The Process of Self Awareness & Examining Your Heart

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

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

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

– James Allen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read: As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

Featured Art

The Chemical Messiah

The Absurdity Of It All

Life is simply absurd.

Our bad choices make great stories.

Sometimes we don’t look like a 300 likes kind of person.

7.5 billion people on the planet and I have two good friends.

When nothing goes right, we should just go to sleep.

Sometimes all you need is a billion dollars.

We worry because we feel unprepared to face the future.

It starts with tuning in. The trick is first realizing what is happening. Awareness is a powerful tool that many times we forget we have. We make our way through our day reacting to whatever is put in front of us, without realizing we actually have the power to choose our perspective and our thoughts in any situation.

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Featured Artist

@rouge_de_honte/

 

How to Be Your Most Honest Self-Critic

When you begin to question your own mind, you begin to become the best self-critic you can be.  By Madeline Johnson

This is a note to all of us prone to self-loathing. To cringing at the face we see in the mirror. Why, oh why is it so difficult to simply like ourselves – just the way we are?  One theory is that we are evolutionarily predisposed to nitpick at our failings. We are so damn hard on ourselves and we can be our very own worst critic.

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As if life wasn’t problematic enough, we still insist on comparing our lives to others and beating ourselves up most every day.

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How did we create this fantasy that if we punish ourselves enough with negative thoughts, we’ll change?

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What we should become more critical of is our own thoughts.

If you are going to criticize anything about yourself and your place in the world, it should be the bleak narrative you have looping around your brain.

Question that.

Question your assumptions, your biases, choices.

Learn how to clarify your thoughts by uncovering the logic that upholds what you believe, rather than just accepting your muddled ideas of the truth. The next time you catch yourself cutting your self-worth down, filling your head with self-doubt, ask yourself –Why do I believe this to be true? 

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When you begin to question your own mind,

you begin to become the best self-critic you can be.

What purpose do your current thoughts serve you?

What are you assuming to be true to think this way?

From which perspective are you thinking from?

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What evidence do you have to draw the conclusions you do?

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Featured Artwork

Phillipe Halsman

For me, lighting is what a brush is to a painter.  I want my light to give an awareness of the 3rd dimension, that it shows volume and depth.  Above all I consider light as a means of characterization.”   

It’s a Good Day, All Day

Understanding what triggers you emotionally and setting yourself up for a good day. By Madeline Johnson

Mondays can bring so much promise. Like a new year, Mondays can offer a clean slate. A fresh start. A chance to begin again as you plot and plan for a better, more productive week.

Setting out to have a good day, a good week or a good year begins with a conscious knowledge of one’s own feelings, motives, and desires. It starts with knowing who you are and how you will navigate your day to get where you want to go. You understand there will be inevitable distractions.

You need to know what sets you off. What disrupts your day. What makes you feel angry, needy, shutdown and frustrated. What triggers a bad mood for you.  Anything that makes you experience a negative emotional response that could pull you off course.

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Understanding how you react to people and situations throughout the day will help you identify patterns in your life and develop a better understanding of the events in your life that usually lead to a problem, similar to what Mei does at work. Mei is an artificial intelligence messaging assistant that warms of personality changes based on communication with co-workers.

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Knowing What Set’s You Off

What triggers you? It’s important to identify when you feel the need to be accepted by others, understood, in control of the situation, paid attention to, at peace. Understand if it is important for you to have things in order, to feel safe and secure, to have a bit of fun during the day. Are you getting the respect you think you deserve? Do you feel like your talents are needed?

Do you always need to feel right? Are you comfortable? Calm? Do you feel as if your life is balanced? Are you spending too much time on work and not enough with your friends? Is your life way too predictable? Are you a bit bored with what you are doing?

Could you use a bit of challenge in your career? Your relationship? Are you feeling like you are liked, valued and being treated fairly by others?

Does everything feel a bit too chaotic around you? Like something could break, crack or fall apart at any minute?

Do you believe that others are ignoring you? Avoiding you? Do you feel included?

Make it your mission to understand how you operate.

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If at any point during the day you feel out of sorts, off, emotionally frustrated, take a pause.  Breathe deeply. Calm your mind. Don’t get so worked up.

