Category Archives: Self Actualization

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.

Journey To Perfection – The Three Meditations For Finding Perfect Inner Peace

There are only three meditations that you need to find complete and permanent inner peace.

And I don’t mean a little bit of quiet or a little bit of peace. Once you reach the final step, everything will change forever.

You will feel that you have arrived. You will realize that you have finally found everything you have been searching for all your life. You will find yourself completely and totally at peace, all the time.

You won’t even need to do anything like these meditations once you reach this point. These are just meant to show your mind and heart a few different things that will help them understand what is needed to make that seemingly magical but completely effortless transition take place. And once they understand, they will do everything for you.

You don’t need to do anything but try these meditations so that you can just experience what I am describing. Once you feel and understand what I am saying completely, nothing else is needed. I promise.

So just go ahead and start these. Don’t worry about how soon it will work. Don’t wonder whether it is working. Just try them and see what happens.

The three meditations are:

1. Watching Your Thoughts

The first meditation is to watch both your thoughts and feelings and observe them.

You can do this alone in the comfort of your own home. You can even journal your observations to study them or understand them better.

Once you build confidence in your ability to do so, go out in the world and keep watching how these thoughts and feelings seem to work.

You will find two kinds of thoughts in your head.

i) Your Feelings As Words

The first kind are just a simple (and sometimes limited) translation of your feelings.

For example: “Oh I think she is cute. I just want to hug her.” (or him)

ii) Judgements On Your Actions Or Feelings

The second kind of thought is one which sometimes judges and says that what you are feeling is wrong, or what you want to do is wrong, or what you just thought was wrong.

For example: “I can’t tell her she is cute. She might think it is weird. Or she might not want me to hug her. Maybe if I say something else she will want to hug me. Maybe if I pretend not to…..”

In time, as you keep observing, you will notice that EVERY time the second thought creeps in, you usually end up feeling disconnected, lost, regretful or unhappy – some form of pain.

And every time you follow your feelings and the first kind of thought and ignore the silly “THIS IS WRONG” thoughts, you feel lighter, happier and better.

Even the times when the girl doesn’t want to hug you back, you will feel so much happier that you let her know and that you tried, than when you express a diluted version of your emotion or say something different from what you actually felt…

And want to know a little secret?

Each time you feel the desire to hug them, they sense it. They might not even realize that they do, but somewhere deep inside a part of them knows.

And each time you say something else or do something else instead of what they sensed you wanted to say or do, it breaks their heart.

It breaks their heart and hurts them, because they feel the connection between the two of you break – they feel lost because they don’t feel connected with you any more, even though they might not realize that this is what actually happened.

And every time you actually do or say exactly what you felt and that they had sensed, they feel more connected to you than ever before.

Because suddenly they feel like they know and understand you better than anyone else. Because suddenly, what they feel and what they see and what they hear is perfectly in alignment with each other whenever they are with or around you.

And then, whether they hug you or not, I promise you they will always be grateful for that sense of connection you created with them.

And each time you connect with a human this way, I can promise you that you will come alive, and so will they.

And that is what this meditation is really meant to show you.

2. Clearing Your Mind

The second meditation is where you spend time alone focusing on a single, simple, repetitive task and observe the nagging thought/voice commenting in the background. As you watch it, without judging it (because you would need to use that same annoying thought/voice if you were to judge), you will find the voice quiet down.

Even if you don’t find it quieting down, don’t feel unhappy or the need to judge and say “Why can’t I do this. What is wrong?” , because you would need to use the same annoying voice to even say that. Just be OK and watch what is happening as best you can.

If you do notice your thoughts going in a judgmental direction, even that is OK. Don’t judge them. Even at this level (or the next, or the one after that), finally just be OK with what is happening. At some point, just say “Fine. Whatever! It’s OK. Let me just watch and see what is going on in this crazy head of mine”.

And as soon as you start accepting it, while you may still have thoughts, the second kind of thoughts will gently start quieting down.

And then you will find the judging thoughts disappear completely for brief periods of time. In time these periods may become longer.

