Firing Your Mind & Taking Stock of Your Personal Inventory

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Dear Mind of Mine,

Oh, how you trouble me so. Fretting and worrying about things completely out of your control.  I remind you today that I am not getting involved in your ridiculous melodrama.  As a matter of fact, it’s time you and I took an extended vacay. 

– Me, Myself & I

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Now that I’m not playing those mind games anymore, what will I do with all this free time?

I’ll start by taking inventory- pause, take that deep breath – oh, dear, what the hell is my heart feeling now?

What are my shoulders doing? How is my stomach feeling? How about my right toe? Is my mind wandering off into fantasyland and nightmares again?
Checking in with myself.

Stopping a moment to take my inventory. What am I lugging around that I no longer need?

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Opportunities to Seize vs. Temptations to Resist

Analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.

 

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What if I make the wrong one?

Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?” 
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?” 
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?

– Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

 

The phenomenon of overchoice occurs when many equivalent choices are available.  Examples of overchoice include college options, career options, and prospective romantic relationships.  Many increased by technology. In today’s world, we have easy access to more of everything at our fingertips.

Overcoming That Overwhelming Feeling

It helps to remember your final destination. Where have you set your sites? Your goals?

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Recalling your dreams helps to distinguish between an opportunity to be seized and a temptation to be resisted.

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“If you haven’t the strength to impose your own terms upon life, then you must accept the terms it offers you.”

 

Featured image by  Remedios

Surreal Horses

Girl with Binoculars by Bernie Fuchs

Saying No, Rookie Errors & Finding Your Center

A wise person remains centered enough to let go every time their energy shifts into defense mode.

A rookie keeps protecting their ego. Round and round we go.
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It doesn’t matter what others do unless you decide it matters to you.

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There will always be something to disturb you.

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Relax, release and let go

I’m staying centered through a daily practice of meditation, strength training, hot yoga and exploring  Zhan Zhuang . . . A step-by-step method of exercising by standing still, in poses which burn fat and tone muscles without strenuous exercise.
To stand like a tree and bend like a reed in the wind
This notion of staying centered,  pairs well with learning how to say no. As in hell no.
I’m starting with saying no to defending and protecting my ego.
While also saying no to . . .
  • Wasting energy on worry
  • Ruminating over past problems
  • Concerning myself with anything that doesn’t upgrade my life
  • Buying into short gain temptations
  • An obsession with planning over doing what needs to be done (no to procrastination)
  • Repetitive behavior that doesn’t serve me well
  • Lowering my standards
  • Fretting about the future
Today’s meditation brought up this little creature. A porcupine guiding my way today.
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His message:
Are you interfering where you shouldn’t? Take stock and retreat. Allow others to walk their walk with aplomb and dignity. Making their own mistakes is integral to their own personal growth.
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And remember . . .
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Don’t be hanging with no jank ass jokers that don’t help you shine.  – Will Smith

Artwork by Tomoki Hayasaka
Tomoki Hayasaka is a self-taught artist from Sendai, Japan. He is a new digital artist. His art expresses the feelings that are common to human being.

Why Keeping an Open Mind and Heart is The Healthiest Thing You Can Do

Having had my fair share of stressful and painful experiences, I am intrigued by studies that explain how negative emotions manifest as physical pain in our bodies. I am specifically interested in the role of stress and the condition of our heart because even though our heart governs most of our decision making, we truly take for granted one of the most magnificent masterpieces of creation.

Negative Emotions

 

A New Type of Heart Attack in this article from Harvard’s Heart Health Newsletter.

Most heart attacks are due to coronary arteries being blocked by blood clots that form when plaques of cholesterol rupture. The lack of blood flow through the blocked arteries results in heart muscle dying — hence the name “heart attack.”

But over the past few years, physicians have come to recognize and better understand another form of heart attack. This unusual type of heart attack does not involve rupturing plaques or blocked blood vessels. It is called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or stress cardiomyopathy. Japanese doctors, who were the first to describe this condition, named it “takotsubo” because during this disorder, the heart takes on a distinctive shape that resembles a Japanese pot used to trap an octopus. The disorder was commonly believed to be caused by sudden emotional stress, such as the death of a child, and to be far less harmful than a typical heart attack. For that reason, some had also labeled this condition “broken-heart syndrome.”

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Purifying Your Heart

In the yogic tradition, so-called heart blockages are caused by unfinished and unprocessed emotions. They call this energy, Samskara, which in Sanskrit means “impression”. You know, the things that make either a good impression or bad on us that we can’t seem to get “over” – those things that cause our mind to ruminate on horrible or remarkable experiences that have happened to us. The heart and mind playing an important role in making us feel inspired and loving or apathetic and victimized.

