October 3rd, 2017

“We are being held momentarily by the train’s dispatcher”

Eyes droop,

Lips purse,

Feet begin to tap with discontent. 

Impatience sets in,

As if eagerly awaiting a loved ones return. 

But they groan and they mumble,

For what will only take a minute. 

What is really so important,

That they must anger over such a small delay?

Their safety, health, well being – intact. 

Yet somehow tempers break like shattered glass.

“Thank you for your patience”

An unexpected jolt of inertia. 

Eyes brighten,

Lips part in conversation,
Feet now tap to the beat of the tune.

Suddenly they are relieved. 

Kindness is Not Conditional

It’s frustrating when you’re not thanked for holding a door open. It’s annoying when people snap back at something innocent you say.

It’s unsettling when people do not reciprocate kindness.

But we must remember that we never know what kind of day someone had or is having. Maybe things in someone’s life are really tough right now. Maybe someone just lost someone they love.

You never know.

So if you’re being polite and kind, and it’s met with nastiness or rudeness, this is not the time to bite back. In fact, it’s a time when you should be even kinder. Because whether or not someone is going through a hard time in their life, it doesn’t matter. We need to always be focusing on how we can make other people’s day and life better, not blaming other people for their lack of kindness.

“But it’s everyone’s responsibility to be kind, not just mine! Having a bad day doesn’t give them the right to act that way.”

While we should all be kind, polite, and well mannered, we need to take accountability and ownership of ourselves and our own actions, instead of focusing on how everyone else should act.

And if you yourself are having a bad day, try to project kindness even still, because putting a smile on someone else’s face when you’re down might just put a smile on your own face.

We all can improve ourselves and be better to one another, so let’s start from within. Kindness is contagious, so focusing on being nicer to those around us regardless of its reciprocation, will spread joy and even more acts of kindness organically. Leading to a happier, more united life within ourselves and all who surround us.

Why You Need to Fail

I’m going to try as hard as I can to not articulate this point like every other cliche article, video, speech about why you need to fail. But if you feel like you already know what’s coming and don’t want to hear my take, feel free to move on.

Whether it’s in the gym or it’s in life, failing is essential to growth. Why?

Because we must be constantly reminded that progress is not linear. That we can’t always succeed and succeed and succeed, and that our goals can always be achieved effortlessly.

In the gym, failing a rep or failing at a PR attempt is a great thing. Because that’s exactly the moment when you grow the strongest. Until you fail at a rep, you never truly know what your threshold is. You may be getting stronger rep by rep, day by day, but you never truly know how much you can go before you can’t go any more. Your mind is never met with true adversity in the gym. While you may struggle at reps, really failing a rep, I mean failing hard, not even able to budge the weight, gives your body and your mind a threshold and challenge.

You’ve suddenly realized there’s something you can’t do.

And you learn from that. You change up your programming, you change up your diet, you change your mindset, you change your behaviors, then get after it to attack the weight the next time to lift that barbell off the ground.

This is important in the gym and in life to fail because not only do we find motivation in that, but it reminds us that success and growth isn’t easy. And it shouldn’t be. If we continue to have everything given to us without the need of hard work, dedication, and intention then we’d go through life living with a dull flame, and excitement, achievement, and self-pride would hardly exist.

We must also keep in mind that rewards from success are not always monetary. Doing a good job at work or hitting a PR in the gym brings increased self-confidence, pride, and allows you to learn the steps that it takes to succeed so that you can apply it to the next goal you have set.

So train to fail. Embrace failure as something to learn from. You will never know your true potential until you reach your maximum threshold. From there, you will be able to recognize just how much it will take to achieve the goals that are important to you, and you’ll be informed and educated from the failures you’ve had to help you succeed in the future. All to help you become the strongest, healthiest, and happiest you can be.

Listening to Silence

Living in a big city, it’s hard to get away from noise. Horns honking, people shouting, construction blaring. That’s why so many of us cover our ears with music to drown some of it out. And while I’ve even written about the power of music in my life personally, sometimes there’s even more power in silence.

Today I took a walk to a nearby park to clear my head. And, being New York City, it was hardly a quiet trip. But in the noise of kids yelling and dogs barking, I was overtaken by a stillness and quietness inside my head.

All of the noise around me faded away and I was able to find peace.

How?

Through the power of breath and meditation.

Along my walk I really didn’t want to think about anything. In fact, I wanted to think about nothing. So I mindlessly walked around the park, watched people pass by, and the only thing on my mind was my deep breaths – in, and out.

As I continued walking I noticed that while there was so much around me that I heard, I wasn’t listening to any of it. 

And instead I began listening to the silence. The thoughts that began to come into my head. Things that made me pensive, reflective, and curious.

It sparked something within me to begin to plan and to be productive with these thoughts, and I realized on my way back home how deep into this meditative state I had become.

With all of the noise and the craziness that fills our lives, especially in recent times, we all need to remember to remove the headphones, to remove the space and sounds around us, and clear our minds.

Through deep breathing and focused meditation, we are able to listen to this silence and begin to ponder. Some thoughts that present themselves are easily ignored, while others stick around and begin to elaborate.

Focus your attention on what is important and let other thoughts go through breath.

If we are always letting the busyness of our lives consume us, we will never have time to let in thoughts and ideas about our lives, our friends, families, and things that we are grateful for. This can lead to a sense of sadness and loss of hope.

Because there’s a lot that we have that we should be grateful for. There’s a lot that we have that we should be thankful for. And there’s a lot more our minds can tell us about our wants and needs that will make us stronger, healthier, and happier.

We just need to give them the chance to present themselves when we meditate, breathe, and create silence in a world that seems so hard to ignore.

