10 Lessons from 100 days of Nowness

October 1st, 2013

Wait. What Nowness?

Let me explain. The past 100 days of my life have been an experiment with being fully present i.e. in the Now.

As you can imagine staying fully present is never easy and I was often drifting either to the past (bad memories, conflicts or other uncomfortable experiences) or the future (expectations of what will happen, how might I react, what different scenarios there are, what am I afraid of, how will I respond to someone or something etc.). Everytime I caught myself not being in the Now I grounded myself back in the present. This basically meant to take a deep breath and focus on what is going on right at this moment. How do I feel? What my senses can see, feel, hear, smell, taste, touch…

It meant to continue doing whatever I was doing but with 100% attention. It meant really listening to what people were saying. Oh, that was damn hard sometimes! I also enjoyed questioning myself: What kind of a problem do I have RIGHT now? It was eye-opening to realize that 99% of the time the answer is none! Wow, what a great life… If there are no real problems how come we are not perfectly happy 99% of the time? It turns out to be pretty simple – most of the so called problems seem to be worries and projections of the possible future.

The ” Nowness” therefore carries some great benefits: It grounds us in the present moment and therefore makes us much more able to actually solve or respond to a given situation (problem – if you like). It shifts our focus to accept what is and choose what we can do NOW which in return diminishes our fear and useless thinking about things which don’t exist or we have very little control over. Last but not least, our joy from what is happening right now raises quite a bit.

Many people were asking me why I took the 100 days off. After twenty years of intense work I came to a point where I needed to change things. I decided to take a break, slow down and find out why my immune system wasn’t working well… As you can read below the past 100 days provided me with much more than just answer to this single question.

I learned 10 fundamental lessons:

1. The goal is not to make life easier or better manage our time.
The secret is to rather focus on energy leadership to become strong enough for all that is going on in our life.
Rather than comparing to others lets treat life as a unique piece of art and live the best possible (and original!) version of it.
I discovered that the same applies to the immune system where the key is not to avoid allergens but to become fit enough to cope with any virus, bacteria, gluten, stress…you name it!

2. We all deserve to take the time to realize what we want.
How could a painter draw an impressive picture w/out seeing it first in his mind? Without knowing why he paints it and how will it feel after he creates it there is no sense spending time on painting it. Similarly, having a clear picture of our goals and desires draws them to us until they gradually manifest in our life. If we don’t have our own picture we are probably part of someone else’s ;) We are all artists creating our lives as original pieces in a large art gallery. How do we want our picture to look like? In which corner of the gallery we wish to be?
Note I am not saying work stopped to be part of the equation…
One of my personal goals has been for years to get a golf green card. The intention was there, but it wasn’t until I knew why I want it and how it would feel to play at a golf court that I made it a priority and spend my time training hard and finally achieving it.

3. Each success or moment of joy makes it easier to create even more joy and success.
The example I’d like to share is surfing. The experience was so powerful that just writing about it gives me chills now. When riding my first wave in the ocean I was in total bliss feeling the oneness of nature and expanding my own limits. Since then I often tuned into this memory and leveraged its energy to pursue something new.

4. Even on the worst days there are at least three things to be grateful for (and often many many more!)
Keeping a gratitude journal made me appreciate my life as it stands and treat every day as a gift. A new chapter. Seeing life as a blank canvas we draw on every day. Like the painters creating our own life piece of art. Here is why it became a daily habit I highly recommend.
It takes away the pressure of constant need for “doing”.
It highlights the beauty of “living” instead.
And a more positive mindset makes for a nice by-product.

5. Most answers to our questions can be found inside.
If your life is busy as mine was you may think it’s too difficult to quiet down and go within. And you are right. But given some practise it becomes easier and the pay back is enormous…
We all have access to a deeper and wider wisdom if we accept our situation as it is and have the patience to listen to our inner truth. During the 100 days it was far easier to find the time for meditation, yoga, nature, music and exercise of all sorts. It’s been super useful in opening up to my inner wisdom. Now I intend to keep these new habits part of my standard schedule!

6. Everything is as it should be.
As one of my wise friends says: Sometimes it doesn’t feel like that, but in a larger perspective we can see the value of any experience we make.
Every day is a lesson.
So is every person we meet.
And we are always meeting exactly the right people at the right time although sometimes we may not quite like or understand it :D.
Such as when I was on Lanzarote wondering about all the possible lifestyles one could adopt and I met a German couple who lived on a boat travelling around the world!!

