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
if-you-live-each-day-as-if-it-were-your-last-someday-youll-be-right-every-morning-i-looked-in-the-quote-1
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
do-every-act-of-your-life-as-if-it-were-your-last-quote-1
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.
control 2
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.
control
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.
Brilliant-Miracle-Quote-Every-Moment-Is-Miracle-650x528

How Honest Do We Really Want to Be with Ourselves?

I am 1,000 % absofuckinglutely certain that I should be recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the biggest idiot on the planet for repeating the same damn mistakes over and over again for most of my adult life. Life on repeat can be brutal.

every

mistake

 

Why am I so susceptible to making the same mistakes over and over again?  Whether it’s ruining a diet with three glasses of wine, running credit card debt on a bunch of useless stuff I never needed in the first place, trusting a friend who was way less than honest or sacking up with an ex.  What possesses me/us to continue to do things that get in the way of what we truly want? Is it fear of the unknown? Fear of what life would be if we didn’t do the things we did on repeat? Maybe. Perhaps it’s a matter of finding the holes. The holes we keep falling into. The mind-numbing, soothing and relaxing way our brain feels after a glass or two or three of wine. Or the familiar, comfortable and easy way it feels to slip right back into the arms of the one you once loved.  I need to look at the benefits of my biggest mistakes.

repeat

Read: How to be honest with yourself and get more done, for some decent advice on how to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Harmful Habits & Slipping into Default Mode

When we do something right, a pathway is created in our brain. Unfortunately, a pathway is also created when we something wrong. We basically build habits this way, both good and bad. So the reason we keep making the same mistakes is that we slip by default back into existing neural pathways.

images

Achieving Ego Free States

Sometimes I feel like I need a complete rewiring of the brain.

Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results.

It seems that individuals under “treatment” transcend their primary identification with their bodies and experience ego-free states . . . and return with a new perspective and profound acceptance. Read more in The New Yorker: The Trip Treatment

Natural Reactions

If you have ever been accused of “overreacting” and you think something is wrong with you because someone told you so, then this 10-minute watch is critical for your growth. Bottom line: Reactions are NATURAL. Overreacting is a warning sign that you have been hurt badly. You have to HEAL that, not shame it away.

 

When Our Minds Run in Circles

mind

Reading, learning and practicing how to meditate to calm my mind, I am focusing on what Buddhists call “maitri”

friendl

Maitri – practicing loving kindness and awareness to all your thoughts. Read: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron. The purpose of meditation is not to find your bliss, but to befriend and let go of all thoughts – the good, the bad and the ugly. To accept them all with loving-kindness, with maitri.

The Benefits of Being Socially Selective

socially selective

I just don’t have the bandwidth, headspace or patience for anyone right now. That is quite alright in my book. Sometimes we need a little solitude to sort things out. I just wish more people were fluid in silence.

generation

Comment  below if you agree and have a great Monday.

 

Blind to the Beauty of This Moment

Distraction is the main problem for us all – what the Buddha called the monkey mind. We need to tame this little monkey mind. Tenzin Palmo

As entertaining as it can be, please don’t feed the monkey mind.

giphy

When we are unaware that we are unaware.
Then we rush and ramble through the day, doing the “important” and the urgent, going after the goals, just killing it, aren’t we though?
Both numb and dumb to the fierce and wild beauty of the present moment.
Asleep at the wheel.
little
Not taking notice of our surroundings, the people we are with and even our own presence. Too busy snapping instead of savoring.
joy
Oh to be mindless,  as we let the monkeys swing from vine to vine through our head. Pulling us from thought-to-thought with our every emotion.  The seedlings for anxiety and panic.
So disconnected with life smack in front of us – to notice the simple and ordinary joy of the day or the pain and suffering of our brother nearby.
And those seemingly little blessings that are happening every moment for our benefit? Wait for it.
Your mind just can’t be here, there and everywhere, yet this is how we go.
2015-08-06-self-aware.png
To be painfully and gratefully aware and awake with appreciation.  This is how we grow.
Inspired by my mother’s doctor who removed her cataracts today. Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 and is the principal cause of blindness in the world.
Overtime, like many people, mom got use to seeing the world in a blurry, shadow-like haze. In faded color instead of technicolor. It happened gradually over time. Let us not get use to going blind to the beauty of this moment.
emotional-sanity-640x400

