In Search of A More Peaceful Existence

Enough with the busy, busy, busy going nowhere fast. Let’s find the time to do some deeper work. By Madeline Johnson

Each year, the Institute for Economics and Peace releases the Global Peace Index. This is a study of 163 independent nations and territories around the world that uses indicators to determine which nations are the most dangerous, as well as which are the most peaceful. At the top of this list is Iceland. This isn’t a surprise, as this nation has taken the top spot for 10 years in a row. Features that stand out in this country that make it the most peaceful in the world is low crime rates and “non-existent” tension among the economic classes. My husband says it’s because very few people live there.

Why am I searching for the most peaceful places in the world?

I am in search of stillness, peace and more time for me. A place where I can savor the day and not feel engulfed by the competitive madness and ongoing consumption.

It Takes Time To Be Better

You see, when you set out to improve your life, to be a better person, you take on the responsibility of owning your actions, behavior, thoughts, words and reactions to others. This process invites you to continually observe yourself and treat your life like an experiment. You are the lab rat.  This self-inventory and reflection takes time and deep thought. So most of us who claim we don’t have that extra time to focus on ourselves, are advised to get up earlier. Yes, rise up at 5:00 am so you can have an hour or so to yourself. Time to journal, meditate, pray and contemplate your existence without a flurry of text messages or email requests disrupting your concentration.

Now the rest of the day is spent showering, eating, commuting, emailing, talking, working, writing, waiting in line, food prepping, laundering, shopping, and the list goes on.  . .

I ask you, what kind of world do we live in that we are told just 10 minutes a day of meditation and a few yoga breaths and stretches is all we need to feel better?

Enough with the busy, busy, busy going nowhere fast.

Let’s find the time to do some deeper work. Some unraveling of our emotions, resting of our souls, listening to our hearts, feeling our emotions, basking in our spirit and rising to our light.

 

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Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys.

-Rita Schiano

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Featured Art

Kulinovic Marko on Instagram

 

Navigating Life From The Heart

When I remove my fears, frustrations, anger, worry and remorse from the moment, all I have left is this perfect moment.  By Madeline Johnson

Here is what my heart told me today.

The day must start and end with peace.

All the middle minutes, calm.

All is at peace. Do not disturb. Do not disturb this peace with doubts.

This peace is natural. Everything is already ideal. There is nothing to fix.

Everything is good.

It is I who disturbs this peace with my anxiousness.

My heart told me so.

Do not bring the anxious and questioning to every moment of existence.

My heart told me to back off. Let it be. Do not step into the moment with any judgement.

No judgement about about him, her or here.

Respect all around me. Appreciate everyone and everything. Yes even the difficult.

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Just as it is.

Reality is not for me to judge or disagree with.

My heart told me to speak less. Just observe. Observe and respect. Appreciate.

This frees up so much of the energy to be me. To be love. To imprint upon the moment, the essence of acceptance.

Do not fill the silence with words. No need.

Look at this perfect moment without my fear and my worries and angst.

It is perfect.

When I remove my fears and frustrations from the moment,

all I have left is perfect peace.

 

Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question. . . 

Does this path have a heart?

If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use.

– Carlos Castaneda

And may I add dear Carlos – can we imprint more heart on the path?

 

 

 

Featured Art

Veks Van Hillik on Instagram (cover)

Jerico Santander on Instagram (2nd)

Resuscitating Back To Life

A shift in perspective can give life to something that feels dead. By Madeline Johnson

Lately I have been experiencing many shifts in perspective about my life. A shift in perspective can give life to something that feels dead.  It can breathe fresh air into an old relationship, it can help you finally see the opportunity in a recurring nightmare of a problem, a change of energy can help you resolve an “issue” that you keep experiencing over and over.

I am beginning to see things differently, especially the problems and pain points – the obstacles that I face every day. Between you and me, they aren’t huge challenges, but they aren’t small either and thank God they don’t effect my health.

You and I both know, your mental and physical health is everything. Soul health too. Soul health is most important.

“Poverty consciousness and a sense of “not enough” can cast a shadow on your path. These ideas and core beliefs come with a high cost. Do you really want to proclaim yourself a victim of disappointment and failed expectations? Are you avoiding success because you will grow so tall that others may want to cut you down? Or is it possible that you are caught in a fear that you will lose what you have acquired, so you hold on so tight that you miss the opportunities to expand? You are being challenged to change the way you see the world and move from a perception of limitations to a perception of abundance. Take a risk, for you have nothing to lose except your confinement in a prison of your own making. Open the door and find the abundance waiting for you to claim it.

-from Wisdom of the Oracle Card Deck

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I use to think that the best form of prayer is a simple, single prayer of gratitude and appreciation for whatever God gives us. I still believe that to be true, but now I also understand that the act of prayer is also an invitation to surrender to what we think we need and want.

I now think of the power of prayer as a form of letting go and accepting that God knows better and with us at all times. 

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It was Gabby Bernstein today that turned me on to a new way of praying that truly resonates with me.

Dear God,

Thank you for showing me creative solutions

that are beyond my sight. 

