Bring Your Practice Home

It doesn’t matter if your practice is yoga or going to the gym, hiking in nature or a simple meditation, you need to learn to bring the best of your practice into the rest of your life throughout your day.

We call it a practice for a reason, because that is what you are doing for every moment throughout the rest of your life.

Your practice should be about more than just about finding an escape that works for you, it’s about weaving that one transcendent element of your workout, run, asana, or breath into the rest of your life no matter where you are. If you can do this you can create a new life for yourself on every level without squandering a moment.

Life is far too precious to segment it into work and workouts, living and escaping. It’s about creating a full life that enriches your work and play as if they were one; because they are you know, or at least they should be.

Think of the time you spend in your escape as training for the rest of your life. Find that moment that represents the best of you in your practice then learn to weave that moment throughout the rest of your life. Give yourself permission to enjoy the rush of energy and the release of tension no matter where you are. When you do, you will learn to fully enjoy your life on every level no matter where you are or what you are doing. Don’t leave that feeling behind.
Take it with you!!!

Start on the physical level. The moment you feel that rush, make a note of what you are doing. Is your breathing deep and regular? Is your core tight? Tune into your thoughts and explore the spiritual side of your life for a moment. If your practice is lifting weights, is your focus on anywhere else but on raising the weight from its cradle?

If its yoga, is your mind on that point where your body and spirit come together as you deepen your pose? If running or hiking is your thing are you anywhere but that point where you disappear into the path ahead of you and your breath within you.

The next time you find yourself lost in your special place take note of what’s going on when you lose yourself to yourself. Does your breathing disappear as your focus settles onto a single action? Do the distractions in your thoughts clear like a fog to reveal the space right there in front of you?

Don’t leave that healthy glow at your place of practice. Bring it with you into your world so that you can change your world no matter what is thrown your way.

The next time you get thrown off your game, remember to breathe like you were doing the moment you became lost in your workout.  Focus your mind on a point in front of you like you did in your practice. Allow everything else to fade into the background as you become fully present in the here and now.

This is attainment.

This is life.

This is living your life on your terms and in a way that is true to your authentic self.

Be well, I hope this helps, and in the end it is your life. It’s time to live it your way.

Emotional Management

You are an emotional being.

We all are.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of, emotions are simply how your brain speaks to you in times of stress, for good and for bad.

Your emotions are an incredibly simple system that all animals share. They have kept us alive for thousands of years. There are no long winded sentences or punctuation to slow everything down, there are simply feelings like Fear, Hate, Anger, Pain, Love, Wonder, Curiosity, or Compassion that drive us to take immediate action.

It is why I become overjoyed [an emotion] when something that I have been speaking about for years is finally proved true by hardbound “research” rather than watching the natural world that is all around us and following one’s  “gut”.

Today emotions are not the wonder they were 40,000 years ago. They are still just your brain trying to speak to you, and unfortunately if you do not learn to manage them they can quickly manage your life in the wrong direction. Take a moment to think back at all the ways your emotions have steered your life in the wrong direction again and again and again.

I have been telling my students and clients that your emotions are neither good nor bad; they are simply your brain’s way of telling you that something in your world is about to effect your life. Anxiety is your brain’s way of saying, “we have been down this path before, so beware because the last time it didn’t turn out so well.” Physical pain is your brain’s way of telling you that something is wrong and you need to attend to it quickly. Anguish is your brain’s way of telling you that there is a loss in your life that you need to fill. Love is your brains way of saying something wonderful is about to happen if you just follow that trail, that person, or that animal to wherever it leads.

Back when your ancestors lived a constant fight, flight or fornicate mode, the emotional system was a great solution to staying alive. In today’s world, however, there you have time to step back and consider your actions before you commit yourself by running after your emotions – an act that often gets you into more trouble than whatever it was you were facing.

To do this you need to be awake to what is going on around you so that you can recognize the reality of your situation. Acting on your emotions is a choice and you can prevent yourself from taking the wrong path of following your auto-response with a breath so that you no longer feel trapped by the need to pursue whatever it is you are feeling without thinking.

Psychology Today recently published a new study about how your emotions drive most of your decisions without your even being aware that they are.

It is why I have always said that learning how to not respond to your emotions is the best step you can take to living a more meditative and mindful life to find the calm you want in your life.

