Through The Lens Of Life

As I’m reading about center-focused exposure feature of my camera I can’t help but make a connection with real life. Center focused metering setting is just what it sounds like – a camera chooses the center of an image to calculate exposure, or light, that will be reflected in the entire photograph. Do we do something similar in our personal life? Do we “calculate”, judge, and project our life based on what’s in the immediate center of it, oftentimes blind to the entire picture? Perhaps because it’s simply outside our focus range? Another metering setting is called Matrix. With Matrix a camera takes the entire frame into consideration when calculating light. Can we project life in a similar way, seeing the entire picture that fills our frame of life and not just its center? Can we go even farther and see beyond the limits of framing? All 360 degrees?

Life Focus And Why It Matters

Do you ever notice where your attention wanders during the day? Where your thoughts are? I never used to pay attention to that but now I try to consciously notice what I focus on. Einstein said, “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality.” Maybe that sounds a bit hairy but I think there is a lot of truth in it. What we focus our daily energy on is what we solidify in life. If you have a job you hate and you keep thinking about how much you hate it, you keep tapping into that negative aspect of your life. On the other hand, if you focus instead on the job you would like to have, think of ways to get it, go about finding it, sending applications, etc. you are tapping into a very positive field of energy and feeding your desires and passion. I believe that this type of intentionally directed attention is more likely to produce beneficial results. It’s very easy for our mind to get lost and keep going in circles; it almost has a life of its own. But it is also possible for us to control it to a certain degree. People in meditation and yoga classes are trained to do that (again, to a degree). In my personal experience it’s much easier to control my mind and my attention and thoughts when my mind is clear and uncluttered, and I can actually notice my own thoughts. Three factors that can help clear your mind are these:

Spending time outdoors, because it gets you out of your head and helps your brain to relax and stop fidgeting. Nature is unrushed and it tends to have a calming effect on humans.

Eliminating distractions, such as endless scrolling through social media, checking phone for no reason, watching too much TV, etc. It’s so easy to get caught up in a virtual world and, while it gets us away from our own thoughts, it rarely gets us far. I consider these activities entertainment and try to put time limits on them and not let it get out of control. For example I practice phone free Saturdays when I don’t use my phone all day, and the effect is priceless. I feel more peaceful and collected and able to focus easier.

Minimizing – having too much clutter can translate into mind clutter and more distractions and restlessness. I am a believer that less is more. This belief came from my personal experience after I got rid of over 95% of everything I owned. Of course you don’t need to go that extreme! But getting rid of things that you don’t need, use, or love can clean up your physical and mental space.

I hope you guys enjoyed reading this post. If you did, please follow my blog to be notified whenever I post something new.

Love to all,

Natasha Pea

What Is The Meaning Of Life? And Is It A Valid Question?

We often seem to concern ourselves with these arbitrary questions: What is my meaning in life? Am I living a meaningful life? Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing with my life?

How to answer such vague philosophical questions? The meaning of life is not one specific question to which a very specific answer can be given: it embeds in itself an array of underlying questions. If I say that your meaning in life is to be a doctor, can this really be the only meaning you have in your life? I don’t like the predeterministic nature of the question. Do you have a specific meaning that you need to live out? If you don’t live out your predetermined meaning, then what? Philosophers have been trying to answer the question of the meaning of life for thousands of years. No one has yet a direct answer. If they can’t find the answer, then why should I assume that I will? If there is no way to answer the question, why to spend precious energy on trying?

Remember Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy? The smartest computer in the universe was built to find the ultimate answer “to life, the universe, and everything”. After 7.5 million years of calculating, the supercomputer gave them the answer: 42. No one could understand that! When asked what it meant, the computer asked what the question was. It was a very vague question which received a vague answer.

The meaning of life can simply be happiness and enjoyment. It can be following your passion or learning, or teaching. It can take many forms and it can change throughout life. I think the meaning of life is to be present and to enjoy it. The better question to ask yourself is this: If today was my last day would I still do the same thing I’m about to do? This is what Steve Jobs said at Stanford University Commencement in 2005:

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something… Almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

What’s The Best Time To Wake Up In The Morning?

I always thought of myself as a night person who stayed up late and slept late. When I was in college I liked to study late at night, staying up until 4 or 5 in the morning. Only now I start from the opposite end of sleep cycle. I wake up at 4 am and get busy before starting my 9-5 job. I learned that a night/morning persona can be interchangeable depending on your lifestyle and habits. So why do I wake up early, before dawn?