So often we pray for what we think we need instead of surrendering to the knowledge that God has bigger, better plans for us. When we are open and allowing God to take over our lives we unleash the strength within us and stay open to the power of the universe and possibility. It is then that we collaborate and create our masterpiece in union with the divine.

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Remember, you are the books you read, the films you watch, the music you listen to, the people you meet, the dreams you have, the conversations you keep.

You are what you take from these. They leave an impression on you. Be careful what you consume.

You are the sound of the ocean, the breath of fresh air, the brightest light and the darkest corner. You are a collective of every experience you have had in your life.

So drown yourself in a deep and beautiful sea of knowledge and existence. Let these experiences run through your veins and let the essence fill your mind and soul.

 

Featured Art

Holly Denham on Instagram

 

Your Unseen Power & Contribution

How among the toxic state of public discourse might we come to understand that we can achieve a unified sense of peace with each other. Madeline Johnson

As the sun rose today I sat contemplating that which makes us more alike than different.  That which brings us closer together. That which unifies our hearts.

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While I truly appreciate our unique individuality, I, like many of you,  also long for a world of unity. A world where understanding and respect reigns true.

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A world where we realize that peace begins with respecting our individual contributions and the authentic expression of ourselves that will shape the future our our universe.

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How among the chaos of extremism and the toxic state of public discourse and polarity, might we come to understand that we can achieve a unified sense of peace with each other. An essence of tolerance.

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I want to believe that we all have the ability to appreciate our deep connectedness to one and other and our potential to contribute to a more sustainable, vibrant future.

The question is – how are we going to use that understanding? How will we interpret this knowledge of our connectedness to shape society for tomorrows to come?

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To make visible, what without you, might perhaps never been seen. 

– Robert Bresson

 

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The Thinkers

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a French idealist philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as a paleontologist and geologist and took part in the discovery of Peking Man. He conceived the vitalist idea of the Omega Point, and he developed Vladimir Vernadsky’s concept of noosphere.

The Omega Point is a spiritual belief and a scientific speculation that everything in the universe is fated to spiral towards a final point of divine unification.

Robert Bresson was a French film director. Known for his ascetic approach, Bresson contributed notably to the art of cinema; his non-professional actors, ellipses, and sparse use of scoring have led his works to be regarded as preeminent examples of minimalist film

Robert Bresson

 

Featured Artwork

Illustrator Daniel Egneus

 

 

Close Encounters of the Real Kind

Such a refreshing thought – to actually meet someone who is genuinely real and speaking the truth.  Now that is some rare shit.

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Sometimes the very people we are closest to become unreal to us. We might easily assume we know what life is like for them and forget that, like us, they are always changing, their experience is always new. We lose sight of how fully they too are living with hurts and fears, how hard life can be on the inside. – excerpt from Radical Acceptance 

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Now I’ve been accused of being too tough on my family.  My tone too harsh . . . .coming in too hot. . . way too aggressive, they cry.   I’m not soft enough, gentle enough, kind enough.  I don’t give them enough room to be human.

I have also been described by my family as angry, enraged, and demanding and someone who can never be pleased.  This in turn has made me a lightening rod for blame.

It’s a terribly messy situation and it has also alienated me quite a bit.

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Recognizing Our Humanmess & Pulling Our Emotional Weight 

I had to ask myself, am I really that emotionally insensitive? or . . . .am I perhaps emotionally exhausted, with very little patience to have the “tell me what I want to hear conversations“. You know how they go.  The one you where you are trying to give some good sensible advice and it sucks all of your time and energy. . .and the troubled one cries, moans and complains and then goes on to make even bigger, unavoidable mistakes.

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Now having a mentally-ill ex who uses the children as weapons does nothing to elevate the family dynamics one bit.  He is sick, he is weak and the weak grasp onto anything they can to stay afloat. It’s truly painful and pitiful and annoying as hell.

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Growing up with a bullet-proof, hard-headed immigrant family I have been trained to do one thing and one thing only. When we have a problem we fix it. Simple as that. No added drama and delusional ego defense tactics. We simply make the repairs. . . . we change our behavior, our environment, our thinking, whatever it is we need to do, including removing ourselves from the messes left behind.

I was taught to humbly take complete ownership for myself, my life and my actions.

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Yet I do believe it is okay to ruminate for a solution and to sometimes overthink things – -but it’s not okay to go around thinking badly or poorly. The world is not out to get us. The real problem is you, it is very, very rarely what happens to you.

This lack of desire to sit with another and hold space for them for a very long time, when they do nothing to face their challenges – is the issue.

You see when I think about their complaints about me, I realize its not just my tone that they don’t like.  It’s how they interpret the tone.  When I am firm, they hear you’re not good enough, you’re a mess, you are just terrible and you really don’t have it together” and there in lies the suffering – the sever in the relationship.

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Stuck, it’s my lack of desire and willingness to placate them. To sit with their suffering. To buy into their woe is me helplessness.

For this I have been pegged as emotionally unaware, arrested in my growth and a non-compassionate person. Which is the farthest thing from the truth. I am wildly compassionate and loving but also a huge fan of the being absolutely honest with ourselves.