Try sitting up straight and breathing deeply to the count of six. Breathe through your nose for six counts and out your mouth for six. Go slowly. Deep, deliberate inhalations and exhalations. This will calm you down.

Take a moment to understand what you need right now? Do you need to be patient? More tolerant? Less tolerant? Perhaps you need to explain yourself again? Let others know how you feel? Show some compassion? Walk away?

Before you take action, question your own thinking. Know if what you are thinking and feeling is actually true, or if it is a projection of what you negatively think is true.

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What might trigger you?

  • Someone rejecting you.
  • Someone leaving you (or the threat that they will).
  • Helplessness over painful situations.
  • Someone discounting or ignoring you.
  • Someone being unavailable to you.
  • Someone giving you a disapproving look.
  • Someone blaming or shaming you.
  • Someone being judgmental or critical of you.
  • Someone being too busy to make time for you.
  • Someone not appearing to be happy to see you.
  • Someone coming on to you sexually in a needy way.
  • Someone trying to control you.
  • Someone being needy, or trying to smother you.

Read more here

You’ll probably want to avoid them, but find out why they are behaving the way they are – and why you are reacting they way you do.

Realize everyone is trying to trigger you.

Advertisers and marketers bake emotional triggers into their brand messaging. They know how strong emotional triggers will motivate you to act from feelings like fear and desire.  These emotions have effect on you, whether it’s feeling like your life is lacking excitement, adventure and love from an Instagram story to feeling like you are a lonely, loser and not enough from a YouTube ad. The messages are incessant. Turn them off.

Getting a leg up on emotional triggers. Face them . . .

  • Do the most important things first this morning. Understand what you need to do vs what you want to do.
  • Watch what you tolerate.
  • Expect yourself to be triggered by something or someone and have a plan. Avoid or face it.
  • Spend some time alone during the day.
  • Practice being more compassionately assertive.
  • Decide how you will respond to how others mistreat you. Not react. Respond.
  • Try to understand others. God only knows what they are going through.
  • Protect your time at all costs. Tech apps below to do just that.
  • Let others know when you won’t be available. Make something up – like you have an important meeting to go to. They won’t know. Or tell the truth. You are working on something big and need to focus.
  • Decide what you will pay attention to today. If you can, put your phone on airplane mode for a while.

Be strong.

8 Things Mentally Strong People Do Everyday

Technology to help you say no to distractions and to help you have a better day, all day.

Freedom app helps you protect your time, so you can focus on getting things done during the day.

One Big Thing ensures that you focus on your main priority, that one big thing, all day long.

Headspace is like a gym membership for your mind. 10 minutes of meditation a day to help burn off the busy in your brain.

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Featured Art

Indonesia based artist Roby Dwi Antono works meticulously in painting, illustration, and drawing.  His paintings are especially detailed, depicting dreamy scenes.

Trust the Process

Trusting the process and reaching your goals. by Madeline Johnson

Goals can be so absolutely frustrating. Some days they seem to be so out of reach. Setbacks require creativity and a successful process. Read: Movement & Creativity.

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Trust the process.

Trust the Process has become a catchphrase in sports. It means sticking to a long-term plan even in the face of bad short-term outcomes. … Trust the Process means sticking to a well-grounded methodology to accomplish a long-term goal.

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Much of this calls for redefining, or refining, one’s relationship with time, and all the qualities and skills that will only come from engaging time more creatively and effectively. 

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The Difference Between Goals and Processes or Systems

  • If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a successful business. Your process (system ) is your processes for sales, marketing, fulfillment, operations, etc.
  • If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your (process) system is what your team does at practice each day.
  • If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your (process) system is the writing schedule you follow each week.
  • If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your (process) system is your training schedule for the month

The repetitive process, the habit, the ritual, the daily “doing” is what gets you to the goal. If you focus on the goal, you will get frustrated. Basically, you give up the need for immediate results. Transformation doesn’t happen in a moment, it happens over time.

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Better to Iterate

Think of repetition as doing the same thing with the same data over and over. Think of iteration as doing the same thing with different or refined data.