To Die To Everything of Yesterday

To Die To Everything of Yesterday
To be free of all authority, of your own and that of another, is to die to everything of yesterday, so that your mind is always fresh, always young, innocent, full of vigour and passion.
It is only in that state that one learns and observes. And for this a great deal of awareness is required, actual awareness of what is going on inside yourself, without correcting it or telling it what it should or should not be, because the moment you correct it you have established another authority, a censor.
From the teachings of  J. Krishnamurti 
eye

Shedding Some Light on Just How Damn Annoying Life Can Be

Life can be so absolutely annoying when things don’t go as planned. Come on, don’t you agree? It’s all quite amusing how we think just because we set these great goals and go after them with all our might that everything is going to open up for us.
Sure I’d like to believe that life is happening FOR me and not TO me (thank you very much Tony Robbins) and that I am not a victim of circumstance, but the truth is life is very very complex and a lot of stuff just happens that is way out of our control. Things we don’t understand, that nobody understands, and then to add insult to injury,  we take this shit so personally. It’s a mystery really.
Just for Now

Working with The Monsters in Our Mind & NOT Becoming a Fugitive To Our Fears

On my future read list “The Life of Milarepa Read on to understand why.

I like to read like three books at a time, maybe more. Right now in the morning, I am reading Pema Chodron’s  When Things Fall Apart 
I don’t want anyone to know that my life seems to be continually falling apart, so I covered the front of it with a sticker from Spoonbill Books, one of my favorite stores in Brooklyn.
Chapter 19’s a trip wire.  “Three Methods for Working with Chaos” Pema outlines three methods for relating directly with the most difficult circumstances of our lives as a path of awakening and joy.
Method #1  No more struggle
Method #2  Using poison as medicine
Method #3  Seeing whatever arises as enlightened wisdom
These are methods for working through the most painful moments in our lives. Method #3 according to Pema reminds me of Inviting Mara to Tea, in other words, inviting what scares us to introduce itself and hang around for awhile. Sounds like a fun Sunday right? Yeah sure, but that’s how we grow.
milarepa
Quote from the book . . .
As Milarepa sang to the monsters he found in his cave, “it’s wonderful you demons came today. You must come again tomorrow. From time-to-time we should converse.”
We start by working with the monster in our mind.  Then we develop the wisdom and compassion to communicate sanely with the threats and fears of our daily life.
What I found absolutely fascinating was the image used in Tibetan Buddhism for working with chaos, the charnel burial grounds. As Pema explains, in Tibet, the charnel grounds are what we call graveyards.  The American Indians seemed to also have the idea. . .
charnel.PNG
Now, the bodies were not under a nice mowed lawn with little white stones carved with angels and pretty words.
In Tibet the ground was frozen so bodies were chopped up after people died and taken to the charnel grounds, where the vultures would eat them.  Some would  be asked to meditate at the charnel grounds to understand the circle of life, complete with death.
Death, probably our biggest fear.
More practical ways to understand more about leaning into fear from Leo at Zen Habits.

On a more pleasant note. . .

wonderful

When we Don’t Grow Emotionally

My daughter recently called me emotionally immature. She said it in such a loving way, but it stung none the less. When we moan, groan and whine when we don’t get exactly what we want, when we want it, how we want it. This usually happens when we are not at our strongest, when we are frightened perhaps?  Maybe we are tired, hungry, angry, lonely, scared. Who knows?  But it is then that we can take every disturbance and interruption  so damn personally don’t we?

For Example . . .

Meditation today on the beach was almost ruined by an awfully noisy and very annoying beach tractor circling around me. Trying to find a quiet place to close my eyes and be “in the moment”, this guy just wouldn’t go away.  He kept moving closer and closer to my towel. I tried to meditate in spite of the loud motor drowning out the peaceful sound of the ocean waves.
beach
Just keeping focusing on the breath. Just accept it, I kept telling myself.  My mind fluctuated between just go and flow with it . . . all the way to . . . WTF, I just can’t get this time back. It was torture. It almost felt like he was doing it on purpose.
I actually started to tell myself that story.  “He’s purposely trying to ruin my beach meditation and Sunday swim.
Now, why the hell would I take this so personally? As if. But don’t we do that often. When things don’t go our way. When people annoy us with their absolute nonsense? When things don’t go as planned. When we are really disappointed.
Only after thinking more clearly did I come to the realization that this man has an actual job to do – it has nothing to do with me.  He gets paid to clean up the beach so people, like myself, can enjoy it. How about asking the question “Why am I getting in his way?” Always thinking about me. It’s all about me. Blah, Blah, Blah.
A poem by Dana Faulds
Let it Go
Click to read Pema’s book

