Sacred Moments

We can only have moments of enlightenment because if we were ever to truly realize how sacred life is. Madeline Johnson

Why can we only achieve flashes of enlightenment? Split seconds of divine inspiration and realization?

Because if we were ever to actually realize how sacred life is, our minds would be blown away beyond our wildest imaginations. Life, us, we are just too magnificently divine.

Everything in life sacred. Everything is spiritual. Everything is astonishing.

It’s so easy to glaze over advice to be more grateful for everything in your life because, well, everyone is on their gratitude game now. The “be thankful” message is blasted all over social media and it’s so easy to swipe up with a nod in agreement and then in the same moment complain about how horrible people can be, or how your life is just not good right now. You are just soooooo busy with this and that.

That moment is when you miss the mark. A sin really.

How Not to Gloss Over the Wonders of Being Grateful

When you examine what the act of appreciation does for you and how it transforms your life, you will see it is like a strong dose of pure magic. To be grateful for what you do have in life, down to the very breath you are taking right now (yes, that is a gift), is to paint a new reality right before your eyes.

It is a reminder that everything is sacred.

To acknowledge the gift of a home cooked meal, will turn those scrambled eggs and toast into a feast of nourishment that warms your heart.

To recognize a text from a friend who is just checking in, can take a lonely and “busy” moment to a new level of love and understanding.

To welcome the opportunity to help a family member in need of advice will  elevate your consciousness from “what an interruption” to a much more meaningful moment in your life.

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According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, regularly expressing gratitude (the quality of being thankful and readiness to show appreciation) literally changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps the gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier.

When you really think about it, the mere moment of appreciation is an act of pure alchemy. Golden.

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Featured Artist

@ruby_marylennox

 

Too Busy To Feel

Why don’t we honor what it means to be a feeling, thinking being? By Madeline Johnson

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The consequences of emotional avoidance are usually worse than the experience of what we try to avoid.

What avoiding your emotions does –

  • Reinforces the idea that discomfort/distress/anxiety is “bad” or “dangerous.” It reduces your ability to face and tolerate necessary pain.
  • Limits your ability to fully experience the present moment.
  • Keeps you from moving toward the important, valued aspects of life.
  • Often leads to suffering: addiction, helplessness, hopelessness, depression, damaged relationships, and lost opportunities.

Read More How Avoiding Emotions Keeps Them High Intensity

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The ways in which we hold ourselves back by running from our feelings.

  • Situational: avoiding people, places, or things
  • Cognitive: avoiding thoughts, images, or memories
  • Somatic: avoiding unpleasant physical sensations
  • Protective: avoiding uncertainty through frequent checking, procrastinating, or assurance seeking
  • Substitution: avoiding by numbing, suppressing, addictive behaviors, or replacement emotions (i.e., replacing shame with anger)

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Those moments when you are just too busy to feel, but your emotions leak through anyway.

  • Will you love me if I’m boring?
  • I just feel helpless not being able to help you.
  • Why do I feel guilty letting you know what I need to be happy?

Why don’t we honor what it means to be a feeling, thinking being?

What if we were to embrace all of these feelings instead?

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These feelings are signals for growth. Eventually, you will have to walk through that door. These emotions you are running from are your keys to freedom. Let them guide you to do everything you don’t want to do.

Read Richard J. Davidson’s The Emotional Life of Your Brain

Featured Artwork

Liquid PinkContemporary and surreal digital collage art and photo manipulation by Gaia Barnatan. Based in Byron Bay, Australia.

Peace of Mind, Your Highest Goal

Let peace of mind be your highest goal. Madeline Johnson for Undisputed Origin

One day, after so much anxiety, you wake up and realize that peace of mind is everything and you do nothing that disturbs it and you guard it with your life.

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APPLY WITHIN

You once told me
You wanted to find
Yourself in the world –
And I told you to
First apply within,
To discover the world
within you.

You once told me
You wanted to save
The world from all its wars –
And I told you to
First save yourself
From the world,
And all the wars
You put yourself
Through.

