Nusa Dua, Bali

One of My Biggest Fears…

…is not having control over my choices.

There is a HUGE difference between being a control freak or trying to control everything (which I must admit I am and do at times) and losing control over the choices we make.

Being a control freak or trying to control everything in our lives is mentally and physically exhausting because it is an impossibility. We can NOT control everything. Many things will happen in our lives that are out of our control. Bad stuff happens. That is life.

The one thing we can never avoid is the opportunity to control the choices we make in the face of adversity and/or opportunity.

Nusa Dua, Bali

Nusa Dua, Bali

Viktor Frankl said it best, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

This is why I make a big deal if I let my alarm beat me in the morning. This is why I make a big deal if I made a choice to eat a certain way, yet I let the french fries in front of me break down my willpower. This is why anytime I do not follow through on a conscious choice or commitment, a fire rises up inside of me.

That’s because it is the choices we make every moment of every day that shape our lives. It takes practice and it takes work, but with great work comes great opportunity for growth.

What vices have you let beat you lately and what are you going to do about it?

It is our choices that shape our lives. The seemingly insignificant everyday choices are what shape our lives. Just $10 per day compounded at 5% over 40 years leads to almost $500,000 in savings! Who says $10 doesn’t make a difference?

The same can be said for our relationship capital, our mental capital, and our emotional capital. Reading just 1 book per month leads to 120 books in 10 years. Just 10 minutes per day of meditation leads to 600 hours of presence and spiritual connection over the course of 10 years.

I think you get the point by now.

Are you going to go down without a fight or put in the consistent work to make a difference in your life?

Stay strong,

Dr. Matt Westheimer

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Time is Running Out…

Time is running out.

What in the world could I be talking about? I am talking about setting your goals for 2016! Some of you might be thinking I am crazy. Some you might be saying to yourself , “It is only October. I still have 3 more months before it’s 2016 and I need to set goals. Pleeeeeeenty of time!” My answer to you – “WRONG.”

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Would you walk into a gym and throw your maximum weight on the bar the moment you walked in? Do you get to your office the moment the doors open and it’s time to start the day? Do you study for a meeting or a test the day of the event? Do you plan a presentation the day of the talk? I hope not!

It takes time to “prime the pump.” The term refers to older pumps where the suction valve had to be primed with water in order for it to function properly. The same applies to your goals.

If you want to get the most out of your goals, it is best to have them lined up at least a couple of months before the end of the year so you can plan and prepare to crush them beginning with the start of the new year.

Now is time for me to insert a shameless plug. If you need help with the goal setting process, click here and you can download a free copy of my goal setting e-book.

Seriously though, don’t be like everyone else and wait until the beginning of the year to start setting your goals, or even worse, fail to set any goals at all and just take whatever may come your way.

Happy goal setting!

Dr. Matt Westheimer

Krabi, Thailand

It’s Okay To Be Scared…

Since the beginning of time, the most powerful messages have been shared by stories. There is a great book I have been reading called Living Beautifully by Pema Chodron, a Tibetan Buddhist monk. I love this story she shared called The Frog and The Well:

One day, a frog who had lived his whole life in a well received a visit from a frog who lived by the ocean. When the well frog asked how big the ocean was, the visitor said, “It’s gigantic.” “You mean about one-fourth the size of the well?” the well frog asked. “Much bigger” was the answer. “You mean it’s as big as my well?” asked the well frog incredulously. “Far bigger. There’s no comparison,” said the frog from the sea. “That’s impossible. I don’t believe you,” said the well frog. So they set off together to see. And when the well frog saw the vastness of the ocean, it was such a shock that his mind couldn’t comprehend it, and he died on the spot.

Krabi, Thailand

Krabi, Thailand

Many of us feel like the well frog at the thought of facing certain challenges in our lives. We think that quitting a job we don’t like, moving to another country, ending a relationship we are certain is not right for us, or climbing large mountains – physically and metaphorically- are going to kill us. Sometimes the vastness of what we perceive to be outside our well is enough to paralyze us to inaction.