Anxiety is not something to lose yourself to, it is simply your brain’s way of warning you to be cautious and to watch out. In many ways the anxiety you feel is your brain telling you hat you have faced a similar situation in the past and that it did not end up so well. Perhaps the person that you are haggling with over the cost of something reminds your brain of a person who cheated you in the past. You may not remember the person or the situation that your brain does, or perhaps it remembers something it saw on television and does not remember that that movie is not the real world. After all, why would you get so emotional about a movie or TV show if it wasn’t real? And since your brain recognizes it as real, the person in front of you with the same tic as the person in the movie is just as bad.

Your brain can’t always tell the difference between reality and make believe, so are you going to blindly follow your brain, even though the person in front of you is being fair and honest, but shares the same tic as a villain in a film?

It is important to remember that emotions are not the problem.  It is how you deal with them that is. If you lose yourself to your emotions, then they become your master – and that is never a good thing.

Don’t give up, we can help on this front. The next time you feel an emotion rising. Love or Hate, Anxiety or Comfort, Lust or Disgust, do not respond to it immediately.  Train yourself to stop, breathe, separate yourself from whatever it is that is triggering your emotion and relax.

Take a moment to really look at your situation so that you can ask yourself “is this emotion really right for what is going on?” Contemplate what you are feeling and try to remember the last time you felt this emotion. Acknowledge it, label it, contemplate it, and then ask yourself if responding in such a way is really what you want to do. Or would you be better off by simply letting it go?

Remember, your emotion is not the issue. It is simply your brain trying to talk to you using an antiquated system. Your brain is simply trying to tell you that something out there is about to effect you in here. It is up to you to decide how you want to respond.

Living in a meditative manner is the difference between joy and pain, love or anguish. After all, it is your life, it’s time to decide how you live it.

Be well and I hope this helps.

 

 

j.

Discover your delusions & unleash your potential

Q:
When most of your life you think you are someone, but later in life you find out you are not that person, (only the environment you have been exposed to made you like that), how do you accept your new true identity?

A:
We all carry delusions that we invariably lie by with us. You first create those delusions to protect yourself as you begin your life. For example someone in your formative years laughs at you and hurts your feelings because of a trait that you were not even aware of. That hurts your feelings and undermines your unhappiness, so your brain creates a wall, a delusion, that become a part of your underlying character. You may not even be aware of the delusions your brain has created, but you begin to live by those limitations without even knowing you have them. Discovering what those delusions are and what the source of them are is what we call finding your Simple Truth.

If you live your life wisely you will uncover more and more delusions that you once accepted as very real limitations to your life. As some point you will realize these re not real limitations, but limitations of the mind. This is why you begin to realize that you are not the person you once thought you were. It is the environment you were raised in that made you think you were someone that you are not.

Life is about change. If you never change your life becomes a flat-line, and that is a living death. Discover your heart beat and turn your flat-line into a pulse by discovering your delusions and breaking through them.

The difficulty is not in realizing that you are not the person you once were, but in accepting that you are not the person once thought you were. Finding your own Simple Truth is a fairly straight forward process. It begins with seeing yourself for who you truly are and accepting the limitations and opportunities your body, mind and spirit have always presented you with. Begin with the person you are on the physical level. Once you become comfortable with yourself physically then you can begin to explore who you are psychologically and spiritually. This means exploring your social upbringing so that you can discover the delusions that society placed upon you as you matured.

Let’s take a look at me. I was not born with a swimmer’s body. I can swim in the ocean and enjoy myself as I play in the waves, enjoying every minute of it richly and deeply; I can be happy. If I set my goals on winning an Olympic medal at some point I will realize that I simply was not born to be 6’1″ with arms that an stretch like wings and pull me through the water. That is the wall of reality and I will not find happiness with the person I am. It does not mean I cannot be happy in the water, it simply means I have to realize my physical limitations and learn to live with them.

The delusion would be living with an expectation of winning an Olympic medal in swimming, but reality is that I can be happy enjoying the waves and swimming in the ocean. The difference between the two is realizing the delusions I created about who I am and what I want to be.

Once you realize your true capabilities and limitations you can set your sights in a realistic way. You can explore how you came to create the delusions and false expectations that are the source of your unhappiness. You can discover your path and find your way to being the person you were meant to be all along. This is what we call being your authentic self and living in the real world.

Learn more at: Your Authentic Self – The Simple Truth Project

Be well and I hope this helps.

Jeff

Discipline of Freedom

Freedom is not attained by sitting back and waiting for things to happen. It comes from participating in life, by living your life beyond the distractions and delusions that are everywhere in today’s world and facing reality.

