To be a Taoist means many things to many people. To be a practitioner of Contemporary Taoism simply means to have realised that we are all minute parts of an indescribably large Whole (the Tao), and to choose therefore to 'Flow Like Water' and live in a spontaneous, natural manner. This blog is about: Personal Growth / Spiritual Development as guided by the principles of Eastern Philosophy, particularly modern philosophical Taoism; Developing constructive habits and achieving success with minimal effort; Meditation - Taoist, Zen or otherwise. See 'What In Lao Tzu's Name is a Contemporary Taoist?'

Monday, May 29, 2006

Tao of Writing

I have been getting busier and busier and have been slightly horrified to notice my writing getting less and less attention. I have been writing my articles for the magazine, but they are all done know for the next couple of months at least, so I am turning my writing guns back to face my two novels in progress.

Two? I hear you exclaim! Yes, two - three actually if you count my 'finished' manuscript which is still waiting in the wings for one last big re-write before I get it published. So yeah, what with meditation workshops, websites, a day job, a monthly column, my musical pursuits, a body that demands exercise, and a life that I have to squeeze in somewhere the novel writing has been getting the short shrift.

But never fear - let's get on with it. I have already completed about a quarter of both the first drafts. The question is should I keep dabbling on both of them at once or should I push one through. Even though it hurts me to leave one of my babies neglected, I think I am going to have to choose the latter option. So to give myself a bit of encouragement I am joining NILTOY - Novel In Less Than One Year which should help. Through this I have also raised an interested eyebrow at The Snowflake novel planning model but I am not going to look at that today as it is a bit math-esque and I have spent the entire last two and a half days wading knee deep in CSS and HTML and I am over the left brain shit for now (or is that right brain? Eh, who cares!)

October is the plan with these Niltoy dudes, so great! Let’s go! My 33rd birthday is in October - what a nice present to give myself - a second finished (first draft of a) fiction manuscript.

Flow Like Water...

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Tao of Jogging

I was just reading this at Lifehacker about motivating yourself to exercise. Here's my tip, it's probably not very original but it does the trick.

I always visualise myself fit and healthy - the results of making the effort. If I am feeling lazy, I visualise the results of that: being fat and totally unsexy. That usually gets me out of bed and out the door.

Also I do it in the morning (after meditating) so that I get to work psychologically pumped because I've already had a win.

The mornings are so cold here in Melbourne (Australia) at this time of the year. I get up and meditate in front of the heater at just past 5am, then I do Chi Gung. Then me and the dog go for a jog.

It is usually still dark and there are only a few others out and about - fellow nutjobs! It is so cold my hands hurt so I shake them as I run. The dog, Dude, carves up the grass like a race horse while I plod along steadily. The Moon shines down and the fog hovers over the grass. Long shadows of trees and of the solitary man that throws a ball to his dog every morning. I always wonder how he can just stand still like he does when it's so cold. I love mornings, so peaceful and calm...

Anyway, enough poetry - my favourite TV show Criminal Intent is on ;)

Flow Like Water...

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Tao of the Rock Monster who turned into a Geek

Okay so I have spent an entire sunny day inside tweeking my blog. Don't let that rugged photo of me in the sidebar fool you :)

Anyway, in order to further my "Self-Improvement" (see newly nutted-out categories below) I am now going to attempt to dislodge myself from this computer chair and go open a bottle of quite good red and perhaps strum my guitar or something rock n' roll like that.

Although I am tempted to google suggested cures for mouse-itis, yeesh...

Flow Like Water...

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Tao of Regret

It is best to remember that all of our achievements will one day fade. Even the works of Shakespeare or Lao Tzu will one day be entirely forgotten. Therefore it makes no sense to become too invested in goals plans and achievements.

Don't get me wrong, it is human nature not only to survive but to strive, but that does not make it wise to get so wrapped up in our own ambition so as to be overly concerned with perceived failure or victory.

