March 6, 2023

How to focus on what really matters

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Ofosu and Leah talk about what really matters at the end of our days—and lives. They discuss how death can remind us to celebrate the life and connections we have, and they share tips that'll help you shift your focus toward what matters most.

▶️ You can watch the latest episode on YouTube here:

🎧 What's in this episode:

  • (00:46) - The Tibetan death meditation and celebrating the life that we all have
  • (02:55) - Hear a part of Ofosu's new song
  • (03:10) - Experiencing everything life has to offer
  • (04:24) - How distracting social media really is
  • (04:50) - Doing what's right for you
  • (06:01) - Overcoming the sense of "time's running out"
  • (07:46) - Ofosu's fear of losing his parents
  • (10:24) - Leah's tip: Writing a letter to loved ones that have passed away
  • (12:55) - Appreciating moments of real connection (with yourself and others)

🧘 About Balance: Well Balanced is co-hosted by Ofosu and Leah, Balance’s Co-Heads of Meditation. Balance is a highly personalized meditation and sleep app that's been named Google's App of the Year and Apple's App of the Day. Completely free for the entire first year, Balance is helping 5 million+ people around the world improve their stress, sleep, focus, and mood. Unlock your free year of Balance today by downloading it from the App Store or Play Store:


Leah: What's really going to matter at the end of the day, or not even the day at the end of my life, what really actually matters and how most of the things that we're doing don't even really matter at all when you look at it from that perspective. So I kind of wanna talk to you about that.

Ofosu: I'm down to have that conversation because I think about that all the time.

So , yeah, let's get into it.

Hey, what's up y'all? I'm Ofosu Jones Quartey. And I'm Leah Santa Cruz. And we are the meditation coaches on the Balance app. 

Leah: And this is our weekly show Well Balanced, where we get to explore ways to live a healthier and happier life. Like I think about sometimes, you know, the Tibetans talk about this, like they have a, a meditation, like the Tibetan death meditation.

The whole concept. Recognizing our inevitable fate is that one day we won't be here. Yeah. And we may be blessed enough to be, have a moment where we're kind of on a deathbed, surrounded by loved ones and being able to reflect on the life that we've had. Maybe not, but I think about that sometimes.

Like if I were on my deathbed, what would I wanna be surrounded by and what would be the things that would be most important for me to remember? Like what would be the moments I'd look back on my life and be like, wow, those were moments worth remembering. Would it be my accomplishments?

Would it be all the little things that I'm doing day-to-day, like running around? Getting errands done, like I wouldn't remember any of that stuff. Would it be the, the love that was shared? The moments that I showed up for someone? Or the moments when someone showed up for me in need. So I think about that sometimes. Like what really, really matters. 

Ofosu: It just reminds me of this song that I've been working on. Let me see if I can find it real quick. Hold up. Just the word deathbed.

Leah: Not to be gross, I think a lot of people are scared of that conversation, like, cause it's like, ooh, that sounds so morbid. But I kind of, I've done a lot of work in this area of reflecting upon death and thinking about, thinking about how we all pass through that portal. Uh, and without being afraid to talk about it and the taboos of it, but just to really like, celebrate the life that I have and to use it as a reminder of like, what are the most important things for me to be focusing on with this limited time that I am here on this planet?

Ofosu: Yo, just one day the bubble's gonna pop, you know. So, uh, this is, um, I actually wrote something recently that, you know, has the word deathbed in it. Um, and just kind of like similar sort of, um, reflection, but, okay. So here, here, here goes. This is the first part of this verse. Um, sometimes I feel out of place, bodies on earth, but my mind is in space.

Dream of the past. I'm rewinding the dates, but I'm still in the present applying for grace. Scared of the ripple effects of the purchases that keep my spirit in debt. And though I know what I fear isn't. But on my deathbed, the appearance of stress. Yeah. I mean, for me, I, uh, I, I think about, I, I mean I think about death a lot and if I'm fortunate enough to, to, to have a deathbed.

It's so funny cause Michael Scott in the office was always like a deathbed who would even want one of those. But if I'm fortunate enough to be around my loved ones, I'd really be reflecting, well, I don't know. Actually, I have no idea what I'll be doing , but I would hope that what comes to mind. The challenges that I was able to overcome.

And the love that I experienced and that I was able to help others experience. I would want to feel free and relaxed. You know?

Leah: I would wanna feel like I, I really like, lived my life, you know, like I really got the most juice out of this life I could. And I think about that. And when I travel, because it's been a heart's deep desire to really experience like all the fruits and wonders and people and cultures that this world has to offer. And I wanna take advantage of it in this sliver of time that I have. And so when I hear things like the average person is going to spend at least a decade of their life on social media, oh, on their phones, it's insane.