Thoughtless Action

What has made matters worse, is how hard I actually try. It amazes me how I try so hard to make everything in life exactly how I want it to be without ever thinking of the possible effects my decisions might have on future outcomes and on those around me. I spend my days running from pain, chasing pleasurable moments and trying to get some “me” time, planning, scheming and doing all of the special things that I want to do.
Hard times

Leaping Before You Look

How I absolutely leap before I look and act so impulsively based on what I want for myself. I want more money, so I take on more really difficult projects without even thinking about the actual time, effort and energy these projects will take. Then I kill it by overpromising and ultimately under delivering.   Just wonderful.  So many great intentions failed miserably because I didn’t take the time to think things through.
never

Becoming More Discerning

For example, if I am feeling the slightest  bit lonely and I want more friends, I open myself up to meeting and embracing anyone that comes into my life instead of realizing the value I will bring to the relationship and how much more discerning I need to be about who I choose to spend my time with.  I think we all do it from time to time. I act more out of FOMO instead of becoming more self aware of my actual needs from a true friend. This is probably why friendships can disappoint us.

What’s this About The Importance of Self-Value?

If you have any interest in the possible healing powers of Ayahuasca, I strongly recommend you check out The Last Shaman documentary. You can watch it on Netflix. It got mixed reviews, but it was absolutely eye opening in many ways. I have always wondered about the powers of “grandmother’s medicine” but frankly, I prefer meditation as my medication.
original_1417550118.9082
Oh, side note: Ayahuasca is an hallucinogenic drug concocted by chopping and boiling Amazonian plants known to indigenous people for a very long time. The first western knowledge of ayahuasca was by a British biologist in 1851. The principal ingredient is made from a vine, Banisteriopsis caapi, (‘vine of the soul’ or ‘vine with a soul’); a second key ingredient, is either chacruna (Psychotria viridis) or chagropanga (Diplopterys cabrerana). Ayahuasca contains a powerful psychedelic substance DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine). Drinking the brew induces an altered, hallucinatory state that lasts up to eight hours.

And More about Self-Love

And what is it about the devaluing of oneself that serves us? Why do I not think about becoming a bit more compassionate and self loving? Why don’t I focus on this more. Wouldn’t I be more of a delight to be around if I sometimes took care of myself first?
If I took care of my needs and came to the party called life with my best dress on?
The one I thoughtfully chose to wear? Why not spend a bit more time on me? Does that seem to selfish? Perhaps we tolerate so much of others nonsense because we are not self aware enough to know what we truly value in ourselves and others.

Decreasing the Pain in the World

I find the more I open up to listening and learning from others, the more thoughtful I become. It’s like building a better brain by borrowing from others curiosity, understanding and deep research.
I am listening to James Altucher interview AJ Jacobs and the two of them brought up a great point about how we might focus our actions – actually become more thoughtful about whether our actions are increasing or decreasing the suffering in this world. Big or small, every action you take can either add to the pain of others or make life easier.
Listen to James Altucher’s Podcast, an interview with A.J. Jacobs The Intersection Between Discomfort & Curiosity.
Quote

The Benefits of Becoming More Self-Aware & Emotionally Intelligent

educating heart print

Have you ever thought back on some of the most important decisions you’ve made in your life and wondered “What was I thinking?”  I certainly have. When we are reflecting on how we got here, perhaps we should be asking “What was I feeling?”  What state-of-mind were we in, that led to the some of the poor decisions made?

You see, when we make decisions based on emotions from fear and anxiety, we create a recipe for disaster.  Deciding to do something because you are afraid of doing something else or fear you will have no other choices or options at all, will get you absolutely nowhere.

