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.
-Porcupine
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.

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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.

 

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

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Giving The Day Wings

You know you need to repair your routine when you start the day all full of fire that burns out faster than a stick of Palo Santo by 11 am. Nothing is going to change if you don’t. Yes you are on a track, but is it the best track? The one that will propel you forward to expand your awareness? To elevate your consciousness? To move you further towards the life of your dreams.

Doing the day a little differently will help curb the habits that are holding you back.

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Build Morning Inspiration & Motivation

You know what I am talking about. You’ve journaled, meditated, gone to the gym, consumed something healthy and you’ve created a “to do” list – you’ve set some goals for the day and then bam, hello, it’s 1 pm and you’ve done everything but what you set out to do.

Frustrated, the best advice is to become more open to being blown off course. Why? Perhaps the course you are choosing isn’t the one you are suppose to be on. Moving through our days a bit more loosely will also remove the limitations we begin with when we try to define the day in it’s entirety.

Where to start? Your true life starts when you remove the mask.  A poem by Shel Silverstein

8. UNDERFACE (Every Thing On It)

Underneath my outside face
There’s a face that none can see.
A little less smiley,
A little less sure,
But a whole lot more like me

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Masks by Richard Jonkman

Fuel Your Focus with a Mid Day Reset

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Take a pause, gain some perspective. Is this really the day you intended? Recognize the obstacles. Where are you procrastinating? How is your body disconnected from your mind’s desires? How is your thinking trapped in a tunnel?

Haruki Murakami // “What we see before us is just one tiny part of the world.”

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Ethan Hawke // “Pay attention: what you need to know is usually in front of you. There are no secrets, just things people choose not to notice.”

Wind down Wonderfully for Rest & Recovery

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Develop a wind down ritual. Examine the day and explore the darker regions of your heart.  What could have been addressed by a better version of you?

Frida Kahlo // “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”

 

 

From Recklessly Selfish to Radically Selfless – The Way of The Warrior Queen

cffa4b5a79e30829272a43dac1860688“If you have strength of character, you can use that as fuel to not only be a survivor but to transcend and thrive. You must use an internal alchemy to turn something rotten and horrible into gold.”

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“An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualist concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. . .so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness.”  MJK jr. Read the entire brilliant thing here.

Take note: this post was inspired by the King himself and the incredible speech above and another interesting dude, Jocko Willink, decorated retired Navy SEAL officer, author of the book Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead & Win.

Not Dead, Don’t Quit

Serving with Honor and Integrity On and Off the Battlefield, Jocko believes we can all benefit from creating our own code of conduct. Call it what you will, standard procedure, a moral code, rules of road, your manifesto. . .Jocko and Martin Luther King Jr. had me thinking about what I aspire to be less and more of.

Note: two habits I have recently adapted into my daily practice of MJ’s experiment in human development include . . .

  1. “wishing others well”, inspired by Sakyong Mipham author of Turning the Mind into An Ally and . . .
  2. creating this creed below (my principles, modus operandi, approach to life), which I read every morning, to remind myself to hold the standard, because well . . .

If you’re feeling stuck and struggling to make the progress you want, take a look around you. Most people adapt to whatever environment they find themselves. They have what psychologists call an “external locus of control,” where they believe factors outside of them dictate the direction of their lives.

No they do not. YOU CONTROL THE DIRECTION OF YOUR LIFE.

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A Warrior Queen’s Creed 

(hey, this is a major step up for me, I use to be a worrier queen)

  • A Warrior Queen is very discerning about who she aligns herself with, befriends, spends time with – for they must energize her, not deplete her.
  • A Warrior Queen awakens to each day with absolute gratitude and appreciation for the breath that gives her life.

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A Warrior Queen knows that she is a tiny, vulnerable being riding on a blue dot in space, not the center of the universe. (this is the money right here).

A Warrior Queen is always willing to help others rise up and become the best that they can be. Even when she mistakens a friend’s call as an interuption in her day.

A Warrior Queen knows what motivates her, for she is very self aware, to the point of calling bullshit on the lies she tells herself.