And in time, you will be able to do this not just while sitting alone, but in every walk of your life, just like the first meditation.

Each time you feel this quiet, you will find a sense of incredible peace and joy that you may have never felt before. You will get a taste of what perfect inner peace all the time will feel like once that annoying voice finally goes away completely.

And that is what is this meditation is really meant to show you.

3. Connection And Caring For Another

The third meditation is where for brief periods of time, you care more about another human being than your own self. You care only about their happiness, and their joy, and their well being, and their pain, and nothing but them. All you want is for them to feel better.

The three simplest examples of this that I can give you are –

i) A Hug

Each time you hug a person, you can only care about one thing – that at the end of the hug they feel better than before.

Ignore the nagging voice if necessary.

For those few seconds, focus on only one thing – the person and whether they are feeling better.

The perfect meditation would be when at the end of a hug the person looks content and peaceful and feels connected to you, grateful because you understood them and happy that you cared so much about them.

Don’t worry if you don’t get it right. Don’t judge. Just keep trying. Be OK with whatever does happen.

ii) A Conversation

If you can care about someone entirely for a whole hug, then start trying to care entirely about them for entire conversations.

During the conversation, you no longer care about proving a point, being right, whether you look or sound right or whatever else the nagging voice says.

Just trust your feelings, and directly express them into words as honestly and accurately as you can. Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. You won’t. Whatever you say will be exactly what you need to say. Whatever happens as a result is exactly what needs to happen.

All you care about is what they are feeling and how you can help them feel better. Same outcome as before – helping them feel more connected to you and more at peace with themselves.

Try your best to quiet your inner judgmental voice, but even if you aren’t able to, just do your best and be OK with not being able to do more, and be content with whatever you just achieved.

There is no immediate goal here. Just keep trying. Each time you try, your heart will better understand what it means to care for someone else and how to get better at it. You aren’t teaching your brain, you are teaching your heart.

iii) A Partner Dance Or Any Physical Connection

This isn’t an easy one to explain. But once you can connect with people emotionally, and pay more attention to them than you do to yourself, you can try to connect to them both physically and emotionally.

A perfect dance connection lets you know what your dance partner wants to do as much as it lets them know what you want to do. So at times you are dancing not what you want but what the other person wants, but without ever realizing which one of you really wanted to do the step.

People watching from outside should never be able to tell who is leading and who is following, and in fact, after a point, neither should you.

For those few minutes, the two of you should become a single entity that think and feel as one, and nobody should be able to tell who’s thoughts they are seeing expressed in the dance. The only thing you should care about is the other person’s happiness, and if the connection is perfect, the only thing they will care about is yours.

Through practicing this, you will learn to connect with others in a way that you have craved all your life, even though you never really realized that this was what you had been craving.

Everything you have ever done in life has been in search for a complete and pure connection with someone. Once you get a taste of even short periods of total connection, you will know in your heart and soul that this is what you were truly searching for.

And that is what is this meditation is really meant to show you.

The Final Step

Once you have truly understood these three, then you will be ready for the final step.

Combining all of these experiences into a single permanent feeling that comes from within and lasts forever.

And at this point, it should just happen automatically.

You know that the inner voice hurts you, you know that with it gone you are able to hear other people’s thoughts better and connect with them better, and you know that all you have ever wanted all your life is that perfect connection with someone.

At this point, there is only one thing that needs to happen to grant you everything that you have ever wanted all your life, and in your heart and mind, you have understood it. Your heart and mind finally understand what you truly want and what they need to do to help you get it. And most importantly, nothing has to come from outside, it just has to be and adjustment that they need to make for you while you just trust them and wait patiently.

I promise you, that once you reach this point, you will forever be changed.

So just get going. Start this journey. I promise you it is worth it.

What I have described is all you need. However if you have questions or trouble in applying these steps, please ask. I’ll try my best to add more explanation to make this transition easier for you. I promise you that this works, and that it is easy and effortless.

