Parallel Paths of Dharma

When you find yourself at an impossible fork in the road where every option seems to be less than ideal, take a break and let the Dharma decide.

You can exchange that word for fate, the winds of time, or destiny, but sometimes the best decision in life is to do nothing and let the decision take care of itself. Yes, you lose what little control you think you have in the process, but you will find that making no decision is often the best way out. It takes your ego out of the process and opens up new opportunities you may have overlooked. What you may even find is that the world moves no matter how hard you fight it. That no matter how badly you want to swim upstream at some point fighting the current will just leave you exhausted and unable to make a clear decision when the critical time to do so arrives.

If the world is falling into a recession, now may not be the time to start a business. If the love of your life has their eyes elsewhere, then pursuing that person may not be the smartest use of your time and energy no matter how badly you want to do so right now. There is often little you can do about the way the world works. But there is a lot you can do about where and when you spend your energy.

Instead of forcing a decision, and then having to work twice as hard to reverse it, sometimes it is better to wait. If a storm is coming, save your energies for when it hits. Do not be afraid to push whatever venture you want to work on to the back burner until the world is ready for you. Now may be the time to narrow your choices down to a few options, and to follow both of those options until they diverge. In time they will. In the meantime be mindful of each. When they move far enough apart go with the option that clearly stands out. Do not worry, one will.

There is an inevitability in this approach that is as old as time itself. One reason you may be having a problem making a decision is that in the end both paths lead to the same outcome. It may be that your intuition is telling you now is not the time to move forward. It may even be telling you that you do not have enough information or skill to proceed.

Listen to it. In time you will learn more about whatever it is you are doing. The winds of the world may shift. New opportunities may open up. The subtle patterns may not be apparent to you, only becoming clearer as you grow more comfortable with your surroundings and yourself. Often the reason you are having such a tough time making a decision is that you are trying to draw a decision out of a non-existent issue, and that is always a mistake. Forcing a decision will inevitably lead you down the wrong path, or cause you to waste so much time and energy that you will be depleted by the time your decision matures.

Instead, let go of your ego and your need to “control” your destiny. Narrow your choices down to two or three that will keep you heading in the right general direction, then follow both paths until they diverge. Be mindful of how alike and unalike they are. Gather your facts along the way. Experience the differences.

In time you will find yourself at a point when the right path becomes so apparent you will wonder why you never saw it in the first place. You will understand. You will also realize that either path will have led you to that point, only now you will be prepared to make the right decision no matter which way you go. Having walked both paths you will gain wisdom and a clearer vision of what you are really walking into.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but by giving yourself up to the Dharma and by taking your time you will be surprised at how well it will guide you toward the right choice. Slow down and breathe. Let go of your ego. Let the Dharma drive for a bit as you take a meditative approach to the big decisions in your life and enjoy the view along the way.

Oh, and if you feel pushed by someone who says “we need a decision right now,” let them make the decision as you let the Dharma make the one that cleans up their mess. Never feel as if you must rush. In today’s world there is always time to make the right decision and less need to listen to let that fight or flight voice ring in your ears.

Following parallel paths as the Dharma works itself out may mean working double-time for a bit, but for the important decisions in your life, that may not be a bad thing. Especially if your fear of making the wrong decision is an issue.

Be well and I hope this helps.

Jeff

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Awaken from Delusions

There will always be days, weeks, even months when you feel as if the delusions of your life are over-running your life. It’s okay, we all get them. This is when it is time to wake up to the real world, not the one you think you are living in, but to the real world that is all around you. It may feel like you need a boost or a shot of caffeine.  More than likely you are simply feeling tired of living your life in delusion. Stop thinking in terms of success and failure, winning or losing, think in terms of delusions.

