Life Warrior Blog
Now that January is over, how are the resolutions going? Here are some thoughts for keeping them in 2017
Now that we are a month into 2017, I wanted to check in and see how those resolutions are going. If you've found that it has been difficult to "keep with the program", here are some brief thoughts.
Create Habits Instead
Most people have difficulty keeping their resolutions because they try to take it all on at once. You know the routine! We think that we can start eating healthy, start a gym routine, and perhaps kick a bad habit all at once.
I have another idea. This year I decided that I was just going to focus on one habit- meditating everyday with 100% commitment. In order to do this, I utilized three tools taken straight from positive psychology.
Bright vs. Fuzzy Lines
Drawing bright lines means that I am very clear that I am 100% committed...not 90% and not even 99%. Anything else would be equivalent to drawing a fuzzy line, which means that you are not psychologically "all in" on what you've decided to commit to. When you draw a fuzzy line, it is easy to find some excuse not to follow through. When life throws you a curve ball, you decide that maybe it's best to just put it off or wait till later. You know where this cycle leads.
Most people start off way too big when it comes to their resolutions. I challenge all my clients to start small and set themselves up for success. Do you think that you could commit 1 to 5 minutes a day to your habit? If not, you might want to re-evaluate whether you actually want to do it or not. So try meditating, journaling, push ups, or whatever it is for only 1 to 5 minutes a day.
"If I wake up, then I meditate." "If I have lunch, then I hit the gym." "If it is 5 o'clock, then...", well, you get the idea. Set up a strong if/then implementation strategy so that you can clearly visualize exactly when your new habit will take place. As you can also clearly see, this strategy, combined with bright lines and mini-habits, will help make you super successful for what you intend to create in your life.
By John Austin Foster
I spent the last hour looking at the top blogs for life coaching and health and wellness. Here is the major thing that comes to my mind. As someone who has spent the past 10 years in the coaching and wellness industry, I've sought to truly understand the principles and foundations of change. I would say for the first 8 years, I was lost in information. It's just like the current political elections. Depending on who you follow or what you subscribe to you can find pretty solid arguments that sound true in every direction. Is it true? What is the agenda behind the article? Is it in or out of context? Is it misinformation?....You see?
In today's information age, it seems almost impossible to know where to begin when it comes to creating the change that you want to create in your life. So here is my brief advice.
Information should be the servant of practice and habit. If you want to write, practice; if you want to play an instrument, practice; if you want to meditate for a calm mind, practice; if you want to be a great cook, practice. Whether the practice is wrong or right doesn't matter at first. The problem is that most people get lost in the information before they establish the foundation of practice. Along the way, seek information to support and guide you and don't be afraid of mistakes. No judgement, no fear of mistakes, no overthinking, no seeking the right program or information, just practice...just begin somewhere.
For years I was a personal trainer and I tell my clients often that if I could go back to the beginning I would simply tell all my clients to just begin somewhere. Walk everyday, cut out sugar, swim, commit to eating real food, etc. The problem here is that I would immediately have felt insecure and the client might question my credentials as a professional. I couldn't make it this simple without feeling that I might lose my job.
Zen and Coaching
Thank, God, for zen and coaching. Through my zen practice, I learned that there is so much more to work with in this present moment than I had ever realized. I began to be aware of the traps and obstacles of the mind. I soon realized that the practice of zen gave me the tools to work with my thoughts and also the experience to help my clients focus more on the trappings of their own mind, rather than the content of their workouts. Finally, through coaching I found a medium in which I wasn't required to fill every minute with something to do. I could listen and use my insight to look deeply into the clients reality to understand and help them understand their own struggles in a deeper way.
In closing, I encourage you, whether you are looking for health or a happier and more peaceful existence, begin with practice. Start with the foundations of movement and meditation and build from there for the next month. Whatever you are struggling with, practice and action will help you feel like you have control over your own existence.