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Our heart is an instrument made of extremely subtle energy that few of us come to really appreciate. The heart’s energy flow (referred to as Shakti, Spirit or Chi) plays a very important part of our lives and experiences.

The heart controls our energy by closing and opening. For example, you can experience great feelings of love for someone until they say something negative towards you. Vascilating between open-hearted and closed. For deeper reading on The Secrets of The Spiritual Heart, a chapter of the book I have now read five times, I recommend The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer.

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So science is also demonstrating that volatile emotions like anger and hostility are bad for heart health. But studies have shown that some of the quieter emotions can be just as toxic and damaging.

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“Study after study has shown that people who feel lonely, depressed, and isolated are many times more likely to get sick and die prematurely – not only of heart disease but from virtually all causes – than those who have a sense of connection, love and community,” Dean Ornish, MD, tells WebMD.

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Author Michael Singer explains that we have spent a lifetime of storing up unresolved conflicts which can lead to a heart that is shut down and closed for business. But all is not lost. We have a choice.

We can simply allow the experiences of life, whatever we label as good and/or bad — from falling madly in love to experiencing the death of a loved one —  yes, just simply allow those experiences to move right through us.

Will they be joyful and painful experiences? Yes. But the clinging and resisting and wrestling you do with these emotions will no longer distract you from living fully in the moment with an open mind and heart.

The eyes are useless when the mind is blind.

Art by Turkish artist and graphic designer Aykut Aydogdu, based in Istanbul.

The indomitable will of our soul burns on even during the downward spiral of our destiny.

 

What Makes Life So Damn Complicated

You.
You make life complicated.
You think you’re so important.
You want it your way, or no way.
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You have a choice right now. A choice that can change everything. You can continue to choose to push against reality and struggle with it or you can choose to move with the world and use that energy to create something new.
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Use the forces you have within your power your strength, courage, and conviction.
Light
You always have something within your reach.
Today it may as simple your smile, but the energy of a smile can light up a room and lift spirits.
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Life is not complicated at all. We make it that way.
It’s when we behave selfishly.
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Take advantage of every moment that presents itself as an opportunity to be kind, compassionate and easy to be with today.
And if for some reason you don’t have the bandwidth for that, then do no harm.
How can we uncomplicate things today?
Be the missing ingredient.  The one to soothe each situation and to raise the vibes. Be the listener, the lover, the mender, the healer and the bigger person with a generous heart.
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Read The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

 

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Artwork by Peter Beard.

He married a supermodel, photographed rock stars and came from a wealthy family.  Easy on the eyes too.

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Peter Hill Beard is an American artist, photographerdiarist and writer who lives and works in New York City and Kenya. His photographs of Africa, African animals and the journals that often integrate his photographs have been widely shown and published since the 1960s.

The Audacity to Act on Your Dreams and Learning to Trust Yourself

Today’s thought is about the many ways we disappoint ourselves when we say we will do one thing and then do the exact opposite, or maybe, we do nothing at all.
A lack or slack in self-trust can be a very dangerous and stagnating trait to have because it keeps us stuck.
How does the lack of self-trust show up in our lives? Well, sometimes we fantasize about the future to escape the present.
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It’s when fantasy becomes fact in our minds that we begin not to believe or trust ourselves anymore.  This lack of self-trust becomes a black hole that consumes our self-respect.
But how does this happen? A 16-minute read from Mark Manson that will kinda blow your mind about what self-trust means.
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There is no one behavior that will permit you to suddenly trust yourself.  However, a collection of small actions over time will alchemize and inspire an improved sense of trust.
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No. 1 Don’t deceive yourself. See things as they are, not how you wish they would be. As hard as this is, it’s gravely important, less you desire to be repeating  “why didn’t I see that coming?So often we ignore the truth for the lies we prefer.

No. 2 Speaking of repetitive behavior, never repeat the same mistake. Once repeated it’s not a mistake, it’s a damn decision.  Write that mistake down, make it a part of your mantra, tattoo it on your arm, just remember it deeply and move on. Whether that is a person you need to let go of, something you must apologize for or something you did that really hurt another.
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No. 3 Explore. So often, we think we are stuck where we are and we convince ourselves that this is the best place we could be because we are just ignorant of what lies beyond our sites. Get out there, adventure something bigger than what you have right now.
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No. 4. Face the truth. What is your life really like right now? Work with what you have and try something, using what you have, to propel yourself into action. You will astonish yourself when you see how creative you can be.
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No. 5. Tell yourself the truth and speak the truth to all. Do not underestimate the raw power of choosing to be honest in both word and action with everyone including yourself.