People can be very comfortable in a “well.” People can live a nice life with a secure job and convenient location to set down roots. Many people live their whole lives never testing the unknown; never chasing their dreams; never expanding their consciousness and comfort zones.

I was like that for a long time. I always went for what was safe, rather than what was exciting. I chose comfort over experience. I chose what would make me look good, rather than what would expand me.

I remember taking my first trip to Europe to backpack Iceland, backpacking 9 countries in one month, a 10 day trip to Israel, and a 2 month internship in China. I capped it off with deciding to move my life to the other side of the world to live in Singapore. Then I created a platform to share my life and lessons learned in an effort to transform others.

Every one of those choices were scary as hell. They were also extraordinarily exciting. No great things have come in my life without making big decisions and taking big risks followed by a commitment to grow no matter what happened.

If you’re looking for the easy way out, you are looking in the wrong place.

Dream big,

Dr. Matt Westheimer

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Be prepared to fail…

If you want what others don’t have, you have to be willing to do what others are not willing to do.

Health doesn’t happen by accident. Happiness, fulfilment, and a deep sense of meaning do not happen by accident and neither does wealth. Adventure, travel, learning, and great relationships do not happen by accident either. The greatest things in life do not happen by accident. They come from a deep and meaningful desire and commitment to intentional living.

We must wake up every day with a desire to grow and create fulfillment. And be prepared to fail at this often. Just this morning I had one of those “failures.”

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I make it a goal to be out of bed by 5:45 am each morning. This gives me enough time to complete my morning routine: meditation, writing, reading, coffee, preparation for the day, and some light movement and mobility. This morning I lost the battle over the bed.

I hit snooze until almost 6:45 am. I finally got up feeling a bit defeated and frustrated with myself because I was going to have to cut my meditation short and skip a few of the things that really get me ready for the day.

I was frustrated because I really do attempt to live my life by the saying “If I want what others don’t have, I have to be willing to do what others are not willing to do.” I was annoyed that I let my bed beat me because that is what ordinary people do. It is ordinary to hit snooze for 30 – 60 minutes. It is ordinary to watch television for hours and hours every day. It is ordinary to skip a work out if you are tired. It is ordinary to not meditate because you may find it boring or just not in the mood that day. It is ordinary to skip date night. It is ordinary to not be present with people and be more focused on yourself. It is ordinary to stay in your comfort zone.

Here’s the thing. There is NOTHING intrinsically wrong with being ordinary. It just isn’t extraordinary. I am committed to living an extraordinary life.

The only difference with being ordinary and extraordinary comes down to the choices we make. Ordinary people make ordinary choices. Extraordinary people make extraordinary choices. It’s that simple.

I know I will continue to make ordinary choices but I am committed to bridging the gap more and more to extraordinary.

Are you up for that too?

All the best,

Dr. Matt Westheimer

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Crush your goals and be happier…

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Great insight and advice many times comes in the most unlikely and unexpected places.

My girlfriend Jen and I left the house this morning and made our way over to the local rock climbing gym. We decided to grab a coffee and read at a great little cafe next door before we started our climb. Right before we were ready to pack things up and head next door, a good friend of mine and his wife showed up and started chatting for a bit. Well, I guess it was quite longer than a bit. We started chatting about our current projects and “labors of love” that we like to call them. He has a few in the pipeline and I have a couple myself.

As the conversation continued, the topic of goals came up. As the conversation deepened, we began discussing the value of result-based goals versus process-based goals. When many people set goals, they set result-based goals.

For example, I want to lose 20 pounds in 3 months. The goal is the result. Now of course there needs to be a process to lose the 20 pounds, but most people find the victory or the fulfillment in the result and not in the process. Gratification is postponed until the result is accomplished, and if the result is not accomplished, misery typically ensues.

A process-based goal around the same topic would be goals to wake up every morning to a tall glass of water with fresh squeezed lemon to jumpstart your metabolism, taking the stairs at every opportunity rather than the elevator or escalator, working out for 30-45 minutes for 5 days per week, and eliminating grains, dairy, and sugar from the diet.