I know it is not easy, but these tips may help get you back on your path and overcome you own nature – to truly Awaken to your own Simple Truth.
Here are a few ways to jumpstart your engine to keep you moving in the right direction. After all, it is your life and now is the time to start living it your way, only this time with a meditative twist:

  1. Ask yourself when was the last time you got 8 hours of sleep? When was the last time you sat down to a healthy meal? When was the last time you sat down with a friend and listened, really listened? What you hear may surprise you.
  2. Take a deep breath, roll your shoulders back, and smile. With every inhalation feel the relaxing strength of each breath flow from the top of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes. Begin with your scalp, feel each relaxing breath flow up to your scalp, then down to your eyebrows, your eyes, your cheeks, your lips and your jaw line. Feel that relaxing strength pass down your neck, your shoulders, your arms and your fingers. Feel each breath flow down to your hips, your legs and your toes. Relax and feel the ebb and flow of that energy as it flows through you, lifting you, giving you the Focused Calm to move forward.
  3. Reach out and help someone. It does not have to be earth shattering. It can start with a smile, holding the door for someone, being fully present as you listen to them without judgment. Make someone else feel good about themselves without seeking anything in return. Then smile to yourself for doing so.
  4. Touch the earth. Even if that is the side of a building or the pavement, a sidewalk or an office floor. Remind yourself that they are connected to the earth in some way. Tune yourself into that connection and smile as you follow that connection no matter how thin it may be. Remember energy travels though the thinnest wire to illuminate a lamp from the tiniest of batteries. Do the same as you re-energize.
  5. Write down five things that you are proud of. Put that list in your pocket or handbag. Remind yourself that you have done great things in your life and will do many more in the future.
  6. Stand in front of a mirror, raise your hands above your head in a power pose and stare at your smile in your reflection. Think of the great things you have achieved in your life. When your mind turns to dark thoughts return your gaze to your smile and say to yourself, “I am smiling through my delusions.”
  7. Acknowledge what is happening in your life. Label the instances where you think things went wrong. Then acknowledge that you still have fingers and toes to feel the world with, you have eyes to see the world with, you have ears to hear with, you have a mouth to taste with, and if all those senses are gone, you still have a heart and your spirit to steer your moral compass by.
  8. Stop picking up your mobile phone, stay off of social media [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram]. Pick up a book, sit back, and read instead.
  9. Stop comparing yourself to others. You are not someone else, they are not you. Just know that they are just as insecure as you are. Now, laugh at yourself for being foolish and only seeing the curated life they want you to see.
  10. Do not allow negative thoughts in. Every time you feel one bubbling up, call it out, label it, and return to the very real world that you are in. Scroll through your five senses as you look around, listen, touch and smile until you find one teeny, tiny bit of beauty in your world. Trust me, it is there. Feel that bit of beauty expand until it fills your world, the real world you are in, free from delusions.

[BONUS] Train yourself to quit the negative and focus on the positive.  Start today. Know that we are trained at birth to see the rain more than the sun. It is human nature, but it does not have to be your nature.

 

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Unconditional Love

Unconditional Love, as versus conditional love, is so rare. Conditional Love is easy. I give you Love when you do something for me that I want you to do. You do the dishes, I kiss your cheek. I hold the door for you and you smile at me. You do something in the bedroom I enjoy. I return the favor. It is a give and take. At times I give more than I take. At others I receive more than I give.

But it is not give freely. There is a cost, a condition, to this kind of Love. Compliance. You will do what is expected of you if you are to receive the Love and attention you desire.

With unconditional Love there is no compliance. It is the act of simply giving. It is so rare, simply giving again and again and again. Not expecting anything in return, not asking for anything with one’s eyes or hands or heart – simply giving.

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Can you imagine what this world would be like if everyone simply gave without expecting anything in return? It would be a world filled with Jesus’, Buddhas, Mohammads and Abrahams.

I have experienced unconditional Love on occasion. At my bedside, when my mother fed me ice chips when I could not sip from a cup. When my wife lifted me up when I toppled over in rehab, neither asking if I wanted it, each simply offering, helping and assisting without expecting anything in return. On the rare occasion that I turned it down, they simply accepted that without a word, and smiled with more Love for me.

It is the Love a mother gives to her child when going through labor or when nursing. It is Loving through the pain. It is the Love a father gives to his child when explaining why the world is the way it is, free from feeling his own pain or regret, or acknowledging if his own needs are being met. Simply being present to the needs of the growing consciousness that is before them.

Unconditional Love is about caring for someone else’s happiness without a thought to the needs of the self. It is about being fully awake and aware, being fully present to the world around you, the person in front of you, to yourself.