& Measure your success with feedback loops.

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Remember

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Books to Read to help you develop your creative process.

Steal Like An Artist

You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.

Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives.

Featured Art

Kiki Smith Woven Tapestries

Kiki Smith works at the scale of the tapestry, creating large collages on paper from cutout drawings, photolithographs, and various textural elements. The collages are sent to Magnolia Editions, photographed, printed at scale and sent back to Smith for more handwork and collaging; this cycle continues (often for months) until the design is ready to be translated into a digital weave file and sent to an electronic, double-headed Jacquard loom for proofing as a textile.

“It’s the way that I work,” she told me from her studio in New York last summer, “making sculptures, too, I do the exact same thing: I make drawings, and from the drawings I make rubber stamps; from the rubber stamps I make impressions in clay, then waxes, and then sculptures. It’s a transformation, moving from one way of generating an image to another, which makes a hybrid.” Smith’s choice to compose her tapestries at scale rather than enlarging smaller images is crucial to their impact. To work large is “to emphasize the holiness of it,” she explains: “historically, these things were made to blanket walls… They’re blanketing space. In mosques you have the kilims that are hundreds of years old sitting on top of each other for prayer, and there’s that relationship between cloth and life and protection.” …

Kiki Smith’s critically acclaimed tapestries depict “a mythical world wherein human and animal forms entwine with natural phenomena” (Artforum); they have been exhibited internationally at venues including Pace Editions (New York), Timothy Taylor (London), Haus der Kunst (Munich) and Lorcan O’Neill (Rome). This 2018 survey of Smith’s tapestry editions to date features an interview with the artist and an essay by Nick Stone.

What is Significantly Yours To Own

A morning manifesto that resets your mind to start the day with a stronger, healthier mindset.

With every rising of the sun,

think of your life as just begun. 

Change. Transformation. Something new for you. It starts with ownership and attitude over your thoughts, words and deeds. You see, I take pride in owning my problems. I hammer away at them daily.  Unfortunately, I also take on other people’s obstacles and challenges as well.  Perhaps this makes me feel more important. Validated. Essential. Significant.

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When Fixing Problems Becomes a Problem

By day, I deal with  problems and concerns by constantly updating my to-do list. I also take time out of my day, time that I really don’t have, to help others solve their problems. And I get very frustrated when they don’t listen to my advice.  It gets me so twisted. Have you been there? Do you know what I mean?

At night, I have a tendency to take those problems to bed and ruminate over them until I fall asleep from mental exhaustion. On occasion, I can even take that worrying to a whole new level of crippling pain and insanity. I believe I may have perfected the art of catastrophizing – believing that things are worse than they actually are. My mind a maelstrom of nighttime worry.   Day in and day out. Night dreads and morning anxiety.

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Believe It If You Need It

Meditate they urged. Journal it away. Pray they said. Clear your mind. I thought about it. I tried new ways and altered my approach. Crystals, sage, affirmations.  Nothing really worked. Rote prayer never inspired me.  I was seeking more. I wanted to focus on transforming my mind, breaking the patterns of rumination,  tapping into the limitless, openness of possibility- – not just mechanically reciting phrases that meant nothing to me.  I wanted to turn worry into wonder.

Show Me Holy Places Not Yet Found

Sometime last year, I considered writing down a morning manifesto that would reset my mind to start the day with a stronger, healthier mindset. This was to be my very own prayer, a promise to myself, my mantra for manifesting a more powerful and positive life.  It’s working to help me reset in the morning. So on the start of a new year, I share it with you. Maybe it will inspire you to write your own. I believe it has helped me dissipate the morning anxiety that crippled my days. 

I pray today that I remember that I already have the strength to sustain a positive open awareness and joyful caring presence through the gains and losses and the highs and lows that today will inevitably bring upon me and I to myself. 

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I know that I am brave enough to face this day and to be of benefit to this world.  To be of benefit with a compassionate and loving attitude and to make sure it shines through with every smile, hug, word and deed that I do today.  No matter what happens to me today, I remain constant and confidant that my loving acts will help me and others heal our pain.