Now I know there are many other things that can be included in losing weight, but you get the point. Every day you follow the process is a victory. Every day you follow the process is a step toward the result you are looking for. Instead of the focus being on the result, the focus is on the PROCESS.

Improve your processes and improve your life. Improve and follow your processes, and you do not have to rely just on the results to bring fulfillment. You can literally become fulfilled every day that you follow the process and a natural byproduct of this will be fantastic results.

Now go create great processes for your life and kick some butt.

All the best,

Dr. Matt Westheimer

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Stuck in a rut? Here’s the cure…

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Commit and take action. Commit and take action. Commit and take action.

This has been my mantra lately.

I find that whenever I find myself in a rut it is usually because I am sitting on the fence about something and using that as an excuse not to take action.

There is no better cure for stagnancy than to commit to something and take massive action. Many of these things will not come to fruition but each step sharpens the sword so to speak. Heck, I have dozens of articles I have written but never posted, business and project ideas I put work into and then decided to scrap, and detailed plans for things that are sitting there collecting dust.

I also have hundreds of blog posts that have been published, an incredible practice serving hundreds of families, a website with a couple of e-books designed to make people’s lives better, an upcoming podcast getting ready to launch, a re-invigorated rock climbing practice, and many other things in the pipeline.

Many of the things I have attempted and ideas I have created have never come to fruition, but many have. It takes an intense focus on committing to things and taking action.

Some of the things will work out and some won’t. So what? The ones that work – great. The ones that don’t – refine and move forward.

The key – commit and take action.

Have I made my point yet? Great.

Get started.

All the best,

Dr. Matt Westheimer

Philippines

When life punches you in the stomach…

(Approximate read time – 6 minutes)

Philippines

Philippines

When you have your identity wrapped up in one thing and that one thing is taken away from you, it can feel like everything is crashing down around you. At least it felt that way for me. I always viewed myself as an athlete and someone who is extremely fit and competitive. I loved being in the gym. I loved pushing my body to its limits. I loved the pursuit of physical growth. It was my consolation when other things in my life were a challenge and it is what I loved to do when I was celebrating another area of my life. It got to the point of being an unhealthy obsession.

Then back in 2004, a seemingly small incident really shook my world up. I began to feel a twinge in my right shoulder. I figured I was only 21 years old at the time and my body was still invincible so I just pushed through it. I continued to push through it until it got to the point where I could barely lift my hand above my shoulder. I went in for an MRI and I was diagnosed with tendinitis and bursitis. These are not good for an athlete, especially being a chronic problem and not acute onset. I was in for a long road ahead. It took years for me to get my shoulder even close back to normal again. I say close because it is still not the same as it was previously, even 11 years later. There are still activities I can’t do with it and motions I know will cause me to wake up hurting the next day.

This event really destroyed me emotionally at the time. My confidence was shot. My self-esteem was super low. I was questioning everything about my life. I wrapped my entire identity into having a “perfect” physique and being able to workout and perform extreme physical feats. My identity as an individual and my identity as an athlete were indiscernible. When the one thing I based my identity on was taken away from me, I felt like my world was taken away from me. It was a long road to recover from that and I will share how I overcame that but first I want to share with you what made me think of that story.

Just a few days ago, I was lifting in the gym. I just finished up a session of deadlifts and was moving on to front squats. I was on my first warm up set with weight I have done a thousand times before, and as I approached the bottom of my squat on my second repetition, I felt a pop in my lower back. I knew this was not good. My first thought was “Not this again.” A similar thing happened to me a couple of years ago which had me sidelined for quite a while. The second thought was “How could this happen to me as a chiropractor? I should know better.”

As I sit here in pain typing this very message, I reflect on the various lessons I have learned from my injuries in the past and how my perspectives have changed since my first life altering injury.

VARYING IDENTITY

My world was so shaken up with my first injury that left me sidelined because of one thing – I had nothing else, or at least I felt that way. I felt like I was nothing if I did not have my fitness and my identity as an athlete. It is really dangerous to wrap your identity in only one thing. Many of us do it though. We have our whole identity wrapped into our career, our looks, our spouse, our money, or our things.