If it doesn’t feel effortless, you are doing something wrong. It might seem slightly boring or annoying at times, but it isn’t difficult or painful. It should feel simple and easy.

Start slow, take baby steps, and try your best never to be hard on yourself. Be patient and kind to yourself just as you would be to a child trying to learn to walk. It’s OK to make mistakes.

It’s OK to take time. As long as you are on this path, you will get there eventually. And everyone else who has ever taken this path will instinctively be drawn to you to help you if you need help.

Know in your heart, that everything is going to be OK and that you are meant to get there, however long it takes. So just relax and enjoy the journey.

PS: I use a girl in my examples to illustrate the point. But connecting with every human being is the same principle. Please don’t let my inadequate mastery over the language prevent you from understanding what I intended to say.

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

One shot at a time – How outcome independence and being in the now can change your game

Sometimes one little concept can be the missing piece in your game.

Pleasures of Small Motions

I recently read the book Pleasures of Small Motions: Mastering the Mental Game of Pocket Billiards by Bob Fancher.  In the very first few chapters he talks about the motivation behind playing pool –  Some people play because they like to win,  others because they like to hang out with their friends and have a little fun.  However one particular group of people, doesn’t care about winning and losing, or about socializing. They play because they LOVE the game.  These are the people who don’t even need another person to play with and are happy shooting by themselves. These are the people who  enjoy drills and practice because they can appreciate the beauty in each shot, and the practice is a pleasure in itself.  During games, they admire a good shot played by an opponent and cheer them on instead of  hoping that the other person misses.  All they care about is learning and improving and enjoying the game.

However one particular group of people, doesn’t care about winning and losing, or about socializing. They play because they LOVE the game.  These are the people who don’t even need another person to play with and are happy shooting by themselves. These are the people who  enjoy drills and practice because they can appreciate the beauty in each shot, and the practice is a pleasure in itself.

Reading the book made me remember why I started playing pool in the first place. Since then, I’ve started enjoying pool a lot more. I’ve also got a whole lot better.  I’ve realized I don’t care whether I win or lose. Anytime an opponent makes an unbelievable shot, I usually ask them to teach me the shot after the game.  Each time I see or learn something new, I have to go try it myself. Suddenly each game  is no longer a win/lose situation but an opportunity to learn, improve and enjoy the game of billiards.

The Power of NowAnother profound book that has helped change my life is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.  For a book that has nothing to do with pool, it is amazing how much the ideas from this book have helped improve my game.

The book talks about being in the present moment instead of the past or the future; about doing things for the pleasure of doing them, and not for the result. The path to enlightenment is very simple – Do one thing at a time.  Don’t think about why you started the task. Don’t think about what will happen once you complete the task. When doing the task, focus on only the task and nothing else.

The path to enlightenment is very simple – Do one thing at a time.  Don’t think about why you started the task. Don’t think about what will happen once you complete the task. When doing the task, focus on only the task and nothing else.

Eckhart Tolle convinced me that even washing dishes can be a path to enlightenment, as long as I focus on the task and learn to enjoy it  instead of considering it a chore. A couple of months after I read the book, I had this amazing experience of happiness, joy and peace. This is one book I would recommend to anyone who is not happy and satisfied with their life and wants to learn to live at peace with himself.

Putting these two books together, I discovered the missing piece in my pool game – The art of running a table isn’t just about planning ahead. It is also focusing on one shot at a time and taking pleasure in each shot.  Shooting the shot because we enjoy it, and not as if it were a painful thing that we have to get over with before we can get to the end of the match.

The fact is, even when we have a whole table to run, once we decide what order to run the balls in we have only one shot in front of us at a time. Nothing else. It doesn’t matter who we are playing. It doesn’t matter what the race is. It doesn’t matter if this is a tournament or a fun match.  It doesn’t matter how many more balls we need to make. All we have right now, is that one shot.

I try to focus on that one shot as if it were the last shot I have to play.

