Ego Trippers, Smiling Our Way Through Fear & The Life Long Importance of Relationships

happiness

When we remove ego, we’re left with what is real.ReadEgo is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday

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Redefining Our Identities with and without Psychedelics

Ego death, or as Jung called it, “psychic death,” is also called “ego loss.” It signifies the complete loss of subjective identity. In Jungian theory, this precedes a rebirth into a new identity. Timothy Leary coined the term “ego loss” in regard to LSD experiences. Ego death is the second stage In Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.  Ego death in Buddhism is related to understanding one’s true nature, (not mistaking the rope for the snake), which leads to a permanent awakening from ego fixation (one will never mistake the rope for the snake once it is seen to be a rope).

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Psychotherapy and psychedelics both assist in helping redefine identity. Psychotherapy focuses on ego defenses and issues stemming from identification with the ego and its journey to wholeness, while ayahuasca can loosen the strict boundaries of self-perception and allow other information and perspectives in, introducing a new dimension of healing.

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From Panic to Peace – Smiling Your Way Through Fear

Thich Nhat Hanh calls his practice of yes “smile yoga.” He suggests bringing a slight but real smile to our lips many times throughout the day, whether we are meditating or simply stopping for a red light. “A tiny bud of a smile on your lips,” writes Thich Nhat Hanh, “nourishes awareness and calms you miraculously. . . your smile will bring happiness to you and those around you.”

The power of a smile to open and relax us is confirmed by modern science. The muscles used to make a smile actually send a biochemical message to our nervous system that it is safe to relax the flight, fight or freeze response.  A smile is the yes of unconditional friendliness that welcomes experience without fear.

Smiling can be the trigger that switches us from operating under the power of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Our body is designed to be in the state of rest and digest most of the time, but there are too many stressful things in our life to keep our body to stay in the fight or flight mode.

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Why is smiling important? Smiling not only offers a mood boost but helps our bodies release cortisol and endorphins that provide numerous health benefits, including:

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Increased endurance
  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced stress
  • Strengthened immune system

Read

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

 

Good Genes are Nice, But Joy is Better

Robert Waldinger is a Zen priest and leader of the longest-running study of human happiness. He has found that science and Buddhism agree on what makes life happy and meaningful.

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Waldinger is also a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard University and director of the famed Harvard Study of Adult Development. It’s perhaps the longest-running study of adult life ever conducted. For seventy-five continuous years, it has tracked the lives of 724 men in order to understand what makes for a healthy, happy life. Now it’s following the next generation, as it tracks the lives of the original subjects’ children and their families.

Harvard study, almost 80 years old, has proved that embracing community helps us live longer, and be happier.

 

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Becoming Supernatural While Navigating a Greater End

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

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

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

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

Dr. Joe Dispenza (Becoming Supernatural)

 

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

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But, I prefer this analogy . . .

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

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

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

 

Reigning in the Wild of My Mind 

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

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

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We are all just one exhale away . . .

Life is short.

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

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What helps me think better each day?

Some Stealth Metta

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

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Featured artwork by David Wallace

Slow is Strong & Stillness Your Superpower

Stillness has power. By being still, you gain the power to think your thoughts more clearly. You gain the power to separate the right thoughts from the wrong ones. And this gives you the power to do the right action, and say the right words.

Be still

Be still your head and allow your senses to become heightened.

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Artwork

Sebastian Ospina

Everything

On Love, Respect and Our Dark Side

There is a wonderful part to each of us – as well as at least 200 pounds of psychic toxic waste burying that wonderful part. It is necessary for us to learn to draw nourishment into the core of all that – into what is wonderful – and slowly cultivate it and allow it to emerge.

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This will happen as we operate in an environment of love and respect. It requires an attitude of service, which in no way depreciates us.

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Rather, it uplifts everybody because we are clear-headed, practical and coming from and understanding of the unity of life.

Excerpt from

Will I Be The Hero of My Own Life?

Swami Chetanandanda

 

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Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.