What would happen if you have your identity wrapped into your business or career and that was taken away from you? What if you spent your life dedicated to accumulating money and your money disappeared? What about your looks or physique and that was taken away from you? What would you have left?

The truth is that many people would feel empty and meaningless if the one thing that was most important to them was taken away. I think it is normal to feel pain if something that mattered a lot to you was taken away, but would you feel empty?

I realized that I put so much into my physical identity that when that was gone, I found there was very little meaning in my life. I spent the last 11 years making sure that was not true anymore. Is it perfect now? Heck no, but it is improved. I now do not just have my identity wrapped up in my physical fitness, but an identity around a spiritual practice, an identity around growth and contribution, family, and making a difference in people’s lives.

I have found these challenges make me a better chiropractor and a better leader because I am able to empathize with people more. I see people everyday suffering from health challenges. What better way to connect with them than to have gone through and overcome a similar challenge myself?

VIEW EVERY CHALLENGE AS AN OPPORTUNITY

I have always viewed challenges and setbacks as a negative thing. My perspective was that weak people have challenges and setbacks. Strong people have lives that are smooth with no setbacks. How’s that for a recipe for suffering?

My perspective has since shifted. My perspective now is that a weak person allows setbacks and challenges to defeat them. Strong people confront challenges with courage, find meaning in the pain, figure out a way to overcome, and use that lesson to make a difference in the lives of others.

I am now able to see my pain as an opportunity to connect with my patients more, write deeper and more meaning pieces to impact my readers, and to connect with the other areas more that make up my identity.

SItting here in pain sucks, but when there is meaning behind it, it makes it worth it.

The novice sees the opportunity in hindsight. The master is able to see the gift from the beginning. It’s time we all work on becoming masters.

CREATE MORE BALANCE

The truth is that if you are living a truly extraordinary life, you will never have balance. I relate balancing life more to the idea of spinning plates as opposed to maintaining equilibrium on a see-saw. The only way to maintain equilibrium on a see-saw is by playing small. If you want to play big, it is going to be more like spinning plates. The plates are never all spinning at the same speed. You put a bit more focus on one and the other ones start to slow down so you begin to spin the slower ones and then the faster ones slow down. This feels like a nightmare until you develop a system and a practice of spinning the places to which that all remain moving. They are never exactly the same because there is always a bit more attention on certain things, but to a novice, the change may be imperceptible.

In hindsight, I realized my exercise was weighted way too heavy on the lifting side and maximal exertion side and not enough on the rest, recovery, and mobility side. I was lifting and sprinting a lot but my soft tissue, stretching, and yoga practice fell by the wayside.

This was a reminder I could not ignore that I left one of my plates too long and it came crashing down. Time to pick the plate back up and find that “balance” again.

I recently read a great quote by Tony Robbins – “Success in life comes from good judgement. Good judgement is usually the result of experience. Experience is usually the result of bad judgement.”

It would be great if we could learn from other people’s bad judgement and not have to go through the pain ourselves. While that it possible some of the time, we are still going to have to deal with the consequences of our own bad judgement at times. It is the gains, the insights, and the lessons we learn from those bad judgements that allows us to forge our future as a defeatist or victor.

All the best,

Dr. Matt Westheimer

Pondering life in Iceland (Circa 2007)

The Art of Connection

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

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When we think about the people in our lives that made the greatest impact on us, it is the emotions that we remember. It is how the experience made us feel that drove us to be more and do more.

I remember a time very vividly when I was deciding on what I wanted to do with my life. I was practicing as a chiropractor in South Florida with my mentor, Dr. Rick Markson, and he asked me a very simple question after months of self-deliberation. “What will you regret more in 15 years – not opening a practice or not taking the time and adventure to travel the world?”

With that one question, it changed the course of my life. Yes the words were important, but I thought about the words before on my own. It was more about the way he made me feel that created the impetus to take action. I am forever grateful for that experience and I have made it my mission to be able to connect with people the way my mentors have connected with me to create a life full of growth, abundance, and yes, lots of challenges too.

There are many ways we can connect better with people. I am going to share a few with you today.

