The Process of Self Awareness & Examining Your Heart

Before any true change can happen in your life, you need to really understand where you are at right now. Madeline Johnson

Before any true change can happen in your life, you need to really understand where you are at right now. You need to know what you are working with and that includes the results in your life right now that demonstrate your decisions from the past.

As a progressive and eternal being, you are where you are so that you may learn. You are shown the results of your thoughts, so that you may grow.

– James Allen

If you don’t like where you are living, what decisions did you make to get where you are? If you don’t like how much you weigh, what did you decide to eat that packed on the pounds? (that is unless you have a serious illness that caused inflammation). If you don’t like your friends, why did you decide to connect with them in the first place?

This sleuthing process requires time, honesty and deep self-examination. The detective-like process of becoming self aware and of examining your heart begins with questioning how you got to your position in life right now.

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What were your thoughts, your fears and your doubts along with your hopes and aspirations that manifested what you have today.  Pay attention to your life. Get curious about where you are and apply it to everything in your life, from your job to your partner to your friendships to your diet to your state-of-mind.

This examination includes asking yourself what you like and don’t like about your life right now. Once you have decided what you don’t like you must decide what you want to do about it.

What change would you like to see about your living conditions, your career, your relationships and your self-worth. Get familiar with what you would like to change.

Then, once you have uncovered the good and the not so good aspects of your current situation you might ask yourself what you need to think and do in order to manifest what you want. What new ways of thinking and doing must you put into place to make the changes come true.

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Examining the good in your life is pretty easy to do. You know what you like about your friends, your partner and your work. It’s the looking at what could be improved that is more challenging because so often we want to blame others and circumstances for our current conditions.

In order to change for the good we must be extremely honest with ourselves and begin to take complete ownership of what has happened to us, including our thoughts and actions that led us here.

Change begins with changing our thoughts first. For what you think and do now, will inevitably create your tomorrow.

Some habits are really hard to change, even when we know they are not producing what we want.

Focusing on becoming extremely aware of your habits and behavior is critical to your transformational success but it doesn’t mean you have to be critical of yourself.  You simply have to acknowledge the truth about your life first and then put into place new habits that will manifest better outcomes for you.

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There are many ways to support the changes you want to make and that includes changing your perception and environment.

Read: As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

Featured Art

The Chemical Messiah

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I remember not to fear or worry or doubt myself for that is the ultimate sin against life. Imagine a Dove doubting its ability to fly? Madeline Johnson

There is so much advice out there about taking an honest look at yourself. You must be courageous enough to face your bloodiest wounds to change. So many experts telling us to be brave and bold enough to recognize our faults.  Advising us to replace negative thinking and habits with better ones.

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At one point in time, in what still feels like the recent past, I was addicted to the feeling of being anxious and angry.  It actually felt very powerful and energizing to feel this way.   Now, as I begin to deliberately focus on letting go of that anger,  I notice that I am no longer feeling righteous and in charge, it can feel really uncomfortable.

You see, anger was once my anchor and complaining my crutch. Both made me feel superior because nothing was good enough for me. I had “higher” standards than most. These emotions also helped me feel less vulnerable and small.  If I remained angry, no one could touch me. They would fear me. This is what I thoughtlessly thought was powerful.

Now, the more I meditate, the more I pray, the more I remain mindful in the moment, the more peaceful I feel.  To be completely honest, feeling peaceful and calm feels strange. It’s actually a bit uncomfortable. I can actually witness my mind wanting to grasp onto what’s wrong with everything and I literally have a battle with my brain to correct my thoughts.

I am in transition and in between the two worlds of ego and serene essence.

Changing my consciousness and altering the way I think about everything, requires fierce discipline. It is as if I am constantly keeping a watchful eye on my thoughts throughout the day.  I weed out those thoughts that just don’t work.

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My logical mind knows that my old way of thinking was lazy, sloppy and useless. It was also very, very defensive and protective. I had built a fortress in the name of self-preservation. But what was I preserving? A shell of myself.

My old consciousness was me against the world, and frankly this way of perceiving people no longer serves me. It actually enslaved me into an endless loop of struggle. I was cynical, skeptical and scanning for threats. I was looking for the bad in others.

Now, as I realize that letting go and forgiving is so freeing, I feel a sense of peace and serenity that feels like floating through life. There is nothing to control. Yet, sometimes this floating feels very frightening, because I am floating in a sea of unknown.  I vacillate still between want to control and wanting to let go.

I sometimes no longer fear the future or think about what might happen next. I am practicing surrendering my control to a higher power of intelligence, to my view of God, to the universe and the divine and it is equal parts glorious, gratifying and frightening as hell.

To be a spiritual warrior is to go to war with the worry.