It comes from knowing who you are and what you want so that you can keep yourself on the right path. With every step you will find your time opening up so that you have the time to enjoy your life in whatever way that means for you, free from the self- doubt and guilt you will find that you will have the freedom to truly enjoy the things that are most important to you, even if that just means watching the trees pass by with every step you take.

When you have the discipline to avoid the distractions and side-step the delusions that hold so many back then you will have the time and the freedom to travel as you wish, to think your thoughts, to paint or snap photos or do absolutely nothing if that is what you truly want to do.

Just as deep meditation comes from many hours of disciplined practice, freedom calls for you to overcome the delusions and distractions of every day life so that you actually have the time and energy to do exactly what you want to do when you want to do it. It takes work to accomplish and discipline, but I think you will agree with me when I say it is worth it.

For some, freedom can be found in your work because that is where your heart is. For others it may be to write or take photographs, to enjoy a long hike, to surf or to simply swing in a hammock. There is no right or wrong to what freedom means to you, that simple word is simply an expression of what you find is in line with your authentic life based on your own simple truth.

I’m sure if you asked a dog and a cat what freedom means to them you would get two very different answers. It is no different if you asked two people, each will have a very different answer based on their own life experiences.

Having the freedom to pursue what you want in life means understanding yourself. It means exploring what living an authentic life means to you, and that requires work and focus. It calls for you to know what you want from the freedom you have pursued all these years. It happens slowly. It requires maturity. It takes practice and discipline so that when you face the winds of uncertainty you can walk into them free from the delusions and distractions that are sure to knock you back in line with what society views as “normal”.

Freedom means having an understanding of what your authentic life feels like. Whether that means cultivating the friends and family or enjoying the lifestyle that you want no matter where it may lead, freedom means making some mistakes so that you know which paths to avoid and which to wander onto.

With practice you will be able to observe the world with a sense of calm detachment, free to watch life pass by without feeling the need to comment on it, prove your worth, or follow your ego to feel better about yourself. Instead you can enjoy the freedom to live your life on your terms, without the distractions and delusions that undermine so many.

You can step away from the fight, flight or fornicate impulse so many people continue to live by even though those impulses have not been relevant here for several hundred years. Those may have been important to your ancestors 40,000 years ago, but today, in the modern world, they only get you into trouble.

When you take your first step toward freedom, in whatever form that means for you, you will find that getting rid of that continual voice of doubt that rings in your head, you will be free to pursue whatever direction you want to go. And that is a real freedom that few have the pleasure of living.

You see, freedom does not come from outside yourself. It comes from within. You can start right now if you really want to enjoy the rich and rewarding life you deserve. All you have to do is learn to let go of those emotions society has taught you are so important and start to live your life on your terms, free from guilt and self-criticism. It starts deep within you and blossoms outward until you can pass through the world in calm abiding, right here and right now.

Right here and right now is the time to find your freedom in today’s world. It starts with your desire to create an authentic life, one that is based on your own Simple Truth. It starts with a smile toward someone else, a smile you can carry to wherever your freedom leads. You just need a little discipline to relax your lips and open your heart just like the meditation practice you have built.

Learn how with the simplicity of the Simple Truth Project.

Be well and I hope this helps.

 

 

 

j.

Q+A: What was the most challenging relationship you have experienced?

Q:

What was the most challenging relationship you have experienced?

A:

My most challenging relationship is the one I have with myself.

Only by having a healthy and honest relationship with myself can I hope to have a healthy and honest relationship with someone else. In the end, your defects and truths will arise no matter what your intentions are. Within a long-term relationship, they will bubble up no matter how hard you try to stuff them down. In fact the more you try to deceive someone the quicker your faults and lies will arise. That is the beauty of companionship and community, your truths will surface no matter what you try to do.

In casual conversation you will slip when you least expect yourself to. You will grow comfortable with those around you and there it is – the truth. You may not blurt out some falsehood as if vomiting up your lunch but it will be there for you and those around you to be aware of. And once it is out there the more you try to cover your tracks, the more entwined and confused will your story become.

That is how your deceit will be noticed, not with the initial lie you told, but through your efforts to cover your tracks. The only way to avoid this is to be honest with yourself, to know yourself, and to make a vow that you will only be honest with yourself an with those around you.

This is not an easy thing to do, but it is essential if you want an honest relationship free from the confusion of half-truths so many try to live with. At first this is a challenge for many. But as time passes you will learn that those challenges fade away as your relationship with yourself comes from a place of honesty, honor, values and virtues.

