Chade-Meng Tan: Create World Peace

Chade-Meng Tan, Google’s “Jolly Good Fellow”, got the nickname for a reason. He is a person who radiates happiness. Normally I’d be suspicious of someone who seemed that content. With Meng, you can just tell by his presence that this is a man who is extremely intelligent and passionate about his work, yet genuinely playful and peaceful.

I loved seeing Meng speak at the first and second annual Wisdom 2.0 Conference, so I was thrilled to see that he was in San Francisco giving a talk and book-signing through California Institue of Integral Studies (CIIS). Meng’s book: Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path for Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace) is a culmination of Meng’s experience of developing and teaching a successful course by the same name for Google employees.

You might think getting participants for a seven-week course on mindfulness in any company could be difficult, much less in a high-pressure, high-stress environment like Google, where taking time out for a mindfulness course might seem counterproductive to success. Yet Meng’s course is filled up weeks in advance. Being an engineer himself, Meng is particularly skilled in teaching in a way that speaks to even the most skeptical engineer or business person. “I am selling you better employees”, Meng says. “This course is a key to effective employees.”

The results speak for themselves. The success has been overwhelming, both in terms of employee productivity and anecdotal evidence. The feedback from employees has been overwhelmingly positive, with countless stories participants have shared about how the course has positively impacted both their professional and personal life. One such story in the book is a manager who discovered during the course that he was unhappy and was not taking care of himself. He chose to drop-down to working part-time hours. The result? He was promoted and became the first part-time manager at Google to receive a promotion. With the demonstrable changes in job performance from course participants, Meng has the evidence to show that ignoring the value of mindfulness is poor business sense. Recognizing this, other companies are starting to follow suit and realizing that the way to success isn’t pedaling faster.

Meng highlighted some important points on mindfulness practice:

You have to do it. Meng compared mindfulness to fitness. You can read about fitness all you want, but that doesn’t make you fit. It’s great to learn about mindfulness, but you have to practice it to get the benefits of it.

That said, it doesn’t take as long as you would think to make a difference. Meng cited studies that showed with just ten minutes a day, people begin showing positive effects of mindfulness in just a few weeks. Of course, just like fitness, if you train for longer, the benefits can be even greater. Still, regular repetitions even with a small hand weight help create strength.

It need not be complicated. One practice Meng teaches is loving-kindness meditation. To get started, you only need to look at any person and think, “I want this person to be happy.” It can be as simple this focused, intentional attention that creates profound effects.

It’s all about the ripple effects. Small actions have a way of multiplying. When you feel more loving towards another person, you start feeling more compassionate and loving towards people in general as well as yourself. When you feel better about yourself and others, this can’t help but spill over into other aspects of your life: work, relationships, health, etc.

There’s still a place for anger. Just because we’re practicing awareness and compassion doesn’t mean there are not times where anger is warranted. In the moment, we always have a choice about whether to react from a place of anger. Meng related a time he was at a rental car counter and the employee there was trying to rip him off. He was aware of his anger and chose to get angry. As a result, he was not taken advantage of and the situation was resolved.

So far, Google employees are the only ones to have road-tested Meng’s course. That’s about to change, as Meng has formed the nonprofit, Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), which in keeping with Meng’s playful spirit, is pronounced, “silly”. SIYLI seeks to build upon the success of Meng’s program and train leaders to offer the course to others. Meng is donating all proceeds from his book to support SIYLI.

But to reduce SIYLI or Meng’s work to mere business performance would be a gross underestimation of Meng’s mission. Meng’s life purpose is to create world peace. Perhaps what makes him most inspiring is witnessing his commitment to his goal. He doesn’t scoff or get overwhelmed by the loftiness and scope of such a goal. Instead, he finds joy in the changes he works to to create and delights in the way peaceful actions have a way of spreading.

How do you stay connected to your purpose?

One Honey of a Purpose

When I was a kid, I loved dancing around to music. I had several Disney records as well as a beloved Strawberry Shortcake album (the latter was even strawberry in color and hit a particular nerve in my parents with its high-pitched singing. Much to their chagrin, I loved it). I carefully choreographed dance routines in addition to my freeform interpretive dance.

