Category Archives: Self Actualization

What we can learn from children about achieving our goals

Ever think about what goes through a baby’s mind when it is learning to crawl?

Do you think the baby goes “I want to place my weight on my knees, then I want to place my hands slightly ahead of where I am and shift my center of gravity to my left. I also need to remember to make sure my spine is pointed slightly right of the target so that when I move forward, I don’t go too much to the left. That way I can average it out with the shift during my right movement so I am always roughly facing my target.”

Doesn’t really sound like something a baby would think does it?

How about “If I can only start crawling I will get stronger and healthier. People will start praising me and respect me for my crawling skills?” Does that sound like something a baby would think?

If babies tried to learn the way human adults do, they would grow up never learning to walk instinctively, and for the rest of their lives need to keep a post-it on their arm with acronyms and rules reminding them how to crawl or walk. The rules would probably be painful and cryptic (PCLSF – point, center, lean, step, fall) and only a few “talented genius adults” would be able to walk without struggling. They would never be able to walk using instinct, and everyone would go around justifying this by saying two legged walking requires so much of muscular coordination, it is an extremely rare talent that one needs to be born with. There would be e-books and courses and self study guides on the internet about faster and better ways of learning to walk, and how to be almost “natural” at walking. Luckily for us, almost every child learns to crawl and walk without needing any of this nonsense.

But how do you think they really do it in a seemingly effortless manner?

As far as I can tell, they just look at a place and say to themselves “There. I want to go there” and then they try to do it. And when they fail, there isn’t a “I’ll never be able to do this. I am such a disappointment. I have failed at every attempt. I should just give up.”. Nope. Just two seconds of confusion later, they try again. And again.

Each time they make subtle variations to what they are doing compared to what they tried before. I don’t think they even consciously realize what they tried before. They don’t even realize what they just changed. All they know is “Again. I want to go there.”, and then with that feeling or thought inside them, they try.

Little by little something inside them figures out how their center of gravity needs to shift, which muscles need to be fired in tandem and how visual and touch information needs to be used to adjust which muscles groups to fire. At the same time, another magical part of them tracks which muscles need growing because they aren’t strong enough, and marks them so that when they sleep that night, the muscles grow and get bigger and stronger.

Do you honestly think babies plan any of this?

Oddly enough, despite all that is required, they achieve their goal.

Is it effortless? When we look at it, we admire their persistence despite all the effort required. When they look at it, they don’t look at it as effort or persistence. All they see is “Goal. Try. Goal. Try. Tired. Goal, Try. Yay!! Again.”. That’s all it was to them. No effort. Just try something they wanted to do until they got it.

All the adult motivation and learning coaches talk about the HOW – the steps and the plan, and the WHY – the motivation and the desire. How you can never achieve your goals without clearly answering the HOW and the WHY questions.

Ask a child who is thinking “I want”, “But why?” and the reply would just be “I want?” . What else is there? Why would it need another reason? Why would it need to justify why it wants something? Isn’t the fact that it wants something enough? Ask it “How?” and the reply again would be something like “I want. I try.”. Ask it “But the steps?” “I don’t know. I want. I try.”. And just with that brilliant set of plans and blueprint a child sets out and achieves its goals.

Imagine that. No plan. No motivation. Goal achieved. All the while, adults who love to spend hours, days, weeks and months in plotting and planning and self-motivating and visualizing never get anywhere with their goals. I wonder why.

Now a common thought might be “But we can’t use this children’s approach. Our goals are much more complex. Children use it for easy stuff, like crawling, walking, controlling their body, learning multiple languages or any of the rare skills that we like to say they are gifted at. Oh wait.”

Realize that this simpler method of learning apparently allows us to master anything, effortlessly. No need for how. No need for why. No need for detailed plans. Act or try first, and modify based on feedback and information later. As adults capable of reading and learning as well as searching for coaches or videos of people doing it so we can model their behavior, we can accelerate the process even further once we get started.

This is the middle ground between learning as a child and learning as an adult. A way of achieving goals that combines the best of a child’s simple way, and an adult’s research based way. A way that cuts through all the procrastination, confusion, fear, and excuses and lets us achieve our goals with the focus and intensity and speed that we were designed to achieve them.