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  • A Warrior Queen understands that REAL forgiveness keeps the flow of love pumping through her heart.
  • A Warrior Queen acknowledges both life and death, good and evil, joy and sorrow and never dives into escapism or fantasy about how she wishes the world to be. She sees everything for what it is, with radical acceptance. (OH MY GOD THIS WAS NOT ME A MONTH AGO, I SWEAR)

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  • A Warrior Queen looks for the FACTS, not fiction in every situation. Everyone should try this one, a game changer really. (inspired by episode 216 of James Altucher’s podcast with author of Sapiens, Yural Harari.
  • A Warrior Queen respects all living beings, especially her worst enemies. Soooooo hard to do, yet a very strategic move.
  • A Warrior Queen is always learning, reading, listening to those with the brightest brains, highest intelligence and gathering wisdom along the way.
  • A Warrior Queen practices extreme self care. She moves and exercises (her demons too), eats healthy, rests well to stay strong and energized throughout the day.
  • A Warrior Queen trains in earnest with a meditation ritual each day to remain focused and in the present moment, awake and alive.
  • A Warrior Queen is full of compassionate empathy and loving radical acceptance and kindness for what is.

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  • A Warrior Queen has a heart that is ready for anything.
  • A Warrior Queen sees situations as they are, not bigger than they are.
  • A Warrior Queen guards her mind, her words and her wishes, always thinking thoughts that lead to positive emotions. (this one is a huge challenge for me, but I am improving).
  • A Warrior Queen is comfortable with the uncomfortable truths of life.

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  • A Warrior Queen appreciates every single encounter each day, for she knows life is sacred.
  • A Warrior Queen does not fantasize about catastrophes that might happen in the future. She stays present and prepared in this moment.
  • A Warrior Queen is centered, calm, cool and collected. She moves with purpose and confidence throughout her days.

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  • A Warrior Queen does not resist reality and does not desire permanence for she knows the unchanging truth of change and relinquishes attachment to any outcome. This includes people, places and things. Her shift in perception of reality, that everything is impermanent helps her appreciate the nature and master of life. This world is made of infinite and ever changing moving parts. There is nothing to hold on to.
  • A Warrior Queen wakes up to what samsara is, the suffering of life. She rises above the suffering and emerges with the understanding that everything is impermanent.
  • A Warrior Queen knows what creates more sufferingacting in non-virtuous ways out of bewilderment, fixation, aggression, jealousy and pride. (oh my family would have a field day here – hey guys if you are reading this,  I Love You, work with me here).

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  • A Warrior Queen acts with intention of kindness, love, patience and non-attachment because these intentions elevate the mind above negative emotions. (Sometimes so hard to do when waiting on a long line at the UPS store. But you do it. You just do it.)
  • A Warrior Queen wishes others well throughout the day, knowing her heart can melt even the harshest judgement and suffering.
  • A Warrior Queen is never selfish. She has a noble heart that desires all to find their true happiness (pro tip: this is another thing that is really hard to do when you want to punch someone in the face really hard- but you just do it). She works for all to go in the direction of their hearts.
  • A Warrior Queen doesn’t burden others with her suffering, but shares the wisdom she has gained. (inspired by a Ted Talk from Carolyn Myss “Choices that Can Change Your Life

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  • A Warrior Queen acts from the sacred self and chooses throughout the day to be at peace. (and sometimes that means avoiding people who are a real pain in the ass).
  • A Warrior Queen moves through life from a deep conscious knowing and has NO DOUBT that she is a warrior queen and so are all her brothers and sisters on this spinning planet.
  • A Warrior Queen is filled with only unconditional love for all beings.

I am the Warrior Queen.

 

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“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” Tony Morrison

Asylum Art sketches Januz Miralles

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Seeking What Makes Us Feel Calm & Confident

I was thinking today about how it feels to be continually thrown off balance. To be provoked and manipulated by others, especially those that are harder-to-handle.  I was wondering how it is we can become reactive to every annoying thing that is thrown our way and what we need to do to remain composed in the face of unreasonableness. How we can train ourselves to cultivate an inner calm beyond meditation. How we can feel more centered and even more balanced, maybe top that off with a deeper faith and confidence in ourselves and humanity, and ultimately feel downright comfortable in our own skin.
When you are truly comfortable in your own skin, not everyone will like you, but you won’t care about it one bit. 
All day today, I thought about what makes us feel that we are all right with the world. What connects us with the wiser part of ourselves and what activities bring us the necessary strength to deal with the chaotic and the craziness that every day daily living can conjure up.  I look at these activities as the stamps in our passports to getting our own power back.
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They are the things we do to help strengthen us and stay balanced when life knocks us around. When we are beaten and busted and feeling agitated and disgusted. When we are overwhelmingly frustrated.
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A part of seeking what makes us feel strong is deciding the places and spaces and situations we put ourselves in order to build back that serenity and peace and stillness that keeps us sane.
I believe it is our responsibility to seek what makes us strong. I think it’s easier to do if we begin by relinquishing control of what we cannot possibly change.
One of the most rewarding moments in life is when you finally find the courage to let go of what you can’t change.
So what do we do to travel back home, to comfort ourselves, to relieve that pain and suffering brought on by this daily struggle called living.
Things we do to be present to our own selves. To show up for ourselves. Praying in church, meditating in the morning, running in the rain, crunching and squatting at the gym, journaling for ourselves,  browsing through a book store, enjoying coffee and croissants with friends, a long walk by the water. . .
We start by carving out some time for ourselves.
Seeking what brings us back to center gives us a sense of control, a boost of needed energy and a dose of self love that keeps us sustained and encouraged to keep the party moving forward.
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A healthy practice to embrace, we have become use to a low-level of generalized anxiety and confusion as we navigate our daily lives. We are so entrenched in the movement of go, go, go that we don’t even acknowledge how revved up and in knots our spirit and our essence has become.
Of course we are more reactionary when we lose ourselves in the daily nonsense and bull shit of life.
While turning inward can be helpful to touch the peace you oh so need, I also believe it is the activities we do, the places we choose to go and the people we decide get our attention that also activate and/or deactivate our inner peace.
We must seek more pleasurable moments. First we must identify how many we are having in a day.
Inspired by “Turning the Mind Into an Ally” by Sakyong Mipham.
Cheryl Richardson: Personal Growth: How to Give Yourself a Radical Upgrade
on The James Altucher Show.
Joe Dispensa – guided meditations
artwork by Barbara Kruger
 