No. 6. Do not lie or conceal anything to protect others, no matter how tempting, no matter how little and white or and no matter how small. Tiny lies will eat away at you. You are not “protecting” anyone, including yourself. Speak the truth to your friends, family, and colleagues. It is amazingly refreshing and what the world needs.
No. 7. Do something good, no matter how small, for yourself each day. For one hour a day put yourself first.  Sign up for that class, go for a hike, read that book, write that poem, learn that dance, try that new meal you have been wanting to prepare. Carve out that time for you and no one else.
No. 8. Working towards a goal? a dream? Do something today to move you closer to it and catch yourself quickly if you fall prey to extensive planning and research. That is not moving towards the goal and is a symptom of not trusting yourself. Act, don’t just dream.
No. 9. When trying to make a decision, understand that there is more than one answer, so when figuring out your problem, think of few solutions, and choose the one that resonates and most appeals to you.  Sure it might not be the best solution, but you must get used to making decisions regardless.
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No. 10 Keep small promises to yourself today and please don’t set yourself up for disappointment – take the pressure off – put less on your list. Do the most important and a few of the little things.
No. 11 Take a good look in the mirror. Watch how you talk to yourself inside your head all day. Are you an enemy or a friend?  Be a good friend to you.
No. 12. Trust in your own direct experience, just because someone said on the internet that something is good for you, doesn’t mean it is good for YOU.
No. 13. When considering other people’s advice and opinions, ask yourself, “Do I want to be like this person? If the answer is yes, give their perspective more weight than if the answer is no. If the answer is no and you still take their advice seriously, you are signaling to yourself to trust people you don’t admire more than you trust yourself.
No. 14. Give yourself permission today to freely act on your own truth, logic, and intuition and open your mind to new ideas. Do as James Altucher recommends and keep a log of 10 new ideas a day.  They don’t all have to be good, they just have to be new.
No. 15.  Do not allow yourself to consume bad-tasting conversation or sugar-loaded condiments disguised as delicious and nutritious health foods. Anything you consume should be real, honest and true, so be aware of who you surround yourself with and the habits and meals they bring to the table.
No. 16.  Feel your way to self-trust.

“As we learn to recognize and understand the body’s subtle sensations, and then act on them, our self-trust will grow tremendously. To me it is rather amazing that the body has this innate sense of the truth, as if the body is hardwired for it,” states psychotherapist John Prendergast Ph.D.

Read more here @thoughtcatalog

Begin to sense your surroundings and the people in your line of site with more than your mind. When you are anywhere, begin to feel the energy around you. Get to know yourself better and become aware of how you feel, sensations that arise including smells, tastes, and sounds when you meet someone. Don’t just use your brain.  Using other senses helps you to become more aware of what triggers you and either builds self-trust or breaks it down.
No. 17 Use tools and technology to help you trust yourself.  Here are six wearable devices to track your stress levels and emotions.
Wearable technology already can tell you about your heart rate, sleep patterns, health habits and breathing patterns; all of which can provide just as much insight into your emotional state as your physical state. For example, one Fitbit wearer discovered his device recorded the moment of his breakup. His heart rate soared at the bad news and stayed elevated for the rest of the day as he dealt with the sadness and heartache, showing how closely his emotions affected his physical state. But now, more wearables on the market are designed specifically to monitor your feelings, not just your physical state. These devices work by measuring everything from breathing and heart rate to speech patterns and brainwaves. Armed with information, you learn to recognize your emotional states and learn how to soothe your reactions and control your responses.
More on how to begin to trust yourself from @zenhabits
Art by surreal photos by @Rayda_ealvay, a 19-year-old self-taught photographer, retoucher, and artist based in Perm, Russia. Rayda manipulates her self-portraits into surrealist explorations of identity, emotions, and dreams.

True Love

Acts of Love are valid only if they are performed without conditions or expectations.

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It starts with honoring and remembering the sacredness that lives within all of us.

No matter how screwed up we treat each other.
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Art by Mario Sanchez Nevado Aegis

Aiming Higher & Reaching Over Your Heart

They say you are drawn to what you value. What you think is really important in life. Your values lead you to the types of friends you associate with, the places you visit, the work you enjoy, who you fall in love with, what you do in your free time and all the other incredible things you do here on this big, crazy, beautiful planet.

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We don’t talk about the importance of having good values in school. We should, but we don’t.  Not yet anyway. 

I am thinking about my values a lot lately. What I use to value (having a lot of fun, making a lot of money, looking a certain way, etc) and what my values look like now. My values are changing quickly. The more I grow, the more my values change. 

The type of personality traits I now value. For me and for you.