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Through it all today, I pray that I will be able to take full responsibility for my life and to groove through all the moments, the good and the bad without sinking into false refuge (drinking too much cheap wine, mindlessly snacking on chocolate and chips, gossiping about other peoples BS), without hiding from my pain and problems and without blaming others.

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I pray that I remember that I have the strength today to positively face what is real and to take on each problem intelligently with love, humility and an open mind, knowing I need the help of others to grow and learn.

I remember that what we all want most is to be loved and acknowledged for who we are today.

I continue today to remember what matters most. That no matter what happens today, that I have loved more that I thought possible and demonstrated that love to everyone I have the fortunate opportunity of spending time with today. I am so happy and blessed to be alive today.

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I pray that I feel strong and confidant enough and passionate about my purpose and existence that I may understand and act on exactly, precisely what God has intended me to do with this precious life and that I may become a more inspiring human being.

I am strong enough to be radically and transparently open and honest enough with myself and everyone I encounter and that I see everything in my life as it truly is, not how I wish it would be. 

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And may I have the courage to take extreme ownership of my life and change what I believe is not serving me or others well.

I will embrace the magic of today. I do not wish to simply make sense of today. I choose to dwell and inhabit in life’s sacred mystery. 

To expand my awareness and elevate my consciousness and my attitude.

To stay fully awake.

For I believe that this very life is one infinite, remarkable, unfolding miracle.

The important moment I’ve been waiting for is now.

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Every single breath take, you take, we take is a genius gift of infinite energy, an inhale and exhale breathing into a limitless universe, of which we are all connected to and supported by.

 We are all so much more powerful than we realize. We must remember this daily.  We are not alone, we have God as our co-pilot.  We are in this together, supported and loved by our creator.

For every person I come in contact with today has this power as well and together we are meant to hold each other in reverence, now and forever. When I talk to you, I am talking to God. God loves us all.

I remain curious and humble today, for this life, this existence, is nothing short of magnificent.

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Life for me is a daily, daring, epic adventure, a thrilling mystery ride to explore.

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I live for the questions, the seeking, the learning and the breathtaking moments of awe.

I am content with the unknown, I do not need all of the answers, but simply love the experiential process of living. I look up at the cosmos with appreciation and awe in my heart and mind.

I pray that I remain on the right path today and every day and that I am always learning and applying what I have learned to become smarter, stronger and a humble servant to love.

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Gratitude is my living, breathing, moving prayer, and my heart pours open wide with an enormous appreciation for everything that happens today. My soul cries out a passionate loving thank you to God and the universe. This is how I pray.

And when I forget today, I will let my heart soften and melt into the moment. Remembering, with discipline that we are all temporary tenants here and all we have is this very moment. . . . we are all just one exhale away . . .

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There is nothing to prove or improve about my heart today.   My heart is in the right place and on the right path. No fixing or controlling myself or others.  I am remembering and honoring that we are all made perfect already and everything evolves in it’s own time.  No mistakes, we are all made of divine intelligence. We connect and reconnect to our compassionate soul source in each moment with each thought, word and action, it is like this that we return  to our innate goodness, to our loving nature right now.

If I am disappointed today by someone or something,  I remember to love through it with patience and understanding. Love is the only real emotion, every other, the absence of it.

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

I remain awake, aware, alive and here.

I will not waste a moment of this life today. Not a single second.

I will not doubt my greatness today, the beautiful essence of God within me.  I will remain calm and at peace for there is no pressure to do anything at all if the spirit doesn’t move me, for I already am perfect with God and love in my heart.

This is how I rise.

Recommended Reading

Ram Dass Be Here Now 

“We’re talking about metamorphosis
We’re talking about going from a caterpillar to a butterfly
We’re talking about how to become a butterfly.”

Tara Brach True Refuge

How do you cope when facing life-threatening illness, family conflict, faltering relationships, old trauma, obsessive thinking, overwhelming emotion, or inevitable loss? If you’re like most people, chances are you react with fear and confusion, falling back on timeworn strategies: anger, self-judgment, and addictive behaviors.