By John Austin Foster
First and foremost, if you are not in love with your training, then why keep doing it? Why spend hours outside or in the gym if your workouts and health practices are not a passionately driven activity?
Today's message is about giving you some simple steps towards creating greater mastery in your training. As I discussed in my last message, AUTONOMY, MASTERY, and PURPOSE are the main drivers for creating intrinsic motivation and lasting success in all your goals in life.
Today, we'll be focusing primarily on creating mastery, and what that entails for your training.
The biggest mistake that our entire society and culture makes, when it comes to health and fitness, is assuming that weight loss goals, strength goals, & health and fitness levels are ends in themselves.
Somehow, we've created the automatic assumption that happiness & health are goals to be reached through trying new programs, diets, gyms, classes and trainers. Instead, we should be seeking to reclaim our health as our natural birthright as human beings. You see...Our society has taken our health away from us and sold it back to us in the form of drugs, diets, and other societal "norms".
This should not be the role of our gyms, trainers and classes! The role of any quality physician, healer, or teacher should be to heal his or her students and not create dependency & sickness. We have to spread a message that empowers and benefits human beings rather than creating dis-empowered patterns of thought and behavior.
If you can destroy the assumption that you "should" train or get healthy or that you have to get somewhere else to be happy, you are beginning to go down the right path towards creating lasting health and change in your life.
Anyone who has cultivated a deep passion for his or her profession, training, sport, etc. no longer needs extrinsic motivating forces to drive their practice. They no longer need anyone telling them they "should" train. Their practice has become a part of who they are becoming and an expression of what they love.
The reason they would hire a trainer or coach would simply be to teach them the necessary steps towards creating excellence in their practice, as well as show them how to cultivate a powerful belief system and trajectory towards their goals.
Here are 5 steps to cultivating your passion for health and fitness:
1. Create an overarching trajectory for your training, which can define you. - Why does a cyclist cycle? Or a bodybuilder build their body? Why does a runner run? Each of these people do the things they do because they identify with their practice as part of who they are. Define who you are and what you want to create, and you will find a whole new level of commitment inside yourself.
2. Build skills rather than trying to reach meaningless benchmarks. - Why would most people care about lifting more weight? Rather than focusing on benchmarking weights or reps, build new skills that you can really enjoy cultivating. Build a yoga practice, running practice, calisthenic practice or any number of other practices that can be fun to do and exciting to get better at. If you're into bodybuilding, adding weight can be fun as well.
3. Play - Play is inherently auto-telic (self-goal), meaning the goal is in the performance. The activity is rewarding in and by itself. Make games out of nutrition, exercise, and creating lifestyle changes. Make it fun and exciting! Why do children play? Are they trying to get in shape on the playground? Do they have weight loss goals?
4. Fully commit- Find a way to go ALL IN on your practice and new lifestyle. Write a letter of commitment to yourself and a family member. Commit money if you don't follow through. Draw a line in the sand and mentally step over it.
5. Love- Create a loving relationship to your body and your practice. Nourish it and let it nourish you. Be compassionate, committed, devoted, and forgiving. Don't beat your body into submission or promise what you can't deliver. Be loving in every way to your body, your practice, and use your practice to help you become more present and loving to others.
By John Austin Foster
My message today is about creating mastery. According to the latest research in positive psychology and human motivation, there are three main drivers that create intrinsic motivation for an individual. If any one of these drivers are missing, a person tends to "fail" and then continue searching for the next program, trainer, or method to help them reach their goals. If these three drivers are found, the person becomes intrinsically vs. extrinsically motivated. Meaning that they are much more likely to continue getting healthier, happier, and more awesome at life, even after they have hired a coach or trainer to teach them how to get in shape, lose weight, or whatever other goal they are searching to achieve.
Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose
In order for a person to create intrinsic motivation for him or herself, she must have these three drivers. Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose are like three circles that interconnect. If one cultivates these three things, they will find the "sweet spot" right in the middle, which will be their pathway towards a healthier and happier life.
So What Does Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose Mean?
