Living Life With More Meaning

Life becomes lived when you pay respect to the way it moves you. By Madeline Johnson

The first time I heard the phrase “to hold space” for someone was with Barnaby Ruhe.  Ruhe received his doctorate in shamanism and art practice, an interdisciplinary effort combining psychology, anthropology, art history, phenomenology and art studio action.  It was a Sunday afternoon at his loft at 55 Bethune street where he held power animal and soul retrieval circles.

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The mere act of creating and holding space for yourself and another can actually open your hearts to immense healing and possibilities.  Think about it, when was the last time you felt like you really thought someone was holding space for you, that they were deeply and without an ounce of judgment there for you? Or how about yourself? Do you have a practice of  holding space for yourself? When was the last time you felt like you were really taking time to listen to your heart? Paying attention to your life as if it was permeating your soul.

I don’t know about you but I can’t recall the last time I felt like I let myself linger in the moment.  I do the contrary. I jump from one second to the next, always busy, always after a goal. Now life seems to be flying by fast, the weeks rushing into months and blending into years.  Frankly, I want to reverse that. I want life to slooooooowwwww down, so I can really dig in.

They say that time is relative to the degree of attention you pay to your life.

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It was one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Rob Bell, who brought up two very fresh ways of approaching life, new ways of experiencing life (for me anyway), that helped me think about how to slow life down, to savor each moment and to give my life more meaning.

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Paying Witness to Your Life & Processing The Moment

The first approach is about taking time to observe our lives and the lives of others. To non-anxiously, without any judgement, pay witness to the things that are happening to us.

So often, when asked for advice from others, I am the one to quickly recommend what everyone needs to do next.  It starts like this – I will receive a call, a text or an email from a friend or family member to let me know what is happening with their lives. Typically it is about a problem that occurred. Someone offended them, something happened that got them really angry. They are overwhelmed with this and that. They are really stressed. They have reached out to me as a life line.

So, what do I do? Or what did the old me do?   I would quickly jump into solution-mode. “First you have to do this, then you do that and then all will be good.” I would charge in with answers instead of taking a moment to observe what they or I am actually feeling in the moment.  I did not take the time to sit and process the moment with them.  Sometimes that is all we need to do. We need to hold space for someone we love to process their lives.

Rob Bell explains it so well in this podcast “Is this Your First Accident?” Sometimes, we just need to process our lives, so we understand the meaning.  After listening to this podcast, I recognized that when I charge in with solutions, I am just trying to take control, to apply something I have learned to “repair” a problem. What is wrong with this approach? Nothing really, except that it is a limiting and sloppy and dare I say, disrespectful to yourself and others. Life becomes lived when you pay respect to the way it moves you. You need room and others to help you feel your way through the pain.

Taking a Thoughtful Pause

 

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The second podcast from Rob Bell that I recommend you list to is That Pause.  Life is about what we learn when we become still and aware of the depths of each moment. When we slow down just a bit, we are placing our energies in a wider horizon of possibilities. We pause so we can create space for larger more divine energies to fill us up.

Featured Artist

Aykut Aydogdu

Best Use of Your Super Powers

You have super powers. You do. We all do.

You can choose to ignore your super powers and let them got to waste, or you can ignite them today and do some good in the world. We need more goodness.

Super Power #1 Your Imagination

Activating your imagination is a super blessing. We can create something that wasn’t there before, even if it’s only in our minds. Use your imagination to create beautiful things.

Super Power #2 Your Impactful Connection

You connect with life through reaching out. You can touch another with words, thoughts and prayer or with your hands and your body.  Use your ability to touch and connect to send loving kindness to the world. We need more of that. Less critics and more lovers. A hug is a great super power tool. Hug more people today.

Super Power #3 Your Smile

Another wonderful connector. A smile can light up a whole room. I know mine does. Smile today and turn on the love light in everyone you meet. Your smile is a reminder to everyone to remember, it’s all okay.

Super Power #4 Your Words

They are powerful. The words we choose have a remarkable way of bringing goodness out in the world.  Choose your words wisely. Let them encourage someone today.

Super Power #5 Your Thoughts

Your thoughts help you navigate the world. Where do you want to go next? What is your purpose today? Guard your thoughts. Think better. Clearer. Smarter.

“To lead a free life, a person must separate him/herself from negative imprinting and remain open and vulnerable,”

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Featured Artist

https://www.instagram.com/anotherbel/

 

Collect Moments, Not Things

 Thoughts today on creating awesome experiences. Memorable ones – like the time my husband and I took our four daughters on an 18-day bareboat charter around the British and US Virgin Islands. They were ages 8, 6 and the twins 4 years old. They were young and fun.

The Future of Travel

Just how close do you think virtual reality arm chair travel can get to replicating a real barefoot beach combing, dolphin swimming, colada sipping  vacation for you?

Imagine all the travel pleasures without the annoying TSA security check points, baggage claim blunders and long exhausting lines.

While I still think there is plenty of reason to travel  IRL (in real life), like new friends to make, dishes to try, terrain to hike and air to breathe, I can also imagine enhancing your weekends with even more jet-setting and globe hopping in the comfort of your own cozy family room.