It is not an excuse to stay in a bad marriage or relationship. It is saying I love you no matter what happens to us, not I love you no matter what you do to me.

I will love you when the sun is shining or the skies are grey.

I will love you even when I have a horrible day.

I will love you even if you do not return my love.

I will not look for love elsewhere even if you do.

For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health.

No matter what happens to us, I will Love you.

Because when I love you, I also love me.

I Love you no matter what conditions occur around us is unconditional Love.

Do not bother looking for it.

It will find you when you are ready to accept it.

If you want to feel unconditional Love simply open yourself up to it. It is all around you. It is within you.

Give it to yourself first. Hold yourself in your own heart unconditionally. Respect yourself, Love yourself, free yourself from those undermining comments you allow to fester within you. Free yourself from the self-loathing, the self-bashing you waste so much time on. All of that does nothing but distract you from the Love that is within you.

Once you see the Love within, you will begin to see the same unconditional Love within those around you. When you can feel the Love pass through you as you send it out unconditionally.

Try it.

You will be amazed at what will transpire.

Not just with others, but within yourself.

Unconditionally.

Meditation + Intuition

At one point or another you have had a gut feeling about something. We have all walked into a room and just felt that it was going to be a boom or bust. You’ve walked past an alley and just intuitively felt it was dangerous. Perhaps it was as simple as looking outside and saying to yourself, “I know they’re predicting sun, but it just feels like it’s going to rain.”

Intuition is that subtle knowing without knowing. It is the ability to sense something in the air without knowing why.

Cognitive science has begun to demystify the strong and often inexplicable presence of your own unconscious reasoning. Even the military has begun to explore the concept of intuition to help troops make quicker decisions and save lives. What they have all discovered is that your brain has spent its entire life, collecting the subtle shifts in the data your eyes, ears and nose pick up, attaching them to the outcome of events so that you can intuit, even predict, what will happen in the near future.

In many ways being more intuitive means listening to The Voice Within. However, in order to listen to your gut, your heart, your intuition, you must first quiet the chatter in your head and distance yourself from the distractions that create the chaos that seems to go on all around you.

Once you quiet the noise and the chaos that inherently leads you astray, you can drop in on what your heart is picking up to make better, more attuned decisions. Your heart, your gut or your instinct, whatever you want to call it, naturally develop with age and experience, but you can hone them to look beyond the “facts”, in order to make clearer decisions based on your intuition.

What senior business people, war-worn soldiers and common every-day folk will often advise is to learn to read the signs, to read between the lines or to stick your head above the fog. To listen to your intuition. With practice you can use your intuition as a guide. It takes time, and it takes letting go of your logical brain, but in the end it will pay off beyond wealth and riches.

This afternoon, I am speaking to an audience at the The Rubin Museum of Art,  about intuition. It follows an Icelandic film on the subject of intuition called Innsaei. For those in the city, I highly recommend it.

The film features artists like Marina Abramović, the “grandmother of performance art,” who teaches that “in order to create something new human beings need to go into the unknown”. It also features spiritual leaders like Malidoma Patrice Somé, a West African elder and author who reasons that “Intuition binds us together. Without it we lose our sense of purpose and belonging.”

I will lead the audience through two meditations, each designed to provide an opportunity to develop your own ability to be more intuitive. The first will help you remove much of the stress and distractions that your primal brain picks up in its endless efforts to keep you safe [a wonderful train that worked well 40,000 years ago, but now holds you back more than it helps. I created the second meditation to provide you with a solid foundation from which to trust  yourself, enabling you to venture out into the world, trusting your intuition to take bigger and bigger steps into the unknown.

I would like to lead you through each meditations to help you do trust your heart and your gut on a whole new level.

 

Awareness Meditation:

This meditation uses your five senses to help you find balance and comfort in the world, no matter where you are. Regardless of whether you are in the middle of the city, in a chaotic house in the suburbs, or out in the distant country, it will help you settle into everything around you, so that you can find your peace.

