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Plowing our own Fields

If we allow our attention and energy to be taken up in efforts to keep others right and remedy their faults, we are wasting precious time. We are like ploughmen each of whom has his team to manage and his plough to direct, and in order to keep his furrow straight he must keep his eye on his goal and concentrate on his own task. If he looks to this side and that to see how Tom and Harry are getting on and to criticize their ploughing, then his own furrow will assuredly become crooked.  (From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, pp. 5–7)

I love this quote because I seldom see Shoghi Effendi use English idioms such as “Tom, Dick and Harry”.  It seems unlikely that Tom and Harry are Persian names!  So everytime I read this quote, it makes me giggle.  I also love the imagery.  It’s so easy to see the ploughmen looking to this side and that, and the furrows weaving all over the place.  Don’t we all do that?  Don’t we all have a tendency to look around and compare ourselves to others, and either feel superior or less-than?  I’ve heard it called “compare and despair” and that’s what it feels like to me.  When I’m in despair, I lose motivation to do anything, which is definitely wasting precious time.  As Bahá’ís, we don’t have any time to waste.  You may remember memorizing this quote in Ruhi Book 4:

There is no time to lose. There is no room left for vacillation. Multitudes hunger for the Bread of Life . . . God’s own Plan has been set in motion. It is gathering momentum with every passing day . . .  Such an opportunity is irreplaceable . . . To try, to persevere, is to insure ultimate and complete victory.  (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, #75)

We’ve been given a Plan, which all of the Institutions are asking us to win in the next few months.  That’s the big goal we need to keep focused on.  With God’s help, we’ll win it, to honor the efforts of the Bicentennials.

Remembering where to keep my eye focused, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

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God’s Timing

Do ye not look upon the beginning of affairs; attach your hearts to the ends and results. The present period is like unto a sowing time. Undoubtedly it is impregnated with perils and difficulties, but in the future many a harvest shall be gathered, and benefits and results will become apparent. When one considers the issue and the end, inexhaustible joy and happiness will dawn.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Divine Art of Living, p. 92)

Whenever I start a new project, I’m impatient and expect instant results, forgetting that seeds take a long time to germinate and before the harvest, there are lots of weeds and bugs and weather and other things to contend to.  I want to go straight from seeds to harvest without the messy stuff in the middle.

This quote reminds me to stop rushing, to slow down, to pray and meditate, to take the next right action, to keep my eyes on the goal, to be fully present to the moment and to not let my worries take over.  With God on my side, I have nothing to fear.  In this moment, all is well.  God knows all the tiny little steps I need to take in between, and the virtues I’ll collect along the way.  My job is to enjoy the process and let go of the results.

Knowing that when I remember to consider the issue and the end I will be a happy and joyful being, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Strengthening Your Relationship with God

 

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Seeing the Next Goal 

As we almost never attain any spiritual goal without seeing the next goal we must attain still beyond our reach. He urges you, who have come so far already on the path of spirituality, not to fret about the distance you still have to cover! It is an indefinite journey, and, no doubt in the next world the soul is privileged to draw closer to God than is possible when bound on this physical plane.  (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 461)

The Bahá’í Faith places great emphasis on setting goals, making plans, executing them with a humble posture of learning, trying them out for a period of time, reflecting on their efficacy and then making new plans, all in 3 month cycles.  That’s why I love this quote so much.  It reminds me that we seldom see the end in the beginning.

When Shoghi Effendi was designing the gardens around the shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, he didn’t know anything about horticulture or landscape gardening, so he developed the 5 Steps of Prayer for Solving Problems, where he gives us a structured way to set a goal.  We pray, meditate, determine a course of action, have faith that the right things will come to our aid, have the determination to carry it out and to act as if it had all been answered.  Then repeat as needed.

All of these tools help us when we’re setting our goals, to make sure we aren’t paralyzed by indecision and fretting about not knowing everything when we start.  The biggest thing to remember is that we are all soldiers in God’s Army.  He’s the one in charge.  We are only His foot soldiers.  As long as we’re moving forward prayerfully, we can’t fail.

Knowing that each goal achieved brings me closer to God, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Strengthening Your Relationship with God

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5 Ways to Focus and Get Back on Task

In my life coaching practice, I’m often asked what the Bahá’í Writings teach about setting goals and keeping focused on the most important tasks. Each day, there are dozens of tasks calling our names, at work, at home and in our Bahá’í communities. With life being so busy it’s easy to lose focus on the big picture. Shoghi Effendi offered some guidance when he said:

[They] must approach their task with absolute detachment, and must concentrate their attention on the most important and pressing issues. (Principles of Bahai Administration, p. 67)

But, how many times have you gone to bed wondering what you actually accomplished that day? Or have you ever felt like your day was somehow wasted?

To avoid these feelings, you can try a few different methods to get yourself back on track. Rather than bemoaning your wasted time, resolve to regain your focus and get back on task.

There’s a famous quote about focus by the great philosopher Confucius: “If you chase two rabbits, you catch none.” True, there might be people who are able to multitask and do it relatively well; but more often than not, people who split their attention between two different tasks have a more difficult time completing both tasks well.That’s where detachment becomes so important.

Here are five ways to regain your focus and get back on task:

1.Eliminate the distractions. Get rid of the barriers that are causing you to avoid getting things done – it’s that simple! Forget about checking email every five minutes; those emails will still be there when you complete your task. Make a list of distractions and eliminate!

·Turn off the phone and let the voice mail take over.

·Close the blinds in your office.

·Turn off the music if you find yourself singing more than working.

·Simply closing the door to your office can give you more privacy and more focus.

2.Prioritize your work. Rather than working on projects simultaneously, take one thing at a time, focus on it, and worry about all the other projects later. Ultimately, you’ll get a lot more done and you’ll finish it more quickly. You’ll also be recognized by the high quality that you deliver when you’re free from distractions. As the Bahá’í Writings teach:

“Leave the important for the most important” (Shoghi Effendi, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 109)

·Find a way to prioritize that works best for you. Choose either the project that has the earliest deadline or the one with the least components so you can finish it quickly and get it out of the way. There are pros and cons to both systems so tackle it whichever way works for you.

3.Tell everyone to respect your time. There are many nice and respectful ways to tell people to back off. If you’re finding yourself in a time crunch and can’t seem to get away from others, consider letting them know that you need time to finish some important tasks. There are a lot of different ways to do it – just make sure you do!

·Set times that you’ll accept phone calls and even visitors. Tell them to contact you by email and then set a regular time to check your email.

·Set business hours during which people can expect you to return their calls or emails.

4.Set some limitations with your internet access. The internet is wonderful but it can be a huge time waster, especially if you work at a computer all day long. Regain your focus with some self-imposed rules.

·First, close all those windows you’re not using. Avoid MySpace or Facebook, quit searching on eBay, and leave messenger alone!

·Establish certain times each day to use these fun things and just focus on what you have to do. You’ll quickly accomplish more!

5.Have confidence in your abilities. This may seem like a really small thing when it comes to focusing and getting back on task, but believing that you can get everything done that you set out to do puts you in a positive frame of mind and you’ll be less distracted with stress and worry.

·Have confidence that you can complete each task with ease and believe in your ability to deliver. If you’ll just have the confidence, you’re sure to have the focus!

Now that you’ve been introduced to five ways to focus and get back on task, it’s up to you to take action and learn how to focus your thoughts. If you’ve got to get stuff done, follow these steps so you can put yourself – and your goals – first!

What helps you to focus and get back on track?Post your comments here.