My grandmother, Honey, came over one day. We always called my Dad’s mother Honey because years ago my oldest cousin had overheard my grandfather calling her “honey”, and started calling her Honey too. The name stuck.

Honey watched my inspired dance moves and then looked over to me and asked, “Did you create that dance all by yourself?”

I nodded, positively bursting with pride.

“Wow”, said Honey. “I can’t believe you created that beautiful dance all by yourself.”

Needless to say, I was floating on cloud nine. I danced on, certain that it was only a matter of time before I was on Broadway.

Honey had this special way of making you feel like you were the center of the universe. She had fun touches that made things special, whether it was serving us milk in fancy goblets or giving us presents that had lots of little gifts within one box. Her manner always instilled in me a feeling of my own greatness.

We lost Honey all too early to a heart attack. I was only eight at the time, but I always remembered Honey’s admiration of my dancing.

This memory fuels what I like to think of as my purpose for how I want to be in the world. I love that as a yoga teacher, I have the opportunity to help students achieve that feeling of their own greatness by nailing a challenging pose or realizing their progress in the practice. Whether it’s through teaching yoga, hanging out with friends, or even just in the small everyday interactions with the sales clerk or the person in the elevator with me, I strive to add a little brightness to each person’s day.

I definitely fall short of this all the time (that four-letter word I uttered at the car in front of me in traffic comes to mind, as does last night’s grumpy complaining to my husband). However, when I’m feeling particularly cranky or negative, it helps me a lot to re-focus back to my purpose. When I reconnect to my purpose, it ends up making me feel better. I feel more creative too, as one pleasant interaction gets me thinking of another way I might be able to add something positive to someone’s day.

Today is the anniversary of Honey’s death. I still miss her, but noting this date reminds me of the purpose she inspired.

A picture I took of Honey and my family when I was about five. I was very proud of my picture-taking skills.

What’s your purpose? What helps you stay connected to it?

West meets East

I try out the new yoga room at SFO

I just got back from a trip to the east coast. My husband and I visited New York for several days and also visited friends in New Jersey and Philadelphia.

I love New York (don’t worry, I don’t own a t-shirt that proclaims this sentiment). Even though I’ve been there a number of times, every trip I still do things I’ve never done before. This time around we explored the meatpacking district, took the ferry to Staten Island, had a drink at the boathouse in the middle of Central Park, and went to see the improv group, Upright Citizens Brigade. We hit some favorites including eating at our favorite sushi place, visiting the bookstore, Strand, and shopping at Uniqlo (Uniqlo is the best clothing store! We’ve been to Uniqlo stores in several different countries, but the only US location is in New York. However, they are supposedly opening a store in San Francisco which has me uber-excited. But I digress). The weather was gorgeous and that added to our enjoyment of strolling around and taking in the city.

Marianne and I in front of Irish memorial in Philly

The best part was getting to visit with friends. I was thrilled to see friends in New Jersey I hadn’t seen in years. I’d never been to Philly before and I loved getting to spend time with my aforementioned awesome yoga buddy, Marianne, and meet her equally awesome husband while getting to check out some of the Philly sites.

Truly the icing on the cake was the Forrest Yoga part of my trip. I met a fellow Forrest yogi for the first time after taking her class in Manhattan. Then I got to take a class in Philly at Studio 34 with Morgan, a wonderful guy who was in my Forrest Yoga Advanced training. I walked into the studio and felt such a sense of love and peace, breathing and practicing together alongside my good friend and guided by an amazing teacher.

One of the things I love about Forrest yoga is the community. Whether it’s a local class, a group practice with fellow Forrest Yoga peeps, or a class on another coastline, I can walk in and feel like I’ve come home. I’m reminded that I’m not alone. My spirit gets brightened.

It’s a little like walking into Cheers…

Top 10 Titles for the New Berenstain Bears Books

When I was a kid, my siblings and I had quite the collection of Berenstain Bears books. They were these little square paperbacks that fit neatly together on a shelf and featured the Berenstains, a nuclear bear family that lived in a big treehouse. The book themes covered a variety of issues for kids including going to the dentist, moving, and getting along with friends. Kinda preachy in retrospect, but we loved them at the time.

Recently Jan Berenstain, co-author of the Berenstain Bears series along with her late husband, Stan, passed away at 88. Reading the L.A. Times obituary brought back a lot of fond nostalgia of these childhood tales.