So how do you get to the point where you learn everything in your life effortlessly and instinctively like this again?

I can’t give you any magic steps or an algorithm to follow, because that would defeat the purpose. But here is a hint – If you just make instinctive learning your goal, something you want, something you keep trying to achieve without even necessarily knowing how, guess what will happen?

The shortest path to silencing your thoughts and having complete peace of mind

Have you ever tried to meditate or use other techniques that are supposed to give you peace or make you happy and then given up on them as a lost cause? Because they either didn’t seem to work for you, or they seemed like a struggle with very slow or no tangible results?

Well, maybe the reason they weren’t working was because you were missing something. Maybe the reason you kept giving up was because somewhere deep inside you realized that it was not the best path to peace and you were just waiting until you found a better way.

Over the centuries, learning to control the mind has been a subject of constant discussion and debate both within and outside spiritual circles. People over the years discovered and rejected many methods of meditation. Wise men sometimes recommending techniques that often contradicted what others wise men recommended, sometimes even contradicting themselves.

In their own search for peace more and more people in the general public started experimenting with these spiritual techniques and adapting them so that they could be applied in their day to day life – simplifying them, extracting only the parts they needed, trying to make a list of simple ideas they could use. Their goal was simpler than the spiritual masters – to reduce their unhappiness, and feel peace, content and joy in their daily lives, as far as possible.

The many methods that have come over the years:

  1. AFFIRMATIONS – The first trick everyone tried was to repeat and memorize happy thoughts. “I am happy. I am a good person. Only good things happen to me.”. The problem with this technique was that a very big part of their mind didn’t believe these thoughts. The contradictory thoughts “This is a lie. what nonsense! ” were just waiting to come back, the first chance they got. Trying to drown out thoughts by yelling louder can’t work forever. When you finally stop your affirmations, the doubts will come right back. And that’s what happened. A few lucky people managed to do better than others because they accidentally discovered better techniques but incorrectly attributed their success to affirmations.  However affirmations are not the answer, at least not a complete one.
  2. CLEANING THE BAD THOUGHTS – The next trick was to try to actually clean out the bad thoughts from the mind rather than trying to drown them out. This included methods like  becoming aware of thoughts when they happen and snapping a rubber band on your wrist to punish yourself every time a negative thought came up. Negative thoughts were bad and they needed to be punished. Only positive thoughts were good. Again, while the awareness of thoughts did help, the judgment of good and bad tended to add guilt and shame in addition to the never ending stream of thoughts themselves. Now, not only did people have negative thoughts that made them feel bad, they also felt bad about having bad thoughts, making them feel worse.
  3. NON JUDGMENTAL AWARENESS – The next solution was to just be aware of all thoughts that came in the mind and not resist them or try to judge them as good or bad. If a thought was negative and caused pain, it was OK to just notice that this was happening. If a thought was positive and caused happiness, it was OK to just notice that as well. There was no need to fight. Just notice and become aware. With calm awareness came the possibility of finding the root beliefs and emotions that caused the negative thoughts or the pain and letting them go so that some of these repetitive thoughts would go away. A lot of psychoanalysis, journal writing, introspection, and awareness meditation is based on this principle. This is a beautiful technique for helping people in pain, however it can never clear away all thoughts because our minds are capable of generating infinite amounts of thought. You can read more about how thoughts and emotions cause us pain and a few ways you can use awareness to clear your thoughts and emotions here.
  4. DROWNING OUT ALL THOUGHTS – As it became clear that clearing bad thoughts, while helpful, wasn’t a complete solution, the next goal in everyone’s mind became to shut down all thought because thoughts were the enemy. They caused pain, and distraction and prevented people from living in the present moment. The solution was to try to force the mind to shut up like an obstinate child by treating it as one. Again we used similar techniques to what we used for bad thoughts, except now instead of calling them affirmations, we called them mantras. Keep repeating the same set of words again and again until the brain stops thinking because it gets too exhausted. The problem was, other than a few people who might have accidentally stumbled upon something bigger, most people found this exhausting exercise would stop working the moment they stopped the chanting. Meditating even for hours didn’t seem to give them peace when they were out in their daily life. The problem with this approach is the same as before – you can’t drown out thoughts by screaming over them. Repression is never the answer.
  5. NON RESISTING AWARENESS OF THOUGHTS – This was the next answer. Not resisting or judging thoughts when they came and just becoming aware of them. Not getting upset if a thought comes or getting happy if thoughts stop. Just watching and being aware of what happens. This was the technique recommended by a lot of spiritual leaders and masters. Find peaceful surroundings and just watch your thoughts. Once you can do it in peaceful surroundings, start doing it in every waking moment, wherever you are. This method seemed to get results, though not reliably, consistently or universally. However it worked, and it worked for people who achieved great things, so it became the standard with minor variations everywhere.

