Use the one X one rule

Up, up, and away, in my beautiful balloon. (Someone should write a song about that.)

I was given a hot-air balloon ride by my family this past weekend. The event was over a year in the making, and celebrated a milestone birthday for me. It was worth the wait.

I’m a bit of a daredevil, so the thought of going up high in the air didn’t scare me. I like heights, speed, and living on the edge a little bit. I still want to jump out of an airplane.

Rising high allowed me to see familiar landscape like I’d never seen it before. I could see beauty and patterns obscured by the ground-level view. Our pilot, John Klempner of Okanagan Ballooning, was skilful in keeping us going safely in the right direction and bringing us in for an easy landing. It was so peaceful and wonderful.

Floating above the familiar cityscape caused me to reflect on the wisdom and peace that’s available when I rise above, and gain a higher perspective on, life. I was reminded of a practice I’ve used over the years to put things in proper perspective.

In my earlier years, I wasted so much precious time and attention, getting my knickers in a knot over things that just weren’t important.

I’d yet to awaken to the wisdom of asking myself an important question, “Will this situation even matter, or be remembered, in one year?” If not, then I don’t give it more than one minute of mental air time.

This is the rule of one X one.

When I learned this rule, I considered the many sleepless nights and the days of mental torture I’d spent. I couldn’t even remember what most of the situations were about.

The object of my worry was so inconsequential and mattered so little, I couldn’t recall what had happened within a relatively short period of time. So much lost time and suffering over nothing.

We, alone, determine the amount of air-time we give to the minutiae, the ups-and-downs of life. We choose how much mental and emotional coin we spend by jumping into the mental loop of suffering. Many times, we feed it and keep it going, prolonging our pain.

Pausing to ask ourselves if we’ll remember the moment or situation in a year and how much it’ll matter to us then, is a perfect place to begin. If not one year, then five; will it matter in five years? If not, then let it go.

Next time you notice you are triggered or the hamster wheel of the worrying mind kicks into action, pause, take three deep breaths, and ask yourself, “Will this matter or affect me in one year? If not, don’t spend more than one-minute worrying about it.” Gain a higher perspective.

This simple practice has improved the quality of my life in a powerful way. I’ve learned not to make mountains out of mole hills, to relax, and not to take myself and life so seriously.

As you begin the practice, you may need to repeat the process a few times to remind yourself. Remember to breathe, and to be patient, gentle, and kind with yourself, as you learn a new way.

What you practice grows stronger, and your brain changes as you decrease time spent on worry or upset. It takes practice to change old neuro-pathways and habits of being but it’s worth it.

Taking a bird’s-eye view offers clarity of vision as things appearing big when you’re up close are placed in proportion to the whole.


Come to your senses

Thinking, thinking, thinking. The virtual reality in our minds prevents us from experiencing what’s really happening in the present moment.

So much of our mental coin is spent ruminating on the past or worrying about the future.

Anxiety’s increasing in adults and children alike, and the desire to numb out and escape what’s going on in our heads is understandable.

We can feel powerless over the swirling, expanding tornado of thoughts and emotions, and feel a victim of life’s situations and the tendencies of our minds.

Negative thoughts are sticky. Because of the mind’s inclination to the negative, called the inherent negativity bias, the virtual reality we dwell in most is often one of difficulty and challenge.

Ruminating and spending time going over the past, or the anticipated future, prevent us from experiencing the life we’re actually living. We become distracted and have trouble concentrating on what’s right in front of us, creating even more difficulty.

When challenging situations arise, getting caught up in life’s dramas has consequences. It keeps us stuck in the fight-or-flight response, and our rational mind seems to fly out the window. Our minds, our bodies, and our relationships bear the consequence of this very human tendency.

Have you ever snapped at a loved one because you’ve been lost in thinking about a difficult situation? I sure have.

There’ve been times when, sitting in a beautiful spot, surrounded by peace and beauty, I was suffering. All I could think about was a problem from the past. I missed out because I’d been locked into the virtual reality of my mind, worrying, ruminating, or holding virtual conversations in my head.

The problem wasn’t happening in that moment, there was nothing I could do about it at that time, but it seemed like the only reality, because I made it so.

I felt like a victim of my mind, not knowing what to do to help myself out of the hell in my head.

Stuck in the virtual reality of my mind, I’ve missed out on goodness, such as words shared by a loved one, the taste of wonderful meals, the reality of my physical space, and the truth of what’s happening now.