However, there was troubling point in the article:
After Stan’s death, Berenstain continued to produce books with son Mike, who will run the family enterprise with his brother. Nineteen new Berenstain books will be published this year.

As my Dad pointed out when I shared the obituary with my family, “Nineteen more books? Really? Are there that many new child-rearing situations to cover and problems to be solve? Maybe we’ll see “The Berenstain Bears Get Carpal Tunnel From Playing Video Games,” “The Berenstain Bears Eat Sustainably Grown Produce,” and “The Berenstain Bears Visit the Laser Eye Specialist.” My brother added, “I can totally picture the cover of “The Trouble With Texting” – Sister Bear is looking at her phone with horror, Papa Bear looking over her shoulder angrily, and in the background, Brother Bear has crashed his car into a tree.”

So I had to throw in my two (ten?) cents:

Top 10 Titles for the New Berenstain Bears Books

10. The Berenstain Bears Encounter the Born Again Bears

9. The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Internet

8. The Berenstain Bears and the Same-Sex Couple Next Door

7. The Berenstain Bears and the War on Christmas

6. The Berenstain Bears go to the Independent, Locally-Sourced, Cooperative Restaurant

5. The Berenstain Bears and the Dangers of Sexting

4. The Berenstein Bears Take a Staycation

3. The Berenstain Bears Learn about TSA Regulations

2. The Berenstain Bears Catch Whooping Cough because Other Bears don’t get Vaccinated (And Other Problems with Listening to Jenny McCarthy Bear)

1. The Berenstain Bears Get Outsourced

 

Meryl Streep: Forrest yogi?

Meryl StreepMeryl Streep could be a Forrest yogi; she just doesn’t know it yet.

I listened to an interview with Meryl Streep where she described practicing for her role as Margaret Thatcher in the movie “The Iron Lady.” In studying Thatcher’s voice, she noted Thatcher’s long-winded manner of speaking. Thatcher could continue long stretches of talk within a single breath. “I ran out of air”, Streep said. Working with her vocal coach, one of the key points Streep had to learn was breathing into the back. By taking deep breaths, expanding the lungs and sides of the waist, she was able to achieve the space and breath capacity needed to capture Thatcher’s impressive words per breath.

This skill is straight out of Forrest Yoga. One of the basic moves of Forrest yoga is expanding the ribs. In this move, you focus on expanding your breath not just upwards, but also out into the sides of your waist. With every breath, you bring breath into the front and back of the ribcage creating more space in the torso, low back and side body.

So… if you want to speak like Margaret Thatcher (or just help bring more power into your voice), expand the ribs!

 

 

Being ok with failure

I was listening to an old episode of This American Life the other day. The episode was about an orchestra teacher turned ad-hoc scientist who worked with a scientist testing a promising new idea for a cure for cancer (side note: a truly fascinating story, not surprising for this show).

One thing I identified with in the story was the orchestra teacher’s frustration with the high level of failure in science. You spend all this time setting up controls and testing variables, testing and retesting a hypothesis. The vast majority of the time, the experiment doesn’t work out and it means starting all over  and/or refining an experiment and trying again. For the non-scientist, this lack of success is incredibly discouraging. It feels like a lot of work for nothing.

But for the scientist, this is just part of the job. You have to be ok with experiments not working out most of the time. There must be a degree of acceptance that lots of trials and mostly errors are how it goes and breakthroughs are rarely quick processes. If you defined your happiness and competence at your work based on how each experiment works out, it’d be hard to get any motivation to keep trying.

Certainly there are other professions where this concept is true. Grant writing comes to mind, as does sales and activism. I am not a patient person by nature nor am I good at accepting that I’m going to fall down a lot of the time especially when I’m learning new things. I’ve always wondered how on earth people stick withsuch frustrating odds. What keeps people going?

I’m learning through my yoga practice and teaching that the answer to this question has to do with being dedicated to a larger purpose that isn’t dependent on a specific outcome. For the scientist, the love of the process and commitment to a theory or idea or  particular investigation can be the driving purpose behind conducting each experiment. In yoga we set an intention for the practice. The intention is not a goal like balancing in handstand, but rather a dedication of our practice to a higher reason for our doing yoga, be it connecting to our breath or a re-commitment remaining present in each moment, each pose. As a teacher, this means staying true to the reason why I teach yoga and being prepared, but also accepting that not every class is going to be a rousing success.