Charles Bukowski Essential Bukowski

Few writers have so brilliantly and poignantly conjured the desperation and absurdity of ordinary life as Charles Bukowski. Resonant with his powerful, perceptive voice, his visceral, hilarious, and transcendent poetry speaks to us as forcefully today as when it was written. Encompassing a wide range of subjects—from love to death and sex to writing—Bukowski’s unvarnished and self-deprecating verse illuminates the deepest and most enduring concerns of the human condition while remaining sharply aware of the day to day.

Featured art by Ouzo Kim

illustrator & graphic designer & creative director

 

 

The Endless Struggle to Think Well of Ourselves & Living in a World Where Everyone is Real

“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm; but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

T.S. Eliot “The Cocktail Party”

 

 

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Fact: A complete stranger upon meeting you within the first five minutes of getting to know you, will know more about your flaws than you will ever learn in a life time. 

-Alain de Botton

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Caught up in their own self-centered drama, most wander the planet fantasizing that they are a caring and kind person even when inside they know they are a absolutely reckless and uncaring.  We all walk the fine line of wanting to be accepted and appreciated while anxiously defending our ego.

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I agree with Alain de Botton –

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However, there is a difference between living for approval and connecting with others without ego.

Living in a world where everyone is real. (an excerpt from Radical Acceptance)

One of the most remarkable things I’ve noticed about the Dalai Lama is how he treats everyone equally. When the Dalai Lama says “My religion is kindness” he is expressing his commitment to live with the unconditionally open and loving heart of compassion. Kindness is a facet of the jewel of compassion.  It is the desire to help that arises when we remember that we are connected with every living being we meet. Each person is precious, each person is fragile, each person matters.

Remembering we are all real.

 

Read:

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Overcoming Distractions & That Overwhelming Feeling

Distractions keep us from focusing on our mission. If you don’t have a mission, that’s okay, think of your mission as anything you say that you really want to “focus” on if you had the time, the money, the resources. You know, your hopes, dreams, and aspirations.

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Everything feels like a distraction at times, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed especially when distractions are inviting and enticing.

Do what Adam Robinson does. Ask yourself this question – my notes from Tribe of Mentors.

Where should I be focusing my attention right now?

Mission

 

Art by Russ Mills

https://byroglyphics.co.uk/

Firing Your Mind & Taking Stock of Your Personal Inventory

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Dear Mind of Mine,

Oh, how you trouble me so. Fretting and worrying about things completely out of your control.  I remind you today that I am not getting involved in your ridiculous melodrama.  As a matter of fact, it’s time you and I took an extended vacay. 

– Me, Myself & I

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Now that I’m not playing those mind games anymore, what will I do with all this free time?

I’ll start by taking inventory- pause, take that deep breath – oh, dear, what the hell is my heart feeling now?

What are my shoulders doing? How is my stomach feeling? How about my right toe? Is my mind wandering off into fantasyland and nightmares again?
Checking in with myself.

Stopping a moment to take my inventory. What am I lugging around that I no longer need?

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Emotions Over Thoughts and A Softer Way to Communicate

How to follow your intuition by becoming more mindful.

Three things I am working on right now.

Soul Singing

Question: What does my soul say today?

My soul doesn’t speak in thoughts. No, not at all. These thoughts that clutter my mind are just residual pain left over from the things I haven’t let go of yet. Thoughts of conflicts yet resolved.

My soul speaks in feelings, emotions, images, sounds, clues.

My soul speaks to me when I feel deep sadness, frustration, anger, contentment and happiness.

I can feel, see, taste, touch and listen to my soul when my mind is silent.

That’s why I meditate.

Weeding my mind garden so there is more room for a soul orchestra.

Good feelings can’t grow from grudges. Pure thoughts don’t come from residual pain.

These are the feelings from stories feared.

Letting these thoughts drift on by, help me weed my mind garden and clear the soil for a more softer, gentler and more compassionate state of being.

Recovering from the violent ways in which we communicate.

Judging, blaming, demanding, critiquing, name-calling.

Talk about your karma baby.

Softer thoughts lead to kinder words. Seeking more non-violent ways to communicate.

Inspired by Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss & Turning Your Mind Into An Ally by Sakyong

Mipham