I look at the ball I have to make and where I am shooting.  I relax and let the subconscious mind do the aiming for me as I get down on the shot. I shoot with a straight stroke and smooth follow through. I watch as the cue hits the ball and listen to the sound of the cue ball strike the object ball. I stay down on the shot and watch as the object ball slowly rolls into the pocket and the cue ball moves towards where I intended. And then I slowly get up to see what I have to face next.  Once I make the shot, I can focus on the next shot. If I miss, it won’t matter anyway.

With so much amazing stuff going on, why would I even want to be thinking about the next shot or the previous shot? It would be like sitting at a movie theater and day dreaming about the movie sequel instead of watching the movie right in front of me. Why would I do that and ruin the amazing movie I have in front of me right now?

With so much amazing stuff going on, why would I even want to be thinking about the next shot or the previous shot? It would be like sitting at a movie theater and day dreaming about the movie sequel instead of watching the movie right in front of me. Why would I do that and ruin the amazing movie I have in front of me right now?

Over the last few weeks, especially since I started working on the bottle drill to improve my pool stroke, I have been running 6-7 balls effortlessly. And each of the times I ran a table, there was one thing in common – I was only thinking about one shot at a time.

Each of the times I ran a table, there was one thing in common – I was only thinking about one shot at a time.

The Kaizen Way – How to get past hesitation, fear and laziness to achieve your goals

A few days ago, I read a book called One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer.  I can honestly say this book has changed my life.

The Kaizen WayThe book has a very simple message – if you find large changes difficult to implement, take steps so ridiculously small that you have no problems achieving them. An example that he gives is – if you find it hard to maintain the habit of flossing, just floss one tooth a day.

But what is the point of doing something so small?

The reason the subconscious mind fears large tasks is because it doesn’t like to break a habit or allow sudden change. What you have been doing so far in your life has worked to keep you alive, so your subconscious mind is programmed to avoid any activity that might cause big change. Anytime it senses that something you do might cause it to change, it manipulates your feelings so you lose your motivation for the task.

When the task is so small that it seems almost meaningless, the subconscious mind offers almost no resistance to it, since it doesn’t consider it a threat,  and you find it easy to do.

After a few days of achieving little successes, the subconscious mind starts enjoying the task so much, it automatically starts wanting more. While before one minute of the task seemed like enough, you now find yourself doing the task for longer periods of time – first five minutes, then ten minutes and then eventually hours.

I applied this idea to my life by making a list of several very small one-minute activities for my life based on things I wanted to do but had been putting off for too long –
1. Washing dishes or cleaning the apartment for one minute
2. Practicing the piano for one minute
3. Practicing billiards for one minute
4. Learning about website development for one minute
5. One minute of drawing practice
6. Putting on my shoes and just walking up to my gym (no exercise necessary).

My expectations and criteria for success were incredibly low, making it easy to succeed. For example, as long as I showed up at the gym, I was allowed to go back without exercising. Which meant, even on days when I was too tired to exercise, I didn’t mind showing up at the gym. And as long as I showed up at the gym, or washed two dishes, I was happy that I had achieved my goal.

What I wasn’t expecting was how startling the results would be.

In the last two weeks since I started this experiment, my apartment is super clean and stays that way, I have gone out to practice pool for several long four hour sessions, I created this website, have run over 20 miles in the gym and started playing the Fur Elise. Big tasks for me? Yes. Easy and Effortless? Yes.

Now days, I never get bored. Anytime I have a few minutes free, I can always find something to do from my list of one minute activities. What usually happens once I start is that I start enjoying myself and keep going on past the minute without even realizing it. On any day I don’t feel like doing much, I can always stop after the minute, feel successful,  and continue to maintain the habit.

An other side effect of having started this  is that I now feel happy and excited  all day long because I know that I am moving towards all my goals (one step at a time).

Playing under pressure – Using your emotions to get more focus

Ever had a lot of “pressure” during a match? Knowing that everyone in your team was watching with their hopes on you? Or maybe playing for slightly more money than you feel comfortable? Did it make you shoot differently than you would ordinarily have? Did it feel different than, say, a casual game with a friend after a few drinks?