  1. Find your breath. Simply drop in on it as it is. Do not try to control it or re-order it. Simply follow it at whatever pace it is moving. Say the words “in” and “out” with each inhale and exhale, “, if you need.
  2. Smile to yourself as you listen to the sounds around you. Do not judge them. Simply listen to them. Label them if you wish and tell your primal brain that it is okay. It is not a threat to run from, it is simply a part of the world you live in. It may be the air coming out of the vents, a car honking in the distance, or even the sounds of your home settling into itself. Either way, it is okay, it is simply a part of your world.
  3. Next, feel you weight of your body against the cushion or chair you are sitting in. If you are standing feel the weight of your feet pressing into the floor or earth beneath you.
  4. Now, be aware of the lights that play on the backs of your eyelids. Breathe in and be aware of the scents and smells that waft past. Be aware of the tastes in your mouth. Are they stale, or fresh? Salty or sweet? Do not judge simply be aware of them.
  5. Allow yourself to rest in your own body as you grow comfortable with the world around you.
  6. Allow your tongue to drop from the roof of your mouth. Relax your lips and your eyebrows. Give yourself permission to relax your forehead, your cheeks, your jaw.
  7. Allow this delicious sense of relaxation to flow down to your shoulders, your arms, and your back.

It is okay to drift off a bit. Simply get in touch with the world around you and open up to the beauty that is your world. Give yourself permission to let go of the chaos that may be there and allow your mind to touch upon your world as it is. Allow your intuition to grow and expand. If your mind comes up with issues or opportunities do not dismiss them as good or bad, just treat them gently and allow your mind to play with them for a while.

Enjoy each thought you have as a part of your world, as an inspiration, and as an intuitive element for you to write down after your meditation is done.

Foundations Meditation

When you find yourself riddled with doubt and insecurities, I often recommend this meditation as a way to get your footing back, as well as to create a solid foundation from which to more easily follow your intuition.

In many ways meditation has always been a communal act. One that we are just now recognizing. This meditation will help you break through whatever walls you created for yourself by reaching out into the network of people that are all around you, even though you may have forgotten they exist. You may be very surprised at how quickly and easily it is to feel whole and complete so that you can open up to your intuitions.

For this meditation settle into your breath and your seat. Feel yourself relaxed using the awareness meditation if you wish.

When you have settled into yourself, begin by thinking of someone you Love, someone who is close to you and with whom you trust and feel comfortable with. Smile into their being and feel your spirit or your energy connect to theirs. Begin to see a physical ray of light and Love connect to them. Allow it to build and establish itself.

Once you have that connection in place, find another person you trust and do the same. With each person feel yourself weaving a tapestry around you. As your tapestry begins to take shape, feel free to extend your energy to business associates, the person behind the deli counter, or cash register at the market. Continue to weave each of these people into your tapestry.

Feel it strengthen and grow stronger. Begin to see, not only the energy and Love you send out, but also the energy and Love they return to you. Realize that the tapestry you have woven for yourself is your foundation and your safety net. Realize there is no end to the people you can include in your tapestry. Understand that in one way or another they are all there to support you when you need it.

With this tapestry to support you, feel more comfortable about following your intuition, your gut, your instinct. Knowing that you have a network of support to rely on if you ever need to.

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Be well and I hope this helps.

 

 

j.

Last Walking Meditation Along The Hudson – 2016

It is almost the Autumnal Equinox. The point where the sun sets at the same time and in the same place that it did when we began our Walking Meditation Along The Hudson.

The sun did not fail to astound us with a farewell explosion of color, just as it did when we both began our aligned journey back on March 20th.

When we began the sun set just after our walk at 7:30. Over the summer we watched as the sun set later and later, and further and further North. We not only enjoyed our walks and our meditations, but we were able to witness the giant cogs that forever spin all around us.

We all noticed the air warm and then cool. We noticed the ebb and flow of people in the park. But most important we learned, as one person noticed, “to the West is you could feel the wind and the river, to the right you could see the lights of the city. And there we were balanced in the middle of it all simply breathing.”

Enjoy the colors of Autumn and the clean white of winter.

 

Until next year, be well.

 

j.

Meditation: Mindful Negotiations

Mindful Negotiations

Is the glass half empty or half full?

