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.

Feeling The Pull of The Present

I want to feel the pull of the present moment lure me in – Madeline Johnson

It is so damn difficult to stay present in the moment. Distractions are everywhere, especially in my mind, which vacillates between the recent past and unknown future.

Once in a while, when I can remind myself to pay attention, I become fully aware of my life unfolding in real time. It’s for a split second really. It’s as if I awaken for a moment. My mind fully in this present.

I want to feel the pull of the present moment lure me in. I am tired of not being here. I want to feel the excitement of unencumbered first sight, a virgin noticing.

I am looking for experiences that violate my expectations. Places, people and things that will take me somewhere new.

I want to get off the reservation. Travel a bit. Somewhere new.

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I expect being some where new will allow me to be fully present, my senses heightened, absorbing the freshness of it all.

To steward the contents of my consciousness to the here and now.

Tune in:  Jason Silva’s eye-opening perspective on this seven minute video.

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Featured Artist

Kari Lilt

 

Living in the Future

I constantly catch my mind planning out my future. I might be thinking about where to have dinner (the very near future), dreaming of my next home (the few years away future), deciding on my next travel adventure (the hopefully this year future), or what type of shoes I want to buy next (the sometime this month future).

In my mind, I am living in the future. Creating my next steps along the way. My brain just constantly planning, scheming, dreaming and thinking about what lies ahead.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”  – Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

Featured Artist

Japan Hokkaido

Graphic Designer / Contemporary Artist / Surrealism Art / Collage Artist /

Trust Not The Theater of The Mind

Learning how to relax and be calm is one of the best ways to find peace in your life. By Madeline Johnson

It happens to all of us. We get caught up in our own drama. Most of the time we are doing one thing, but thinking about another. We are driving the car but thinking about how we have to work over the weekend. We are making dinner but fighting with our ex about how it was their fault. We are meeting with a friend over cocktails but were wondering if were going to meet “the one” tonight.

We are every where but here and the last thing we are is relaxed in our own skin.

We aren’t calm, centered and balanced. Every time we get caught up in the frenzy and fantasy, the theater of our mind, we abort ourselves from reality.

And like any good theater production, the dialogue around drama in our mind is powerful.

There aren’t many peaceful, calm moments in our mind, but we all yearn for them.

Evidently, the search engine query “How to be calm all the time” is a very popular one.  Now why would that be?

It turns out one of the biggest stressors is lack of money. Yes, money is the biggest source of stress for Americans, research shows. Indeed, a survey by Northwestern Mutual found that money was the dominant source of stress for 44% of Americans, followed by the 25% who said personal relationships, and just 18% blaming work. And data from the American Psychological Association also shows that money is the No. 1 stressor for Americans: “Regardless of the economic climate, money and finances have remained the top stressor since our survey began in 2007,” the results revealed.

We all know what stress can do to us. Read more about how chronic stress can debilitate your life, and is the main cause of chronic health conditions and addictions here.

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It seems that so many people are seeking that sense of peace throughout their day, including myself.

We want that feeling that everything is okay, I can take care of it all and I can stay confident, balanced, and chill while I am doing it.  We are all looking for ways to be calm in all sorts of situations. Search engine queries around staying calm and centered also include. . .

How to be calm during an interview.

How to be calm at work.

How to be calm and collected.

How to be calm during a presentation.

How to be calm before a test.

How to be calm and assertive.

How to be calm before surgery.

We are all looking for just a beautiful sense of centered peace and being. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has some very good advice about how to stay calm. Read here.

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Featured Artist

Alia Josephine Fawaz on Instagram @goastray_stayaskew

 

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.

Flowing Not Forcing

Slow down and let your breath anchor you into this moment, where you remain at peace and with the pace of this universe.  By Madeline Johnson

Today is the day I let go.  I let go and for damn good reason. I let go of attaching myself to what I think I need and want. This is true freedom.

I have no control over when my last breath will be, so if I cannot control something as essential as my breath, which keeps me alive, who is to say I can control anything else.

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The only thing between me and death is my breath. I don’t want to catch my breath, I want to slow it down and let it anchor me into this moment, where I remain at peace and with the pace of this universe.

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Recommended Reading

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life – Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Dr. Wayne Dyer

The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

The Tao Te Ching is a series of meditations on the mysterious nature of the Tao–the Way, the guiding light, the very source of all existence. According to Lao Tzu (a name meaning “the old master”), the Tao is found where we would least expect it–not in the strong but in the weak; not in speech but in silence; not in doing but in “not-doing.”

Poems by Cristen Rodgers 

“Once I made it through the darkest and most difficult parts of my personal adventure, I came to realize that this magic key wasn’t meant just for me – it could be a gift to others as well.  I could use my pen to throw the doors wide open and allow the truths that had so profoundly improved my life to find their way to others who are stepping upon the path that I walked myself.”