I'll explain each of these drivers briefly.
Mastery- Mastery is a primary component that drives us as human beings. When we see progress, we become motivated and seek out more ways to achieve this feeling. It is important that we be creative and out of the box when it comes to bench-marking mastery. For instance, in health, if one uses only weight loss to mark their progress, it is likely that it may not come fast enough and therefore, lack of perceived progress will rob them of other joys they could have attained through cultivating mastery. This is why I like to apply as many skills as possible into my coaching. Rather than simply losing weight and adding 5 pounds more onto a bar, in a clients program, my clients will see themselves getting better in any number of ways, such as: improved yoga poses, more endurance in basic skills, better alignment, reduced pain through improved core functioning...and the list goes on.
Autonomy- A person or client must be in charge of creating their own progress. A principle that I hold dear in Life Warrior Coaching is that anytime one feels the problem is "out there" the problem is always "inside". Our reality is a reflection of how we see the world, but our failure to realize this causes us to look for life's answers outside of ourselves. This leaves us dependent on others for our progress and ultimately de-motivated in the end, because we have failed to become empowered within our own being
Purpose- Autonomy and Purpose deeply serve Mastery. Without purpose, achieving our goals will become empty in the end. Without purpose, we are only serving ourselves and have lost out on the primary point of life...TO SERVE OTHERS. Therefore, purpose is one of the greatest aims we can seek as a human being.
WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE?
By John Austin Foster- How to Cure Your Addiction to Thoughts
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” – Franz Kafka
Here is a paradigm shift for you. Your life’s purpose, love, abundance, and even ecstasy are all waiting for you right now. Not in some far away place.
What if life, by its very nature, existed in a constant state of expectancy waiting for you to open your heart and get out of your story?
I have come to learn, the hard way, that the more I struggle with life, the less life unravels at my feet. This is why the above quote is so powerful for me! It speaks to me right where I am at in this moment.
I have also come to find that the more I meditate, calm my mind, follow my bliss, take on worthwhile projects and put myself out there with meeting other passionate and inspired people, the more life unfolds for me. So, the less I struggle and the more I simply learn to BE LOVE, the more life offers herself to me.
So, if this is true, then why do human beings exist in almost a constant state of struggle with what is?
The answer is simple: We are addicted to our thoughts and emotions. We literally can’t help ourselves.
This brings to mind an example. A while back, the radio broke in my car. No longer could I listen to music or to talk shows. No longer could I distract myself by other things. At first, the silence was deafening! I found it difficult and uncomfortable to drive my car with no sounds except traffic and those of my car.
However, after a relatively short period of time, I began to relish the times of silence in my car. One of my favorite meditations became simply driving without judgment, expectation, interpretation or thought about the cacophony of the city around me. I found that often, the city plays like a John Coltrain song, dis-harmonious and chaotic but beautiful and enchantingly reminiscent of something lost from nature yet headed in the direction of something profound.
This brings me to another example:
A couple days ago, I was standing in the lobby of a church watching others around me, when I noticed my thoughts were completely still. That is when the idea for this article came to me, and when I wondered at how far I had come and at how much others around me were perhaps stuck in their thoughts. Perhaps the only thing separating them from the divinity they sought was the ability to remain silent in their minds?
So, I guess, the question you are most likely asking is, how do I break my addiction to thoughts?
This is a powerful question, and one that can dramatically change the course of your life. When you realize that you are not experiencing life as much as your thoughts about life, you will begin to reduce the causes of your suffering in a powerful way.
Matthieu Ricard, the happiest man alive, says that meditation is learning to experience things in a new way!
So the first step towards breaking your addiction to having 95% of the same thoughts everyday is the realization that you are doing this. You are creating your emotional reality with your thoughts!
Working with a coach is a powerful way to see these repeated thoughts! Often, in conversations with clients, I will point out a specific thought pattern. The client will notice this, yet they will continue to bring up the same belief, excuse, or idea over and over again. Part of my job, is to non-judgmentally point out this thought pattern again and again to my client until it may even become a point of laughter, like, “Yah, I see myself doing it again.” Pretty quickly the client gets the idea and they leave with something to work with in their meditations.