There are times where no actions or interventions are useful. For example, when we are ill, it is best only to wait for the sickness to be defeated by our immune systems, and apart from being sensible in what we eat, drink and do during this time, there is little we can do beyond wait. Certainly we can use this time to cultivate patience, to reflect, plan and make preparations, but to allow frustration to overwhelm us is to lose touch with the nature of the Tao.

I like to plan out my day, and to make a list of possible things to do. But when the situation calls for something different, I believe it is better to flow with the Tao and throw the plan out the metaphorical window. Trust your instincts.

Also, when you mess up and/or let yourself down, remember that the only reason you are disappointed is because you set yourself up for this to happen by having expectations (something I am often guilty of). Rather than kick yourself, best to cultivate detachment and to 'look for the gift' in the situation - what lesson can you learn from the way things turned out?

Flow Like Water...

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Headless Tao and Taoless Head

I like this page.:

"Bare awareness is your root. It is the source and nourishment and support of your world, the absolute at the center of existence. It has never been otherwise. This awareness is not new. It is eternal. It is what you have always been, unchanged since the day you were born and before."
Headless Tao

This passage reminds me to be grateful for awareness itself, the blessing that comes with meditation and reading Taoist (and other) philosophy. In itself it is the ultimate award. It gives you the ability to see yourself and this life if not 100% as they are then at least a whole lot more clearly.

Looking honestly at myself, and thinking back to what I have written here over the last few weeks, I cannot help but be aware of a major theme of duality-thinking in my life. Even though I read (and spout on) about 'flowing like water' I do not always do so.

Of course to worry about whether I flow is to stem my own flow ... ahem ... aaaanywaaaay, my point is that I tend to get caught up in regretting it when I bugger up my plans (to remain sober, to be super-healthy, to achieve more with my time, etc).

Taoism specifically teaches not to worry about the past, now, or the future. And intellectually I know this to be sage advice - but I need to practice this more. Or at least I want to.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Eight Planets of Meditation

I am presently resurrecting my meditation website
from static site syndrome in time for a renewed burst of meditation teaching. There is a ways to go with that yet but...

I can confirm that my workshop on July 29th at Kundalini House will focus around my analogy of the Eight Planets of Meditation.

Anyway more news as it spontaneously arises,

Flow Like Water...

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tao of Victorious Failure

'"Disgrace" and "Failure" become less punishing when we recognize our own relative unimportance and let go of the hold of other people's opinions on our peace of mind.*'

It occured to me just now that to fail - from a Taoist perspective - is often the best way to win.

My 'failure' on the weekend:

A) spurs me to (gently) persist.

B) shows me that it is foolish to hold on too tightly to our goals, that this is like pulling an back the bow when we do not want the arrow to fly.

C)reminds me to...

Flow Like Water...

*'The Tao of Sales' E. Thomas Behr

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Return to the Centre

It is inevitable that you will stray from your path. The trick is realising, and then quickly and quietly returning to the centre. Then just keep on walking.

I started this blog, and all my related activities (writing about personal growth for magazines and teaching meditation) because I have long felt that there is a gap in the world of personal growth. This gap is the distance between the highly disciplined personal development guru and the rest of us.

Don't get me wrong, I am not being resentful of those people - I aspire to be one of them, only without the bad hair and shoulder-pads - but sometimes it is a little discouraging when you read things like 'it's so easy!' and 'I haven't screwed up anything in my perfect life for ten years now' and the like.

I think I would like to read the story of a personal development leader trying to get there still. I haven't really come across one that's grabbed me - except for legendary stuff like the life of Buddha or whatever. Nope, haven't really found it - so I am writing it. I am NOT a master of self-discipline ... yet. I intend to be. And I am certainly getting better at it. I've come from being a shambles of youthful disarray six years ago to being pretty ok these days.