 

Poem by

poet, writer and philosopher Suzy Kassem

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Recommended Reading

40 Ways to Create Peace of Mind  by Lori Deschene the founder of Tiny Buddha and author of Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions

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Featured Artwork by

Jason Limon is a painter and sculptor that was born in San Antonio, Texas.

Running Down A Dream

Between you and me, I feel your frustrations. It’s a new year and you are on to new things. Secretly, you may not actually tell anyone but you might have promised/sworn to yourself that this is THE year (finally dammit) that you are going to start doing that thing or maybe the things you’ve always wanted to do. The big things. The important things.

Begin writing that blog, outlining the book, building that business, start your volunteering project, working on your tree house, planning that vacation, etc.  Yes, you have told yourself you are going to start working on the dreams you’ve had for quite some time that keep getting placed on the back burner while you are taking care of everyone and everything else. You’re not actually sharing it with anyone because you know there is a strong probability that you won’t get around to beginning, that your secret “resolutions” will be broken before you even have a chance to start.

You already know that this New Year New You thing is all a bunch of hype created by marketers who want to sell you detox juice cleanses and gym memberships. Today’s post is about turning your New Year’s Resolutions into a daily practice of self reflection and ongoing development. Yes, we all probably need a spark of something like ambition and self-motivation to begin building our dreams, the actual transformation happens with small steps taken each day and with a disciplined commitment to continuous iteration.

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 You can’t do it all today, but you can start.

I know this because I have had the same issues. I am too busy. I have to make money, pay the bills, cook the food, maintain the house and I have many different people in my life that depend on me for guidance, support and love.

I’m just spread so thin.

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So, like any day of the year, you start out with a list of things that need to get done today. It might be a mental list, or if you are like me, you might have written or typed your list somewhere.  The thing is, if you want to truly start working on some of those dreams, all of that stuff that you are checking off your list must be prioritized or it will be 3:00 in the afternoon before you know it and you will be kicking yourself for not having started anything that really matters most to you.

What’s Important Vs. Urgent

Knowing the difference between what is urgent and what is important in your life is the ticket to winning the day. So much seems “urgent”, but you must identify what is most important and do what is important first. For me, it is getting out a post a day here, so I got up early and made it the thing I had to do. The most important. Sure it has taken three times as long to write it, but I will make more improvements tomorrow.

So many things in life can feel urgent, but they are not. Up close, things feel so much bigger. Checking emails, answering texts, posting on social media all seem urgent and important, but they usually are not. Not to that future thing you are trying to build.

Try today to understand what you need to do to begin that dream and do those things first.

Make your to do list and type an “I” for important next to the things you need to do today to get you closer to where you need to be and a “U” next to those urgent things that you will get done after you’ve done the most important. 

Seems so simple right? Just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Don’t Let Your Ambition Overwhelm You

Ambition is the fire, the desire, but when it takes over it can consume you and your time. If you struggle with living a life of overwhelming busyness that you know you can’t sustain, I urger you to stop what you are doing and listen to Rob Bell’s “What to do with your ambition podcast” right now.

Ambition has a place in your life, but it shouldn’t drive you crazy with busyness. Left unbridled, it will.

How do you know if your ambition has got the best of you? Rob explains it as a haunting exhaustion. You are pushing too hard and you don’t know why. It’s when you have over committed and you say yes to everything – and you don’t remember why you did.

Speaking of curbing that overwhelming feeling, it is also important to stay hyper-realistic about what you can do vs what you wish you could do right now. Of course you are not going to write the whole book today, but what is one step you can take to get closer to beginning? You may start out with great intentions, but those long lists of everything that must get done in order to create your masterpiece – you know “the plan” can only be accomplished one task at a time.

Break Those Goals Down To Small Wins

“Too much ambition … can be a problem,” explains Tim Ferris. “not for the world, but for someone individually if it is manifested as a pure focus on self-achievement without any counter-balancing practice that allows you to appreciate [life].”

Collecting a Jar of Awesome

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Ambition must be counter balanced with appreciation. I am going to start today by creating my own jar of awesome. Once a day, I am going to jot down the good moments on my journey. I am going to stop for a moment to jot down something I’ve accomplished towards my goals and celebrate what makes me feel happy, grateful — the small wins.