Better decisions are made when you arrive at conclusions with a sense of strength and courage. The outcomes of those decisions will help you grow and evolve with increased clarity and self-improvement. The more thoughtful your decisions, the more quality you will have in your life.    I promise.

feeling

You begin by becoming more emotionally intelligent – while understanding the role that your emotions play in everything you decide to do. Allowing any and all of your emotions to channel the way you move forward is not the best course of action. You don’t just listen to your gut. That is not enough. You must first think, feel, consider all options and then make a plan. A plan to deliberately move in the right direction.

heart

When we make decisions, like where to work, who to marry, who to befriend based on deep-seated emotions of fear, insecurity, and anxiety, we never make the best choices.

Morrison

And please don’t doubt this one bit. The more well-thought out decisions you make today WILL lead to an improved life tomorrow.

deliberate

Bike riding around Greenpoint, Brooklyn yesterday, this quote, in the window of Word, the bookstore, really resonated with me.

audre

Oh and these emotions and feelings we speak of, they are so complicated, aren’t they?

feelings2

So how do we begin to understand our emotional triggers, the things that we feel that scare us, make us feel useless or violated, maybe even shameful and guilty?

Galatea-of-the-Spheres-1952-Salvador-Dali

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in an effective and positive way. A high EQ helps individuals to communicate better, reduce their anxiety and stress, defuse conflicts, improve relationships, empathize with others, and effectively overcome life’s challenges.

Our emotional intelligence affects the quality of our lives because it influences our behavior and relationships. EQ is synonymous with self-awareness because it enables us to live our lives with intention, purpose, and autonomy.

emotions

Why Running Away From Your Feelings Will Keep You Stuck in the Same Place

Running away from intense emotions of pain, anger, and resentment is what we do sometimes.   We numb these feelings with a smoke of this and a sip of that. It’s such an easy way out, but only temporarily.  Why do we stuff our sorrow and run from our feelings? I truly believe not many of us want to feel our suffering, but suffer on we must.

drugs

If we would just consider that inside each moment of suffering is a superb amount of life teaching. A whole world of emotional education to help us grow.  It begins with learning the process and ability to express,  dismantle and adjust as you strengthen your locus of control.

locus

pain

What you need to do is understand that what is actually happening is your world right now and how you feel about it are two DIFFERENT THINGS COMPLETELY.

Life

You must urge yourself to develop the ability to differentiate your feelings from what is actually happening in any given situation.

reality

Life is what it is, not what you think, feel or believe it is. That is just you painting the dark cloud of your emotions on top of the situation and changing it into your story. Your emotions are just a response to what is happening at any given moment, they are not what is actually happening.  Whatever you are feeling about anything, whether it be good, bad, sad or pleased has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on at that moment or what the outcome will be.

It is up to you to understand what issues you have inside that are trigging your troubled (or pleasant) emotions.

product-od-my-decisions

This applies to everything. For example, your spouse may be drinking too much, getting sloppy and lashing out at you. That is what is happening. How you feel about this situation may be sad, angry, frustrated and deeply concerned, which in turn will have you creating a story in your mind. A story of victimization and loss. Those feelings may or may not drive you to do something, but they are not healthy for you.  When you remove your emotional responses, you will realize you have options. You have an option to remove yourself from the pain your spouse is causing you.

The-Dream-Caused-by-the-Flight-of-a-Bee-1944-Salvador-Dali

A Better Way to Navigate Your Emotions

Sometimes it is a good idea to overcome your frightened emotions by meeting them head on in order to improve. This would include things like forcing yourself to speak in front of a group in order to get over the fear of public speaking. Yes, the obstacle can become the opportunity, but on a day-to-day basis, it is wise to do the following as you learn more about how you can manage your emotions.

Know What Triggers Your Emotions

Place yourself in favorable situations and avoid those that trigger heightened responses.

In other words, stay away from people that get your angry, places that make you feel uncomfortable and situations that somehow have the power to upset you. Become more aware of what makes you “fly off the handle”.

Make Things Easier for Yourself

Especially when you are learning something new in the beginning. For instance, if you are trying to learn how to draw, sing, act or run your own business. Look for ways to simplify the process. Make it easy to start.

Implement with Strong Intention & Attention

The key to any transformation (read: change) in your life, is to focus on your intention and attention on what you are trying to achieve. Keep your eye on the goal and don’t let your competitive nature get in the way.  This will help manage things like jealousy and resentment as well as perceived obstacles in your way.

book

Inspired by 10 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Don’t Do 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think by @BriannaWiest