However, in spite of all these methods, there was still something missing. None of these techniques worked all the time. None of them worked predictably. The fact that they worked means they were doing something right, but the fact that it wasn’t repeatable meant that no one was exactly sure what that something was. In fact, every technique here is capable of sometimes hitting that special magic, which is why there are successes using each technique and so many proponents of each method.

However there is a simpler meditation, that in my experience has phenomenally fast results. Not months and years, but rather hours and days. Once you see the results, you will just want to increase and expand the duration of peace you can hold. It will feel so effortless that it will almost seem like peace was your natural state and you will wonder why you ever thought it was a struggle.

THE SIMPLEST MEDITATION – NON RESISTANCE AWARENESS OF SILENCE – This isn’t some magical trick that I have discovered. There have been many masters who have described similar ideas for ages, however the actual idea gets lost in preconceived notions of what the technique should be, as a result of which very few people seem to have paid attention and realized how simple it actually is.

The essence of this technique is the same as the last method. Watching the mind with non judgmental awareness. However, instead of paying attention to the thoughts, become aware of the silence BETWEEN the thoughts. The one or two second breaks between sentences. The breaks between words. Sometimes the longer breaks when you aren’t thinking at all for a while. Become acutely aware of them. When thoughts start again, just wait for the next silence.

You are no longer watching for thoughts and waiting to jump on them. You are watching for moments of silence and jumping onto them. Each time the silence occurs, for however long  (a few seconds, several minutes, it doesn’t matter), just enjoy those moments of silence and appreciate them and be completely aware of them. Keep doing it more and more.

You will see more and more silence within a day of starting this awareness meditation. You will be amazed at how easy and effortless it feels. And once the little click in your mind happens, you will realize that this peaceful state is your natural state that always comes back on its own and thoughts are the temporary phenomenon.

And once that realization truly hits you, the thoughts go away. Even when thoughts do come, it will feel almost like you are aware of the silence behind the thoughts, and know that this silence is who you are – your true nature. This is an indescribable feeling, so all I can tell you is to try this for a few days and experience it for yourself.

I can promise you is that it will be worth the effort.

 

Everyone is Enlightened – Except You

Have you ever been emotionally affected by something that was said or done by someone – a friend, a family member, a random stranger? It could be anything – an innocuous remark, which in hindsight shouldn’t have bothered you at all, or an act that you felt was so thoughtless and hurtful that it drove you into rage or had you crying tears from pain.

When this happens, it is easy to just blame the person for causing the pain or the anger, but the fact is all emotions are generated inside our own minds. No matter what a person does, they cannot control what happens inside your mind. Every emotion is the result of anchors from events in our own past and the way we interpret events. Each of us reacts to the same input in different ways. If this weren’t the case, we would all enjoy the exact same movies, laugh at the exact same jokes, at the exact same time.But that isn’t the case.

We all have our own likes, dislikes, fears and desires.

We are all unique because of the events that shaped us. A person who associates cookies with the love and affection of their grandmother who used to bake them will have a different association to cookies than a person who remembers being yelled at and punished for wanting them. Both these people will react differently to the same offer for a cookie and both will attribute any emotional reaction to the person asking, not to themselves. The first person would feel loved while the second might feel mocked. Neither would realize that what they felt was their own reaction to the question and had nothing to do with the other person. They would say it was the question that was either sweet or mean depending on their perspective.

So assuming that you understand this in theory, that it is all your perspective, and you are the one who causes yourself pain, what does this mean for you? How can you use this to get rid of pain and live a happier and more peaceful life?