-Muhammad Ali

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Featured art work

William Blake (1757-1827)
The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun
c. 1803-1805
Watercolor, graphite and incised lines
43.7 x 34.8 cm

. . .
A Truth thats told with bad intent 
Beats all the Lies you can invent 
It is right it should be so 
Man was made for Joy & Woe 
And when this we rightly know 
Thro the World we safely go 
Joy & Woe are woven fine 
A Clothing for the soul divine . . .
William Blake’s true God was the Human Imagination. He did not need to be saved by Christ. Rather, through the salvation of his own imagination, which allowed him to engage in right-thinking and proper actions, he was his own Christ. While Blake was a scholar of the Bible, he was a highly original thinker who created his own mythology and his own human-centered religion.

To Express The Creative Capacity of Our Essence

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

The-ultimate-creative-capacity-of-the-brain-may-be-for-all-practical-purposes-infinite.-George-Leonard

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

Huda Lutfi_Imagining the City_2016_Photographs, acrylic and oil paint on wood panel, 50 x 40 x 2 cm_0

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

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To become completely comfortable with uncertainty is total freedom.

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

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

To express the creative capacity of our essence.

This is how our lives become a work of art.

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

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

When we simply are, we are free.

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

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

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Recommended Reading

Will I Be The Hero of My Own Life

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Links

Why Finding Your Passion is Bullshit @ThoughtCatalog

The Bullshit Question Your Ego Loves

Screw Finding Your Passion @markmansonnet

 

Quotes

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

Art

Arrested Expansion by George Grie

Cairo is my muse by Huda Lutfi

Featured Art by Penelope Slinger

How to Be More Like You

E. E. Cummings wrote, “The greatest battle we face as human beings is the battle to protect our true selves from the self the world wants us to become.

yourself

People just put facades out there. They even admit that one facade is a little more real than the other. You go to work and get lost in your professional facade, but then you say. “I’m going home to be with my family and friends where I can just be myself.” So your work facade drops into the background, and your relaxed social facade comes forward. But what about you, the one who is holding the facade together? Nobody gets near that one. That’s just too scary. That one is too far back there to deal with. 

from The Untethered Soul The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer.

facade

Oh, the armor we put on every morning becomes heavier to bear, year-after-year.  Tara Brach calls it our “spacesuit strategy“, we slip it on every day as we head out into the world to attract attention, admiration, and appreciation. No wonder why we are so mentally exhausted, always trying to be something we are not for temporary shots of counterfeit recognition.

Emotional Masks

These emotional masks, the masks we hide behind because of fear. For example, if we are insecure, we might hide behind the mask of name-dropping. If we are unsure of our power, we can hide behind mask of being a bully. If we don’t think the world loves us, we can hide behind mask of anger. We mask the debt we’ve incurred to pay for lifestyles we can’t afford; we pretend things are fine at work, when our jobs are on the line; we pretend things are okay in our marriages when there is distance. 

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sting ray

It starts with just noticing when you are not being you. When you are saying things and doing things just to get attention or acknowledgment. Just think about how nice you are to people when they behave in accordance with your expectations.

Artwork by Dimitra Milan

 

How to Get Those Haters to Help You Grow

We all have a voice in our head that is critical, judgmental, and disapproving of ourselves. Rarely does it ever champion you onward or applaud you for good work. Typically it sounds like the voice of one of your biggest haters.
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Now, that voice can be soft and it can be loud and sometimes we choose not to listen.  We may hear it in specific situations (triggers) or with specific people. Sometimes, however, that inner voice is constantly giving us unsolicited commentary and incessant chatter, becoming part of what Buddhists would call our Monkey Mind.
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When you begin to listen to your inner critic what you will hear is a voice with messages composed of ideas, beliefs, emotions, and thoughts that try to manage your experience by telling you when we’re doing something right or wrong.
But this morning, I had an idea. It was inspired by a book that I am reading, Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul.
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The inner critic is acquired and internalized as young children and as we grow, and it continues to develop throughout our lives. Read more on GoodTherapy.org.
My idea involved listening to my inner critic because I wondered if she has some valuable things to share. Not everything, but maybe some pearls of wisdom to help me grow.
For example –
Voice of my inner critic (sometimes my mother, father or grandmother):
You are rushing and your work is so sloppy.
My interpretation:    Maybe I should slow down and pay attention to the details?
My inner critic (my daughter Aja):
Your voice is so annoying. You sound so bossy and bitchy.
Translate to:     Why don’t I slow my speech and soften my tone a bit so others are more responsive?
Inner Critic (my bat-shit crazy ex): You’re too serious and intense for people. You’re no fun.
Well, how about I lighten up a bit and stop trying to control everything around me?
Listening doesn’t mean agreeing with what the critic says all the time. Accepting it doesn’t mean taking on its criticism. Embracing it doesn’t mean believing that its judgments are fair or accurate.
grow
Art by @brookeshaden

Opportunities to Seize vs. Temptations to Resist

Analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.