But I still fuck up. I did so on Saturday night - got smashed. This is a 'fuck up' because I have been on this whole mission to totally get the party animal side of me under control. Not because partying is bad. It's fun - that's why we do it right? But the fact is I have been well aware for some time now that the downside is just not worth the upside for me anymore. So I have been developing techniques for becoming able to enjoy a social life without getting wasted (and then spending two days as a completely unproductive misery guts).

But, uh, Saturday kinda turned into a *cough* beerfest.

And look, I can see my girlfriend rolling her eyes now at this, saying 'don't beat yourself up over it'. The thing is I'm not beating myself up over the party on Saturday night - I had a ball (I think. Don't remember it too well now). The thing I am upset about is how I only did about two hours (very unproductive) work on my business yesterday. And today I went to work for a meeting and then excused myself for the rest of the day due to being so down in the dumps and scattered that I knew I would be better off at home.

That kind of result just isn't good enough for me anymore.

But there is an upside. The upside is that I want the Contemporary Taoist to be a journey to greatness, not just another superhuman talking down to the hopeless masses. And if that means that, for now, I gotta get too drunk to walk from time to time - then so be it. In time, when this challenge is behind me, I will be able to draw on it to help others. Or at least to have a laugh at myself :)

Yes. It is inevitable that you will stray from your path. The trick is realising, and then quickly and quietly returning to the centre. Then just keep on walking.

Flow Like Water...

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Nourishment and Abundance

Winter is well and truly on its way here is Melbourne, Australia - and with it comes the pleasure of eating vast amounts of warming food. I'd like to take a moment to thank the Universe for the abundant life that some of us are able to enjoy, and to remember those who have been short changed by our foolish governments.

Our happiness is so affected by what we eat and drink, and the things that we think. Moderation is important but a good dose of more extreme dedication can also be a remarkable way to bust through some of those cobwebs that you feel are holding you back. One thing I find is especially effective is sitting down for a longer meditation when you can. By 'longer' I mean more than the usual twenty or thirty minutes of regular meditation - which is definitely recommended - and getting in a good hour long session.

Sit through the fidgets, sit through the drowsiness, sit through the frustration, and eventually a blessing will be bestowed on you. You will find your way through the fog and into the deep centre of your mind. This place is illuminated with the clear light of love, and it is the part of you that is contentedly connected with the rest of the human super-consciousness, or God, or the Tao - whatever term you prefer.

It can be difficult to get there - but the more often you make the effort to visit this inner-utopia, the more of this peaceful, loving energy you bring with you back into the outer-world - and the more of this positive energy there is in the world, the sooner we actually will make war, poverty, sickness and unhappiness history.

Forget guilt, forget this, forget that. Just sit and know that you are perfect.

I am personally having a ball of it right now, enjoying my work and excited about the future, both near and distant.

By the way, any good web designers out there willing to help me spread the good vibes? As you can probably tell by looking at my rather heavy-handed blog renovations (which took me an inordinate amount of time) I could use a little help setting up site-frameworks from somebody who knows what they're doing :)

Flow Like Water...

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Tao of the Sub-Conscious

To flow like water means to accept yourself as you were, as you are, and as you will be. It means to accept others, and indeed the whole world, in the same manner. It means to let go of your notions of right and wrong, of should and should not, of pleasing and displeasing.

Easier said than done of course, but it is in this moment of letting go, this lightness of the mind, that you become aware of the energy flowing through the world and through you - quite literally washing you clean every second of the day.

The metaphorical dirt that you feel is trapped under your fingernails, the feelings of stuckness and of being trapped in your ways are themselves only ideas, and ideas can be discarded like old running shoes. You are new every moment; forget about the past, laugh about the future.