According to ancient veda scriptures 3 to 4 o’clock in the morning is the most beneficial time for any type of spiritual activities, such as meditating, prayers, etc. which is why monks often wake up at such an early hour. In Buddhist culture waking up before dawn represents greeting the day and therefore starting the day with good energy. 4 to 5 am is the peak hour for creativity and you will notice a flood of ideas that normally doesn’t occur often, as well as easiness of focus and concentration. This time is great for writing, painting, or doing anything creative. From 5 to 6 am is the time for productivity during which you can accomplish more in less time. This time is great for studying, working on projects, working out in the gym, or doing any type of activities where a desired result is the maximum output in the least amount of time. I noticed from personal experience that I come up with solutions to issues at work or in personal life much quicker in the hours between 4 and 6 am than I do during the day. Before 6 am your mind is yet uncluttered with the happenings of the day and can be compared to the blanc canvas on which you can draw ideas and inspirations. Waking up after 6 o’clock and onward causes a person to become less and less productive. The later we wake up the more tired and foggy we feel. Our daytime bodily processes are already long at work but our mind has yet to catch up.

Waking up at 4 am every morning allows me to get a lot done before starting my 9-5 job. In the evenings I stay away from any type of chores and use that time to unwind. Staying away from your phone and computer an hour before going to bed helps to get the best sleep. Our brain perceives blue light from phone and computer screens as daylight and becomes more alert which can cause sleep problems that in turn can cause depression, fatigue, and inefficiency due to lack of focus and concentration. To note, when you choose to wake up early make sure to get your required hours of sleep; the number of hours of sleep per day varies from person to person (for me it’s 7.5-8 hours). Waking up early can change your life and give you a peace of mind knowing that you have that time to yourself every day for you to do whatever you choose without being disrupted.

How Smartphones Affect Our Lives

Do you remember being a child and living the life void of smartphones? Remember how different life was? Many people think of those times with nostalgia, but convinced that it is anything but possible to have that kind of freedom in the modern world. We are bound to our phones by some contract we never signed but that nevertheless exists. It feels like a job that doesn’t pay or that some of us didn’t even want. We “have to” check messages, email, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, etc. and make sure no notification goes unnoticed! Because it would be rude not to answer someone’s “You look amazing!” comment on Instagram, right? I used to think that for a long time and when I tried to ignore my phone, it’d seep its fangs of guilt into me until I succumbed. But think about the old times. When there was no sms, people called each other if they wanted to talk. If no one was home or no one could/want to answer the phone they didn’t. So why do we let others intrude into our personal time any minute of the day now, no matter where we are and what we do? Why do we give the right to anyone and everyone to access us 24/7?

I think a big part of our emotional bond with a cellphone is physical. Just think about it, it is literally attached to our bodies at all times and it makes us feel entwined with it, as if it was truly a part of us. It feels so personal, the way a landline phone never did. In reality, however, for most people only a small fraction of cellphone activity is truly personal. For example, a text message is a less intrusive and less direct way of communicating than a phone call. A comment on instagram is even less direct, like when you run into someone on the street and say “Oh hey! What’s up?”, and then keep walking your way.

I did an experiment and stopped using my phone on Saturdays. At first it felt strange and I kept reaching into my pocket every 10 minutes but eventually got used to not having it, and a profound change came over me. I found that I am more creative and more productive when I don’t have my phone on me because I have more time to think and more time to do instead of just consuming never ending content of information that’s being fed to us at a speed that no human can process and stay sane. When I go for walks I can blank out my mind and get out of my head and actually notice my surroundings and appreciate them instead of considering how it would look on instagram if I took a photo of it right now. My interactions with people became more real because I am more focused and connected. I make eye contact with strangers and look around when I walk rather than blankly staring ahead. I started feeling more present. But most importantly, it took away a large chunk of anxiety that comes from constant unexpected and sometimes unwanted disruption of a thought flow or an activity.

