Freeing My Mind

Retraining your brain, reforming your life. by Madeline Johnson

I am training my brain to replace my worries and fears with positive, grateful and loving thoughts.

Staying still. Noticing moments so holy, so beautiful, so sacred.

All day, I stay focused on emptying my mind and freeing my thoughts and clearing all negative emotion. It seems crazy, like I am talking to myself, and I am.  I just no longer want to be sad and struggling. There is no other way out. I want to connect.

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What a shame to have wasted all that time, thinking things that never came true. Unnecessary struggles. A stunning waste of headspace.

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I want to show up like an empty vessel to conversations, events and meetings. I don’t want to contribute my judgmental mind and ruin the potential of something potent.

This must be what they mean when they say get out of your own way. 

This is the most difficult thing I have done in my life, but the voice inside me tells me it must be done. Free my mind.

Read, Practice, Learn The Seven Day Mental Diet by Emmet Fox

 

Featured Artist

Ariel Katzir

 

What Love Requires

It is the act of loving that love requires. Love needs nurturing. Love needs attention. Love needs care. Love demands appreciation and respect. Love requires giving. Sometimes giving more than you take.  Without the execution of loving acts, love dies.

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“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.”  ―Erich Fromm

 

Featured Artist

Paulina Galka from Poland on Instagram

 

The Freedom of Discipline

Once this day is gone, once the sun has set, the day will be a memory. Let it be a good one.  By Madeline Johnson

Study and seek as I may, the only thing I know for certain is that I will never get this day back again. Once this day is gone, once the sun has set, the day will be a memory. Let it be a good one.

Am I doing my best in this moment right now. Am I paying attention to my life? Am I listening and learning? Are my actions reflecting my pure and bright mind?

You often hear people say you have to get out of your own way to improve. They’ll remind you to remove yourself from the problem. Or perhaps they will recommend you simply let it go. Surrender.

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The battle continues when you struggle  to hold on to that which is no longer here – what is gone – what no longer serves you. Let it go. And victory is had when you give up the fight and move forward with faith into the future. This tug of war is the essence of our challenge and the secret to our lives.

Don’t kid yourself and don’t listen to others that tell you to simply meditate. It really is a struggle to release yourself from the ever-controlling, powerful ego. The part of you that wants to control everything.  It is frustrating to remove the old speak from your mind.  It’s hard to do, but it is possible. With enough discipline and self-encouragement, you can steady yourself on the right path with the right thinking.

This spiritual journey is not all incense, crystals and dream catchers.

The path is not for the faint of heart.

Strong discipline is required.  It begins freeing and disciplining your mind.

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Featured Art

@psychedgallery on Instagram

Useful vs Useless Thoughts

Listening to negative thinking and unwanted thoughts is a pointless, time-consuming habit that does nothing but leave us stuck.  Madeline Johnson

What stops us from having a productive, peaceful mind, a mind that is fluid and lucid, a mind that is energized, capable and fully determined to reach our highest goals  is having a mind that is filled with resentful road blocks, self-destructive detours and cynical and suspicious beliefs.

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Listening to negative thinking and unwanted thoughts is a pointless, time-consuming habit that does nothing but leave us stuck.  But, when we are angry, when we are frustrated and when we have had enough, we can use that energy to fuel ourselves into something more. With the right attitude, we can take that victimizing rage and turn it into a powerful strain of strength to fuel to rocket us to a whole new level of powerful confidence.

I’m getting into the habit of replacing all useless thoughts for useful ones.

How do we know when a thought is useless?  We can simply ask – what good will this ruminating thought bring us? Will it bring us closer to harmony? to feeling good? Feeling empowered?  Or will it only frustrate and aggravate us even more?

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I am giving myself the permission to stop the worrying and self-pity.

And I am making great progress focusing on the productive, peacefulness and power of this present moment.

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Featured Artist

 

Kadambari Pathania

The Real Reason You Don’t Believe in Yourself

Pay attention. Catch myself in moments of self-destructing justification. Trust that I am not alone and God will help me along the way. Madeline Johnson

I finally understand why I have a hard time believing in myself.  It’s because I say one thing and do another.  I overpromise and under deliver and then justify my poor behavior based on some crazy cognitive distortion.  I am stuck in a continuous loop of self-sabotaging denial.  Oh for the perpetuation of anxious psychopathological states.  To believe in myself, I must keep the promises I make to myself. 

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The broken promise: No more wine at night. It’s mind- numbing sugar poison and wakes me up at 3:00 am. I will drink valerian root tea before bed instead.

The contradicting behavior:  Find myself pouring a second glass of Sauvignon by 10 pm.

The destructive justification: I need to relax this little monkey mind, wine does the trick, it’s white, only 90 calories a glass – it’s so important that I fall asleep already.