When I find myself zeroing in on my failures and focusing on how far I have to go, I’m instead trying to take a scientist’s view of the situation. Our endeavors are experiments that we’re committed to with our eyes on a larger intention. If we’re sticking to that, failure becomes part of the process and not a measure of our self-worth and achievement.

 

Jon Kabat-Zinn speaking benefit for Mindful Schools


This past Friday night, Jon Kabat-Zinn came to speak at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. The event was a benefit for Mindful Schools, an organization seeking to integrate mindfulness education into schools. Although the Oakland-based Mindful Schools has only been around since 2007, its positive results thus far are impressive. What’s particularly cool is that a large percentage of their work has been with schools in low-income areas. Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reducation (MBSR), was an ideal speaker and his own experience and research with teaching mindfulness techniques as a means to help with coping with anxiety, stress, pain, and other life challenges.

One of the first things Jon did was take the audience through a brief guided meditation. “We’re all born with the ability to be mindful to a certain degree,” he said. “It’s a matter of exercising the muscle of getting grounded in the present moment”. He pointed out that mindfulness really should be thought of as a verb: it’s all about intentionality. An essential part of living our lives as if they really mattered is how we live our lives. Are we present for each moment or are we somewhere else? A big part of the process is learning that we are not our thoughts. We are not our pain. It seems counter-intuitive, but when we hold pain in our awareness we can decrease its effect, whereas if we avoid it, we create an aversion to it which can cause more pain.

Jon asked the question of what we took away most from our education. What teachers can impart most is their passion and love–this is what can make any subject compelling. Kids tend to want to learn (whether they know it or not), so let’s not kill this love of learning. He brought up the point that you can teach mindfulness without ever using the word “mindfulness”. Get creative with ways that you can present mindfulness education in a way that kids will respond to. He reminded us that it’s hard to teach anything in a meaningful way if we aren’t practicing it ourselves. By cultivating a kinder, gentler relationship to ourselves, we can be attentive for each child as they are.

Numerous research studies continue to find positive effects of mindfulness in reducing stress, depression, anxiety, as well as other benefits. There’s a forthcoming paper by J. John Meikle on incorporating mindfulness in K-5 education that maps out the science behind why it might be important to integrate mindfulness into the curriculum.However, Jon points out that the practice of being present in our daily life would still be beneficial even if there wasn’t neuroscience behind it to back up the positive effects people have experienced.

Other efforts to integrate mindfulness into daily life are underway. Jon mentions the upcoming Wisdom 2.0 Conference (which I’ve attended in previous years and written about) that seeks to find a peaceful coexistence between mindfulness and technology. Chade-Meng Tan of Google has a forthcoming book on the subject, Search Inside Yourself, based on his program at Google to help with employee personal growth and emotional well-being. Even Congressman Tim Ryan has a book, A Mindful Nation coming out (“The real place that needs mindfulness is Congress”, Jon declared).

But mindfulness isn’t the answer to all of life’s problems. “You’re the same person you always were, only now you’re just more aware of it”, Jon joked. “You realize how mindless you are. The caveat is mindfulness itself is only the hardest work in the world”. Yet it is through this mindfulness that you can find new connections and creativity because you’re able to put aside distractions and keep your awareness on what’s going on moment to moment.

Perhaps the most powerful moment for me was during the Q & A session where a teacher in a rough area of Oakland posed a poignant question, “How can we teach children to be mindful when they are very often facing a turbulent family situation or the barrel of a gun on the way home? How can we ask them to be present in often tumultuous situations?” Jon commended this teacher and related that, “Mindfulness asks that we unroll the welcome mat and welcome in all that is. But this isn’t a selective welcome mat. We don’t get to decide what we welcome in; we have to take all of what is. The best thing we can offer kids is to stay grounded in what each child needs and then be that for them as much as you can.” It was this last story that truly brought home for me the importance of mindfulness for all of us.