BE PRESENT

Eckert Tolle talks about being present in the “Power of Now.” Buddhism and meditation are all about being in the “now.” Many of the ancient proverbs are about leaving the past behind us and the future ahead of us, which is where they belong, and existing in the only space that exists – the present.

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Chiang Mai, Thailand

I have a very specific intention at the start of every day. My intention, or my goal, is to make every experience with every person in my life one of perfect presence. My aim is to be so present that even if an 18 wheel truck came blasting through the room I was in, I would not lose my connection with the person I am with. Unless there is imminent danger, there is nothing that could distract me. There is nothing that could take me away from the moment with the person I am with – whether that be my significant other, my friend, my patient, or the cashier at the supermarket.

I fail often. Very often. I don’t know if I have ever succeeded at this objective, but the intention is powerful. The intention alone has brought greater levels of connection with everyone I am with, and it is an important enough goal to dedicate my life to perfecting it.

GET OFF YOUR PEDESTAL

Essentially what I mean is not to be so judgemental. We all have our own crap to deal with.

I remember when I was working with someone who was trying to lose weight but was really struggling, I just couldn’t get my head around the challenge. The solution was so simple to me. Eat less and move more. Problem solved! I would judge them for not taking the simple steps to change.

Then I had an epiphany. This occurred a couple of years ago when I decided to commit to a regular meditation practice. The practice was simple. Sit in 10-15 minutes of silence every day. Guess what happened? I didn’t do it. I kept making excuses. One of my mentors called me out on it.

I realized at that moment that we all have our mountains to climb. We all have our challenges that we could take simple steps to resolve but for one reason or another, we don’t do what needs to be done. There was no difference between the overweight person who wasn’t taking 10 minutes every day to exercise and myself who wouldn’t take 10 minutes to meditate.

Pondering life in Iceland (Circa 2007)

Pondering life in Iceland (Circa 2007)

Since then I have made an extraordinary commitment to judge less and be more accepting of people just as they are. It has created a deeper level of empathy for people. By going through and embracing my own unique challenges, it allows me to connect with other people’s challenges as well.

This leads me to my next point…

MAKE IT ABOUT THEM

I had a great interview with a hypnotherapist the other day which will be made available to you in the near future. He shared a simple story with me that gave me a greater perspective on relationships. He told me that growing up he never saw his parents argue or fight – ever. There was nothing but love and affection. Fast forward, and he has been with his significant other for 20 years and they have never argued or fought – ever.

This blew my mind. I can’t say I have experienced anything even close to that type of a track record. I was intrigued. I asked him, “What is your secret? Do you think that you and your parents just got lucky or is something like that created?” His answer was fantastic, “Both. I think I got very lucky in meeting the person I am sharing my life with but I also make a conscious choice to always put my partner first. This doesn’t mean I don’t take care of myself because I do, but I am always looking out for my partners needs. If they come home at the end of a tough day and they are frustrated about something, rather then take it personal, I know they just need a cup of tea and a head massage.” Wow.

Making it about her

Making it about her

Here is the catch. We discussed that more in the interview and we came to the conclusion that you have to have an exceptional level of confidence and self-esteem to be able to not take things personal and just be there for your partner.

This is another skill that made it on my list to master.

BE A LEADER

They don’t need more people to tell them what to do, but they do need people to help them make a decision. When I asked my mentor, Rick, what are the top two qualities you find in the most successful people he responded without hesitation, “Decisiveness and confrontational tolerance.”

In order to lead people, you need to possess both. You need to be able to confront people with issues that really matter, and you need to be able to communicate in a way that inspires them to take action in what is in THEIR best interest. Rick did that for me on that Fall evening in 2010. He confronted me and inspired me to make a decision.

The rest is history.

The art of connection is a massive undertaking. You can learn much of connection from reading articles and books, listening to audios, and attending seminars, but you will never get better at it without a massive commitment to practicing it. The art of connection is like learning to ride a bike. You can read a dozen books and watch a dozen videos on the art of riding a bike, but it will never make you a great rider unless you get on the bike and start pedalling.