I am experimenting with capturing the art of daily living on camera while creating short shorts that emotionally resonate on some level in your mind and heart.

Supersize Your Purpose

Damn truth is . . .

you and I are going to die. It is inevitable. You know that. You just don’t know when. Every single thing will be taken from you. You will leave behind your possessions, your loved ones, and all your hopes and dreams for this life. You’ll be taken right out of where you are. You’ll no longer be able to fill the roles you were so busy playing. Death changes everything in a flash. That’s the reality of the situation. If all these things can be changed in an instant, then maybe they aren’t real after all. Maybe you’d better check out who you are. Maybe you should look deeper.

A passage from The Untethered Soulthe journey beyond yourself by Michael A. Singer

Death Clock

A screen shot of my screen saver. My death clock. A chrome extension. A bitter-sweet motivational tool; it illustrates how little time I may have left. Download it here.

“The purpose of life is not simply to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Naked awareness. Clarity of mind. A sense of strong purpose.

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Knowing why you are here.

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There is power in purpose.

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The purpose of art, of creating something new, is to help wash the dust of daily life off our souls.  – Picasso

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Featured art by Tom French

(Some) of The Most Important Things That Matter

I use to fill every moment of my day with something I could cross off my list later. #thatain’tliving

Elizabeth CarlsonI am Falling in Love with My Imperfections“.  A poem to learn from.

The more time I spend with the aging and the dying, the more I am beginning to understand what really matters each day.

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Their regrets become my wisdom and the important lessons to win tomorrow, while there is still life to be lived.  This is the stuff I should’ve learned so long ago and the lessons that should be taught in school.

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1. This moment right now, make it matter.  Make this moment important, vital and worth living.

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For so long I made a pact with myself to seek the truth, until I realized, that . . .

2. The truth you seek is only a matter of your perspective. There are many different versions of the truth.

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There are many realities. There are many versions of what appears obvious. Whatever appears as the unshakeable truth, its exact opposite may also be true in another context. – Amish Tripathi

Embrace the ability to see all things as they are and not as we ‘think’ they are. Reality in all it’s forms, is our friend.

3. All of our experiences shape us. We should seek new experiences and adventures each day. Try stuff. All sorts of stuff.  Expand our borders.

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You may think your “story” is boring, ordinary and not worth sharing, but you are wrong. Very wrong. You have some experience with life and someone out there can learn from your mistakes. You hold the power to lift someone up with a single sentence, a lesson learned.  Share your lessons with strangers.

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4. We are so much more powerful than we even know. Our words can be weapons, a single sentence can be as sharp as a sword. You can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.

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To play our roles in life well – whatever the roles are, brother, father, husband, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, mentor. . .we simply must be and do that which is right at the moment and do it with patience and kindness.

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5. The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.

So listen deeply to friends and enemies. Listen quietly for all the missing words, the things they don’t say. All of it can teach you as well.

And remember, fear not the angry and rageful. To see compassionately how others may be in pain.

Stay soft and available always. Yes, you can train, practice and prepare for the future, but most importantly, be adaptable, flexible and ready to pivot, detour and move on when things aren’t going well.

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Sharing our gifts, bringing our best and leaving those we encounter feeling stronger and more inspired after we leave them.

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Be emotionally free, while letting go of all resentment and anger. Forgiving all.