This poem of Rumi’s comes to mind and seems fitting to Jon’s inspiring talk:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~

( from The Essential Rumi)

Being a beginner

In 2011, I did a lot of things that I always wanted to do but was scared to do them. I jumped out of an airplane (really fun and something I’d definitely do again). I took a beginning sewing course (let’s just say it’ll be awhile until I’m ready for “Project Runway”). The other thing I did was get my scuba diving certification.

There were a lot of small fear steps along the way. To begin with, the course work. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in college, studied, and took multiple-choice quizzes. Turns out, I didn’t need to worry. I did the coursework remotely so I could go as quickly or slowly through a chapter as I needed to and fill out the quizzes which weren’t at all like taking the SAT. Plus, the instructor was very nice and reviewed the questions that we’d missed (between all of us, there were only a few) before we hit the pool.

Next there was the pool part. It has been more than awhile since my swim team days as a kid. Could I even swim more than a few laps? Fortunately, the swimming part was easy. Once my body started moving in the water, all those years of swim practice started to come back.

Then there was the equipment part. What if I blanked on all the things I read about and didn’t remember what valve was what? Putting things together is far from being my strong suit. I seem to be missing the Lego gene that points to the logical construction of parts, whether it’s putting together electronic cables or assembling IKEA furniture. God help me with a scuba tank. I was not graceful nor intuitive in the learning process. But I passed all the tests and all my equipment remained intact.

Finally, the ultimate scary (yet exciting) part: the open water dive. I decided to do the last part of my scuba certification on my trip to Bora Bora where I could do my open water dives in warm water and beautiful coral reef scenery. The night before my first dive, I couldn’t sleep and kept looking back at my scuba manual, trying to reassure myself that I’d be fine. My dive instructor, a beautifully bronzed young Frenchman with abs you could do your laundry on, helped get the small group of divers set up with gear before taking our first dive of the day.

However, when I hit the water for the first dive, my excitement turned to fear. I kept having trouble clearing the pressure from my ears–a very basic skill that you have to be able to do or you can’t descend. I found myself getting panicked when I had trouble and then have trouble taking deep breaths and then getting altogether more frustrated. Clearly, I had to be the most remedial diver this poor guide had ever dealt with. I managed to descend and get the hang of clearing my ears and mask, but I felt very awkward struggling to remember everything and try to enjoy the sea life swimming around me.

Once above the water, I got really chilled after the first dive and the instructor suggested I hold off doing the second dive that day. I was so embarrassed by my skinny frame, wimpy with the cold and discouraged by how poorly I felt like I’d done on my first dive. Why did I think this was a good idea, much less a fun idea?

But I made myself come the next day as I was determined to get my certification. I listened to the guide going over the basics with some other folks on the boat who were doing their first dive. “You have to keep slow, relaxed breathing”, he said in a thick French accent. “Like yoga.”

I smiled to myself since no one there knew I was a yoga instructor. Then it occurred to me: this is just like what it feels like to be a beginner in yoga. Being a beginner means you’re awkward. You look to other people for direction and cues. You’re not sure how all the other equipment works yet. Nothing is familiar and you’re just struggling to remember the basic points so you can muddle through. And with all that going on, you start to struggle with your breathing or stop breathing completely and that makes everything even harder.

“Well Megan, this is your opportunity to practice what you preach,” I told myself when I started to feel myself flailing my arms and sucking air in my tank. I kept bringing my focus back to the breath as if I was on my yoga mat and when I did, things got easier. On my second dive, I started getting the hang of it. I descended without incident and cleared my ears like a champ. At one point when I completed one of the required tasks underwater, the instructor took my hand in his and gave it a congratulatory shake, the underwater nonverbal equivalent of saying, “You’re getting it!” That encouragement meant all the difference to me–I wasn’t hopeless. I could get it. I was just a beginner.

From there on out, the dives started to get very fun. Now that I wasn’t struggling with the very basics, I could enjoy everything around me: lemon sharks, pristine coral, and huge gamma rays swimming right above me. Sure, I still was working on staying buoyant and flippering around in a more graceful manner, but I was doing it. I was scuba diving. And yes, I got my certification.