Keep on the journey,

Matt

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The Greatest Productivity Tool

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I have always been amazed at some of the entrepreneurs and over-achievers that seem to fit a week’s worth of productivity into a 24 hour day. I have watched in amazement at the shear amount of work, both personally and professionally, that these individuals get done. You see people like Sir Richard Branson who owns more than 400 companies and it is mind blowing to even attempt to grasp the amount of work that must go into keeping a machine like that running. While I am sure he has done an amazing job at delegating and hiring truly great people, it should not diminish the fact that he has a very full plate to deal with on a daily basis! While I certainly am not at the personal efficiency of a Sir Richard Branson – yet, I constantly look for ways to bridge the gap in personal and professional efficiency and effectiveness to be “more like Branson,” in my own unique way of course!

The greatest productivity tool I have found to bridge the gap and accelerate my productivity tremendously is a specific aspect of my morning routine. My full morning routine can be found at Master Your Morning, but I want to share an aspect that has had a huge effect on my daily productivity. It literally has supercharged my day. It is a discipline that I first learned from John DeMartini, who first learned it from Mary Kay of Mary Kay Cosmetics fame.

The discipline just takes a few minutes every morning/evening. Every morning I sit down and write down the 6-8 highest priority action steps that I must accomplish that day and get them done by the end of the day. That’s it. It really is that simple.

I wake up every morning and with coffee in hand, I review my 6-8 highest priority action steps from the previous day and rate myself on how I did and then add 6-8 new ones to accomplish. This is really powerful because it creates a laser-like focus on what is most important for the day.

Practicing this simple exercise, I have found my productivity skyrocket and my enthusiasm for the day explode because I am focusing on exactly what is most important to me. While I am still not ready to run 400 companies, Richard Branson better watch out because I am on my way!

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

Keeping crushing it,

Matt

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The world lost a great man…

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The world lost a great individual last week. One of my favorite authors, speakers, and mentors, Dr. Wayne Dyer, passed away on August 29, 2015. I have read The Power of Intention among others and listened to hundreds of hours of his audios. I never had the honor of speaking to him in person, but his presence was felt in my life in a powerful way through his books and audios.

One of my favorite quotes of his is “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” He tells a story of a gentleman who is fumbling around with his keys when the lights go out in the house. He searches for his keys for a while when suddenly he looks out the window and finds the street lights are on. He has a bright idea. Why search around in the dark house for his keys when there are lights on outside. He proceeds outside to continue his search when a neighbor comes out to see if he can be of some help. He asks gentleman what he is doing. The gentleman replies, “I lost my keys and I can’t seem to find them.” The neighbor asks, “Where did you lose them?” The gentleman responds, “I dropped them inside my house.” “Inside your house?” exclaimed the man. “Then why are you looking out here in the street.” The gentleman says, “Why would I look inside in the darkness, when there is a bright light our here in the street?”

I love this story because it is a constant reminder for me. It is a reminder that many times we are searching for a solution outside ourselves that can only be found inside. It is different for everyone. Some search for the latest piece of technology to bring them happiness. Some look for a distraction in the hottest television show. Some fill their days with being busy to escape feelings of loneliness, frustration, sadness, or anger.

This rings really close to home with me. I remember a few years ago when I was going through some big personal challenges I met with a leader in neurolinguistic programming. I was looking for a trick, hack, or quick solution to overcoming my personal challenges. His advice to me – meditation. I was looking for him to share a 5 minute process to solve all my problems and his solution to me was meditation?! His reasoning was similar to the story I shared with you. There was no way I was going to surpass my personal challenges without changing from the INSIDE-out.

Amed, Bali

Amed, Bali

I begrudgingly left his office and headed home to begin my meditation practice. The prescription was simple – sit for 10-15 minutes every day with nothing but my own thoughts. I’ll spare you the details of the meditation practice, but the results were powerful. I noticed when I first started doing it, I couldn’t sit for more than 2-3 minutes without being really mentally and emotionally uncomfortable. After a couple of months, there were times when my alarm went off signalling the end of the session, and I was disappointed to be interrupted.

Even if things seem dark, there is no solution that can be found by looking in the wrong place – no matter how bright that wrong place may seem.

All the best,

Matt