However, the “adversary” counter-argues that Job is only blameless because he is materially well-to-do, and asks God to take away everything Job has to see if he would still be pious to God. And so God did it, by taking everything away from – his herd, his home, his servants and his family.

Interesting note: God works through both natural disasters and man. He acts through fire, and through a mighty wind. He sent the Sabeans and Chaldeans to destroy his herd and servants. Interesting how God performs his acts through man so quickly. Is there really free will?

When he found out about this through a few messengers, he remained pious by cutting his hair and tearing his robe, and fell to the ground to worship. Through his wisdom, he knows that we come to the world naked, and we will depart naked. All material things are ephemeral and will be taken away, one way or another (refer to Ecclesiastes). Knowing this, he praises God and thus does not sin.

From this Chapter, we can tell that by not blaming God, but instead, praising God, we do not sin. Hence, we should give our life to God, and always praise him.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

(73) Make Service an Integral Part of Your Life

To become a kinder, more loving individual requires action. Yet, ironically, there is nothing specific you have to do, no prescription to follow. Rather, most genuine acts of kindness and generosity seem natural; they stem from a type of thinking where service and giving have been integrated into the person's thought process.

Several teachers and philosophers that I have learned from have suggested that I begin my day by asking myself the question, "How can I be of service?" I have found this to be useful in reminding me of the multitude of ways that I can be helpful to others. When I take the time to ask this question, I find answer popping up all day long.

If one of your goals is to be of help to others, you will find the most appropriate ways. Your chances to be of service are endless. Sometimes the best way I can be of service is to offer my home to a friend (or even a stranger) in need. Other times, it's to give my seat to an elderly person on the train, help a youngster across the monkey bars, speak to a group, write a book, help out in my daughter's school, write a check to a charity, or pick up litter on the road. The key, I believe, is to remember that being of service isn't a one-time effort. It's not doing something nice for someone and then wondering why others aren't being nice too, or doing things for us.

Instead, a life of service is a lifelong process, a way of thinking about life. Does the trash need to be taken out? If so, go ahead and take it out even if it's not your turn. Is someone you know being difficult? Maybe they need a hug or someone to listen to them. Are you aware of a charity that is in trouble? Could you possibly give a little extra this month?

I have learned that the best way to be of service is often very simple - it's those little, quiet, often unnoticed acts of kindness that I can choose on a daily basis - being supportive of a new endeavor by my spouse, or simply taking the time and energy to listen. I know I have a long way to go toward my goal of being a more selfless person. However, I also know that as I have attempted to integrate service into my life, I have felt better and better about the way I choose to live.

There is an ancient saying, "Giving is its own reward." It's really true. When you give, you also receive. In fact, what you receive is directly proportional to what you give. As you give more of yourself in your own unique ways, you will experience more feelings of peace that you ever thought possible. Everyone wins, especially you.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

(72) Take Up Yoga

Like meditation, yoga is an extremely popular and effective method for becoming a more relaxed, easygoing person. For centuries, yoga has been used to clear and free the mind, giving people feelings of ease and equanimity. It's easy to do and takes only a few minutes a day. What's more, people of virtually any age and fitness level can participate. I once took a class at the health club that included both a ten-year-old boy and an eighty-seven-year-old man. Yoga is noncompetitive in nature. You and progress at your own speed and comfort level.

Although yoga is physical in nature, its benefits are both physical and emotional. On the physical side, yoga strengthens the muscles and the spine, creating flexibility and ease of motion. On the emotional side, yoga is a tremendous stress reducer. It balances the body-mind-spirit connection, giving you a feeling of ease and peace.

Yoga is practiced by engaging in a series of stretches, both gentle and challenging. The stretches are designed to open the body and lengthen the spine. The stretches focus on very specific, usually tight and constricted places - the neck, back, hips, legs, and spine. While you are stretching, you are also concentrating, focusing your attention on what you are doing.