Well, here is a simple trick that might help – Assume that everyone in this world (except you) is enlightened.

Assume that no one is trying to hurt you or cause you pain or cause you anger or any other bad emotion. Assume also that each of them is just trying to help you find your triggers so that you can become aware of them and get rid of them. Assume that the only reason you feel pain or other strong emotions is because of your own emotional baggage and clutter. You might be holding onto something from your past or believing something that isn’t necessarily true. You might even be projecting your own motivations or thoughts onto them, and attributing it to them. For example, if you believe you yourself are selfish, you will also assume other people are acting selfishly even if they aren’t necessarily.

The easy guide is, anytime a strong emotion comes along – pay attention. There is something going on. A thought that might not need to be there. A belief that might be inaccurate. Something that if addressed will let you be in control instead of letting the emotions control you.

So from now, any time you feel a trigger of strong emotions because of something someone did or said, you can first become aware of the emotion and then mentally thank them for pointing out the trigger to you.

After that, during a quiet moment of introspection, try and understand what moments in your past or what beliefs and thoughts in your mind make you feel that way about the event. As you dig deeper, and become aware of the clutter in your head, you will find that you get affected by the event less and less. Keep digging until you no longer feel emotionally affected when replaying the event in your mind.

Once you have dug to the root of the emotion and are completely aware of it, you will feel like a load has been lifted off your chest. You won’t need to do anything else. You will find the trigger no longer has any power over you. In the future similar events will just wash over you and instead of a knee jerk emotional reaction, you will be able to just peacefully assess the moment and react calmly and intelligently.

As you continue this practice in your life, with each trigger cleared, you will become a lighter and happier person who no longer feels the need to blame the world. You will find that you stay calm and peaceful more and more, and the world will start feeling like a much more beautiful place.

Goals – The Struggle of Life

Why do we struggle with life instead of just enjoying it?

I don’t think we were born this way. At least I don’t think I was.

I don’t think babies do long term goals and planning. They just enjoy whatever is happening in the moment.

At what point does life become a struggle to get to an imaginary distant future instead of just experiencing whatever happens?

Why do we get so attached to outcomes that our happiness and sadness are dictated by whether we go closer to our own made up goals that don’t really matter?

We end up not being able to do the things that we really want out of fear that our actions might lead us away from our goals, second guessing everything that we do.

We end up living a stifled and unhappy existence, chasing one goal after another, hoping that one day we will be happy again.

How did we let this happen to ourselves? And why?

A Perfect World

Imagine a world where every living being was connected to each other, and thanks to this connection each being would always try to work towards the greater good.

Every time you needed something, those closest to you would sense your need and selflessly come to your aid, knowing that whenever they had the need for anything, someone else would always be there for them.

Imagine that this world had a simple way of communicating with feelings, and these feelings were enough to keep all the beings in harmony, always taking care of each other and trusting that they would be taken care of.

In this world, there would never be a reason to worry.

But then something happened…

Fear crept in.

Suddenly the beings were too distracted to listen to their feelings and were focused on their own needs. They didn’t realize that if they just focused on their feelings, the little signals that told them what to do, everything would continue to work out. They started focusing on their own needs, driven by the fear that if they didn’t, they would be left without anything.

And as the fear started spreading, more and more of the beings stopped listening, and tried to do things alone in a world where they were meant to do everything together.

And with each day, the fear and the loneliness got worse. The beings forgot about the connection that they once had. They still felt something missing somewhere deep inside and constantly kept searching for this missing thing, and this pain made them feel worse.

But the connection wasn’t gone. It was still right there waiting for them to start listening again.

And in this world, a miracle happened.

A few people started rediscovering the connection in little bits and pieces.

Some just reconnected to their own feelings and started trusting their heart more. Some started listening for the needs of others and trying to selflessly help them. Some started caring more about others than themselves and trusting that the universe would take care of them.

Each of them, without realizing it, was recognizing a tiny piece of a larger truth hidden deep inside. The same truth that connected them all.

All of them realized that they were discovering something amazing, but still didn’t understand what it is that they were experiencing. So they started trying to find out more and more.

And with each action, they inspired more and more people to also start connecting with each other and that hidden truth deep inside them. To slowly go back to the amazing world they had left behind.

