Booth 162 @ Tucson Festival of Books 2017

“Would you like to try a simple activity to help you feel better right now?”

This is the question we asked many visitors to our booth this year. It was a great invitation for each person to consider taking on a spiritual growth task right then and there, while they were walking around the festival grounds. We think of it as an invitation to write a new chapter in your book of life! It begins by reducing the impact of negative thoughts and emotions, then raising your mind to a higher, more positive and loving perspective.

Easier said than done, right?

That’s where working on a task and sharing the results in a safe and confidential small group setting comes in very handy.

So, this is what we did — We showed each visitor a “deck” of about 12 task cards and invited him or her to “pick a task, any task” and read it out loud right then and there.  After a little give and take, we encouraged them to take the challenge of that task and work on it as they wander the grounds. If (or when) they notice any negative thought or emotion, just review the task, apply it to your personal situation, and notice any changes in the thoughts or feelings. Then we wished them well!

It was a hoot to share our enthusiasm for these tasks, and to feel their excitement for doing something that would bring immediate positive returns. Many people said that the task they randomly chose was just what they needed for that moment, and that day.

We also invited people to return to the booth (#162) at 11 am or 2 pm for a “micro group experience” where they could share and hear one another’s experience.

Here are the 12 tasks we offered at this year’s booth:

WAKING UP TO SPIRITUAL LIFE

When you notice a negative emotion, divide your attention. Put part of your attention on the back of your hand.  Keep it there while the emotion is going on and notice any changes in the emotion.

APPLYING THE GOLDEN RULE

When you have a negative thought about another person, use effort and attention to put yourself in his or her shoes. Find one positive and true thought about the same person.

LIVING IN THE PRESENT

When you feel regret or anxiety, observe any connection with the past or future. Let go of the negative thought or feeling and bring yourself into an awareness of something positive in the here and now. Say to yourself – “I am in the perfect place at the perfect time.”

NOT RUSHING

Observe yourself rushing. Notice the physical and emotional symptoms of rushing. Observe the thoughts that justify the condition of haste, and test to see if they are true. Let go of rushing.

STOPPING ADVICE GIVING

Observe your impulse to give advice directly or indirectly and stop yourself from giving it.  (Note: You are doing this for the sake of your own spiritual growth, not to deprive other people.)

PRACTICING “INNER SILENCE”

When you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about another person, practice inner silence. This means:
a. Stop talking – do not allow yourself to say anything negative to or about the person
b. Stop inner talking – let your mind keep silent. You might find it helpful to think of the words as being poisonous to your own peace of mind.

NOT WORRYING

When you notice yourself worrying, let go of the body tensions produced by the worry. Relax. Then change the negative thinking that supports the worry into positive thinking.

GIVING UP COMPLAINING

Observe times when you complain, play “ain’t it awful,” or ask for sympathy. When you notice one of those complaints, drop it, and don’t speak about it.

SPEAKING THE TRUTH WITH LOVE

When you are about to say something about someone else, ask yourself:
1.  Is what I am about to say true?  And then ask:
2.  Is what I am about to say loving?  If it is not loving, it is not true.

TURNING A BLIND EYE

When you notice something in someone else that you feel critical of, turn a blind eye.  Turn your eyes to something positive.

DEALING WITH IMAGINATION

When you notice an upset, notice what role imagination plays in the upset.  Get yourself out of the imagination into something real in the present such as, “Now I am eating my breakfast.”

ACCEPTANCE

When you find yourself reacting negatively to something, ask yourself: “Is this something I can and should change?”  If the answer is “No,” just let it go, and accept it.