 

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What if I make the wrong one?

Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?” 
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?” 
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?

– Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

 

The phenomenon of overchoice occurs when many equivalent choices are available.  Examples of overchoice include college options, career options, and prospective romantic relationships.  Many increased by technology. In today’s world, we have easy access to more of everything at our fingertips.

Overcoming That Overwhelming Feeling

It helps to remember your final destination. Where have you set your sites? Your goals?

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Recalling your dreams helps to distinguish between an opportunity to be seized and a temptation to be resisted.

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“If you haven’t the strength to impose your own terms upon life, then you must accept the terms it offers you.”

 

Featured image by  Remedios

Surreal Horses

Girl with Binoculars by Bernie Fuchs

Why Keeping an Open Mind and Heart is The Healthiest Thing You Can Do

Having had my fair share of stressful and painful experiences, I am intrigued by studies that explain how negative emotions manifest as physical pain in our bodies. I am specifically interested in the role of stress and the condition of our heart because even though our heart governs most of our decision making, we truly take for granted one of the most magnificent masterpieces of creation.

Negative Emotions

 

A New Type of Heart Attack in this article from Harvard’s Heart Health Newsletter.

Most heart attacks are due to coronary arteries being blocked by blood clots that form when plaques of cholesterol rupture. The lack of blood flow through the blocked arteries results in heart muscle dying — hence the name “heart attack.”

But over the past few years, physicians have come to recognize and better understand another form of heart attack. This unusual type of heart attack does not involve rupturing plaques or blocked blood vessels. It is called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or stress cardiomyopathy. Japanese doctors, who were the first to describe this condition, named it “takotsubo” because during this disorder, the heart takes on a distinctive shape that resembles a Japanese pot used to trap an octopus. The disorder was commonly believed to be caused by sudden emotional stress, such as the death of a child, and to be far less harmful than a typical heart attack. For that reason, some had also labeled this condition “broken-heart syndrome.”

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Purifying Your Heart

In the yogic tradition, so-called heart blockages are caused by unfinished and unprocessed emotions. They call this energy, Samskara, which in Sanskrit means “impression”. You know, the things that make either a good impression or bad on us that we can’t seem to get “over” – those things that cause our mind to ruminate on horrible or remarkable experiences that have happened to us. The heart and mind playing an important role in making us feel inspired and loving or apathetic and victimized.

Lao

Our heart is an instrument made of extremely subtle energy that few of us come to really appreciate. The heart’s energy flow (referred to as Shakti, Spirit or Chi) plays a very important part of our lives and experiences.

The heart controls our energy by closing and opening. For example, you can experience great feelings of love for someone until they say something negative towards you. Vascilating between open-hearted and closed. For deeper reading on The Secrets of The Spiritual Heart, a chapter of the book I have now read five times, I recommend The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer.

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So science is also demonstrating that volatile emotions like anger and hostility are bad for heart health. But studies have shown that some of the quieter emotions can be just as toxic and damaging.

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“Study after study has shown that people who feel lonely, depressed, and isolated are many times more likely to get sick and die prematurely – not only of heart disease but from virtually all causes – than those who have a sense of connection, love and community,” Dean Ornish, MD, tells WebMD.

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Author Michael Singer explains that we have spent a lifetime of storing up unresolved conflicts which can lead to a heart that is shut down and closed for business. But all is not lost. We have a choice.

We can simply allow the experiences of life, whatever we label as good and/or bad — from falling madly in love to experiencing the death of a loved one —  yes, just simply allow those experiences to move right through us.

Will they be joyful and painful experiences? Yes. But the clinging and resisting and wrestling you do with these emotions will no longer distract you from living fully in the moment with an open mind and heart.

The eyes are useless when the mind is blind.

Art by Turkish artist and graphic designer Aykut Aydogdu, based in Istanbul.

The indomitable will of our soul burns on even during the downward spiral of our destiny.

 

Emotions Over Thoughts and A Softer Way to Communicate

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