Featured Artist

@miles_art on Instagram

Miles Johnston  was born in the UK in 1993. He spent the first few years of his early childhood living in Brunei, Borneo, something that he is sure had a major effect on him. The totally different environment gave him the intuition early on that there is no true ‘normal’.

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.

No one Can Dance For You

How to face the frightening unknowable and uncontrollable future with less fear and trepidation. By Madeline Johnson

You are the facilitator of change in your life. Ultimately it’s all on you.  You have a choice. Stay stuck or move forward.

Face the demands of life voluntarily, respond to a challenge, instead of bracing for catastrophe.

– Jordan Peterson

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I suffer from catastrophic thinking and it is awful. I turn most problems into the sinking of the Titanic and I bring everyone along for the drowning.

Swimming Through the Unknowable & Uncontrollable

Here are three ways I have discovered to help anyone through a moment of worst case scenario distortions — so they may face the frightening unknowable and uncontrollable future with less fear and trepidation.

1. All is Good Right Now

Sure something bad might happen in the future, but “It’s not happening now.” Yes, it’s certainly possible that a catastrophe could occur, but it’s not happening now. This phrase may help you see that, at least at this moment, you are safe. All is well.

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2. You Made It This Far

“Whatever happens, I can cope.” This statement reminds you of your own inner resources and gives you the determination to meet the challenges of life. (The concept comes from the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy tradition.) Here are 50 ways to get through an anxious moment, that really work.
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3. Can You Stop?

Gain perspective. Instead of telling your brain to stop, ask yourself if you can. If you think about it, you are the cause of your own suffering. Can you stop the anxious loop? The first part of this statement has its origins in Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.  B.png

Read the entire article 3 Ways to Stop Imagining The Worst

Featured Artwork
Naoto Hattori was born in 1975 in Yokohama, Japan, studied graphic design in Tokyo before moving to New York to study. In the year 2000 he received a BFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts. He has received Awards from the Society of Illustrators, the New York Directors Club, Communication Arts and also he has won numerous awards from many art competitions and has been published in numerous art magazines. Of his work, He says: “My vision is like a dream, whether it’s a sweet dream, a nightmare, or just a trippy dream.

Altering Your Attitude of Mind

Very often human beings are  living on autopilot,

reacting automatically to what happens. 

– Betrand Piccard,

Our thoughts are constantly helping us to interpret the world around us, describing what is happening, and trying to make sense of it by helping us interpret events, sights, sounds, smells, feelings.

Our automatic brain attempts to keep us safe like an overprotective parent. Scientists have proven that our brains react more strongly to bad events than good.   There is a greater surge in electrical activity. Thus, our attitudes are more heavily influenced by disaster and doom than good news.

The Purpose of Our Negativity Bias

Our capacity to weigh negative input so heavily most likely evolved for a good reason—to keep us out of harm’s way. From the dawn of human history, our very survival depended on our skill at dodging danger. The brain developed systems that would make it unavoidable for us not to notice danger and thus, hopefully, respond to it. Read the full article on Psychology Today.

The automatic brain responds only to danger, threat or vulnerability, but these thoughts are also great teachers. When we question them, we can become more intelligent about why we do the things we do.

Believing in negative thoughts is the single greatest obstruction to your success.  

Charles F. Glassman, author of Brain Drain

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Questioning Our Automatic Negative Thoughts

Recognize when you are confusing thoughts with fact.  For example, I woke up this morning and I looked at my schedule and thought, I will never finish everything I have to do today. Oh the dreadful feeling of defeat before dawn. This is not something new for me. This fear-based thought always makes me feel frustrated, unsettled and unsuccessful before I even began the day. It overwhelms me, but is it true?

Now, I have no evidence that I won’t have a productive day. This is not a fact.  The challenge for me is to ask myself why I think I won’t finish everything I have to do today.

Perhaps it is because I have over scheduled myself. If I look at this fearful thought as a tool to help me, I realize I have the opportunity to prioritize my list and set up myself up for success by removing unnecessary tasks until tomorrow, or the next day.

I can also ask that negative thought if I have the right tools to have a productive day.  I can question the fear of not having a productive day, with “What will it take me to have a productive one?”

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Questioning our automatic thoughts can free us from fear and help us alter our attitudes for more positive outcomes in our lives.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

– Viktor Frankl

Read Man’s Search for Meaning

Featured Artist

Leonora Carrington Her approach is deemed visionary and strongly personal, while her symbolism is considered entirely new and authentic. The relationship between Carrington’s writing and her paintings is another topic that has been popular among many art critics and scholars. The same goes for an important role in feminism in the new analysis of Carrington’s art. The scholars claim that Carrington’s highly personal visual expression which combines folklore and magic led the way aspiring female artists who wanted to explore new ways of addressing and portraying female identity.

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.