Give yourself GRACE- You have 20, 30, 40 or more years of practice thinking the same thoughts, creating the same defense mechanisms, and going about in the same ways that worked for you when you were 7 years old. Luckily, you are an adult now and you can learn to choose new thoughts in a powerful way!
NEXT IS PRACTICE- Practice, practice, practice becoming aware of your thoughts. Of course MEDITATE but do way more practice then just meditation!!! Set reminders in your phone to give you an opportunity to scan your thoughts and check in with yourself emotionally. Create a “change” word that you will use when you catch yourself having the old dis-empowering thought. When you catch yourself thinking in old patterns, say that word and remind yourself to STOP!!!!
Enlist a spouse or a loved one to non-judgmentally point out old patterns when they arrive, giving you a chance to change a long held re-action loop with that person.Non-judgmental is the key here! Without which, it will never work, especially when you are working with people with whom you’ve held those patterns for so long.
Finally, one of the most powerful practices that I have found to stop unnecessary thoughts is the practice of picking up the WARRIOR’S SWORD. Pick up the warrior’s sword and when you notice unnecessary thoughts arising in your mind. Cut them out. Picture a sword slicing them off and not allowing them to entire the temple of your mind. Be your greatest guardian and protect the beauty, power, and simplicity of your thoughts.
When you see each thought as precious, powerful and the creators of your reality, you will begin to be much more aware and much more skillful in what you allow to arise inside your infinite self.
I hope this article is helpful and empowering! Please contact Life Warrior Coaching today to start a conversation that could change your life.
Lots of love and here’s to unlimited possibilities, John Austin Foster,www.lifewarriorcoaching.com
Meditation- Pick Up the Warrior’s Sword
Sit quietly and in a powerful position with your spine straight and your eyes closed or fixed on the space in front of you. Take a few minutes to root yourself into the moment and notice how easily thoughts try to creep into your mind.
Now envisions yourself as a powerful warrior, in seated meditation practice, and then pick up the warrior’s sword. Sit with dignity and grace. Sit like you would as if you were already enlightened (because you already are when you are not thinking). When a thought tries to enter, good or bad, cut it off. Be the powerful protector of your mind. Sit in beautiful silence knowing the warrior’s sword is here to protect you.
Practice this for a full 10 minutes.
By John Austin Foster- 5 Steps Towards Changing Your Belief Systems
If you could take inventory of your daily repeated thought patterns, you would have a very accurate road map towards exactly where you are at in your life right now. Our manifest reality is a projection of how we see the world. I’ll begin this weekly e-mail with a favorite story:
There was on old man and sage who was keeper of the gate to a town. One day a young man walked up to the gate and asked the old man, “What are the people like in this town?”. The old man asked in reply, “What are the people like where you come from?”. The young man said, “Oh, they are all mean and nasty people. I can’t stand where I come from, so that’s why I’ve decided to look for a new place to live.” The old man shook his head, “I’m sorry, those are exactly the people you’ll find here.” The young man sighed and left, continuing his long search for a place where only nice and kind people lived.
A few days later another young man walked up to the gate. He asked,”What are people like in this town?”. The old man asked in reply, “What are the people like where you come from?”. The young man smiled and said, “OHHH! It is such a wonderful town. The people are nice and kind, but I’ve decided that I’d like to look for a new adventure and new people to meet!”. The old man simply said, “Welcome, that is what you’ll find here.”
You see, the old man knew that people directly reflect how we see them…and so it is, with our bodies, our relationships, and our reality. We have created our manifestation of reality throughout a lifetime of acquired beliefs and thoughts. If you don’t like where you are at, you have to begin the journey of working daily with how you view the world!!!
