The Sole Author of Your Conditions

In Yuval Noah Harari’s book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century he explores our increasing reliance on algorithms to make decisions for us.

Artificial Intelligence is being deployed in health care and warfare; it’s helping people make music and books; it’s scrutinizing your resume, judging your creditworthiness, and tweaking the photos you take on your phone. In short, it’s making decisions that affect your life whether you like it or not.

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

 

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/

 

 

How Much Good Can You Do In The World?

Do what you can to make things better. Find out how much good you can do in the world. By Madeline Johnson

Not my words, but definitely a great notion and something I believe is worth asking yourself.

This idea, that we have the capability to make things better with what we have is inspired by professor and clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson author of 12 Rules for Life.

His wisest advice –

Learn what you need to learn to become wise and work for the betterment of being.

Do what you can to make things better. Find out how much good you can do in the world.

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Do it in a forthright, courageous, noble, eyes-wide open, articulate and embodied manner.

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How to bake better into your every day beingness.

Not sure where to begin?  I like what Brianna Wiest recommends. . .

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Recommended Reading

101 Essays to Change The Way You Think by Brianna Wiest

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson

Maps of Meaning by Jordan B. Peterson

The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton

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Featured Artwork

Borda D. Adrian is a surreal painter and lives in Reghin, Romania. He is an inner traveler, exploring the mysterious and extremely complex subconscious world. In his real life as well as in his art, I don’t care about conventions and the taboos, there are no sacred memes that cannot be touched. His paintings are deep meditations full of symbols about life and our most intimate tendencies and reactions…not necessarily to create something most people like, but to open a window to haunting images impossible to forget.

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 .

 

 

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.

What are we free for?

You are free to discover the talents that are built with in you. To explore the inner workings of your mind. You are free to take creative risks with your life. By Madeline Johnson

You are free to discover the talents that are built with in you. To explore the inner workings of your mind. You are free to take creative risks with your life. Free to experiment and do more with your day.  Free to build what you can’t find but you know you need. Free to have an original thought and express that thought elegantly.

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Why then do we so often choose to waste this freedom? Why are we so careless with the free time we have? Why do we waste our weekends, our evenings, any free time we have in idol pursuits? Surfing the internet, watching bad Netflix series and trolling through Instagram?

I argue, like Colin Wilson that to be truly happy most human beings need a certain amount of stimulus during their free time or they will grow dull, lethargic and perhaps for some, even depressed. This is not a motivational rant about having a positive attitude or being grateful.  This is about doing more with our minds and our lives. This is about using the free time we have to create something new and original.

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Playing it Safe is The Riskiest Thing You Can Do

Many people will account their lives to be successful if they get through them with only minimal pain.  Few aim to rise above a plodding existence. And this, not-withstanding that they often have within them the ability to do something that which perhaps no other human being has done before.

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Merely to do what others have done is often safe and comfortable; but to do something truly original, and do it well, whether appreciated by others or not – that is what being human is really all about and it is alone that what justifies the self-love that is pride. 

From Richard Taylor’s Restoring Pride.

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Occupy your day with interesting tasks, challenges and problems to solve.

Strive to spend the majority of your free time creating, exploring, learning, doing.

Challenge your capacities and improve your talents.

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Creative risk taking requires perseverance, struggle and the short term sacrifice of pleasures and comfort, to explore and cultivate the gifts within us, and thus to enjoy the fruits of genuine pride.

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The goal: to attain personal excellence of the kind that sets you apart from others.

Read Richard Taylor’s Restoring Pride

Watch Why Passivity Breeds Mediocrity 

Featured Artist

Afarin Sajedi was born in 1979 in Shiraz. She came to Tehran to study at the Azad University of Tehran where she got her degree in Graphic Design. Sajedi’s creativity, technique and powerful presentation are sure to ensure her an elevated position in the world of Iranian art. She has several motifs she enjoys portraying. However, whether she is depicting her Japanese people, her clowns or her theatrical personages she only portrays women. In all her works her women’s faces are highly made up be it in pain or joy to show how she visualizes women when they leave the security of their homes to enter the world outside. “Women have often told me how much they enjoy using make up because it allows them another face,” Sajedi exclaims in despair. She confesses that she has been highly influenced by Heinrich Boll’s Clown and by Gustav Klimt. She uses Klimt’s depth of color to vivify the pain of the modern woman in any role she decides to thrust herself into. Red plays an important role in the works of this painter. “It’s an aggressive color,” Sajedi says, “and I love aggressive colors.” Sajedi has participated in four group and four solo exhibitions. She is presently living and working in Tehran.

 

 

Energetically in Alignment

How we can better learn and absorb the things we need to know and do to get to a better place in our lives. A place that is true to our hearts. A place where we feel authentic and true. by Madeline Johnson

If you are like most of us, you love a good short cut, a sweet hack.  You don’t have time to read, study, learn. No, you don’t want to get the book or take the course. You just want me to tell you what to do. “Give me the damn advice” you say. Whats the take away? What do I need to know? How do I do it?

Today I was thinking about how we can better learn and absorb the things we need to know and do to get to a better place in our lives. A place that is true to our hearts. A place where we feel authentic and true.  Where we are not fragmented.

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Okay, so there’s an important directive in yoga to help you benefit the most from each posture and to keep you from injuring yourself.  The advice is “Alignment before depth”.

Most good yoga teachers will remind you over and over again, alignment before depth, because if you don’t get the alignment correct first, you will never get the full benefits from the pose. This is really important for people who like to rush through things, those who try to hack their development.

Yoga is not for the impatient. Some postures can take up to ten years to master.