And this is where our story begins.

What if there was no right or wrong?

How would you live your life differently if you could do no wrong?

If you somehow knew that whatever you did was the exact right thing to be doing, so you didn’t have to worry that you might be doing something wrong?

For example, say, a time traveler came to you and showed you how events are supposed to play out and you already knew what you were going to say or do was best for you in the long run, so you didn’t have to worry about it?

Or, say, you trusted that the Universe or a higher power was guiding you so everything you did was the exact perfect thing towards a bigger plan,  and you didn’t have to worry about anything?

Suddenly you wouldn’t have the fear of doing the wrong thing. There would be less hesitation and more anticipation in your steps. You would look forward with wonder and anticipation at what would come next instead of holding back trying to control what happened, trying to do the “right” thing while feeling extremely stifled, nervous and confused.

And what is the right thing anyway? Have you forgotten all the countless times in your life that you didn’t know what to do, didn’t know if things would work out and then they magically did? At what point in time did you manage to suddenly do the right thing, when you had no idea what you were doing?

And then there were all the times you tried to control your life and guide it in a specific way with all the plans that you tried your level best to stick to by doing the “right” things. But for some reason, life decided you were meant for other things and none of your plans ever led you where you wanted them to.

It’s just something to think about. Somewhere inside, you’ve always had uncertainty about the right thing to do because you never knew what the right thing was, and you have a lifetime of experiences to remind you of this fact.

So maybe it’s time to do things differently now and see if something changes.

I have no idea where you are in your life right now. You may be happy that everything in your life is going perfectly. You might be wishing for more in your life. Or you might be devastated because everything in your life seems upside down at the moment.

All I ask is that just as a thought experiment, for the next week or so, let go of right and wrong. Assume that everything that you say is right, assume that everything you do is right, and assume everything that is happening is right.

See what happens.

All the money and cool stuff – Why are you still unhappy with your life?

You thought you wanted money. You thought once you had enough you would be happy. But everything still seems empty. You find that you are still dissatisfied with your life. Something still seems to be missing.

The money doesn’t work like it was supposed to. Nothing you buy with it works.

Everything you get is fun for maybe a day, and then you start feeling lost and empty all over again.

New kinds of food. Yeah that works. For a while. And then even that makes you start feeling empty inside.

Why are you unhappy with your life when you have everything you wanted? Especially all the money and the things that you thought would give you the perfect life?

Why don’t you feel happy now?

Well. Here is a dirty little secret from the past that everyone has been hiding from you

Money is not really something worth considering as an end in itself. It was never meant to be the final goal.

Money has always just been a very crude and approximate way to estimate how much you have been able to help others. A simple way to keep score of how much good you did and how much it has meant to others, and nothing more than that.

It was never supposed to be the end goal.

The real goal is and has always been to help others in the best way that you know how, and always do the best that you can.

Always.

Then somewhere along the way, someone decided to destroy a beautiful system of caring for others by putting a horribly evil thought in your head – “If I just focus on money, then I can get others to do good for me without having to do any good for others”.

And after that, suddenly people started trying to make more money so that they would eventually never have to do anything and one day “retire”. But that one day never came.

Because that money never really gave any peace. All it did was bring misery. But everyone kept trying, hoping that one day this thought would magically change it’s nature and start giving them peace. And even that day never came. All that came was more misery, that they tried to push away with more things that didn’t help them find true peace.

They didn’t find peace because they didn’t realize that the thought they had started believing was a lie. Any thought that doesn’t get you closer to true inner peace is always a lie.

Because what was really meant to bring us peace was to give and care for others and love them unconditionally without expecting anything in return with complete faith and trust that every other being was doing the same.

Who wouldn’t find peace if everyone cared for you and loved you more than they did themselves? It’s all you would ever feel. Peace and everlasting bliss.

Why would you not want to go back to that? Caring about others more than yourself? When you could have this instead of all the pain?

Let go. Let go of that silly voice that says money is important. In your heart you’ve already started realizing that this isn’t true.

Listen to it again while ignoring the voice and you will know what you truly desire. And if you follow your heart, it will lead you where you truly want to go.