So here are 5 steps for working with negative beliefs and thought patterns:
1. Create awareness through daily meditation- I think of my daily breath meditation like my daily workouts and cardio. It only takes a couple days to lose your cardiovascular fitness and only a week or two to begin losing muscle. It only takes a day, or perhaps hours, for your brain to regress to long held views of the world and ingrained thought patterns about what you conceive reality to be. I cannot emphasize this enough! Practice every day for 20 minutes, if possible. (Refer to last newsletter for a quick guide to breath meditation or e-mail me to learn how to start a practice today.)
Zen Saying, “Meditate every day for 20 minutes, unless you don’t have time, then meditate for 2 hours.”
2. Create a way to pattern interrupt your negative self talk- Create a system to wake yourself up when you catch your mind in negative self talk or other negative patterns. I used a rubber band, around my wrist, for about 60 days. I’d snap it (not too hard!) when I’d catch myself in negative thoughts. For the first 30 days, I’d forget to use it half of the time! But after a while, I’d begin to recognize my negative thoughts, immediately, and then I’d begin to question why I was having these thoughts and if these thoughts were truly reflective of reality. 99% of the time, they were not!!!!
3. Appreciate what you have around you- Remember the exercise I gave you in your last e-mail. If not or if you didn’t read it, you should check it out. The “gist” lies in the fact that you have abundance all around you. Sitting here, writing this e-mail, I can find a minimum of 20 different things to be grateful for! A beautiful day, comfortable setting, health, beautiful people all around me, warmth, those of you who will read this e-mail and have a better day because of it, and much more! We live in a wonderful country full of wonderful people. Wake up to the beauty that you might be missing in this moment:-)(Happy 4th!!! BTW)
4. Create a new experience of reality- Sitting there in abundance and gratitude, you have the perfect opportunity to create a new belief system and experience. Again, this takes daily practice and repetition, but the more you practice the more you will wire your brain to see things that, previously, you had been completely blind too.
5. Find a coach to help you see blind spots- The coaching I’ve received from professional sources, friends, my brother, and my girlfriend have been invaluable in pointing out the blind spots in my “game plan” towards creating the opportunity to be in front of you guys. Find coaches and teachers to help you on the road towards creating a new and beautiful reality. We cannot fix what we cannot see.
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”- Buddhist Proverb
By John Austin Foster
“A problem cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created it.” -Albert Einstein
The above quote has been one of my favorites for a long time. It also touches on a very real predicament in our world. The nature of mind is one that is evolving into greater complexities of seeing and acting in the world. As founder of Spiral Dynamics, Clare Graves, put it, the human mind has latent capacities for software upgrades. We have been upgrading our minds since the earliest times of our homo-sapien origins, and if we are going survive to the next stage of human history, we have to upgrade our minds, once more, to a higher level of thinking, beyond the limited complexity of mind which caused the problems our world is facing today.
One of my teachers, Rob McNamara wrote a book called The Elegant Self. The Elegant Self is a title in reference to the level of human psychological development Harvard Professor, Robert Kegan, calls Self-Transforming Mind, or 5th Order Consciousness. Elegant Mind is a level of mind that we are in dire need of in today’s world!!!
So what does it mean to grow into greater complexities of mind?
This subject can often be confusing, so stay with me. When you were born, you were born with a mind that existed at a certain level of consciousness, but a mind which also has the capacity to continue to grow into greater and more complex ways of viewing the world. For instance, when you were a child, you were subject to fantasies of thought and projective, magical ways of viewing the world. Christmas was totally about you and Santa Claus bringing you presents. Often, children are afraid that when they think “mean” thoughts about their parents, that somehow they will cause a curse or hurt their parents in some way. This level of mind is equivalent to the magical, animistic, or voodoo cultures which existed somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000 years ago.
