The 5-minute Meditator

I have finished a book written by Eric Harrison and titled The 5-minute Meditator, I like it a lot. It is the perfect book for people who ‘have no time to meditate’. The book has about a dozen ‘spot meditations’ lasting from half a minute to five minutes. Short meditations are just as effective as long ones, that suits me perfect since it is easier for me to do several short meditations than a long one.

Meditation is about choosing where you direct your attention. If you focus on something that is simple and sensual, you relax.

The basic instructions are: focus on the sensations of the present – sight, sound, taste or touch – and let your thoughts pass by in the background.

Eric writes that just a few minutes of deep breathing each day can make a difference to our well-being. I do a simple practice of three deep breaths that works very well for me.

You do not have to make yourself relax. You just stand back and let it happen. Meditation is the art of doing nothing. Your body and mind will naturally settle if you give them half a chance. The less you try to do, the better it works!

That sounds easy but it takes practice before it works. Eric says this about staying present:

To stay in the present, focus on one thing in the present. We call this the meditation object. It is your anchor, it is what you persuade your mind to return to when it wanders away.

One thing to focus on is our breath, easy and always available. Eric mentions that a visual object can be much easier to focus on than the breath so your mind is less inclined to wander. The choice is yours, pick an object that is available and do a short meditation.

I work as a coach and I use a short meditation before sessions to unwind, relax and become focused on the session to come. It helps me become more present.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

An Eater’s Manifesto

I found An Eater’s Manifesto over at ChangeThis. The manifesto by Michael Pollan is an interesting read, a teaser for his book “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” but well worth reading.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.

We are entering a postindustrial era of food; for the first time in a generation it is possible to leave behind the Western diet without having also to leave behind civilization. And the more eaters who vote with their forks for a different kind of food, the more commonplace and accessible such food will become. This is an eater’s manifesto, an invitation to join the movement that is renovating our food system in the name of health—health in the very broadest sense of that word.

Michael Pollan means the Western diet is causing a lot of health problems, we need to change what we eat (less processed food, less artificial nutrients).

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

Discover Your Destiny

Discover Your Destiny With The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is labeled “A potent pathway to self-awakening that will help you to live your greatest life and claim the happiness, prosperity and inner peace that you deserve”. The book is written by Robin Sharma, author of The monk who sold his Ferrari.

The Monk is back in a new book on awakening your authentic greatness, full of fresh and exciting new lessons to stimulate your life. Combining Eastern wisdom with Western success principles in this inspiring, yet highly practical guide, Robin Sharma offers a blueprint for living a beautiful life, rich with joy, prosperity and lasting inner peace.

Discover Your Destiny With The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari offers more of the life-changing wisdom of Julian Mantle, the monk who sold his Ferrari. The book follows the story of Dar Sanderson, a highly ambitious executive who, despite his apparent success, is deeply unhappy. A serendipitous encounter with Julian Mantle sets Dar on an adventure to discover his authentic self and reclaim the life of his dreams.

You will learn the true purpose of your life, how to unlock your highest potential, the secret of boundless joy and a direct route to personal freedom. This is a powerful blend of deep wisdom and practical life lessons that will open you up to the possibilities that your life was meant to be and transform all dimensions of your world forever.

I like this book a lot. It is not one of those “just wish and it will be yours”-books, instead it is a guide book on how to discover your authentic self and achieve lasting inner peace.

I have read the book in Swedish.

Zen To Done

I have posted about Task management my way – pen and paper which gives me the basic tools and a simple system. What I needed in order to achieve my own goals was a philosophy that works for me. I have tried GTD but found it too complex for my needs. Then I came across ‘Zen To Done: The Simple Productivity E-Book!‘ written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and that e-book suits me perfect.

Zen To Done takes some of the best aspects of a few popular productivity systems (GTD, Stephen Covey and others) and combines them with the mandate of simplicity. It makes things as simple as possible, and no more.

As simple as possible is what I was looking for. Zen To Done (ZTD) has a focus on doing, here and now, more than on planning or on the system. ZTD focuses on simplifying which is in line with my pen and paper solution.

Zen To Done is a set of ten habits that will help you get organized, simplify your life, get things under control and, last but not least, actually get things done. You can pick those habits out of the ten that will work for you. To really master a new habit, and to make it stick, focus on few (1-3) at a time and work on them for a month.

Each of the ten habits has its own chapter in the e-book, here is just a brief list.

  1. Collect tasks, ideas, projects etc. Write them down and later add them to your to-do lists.
  2. Process your inboxes. I need to work on that.
  3. Plan for a week ahead, focus on MIT (Most Important Tasks) or “Big Rocks”.
  4. Do, one task at a time. Finish them!
  5. Simple trusted system. No complicated system and do not keep on trying out new tools.
  6. Organize, have a place for everything. And put it there right away!
  7. Review your system and goals weekly.
  8. Simplify and eliminate. Reduce your goals and tasks to the essentials.
  9. Routine, set and keep routines.
  10. Find your passion. Seek work for which you are passionate, passion gives energy.