How to break the physical and emotional bond with your phone? Assuming you’d like to? First of all, it makes a huge difference to leave your phone in a different room if you want to have time off. This will break real physical contact and therefore a part of emotional attachment. I keep mine in another room when I sleep and I use a real alarm clock so that I am not tempted to check my phone first thing in the morning. I also use a small storage container to keep it in during the day that I place on top of the fridge with a lid closed. It sounds silly but it works if you struggle with addiction to check your phone 150 times a day (which is how often on average people check their cellphone per day). I turned off all the notifications so my phone doesn’t make sounds when someone messages me and notifications don’t pop up on the screen. I will only know that someone messaged me if I actually open the messaging app and I do that when I choose to, not when someone else chooses (that may explain why I don’t have too many friends. But I love the ones I do have!) I also keep my phone on Do Not Disturb mode during the day so I can focus on whatever I’m doing without continuous disruptions. Do Not Disturb mode allows calls from my favorite contacts to go through but from no one else (you can tweak your own settings). I also deleted all of social media apps. I do have instagram on my iPad, but I don’t keep my iPad around me all the time and it’s not as tempting to get up and go to another room to check a giant iPad as it is to check my phone, so I do it less often.

What do people think if I don’t answer right the way? Honestly, I’ve no idea. I found that my friends still talk to me, and they don’t seem to be offended at the slightest. In fact, I was sure they’d think I lost my marbles, but I was pleasantly surprised that they got excited at the idea and some even tried it themselves.

I still have to force myself every day to put my phone away on top of the fridge and close the container lid so I am not tempted to check it continuously throughout the day and have it interrupt my workflow, my focus, my conversations with real people, and my thoughts. I still don’t use my phone on Saturdays and I realize now how much I was missing. I was missing real life and real profound peace.

Because we’ve had smartphones for so many years we forgot what it felt like not to have it. I remembered that feeling, and it’s priceless. I hope you can remember too.

Thanks for reading,

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Yours,

Natasha Pea

A Phone That Died

Sipping coffee in the semi darkness of pre-dawn with dim lights illuminating the quiet room. It’s only me, my thoughts, and my journal. I can hear every sound, even my breath. It’s foggy and wet outside, but it doesn’t feel morose, it feels beautiful to me, if beautiful was a feeling. There is time to think, and not to think. There is time to be inspired, to create, and to inspire.

I will not obsess anymore with people that are not real. My phone addiction is dying a slow but painful death. The only people real to me are the ones whose voices I hear or whose faces I see. I’ll notice things around me again, all the little things. Things that are not inside my phone.

A phone is a thing. It’s not alive. It does not breath. Stop breathing your life into it.

More On Fear

I used to dream of a life different than the one I was living and I was trying so hard to stay happy even though it felt like I was slowly dying inside. I knew I was on the wrong path, fluttering and struggling to get off it.

Think of floating on a raft on an angry river. You want to get out onto the shore to rest and think in which direction you should go next, but the river is thrashing you and you sort of let go of the oars at this point and just holding on for dear life. What do you think the river is? Life? Circumstances? Wrong. The river is your mind. It screams different things at you, all at the same time, until you give up and just float because you don’t know anymore what the right thing is. I remember thinking I want to get out of this, I want to come out onto the shore and rest. Why didn’t I? I was too scared. I didn’t know what was on the shore! It might turn out to be a beautiful and peaceful place or it might turn out to be a nightmare, a terrifying new place full of monsters. That’s the fear of the unknown. We all experience it, right? When no matter how uncomfortable the present situation is it’s at least familiar and we don’t have to risk encountering horrific new situations that will make our life miserable. But what will happen if we always only do the comfortable things? We’ll never grow, right? Because, as Brianna Wiest said, growth is painful. It’s painful to grow. When you grow, your old skin sheds and breaks and burns to ashes. But new and young skin is revealed underneath it. A beautiful new you. It’s a process. Most of the time, I mean it, most of the time, it’s not the life that’s scary, but what’s in our imaginations. Your worst fear will probably never come true. When you make a change, at first you may freak out and suffer a bit, or even a lot, but then you look around in the darkness that you feared so much and realize there is no one there but you. No one to come and get you. Your mind scared you witless in order to protect you, because an ego believes that it protects us, but if you trust your soul, your intuition, you’ll see there is not much that you need to be protected from. As Deepak Chopra said “You are safe.” I am not saying to be reckless, although lately I find that to be okay too, but I am saying don’t let your fears control your life. Trust your gut feeling – that’s your intuition. When your mind drives you crazy and pushes you in never ending circles of overthinking, get out of your mind. Go for a walk, meditate, exercise, do anything that will get you out of your head. Meditation helps to develop your connection with your intuition and to better hear it. To better hear your inner voice. Start thinking less and feeling more. Start listening to your inner voice, your true feelings.