'Subconsciousness always directs the activities of the subhuman forces of nature. This is true whether the action of those forces be hostile or friendly to man. Subconsciousness, in turn, is always amenable to impressions originating at the self-conscious level of mentation*'

Paul Foster Case, The Tarot (1927)

Learn to catch your thoughts - notice the self-defeating, negative sub-conscious programming that you silently and verbally reinforce throughout your day ('oh I always do that, I'm so hopeless’, ‘this is too hard for me, I can't do it', 'my back is stuffed', etc). Immediately turn them around. If you say something negative - turn it around and repeat a positive affirmation to the opposite extreme. For example, you find yourself thinking 'I'm in a terrible mood today'. Stop, pull yourself up, retract the initial statement and say the opposite 'I'm in a fantastic mood today!'

In fact repeat it three times.

Even though it may feel like you are lying to yourself, doing this will have a powerful effect on your subconscious, and further than that, on the Universe at large. You get what you ask for, so create a better world!

One of my newest affirmations is this:

'I find it easy to erase any negative, limiting belief patterns that I may have previously held, and replace them with positive beliefs that affirm the infinite scope of my unlimited potential and ability.'

Perhaps you might like to use it. I repeat it at the beginning of an affirmation session, to give extra oomph to my ability to change my sub-conscious programming.

*Mentation, nice...

I swiped that quote from a book I am reading called The Tarot: History, Mystery, and Lore, by Cynthia Giles. It is particularly good actually, surprisingly vast in it's coverage of all things metaphysical, occult, esoteric, spiritual etc.

Flow Like Water...

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tao of Thinking

I have been doing my affirmations each morning in the car, which leads me to a funny story...

I was driving to work yesterday, trying to get my affirmations done. I open my folder and place it on the passenger seat and as the traffic is usually so heavy I read a new line every time the I have to stop and then repeat it a couple of times. This has been a great help in alleviating the boredom of the stop-start traffic blues right?

Yesterday for some reason the traffic was really light and I was hardly having to stop at all, just for the odd traffic light here and there. This would usually make me happy as Larry, but for just one moment I got slightly annoyed because I wasn't geting through my affirmations and work was rapidly approaching. I didn't actually articulate this thought, and indeed I think I was just formulating the counter-thought 'oh well, I'll just do them in the car before going into the office,' when...

I turned the bend and there it was, miles of bumper-to-bumper go-nowhere traffic jam. Road works. It took me twenty minutes to cover the next stretch that usually takes me two!

You have to be careful what you think!

I am now making a habit of catching all the negative things that I say to myself and transmuting them into positives. Once your reticular activating system is looking out for the nasty thoughts, it is surprising how much self-defeating crap we (me anyway) tell ourselves from moment to moment.

Anyway, speaking of work, got to fly - or rather...

Flow Like Water...

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Integral Way

For some reason, the existence of the Hua Hu Ching has completely slipped beneath my radar. How exciting - another book 'authored' by Lao Tzu!

"There is no one method for attaining realization of the Tao. To regard any method as the method is to create a duality, which can only delay your understanding of the subtle truth. The mature person perceives the fruitlessness of rigid, external methodologies; remembering this, he keeps his attitude unstructured at all times and thus is always free to pursue the Integral Way."

What can I possibly add to this? 'nuff said.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Tao of ... Stuff

Whoa! Where did that week go? Busy, busy, busy!

I have been mostly concerned lately with the topic of how to get my many ideas projects happening all at once without stressing myself out. I already outlined my method of choosing Five Things a Day
and have in fact, since that post refined this system somewhat and - ironically - it has itself become one of my pet projects! By this I mean that I am going to make my goals achievement system available for others to peruse and use shortly.

Given that I am still in the position of having to hold a day job four days a week (thankfully not a horrible one), I have on some days found myself still getting a wee bit overawed by my ability to have an idea, open my mouth, get myself into something and then wonder if I should have just stuck that idea into my desk drawer to work on in the next lifetime! In fact I have been considering actually doing that for all my projects bar one - taking the approach of working the monomaniacal angle. I know from experience that this is a good way to move one project forward very quickly; I did it last year when writing my first novel. I took six months out, tightened my belt, and forsake everything else to get the book done. It worked. Six months later the book was 'finished' (very hard to ever say a novel is finished until it is published - I am in fact soon to do yet another rewrite).