Did you start feeling strong emotions, maybe a little jittery, maybe a little excited?

Now the real question – Would you call these strong emotions a bad thing? Do you associate them with choking and wish that you could be rid of them?

I don’t – at least, not any more.

What is the difference between fear and excitement? To me, both are the exact same feeling inside my chest, my breathing changing, my heart beating faster, adrenaline and blood pumping, and a strong sense of anticipation. The only difference between fear and excitement is how we decide to label them – If we decide the situation is bad or unwanted, we call it fear, if not, we call the same feeling excitement. But there is no real difference between the two.

All it really is, is the subconscious mind saying “this is something new that I haven’t prepared for or experienced before. I need to focus more, so I am going to pump some adrenaline and increase the body’s focus so it can do everything that it needs to”.

It is not a bad thing. It is what your subconscious mind believes you need at the moment. Even in extreme situations like car accidents, the subconscious mind gives the body exactly what it needs, an extra surge of focus and strength to get out of the situation safely.

So if this is such a good thing, why is it so distracting? Why do we choke when we have these strong feelings? Why do people freeze up during moments of extreme pressure?

Well. Simply put, instead of using that period of intense focus to complete the task at hand, a lot of us tend to waste it in fighting our selves with thoughts like -“Crap!! I’m feeling scared. Now I am definitely going to choke. I have to push away these feelings and become confident again”.

The fact is whatever feelings your body experiences at any time are exactly what it needs to feel at that moment. Instead of fighting the feelings, the simplest thing to do is accept them, and understand the message they are sending. It is so much more constructive to think “Yes. My body is in adrenaline mode. My subconscious mind knows I want to win and is helping me. I am now going to be able to use my super focus. All I have to do is take my time, and win.”

A friend of mine came up with an interesting concept. He defines a whole new emotion (like happiness and sadness) called resistance. People have this emotion when they believe that something is wrong with their current situation and complain about it instead of accepting the present moment as it is – “I should have won”, “The equipment is crappy”, “That noise is distracting”, “Why do I always have all the bad luck?”

And this emotion of resistance stops us from appreciating and enjoying the current moment and gets us inside our head arguing with reality instead of accepting it. It is this resistance which has us complaining about the bad roll we got on the previous shot or a shot we missed. It is this resistance which tells us “I shouldn’t be feeling scared and tense right now. I need to do something to FIX MYSELF so that I can play my normal game”. It stops us from using the boost that our subconscious is providing us to help us. We start complaining about or resisting the situation when we should be thanking our subconscious for the extra help.

Over the last few weeks I have been winning a very high percentage of my matches, even with very skilled higher handicapped players. One thing common about all of these tough matches was the state my body was going through at the time – Extreme adrenaline and focus. My team mates kept trying to calm me down because they didn’t realize that I was actually playing better because of it. The fact is, ever since I stopped labeling them as bad, I look forward to these moments because of how well I play during them.

People say that the only way to learn to handle pressure is a lot of experience in high pressure situations. The reason this works is because after experiencing it a few times we begin to accept and appreciate the heightened emotions as a natural part of our body and are no longer distracted by them. People who continue to fight their emotions instead of learning to accept them continue to “choke under pressure”. But the few gifted ones who learn to work in-spite of stress, pressure and emotion, reach new levels of success and inspire everyone around them. In times of crisis, these people become the heroes.

Would you like to be in the first group or the second? It is completely your choice.

Aiming without Aiming – How to shoot pool like a pro

When I first started playing pool (billiards), I considered myself an average player. I could never be sure if I would make the next shot, and running two or three balls in a row was a big achievement for me. I read books on aiming systems like the ghost ball system, and tried different practice drills to improve my game. However I still saw a clear difference between “easy” and “difficult” shots and trying advanced things like position play would make me miss my shot.

This is the story of my journey. How I discovered the art of “Aiming without Aiming”. If you have played pool for a while, chances are you will identify with this or at least recognize what I describe. If you have played only some pool, I suggest you read with an open mind – understanding this might change your game.