It is a simple question. So is the answer. It all depends on your perspective. The answer you provide is a deep insight into who you are and how you view the world around you.

In effect, you are what you think. The glass is just a glass. It is a reflection of you. It is not the glass that is half empty or half full, it is you, it is also the person sitting across from you.

You see, you do not live in a binary world of full or empty, “1s” and “0s”, hot or cold, win or lose. There are any number of ways to find an outcome in which everyone benefits. To find that outcome means being able to step away from the table and not allowing your ego get involved. It means taking a mindful approach to your negotiations so you can see beyond the glass being half empty or full, but seeing that you can always refill the glass.

In the end, no matter where you are in a negotiation, you can always change your mind. That does not make you a “flip/flopper”, it makes you a smart person who is able to change the way you view the situation as it changes before you.

Picture yourself coming to an open field 40,000 years ago. You are hungry and afraid. Imagine seeing a branch rustle across the field. It could be a rabbit, and you could have dinner. It could also be a wolf, and you could be dinner. Do you rush toward the rustling branch [half full] or run away from it [half empty]? The first is riskier but potentially feeds your family. The second is safer, and you stay alive to see one more day.

More than likely you would approach the rustling branch slowly, constantly reviewing the situation with every baby step you take. It is called being cautiously optimistic – ready to leap forward at the opportunity for dinner, but prepared to also run away as fast as possible to avoid being dinner.

This is called being mindful of the world around you. It changes every second, and you should be aware of those changes; not blindly optimistic, not openly pessimistic, but finding balance in those two until a choice can be made. And yes, not choosing is still a choice; you are simply placing the decision, and your future, into the hands of nature or someone else, which is rarely a good decision if you are to live your life on your terms and in your way.

Just remember the closer you are to a situation the more your ego will cloud your perspective. Your primordial brain will think of your survival as the #1 objective. It will think that it is better to live another day than it is to catch that rabbit. Your heart will cloud your decision with optimism of what “could be”.

That win or lose scenario was fine 40,000 years ago. It assumed that somebody won and somebody lost. Then something strange happened. People found that it does not have to be that way.  In fact, when you deal with the same people over and over again, sometimes it is better to lose a little in order to gain a lot. A smart person could create a win/win solution by negotiating.

When you look at it, the question itself – half empty or half full – is itself misleading. It implies there is a winner and a loser. It implies the only answers available are a 1 or a 0. In reality the answer could just as well be a 0.5 and a 0.5, or a 0.4 and a 0.6. You can negotiate it in any number of ways so everybody walks away happy. Perhaps not everybody get everything they wanted, but they can leave with their ego intact and, most important, happy

Instead of half full or half empty, think about refilling the glass. Look for a positive outcome in which everyone wins.

In every situation, social or professional, reprogram your auto-response to step back, take a breath, pause and look beyond the original question. Seek alternative solutions that stem from a positive place and, like walking across that open field, take baby steps forward. Assess the facts of the situation before you. Be aware that your brain will cloud your judgment with its desire to win. Be willing to walk away at any minute, but also look for a creative solution that creates a win/win outcome for everyone.

Task yourself with this in every situation you come across. Many people from the traditional world of business think they not only need to come away from a meeting a “winner”, but there needs to be a loser for their ego to remain intact.

It is an incredible feeling to realize how much you can control your attitude by shifting your perspective from a winner take all approach, to a win/win approach. You will be surprised at the clarity and even-headedness you can create with a cautiously optimistic outlook.

Training yourself to be cautiously optimistic is easier than you may think. Your normal response is to follow every question in a linear fashion. To stay on topic and to not question the person asking. That process was drummed into your head from your parents, your teachers, even your bosses. It makes them happy to be on top.

They get upset with someone who asks questions, or follow a new line of thinking. They would use that term “off topic” as a way to bring the discussion back to their idea.

Here’s a secret, you do not have to share all of your thoughts with those around you. The difference between your inside voice and your outside voice is that one allows you to think through an alternate path before you share it with others.

The beauty of the skull is that what happens in your skull stays in your skull. Sharing their opinions at the wrong time landed Galileo into the hands of the Inquisition and Einstein a job at the post office. Keeping their thoughts to themselves until the right time landed Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg into powerful positions from which they changed the world.