I remind myself to remember not to fear or worry or doubt myself for that is the ultimate sin against life.

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Imagine a Dove, a Seagull or a Blue Jay doubting their ability to fly?

Featured Artist

Porcelain Bee on Instagram

Believing in Ourselves & Receiving Love

Start asking yourself “How would the person I’d like to be, do the things I am about to do?” By Madeline Johnson

I have become obsessed with understanding all of the ways I stop myself from believing in myself and why I have such a difficult time receiving love from others. I think the two are connected some how and I am on a quest to know how I can swim through that undercurrent of self-doubt and vulnerability that I feel each day.

Low self-confidence can feel like a life sentence, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  I believe that self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered–just like any other skill.

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Why don’t I believe in myself? Well, I actually do, to a certain extent, but for some reason, I get to a certain level of confidence and then I tense up, I can’t let go – I can’t seem to grow into more of who I can be.

I am not imagining this, for it is real and it is my challenge. I know somewhere deep inside that I am capable of many great things, but I have blocks to believing that I am capable, worthy and deserving of love from myself and others.  I honestly want to remove these blockages, so I can upgrade my level of confidence and move forward to become a more powerful version of myself. Not just for me, but for my work and for everyone I encounter.

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It was a healer, a shaman from Columbia, his name Jesús, who I let examine my heart during a healing ritual. It was pretty trippy because I went back to a vision of myself living as a shaman in an ancient Mayan village. Jesús told me I must learn to believe in myself. He asked me over and over, why don’t you? why don’t you believe in you?  Why don’t I believe that I am much stronger than I think I am?

More recently, I noticed that I have blockages to receiving love.  It was during a spiritual session at Casa Mana Bliss, when our guide was taking our group through a guided meditation of giving out and receiving love and compassion –  while doing gamma breath work with diamond mudras and immersed in a beautiful symphony of sound bath therapy.  This was one of the most creative sessions that I have experimented with – and I have been to many a healer, shaman and retreat. It is fascinating to work with people who are attempting to shift your way of thinking, who are trying to help the world expand their consciousness.

I applaud anyone attempting to do this.  It is not easy.

Now while the meditation was a beautiful experience, what I really took away was a very important lesson. I was very aware that I had a difficult time taking in that love and compassion for myself.  No problem giving it out – but an inability to breathe it in like I want to.

Wait a minute, you lost me, what the hell is gamma breath work?

Gamma Breathing is meant to upgrade your brain processing power and change your state of breathing. It is a great way to get out of a funky mood.

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So far I have concluded that in order to believe in myself more, I most do more.  I must be willing to test, experiment, and try new things even when I feel uncertain that they will work or that I can do them.

The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you.” –William Jennings Bryan

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If you are working towards becoming a better version of yourself, than perhaps you should start asking yourself “How would the person I’d like to be, do the things I am about to do?”

Watch: TedX “How To Believe In Yourself

Read How facing discomfort can help you believe in yourself @zenhabits

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Featured Artwork

Julia Lillard on Instagram @julialillardart

 

Trust Not The Theater of The Mind

Learning how to relax and be calm is one of the best ways to find peace in your life. By Madeline Johnson

It happens to all of us. We get caught up in our own drama. Most of the time we are doing one thing, but thinking about another. We are driving the car but thinking about how we have to work over the weekend. We are making dinner but fighting with our ex about how it was their fault. We are meeting with a friend over cocktails but were wondering if were going to meet “the one” tonight.

We are every where but here and the last thing we are is relaxed in our own skin.

We aren’t calm, centered and balanced. Every time we get caught up in the frenzy and fantasy, the theater of our mind, we abort ourselves from reality.

And like any good theater production, the dialogue around drama in our mind is powerful.

There aren’t many peaceful, calm moments in our mind, but we all yearn for them.

Evidently, the search engine query “How to be calm all the time” is a very popular one.  Now why would that be?

It turns out one of the biggest stressors is lack of money. Yes, money is the biggest source of stress for Americans, research shows. Indeed, a survey by Northwestern Mutual found that money was the dominant source of stress for 44% of Americans, followed by the 25% who said personal relationships, and just 18% blaming work. And data from the American Psychological Association also shows that money is the No. 1 stressor for Americans: “Regardless of the economic climate, money and finances have remained the top stressor since our survey began in 2007,” the results revealed.

We all know what stress can do to us. Read more about how chronic stress can debilitate your life, and is the main cause of chronic health conditions and addictions here.

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It seems that so many people are seeking that sense of peace throughout their day, including myself.

We want that feeling that everything is okay, I can take care of it all and I can stay confident, balanced, and chill while I am doing it.  We are all looking for ways to be calm in all sorts of situations. Search engine queries around staying calm and centered also include. . .