6. Continue to strip life of all that bogs us down. Boiling our actions down to the most important.

Speaking fewer words, owning less of everything, accomplishing more by doing less.  Every so often, it is our duty to cleanse our emotional baggage and past hurt. Heal our pain and fix our faulty parts by becoming more self-aware while understanding the genesis of our emotions

7. Treat ourselves well. Guard our minds, keep thoughts bright, clear and as strong as can be.

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8. To prepare for the transition of  life/death/life. Learning to love the open ended mystery of not knowing why.

Balance out the days with enough sleep time, intimacy time, work & focus time, time in (self-reflection), down time and play time. Live each day as if it was your last.

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Remember this, when it all falls apart or there’s a heavy cross to bear and the storm is on the horizon. Learn to adapt and adjust daily.

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“Amid a world of noisy, shallow actors it is noble to stand aside and say, ‘I will simply be.”
Henry David Thoreau

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.”
Allen Ginsberg

“The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.”
Lao Tzu

    • Featured art “Sounding Silence” by

Michael Cheval

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Staying Awake, Alive & In The Moment, Even in Times of Uncertainty

Three very memorable lessons from my morning (reading and mediation) ritual today.
Live Like This
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Act, speak, write and create as if it were your very last day. Your last moment here. Create from the heart as if you are expressing yourself for the last time. Like this is it. Make it all matter.
Listen: Tara Brach Accessing Innate Wisdom
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Let Go of The Controls
Stay open to the impermanence of life. To all of the change that is happening around you. To the fact that everything is constantly evolving.
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Discipline yourself to wake up out of the trance-like “thought” and come into your senses, awake and aware of this moment right now. Stay in touch with your aliveness. Open up to the space between your thoughts. Inhabit the pause, the silence between your monkey mind chatter.  Learn to tolerate the groundlessness & uncertainty of life. Let it all happen, even in times of maddening uncertainty.
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Stay Amazed and Astonished
Life is nothing short of a miracle. This is something to remember when you are busy managing the mundane. Never forget the miracle of being alive right now.
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Self-Abandonment, Sitting with Painful Emotions & Some Damn Good reasons for Building Self-Trust

I was seeking the truth about why my words contradicted my actions.  Why my good intentions were backfiring.  Why I would say “I want to achieve this and I want to achieve that” all day long- but I never really met my goals head on. I got some half-assed results.  Whether it was ” I will never let anyone treat me like that again,” as I jumped into bed with my ex or “I’m not eating another piece of fattening bread again,” as I smeared a slab of butter on the dinner roll.  Contradicting myself all the time.  Oh to be human.

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I would set myself up each day for success, at least in in my mind, but by dinner time, I was right back where I started, sometimes even worse off.  Self-sabotage.  Overpromising too many people, including myself and underdelivering and setting myself up for failure.

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It came to the point where I just couldn’t trust myself at all any more. I’d say things to myself like  “I’ll start saving money soon,”  as I continued to rack up my credit cards at my favorite boutiques, restaurants and cafes.

I’m working on building my trust back. Honestly, how can you trust anyone else if you don’t trust yourself?

Read: 21 Signs You Don’t Trust Yourself

Pains

Trusting yourself is what builds confidence. On the other hand, NOT trusting yourself, because you are lying to yourself, is what leads to self doubt and ultimately painful emotions. And you know how we don’t like to feel those.

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“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part

Trusting Only The Good Parts of Ourselves

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Personally, I have found that self-trust starts with self-forgiveness and taking the time to understand why we are so self-deceptive. I took sometime to think back on all the terrible, selfish and thoughtless things I have done to myself and to others throughout my life.  Then I read the list. God that was hard. Then I waited a day and thought about more bad things that I did and added to the list. Oh, to take a good look into the guiltiness of it all. It was so damn painful. The crazy thing is – I would write down something I remembered that I did that hurt someone and then I WOULD MAKE AN EXCUSE FOR WHY I DID IT. Really??

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The point I am trying to make here is that we can’t just trust some parts of of ourselves. Like the good parts with the good emotions. We have to trust our whole entire being. The good, the bad and the ugly.  This starts by not abandoning yourself.  You abandon yourself every time you don’t allow yourself to be completely honest, feel badly and sit with some of the pain and sadness you have brought to your own life.  Don’t dwell there, just become more aware.

“Self trust is the essence of heroism.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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But I think that because they trusted themselves and respected themselves as individuals, because they knew beyond doubt that they were valuable and potentially moral units — because of this they could give God their own courage and dignity and then receive it back. Such things have disappeared perhaps because men do not trust themselves anymore, and when that happens there is nothing left except perhaps to find some strong sure man, even though he may be wrong, and to dangle from his coattails.
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden