Archive for the ‘Zen’ Category

A force for good

June 25, 2013
Finding your ki

Finding your ki

You may have heard the term ki. It’s a Japanese word for ‘energy’ or ‘life force’; it’s the natural energy in the Universe that makes up everything. Think about it as positive energy that we can tap into and use in our lives.

You’re already doing it, so it’s nothing too mystical, but actively applying it to your life can create fantastic results. For example, it’s amazing the energy boost you can get from associating with excited and motivated people, being excited by the possibilities of a new project or challenge achieving a major goal.

In Chinese the term is chi and they have a saying that ‘chi follows yi’ where yi is the mind or intention. So logically when you associate with positive people and ‘charge’ your energy you can focus it in the areas that make you feel unstoppable.

If we think of ki or chi energy as a kind of life force then it makes sense that it gives us a feeling of vitality, of wanting to get the most out of life. When we allow this positive energy to combine with the power of the mind, specifically focusing on the good and a positive mindset, then the result is not just a vague happy feeling but directed positivity.

If our thoughts create our reality, or at the very least our perception of that reality, then doesn’t it makes sense that we’re better off when the majority of our thoughts are positive?

Buddha said ‘All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think is what we become’.

Our past doesn’t define our future so we can start with a clean slate. Learn from the past but don’t let it define you. If you’ve made mistakes, failed, given up early, not chased your goals or procrastinated, that doesn’t define who you are now. Likewise past successes don’t guarantee future ones either.

Approach the day with a clear mind, a positive outlook and a sense of wonder that means anything is possible. Find your ki and harness its power for success.


The quest for space

July 4, 2011


The quest for white space

Finding available market space in a sea of complexity and clutter is a difficult skill to acquire. We’re programmed to see what’s there, not what isn’t – unlike, say, artists, who are trained to see and appreciate positive and negative space at the same time.

Business people need to think in the same way when looking at their markets. A new market or ‘white’ space is the key to growing your business. Going head to head with competitors and fighting over the same turf is not, unless you have a killer competitive advantage.

In Blue Ocean Strategy the authors refer to this as uncontested market space – finding a segment of the market that is new or different and tailoring an offer to fill it. Dell did it with direct- to-customer computers and Amazon with books.

What offerings are missing from your market? A good idea is to look at the market and see what people are doing and then design a product or service to help them – so-called needs-based innovation. Most businesses start with a product or idea and then hope to find a market for it. Some ideas are brilliant but never sell.

Instead, find out what your customers want and give it to them.

Space for you

June 30, 2011


Stop buying the unnecessary, doing the non-essential 

Clear distractions, focus on each moment.

Let go of attachment to doing and having.

Cultivate contentment. Enjoy living with less.





What does white space do?

June 28, 2011

white light

White space, like a frame, focuses attention.

If you only have one paragraph to tell a story, every word in that paragraph becomes more significant. The white space distills and concentrates the power of the words.

White space, like silence, allows us to absorb what’s being said.

Without silence, you cannot hear yourself. Given the pace of life, we need time to relax – time for the mind to settle and enter a reflective state. White space provides a meditative silence which allows us to understand our lives fully.

Whitespace helps create rhythm.

Writers know this. They arrange words into sentences and paragraphs very carefully, knowing where they fall on the page affects how the reader interprets their meaning.

Effective use of white space can make images more potent and words more evocative. Finding the white space in life helps us focus on where we are.  And keeps us moving forward to find what’s next.

This is the benefit of finding our personal space. We learn to understand what we want, based on a realistic appraisal of where we’ve been. With more space and awareness, we find new stories to tell, and re imagine our lives in fresh ways.

White space

June 20, 2011

Finding white space

White space is the space in life that isn’t filled with things.

By using white space we create space, balance and provide focus for what’s important. 

Conceptually, achieving white space isn’t difficult: you remove non-essential items from your life, home, work and possessions to leave the essential items with space around them.

In practice it’s more difficult. It requires patience and practice. The process begins with your mind, then to your environment and back again. Select one aspect of your life. Identify what’s important and progressively remove the non-essential to create white space.

You value what’s left: clarity, balance and a little breathing room.

Making white space in your life

April 17, 2011

Simplicity through white space

In my last post we discussed the importance of ridding yourself of life’s clutter, to be left with only valued elements, which leads to focus and simplicity. This is about understanding what is really important to you and creating the time and space to pursue it.

Let’s look at a few key points to help you achieve this:

– Understand what‘s important to you. In our busy lives it‘s easy to create an impressive list of things we would like to do – work, home, sport, hobbies and personal pursuits such as writing a book, learning a language, restoring a car, teaching the kids to surf, recording a CD or creating a garden – a list as long as your imagination.