So, I do two things at once. I call bullshit on their desire to expect me to sit and stir the pot of sadness and sorrow that they decided to make for dinner and eat for left overs.

But, more importantly, I apply a bit of compassion to their pain and suffering by asking myself two questions before we begin –

What does she need right now?

What does this person fear right now?

These two questions help bring us closer together as humans.

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Becoming Supernatural While Navigating a Greater End

Every thought we have is tangible energy with the power to transform. 

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Our purpose in life is not to please God or do the right thing or be perfect or look good.

Our purpose in life is to express divine intelligence through us.

We should look at the wisdom learned from the adversity in our lives to navigate a greater end.  

Dr. Joe Dispenza (Becoming Supernatural)

 

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Fascinated by the mind-body connection (how our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes can positively or negatively affect our biological functioning), I am studying the power we have to manipulate a part of our genetic code through emotional states – and other things like nutrition, movement and relationships. What I am studying is something called epigenetics.  Here, is a super brief explanation to help you understand what the field of epigenetics involves.

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But, I prefer this analogy . . .

Think of the human lifespan as a very long movie. The cells would be the actors and actresses, essential units that make up the movie. DNA, in turn, would be the script — instructions for all the participants of the movie to perform their roles. Subsequently, the DNA sequence would be the words on the script, and certain blocks of these words that instruct key actions or events to take place would be the genes. The concept of genetics would be like screenwriting. Follow the analogy so far? Great.

The concept of epigenetics, then, would be like directing. The script can be the same, but the director can choose to eliminate or tweak certain scenes or dialogue, altering the movie for better or worse.

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by James Allen
As a being of Power, Intelligence and Love, and the Master of his or her own Thoughts, every being holds the key to every situation, and contains within themselves that transforming and regenerative agency by which they may make themselves what they will.

 

Reigning in the Wild of My Mind 

I awake each morning with some vague memory of my dreams. The next thing I know, my mind is everywhere and left unattended it races from worries about how I will get everything done today to past memories of arguments, problems and things left undone.

Meditation helps me reign in the wild of my mind and channel my thoughts and energy to bring forth what needs to be remembered.

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We are all just one exhale away . . .

Life is short.

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Give gratitude for the miracle of this fucking moment right now.

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What helps me think better each day?

Some Stealth Metta

The Buddhist Metta (Lovingkindness) Prayer is simple but profound.
It starts by blessing oneself and gradually expands outward from there, eventually wishing good intentions for the entire world and all beings, even our enemies. There are many variations and translations of this prayer, but what follows is the essence of it; if we all said this prayer with sincerity at least once per week, the world could be a very different place . . .
My heart fills with with loving kindness. I love myself.
May I be happy. May I be well. May I be peaceful. May I be free.
May all beings in my vicinity be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in my city be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in my state be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in my country be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings on my continent be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in my hemisphere be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings on planet Earth be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May my parents be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all my friends be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful.
May they be free.
May all my enemies be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in the Universe be happy. May they be well.
May they be peaceful. May they be free.
If I have hurt anyone, knowingly or unknowingly in thought, word or deed,
I ask for their forgiveness.
If anyone has hurt me, knowingly or unknowingly in thought, word or deed,
I extend my forgiveness.
May all beings everywhere, whether near or far,
whether known to me or unknown, be happy.
May they be well. May they be peaceful. May they be free.

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Featured artwork by David Wallace

To Express The Creative Capacity of Our Essence

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.  – Joseph Campbell

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Absolute freedom. A life devoted to creative self-expression.

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A life that is fundamentally free is one that is free of certainty.  Purpose, passion, goals. . .they do not matter. The only guarantee of success is that every outcome is uncertain.  Their is no guarantee. Our purpose is not to be found or “discovered”. Our essence is to be expressed or we may fall into arrested expansion.

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To become completely comfortable with uncertainty is total freedom.

To live a life that is full of curiosity, enthusiasm and wonder.

To be free to live open to every situation at one time that we imagined would be difficult or a conflict.

To express the creative capacity of our essence.

This is how our lives become a work of art.

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To live in direct contact with the perpetual, dynamic uncertainty that is implicit in the power of life itself.  To appreciate the mystery of life.

This is equal to living in the heart of intimate freedom.

When we simply are, we are free.

There is no purpose to be found. Just the creative expression of life itself.

As you stroll along, if you’re awake enough, you will be led by your curiosity and excitement.

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Recommended Reading

Will I Be The Hero of My Own Life

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Links

Why Finding Your Passion is Bullshit @ThoughtCatalog

The Bullshit Question Your Ego Loves

Screw Finding Your Passion @markmansonnet

 

Quotes

The granddaddy of the consciousness movementGeorge Leonard was a co-founder of the Aikido of Tamalpais dojo in Corte Madera, California. He also developed the Leonard Energy Training (LET) practice for centering the mind, body, and spirit.

Art

Arrested Expansion by George Grie

Cairo is my muse by Huda Lutfi

Featured Art by Penelope Slinger

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.

 

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.
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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.

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.