Inspiration

Books

Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art

The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline.

Tim Ferriss Tribe of Mentors

A compilation of tools, tactics, and habits from 130+ of the world’s top performers. From iconic entrepreneurs to elite athletes, from artists to billionaire investors, their short profiles can help you answer life’s most challenging questions, achieve extraordinary results, and transform your life.

Rob Bell

What to Do With Your Ambition

You are not here to settle. You are crammed full of greatness. Giving your life to something that means something to you.

How to Be here

How to Be Here lays out concrete steps you can use to define and follow your dreams, interweaving engaging stories, lessons from biblical figures, insights gleaned from Rob’s personal experience, and practical advice. Rob gives you the support and insight you need to silence your critics, move from idea to action, take the first step, find joy in the work, persevere through hard times, and surrender to the outcome.

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Featured Art 

Kate Macdowell, Sculpture

We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough.  We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. – C.S. Lewis.

Kate MacDowell’s hand-built porcelain sculptures respond to environmental threats and their consequences, revealing the rifts and frictions between man and nature. Based out of Portland, Oregon, her work has been shown throughout the US, Japan and Europe and at Scope Miami and New York, ArtAmsterdam, ArtHamptons, Art London, London Art Fair, Showoff Paris , Solo Project Basel, NEXT and Art Chicago fairs. She was recently an artist in residence at the Kohler Arts and Industry Program and will have work in group exhibits at JMKAC (Wisconsin), and MAD (NY) this year.

A Heart-Breaking, Soul-Healing, Amazingly Awful & Ordinary Life

Some of my recent morning notes from inspiring books I’ve been reading. Links included.

Our humanity is expressed must fully in our treatment of others. 

Performance psychologist, Jim Loehr in Tribe of Mentors

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Spencer Tunick’s Nude Installations

It is okay to wander. It is never a mistake to get lost looking for the psychic and soulful kinship of our desires. 

Women Who Run with Wolves

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When we get lost, we need only pause and look at what is true and relax in our heart. We arrive again. Remembering the light of our nature.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

When I feel overwhelmed I realize I am bottlenecked. Bottlenecks help me prioritize.  Feeling overwhelmed can prove to be very useful.

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Attitude before anything. It all starts in your head. Anything can be done with ease when you have the right mind set.

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Discipline equals freedom. Discipline with our time by keeping to a schedule; discipline with our sleep, keeps us awake and energized; discipline with our meals and exercise keeps our health optimal. When we are feeling fully alive, we are free. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink

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Everyone has the freedom of choice to express either their high self or something else. Sacred Poetry & Mystical Messages

 

Featured Art 

For nearly seven decades, June Leaf (b. 1929) has created a deeply imagined world of unreal creatures and settings that metaphorically probe the human condition.

 

Enough is a Feast & How We Rise Up

An essay and prayer of gratitude from Madeline Johnson

I do not wish to make sense of life. I wish to dwell in it’s sacred mystery.  For life is one infinite, remarkable, unfolding miracle.

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Every single breath I take, you take, we take is a true gift.  A moment to be held in reverence. I remain humbled for this life given to all of us today, for it is is nothing short of magnificent.

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I look up at the cosmos and pay my respect.

For life is a daily, daring, epic adventure, a thrilling mystery ride to explore. I live for the questions, the seeking, the learning and the strikingly beautiful moments of awe.

I am comfortable and content with this.

I do not need answers.

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Gratitude is my living, breathing moving prayer, and my heart breaks open wide with an enormously huge appreciation for everything that happens today.

My soul cries out a passionate thank you to God and the universe.

This is how I pray.

My heart softening and melting into the moment.

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I am genuinely grateful for this breath, and now this one, and the next. . . For as my friend Julia says. . .

we are all just one exhale away . . .

There is nothing to prove or improve. Not to ourselves or to others. Honoring that we are all made perfect already. No mistakes, all of divine intelligence. We connect to our compassionate soul source, our innate goodness to our loving nature right now.

Love is the only real emotion, every other, the absence of it.

This is our best self, our connected self. Leaning on the cheek of of God, we sway, through our divine dance with life each day.

