Recently I went on a 10-day residential retreat to learn an ancient Buddhist meditation technique called Vipassana. It required not talking for 10 days, meditating for 10 hours a day, fasting for 18 hours a day taking only a little fruit occasionally, and being shut out from everything I've known in my world for the last 53 years.
I did it because I wanted to disconnect, refresh, recharge and renew. I wanted to get out of the crazy, busy world for a while; I wanted to look within and grow more as a human.
It was a brutal, challenging, intense and gruelling experience, yet it was just as profound, enlightening and life-changing.
Here are six things I learnt on this journey that will bring a freshness to your life in 2019.
1 PAIN PRODUCES DISCIPLINE
Sitting cross-legged for up to 10 hours a day certainly showed me that we must go through some sort of pain, discomfort or challenge to become the person we need to be and experience the changes we want in life and business. People want things now, without understanding that often there is a cost, a sacrifice, a price to pay. This process broke me, and then built me back up and made me more disciplined when I got back. Find things to do that strengthen your discipline.
2 FOCUS IS EVERYTHING
Focus is the start of everything; it brings what we want to life. When we focus on something we give it powerful attention to bring about change. The challenge is when we get distracted. Our focus is weak, because we have not conditioned it or strengthened it or learnt how to control it. For five days all I did was focus on the breath between my upper lip and nostril. Every time my mind wandered, I would bring my focus and concentration back to the breath. It conditioned my focus powers and ability to stop being distracted. Practise doing things that require you to totally focus, so you condition yourself to limit distractions and be more productive.
3 NOTHING IS PERMANENT
Everything we have or see is impermanent. It doesn't really exist on many levels and will one day be gone. We spend our lives striving for materialism, consumerism, perfection and for things that are fleeting – here one day and gone tomorrow. This causes untold stress, anxiety and worry. Stop clinging to things for your happiness. Let them go and stop striving.
4 THE PRESENT MOMENT IS ALL YOU HAVE
Respect the present moment because it's all you have. Most of our frustrations in life come from the fact that we tend to live in the future or the past, but not in the present. When we learn to embrace the present moment we learn to live in the moment. When we live in the moment we live at our best and we do our best.
5 FIND THE BREATH
The best thing you can do when you are frustrated, stressed, worried, anxious, challenged or fearful is to find the breath. When you find the breath you connect with your life source and centre yourself. This is your foundation. When your mind is busy, breathe; when you feel overwhelmed, breathe; when you need to refocus, breathe; and when you want a true connection with yourself and what's important, breathe. Use your breath to balance your emotions.
6 STOP AVOIDING AND CRAVING
Most of our suffering and unhappiness in humanity comes because we avoid things that are too hard or painful, and we crave pleasure that is never enough and fleeting. If we stop avoiding and craving, and come from a place of allowing and accepting, then things change and our suffering is minimised. If we just allow things to be as they are sometimes and not as we want them to be, we will see that everything is okay and will work out fine. We need to learn to detach from outcomes.
WHEN WE FOCUS ON SOMETHING WE GIVE IT POWERFUL ATTENTION TO BRING ABOUT CHANGE.