Having Eyes Bigger Than Your Stomach

There’s a saying I always think of when I take too much food in a buffet line: “My eyes were bigger than my stomach”. And it seems like no matter how many times I’m in this situation and I say this to myself, I have a hard time learning to take less food. 

One of the more recent times I was in a buffet line I thought about this pretty hard. I took my plate and I quickly glanced down the line to see exactly what it was that looked good to me to help me scoop out proper proportions so that I knew I would finish everything I put on my plate, and get a little bit of everything. 

This saying, though, really started to mean a lot more to me as time went on. Because I think many people, myself included, often find themselves constantly seeking out new opportunities and grabbing for each one right as they come. Not realizing the amount of work involved later, or failing to taking into account other opportunities that may come our way in just a short amount of time, and sometimes they are ones that we may actually want more. 

When we take too much food and put it on our plate, we don’t leave room for the unknown that is ahead. We’re hungry, opportunists, and in the excitement of the moment when our salivary glands are pumping, reason subsides and impulse takes over.  

Sometimes we get lucky – what happens to fall on our plate at the beginning of the line ends up being the thing we want most and most of, and we don’t even take some items later down the line and instead just focus on that one main dish. But most of the time, we forget about all of the sides. The smaller, more manageable portioned foods that come in more variety, which too are very tasty. 

So when we sit back down at the table, we’re left with huge plate fulls of entrees with very little on the side.

So we start eating ravenously and with passion on something that seemed so exciting all but a few minutes ago, but then we’re left with a whole other piece of steak that we didn’t finish since we took too much at the start. 

All of this time and space we used to fill up our stomachs with this seemingly amazing food is soon not even finished and we’re left with half eaten portions, with nothing else to pick at. 

And it’s those side dishes we don’t make enough room for that often times compliment and make the main dish taste even better. 

We need to remember that there are times where spontaneity and impulse should be encouraged and cherished. There are times when it’s great to take everything on at the risk of not finishing it later. But we must also remember that a quick glance at what might be ahead can help us take on and pursue smaller, more manageable projects/tasks that still lead to the same larger goal of being satisfied and successful in our own way.  

We can always get seconds if we want more, so we should always plan on finishing our firsts. And when we go back for more we’ll be even more informed and careful about what it is we really want the next time around. Or we may find out that we’re full enough as is. 

All to say that with food and with life’s opportunities and ventures, a careful and rational assessment of what may come to help choose, realize and take on what is most important to us, will help us live a stronger, healthier, and ultimately happier and more satisfied life. (And stomach.)

Empathetic Compassion and New Experiences

For those of you who don’t know, I love yoga and new experiences that force me to step outside of my comfort zone. So it’s only logical that I combine these two ideologies to try a new form of yoga.

Last week myself and a friend went to an Aerial Yoga class. If you’re not familiar with this type of yoga, imagine a fabric hammock that’s attached to a single point on the ceiling. So it looks like just a loop of silk but you can unroll it to be a fairly long tube.

The idea of Aerial Yoga (or at least what was communicated to us) was that the connection to the ground and the hammock creates a new challenge as well as deeper stretches with the help of gravity. And this most definitely was the case.

From aerial downward dogs to complete inversions without using your hands, you really got to stretch very deeply. But it did hurt. The hammock at times (depending on the position and execution) really dug into your skin. So I definitely recommend wearing tight clothes that cover most of your skin, and maybe even an extra layer.

As everyone started to get the basics down, we stared to get into more complex movements. And throughout the class, myself and the other members of the class found themselves giggling from the awkwardness and challenge of it all.

At first I thought this was annoying, and that myself and my own laughing was taking away from the whole “experience”, but midway through the class and after reflecting on it now, I really came to appreciate it.

It was very clear that there were some Aerial veterans in the room, and it was also VERY clear that most of us weren’t. And because most yoga styles are performed in silence, I felt bad for those going to the class who were there to really work. But as everyone continued to giggle quietly by themselves or with a friend, I looked around and could see the people who were clearly very experienced, and they themselves were smiling.

Sometimes for a very tough pose to set up and get into, the pros would just continue on themselves, locked deep in focus and minded their own business. Sometimes they would smile on and giggle. And it wasn’t a giggle that was making fun someone, it was a contagious giggle from others who were as well.

What I took away from this was not only that Aerial Yoga is hard and that I want to do it again, but that there is a great quality within us, the Mind & Matter community, that strives for new experiences. Being uncomfortable doesn’t scare us if we know it will lead to more strength, health, and happiness.

It also demonstrated an even greater quality within us, that everyone in this class had: empathetic compassion.

We should never laugh in the face of others for stepping outside of their comfort zone or attempting to become a stronger, healthier, and happier self. Recognizing that people are making the effort, no matter how much they are struggling, is something that should be commended, not made fun of or scoffed.

We have all been in uncomfortable and new situations, so we can all relate. We all have the ability to embrace empathetic compassion, and especially because this example relates to health and wellness, it is no laughing matter.

The strong character and will of people even stepping into that room to try something new right beside those who can float gracefully over the mat with ease demonstrates their own strength and confidence within themselves. No matter how hard or ugly it may look. They’re there, working just as hard, if not harder, than the more experienced acquaintance beside them.

So continue to try new things and to not be afraid of failure. Let that be the fire that ignites your drive and focus to achieve the highest form of what success means to you.

If you’re afraid of failure, that means you want to succeed. If you aren’t afraid of failure, it means that whatever you’re doing doesn’t mean enough to you that you could quit at any time and not give a damn that you DIDN’T succeed. 

And practice empathetic compassion for others that are in new situations or environments and who are ready and willing to learn from your own experiences. Laugh, embrace, and have fun together because we are all on our way to a stronger, healthier, and happier life, and we can’t do it alone.