How can we awaken from this tendency that creates so much suffering in our lives?

I’ve found relief from mental torture in a very simple practice.

Come back to your senses.

Take several slow, deep breaths, feeling the breath as it enters and leaves your body. This is not thinking about the breath, but actually experiencing the breath.

Now, come to your senses; pay attention to what’s real with your physical senses.

  • What do you hear? Notice the sounds around you without judgment. Listen to sounds near and far. Notice if you can hear more sounds now than when lost in thinking.
  • What do you smell? You might need to close your eyes to really notice this sense because we often overlook what we’re smelling.
  • What do you see? List the objects you see in detail: the names, the colours, and textures of what you can see.
  • What do you taste? Can you taste anything? Notice the mouth. How does it feel inside the mouth? Feel the teeth, the saliva, and the tongue.
  • Finally, check in and become aware of what you feel in your body. Feel your feet on the floor, and your clothing as it touches your skin. Feel the temperature of the air, and any other physical sensations happening right now.

If any tension remains, consciously soften your face and shoulders, take another deep breath, and relax your body.

Check in again. How are you feeling? Do you feel better? Has the mind slowed? If not, go back and repeat the steps. For me, this usually means I was thinking about the senses instead of using and sensing them.

My thinking usually slows, and things start to become clearer. This means I’ve invited the executive centre of my brain into action, and deactivated the fight-or-flight response.

This technique is helpful, not only when I get stuck in challenging thinking, but also when I’m feeling overwhelmed or nervous about something. It’s super helpful when challenging thoughts invade sleep time.

Coming to our senses is a simple, yet a powerful technique. It’s portable and private, but helps put us back in the driver’s seats of our lives.

The power of one

My COVID excuse is about to expire.

I used the opportunity offered by the restrictions to go deep within myself and question my “why” and the way I’d been living life.

As restrictions are lifted and I contemplate the immanent opening up of life, I want to be mindful about how I re-engage with the world.

2020 was heralded as the year of clear and perfect vision and, for me, it didn’t disappoint.

I’ve seen how hatred begets more hatred, how judgment and separation keep us from understanding what’s different, and the consequences of blindly following without critical thinking.

I’ve watched the destruction that comes when we judge others who differ from us as lacking, stupid, and wrong.

I’ve experienced the understanding that comes when I respectfully connect with others who live differently or hold different view points. I’ve found commonality as I listened to understand instead of prove my point and argue, and to connect with the humanness of others.

An eye-for-an-eye only leaves the world blind, and it’s time to see more clearly. I’ve truly found the benefits of not judging and staying curious.

I’ve learned, ever more deeply, what’s important as the extraneous busyness dropped away. It’s been healing for me and has called me to a more meaningful way of living. People, human caring, and connection are essential to our well being and survival.

As much as there’s been great sadness, division, and fear, I also witnessed the goodness of humanity rising to support one another.

Communities have rallied together like never before. I love the word community, because it’s our common unity, joining together in the most human way that matters the most.

One man in our community, John Thiessen, owner of Engaged Films, has been a leader in inspiring and gathering people to do good and make a positive difference in the lives of many locals.

John’s call to action happened unexpectedly on Nov. 24, 2019, when he saw past the stereotype of homelessness and became a community champion, giving voice to the voiceless, and rallying people to help in a meaningful way.

John believes in adding value to life through meaningful engagement, and used the power of one to give many others the opportunity to help; he’s a man of action.

John’s a humble man who created ripples of goodness that became a tsunami of care. He also organized opportunities at Christmas and Easter to provide for locals whose lives were compromised by the pandemic.

He buoyed up people’s spirits, and gave us hope and meaning in the darkness of what was happening by offering us a way to help others. John constantly reminded his followers to remember the gentle art of kindness, gratitude, and thinking of others.

Our Christmas and Easter of solitude was made so much happier and better because of John’s call to help. It pulled me out of my own navel-gazing and caused me to remember my own ability to serve and how wonderful it feels to contribute meaningfully to help others.

The power of one person, John Thiessen, who looked beyond his own circumstances, identifying a need, and taking action, blessed not only recipients, but each and every person who participated in sharing their good.

We feel better when we remember our common unity, instead of our differences, and reach out to help other people.

We all have something to give, no matter our circumstances. Many of those who were recipients of caring also participated in giving what they could contribute to others. The small ripple grew into a wave and it lifted everyone.