If you don’t play pool yet, but would like to start, then you can learn how to play pool well in under 30 minutes. If you already understand the basics, but would like to develop the ability to run the table, you should look at my article series on the basics of cue ball position control.

Some time back I heard the term “subconscious-competence” and about the subconscious mind. This is the same thing that allows us to walk without having to logically plan every muscle that needs to be raised to take each step – We just look at where we want to go, decide we want to go there, and then automatically end up there. It is also responsible for the times when we might get distracted while driving, thinking about all kinds of other stuff, and suddenly realize that we have reached home without remembering any of the turns, traffic lights or other cars on the road.

I don’t think that we were ever really meant to be conscious learners. The conscious mind can handle about 5-9 things at a time after which it zones out. The subconscious mind can apparently keep track of EVERYTHING, including things the conscious mind wouldn’t even dare try.

The only thing the unconscious mind really needs is
1. The initial desire or thought from the conscious mind – Creating the goal
2. Trusting signals from the subconscious mind – following your instincts
3. Allowing the subconscious mind to learn and train itself for the goal – Allowing mistakes to happen without labeling or judging them and not getting frustrated by them
4. Getting out of your own way – Letting the subconscious mind do everything instead of trying to take over the wheel while it is doing its work.

Three months ago, I wrote down in my notebook, a thought addressed to my subconscious mind – “I refuse to aim. You do it otherwise we both miss”. For three whole months, I did not aim. I just looked at the pocket I wanted the ball to go, and just shot the cue ball without aiming with any system… Talk about a crazy, unrealistic, leap of faith…

A few days after I began, when the first difficult shot went in without aiming, I was pleasantly surprised. I assumed it was just luck. Over the next few days as more and more people started noticing my consistent shooting “luck”. This was actually working.

During this time, I still had to keep reminding myself to not try to aim. However as I started making tougher and tougher shots effortlessly, I started getting an ego. I started getting addicted to the idea of always making the shot. When I did miss, I forgot rule 3 and used to get angry at myself. I didn’t realize that when I missed, it wasn’t that my plan wasn’t working, it was just that my subconscious mind hadn’t trained itself for that particular shot yet. It took several days just to accept any misses and not try to control with my conscious mind.

With time, however, I learned to let go of outcome dependence while shooting and just play one shot at a time.

Now days every shot is “easy”. I spend exactly 0 seconds planning the shot. I just look at the pocket, look at the ball, wait for that “YES” signal in my head, and shoot. It goes in on its own. I don’t aim or shoot. My subconscious mind does. I don’t take credit for the shots since it wasn’t me who really shot them. I saw my subconscious mind shooting some amazing shots which blew my mind. It was almost like my subconscious mind was a different person, who was shooting through me.

And as it overtook me with its skills, it earned my trust and respect. I no longer dared to compete with it or try to take over the steering wheel again. I knew, that as long as I stayed out of it’s way, it would do the job better than I could have ever hoped to.

But this wasn’t the real shock. Now that I could shoot without aiming, I wanted to see how far I could take this idea of trusting my subconscious mind, and what limits my mind had. My next goal was to run a table (run all 7 balls, and the 8 ball in one go without giving my opponent a turn).

Again, I wouldn’t plan it or think about it, just make a goal and trust my subconscious to do whatever was needed. Over the next few days, I found myself wanting to shoot one particular ball versus another, without any logical reason. I would just look at the table, see a particular ball and think to myself- “I like that one, that is what I will shoot next”. Trying to logically decide which was the best ball to shoot actually messed things up.

One week later, I broke and ran the entire table when playing with my team captain – or rather my subconscious mind did. Now days, running 4-5 balls is almost a regular occurrence. Three months ago, I would have laughed at that possibility.

The funny thing is, I don’t even have to be paying attention to the table while I am shooting. I can be thinking about taxes or some movie I watched. In fact, anything OTHER than trying to aim the shot. The balls just go in on their own. I seem to get so zoned out, I lose track of time and place. I can now play entire pool games and not remember shooting even a single shot. Sometimes I don’t even remember the face of the person I was shooting with. It’s almost like I am a spectator in a dream like state watching someone else playing.