However, I have come to a decision. I am too interested in too much to just do one thing at the expense of all other projects. So, even though this does slow me down a little, I am going to continue pursuing my whims. But I am also going to take the advice of my girlfriend's father and take the project that is currently leading the pack and give it the majority of my attention. This would be? Writing. Writing seems to be my strength. It seems to be the thing that is getting the most recognition, so I am going to take the path of least resistance and make it my number one main project. This means that I hereby publicly resolve that no matter how busy I get, I will always make the time to do at least one hour of writing everyday, and of course on weekends I will always attempt a good five hour stretch.

Did I say five again? :)

I have become a little obsessed with the number five. In my Chi Gung training I was taught to do everything in lots of three, preferably three lots of three, but for some reason the number five has become my new 'super-number'. For example in my daily goals lists I find three small goals too easy, and nine too many, but five just about right.

I did a little research on the number five in my favourite (non-Chinese) book Manly P Hall’s ‘The Secret Teaching of All Ages’ and here’s what he had to say:

“Among the Greeks, the pentagram was a sacred symbol of light, health, and vitality. It also symbolized the fifth element--ether--because it is free from the disturbances of the four lower elements. It is called equilibrium, because it divides the perfect number 10 into two equal parts.

The pentad is symbolic of Nature, for, when multiplied by itself it returns into itself, just as grains of wheat, starting in the form of seed, pass through Nature's processes and reproduce the seed of the wheat as the ultimate form of their own growth. ...

The tetrad (the elements) plus the monad equals the pentad. The Pythagoreans taught that the elements of earth, fire, air, and water were permeated by a substance called ether--the basis of vitality and life. Therefore, they chose the five-pointed star, or pentagram, as the symbol of vitality, health, and interpenetration.
It was customary for the philosophers to conceal the element of earth under the symbol of a dragon, and many of the heroes of antiquity were told to go forth and slay the dragon. Hence, they drove their sword (the monad) into the body of the dragon (the tetrad). This resulted in the formation of the pentad, a symbol of the victory of the spiritual nature over the material nature. “(Chapter XIV, Page 218)

I like that bit about the dragon slaying, and all the esoteric guff about the ether sounds like chi-talk to me :)

So anyway, a bit of a rambling entry today, but there you have it. I have been writing a couple of column submissions for the magazine and I guess whatever doesn’t make it into print will go straight up on the blog. I am doing further research at the moment into the correlations between Western esoteric traditions and the Tao, a continuing obsession of mine (it was a major theme in my novel - which, BTW, I will get published ... eventually).

Starting June, I am doing a six-week meditation teachers course with Matt from the Melbourne Meditation Centre, to sharpen my saw. This will get me all geared up for leading my first meditation workshop in a while at Kundalini House, on Saturday the 29th July. More details as they arise; please feel free to contact me if you are interested in attending - seamus [at]

I got an email the other day from somebody suggesting that the 'reverse' contrast of this blog is hard on the eyes (as in the white print on dark background). If you agree could you let me know? I am very lazy about making cosmetic changes to the blog, as those of you whom I have promised to link to in the sidebar may have noticed, but if it really sucks then just say the word.

I could use the services of a good website designer who would be prepared to help me set up a couple of websites for either the love of it or for the promise of a small payment in the near future. I want to maintain and update them once they are up but I am not sure I have the time to increase my skills to the degree needed to do the initial design. Best to email me privately about that - seamus [at]

I have been ingraining this month's new habit (I am going to add a new habit each month for twelve months) of reading out my affirmations each morning. Struggling to find the time some mornings, I struck upon the idea of doing them in the car on the way to work. It takes me 30-45 minutes to commute each morning, so that's plenty of time to do them over a few times each, and it means I rock up to work all psychologically pumped and ready to rock.