Then you will learn what will make you happier than you have ever felt before. You will live a life beyond your wildest dreams. Anything you think ever dreamed about is possible. And yes. Even the ones you are afraid your loved ones will laugh at.

YES. Even that one.

It is possible.

You know this in your heart.

Thank you – Expressing your feelings so others can feel them too

I was still in school. I think it was 7th grade.

I was just another shy school kid who brought his teacher a card for teacher’s day. I didn’t really put much effort into the card. She wasn’t even my favorite teacher. But she was a good teacher who loved her job and taught like it meant a lot to her. I just gave her the card because lots of other students were giving cards in class and I thought even I should.

When I gave her the card, she looked me in the eyes and said “Thank you”. Nothing more.

But that moment changed my life in a way that I can never really explain. Because what really shocked me, was the fact that I didn’t just hear that Thank you. I felt it !!!

Maybe it was the way she looked at me like I was the only person in the room. Maybe it was the way her eyes were glistening, almost with tears, when she said it. The way that she seemed to really, really mean it.

I knew she meant it, and I knew she was trying to convey what she was feeling. At that moment she was sharing everything that she felt – the joy, the gratitude, everything. And as I looked at her, I felt every bit of it, almost radiating from her.

And all she had said were the two words – “Thank you”.

Until that day, in my mind, “Thank You” was just something you automatically said when people gave you something, whether you cared about it or not. It was something you said because your parents taught you that you were supposed to say it.

It was never said like this!!! Words weren’t supposed to have so much feeling and emotion in them. Words were just words. How was she doing this?

But that day she changed my life. Because from that day, I kept wondering how someone could say something with so much emotion. Wondering what I had been missing because I didn’t even know it was possible.

It was the day I realized that I too wanted to be able to say and express what I felt. To be able to communicate not just with words, but with emotions and feelings. And I wanted to be around more people who could talk to me the same way. People who could connect with more than just words.

That day, as much as any other, has made me who I am today. And for that I am truly grateful.

Projection as a Mirror – How to eliminate anger, jealousy and resentment from your life

Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud talked about the concept of projection and the shadow self – All of us tend to project or see in others, qualities that we ourselves possess.

The things we admire and respect most in others are usually our own strengths. Sometimes these are strengths that we don’t even realize we have, or qualities that we have that aren’t developed fully. When we see these qualities we sometimes say things like “He is so amazing. I wish I could be like him”. What we don’t realize is that we have within ourselves the same ability or potential for it, otherwise we wouldn’t even notice it in the other person. Excitement, happiness, or admiration are usually signs that our subconscious mind realizes that we can learn a lot from this person and develop our abilities.

Similarly what we dislike the most about others are usually our own weaknesses. Often these are weaknesses that we are afraid to admit to ourselves or don’t even realize we have. We tend to get angry and resentful at others when we see these qualities. Sometimes the person we project them on may not even have the qualities we attribute to them. For example, a selfish person believes that any person he talks to is selfish too. Often the anger we express at this person is usually resentment at ourselves (sometimes without our being aware of it).

Whenever we are exposed to qualities that remind our subconscious mind of our own, it usually pushes buttons and triggers strong emotions. Any time we feel strong emotions like anger, it is usually a sign that projection is at work.

When I first learned about projection, it was through a simple exercise. Take some time to try it out.

Think about any person (it can be more than one) that you really admire and write down five qualities that you like the most about them.
Now think about someone you really dislike, and write down five qualities that you hate the most about them.
Done? Now take a look at these qualities carefully.
I’d like you to open your mind and consider the possibility, that these good qualities are your own strengths that you have not yet developed fully, and the bad ones are your own weaknesses that you deny or still haven’t admitted to yourself. Even if it seems a little hard to accept, take some time to think about what it would mean if it were true.
I found the results of the exercise incredibly enlightening. I decided to modify it slightly and apply the concept to my own personal growth.

Since then, anytime I find strong emotions being triggered, I try to figure out what strength or weakness of my own I am projecting. For example, if I get angry at someone for being pushy, I consider the possibility that I can be pushy and subconsciously resent it about myself. If I admire someone for being extremely talented at something, I realize that I too have the potential to be that good if I give myself time and learn from that person.