The next time somebody asks a question, rather than jumping forward be the first to answer first, sit back and take a breath. Ask yourself what is behind your question? Is it truly you asking or is it your ego? Next, what is behind the other person’s interests? What is their logic, or is it their ego being swung around? Could the answer lay somewhere between both of your ideas? In reality the answer to the “half empty/half full” is both – as you can always refill the glass.

Before you go into a meeting to try this way of thinking out, take a moment by yourself. Close your eyes and meditate on a pending issue you have. With every breath in, mull over the question before you. Turn it around and view it from every angle. Literally hold it in your hands and turn it back and forth, up and down.

See if anything new comes out of it.

Next, try that same tactic with a friend during a conversation:

  1. Be fully aware to what is being said.
  2. Before responding, think through the question, and carefully gather your thoughts.
  3. Do not worry about the time or the length of your pauses. When you respond, do so with a well-thought out answer that may or may not be in line with the question – if it is not, simply be prepared to provide an explanation for your response free from emotion.
  4. Fully listen to the person across from you, without getting personally caught up in what is being said.
  5. At the end of the interaction ask yourself:
    1. Were you fully present and listening?
    2. Did you aim for a win/win outcome?
    3. Were you personally invested at all times?
    4. How would you have handled it differently?

Please feel free to email me directly by CLICKING HERE, I am curious to know how this worked for you.

 

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Choose To Be Mindful

Being mindful is not an endeavor confined to a specific time or space. It is a practice that should be woven into every action you take and every reaction you make. Mindfulness is a choice. It is an orientation in the world that you choose to make or to avoid in your everyday acts. When practiced on a consistent basis being mindful will form the foundation upon which you build the habits that will lead you or from unconscious auto-responses to conscious acts, and over time toward enlightenment.

Simply drawing a breath, down deep into your lungs, slowly and fully, is a choice you make. It is no different than slowing down at a meal and chewing each bite mindfully. Each can be supportive for yourself and for the betterment of the world if done with Love. The difference? That you choose to take your breath or chew your food in a mindful manner. The alternative? To simply fill your lungs or gulp your meals down automatically and live life as you always have.

The same can be said for all of your habits. Eating, if done mindfully, will enhance your life one mindful bite at a time – they will nourish your mind, body and spirit with the Love of the Universe.

Even eliminating waste from your body can be a mindful act. No longer an act of revulsion, but a thing to be embraced as a natural part of the digestive cycle. The same can be said of intimacy and even of dying. Each, if approached as a mindful act, can be an act of Love. The passing of the spirit to wherever your belief system leads it, will become an act of Love and light, rather than of mourning.

To make any moment a mindful moment, simply apply your breath to your actions and smile as you choose where you want your life to go.

It really is that simple.

The first step to making an action a mindful action is to consciously choose to do so.

Studies show that roughly 40 percent of your activities are performed out of habit. These habits emerge through what is known as associative learning. That is, “X” happens, and in response, you do “Y”, “X” happens, you do “Y”, “X” happens, and you do “Y”.

You are programmed to repeat what works until behavioral patters emerge. It is a survival instinct that almost every animal follows. After all, if it worked yesterday and I survived, I simply have to do the same thing and I will, once again, survive.

That kind of mechanism worked wonderfully for hundreds of thousands of years, but in today’s world those same life-saving habits will wear you down. The subtle nuances of something as simple as a random social situation creates the stress and anxiety that you find yourself feeling – and this is not a good thing. It may support the growth of a stable society, but it does so at the cost of you, the individual.

That is because you will eventually feel as if you are failing because you will find yourself falling far short of your potential. A classic example of this involves the Take 5 program that was started years ago.

The “Take 5” program simply stated that we should all have 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. When the “Take 5” media campaign was rolled out 35 percent of people polled came away believing they should eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day. It was deemed a success.

However, when looking at what people actually ate, only 11 percent of people actually met this goal. It made people feel inadequate and stressed that they were not eating as healthily as they should. The Take 5 program changed people’s intentions, but failed to change their habits.