You also probably remember the day or the person that brought you the news that Santa Claus was not real. Most likely, you found this out around the ages of 7-9 as your mind was growing into greater complexity. A form of mind that operates at what is called Concrete Operational thought. What 10 year old boy doesn’t love to collect things and trade those things for bigger and better things? Concrete Operational mind is a level of mind that allows the child to directly operate on the world in a concrete way. Projective fantasies of consciousness disappear, for the most part, and the child is inducted into a world where he or she must play a part in a family and society (rule/role consciousness). Around the age of 8 is also when a child is introduced to math and other forms of concrete thoughts and ideas.
Now we are going to fast forward to where we, as adults, are at now.
Currently our world is facing a dilemma. We have to grow into a greater complexity of mind which is capable of handling the problems in front of us. We have to become elegant in how we view our problems and how we go about creating solutions. Currently, much of our thought processes are stuck inside our own systems of thinking, inside our own inidividual needs, cultural constructs, and in our own limited ways of viewing the world.
What is needed is a way of viewing the world, in which we can step outside of our own system. We need to step beyond our own concrete and formal operational way of viewing the world. We have to step inside a experiential flux that is unmediated by our past or perceived future and that is open towards solutions which lie beyond our personal need to operate on the world as a fixed rather than a dynamic system. A system that we think we can manipulate and form to our own desires and purposes.
As we grow into greater complexities of mind and being, we begin to realize that we are not really the ones operating on the world anyway. The idea of a separate, existing self, who somehow acts on the world and solves problems is actually an illusion. There is no such separate self. We are part of a co-created reality. You are being formed at this moment by the complexities within and all around you. You are literally not the same person you were yesterday.
So what does this mean?
If I lost you for a second, I’ll bring you back right now. What this means is that you have to GROW INTO THE RICHNESS OF THE PRESENT MOMENT. When you put your small way of thinking down and open your mind to a greater reality that is surrounding you at this moment, you allow your mind the space to grow into higher levels of BEING. At these higher levels of thought, you begin to see situations with more clarity and you also gain access to a greater creativity that HAS YOU and not the other way around! You are the creative act of consciousness that has evolved out of this amazing Cosmos.
Once you can move into Elegant Mind, a mind beyond ego and one that embraces opposites and paradox, you will begin to be able to work with others in solving the complex problems at your place of work, your relationships, or in your political or environmental views, in more creative ways. In actuality, you will learn how to let the problems, you face, solve YOU in more creative ways.
By John Austin Foster-
Also, I will tell you why you should be a failure too.
“I’ve missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
Today’s message is going to be short, so enjoy, and after reading this quick message, go out and fail greatly.
I had the above quote on a poster above my bed, when I was in my teenage years. I loved Michael Jordan, as did most youth during that time. This message of valuing failure has come back to me over and over again in my life, and I feel it is probably one of the most important messages for anyone to understand, before they will ever realize success. I’m a proud failure, and today, I want to ask you to be one too!!!!
I have a book from Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Basically, it outlines two drastically different mindsets. One is called a growth mindset and the other one, a fixed mindset. The fixed mindset fears challenge and failure more than anything, because they think failing proves they will never amount to much and it will just prove they aren’t meant for success. On the other hand, the growth mindset relishes challenges and sees each failure as a step towards figuring out the problem and finding success.
One rarely succeeds, and even if they do find money or something they are good at, they rarely take risks, so they become trapped even by their success. The other knows they are already successful and all they have to do is go out and prove it to the world. Failure is no problem, because, how can you ever learn something if you can’t fail at it?
So, the next time you find yourself afraid of taking risk, following your dreams, and facing failure, switch your mindset. See it as an opportunity.
“Don’t ask what the world needs, Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
I’ll finish with this. In a recent commencement speech by Jim Carrey, Jim shared a life experience of when he was a kid that had made him decide to become successful. He spoke of his dad, who was a brilliant comedian, but gave that up to support his family. So he decided to sell insurance instead of tell jokes. However, one day he was laid off and Jim’s family was left in poverty and need.
That is when Jim decided that if you can fail at what you don’t want in life, you might as well try at what you do want.
Full speech is linked below. It’s about 26 minutes.
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