I already worked on habit one, three, four, five and seven before I came across ZTD. And I have touched on habit eight, Turning 2008 into 80-20. Now I have to set those habits which take me about halfways in the ZTD and then start working on the other habits.

If ten new habits sounds far too much there is a minimalist version of ZTD, the first four habits. Set those and you have achieved a lot.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

Way Of The Peaceful Warrior

I was recommended to watch the Peaceful Warrior movie (IMDB) which has a site of its own at The Peaceful Warrior. The plot can be found at Wikipedia.

I decided to instead get the book the movie is based on, “Way Of The Peaceful Warrior”. The author Dan Millman is a former world champion athlete, university coach, martial arts instructor and college professor.

Blending fact and fiction, the story relates an odyssey into realms of light and shadow, romance, and mystery. Guided by an eccentric old warrior named Socrates, drawn to an elusive young woman called Joy, Dan moves toward a final confrontation that will deliver or destroy him.

This classic tale, told with heart and humor, speaks to the peaceful warrior in each of us, moving readers to laughter and tears — even to moments of illumination — as they rediscover life’s larger meaning and purpose. Join Dan on the peaceful warrior’s path. Find out why this book has changed lives.

I picked some quotes from the FAQ-section at Dan’s website that are relevant to my comments:

Life, literature and film overflow with such pairings (a struggling student and mysterious mentor): Arthur had Merlin, Frodo had Gandalf; Mitch had Morrie; Luke Skywalker had Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda. And I had my Socrates.

According to an old proverb, “Art is a lie that helps us see the truth.”

The student – mentor setup is great, the focus is on the life of Dan the student with Socrates the mentor there to help in the spiritual process. I like the book for its spiritual teachings, they are similar to what I have learned from my mentors. But I would have preferred less fiction, sometimes Socrates gets ‘superhero’ abilities and that is strange to me. Still, the book is well worth reading and gave me some new insights.

I have picked some quotes from the book, pieces that stuck with me.

  • Everything you’ll ever need to know is within you.
  • You do not see your prison because its bars are invisible.
  • To rid yourself of old patterns, focus all your energy not on struggling with the old but on building the new.
  • Once you make your choice, do it with all your spirit.
  • Responsibility means recognizing both pleasure and price, action and consequence, then making a choice.
  • You are rich if you have enough money to satisfy all your desires. (Get more money or simplify life.)
  • It does not matter what you do, only how well you do it.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

You are Being Lied To and Other Truths

Larry Winget has written a manifesto called You are Being Lied To and Other Truths over at ChangeThis. It is time well spent to read the dozen pages. Larry writes this about himself:

All I am really an expert at is being stupid and learning from it….I have become an expert at not making the same mistake twice, and learning from every stupid thing I have ever done.

I have read many bestseller business books over the years and I do agree with Larry:

There are simply no secrets. When you see the word “secret” you should run! And when you hear that someone has a brand new concept for how to be successful, beware. You don’t need anything brand new; you need to go back to the old and simple stuff that makes sense.

Instead of 500 books about the secrets of customer service, try this: Be nice. Say thank you. A secret? I hope not. Isn’t that all you are looking for in a transaction?

Instead of 600 books on the secrets of selling, try this: Ask. Just ask people to buy. Ask, ask, ask, ask, and ask. Become a master asker.

Instead of 700 books about the secrets of leadership, try this: lead. Get out in front of people and give them something to follow.

Larry ends his manifesto with Larry´s Truths about Business
+ Attitude doesn’t matter.
+ Who cares if your employees are happy?
+ You don’t have to love your job—but it helps.
+ Not firing people is a cancer on your business.
+ Do the right thing no matter what.

When it comes to knowing if something is the right or wrong thing, simply trust your instinct. Larry puts it like this: “If you have to ask, it’s the wrong thing”.

Lessons from a Starfish World

I found a very interesting document over at ChangeThis, Lessons from a Starfish World written by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom.

Such seemingly dissimilar groups as the Apache Indians, music swapping programs, Wikipedia, Alcoholics Anonymous and Al Queda have one thing in common: they are all starfish. According to Brafman and Beckstrom, each of these resilient groups succeeds because they are absent any hierarchy (head) and conventional organizations (spiders) best watch their backs.

I like this phrase in their text: Size matters. There is power in being small.

Lesson to learn: small and agile organizations can beat the big guys.

Update May 1, 2007.
Jason Alba has posted Book Review: The Starfish and the Spider.

Update April 7, 2008.
I have written a book review at The Starfish and the Spider.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

The monk who sold his Ferrari

The monk who sold his Ferrari is written by Robin Sharma. I stumbled upon this book in my favourite online bookstore, got curious and ordered it. Picked it up on Saturday and have finished the book this weekend. I love it!

To enjoy the book I think you need to have a desire to grow, on a mental and spiritual level. A wish to change your life to something better. The book is a mix of wisdom of the East and success principles of the West. You get dejavu feelings now and then when familiar principles and quotes turn up but the great thing about the book is that it is all connected.

The story evolves around a mystical fable from the Sages of Sivana. The fable includes a magnificent garden, a lighthouse, a sumo wrestler, a pink wire cable, a golden stopwatch, fragrant roses and a path of diamonds.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.