So what is one thing you can do to change your habits? Take ownership of your actions.

When you open a door, say “I CHOOSE to open this door.”

When you go shopping for dinner or order from a menu, say to yourself “I CHOOSE to buy something healthy.”

Be mindful of your options, be mindful of your decision, and then OWN IT.

Oh yes, and then reinforce your decision to be mindful. Lock it in place. Congratulate yourself, embrace yourself, smile to yourself for making the right decision.

Now, Go and Do Good. And, Smile With Love in Your Heart As You Do.

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Most important – Love yourself and be well,

Meditation – Nobody is Better Than You

YOU are on your own journey. Even if you find the love of your life, the path you are on is only wide enough for one person. From time to time you may walk beside someone else, at other times you will struggle with yourself.

That voice of self-doubt and that feeling of insecurity? They are not real. They are the result of comparing the behind-the-scenes reality of your life with the highly edited film that everyone else has produced of the life they want you to see.

The simple truth is they have just as many fears, worries and concerns as you do. They look at themselves and see a train wreck unfolding, just like you, instead of the brilliant bit of editing that you see of them.

Just remember, you are on your own path. Forget about what everyone else is doing and seemingly achieving. They look at you and think the same thing that you think of them. Perhaps they wish they had different elements of your life like than you wish you had of theirs, but it is all the same in the end.

Take a moment to think about it. Do you wish you had their mortgage? Their failing relationship? Their screaming kids? Do you really want their medications?

I didn’t think so.

I know you wish you had the glamour they are trying so hard to project. You wish you had their big house and fancy car. You wish you had their closet of designer clothes and their bank account. Well, they wish they had your freedom. They wish they had the life that you take for granted as well.

So start living your life, but live it YOUR way.

Forget about what everyone is doing. YOUR life is about finding your limits and then breaking through them.

Find out what it is you want to do and then go after it. Take it step by step and do not stop for anything.

  • If it’s taking longer than you think it should. Do not stop. It always does.
  • If it is harder than you thought it would be. Do not stop. It always is.
  • If you are overcome with doubt. Do not stop. Overcoming doubt is what this is all about.

If you do not understand it yet. All of this is just an illusion. Your real life is lived in the here and now. The real challenges you face are not in the world around you, but in your mind.

Don’t believe it? All you have to do is think back to when you were most satisfied with who you are. It always occurred when you overcame a personal hurdle, didn’t it?

Not somebody else’s, but your own. Yes I thought so.

So find another hurdle for yourself, one that only matters only to you and then jump over it.

That is what real gold medalists do.

The Network of You

The Network of You.

You are not an individual. You are a collective, and the collective that is you extends in every direction – inward and out. It can be found in the mitochondria that power every cell of your body. It can be found in the bacteria of your gut; which doctors are just now discovering how important they are for your health, and without which you would not be alive today.

As much as you all like to think of ourselves as an individual, you are simply not. You are part of a collective linked together physically, psychologically, even spiritually with those around you. It is only now that we are all beginning to realize just how strong the threads that bind us together truly are.

Long before we had two arms and two legs, the ancestors of the bacteria in your gut banded together to create cells. They adapted in this way to survive. They still do to this day – ever changing to respond to the environment around them. Just as you and I do.

The thread of our collective past is still alive today. It lives in our need to connect with each other. The same need that our ancestors followed forty or one hundred thousand years ago. Back then it was to protect each other, to hunt and to farm. Hundreds of years ago it drove our forefathers and mothers to venture into the unknown in pursuit of freedom.

It is why the internet was created and continues to grow so quickly. It is why apps like Facebook and Instagram are so popular. No matter how much you think of yourself as an individual, you are part of a collective – always have been, always will be. It is in your DNA.

In so may ways I know you are trying to escape the psychological trap of the internet. On one hand you are inundated with useless information that you may think of the internet as the trash bin of humanity. On the other you are still searching to expand your circle of friends. You may call them your “online friends.” But there is a psychological connection with them. It is not right or wrong, it simply means your world has expanded beyond your physical self, on a global scale.

It is also why, in times of trouble, you should not retreat into a solitary corner of yourself. I know it is hard, but this is exactly the time to reach out to the very collective of friends and family, associates and even strangers, that is the network of you.