How to be calm during an interview.

How to be calm at work.

How to be calm and collected.

How to be calm during a presentation.

How to be calm before a test.

How to be calm and assertive.

How to be calm before surgery.

We are all looking for just a beautiful sense of centered peace and being. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has some very good advice about how to stay calm. Read here.

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Featured Artist

Alia Josephine Fawaz on Instagram @goastray_stayaskew

 

Who We Were Created to Be

Self-awareness is having a clear and realistic perception of who you are. By Madeline Johnson

I have started a self-awareness journal. This is not an ordinary journal, it is a journal dedicated to understanding myself. There are no favorite quotes, stream of consciousness thoughts or long bucket lists. No, it is simply a daily awareness of what it means to be me. What it means to feel the way I feel, think the way I think and live the way I live.

I record nothing else but self-knowledge in this book. This includes answers to questions like – Who am I? Why am I here? What do I think my calling is? What excites me? What do I believe would be really interesting and intriguing to do next? 

The essence of knowledge is self-knowledge. 

-Plato

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One of my favorite questions to ask myself – What would really excite me? What experience could I have that would really get me going, really blow my mind?

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I think one of the experiences I would like to have is to venture off around the world on a discovery to find the most interesting spiritual leaders and shamans that are alive today. I would love to sit with them, interview them, spend a day doing their daily practice with them.  It would be magnificent to find out how they acquired their practice and the paths they took to get there.

Pathways by Henri David Thoreau

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Self-awareness is having a clear and realistic perception of who you are. Self-awareness is not about uncovering a deep dark secret about yourself, but understanding who you are, why you do what you do, how you do it, and the impact this has on others.

Featured Artist

Anthony Rondinone is an artist who was born and raised in the Bronx.

One Very Smart Habit

Staying focused on what is important to you. This is a very good habit to start. By Madeline Johnson

I’ve gotten into the very good habit lately of asking myself throughout the day if I am focused on what is really important.

This habit is easy to learn.

I simply stop what I am doing, take a breath and then ask myself the question.

Am I focused on what’s most important right now?

Most of the time I find that I am not focused on what is important. I find myself getting milked by another on the phone, distracted by text messages or simply on autopilot working through the day.

Yet I know that I can catch myself.  So, If I find that I am concentrating on something that isn’t in line with what is important, I reset and start again. It feels like one long ride of falling and getting up again, but I know that training my mind over and over again will eventually let it sink in.

Staying focused on what is important to you. It is a very good habit to start.

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Train yourself to listen to your heart so that you know what’s true and important, and what is not.

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Featured Art

@Rogerscate on Instagram

 

 

Loving Without Limits

And if we could unclench our grip from the conditional agenda, we’d be able to appreciate true moments of love more fully. By Madeline Johnson

It takes effort to love without limits.
Love is an energy exchange between you and another, but it is not a transactional one.  It’s giving and receiving, but it is not built on conditions. When we are concerned about what we are getting out of a relationship and when we are attempting to control it with our own agenda, we are creating a transactional agreement.
Love is more like a gift.
The Gift by Mary Oliver

Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.

So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful. That the gift has been given.

When the love you are seeking is based on conditions about how someone you love behaves than you are limiting the possibility of your love.
Become aware of the energy of your loving intentions. What are your true intentions for loving another? Where is your heart in all of this? Why are you so focused on an outcome?
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Let what you do be done with no agenda.  Do not manipulate love. Let go of the rules. They do not apply in the game of love.
When we look at people as a means to an end, as a way get something that we think we need, we are loving them for what they bring to our lives.
Give up your expectations and love everyone in your life for who they are and no more. You will be a lot less disappointed.
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Love fails when we want our loved ones to say a certain thing, behave a certain way, demonstrate their affection in a very particular manner. It is easier and more rewarding to step back and simply appreciate the ways in which they’re already doing so.
And if we could unclench our grip from the conditional agenda, we’d be able to appreciate true moments of love more fully. To allow our relationships to unveil more organically.
Love without limits is to truly appreciate people for all their behavior to cherish the good and forgive the bad –  before rushing to assign them a particular role in our lives.
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Clarity About Your Contribution

I believe if we can share what we have learned along the way, we might be able shed light on the dark edges of the path for others. By Madeline Johnson

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.  

-Anne Frank

I keep telling myself, “you can’t do everything, but you can do something.”  My issue, is scattered energy. I struggle with staying focused and seeing things through. I start, I stop and I keep bouncing around from one great idea to another. Everything and nothing excites me all at once.

It’s probably why I am reading Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul for the third time. The only thing I can do is laugh at myself. Such a beautiful mess.