This can be overwhelming, with nothing achieved other than confusion.  Make a list of the things you value the most. This will provide clarity. Think about the top four or five most important things you want to pursue. Rank them and allocate time to number one; it may only be 30 minutes a day but it will bring you peace. These priorities simplify your life.

– Evaluate your time and understand how you spend your day. Record the things that you do from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed. You will be surprised by the amount of wasted time. This is the busyness of being.

– Take your list of daily activates and put a red line through the non essential. How much time, on average per day, do these take up? Non essential does not mean all the things you don’t enjoy doing; you still need to work, pick up the kids, pay the bills and buy groceries. It means the many tasks in a day that don’t matter at all; eliminate the unnecessary things so you focus on what’s important.

– Having removed the non essential you can now allow a few minutes between tasks, the white space of life, to relax, take a breath and consider what to do next. Hectically running from one task to another, always being behind, doesn’t allow for your best performance.

– How much time did you ‘create’ by crossing stuff off your list? Can you block it and allocate it to your priority task? Schedule it in like any appointment – make it non-negotiable – and be on time for yourself, like you would for anyone else. If you don’t schedule it, other tasks will expand to fill the space.

– To start, an easy one is to swap an hour of TV for an hour of your number one priority. I get to work at 7.00am when the commute is 15 minutes rather than an hour, so I can swap 45 minutes of sitting in traffic for quiet writing time before the work day commences.

– Do one thing at a time. This rule is very important. The basic step is to keep it simple: single-task, rather than multi-tasking, in thought and deed.  

Learn to say no. If you want to simplify your live you need to be able to say no. Other people’s priorities should not automatically supersede yours.  If you take on too much your priority tasks will fall down the list into oblivion.

Make some simple changes to your life and you will feel better, take control, make progress and achieve your goals. That’s a happier place – a white space place. Enjoy.

The Zen of white space

April 11, 2011

Finding the white space in our lives

Have you heard the expression ‘less is more’? It means having less in your life but enjoying it more. It’s the brief gap between the busyness of life, a moment to take a breath. It’s white space.

In advertising the use of white space is designed to focus and highlight the important without cluttering the page. Clean and clear.

We often receive advice about simplifying life, finding calm and living in the now. It’s a common theme in the self help literature. I believe there’s merit in finding Zen in the spaces between the activities of our lives; our own personal white space. Most of us want to find the elusive simplicity that resides on the other side of complexity.

Simplicity has a different meaning for everyone. For some it means eliminating all but the essential in their lives. For others, it’s a new way of living – the peace and calm they find in their days, mindfulness and concentration in every activity.

This is the Zen way of living. Rid yourself of the clutter and you’re left with valued elements. But what does that mean in modern day life?

Well, it doesn’t mean renouncing all that you have to spend your days in quiet contemplation. We all need to work, live and interact with the world. It certainly doesn’t mean turning your back on your responsibilities. You may not even be less busy that you are now, but you will be focused; action rather than reaction.

There is an old management philosophy that says we should focus on the important rather than the urgent. It’s easy to fill our days with white noise rather than white space; that moment between tasks to take a breath and reflect on what we are achieving.

Busy and focused, in the moment, and applying your attention to what you are doing now is good. Filling your day, or your life, with busyness for its own sake, clutter and distraction only serves to divert and drain your energy. You end up deferring the most important things, and just getting through the day rather than being inspired by it.

In my next post we’ll look at a few strategies for making white space in your life.

Finding Zen

March 31, 2011

Zen resides within

It’s a typical day in the world. It’s a lot like yesterday. Or tomorrow. It’s a lot like our life. There’s always something going on, but in the end we wind up pretty much where we started.

Then again, it’s not typical at all. It’s unique. A new day with people, places and experiences that’ll never be exactly the same again.  Even in our ordered and predictable routines, every experience is unique. Mundane or new and interesting; it’s all how you look at it.

Sometimes, for seemingly no reason, you see it. You see the moment for what it is. Perhaps you see something for the first time that you’ve been looking at for years. You stop and see the wonder. How could I have missed that?  Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Just now. That’s Zen. The moment you didn’t expect. The moment when you see that life isn’t ordinary at all.  

Many people think Zen is something mystical, the domain of monks living in mountains with vows of poverty and silent reflection. You can have a Ferrari, or anything else for that matter, and still experience Zen. The basic idea is very simple: we experience the world through a filter of expectations and preconceptions accumulated over the course of our lives – as a result we fail to see the world as it really is.

With practice and clarity, called mindfulness, we can overcome the veil of illusion and see through to our own true nature. We can learn to see the world as it is and understand our place in it. Our lives are not so different. We all have concerns, stress, good times and bad. We all get lost at times. And we can find ourselves when we try. Sometimes we just have to get out of our own way.

So to find Zen we simply head off on a journey of everyday discovery. Set your ego aside. Open your soul and see where it goes. Stop looking for Zen. No robes required. It’s been inside you all this time.