7. The fun of learning is mostly in the discovery process not the endstate.
It was doing the exercises, discussing with classmates and getting feedback during Coursera classes I attended not the certificates I received at the end. The key to getting inspired is being open to all sources of it and staying engaged in the process of learning. Our attitude is everything and it may turn any experience into learning or fun.

8. Progress or learning doesn’t need to be sequential.
Going beyond our own limits boosts our confidence and expands imagination. We grossly underestimate what we’re capable of…
Many people warned me how hard surfing is and how much prep it requires. Testing the impossible and believing I can do anything with a strong intention and enough attention had me start surfing in less than an hour! The same happened with yoga – following expert advise I started my days with 12 Surya Namaskar (Sun salutation) and planned to gradually increase every week in order to reach the magical 108 salutes which is what true life-long yogis practise daily. But after 2 weeks I thought damn, enough of this slow pace of continuous improvement. How does it feel to do 108 from scratch?!
Yes, I was tired like hell but it felt awesome.
Now I know I can do it.
The age does not matter.
No need to spend a year (or whole life) gradually getting somewhere. We can fast track or shift our mindset in order to define our own game.

9. Being in the Now is a relief.
We hardly have a real problem in the present moment. Happiness often hides in the most simple things.
Such as the two rainbows I accidentally saw when baking a fruit cake. Playing with someone’s dog in the park during a break at TEDx event. A long falling star me and my best friend spotted one hot summer night over a glass of wine. Singing in the car with my daughter on the way to school. Midnight Moongazing beach party on a Black sea coast with a group of friends. Or the barbecue with my 93 years old aunt at the end of which she concluded: “You are extremely happy right now, but as it happens you might just not be aware of it!”

10. Everyone deserves to follow their joy.
To enjoy the simple things we already have in our lives. If we choose to sacrifice joy today it will not bring us more joy tomorrow…
The true life artists, and I count my aunt into the club ;-), master their life energy and draw their unique life paths to learn, work, rest, have fun, share with others and reinvent themselves a tiny bit everyday. They understand that taking a step in the right direction each day is enough. They see the Universe as a friendly place. They value human life and live with purpose using their unique gifts.

We may all reinvent ourselves as many times in life as we wish.

I believe the only real way to inspire anyone is by our own authentic life. And the only moment to do it is Now.




12.10.2013 23:59

Great post indeed! It summarizes what a fulfilling life is all about. I wish there would be an easy way to make people realize what you are describing you have experienced by consciously taking 100 days off your routine schedule. Unfortunately, everyone is so much drawn to their fast-paced lives that rarely they realize how powerfully energizing it is to take control of your life, instead of going where the wind blows. Me and a friend from coursera plan to make our own contribution towards this avenue, and hope we can combine our powers to bring about the change that we desire:)
Keep up the wonderful posts...

13.10.2013 00:53

Hi Jana, this is a wonderful post. I especially love what your Aunt said to you (listed in point 9).

13.10.2013 05:41

Hi Panagiotis,
thank you for your comment. To be completely honest it wasn't a straightforward decision. My life has always been very much centered around work. And having a mortgage just adds on the pressure... It took me quite some time and energy to find my way, gather the courage (I had no idea how much support I may get from the company) and be sure I won't regret or miss the pleasant part of my previous job (great team, influential position, bright assistant, very nice office...) The thing is taking a longer break offers so much in return. It is a great way to look at our life from a bigger picture, to go deep and remind ourselves who we are and why we are here. It gives space to re-prioritize. It also reignites our long forgotten dreams. In that aspect it feels a bit like teenage :-)
I would be curious to see how the project you have designed with your friend evolves.
We'll keep in touch and please let me know once the project "goes public" ;-)

Wishing you lots of passion and life energy to do what matters to you!!

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25.10.2013 08:05

do you have a twitter that i can follow

25.10.2013 19:40

Hi, sure, I'd be glad if you connect on Twitter! You can use the link at the bottom to follow and get notified about new posts. My Twitter name is @JanaMitzoda.

1.1.2014 02:16

Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful
article. Many thanks for supplying these details.

1.1.2014 07:34

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed reading it...

1.1.2014 07:37

Hi Daniel, thank you for stepping by and leaving the comment.