The best thing about the exercise is once you become aware of the quality and acknowledge it, you no longer have to do anything else. Just becoming aware of it helps it auto correct.

Over the last few years, I spent time for introspection after any argument to try and discover why it happened and what it taught me about myself. I learned to be grateful for people who pushed my buttons because they helped me to learn more about myself and help me grow. I realized that as I discovered these buttons and became aware of them, they stopped becoming buttons and no longer affected me. I found myself getting angry less often and stayed calm and happy more of the time.

This one idea has helped me in my personal and emotional development more than anything else I know. If you find that you have a lot of anger and resentment and would like to bring more peace and happiness into your life, I believe you should give this a shot. It may change your life.

My Skydiving Experience – Learn to face your fears by jumping out of a plane

eWe are born with only two fears – heights and loud noises. These are wired into our brains and go back to ancient caveman times. A time when there was a danger of us being eaten by predators or falling off cliffs.

Any other fears we have, we “learn” over time. They seem real, but they are only in our heads. Sometimes facing the real fears can help us put the not so real ones into perspective.

Anyway, some time ago I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, 3 miles in the air…

How did it start? This coworker of mine says he went skydiving last weekend, and of course now I am interested. I call up my buddy Andrew and say “Hey, I want to go skydiving. Interested?”. The next thing we know, we’re both signed up for jumping the same weekend. I hate heights, have never really enjoyed roller coasters and in NO way is this a good idea.

So the weekend arrives and we show up at the airfield all ready to go. We watch the training video, and the whole thing still doesn’t seem too scary. We get on the plane, all pumped up and excited – “We are going skydiving!!”. Then the plane goes up in the air, and we’re still going – “Yes!!! We are going to do this!!” and looking all bored.

Then the display in my hand reads 14,000 feet, the hatch opens up and the cold air starts rushing in…

And that is when the reality of what we are about to do hits me. “Oops!!”…

So I’m standing at the door, looking three miles down and trying to figure out where the landing spot is. I can feel the cold air rushing at me at an incredible speed. The sound of the air and the airplane engines is drowning everything else out. At this height, the landing field is the size of a postage stamp and I have absolutely no idea where it is.

I am scared out of my mind. I am not sure I want to do this any more.

My mind is racing and going .. “Oh crap!! There is no way that… AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!”.

Suddenly I am no longer on the plane and am dropping downwards at 200 miles per hour!! My evil instructor jumped off before I had time to get scared properly.

 

So there I am, flying straight down. And guess what? Gravity does work.

When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to return.
Leonardo Da Vinci

The funny thing is, the jump wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The scariest part of the skydive was the few seconds before I actually jumped out of the plane. The anticipation of the jump is worse than the jump itself.

Once you jump off, there is nothing more to really worry about. Its like the mind goes “Ah well. There is nothing we can do any more. So might as well enjoy the ride”.

The period of free fall during the skydive is the best part. All your natural instincts still telling you to stay alert since it is hardwired into your head. But your brain stops all silly chatter and starts watching and enjoying what is happening. It is the most peaceful you can ever be while still feeling an adrenaline rush. Scared, excited, and calm, all at the same time.

For those of you who hate roller coaster rides because of that weird feeling in your stomach? Great news. You don’t feel anything when skydiving.

I have gone skydiving a couple more times since then and taken a lot of my friends along with me. I recommend that everyone try skydiving at least once in their life. Even if you aren’t the kind of person who would normally consider it (I know I wasn’t).

Why? There is something about consciously facing one of your primal fears head-on that just frees you from inside. I would call it almost a spiritual experience. After facing this fear, all other fears fall into perspective.

Any time I feel scared, I tell myself “Hah! This is nothing. I jumped out of a plane” and suddenly the fear seems almost trivial and silly in comparison.

Since then, when doing something that scares me, I can ignore my fear as if it were a just a back ground alarm beeping in my head and nothing more. I do feel the fear, but I can do what I want to do anyway. I recognize the fear but no longer feel controlled by it.

It is like I have been set free from all my fears. And this is what I want everyone else to experience.

If you are considering skydiving, but are not sure about it, leave a comment about what is holding you back. Maybe one of the readers or I can convince you to take the plunge