So where will you go from here? Might I suggest taking a step back in time; to the network that existed long before the internet was created? It is a network of energy that is all around you. It always has been. It always will be. There are no subscriber fees to plug into it. All you have to do is reach out and tap into the energy that is already there.

In many ways, reaching this network of energy is no different than reaching into the practice of meditation. You first need to settle your body in order to quiet your mind. Only when your mind is quiet can you open your heart, and only when your heart is open can you connect to the Love and energy that flows around and through each of us. It follows that wonderfully familiar pattern of Body, Mind and Spirit, or as some say – Physical, Mental and Spiritual.

The Evolution of Solitary to Collective

Even the practice of meditation changes and evolves. It used to be a solitary act, practiced alone, enabling the person meditating to become one with him or herself; to become enlightened. While it is still practiced alone, the path to enlightenment has become a communal practice. People talk and exchange. There is a back and forth as people share their experiences online and off.

Perhaps it has always been a communal act, and we are just now recognizing it as such.

Just as the evolution of the human race is the story of individuals banding together out of survival, from individual bacteria to collective cells, from collective cell to the creation of invertebrates, vertebrates, animals, mammals, and eventually modern humans, the human experience has always been one of evolving past the individual to form a collective on every level, physically, mentally and even spiritually.

Transcending the physical to the spiritual has never been something you could readily do simply by closing your eyes. It has always required a slow journey. One that first requires you to cleanse physical self so that you can open your mind. Once free from your ego, you discover you can you open your heart and touch upon the love and the energy that is all around you. Only when your heart is open can you release your spirit and touch upon the spiritual side we all carry within us.

This is not something that is easy to do alone. It is an act that is far easier to do in a community, a collective, of like minded souls. However, only you know yourself well enough can you prepare yourself for the next step in your journey – that of transcending the physical for the divine.

Transcendence does not mean you will disappear from this plane as you rise up to the heavens. It simply means you will see the world around you with a growing realization that this is not all there is. That what exists goes beyond the physical on so many levels, you will understand why you felt trapped with every choice your path gave you.

Now is the time to break through whatever walls you created for yourself. Just reach out into the network that is all around you, even though you may have never realized it. You may be very surprised at how easy it is to feel whole and complete. But you will never know until you reach out in times of trouble.

Be well, and I hope this helps –

 

 

Jeff

Meditation & Mindful Consumption

In our media-rich world, be careful of what you ingest. It may not always agree with the life you live or aspire to life. I am not only writing in terms of food and drink, but in terms of what you watch and listen to, what you read and even write.

Everything you bring into your life effects your outlook and world view. The violence you see on television or in the theater, will resonate in how your treat those you love. The podcasts you listen to and the blogs your read online all their opinions which sooner or later end up in the way you speak and think. When you hear candidates berate and undercut each other, their words affect relationship to the world around you – whether you agree with them or not.

So just stop. The residue each of these leave behind will weigh on you and drag you down into that dark world of anger and depression. It’s okay to take a break from the news, to let go of slasher films, to put down the gossip magazines and simply be who you aspire to be.

It is called Mindful Consumption – the art of placing your breath and your awareness on the things that you are bringing into your space physically, mentally and even spiritually. If, as you eat, drink, watch or listen, feel yourself sinking into self doubt or anything that resembles the darker side of yourself then simply stop and change the channel.

If you find this difficult, stand up and take a deep breath. Put your hands on your hips and curl your lips into a smile. Feel that smile spread across your cheeks and down into your lungs as you attach your smile onto your breath.

If you need to gather your inner strength, assume a power pose by standing up straight and putting your hands on your hips, or reaching your arms above your head in a big V. Give yourself the gift of a clean spirit as you shed the residue that the world wants to weigh you down with.

Mindful Consumption is easier than you may think, especially if you build it on top of a foundation of meditation.

Either way, just be careful with what you ingest. You know who you are. Don’t let them bring you down to their level. Rise above and smile into the sun that always shines above.

Be well, and I hope this helps.

Learn more about Mindful Eating and Consumption by clicking here.

 

 

 

Jeff