If you think about how much the percentage of our life are sleeping, how much of the percentage of life we're on a computer or a screen, how much of the percentage of life we're at work, and is that work something that fulfills you and makes your heart glow? And if not, then what are we doing outside of work that really does?

Yeah, so we don't look back our life and go, I kind of wasted it. Like I didn't, yeah, I didn't really spend it for me. I spent it for other people telling me, this is what you should do and this is how you should behave and this is what you should want, and this is the kind of life that you need to live and the kind of home that you need to live in, and the car that you need to have, and the 2.2 children.

And it's like, yeah. What about just doing things for me, like what I want and what's right for. And so it's kind of a a no-brainer in one case. And in the other case, it's really, I think a lot of us, and I was at some point really out of touch with what I truly wanted. And I was kind of on the hamster wheel of just doing, like being a, being a good little hamster and doing what I was told was right. 

Ofosu: It's interesting because for me, I, I kind of feel almost the opposite, that I was so driven for some time to like accomplish a particular goal of mine to achieve a certain, like, level as an artist. That was what like consumed me for so many years and I, and there's, there are, milestones in my own life, in the life of my children, in my family, there's stuff that I missed.

You know, even when I was present, I wasn't fully present because I was always working, you know, and I was working on my dream, but I was working on it in a way that there was no, it was, there was no balance, no pun intended, you know, it was, cause I had a sense of like, time is running out, you know? Like, I have to do this now.

I need to get this accomplished. And so, once I get to the top of the mountain, I'll bring everybody up with me. Or once I get to the top of the mountain, then I'll have time to rest and a part of it was the dynamic of the group I was in at the time was we were, we just were putting ourselves under so much pressure.

And kind of got caught up in the, the, the hustle mentality that, you know, where you just have to, you, you don't sleep, you set everything aside, you spend hours and hours and hours and then you finally get it. And it really did do some damage to like some of my relationships and just my own mental health and my memories.

I just some, some stuff I just don't remember. Cause I was just so consumed by this one thing. 

Leah: You could really dedicate everything to a calling. It's like our gift to the world. And when you really find what that is, it gets easy to be completely be consumed by it, cause it's a never ending give. 

Ofosu: The never ending give.

Leah: Yeah. Then you go back to that question of like, what's gonna matter most in my life when I look back at my life? And that's why they have meditations about it to like be in that reflective state. To go, huh? Like what will have been important to me if I was actually dying right now? Like, what would, what would I still be wishing that I said or done. 

Ofosu: Yeah. A big fear that I had was my parents passing away and my dad and I not being in a good space with one another. For many years. I just thought that that's just how we would be. That's big. But I had one night where, I went over to my parents' house and I, I kind of just told them everything, like I, just, like everything that I, I didn't think they knew about me and then stuff that was going on with me when I was a kid that they might not have known or the way that some of, some of their parenting impacted me.

And I mean, I just like gave them everything and I had this idea that, you know, I just don't want them to leave the earth without knowing who I really am. 

Leah: I think it's, those are scary conversations cause you, for, for a lot of us, because we were worried about, being judged or creating more disconnection or maybe, you know, it's very easy to slip into for people to take things personally.

Ofosu: And I think, I think it was just like a moment and I seized it. I was able to just be completely honest, a huge weight has lifted off of me ever since then. You know, that I know that my parents know how much I love them. I know how much they love me. I know they did their best. They know I did my best.

They know that I am a flawed human. I know that they are flawed humans, but I know the depth of our love for one another. And when they inevitably pass, you know? Um, and I mean, that's the, that's assuming that they go before I do. But yeah, when that happens, there would, there would be nothing at the core of our hearts that we don't like understand about each other.

So I'm super grateful for, for that. And I want to give that to my kids also. Yeah. So I, I'm working on just being pretty upfront with them about who I am as a person, not trying to create this like ideal, uh, this mythical dad figure. You know? It's just like, yeah.

Leah: I think it's fortunate that your parents are still here and that you are able to have that kind of conversation with them.

I think for a lot of people that that's not an option, whether they're, yeah, they don't, they didn't, they didn't know their parents or they're not here anymore, or they're just not in that kind of relationship where their parents could accept feedback or be able to really hear them fully. 

And I, I learned this tool at a, um, a training I did about death actually. And it was that if someone's passed away or you didn't know them, or they're just no longer available for this kind of, uh, communication, you can write them a letter and say all the things that you have wanted to say or wish you could have said, or all the things left unsaid. 