I think some people call it being in the zone. Some people call it instinct. Some people call it muscle memory. Some call it trusting a higher power. Whatever you choose to call it, trusting your subconscious mind can let you live life the way it was always meant to be – effortless.

If you enjoyed this article, continue on to the next article in this series, Aiming without Aiming Part II – How I really aim a billiards shot.


PS: Based on a lot of feedback that I received, I wrote a follow up article – Aiming without Aiming Part II – How I really aim a billiards shot. For people who think that “this aiming thing can’t work” or would like more details on aiming technique, the extra explanation might help.

The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak PerformancePPS: Almost a year after I started my experiments with aiming without aiming and the subconscious mind, I discovered the book The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey. This book talks about the same concepts of subconscious learning applied to the game of tennis and is without doubt one of the best descriptions of how to achieve subconscious competence. I found myself agreeing with almost everything the author said, and was amazed by the new ideas that I would have probably taken a long time to discover on my own. I guess there had to be a reason this book is already consider a bible for inner game and has sold millions of copies worldwide. If you found this article interesting and would like a more detailed explanation of the principles, I would strongly recommend taking a look at this book. You will find that the concepts can be applied to any game or sport that you wish to.

Of course, aiming without aiming isn’t a magic pill solution to billiards mastery. This is just one teeny piece of the puzzle. Obviously ‘Aiming without Aiming’ or subconscious competence only comes after developing conscious competence – Learning good pool fundamentals, following a simple aiming system, practicing with drills to build muscle memory. Even after that, aiming is just a part of the puzzle. You also need to learn to control cue ball position.

The next big piece is working on the inner game of pool, learning to bounce back from bad nights and using your emotions to win under pressure.

Since I improved my aiming, I find myself spending almost as much time on “inner game” as on “outer game”. I am still trying to figure it all out. But every time I discover another piece of the puzzle, I try to share it.

The Awakening – Learning to enjoy the journey instead of the destination

I had an amazing experience a few months ago which started my new journey. This is what I wrote at that time.

Today I am feeling something I have never felt before.

It’s hard to describe how I feel right now. I thought the best feeling in the world was being extremely happy. But I am not feeling happy right now. I’m not feeling sad. The best word I can find is “content”. I feel like everything is all right in this world. That everything is the way it was meant to be.

I feel calm and relaxed. Extremely at peace.

I have the perfect best friend who is like a brother to me. I have the perfect job that I enjoy. I have hobbies that make me smile and friend circles who accept me completely.

Right now, even though I have all this stuff – friend, job, hobbies – I don’t seem to be attached to them. Even if I lose them, I feel that I will still be as content as I am now, and accept it as the way it was meant to be.

I was talking to strangers today, and it didn’t feel like an effort. I didn’t have to think about what to say or about how they perceived me. I didn’t feel satisfaction after talking to them. I didn’t feel disappointed after talking to them. I just felt content.

I realized that I see no reason to ever hurt anyone and just want everyone to feel what I am feeling. Right now, I believe the best in others and all I want to do is help others bring out the best in themselves and feel as content as I feel right now.

I notice that for some reason my chest feels like it is about to burst (in a good way). I don’t know how long this feeling will last. But it feels really, really nice.

I find myself laughing for no reason at all. I find myself enjoy watching the leaves fluttering in the wind and can watch it for hours without getting bored. I love the feeling of opening up all my senses and allowing them to get overwhelmed by all the colors, sounds and feelings around me.

I love my life.

I looked around, asked around and read around. I believe other people before me have had this experience. Some people call it enlightenment, others calling it the awakening of the kundalini.

One interesting thing that has happened since then is that I no longer feel a “NEED” to achieve goals. I am perfectly happy where I am without ever needing anything more. However now I can pursue goals just because I “WANT” to, without needing to ever achieve them. Which means, I no longer feel the urge to rush towards them, and can take my time enjoying the journey to get there. It makes the journey a whole lot more fun