The effects of yoga are truly amazing. After only a few minutes, you feel more alive and open, peaceful and relaxed. Your mind is clear. The rest of your day is easier and more focused. I used to believe that I was too busy to practice yoga. I felt I didn't have the time. I'm now certain that the opposite is true - I don't have time not to practice yoga. It's too important not to do. It keeps me feeling young and energized. It's also a wonderful and peaceful way to spend time with family and/or friends. Rather than watching television together, my two daughters and I often flip on a yoga video and spend a few minutes stretching together.

Like meditation, it's easy to find a local class at the community center, the YMCA, or the health club. If you prefer to learn from a book, my favorite is Richard Hittleman's Yoga Twenty-Eight-Day Exercise Plan. There are also many videos you can learn from as well as a magazine dedicated solely to yoga called the Yoga Journal.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I've been taking way too many emotional knockdowns lately, from multiple people. My energy levels are just being drained much too quickly. My compassion is waning, my patience found wanting.

I will now withdraw from the world again, until I recharge, and come back with renewed strength.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

(71) Quiet the Mind

Pascal said, "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone." I'm not sure I would go quite this far, but I am certain that a quiet mind is the foundation of inner peace. And inner peace translates into outer peace.

Although there are many techniques for quieting the mind, such as reflection, deep breathing, contemplation, and visualization, the most universally accepted and most used technique is meditation. In as little as five to ten minutes a day, you can train your mind to be still and quiet. This stillness can be incorporated into your daily life, making you less reactive and irritable, and giving you greater perspective to see things as small stuff rather than emergencies. Meditation teaches you to be calm by giving you the experience of absolute relaxation. It teaches you to be at peace.

There are many different forms and variations of meditation. Essentially, however, meditation involves emptying your mind. Usually, meditation is done alone in a quiet environment. You close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath - in and out, in and out. As thoughts enter your mind, you gently let them go and bring your attention back to your breath. Do this over and over again. Over time, you'll train yourself to keep your attention on your breath as you gently dismiss any stray thoughts.

You'll quickly discover that meditation isn't easy. You will notice that your mind will fill with thoughts the moment you attempt to keep it still. It's rare for a beginner to be able to focus attention for more than a few seconds. The trick to become an effective meditator is to be gentle on yourself and be consistent. Don't be discouraged. A few minutes each day will reap tremendous benefits, over time. Or, if you prefer, you can learn from a book, or better yet, an audiotape. (It's hard to read with your eyes closed). My favorite resource is Larry Le Shan's How to Meditate, available in both book and audio format. I don't know many people I would consider to be at peace with themselves who haven't spent at least a little time experimenting with meditation.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

(70) Remember that You Become What You Practice Most

Repeated practice is one of the most basic principles of most spiritual and meditative paths. In other words, whatever you practice most is what you will become. If you are in the habit of being uptight whenever life isn't quite right, repeatedly reacting to criticism by defending yourself, insisting on being right, allowing your thinking to snowball in response to adversity, or acting like life is an emergency, then, unfortunately, your life will be a reflection of this type of practice. You will be frustrated because, in a sense, you have practiced being frustrated.

Likewise, however, you can choose to bring forth in yourself qualities of compassion, patience, kindness, humility, and peace - again, through what you practice. I guess it's safe to say that practice makes perfect. It makes sense, then, to be careful what you practice.

This isn't to suggest that you make your entire life into a great big project where the goal is to be constantly improving yourself. Only that it's immensely helpful to become conscious of your own habits, both internal and external. Where is your attention? How do you spend your time? Are you cultivating habits that are helpful to your stated goals? Is what you say you want your life to stand for consistent with what your life really stands for? Simply asking yourself these and other important questions, and answering them honestly, helps to determine which strategies will be most useful to you. Have you always said to yourself, "I'd like to spend more time by myself," or "I've always wanted to learn how to meditate," yet somehow you've never found the time? Sadly, many people spend more time washing their car or watching reruns of television shows they don't even enjoy than they do making time for aspects of life that nurture their hearts. If you remember that what you practice you will become, you may begin choosing different types of practice.