And then right after that, you can take a pause if you want to, or immediately go into writing a letter from them to you. So I did this with my grandmother because she had passed on and I, I wrote her a lovely letter of all the things that I wish I would've said to her had I known she was gonna go.

And then I turned around and I said, you know, dear, and it was from her. And then I just let the pen start writing and I wasn't thinking beforehand, like preconceiving, like what was gonna happen. I just started writing and it was so effortless, it just started pouring out. And the things that came out were like, It was almost like she was speaking to me.

It was like, oh honey, like I love you so much. You don't have to worry about that. You know, this, just these things that were coming out of, uh, on the paper that she was writing to me. It actually really, really touched me in a way that created that closure and created that feeling I was looking for of connection. So, um, I think that that's a great tool. 

Ofosu: That's so powerful. My grandmother and I. She didn't speak English. And I didn't speak a her, her language fluently either. So we had a very like broken English kind of broken English, broken twe relationship. But there was just so much love there, but we could never have a full conversation.

And so this, I don't know if this, this exercise, I want to try it, you know, and, and, and connect with her in, in in that way.

Leah: Maybe, uh, play some music that reminds you of her and get in that zone. Like make it a, make it an experience like a, you know, have her picture there or light a candle and go into a, a meditation first and just really try to connect with her, her, and, uh, that the memory of her and the feeling of her. I think it's a good practice. 

Ofosu: Yeah. It's not hard, like just thinking about her like, I, I can, I can, I, I remember like, you know, just how her skin feels and

Leah: Didn't you say the Raven was like, 

Ofosu: whenever I see a crow or a raven, I say, hi, Grandma. That's, uh, yeah, that's, that's, that's how I connect with her. It really does bring us to what is the most essential stuff. Of course, we have to run errands. Of course we have to, you know, order takeout when we're all exhausted, of course. But like there a lot of times we can stress about these things.

We can give mental and emotional energy to the kindling of our lives and like miss the fire, you know? I feel like we should always be looking and holding onto and creating, um, and appreciating those moments of real connection. And for me it's like how much love am I cultivating within myself?

How much love am I sharing with the world? And how much happiness can I bring to myself and others. Um, and it starts to get a little bit more simple after that.

Leah: This reminds me of when I first met my husband. We knew each other for like, at least a year and a half before we actually started dating.

And, um, he, he was very, very persistent about pursuing me and said, you know, you listen. You like me, I like you. We should explore this and you should be my girlfriend. And, uh, I was like, oh no, I was kinda, I'm gonna be really busy for the next few months, I've got like a lot of work to do. And he is like, what are you busy doing?

I said, well, you know, I'm doing this course and, uh, business course and I'm trying to build my business online. And, and he's like, why would you wanna do that ? And I go, well, you know, I wanna be able to live and work remotely and travel the world and not be tied to one location. And he goes, you wanna do that by yourself?

And I go, no. And he goes, well, I'm right here offering that to you. And you're saying, no,

And I'm like, I was literally stunned. I was speechless. I, it was just this moment of like, real truth bomb, you know? And I go, wow, I, uh, you're right. And that's such a reminder of like, just so many other things in life. Like, we're so busy doing, doing, doing this thing to, for what? Cause we haven't thought about like, what is the angle that we wanna get to?

Like what do we wanna feel at the end of the day. And if we wanna feel loved and connected and we wanna feel a little joy, then like just go right. Like the thing's right there in front of us. 

Ofosu: That's the other piece that so much of this, this stuff that's important is usually just right in front of us. And sometimes we get so busy living that we forget to live.

So, And then you die . So. 

Leah: It's a good reminder to just be present for your day and just do the, remember to sprinkle in a couple things that really matter. 

Ofosu: Yeah. Don't, I mean, you, we don't have to stress ourselves out like, like, I have to only do what matters. No, but like it's not hard to take that extra glance at a loved one and really take them in.

Leah: Yeah. Like my husband left me a little love note on my phone this morning cause he had to leave early and that's when I woke up and I saw it and it was like, I love and appreciate you for this. And it was like, that didn't take him more than 30 seconds to write, but that moved the needle a lot. And the connection.

See, so, um, you know, little things like that, it's, it's good that we get to sprinkle those in. 

Ofosu: Yeah. And, uh, for you at home, thanks for joining us. Uh, if you wanna see our faces, check us out on YouTube. Our channel is called, Balance 

Leah: And if you like this episode, tell your friends about it cause you spreading the word is what's gonna keep us going.

And also ask them what's going on in their world. So keep that relationship going strong in connection. 

Ofosu: And as always, we'll be back for another conversation next week. So don't forget to be kind to yourself. Take care. Peace.

Leah: Let's talk about death, baby. 

Ofosu: Let's talk about r i p .