Understanding that your posture must be in perfect alignment before you can go deeper into any pose, you understand that getting ahead of yourself is a complete waste of time.

So you scan your body in the mirror and run through the alignment checklist. Arms straight?  elbows locked? core engaged? and so forth.

I argue that if we want to better our lives, we should strive to energetically align ourselves first. We might follow this same yoga rule in our everyday moments.

There are benefits to aligning our minds with our hearts and our bodies before we get involved in anything or with anyone.  Yes, before making any more decisions, we might take a moment to meditate on whether or not our mind, heart and body is in alignment, in agreement, before we choose to do something or be with someone. Why?

Because without having our whole being in agreement (mind, body and heart & soul) we tend to make bad choices and even worse decisions.

How to begin aligning your heart with your mind and your body.

When your head, heart and body are in alignment, when everything is in agreement and when every part of you is saying yes, yes this is a good decision, you know you are on the right path.

You aren’t fragmented, full of doubt or feeling uncertain. Every part of your body and mind is connected.

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But we can’t get in alignment if we are one big stress ball of angst. So let’s get started with setting up the ideal conditions for energetic alignment.

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Let’s start with how to align our spine, to strengthen our body. Here are four simple exercises to improve your nerd neck and straighten your posture.

Now, a check in with the heart.  Feeling numb? Building your emotional intelligence will help to resolve this issue.  Stop disassociating, denying and disowning your emotions, they serve a purpose. Watch How to Feel Your Emotions

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1. Get in the right mindset

Soothing and calming the mind to reduce stress and to think from a more relaxed state is key to aligning your mind, body and heart. If your mind is scattered, you won’t be able to connect with anything else.

Thinking Mind vs Observing Mind

Most of our psychological and emotional stress happens because our Thinking Mind and Observing Mind are “fused” and we don’t recognize the difference.

Separating your Observing Mind from your Thinking Mind is a habit that takes practice. But once you begin to do it, you’ll feel yourself becoming less and less of a slave to your thoughts and your emotions. You’ll take more control of your internal daily life and feel better about it.

Read the full article Mark Manson’s Your Two Minds

Drain your brain of unnecessary thoughts and empty your mind with a ten minute meditation with Headspace. Do this daily.

Go deep. Read The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer

2. Soften & Strengthen Your Heart

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You can’t hear your heart if it’s pumping wild with anxiety.  Listen to Tara Brach’s Guided Heart Meditation (34 min) for loving presence.

Read her books Radical Acceptance and True Refuge so that you can begin to learn to think and speak from the core of your being.

3. Listen and Engage Your Body

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You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t breathing. Breathing is so underrated. It’s so natural we tend to forget about it, but most of us barely breathe throughout our days. Be aware of your breath. Learn how to breathe to change your body chemistry, a wonderful demonstration from Wim Hof

Soften your neck, shoulders and remove tension from your body using acupressure.

Wake up your brain by banging the heavenly drum

Move for inspiration with this kung fu warm up

Inspired by A 7 Step Process to Align Your Body, Mind and Soul for Optimal Creativity

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Featured Art

Igor Morski

Polish graphic designer, illustrator and set designer. Presently, he focuses on mixed media graphic art, based manly on photo manipulation, drawing, recently also 3D.

 

To Be Real

Seeking wisdom and being true and real to oneself. Madeline Johnson

To be absolutely real with ourselves. Stop playing it so safe. How freeing. What a release. What a relief.  True to you. No more disjappointmenting yourself because you put your needs on the back burner.  You said yes, but you meant no. You didn’t want to hurt their feelings, so you over promised. You took that project for the money.

When we are not true to ourselves, we starve ourselves of care and respect. Integrity begins with honoring our hearts. It’s not selfish. It’s healthy and it helps us all.

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Stripped of all of our masks and desire to be needed.  To understand ourselves fully, to know more about our own existence.

Why I am seeking wisdom. 

  • Lie to myself, no more!
  • Life is tricky. People are strange. I contradict myself. Why?
  • Decisions are difficult. Which are the best ones?
  • Worry is constant. I shall remain calm.
  • This wisdom helps with clarity. Clarity is freedom.
  • I know I don’t have all the answers. We are here together for a reason. I learn from you.
  • Life moves too fast. My strong desire to slow down. Savor. Relish.

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Why I seek wisdom.

  • To be more emotionally and intellectually intelligent about myself and others.
  • Because I am realistically insecure and my experience will only take me so far. What can I learn from your experience?
  • I want to accomplish more of what is important. What is important to you might inspire me.

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Featured Artwork

Dorothea Tanning

Dorothea Tanning was born in 1910 in Galesburg, Illinois and attended Knox College in her hometown before studying painting in Chicago (haunting the Art Institute where she learned what painting was.)   In 1941, now in New York, she met the art dealer, Julien Levy, and his surrealist friends, refugees from Nazi occupied France. Late in 1942 Max Ernst visited her studio, saw a painting, (Birthday), and stayed to play chess. They would have 34 years together, at first in Sedona, Arizona (a mere outpost at the time).  Here she would continue to paint her enigmatic versions of life on the inside, looking out: The Guest RoomThe Truth About CometsEine Kleine NachtmusikInterior with Sudden JoyInsomniasPalaestraTamerlaneFar From. By 1956 Max and Dorothea had chosen to live and work thenceforth in France. Though Paris was headquarters, they preferred the country quiet lure in Touraine and Provence. These years included, for Dorothea Tanning, an intense five- year adventure in soft sculpture:  CousinsDon Juan’s BreakfastFetishRainy Day CanapéTragic TableVerbXmasEmmaRevelation or the End of the MonthHôtel du Pavot Room 202.