The broken promise: No more cheap clients and time-sucking work. It’s time to double down on building up my savings and getting ahead of debt. I promise myself that I won’t overload my schedule tomorrow and I will only accept projects that pay me what I am worth.

The contradicting behavior:   Then there I am, frustrated and annoyed, panting and racing to finish a lousy paying writing project, begrudgingly hunched over my 13″ lap top screen until 9 pm at night.

The destructive justification:  Fear sets in. The money grab.  Say yes to everything.  Jump on the work while I can.  You never know when the well will run dry. Be grateful for everything that comes my way. Take it and don’t be ungrateful.

The broken promise:  I swear to myself that I won’t mindlessly snack on junk food like calorie-packed, nutrient-deficient  milk chocolate raisins and tasteless chick pea crackers between lunch and dinner. I want to get down to fighting weight and I will count all incoming calories.

The contradicting behavior:  Hand in bag, candy smeared on the keyboard, while I stare at my MacBook Pro and wonder how to juggle all these crazy little poor-paying projects and get it all done by the end of the day.

The destructive justification:  I am so stressed, my brain needs energy. I am thinking so deeply. Doesn’t the brain consume most of my calories? Alright, maybe not most, but a lot of them. Oh, these calories are nothing. I’ll go to the pool and swim them off later. . .

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Pay attention to my life. Catch myself in moments of self-destructing justification. Trust that I am not alone and God will help me along the way.

Featured Artist

Yamandu Pazos on Instagram

 

 

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Have A Little Faith In Your Life Already

I’ll take faith over fear any day. Yes, one good thing about getting older and wiser is that you reach a certain point in your life where you can just say fuck to fear. You have gone through so much that you just know this is another thing that will pass. You have faith.

Yes it is true. You will get here, you will reach this point and you will fall in love with your fearlessness because you will realize that most of the things you are afraid of are only in your mind and most of the problems you think you have – will magically work themselves out – without our worry or intervention.

And, if you have grown spiritually, you let God do the heavy lifting. You will ask your co-pilot for some assistance during the turbulent times.

Other than that, sit back and relax. Enjoy your life. It’s short.

It’s not to say that you shouldn’t pay attention to your life. Please do.

Like if you have a deep gash that is spouting blood and needs medical attention right now or a flat tire on the highway during rush hour. These problems need immediate attention. The others, I promise, you will survive.

Just watch your life unfold.

98% of the time, the things you were worried about – those problems you think you had – they just disappeared. 

Here are the three most common things that happen.

  1. The person you’re really angry with does exactly what you feared they would do and nobody dies. And nobody cares. And nothing came of it. It came to pass.
  2. Somebody else takes care of it.
  3. You realize it wasn’t really a problem in the first place.

Problems.

There is always something to worry about, isn’t there?  It wouldn’t be life without the drama.  It seems like one problem fades away and then another just pops up. And we couldn’t of even predicted it.

You know what we should have instead of more problems?  We should have more fun.

You know what we should do with the unnecessary self-imposed drama? Ignore it. Just refuse it.

If You Ignore It, It Will Go Away.      If you have more fun, you’ll need less drama.

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References

Stop The Drama Train 6 Steps To A Drama Free Life

Avoid Life Dramas With These Tips

3 Simple Steps To Remove Drama From Your Life Immediately

 

Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele was an Austrian painter. A protégé of Gustav Klimt, Schiele was a major figurative painter of the early 20th century. His work is noted for its intensity and its raw sexuality, and the many self-portraits the artist produced, including naked self-portraits.

 

Uncomfortably Content With Our Lives

Now, as I mature, what I seek is to feel content, that is – to live in a state of peaceful happiness. Madeline Johnson

For as long as I can remember, from the time I was a young girl, I’ve always had a very strong aversion to being “comfortable”.  There was something foreign to me about the feeling of being okay with the way things were.  To be complacent was something I never wished to be.

To me, comfortable meant lazy. To feel comfortable felt like you didn’t want to put in the effort.  It meant not caring enough to make anything better. It meant going along with the way things were – not wanting to strive for better.

I believe that when we are comfortable, we don’t question anything. We’re not affected by life. We’re checked out.

I am thinking about how this aversion to feeling comfortable has effected my life. I am a seeker, a striver and person willing to adapt, change and remain open to something better.  It has been both a blessing and curse.  I am never satisfied with the way things are and unwilling to accept being comfortable, so this living feels uncomfortable and at times feels like a struggle. Nothing in my life is ever good enough – in my mind, it can always be better.

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Now, as I mature, what I seek is to feel content, that is – to live in a state of peaceful happiness. My desire is to feel tranquil, serene, satisfied and grateful.

My crown is in my heart, not on my head, Nor decked with diamond and Indian stones, Nor to be seen: My crown is called content:

A crown it is, that seldom kings enjoy. 