All of us quite unique on the outside, yet our hearts and souls beating as one.

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All throughout the day, I am grateful for this opportunity, this moment right now, to be awake, aware alive and here and I will not waste a moment of it.

Not a single second.

 

This is how I rise.

 

Featured art Nikolina Petolas is a Croatian based photographer and digital artist.

Perennial philosophy (Latinphilosophia perennis),[note 1] also referred to as Perennialism and perennial wisdom, is a perspective in modern spirituality that views each of the world’s religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth or origin from which all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine has grown.
The Perennial Philosophy has its historical roots in the syncretism of Renaissance humanists like Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, who suggested that Plato, Jesus, Hermes Trismegistus and the Kabbalah were all pointing to the same God (they were almost excommunicated as a result). Leibniz also championed the philosophia perennis. You can see it flourishing in the transcendentalism of Emerson, Coleridge and Thoreau.

Joko Beck 

To Regain the Sureness of Your Soulfooting

I regain the steadiness of my soulfooting
When I feel this rapture of being alive.

– from the poem River Ride by Patti Auguste Hallowell

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“Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.
And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

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Beautiful things I love about me.

My childlike enthusiasm and my a joie de vivre.

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My inner Glow with God.

I love my spirit that shines through with contagious and infectious optimism.

I honor my divine intelligence and love and oh how now you can see my soul so clearly.

My soul spark shines and breathes fresh air now.

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Free to be me with every beautiful new human encounter entered with the intention of honesty and love.

The best type of truth is told with thoughtfulness, a touch of tolerance and tenderness.

Silly, stupid human.  We think the truth has to be raw, harsh, angry and loud.  Something to fear, because you can’t handle the truth. No. No. No.

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You can handle the truth.

Truth can be whispered, softly, gently, and directly to the soul of another.

Let the world change you, so you can change the world.

-Motorcycle Diaries 2004

 

 

Featured Art

 

 

Riding Shotgun in The Sky

We are limitless. Eternity. Capable of imagining anything. By Madeline Johnson

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Well, I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, Tell me, where are you going
This he told me
Said, I’m going down to Yasgur’s Farm
Gonna join in a rock and roll band
Got to get back to the land and set my soul free

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

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Well, then can I roam beside you?
I have come to lose the smog,
And I feel myself a cog in somethin’ turning
And maybe it’s the time of year
Yes and maybe it’s the time of man
And I don’t know who I am
But life is for learning
We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

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By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere was a song and a celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bomber death planes
Riding shotgun in the sky,
Turning into butterflies
Above our nation
We are stardust, we are golden
We are caught in the devils bargain
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden
  • Written by Joni Mitchell

 

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FEATURED ART BY EDWARD FAIRBURN

Origin of Riding Shotgun

Riding shotgun was used to describe the guard who rode alongside a stagecoach driver, ready to use his shotgun to ward off bandits or hostile Native Americans. In modern use, it refers to the practice of sitting alongside the driver in a moving vehicle.

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More Beautiful for Having Been Broken & Being Seduced By Our Own Storylines

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending broken objects using gold or silver epoxy. The Japanese believe that when something has suffered damage and has history, it becomes more beautiful. 

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I’ll never forget the first time one of my twin daughters had her heart broken. She was all of 16 and completely devastated. I remember her face as she curled up in my bed, in physical pain, her head in the pillow and eyes swollen with tears, hand on her heart, she said, “Now I know WHY they call this a broken heart,” “It actually feels BROKEN in my body.” Shattered like glass.

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After someone breaks up with us, we can feel very, very lonely.  Abandoned, rejected, thrown away. What are we do to with this deep seated pain?

I am studying Pema Chodron’s Heart Advice For When Things Fall Apart.

Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in. It’s restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us company. When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a nonthreatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down. 

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An inspiring tale of self-discovery, I have read The Alchemist.

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Next on my reading list. . . .

The Middle Way & The Manual for The Warrior of The Light

Paul Warrior

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.

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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.
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Not taking notice of our surroundings, the people we are with and even our own presence. Too busy snapping instead of savoring.
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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.
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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.
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