John is a great community leader because, despite having suffered from COVID and its effects, and the economic challenges due to a downturn in his industry, he found his why and a place to find and offer meaning and purpose in the chaos.

John has exemplified the power of one person saying “Yes” and calling others to action.

The value of one second in time is important to John; knowing one second, one choice can make a positive difference in someone’s life. He uses his seconds wisely.

Community engagement saved John during a time of great personal darkness and challenge in his life. He said helping others helped him more than those he supported. It gave him purpose and meaning, and a powerful answer to the ‘why’ of living.

Each of us has been changed by the events of the past 16 months, and let it change us for the better. Consider your why, and what gives your life value and meaning.

Let all we’ve learned change us at depth for the better as we remember the power of one, and the ripple of goodness that became a wave of kindness in our community.

Harness the power of one; it becomes the power of many. Thank you, John.

Nomophobia: new disease?

It was close. I could have hit her and then this would be a different story.

I am thankful I saw the woman as she stepped blindly in front of me into traffic, her eyes glued to a cellphone. She was so absorbed by her fascinating screen, she was oblivious to how close she’d come to her demise.

As my heart slowed down to normal, I again lamented the Invasion of zombies that have overtaken society.

As I glanced around me, at least two-thirds of the people on the sidewalks were exactly the same; their eyes glued to their devices. Here, in one of the most beautiful places in the world, they were unaware of their surroundings.

While drinking-and-driving is a well-known recipe for disaster, the risk of cellphone use and walking may be lesser known. People are getting hurt because of this habit, experiencing:

  • Sprains
  • Concussions
  • Broken bones
  • Brain injuries
  • Even death

All because their eyes are glued to a screen.

I’ve had to dodge people while walking down the sidewalk because they’re oblivious about where they’re walking. In London, England, they’ve resorted to padding lamp posts to save people from themselves.

Let’s face it, cellphone addiction is rampant — two-out-of-three people are addicted to their device.

It’s common to see people being alone together, each glued to the screen in front of them. It’s like an invisible cage they’re held in, absorbed in the virtual reality of a device.

Have you ever been interrupted mid-sentence because someone’s cellphone beeped or rang while you were visiting? Whoever was on the other end was more important than anything you have to say.

It doesn’t feel very good, does it? What happens to relationships in the context of this ever-present digital companion?

While it’s easy to go blind to what’s become normal, it’s valuable to question what’s happening to us as a society with our growing addiction to our devices.

I admit to having a love-hate relationship with mine. With a world of information at our fingertips, we seem to be anywhere else but where we are.

I’ve noticed any moment of waiting seems to present opportunity to check these ubiquitous devices. We love our technology, which is great when we’re using it, not when it’s using us.

Nomophobia, a new word born from our love of technology, is the fear of being without a mobile device or being outside of cell range. It’s really a thing.

My friends Jim and Kim Rhindress even wrote a song about the prevalence of this new phobia. I thought it was a joke, until I realized it isn’t.

My awareness of the growing epidemic of cellphone addiction heightened when I viewed a photo series, Removed, by Eric Pickersgill.

Pickersgill captured photos of people in modern life, consumed by their devices, except the devices were removed from their hands in his photos. Images that are all too familiar in today’s society become odd, absurd, and alarming through Pickersgill’s lens.

This photo series was like a cold slap of reality to me. The stark truth of what’s happening caused me to wake-up and notice the isolating and intrusive nature of life married to digital devices.

I call it the invasion of the zombies.

Technology is good, but overusing it creates challenges for the cognitive function of our brains. There are many health costs arising from cellphone addiction.

It may be startling to realize the abilities of our brains are changing due to the increased use of technology.

We are harming our ability to remember and to solve simple problems on our own.

How many phone numbers can you remember? Are you able to quickly calculate sale prices in your head? Our spatial awareness is being altered through the use of Google Maps. Use it or lose it.

As I stood with a young clerk in a store recently, she was shocked when I was quickly able to calculate the final price of an item when the sale price was 20% off. She was impressed. I’m concerned that she was impressed.

Digital dementia, a term coined by Manfred Spitzer in 2012, is the breakdown of the ability of the brain to think. Poor short-term memory, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders are only a few of the consequences of the overuse of technology.

Whether it’s distracted walking, digital dementia, or relationship challenges arising from over-use of digital devices, the effects are alarming. We’re the only ones who can change it for ourselves.

As my friend Jeff cautioned, “Beware the cyber-toothed tiger.”

More New Thought articles

About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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