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Seeking More Clarity About My Contribution

So, of course I was inspired by Jordan Bach today. Yet another one of you on the world wide web sharing wisdom and inspiration. I am in awe.

Jordan encourages his community to petition God, the Universe, their Higher Power for more clarity about their contribution to the world.  What is it that you want me to do with these gifts I am not sure I actually have?

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Jordan guides us to believe that only loving thoughts are true.  The rest of your fear-based spin outs, that “negative thinking” thing we all do – the “doubting thing” that is  simply false and harmful?

We must remember no amount of negativity will serve us well at all.

To Be Such A Beautiful Mess

We are all human, and to be human is a very complex way to be. Most of our lives are messy.  Some of us have created a more beautiful mess than others, but a mess just the same.

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The question is, as you become more centered and grounded, as you get closer to what your unique contribution looks and feels like – are you going to share your mess or are you going to share your message?

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Are you sharing the grace and illumination you have received from the pain you have suffered?  This, I believe is a hint, a God wink, to where your contribution might reside.

I believe if we can share what we have learned along the way, we might be able shed light on the dark edges of the path for others.

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Inspiration

Wisdom of the Oracle cards

Jordan Bach

 

Featured Artist

Irina Silviu

 

Manifesting Your Reality

Don’t waste your thoughts worrying. Don’t give away your thoughts and don’t waste time thinking about what you don’t want to happen. By Madeline Johnson

Your thoughts have the power to change everything in your life. Everything you have in your life right now, started with a thought.

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What you focus on with your thoughts, your mind will manifest as reality.

Sometimes our thoughts create realities that we have to overcome.

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Every single thought we have is a unit of energy. Energy to create something new.

Don’t waste your thoughts worrying. Don’t give away your thoughts and don’t waste time thinking about what you don’t want to happen.

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Invest in thoughts that are productive.

The next time you start obsessing about something, ask yourself . . .

Is this thought going to enhance my life

or take away from it?

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Place your thoughts and energy behind that which will make you stronger, rather than wasting your thoughts on remorse about things that have fallen apart.

Conserve your thought energy to create more beauty, rather than manifest more pain.

The moment you change your perception is the moment you rewrite the chemistry of your body.   Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief

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Recommended Reading

Way of The Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman

Featured Artist

@demoontier makes weird, queer, drag and fashion inspired art.

https://www.instagram.com/demoontier/

 

 

What We Learn Along the Way

Life happens. Life teaches. 
Some of the most important things I have learned along the way. By Madeline Johnson

Life happens. Life teaches. We live and we learn.

Some of the most important things I have learned along the way.

Life can be unpredictable. The weather can get dark and stormy.  Clouds roll in. No matter what happens, be prepared and stay centered. Don’t let every little thing that happens throw you off balance.  You get to decide what rocks your boat, what drives you crazy.

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Pay attention to the details. Sloppy and fast requires do overs. You don’t want to have to redo what you didn’t want to tackle in the first place.

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Sometimes that thing we don’t want to do – what must be done. Do your best and move on. 

We don’t listen deeply enough to each other. Communicate clearly and elegantly. Get your point across. When it’s your turn to listen, listen with all of your senses. 

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Most of us want bad situations to be over as soon as possible. We will do anything to escape confrontation. We just want to move on. Sometimes they take time to work out. Patience really is a virtue.

When bad things happen, it’s even more important to take extra good care of yourself. Provision yourself well –  to ride out the storm. 

Think long and hard before you say yes to commitments. Especially long term commitments.

Don’t rush into relationships or situations. Weigh your decisions carefully. Uncover the truth, then take smart, calculated risks.

Always remain grateful, even when all you have is just a little.

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You don’t know what you or someone else is capable of doing until they’re really desperate.

Pay attention to your life. Don’t be lazy. Do what needs to be done now.

We are never really blind-sided. Heed the warning signs. Examine the red flags. Listen to the small pains that can become big headaches. Don’t wait. Act now.

Focus on the good that is happening in your life, even when times are dark and bleak.

We all lie. We lie to ourselves. Big lies, small lies, white lies, dark lies. We deceive each other. We do this because we don’t want to hurt ourselves or others. Face the truth. The truth will set you free. Seek what is fact, not fiction in life.

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Most of us see situations the way we want them to be, instead of how they truly are – stay in reality.  Reality may be harsh, but it is your friend

Know that when someone is lashing out in anger, they are usually very sad and frightened. 

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Featured Art

Anna Tsvell Anna’s surreal portraits are full of bohemian melancholy mood. She paints women of almost alien appearance which makes her portraits extremely recognizable and attractive for the art collectors all over the world.
Long curved necks ,chaotically combined parts of the face and body (since summer 2018) are the main distinctive features of Anna’s remarkable style .