– William Shakespeare from King Henry VI

2.pngFeatured Art

Ruthbell on Instagram @rbellart

Read: The Difference Between Happy & Comfortable

Self-Honesty Changes Everything

In a world caught between human folly and Godly wonders therein lies the world of self-justifying excuses. By Madeline Johnson

In a world caught between human folly and Godly wonders therein lies the world of self-justifying excuses.

Yes we want to be our best, yes, we want to surrender to the Glory that is ours but are we willing to double down? Are we willing to do the things we must do to become the person we want to be?

Change don’t come easy. Do more truth.

Life is by its nature a transformative journey which unfolds in unforeseeable ways.

So why, when we want to change in a certain way, do we seek to defend poor choices and justify ridiculous ideas fueled by self-will and egocentric thinking?

One more glass of wine won’t bust my diet, I’m so stressed, I need something to calm me down.

He doesn’t need to know I spent that much, besides, I never treat myself.

She won’t remember I didn’t clean up that mess, besides, I work so hard all day.

This is the last purchase I’ll make this month, besides, I deserve it.

Selfjustification describes how, when we encounter a moment of cognitive dissonance (the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change), or a situation in which we behave inconsistently with our beliefs, that we tend to justify our behavior and deny any negative feedback associated with the consequences.

We stop lying to ourselves and get out of our own way when we start making change easier.

If you don’t want to cheat on your diet, and you are eating because you are stressed, meditate instead of medicate with food.

If you want to save money, but keep buying yet another small treat for yourself, then cut up the cards and hold a handful of cash for yourself to spend each week.

If you are too tired to clean up your mess, then don’t make such big ones. Use less and clean as you go.

Read here for 10 Smart Ways to Stop Lying to Yourself

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Marcos Guinoza

Opening Our Hearts Again

Trust will come again, in time, if you let it. Trust is built when we begin to understand the world around us.  Trust is a slow and steady practice of learning about the capacity of the world. Madeline Johnson

Opening our hearts again after a breakup can be an extremely difficult thing to do, if our hearts have smashed and cracked in two.

A betrayal can make you begin to think of all of the other betrayals that lie ahead of you.

A broken heart can feel like something inside of us has died. Like a part of our beautiful,  hopeful, genuine innocence has been stolen from our souls.

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So how does one fall in love with life again after having been burned and broken down. How does one remove the tainted perception of suspicion and cynicism.  How does one become free and fearless again?

How do we stop the deep pain and struggle that comes from the fear of being alone and abandoned?

How do we open up to risk being hurt once again.

Do we have a choice?

If we want to live a life worth living, and not one of despair, then we must try to trust again or we will continue on, with a life filled with wasted hours, waiting around preparing to be disappointed.

There is no other option but to open our hearts again.  Even when we know there are no guarantees. 

It’s a catch 22 really.  Trust is your relationship to the unknown and well you can’t control the unknown.

Maybe, just maybe, one way to make trusting easier, is to rewrite a new history about ourselves and the pain loved caused us. To see it and feel it all differently.

Trust will come again, in time, if you let it. Trust is built when we begin to understand the world around us.  Trust is a slow and steady practice of learning about the capacity of the world.

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Featured Artist

The Invisible Realm

 

A Deliberate Leap in a New Direction

There is something thrilling about second, third, fourth and fifth chances. Every minute of every day is a new opportunity to start over. Madeline Johnson

There is something thrilling about second, third, fourth and fifth chances. Hell, every minute of every day is a new opportunity to start over, clean the slate, tabla rasa. This one second of the 1,440 minutes you have today is the moment for momentum. It’s fresh, it’s new and it’s an opportunity to make life better.

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In an instant everything can change. Simply morph into something beautiful.

My inner wisdom tells me starting over begins with simplifying.  The older I get, the less I need. I am removing what no longer serves me. Clearing my mind of old thoughts, my desk of old mail and notes, discarding pens that no longer write well, beat up notebooks and calendars with dates gone by and mounds of scribbled on scraps of paper.

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Starting over by clearing the clutter, purging the non-purposeful. Removing the old and beginning with new – new tools, new hope and new faith.

It requires confidence to begin again. Confidence and clarity.

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Featured Art

Miles Johnston Art

From his bio. . .

I work primarily in graphite and oils, using the human form as a vehicle to attempt to process the intensity and profound strangeness of the collective human experience. The distortions and transformations my subjects undergo serve to represent the experience of our internal state during crucial moments in our lives. Instead of focusing on literal representations of the world, I depict the surreal and abstract qualities of our subjectivity with the goal of creating works with a deep emotional resonance.

I have a strong sense that art makes the world a better place, and I am giving all I can to be of service in this way. My work means whatever it means to you.