When  you are completely honest with who you are, you free yourself of the weight that you have carried with you for so long. You can be with anyone in a fully intimate and honest way and feel good about yourself while doing so.

Keep Being Your Perfectly Imperfect Self

Perfectly Imperfect

Always remember you are perfect just the way you are.

Sure, you could also use a little improvement here and there, we all could. The fact is you are aware that you could is proof that you are alive and awake to your beautiful imperfections. Just don’t allow yourself to get caught up in your imperfections. Celebrate them. Celebrate the changes that we all go through. Celebrate your growth and the fact that you change in response to the world around you.

It’s funny in a way how life eternally keeps us changing to better ourselves. As if to keep us on our toes. It makes me ask, is that why we are here? Is that why you are here, to grow and adapt and change? I think it is, to burnish your rough edges down and make yourself smooth and shiny like a river stone, until it ends up in the river as a skipping stone, worn smooth and flat to rise above the waters and the waves, skipping far out into the sea until it finally sinks below to settle into the sandy floor. And once you think you’re finally nestled into the safety of the sea bed, you are still subject to tides and currents to be further burnished by the sands around you to become part of a beach, somewhere in the world.

And even then, once you think you’ve found your place some child builds you up as part of a sandcastle. And so it goes, being built and torn apart until you are carried up and down, being compressed into a stone again and churned into a sandy beach, learning about being alone and in community in a never ending cycle that lasts millions of years.

It is the same cycle as being human, single and in community, never quite finding your place because your place is never standing still. It is forever changing just as the world is, just as society is, just as you are.

Be comfortable in the one constant to your existence – the transitions you are forever in and the perfect imperfections you will forever be a part of it and you.

Step back when you have a moment and try to remember the person you were in high school – not how you looked but also how you acted and reacted to those around you. Now do the same for when you were in college, and at your first job.

You were still you, but I am sure different aspects of you came out. This is what is still going on today. You are still you, simply allowing different sides of you to take a leading role in your life.

Embrace these transitions. They will continue for the rest of your life and for the lives of those around you. Enjoy these transitions and the charge they bring into your life. They are life. Each is a path to discovering who you are, from the food you eat to the people you follow, they are all a part of curating your authentic self.

Be well, and I truly hope this helps you as you travel through all of life’s transitions and changes.

Perfect Imperfections

We all have things we could improve upon. If you didn’t there would be no point. You are forever learning, improving, growing and becoming a better person. Isn’t that the whole point of being a part of the human experience and experiment? To be better? Just don’t get caught up in your imperfections, because they are what make you perfect. They are the test others must go through if they are to find the beauty of you.

Never forget that you are perfectly human. Forgive yourself for being so. For being a little overweight some of the time, for being underweight at others, for not being quick enough on this or for rushing on that, for not having just the right words at the ready for all passions, for not being fully present every minute of every hour. For being forgetful, and for not believing in yourself all of the time. For believing in the wrong dreams because they seemed like the right ones, for falling in Love with the wrong person because your heart said to, for sympathizing with the wrong causes for all the right reasons.

These are all classrooms for learning who you are and for discovering what is important. Never be ashamed to learn something new, no matter how fixed your ideas seem to be.

Never stop learning – that is what it is to be divinely human, to be fully humanly human. The moment you stop improving who you are is the moment you die inside. You may still be walking around, smiling and socializing, but when your heart dies so too does your spirit and you become and empty shell of who you truly are.

Stay alive, keep making mistakes, keep tripping over your own two feet, and every time you fall, smile to yourself knowing that you just learned how not to walk again.

Box Breathing

When you feel as if you just hit the wall and you can see your energy slipping away, when every page becomes a twenty-minute struggle to focus your thoughts, this is exactly when you need to breathe into your box. There’s no magic to it, you don’t have to sit in lotus or hold your hands in neat little circles. All you have to do is sit exactly where you are and breathe.

In minutes you will feel yourself settle into your breath. Your stress and anxiety will go somewhere that isn’t you and your focus will return so that you can return to being the person you were. You know before the circus of the world overcame your best efforts.

It’s so easy and simple, you can do it over and over again no matter what the world throws at you. Yes, it comes from the Navy SEALs, but that’s an entirely different story. All you have to know is that it works and it is there for you whenever you need it.

All you have to do to activate your box breath is to breathe in for a count of five, allow your breath to settle for a count of five, then breathe out for a count of five, and again allow your breath to settle for a count of five, before beginning again.

In for five, settle for five, out for five, settle for five, repeat, repeat, repeat.