Speaking of affirmations, I am still doing the Million Dollar Experiment, why don't you? Or even better (for me!) drop me a cool hundred grand or so in the donation box in the sidebar of this blog and be rewarded by allowing me to quit working a day job and thus pump out books for you to read!

Flow Like Water...

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Tao of Perspective

Had a rip roarin' time last night - and whoops! What was that? That was my 'three drinks rule' flying out the window!

Mind you it's the first time I've been tipsy in seven weeks and I was home and sobered up by one am. Not exactly hardcore behaviour.

This brings me to a point that I haven't yet made about goals setting: go lightly on yourself! When you drop the ball - and you will - keep it all in perspective. Don't beat yourself up, chances are you are doing much better than if you were not setting any goals at all. Plans are guides not law. The Tao will unfold as it sees fit, don't hold on too tightly to your preconceived notions. Flow with the moment. Take the path of least resistance.

Let's use the analogy of a high jumper. I have no idea how high those cats jump in reality but say you were an average high jumper, only able to leap two meters in the air, but you wanted to be able to jump ten meters high and really blow some minds in the high octane world of the international high jumping scene.

Hmmm ... I used the word 'high' six times in that last paragraph. Probably not the best writing technique ever - but this is a post-on-the-fly...

Anyway - so you set yourself some goals and you get to work. You decide that you will need to practice five days a week for five hours. You do this well for several weeks - but then you have a 'bad' week and only manage to get a measly three hours high jumping practice in on Monday, and none at all on Tuesday and Wednesday. You get it together and do all five hours practice on Thursday, but then something comes up and you do nothing on Friday.

Should you berate yourself, feel horrible and call yourself a useless, inconsistent, spineless wannabe?

Of course not. Check out your progress dude! You're now jumping six and a half meters on a good day! That's amazing! If you hadn't set yourself goals you would probably still be bouncing a mere two meters like you had been for two years prior.

I use an interpretation (actually a complete recontextualisation) of the 80/20 rule (see wikipedia's definition). If you set really high goals, then only get 80% of them achieved within the allotted timeframe - then you should consider yourself successful.

And while I am on the subject of perspective, consider this: There are roughly 100 billion stars in the galaxy, and there are millions of galaxies in the universe. Given that there probably are other universes besides our own - how small does that make you in the grand scheme? And how significant are your problems compared to all the events occurring in all the Universes in the Tao? We are infinitesimal minute specks in an unknowably huge expanse of (comparatively) massive stuff. Your personal high jumping record doesn't seem worth getting to uptight about when looked at from that angle does it? Neither does mine.

You may have considered this before - but I like to remind myself of this whenever I am getting too wrapped up in my own day-to-day nonsense :)

Flow Like Water...

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Contemporary Taoist Monthly Print Column!

Today is a special day. I just got confirmation that there is now to be a monthly print The Contemporary Taoist column in LivingNow magazine, Australia's most widely read holistic magazine (400,000+ readers per month).

How cool is that? Special thanks to LivingNow’s editing team Elizabeth, Terry and Madeleine for giving me a go.

This month's article, 'The Tao of Cats and Dogs', is actually the first in the ongoing series, but somebody forgot to stick the general Contemporary Taoist title on it. But never mind - I AM STOKED!*

Go to the website to find out where you can pick up the new May issue. If you don't live in one of the major centres of VIC, NSW, QLD, OR WA (Australian states) you can get it posted to you each month for a very cheap price. I presume this goes for overseas as well.

Needless to say I am quite happy with my lot at the moment. I have had a number of pots on the stove for some time, and despite the odd stretch where my cook-top flames have died down some, little bubbles are now starting to form. Over the next year you will see some significant output: books (I have written one and I am working on two more), new (better) music recordings and more frequent live shows, meditation and personal development classes (starting again in July for those in Melbourne), and some other wacky projects that I don't feel ready to mention yet.

Also my web presence will be getting a thorough shaking up, including the introduction of - a proper website companion to this blog. Amongst other exciting things this will include some of the best TCT Blog posts and hopefully the older LivingNow magazine columns (the ones that are no longer currently in print).