1. Optimistic warmth (genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full);

2. Intelligence (not just “smarts” but rather an insatiable curiosity to learn for the sake of learning);

3. Work ethic (a natural tendency to do something as well as it can possibly be done);

4. Empathy (an awareness of, care for, and connection to how others feel and how your actions make others feel);

5. Self-awareness (an understanding of what makes you tick

6.  Integrity (a natural inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and superb judgment).

This trait list inspired by this article about what Danny Meyer’s says to look for when hiring the right people.

Act II: Living a More Deliberate  and Intentional Life

Anytime I see anyone from high school whether in real life or on social media, they say they remember me as this carefree, fun loving girl with tons of energy. 

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While the life of the party might have served me well for all thing things that high school is about – partying, socializing and basically having a great time (at least that was my experience), those same traits led me down some very challenging and difficult paths.

Why?

Because I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted. I lived so “in the moment” that I never really stopped to seriously consider what I wanted to do with my life. So, I didn’t make any real decisions for myself. I just let things happenI just did whatever anyone else was doing. If it looked good and sounded like fun, I did it.  -Like going to the same college as my best friend – why not?  Choosing a career that allowed me to speak in front of many, many people and express my point of view. Of course. Eloping with the guy I met on the train –well okay? Having four children in the span of six years, because, well, who was thinking, planning or considering the responsibilities involved in raising four beautiful humans?

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Now, on the flip side, I have a very strong ability to keep on keeping on. Most likely a choice-supportive bias with a bit of ambiguity effect in place here. Resilient, persistent and stubborn to the point of stupidity, I made it through and by society’s standards with a decent amount of success.

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I built the career, raised the children, made the money, bought the house, went on the vacations and somehow even seemed to survive the roller coaster ride of being married and divorced to a bipolar manic depressive who was non-compliant with his medication and irrationally obsessed with traveling the country tripping his balls off while following the Grateful Dead.

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You see I made choices without really knowing myself and stuck to my cognitive biases and compromised so much of myself. It’s not like I feared anything, but more like I just kept going, without ever questioning. I was determined to starve before I was hungry.

Until now. Now I can be anywhere I want, doing anything I damn well feel. Which begs the question.

What does a life filled with intention look like for me? 

You see, the way I look at it – if I got this far not knowing what the hell I wanted, well can you just imagine when I do?

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I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. 

Henry David Thoreau.

 

Beautiful image of the woman with the dove coming out of her face.

Future Stress Reduction Made Simple and Why Your Having A Bad Day Already

 

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We can completely avoid being “blindsided” by problems.  Problems leave clues way before they become dilemmas.

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Problems present themselves first as small annoyances. The things that are bugging you that are tiny enough to just brush off and not big enough to make you care.

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Bad day

There are so many clues right in front of our eyes but we may not want to look at them because, well, they can lead to an even more frightening thought. The future.

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I hate it when I notice a minuscule pesky problem and I say “oh, it will be okay.” Yeah, no it won’t. Grab it by the ass.

Sure I, on occasion, have just wanted to things to be okay, even if they weren’t. I even said to myself, as shit was going down, it’s okay. Sometimes I surrounded myself with people who loved to stay in the bubble of “okayness” rather than face the problem head-on. I don’t anymore.

It’s called living in denial.

We have immense power to cause both positive and negative outcomes in our lives. It starts by waking up to the truth. Small problems today grow into sucky stressful tomorrows. Address the problems now and save yourself the stress.

 

Surreal images by Eugenia Loli

 

Emotions Over Thoughts and A Softer Way to Communicate

Three things I am working on right now.

Soul Singing

Question: What does my soul say today?

My soul doesn’t speak in thoughts. No, not at all. These thoughts that clutter my mind are just residual pain left over from the things I haven’t let go of yet. Thoughts of conflicts yet resolved.

My soul speaks in feelings, emotions, images, sounds, clues.

My soul speaks to me when I feel deep sadness, frustration, anger, contentment and happiness.

I can feel, see, taste, touch and listen to my soul when my mind is silent.

That’s why I meditate.

Weeding my mind garden so there is more room for a soul orchestra.

Good feelings can’t grow from grudges. Pure thoughts don’t come from residual pain.

These are the feelings from stories feared.

Letting these thoughts drift on by, help me weed my mind garden and clear the soil for a more softer, gentler and more compassionate state of being.

Recovering from the violent ways in which we communicate.

Judging, blaming, demanding, critiquing, name-calling.

Talk about your karma baby.

Softer thoughts lead to kinder words. Seeking more non-violent ways to communicate.

Inspired by Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss & Turning Your Mind Into An Ally by Sakyong

Mipham