What is it that you really want? When you get excited thinking about something, that’s a cue. Why do you think you can’t have that? Write down all your reasons and then read it to yourself. Are they real reasons or are they mostly fears? The ones that appear to be real reasons for not following your heart – can you do something to eliminate them? What steps can you take in order to clear your own path? Understanding yourself is the most important step. Understanding what it is that prevents you from living out the life you desire. Understanding that a big portion of the excuses is just fear. And then analyzing the real reasons and making a plan. Make a step by step plan of what you need to do to clear your path to freedom.

Follow your true desires. Start small and grow big. You can.

Thanks for reading my blog and for following. If you’re not following it please hit a Follow button to know when I publish a new post, it comes out every week.

Yours,

Natasha Pea

Power Of Journaling

I started journaling about a year ago and have found tremendous value in it. I recommend writing every day because it helps understand what you’re feeling and what thoughts run through your mind. It also helps to brainstorm ideas and to reflect on your mood and possibly figure out why you feel the way you feel. First, write down honestly how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking without sugarcoating. Then ask yourself why you feel or think that, and try to answer honestly. You may find that the reasons may be very different than appeared to you at first. You may be surprised that once you start writing it will be hard to stop. It’s like yanking out feelings and thoughts from the depth of your subconscious, removing them from your head and placing on paper. If you’re brutally honest with your journal it can feel almost like talking to a therapist. Because you can tell it everything. When you understand yourself better you can approach any situation you’re in with a new perspective and new ideas about how to go about it and in which direction you want to move. Just make sure to keep your journal safe from anyone’s eye and it can become your very private friend:)

Envy

Did you ever look at someone’s photos on instagram and felt jealous of the life they’re living? Or met a real person who seemed so satisfied with themselves that you just wanted to breath the same air as them? I certainly have. I met several different people in my life who helped me change into who I am today. When I first met them I admired them so much I thought I wanted to be like them, do the things they were doing and achieving the successes they were achieving. They had something I wanted that I didn’t have. But were those things their hobbies, their experiences, or their achievements that I wanted so bad? Did I lack a Master’s degree that would make me as passionate about my job as they were? Did I need to try the same hobbies they had to have the same level of excitement in my life? Or did I want to travel every week to a new destination to have an interesting life?

What all of them had in common that I wanted and didn’t have turned out to be not the external things but what was way beneath it. Passion for life. Interest and excitement about the life they were living. No matter what each of them was doing they seemed confident, excited, and determined. They were living their lives with intention. They knew what they wanted and they were doing exactly that. I wanted to be like that – confident, excited about my life, intentional, and passionate. I wanted to have an interesting life. I wanted to really feel like I had an interesting life, not simply for others to think that; it’s easy to fool people. I wanted to be as excited about my own self as those people were about themselves. And isn’t this the bottom of most of our desires that are disguised by material things or by someone else’s seemingly amazing experiences? In the end, it seems, what we deeply want is to like ourselves and the life we live…

So the first step for me was to ask myself what it is that I really want. Not running after other people’s experiences and achievements and thinking that if I’ll get it I will feel the way they do. First of all we don’t know how they really feel. Second of all, it may simply not be the case. The catch here is to figure out what it is that makes you excited about your own life and then simply go ahead and do it. It sounds simple, but it really is because it doesn’t have to be anything grand immediately. Start small. And then it will grow like a snowball. The more you follow your true desires, I realized, the more of a second nature and the easier it becomes. We are creatures of a habit. Think of one small thing right now that you’d really like to do that will make you feel exited and proud. And then go out there and do it without excuses or overthinking.

Thanks for reading my blog,

Natasha Pea.

Fear

I thought this is an appropriate follow up to my previous blog where I admittedly blame my parents for everything that is wrong with me. I realize just how easily I slip into a blame mode the minute I feel uncomfortable or scared. Is it how I escape from dealing with a real situation? Surely I still think it is important to work through our issues and to learn to let go. But it’s been liberating to realize that my parents are no longer responsible for me and there is nothing they can do to fix the damage. Casting blame is the route I take to avoid facing my fears. I am so terrified of facing them that I throw an emotional tantrum instead. I really am terrified of pretty much everything in life. I don’t appear to be but there is always this inherent fear of life, of future.

The only way to deal with existential fear I think is to stand up and look it in the face. The fear itself is a petrifying, paralyzing emotion, not what’s behind it. It’s like running through a maze, never stopping, fearing that there is evil right behind us, following our footsteps, but if we do stop and turn around there is nothing there, and it’s silent. And is the maze actually beautiful and peaceful? Was the omen of death just an animagus? Sirius?:)