For those that live in Melbourne, tomorrow I am doing a radio interview at 7pm - 7:30pm on Southern FM.

In closing - something odd happened this evening, I received an email FROM MYSELF THAT I SENT ONE YEAR AGO! It was sent via a website called I had completely forgotten about it. It read:

'Dear Future Me,

One year ago you were sitting around wasting time - what are you up to now?

From Me'

I am very glad to report that I am definitely not wasting time - and neither am I stressing out. I hope you are making the most of your time my friend, but if you ever feel that it is all too much, take a deep breath and...

Flow Like Water...

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*In Aussie slang to be ‘stoked’ means to feel very pleased about something.

Tao of Rest

One thing (I realised afterwards) that was funny about yesterday's post was that I forgot to mention that, because I have been quite ill with a headcold, I have not over the last few days been very attentive to my super-duper morning routine (outlined in yesterday's entry). Basically I woke up on Sunday with a cold and the 5:10am routine went out the window. It came back in the window this morning now that I am feeling much better thanks.

A Contemporary Taoist knows when to rest. You have to listen to your body. It would have been counter-productive to be trying to jog, build muscles etc. when I was all flubbered up with snot and a fever. Same goes for work. If it is not going to have dire consequences, then it's better to 'chuck a sickie' (as we say in Australia). I used to be one of those masochists who would go to work even if I was half dead with the flu, but no longer. It's a stupid thing to do.

Australian's look out for May's edition of LivingNow magazine. It should be hitting the streets about now. I have an article in it lifted from this blog called 'The Tao of Cats and Dogs'. I hope those of you who can get a copy of the mag enjoy it. For the rest of the (breathlessly waiting) world I will re-post the article in question once the month is history.

Flow Like Water...

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tao of Five Things - Affirmations, Goals, Plans and Achievements.*

I took the day off today due to persistent and yucky head cold, so I took the chance to update my Goals and Affirmations Folder. Actually, I renamed it my Goals, Plans, Affirmations and Achievements Folder. Long enough title for ya? ;)

I basically run off a Five Things System. Personally I tried 43 Things but I get muddled easy so I like to keep all my plans real real simple.

Anyway - here is how I set it out and work it (baby).

The first page is my Morning Routine: Get up 5:10am (avoid 5am news broadcast - too early for that crap), Sitting Chi Gung Meditation, with Ideal Scenario Visualisation in the middle (after Stillness). That probably all sounds like gobbledegook but we’ll have to leave explanations for another time. Then I do some standing Chi Gung. Then some jog-specific stretches. Job. Push Ups. Stomach Crunches. Leg Lifts. Stretch Down. Go over goals folder and read affirmations aloud. Write down today’s Things To Do List. Breakfast at about 7:30am. Might sound a bit hardcore but actually all very enjoyable.

The second page is Main Career Goals, divided into 2 year goals, 5 year goals, and ten year goals.

Third Page is Five Things To Do Today: one thing each from the next five categories. I’ll come back to this point...

1) Writing Career Plan
2) Music Career Plan
3) Personal Growth Career Plan
4) Health, Happiness and Misc. Plan
5) Money Skills Plan

These are all just one page each and are divided into Two Years Goal, and Next 90 Days Plan.

Then I have a page that I just lists skills that I want to learn one day (piano, French, that kind of stuff).

Next three pages are my affirmations: I am healthy and happy, I help other people be healthy and happy, etc. Next comes my Ideal Scene Creative Visualisation. It’s very important to do both of these. If you don’t know what I on about then read Creative Visualisation and anything by Marc Allen. There are plenty of other authors who are into this as well. I can tell you that since I started doing these a few years ago my life has changed utterly and for the better. I’m talking the big stuff too: house, car, beautiful partner, happiness, health, recovery from depression, the list goes on. I will write more on these soon I think, they are a useful tool in the Contemporary Taoist's survival kit Dudes!