If five is too long, make yours a count of four. If it is not long enough, make your count six. The important thing is not the count, but the consistency of your breath. As with every other exercise I teach, find your own flow and make this one yours. Own it, re-frame it, fit it into your style and your life as you need to. Do not try to fit your needs into my or anyone else’s – but yours.

That is it. As the shampoo bottle says, wash, rinse, repeat.

Now breathe into your own box and enjoy your day, your week and your life.

Be the person you were meant to be.

Be well and I hope this helps.

 

j.

 

Meditation – Find Your Community

Every decision you make creates an entirely new universe for you to live in. Sometimes the choices you made yesterday streamlined your path for today, delivering you to your destination more quickly and with less stress.

Sometimes the choices you made caused you to stumble and even fall until you found your path again. Even if you never found you way back wherever you are is where you were meant to be, for better or for worse.

No decision is ever right or wrong. They simply put you on a different path that you either continue down or correct as you learn the very powerful lessons you carry with you throughout your life.

I am the first to say that some life lessons I would rather not have to repeat, but that is exactly the point; no matter which path you took you still arrived where you are today, in this moment, right here and now.

If you look back at your life, the decisions you made probably left you right back where you started from, perhaps a little scuffed and bruised, but with the life lessons you acquired from your experiences. I am not saying life is a bowl of cherries or always look on the bright side of life. Life is filled with suffering and misery. But if you can separate yourself from the physical and find the lesson you were meant to learn, it makes whatever you are going through a little easier to accept.

And this may just be the ultimate lesson to remember – that there are no bad decisions. There are only shorter and longer paths upon which to travel. Life is about learning the lessons you were meant to learn if you are to travel onward.

Do not bemoan what you think is a bad decision with a series of if only’s or what if’s. Embrace your decision and accept the outcome so that you can carry on with a deep breath and a knowing smile. Do not group your decisions together and blame yourself for your “mistakes.” Take each decision as a lesson learned that you can choose to repeat again or to avoid before you get to the point of having to make it again.

Right or left, “should I” or “shouldn’t I?” In the end your brain compiles as much data as it can so that you can make as well of an informed decision as possible, and then you leap in. Some new bit of information may arise or some new event may occur that may change your decision, but all you can do is keep your wits about you and respond to it as best you can. But you still end up going with your heart and your gut.

The more aware you are of your situation the better you can anticipate and respond. The more panicked you become the less able you are to respond.

This is why I say let go of all that mental chatter, breathe and smile to anyone who approaches you. Slow down and relax as you feel your emotions and opinions rise up from within. Be aware of them, but do not feel as if you have to respond to them.

Remind yourself that this very moment is what your meditation training has been for.

Then dive in and accept the best decision for what it is – a well informed choice that is ultimately made with your gut and your heart, not your brain.

If you would like help in these times know that you don’t have to do it alone, there is a community around you that is ready to support you. Please feel free to reach out, we can help you find your community.

 

 

Be well, and I hope this helps.

Children are the message you send

Children are the message you send to the future. What will your’s say?

Will they talk of a world with no borders, either physical or emotional. A world where our hearts communicate openly, back and forth free from all those thoughts that are a constant series of road blocks that prevent you from speaking openly and with Love. Or will they speak of hate and envy, where race and gender rule our senses? Will they speak of a population that responds to each threat in kindness and with a level of intimacy and trust, or a people still living in our own past?

The day your children speak will be a day of connection across space and time. What will you want yours to say?

You see, the effort each of us makes today to create equality is not for us. It will not happen in our generation or in our children’s generation, or even in the generation of our children’s children.  But that is not what we are building for. Or is it?

Are we being greedy to hope we will see the benefits in our own lifetime, or are we building for the generation of our children’s, children’s, children. We are building for the long term, for the forever, and must continue to do so if we are ever to see the change we want to see happen.

Perhaps it is a dream, but it is a dream worth pursuing for every generation of the future. That is the only way our children will live in a better world. If we can start today, right now, with the thought of doing things, not for ourselves, but for a generation we will never know, imagine how selfless our actions will become. Imagine how our smile will be genuine. Not an act we take to benefit ourselves and our own karma, but an authentic action for the people and the spirits we will never know. How selfless will that be?

The idea of a Bodhisattva is a beautiful idea, but it was one for thousands of years ago. Today we need something bigger, with a larger ideal than to save the sentient peoples in the world of today, and in all the worlds of tomorrow. We need something that will account for people and for all time.

I hope this helps to guide you in your actions.

Be well,

 

Jeff