Now when I have a student who is brand new to yoga, I remember myself on my first day of diving. I try to remember the apprehensive, eager, yet exhausting and frustrating position of the beginner. It’s my intent to give them the same helpful and patient support that the scuba guides gave me. I also try to encourage them to stick with it as there will soon be a day on the mat, just like the ocean, where you’re not struggling just to keep up and you can wake up to all the beauty around you, if only for a few moments.

Lessons from a Lounge Chair

I recently got back from back from an amazing trip to Bora Bora. The trip was a belated five year anniversary celebration. Thanks to Hilton points, we were able to stay at an a wonderful resort there with no end of spectacular views and tranquil settings for relaxing.

Relaxing: easier said than done.

Now don’t get me wrong–there’s few things I like more than reading a book in the sun for hours on end with a book if given the chance. But even on vacation I found myself waking up and thinking about things I “needed to do” that day. Let’s see, I need to maximize my activity options and take out the pedal boat, but also make sure to lay out to work on my tan. I should make sure that I plan our dinner out and research reviews to make sure we only spend money on a good place. Even sitting in my lawn chair with a book, my mind would start to wander, “Should I do yoga? Am I an undedicated yoga instructor if I don’t practice at all? Shouldn’t I make sure to have an epic natural experience doing yoga with a coral reef in the background just like you’d see in a yoga shoot?”

Did I mention this was vacation? I mean, really, what did I need to do? Other than getting to breakfast by a certain time that it was still open and getting to the ferry on the half hour if we wanted to go to town, there was little else that dictated us to be somewhere at a specific time doing something in particular. Scuba diving required the most pre-planning out of anything and even that was ridiculously simple since the resort arranged everything–I just had to show up in the morning for the boat.

This is where my yoga practice came in–and I don’t mean doing yoga poses. Indeed, I practiced very little actual asana (yoga poses) on my trip. Doing yoga in natural setting can be a little overrated. My few attempts were foiled by mosquitoes, scratchy lawn area, and tropical rain, which I took as a sign from the universe that the real yoga on my trip wasn’t on my yoga mat. In my yoga practice, I’ve learned to question why I do (or don’t do) certain poses. What do I really want from my practice today? Am I practicing in a way that addresses what my body needs? Am I pushing myself into an active practice because I need to get my energy moving or do I feel compelled to do a certain practice because it’s the “right” way and how can I ever be a proficient practitioner if I don’t always do a strong practice?

Forrest Yoga has really forced me to examine my intention and acknowledging and being with wherever my mental and physical state that day might be. Not that I can’t change it. Not that I still don’t fall into doing an advanced practice because I feel like I have to. The difference is being aware of it and that’s the first step to changing my approach to the practice. I’ve become much more relaxed in my practice–hey, I can chat with my practice buddy or pause in the middle of it. I can do a pose I didn’t plan. Or bust out into some dancing when a good song comes on before going back to the pose I was in. Relaxing hasn’t negatively impacted my ability to do poses, but it’s definitely enhanced my enjoyment of them.

So how did this translate to the lounge chair? Well, I became aware of mental planning and that perpetual feeling of “must do” and honestly look at how ridiculous it was, however real it feels in my brain. Does it really matter whether I go in the water for a long time or just a short dip? If I spend the whole afternoon laying out with my book, who cares? There’s not anyone keeping some imaginary score. When I did let go and just let myself do what I felt like doing, that’s when the real pleasure came in.

There was one day of solid rain on our trip and even though it was still warm, there wasn’t much to do in the downpour. My husband and I ended up spending most of the day making the most of our nice room at the resort and curled up together on the couch with our respective books. Every so often, we’d get up to get a drink or break for a little picnic dinner of food we’d gotten from the store in town. It was cozy with just the two of us enjoying each other’s company with the rain coming down in the background. Far from it being a bummer of a day with the rain ruining our plans, it was a wonderfully pleasant day of the trip.

Of course, I was ready to dive the next morning and will the rain to stop so I could be out and about. But the memory of those many moments I felt so at ease and connected to my husband throughout the trip have stuck. Now that I’m back to non-island life, I’m trying to keep the lessons from my lunge chair in my regular life.Times when I am thinking about what I should be doing or getting everything on my to-do list for the day accomplished are not the moments that stay lodged in my memory. Rather, it’s those goofy moments of letting go, sharing a joke with someone, or getting soaked in a tropical downpour that are the stuff that life–and contentment are made.