One of my affirmations is recited as part of the Million Dollar Experiment. Why not join in?

That’s it! A lucky 13 pages with not much writing on any of them - except the affirmations – I have a fair few of them (and I'm always thinking of more). It will soon be 14 pages cos I am going to add an Achievements page to list milestones as I tick them off - but I am not going to populate it with old stuff, just the big stuff from here on.

Just quickly back to the Five Things every day. I focus on one thing from the ninety day plan of each of my five main plans pages – the one thing that moves me forward the furthest. Sometimes this is as simple as a phone call or an email. Sometimes it means hours of work. But once they are done – the rest of the day is candy. I can do what I want. Like this blog!

I use five things but that’s just what works for me. I just think what matters is to keep it simple and not get overwhelmed by the awesomeness of the totally massive things you are going to do to improve your life and make this world a better place for everyone.

That is what you’re going to do right? You can do it all you know, just chill, and...

Flow Like Water...

*Hey wait! That's four, right? Sorry - different five things! You'll have to read the article above.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Tao of Forming Good Habits

Last month I unwittingly took on a 30 Day Challenge. Very successfully too, I am glad to report. With minimal effort (in fact no effort - it takes NO effort to NOT do something) I reduced my counter-productive hedonistic tendencies to my new rule of

'Never more than three drinks a night,
Never more than two nights a week,
Never smoke anything at all.'*

Now I have found another blog that incorporates the 30 day challenge idea into a 12 month framework. I like it. 12 new positive habits, one new habit a month.

The reason this appeals to me is because I have an issue with becoming overwhelmed by the sheer audacity of my ambitions. It's not that these ambitions turn me into a workaholic or anything (far from it! I belong firmly to the Lazy Way school of success). The overwhelming feelings come from not knowing what to do next when I am not feeling inspired. Sometimes I am so inspired that it takes no effort at all to know what to do next but when I am feeling uninspired I lose motivation – and clarity of vision. I have been aware for a while now that I need to get over my addiction to inspiration and learn to keep being reasonably effective during my motivational down time.

And the key to all of this is that I need to simplify. And the best way to simplify is to reduce the factors. I already (loosely) follow a Five Things a Day system. This helps me to focus on the few things that will move me forward the furthest with the least effort, and it helps me to avoid getting bogged down in a quagmire of minute details. This works very well (when I stick to it) but now I am going to introduce the 12 x 30 (ish) day challenges. One new good habit a month.

To paraphrase people who were quoting other people, apparently it takes about 21 days to form a new habit. I did it successfully in about that time with the drinking less thing; by the time twenty days were up I was in no way struggling with the concept at all.

And it has stuck – last night I enjoyed an evening listening to old rock n’ roll records and chatting with my girlfriend’s workmates, all of whom were quaffing and puffing away like Billy-o, yet I felt no compulsion to either smoke or to have more than three beers. Done. Too easy. Next.

I know what my next thirty day challenge is going to be: I am going to make sure to read my goals and affirmations aloud to myself every morning. I have them all written down – and I SOMETIMES read over them – but for some reason I have struggled to make it a habit. Maybe because I am an intensely private person and feel squeamish about my family seeing me do this, maybe because my Inner Fool is afraid I might actually succeed in achieving my goals. Whatever – the reason why doesn’t concern me. I will just fix it now, and with minimal effort.

May’s new habit: read through goals and affirmations every morning.

I was going to write out all twelve new habits for the next year but I think it will be better to assess what’s needed as I go.

And before I wrap up for today, I just want to point out how it is that all of this self-development guff actually does sit very well with my Taoist principals. Basically, by simplifying my processes I stand to achieve more by doing less – and if that ain’t Taoism then I don’t know what is. And as for my ambition – it comes naturally to me, therefore to go with it is to follow my essential nature and...

Flow Like Water...

* Okay, so then there was my little experiment but the result simply confirmed my intentions and cemented the new good habit further.

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