A Virtual Bucket List 

What an amazing gift a virtual reality vacation would be for my housebound mom and dad, who are too ill to travel, but can simulate the relaxation and adventure of a vacation while checking off cherished places on their bucket list.

I am fascinated by the future of virtual reality travel. Are you? 

travel-quote-3“By its very definition, virtual reality is a simulation of being somewhere different, and if you’re in need of an immediate break from your current reality, stepping into a virtual one in a matter of moments is the ultimate form of escapism.” – read more about Occulus Rift and how technology will take you anywhere with 360 degree video experiences  here


The British Columbia tourism bureau filmed this virtual reality video to lure in vacationers –here

To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls.”  Rolf Potts, Author of Vagabonding.

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Read: Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

Travel Tips, Trends and Super Hacks

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This post includes a few tips, tricks and trends to help you travel, wander and move about a bit easier and healthier.

Napcabs at the Airport – as long as they are maintained and sanitized, I am all in for a moment of quiet meditation at JFK.

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Smartphone Hotel Keys – This can’t happen soon enough. How many times have you had to return to the front desk with a plastic card key that just didn’t turn that tiny light green?? Now available at select Hilton Hotels.

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A few more travel tips . . .

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JetLag Drinks

1Above creates drinks that will help people avoid jet lag. The brand’s products are available in refillable bottles and concentrates, which help to feed the body with six electrolytes and six essential vitamins to help the body naturally release energy. Available on Amazon JetLag Drink

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LinkNYC is the ambitious plan to replace all of New York’s obsolete phone booths with Wi-Fi-broadcasting towers.

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and more travel hacks. . .3

My favorite Umbrella ever – covers you and never blows out in gusty Manhattan storms.

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Available here. . .  Totes Luggage Bubble Umbrella, Clear

And for sunnier days and warmer seasons – an awesome idea. Free public sunscreen. This summer the city of Boston installed sunscreen dispensaries at no cost to taxpayers, thanks to skin cancer organizations like the Melanoma Foundation of New England and Make Big Change.

 

 

 

 

Happy in Your Head

Where-the-Wild-Things-Are-002One of the best pieces of advice I ever received. . . .

See it as it is, never bigger than it is.

Don’t over dramatize. It rarely makes anything better and usually much, much worse.

It’s similar to what the Buddha man said about the second arrow.

weathervanes-scroll-graphicsfairy010The Buddha once asked a student, “If a person is struck by an arrow, is it painful?” The student replied, “It is.” The Buddha then asked, “If the person is struck by a second arrow, is that even more painful?” The student replied again, “It is.” The Buddha then explained, “In life, we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. The second arrow is optional.”

As long as we are alive, we can expect painful experiences- the first arrow. To condemn, judge, criticize, hate, or deny the first arrow is like being struck by a second arrow. Many times the first arrow is out of our control, but the arrow of reactivity is not.

plot twistLightening up

I don’t know about you, but for me things are getting way too serious. It’s time to re-imagine a more playful attitude towards everything.

huvr-hoverboardFloating through life gracefully

As I remember to lighten up, I want to take it a step further and suggest we learn to laugh at ourselves and our situations. Laughter has been proven to improve relationships, elevate moods, decrease stress levels and enhance creativity. So why the hell aren’t we laughing a bit more?

A sense of humor is the key to resilience. It helps you take hardships in stride, weather disappointment, and bounce back from adversity and loss.

Humor—free of hurtful sarcasm or ridicule—neutralizes conflict. We can all use a little less conflict. Agree?

  • It instantly eases tension and allows you to reconnect and regain perspective.
  • Shared laughter and play helps you break free from rigid ways of thinking and behaving, allowing you to see the problem in a new way and find a creative solution.
  • We hear things differently, become less defensive and can tolerate learning things about ourselves that we otherwise might find unpleasant or even painful.
  • Laughter opens us up, freeing us to express what we truly feel and allowing our deep, genuine emotions to rise to the surface.

Play is an attitude of the heart. Some ideas I found for today.

  • Create something without the thought of succeeding or winning. Art for art’s sake. Kind of like my own mini Burning Man.
  • Do something spontaneous, even if for a brief moment.
  • Make up nicknames for your friends and family in your phone -add their photos.
  • Collect funny books that can make you laugh. Check out –

Creepiosity: A Hilarious Guide to the Unintentionally Creepy and Tim Kreider’s We Learn Nothing: Essays

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Watch this short video:  How to be Alone  

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The Powerful Practice of Mindfulness

morningWith mindfulness we live in the present moment. This is not, however, where most of us currently spend a lot of time. We topple forward into the future and worry about the next day or month or year. We think about what happened yesterday or last week or five years ago. We plan a vacation for months, then when we’re finally lounging on the beach, our mind drifts off to the problems we left at home. The habit of being a little (or a lot) ahead of ourselves, living in the past, or lost in fantasy, extracts an enormous price: We miss out on our life.

Quotes from a book I am reading now.

Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness

If you are in the US and taking some time off for Labor Day, I truly hope you enjoy a mindful, peaceful and fun-filled three-day weekend.

Sensing Awe in the AWEdinary

sun riseIf you are paying attention you can find truth and inspiration anywhere and everywhere, in the most ordinary things and experiences in life.
To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower – Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour. 
~ William Blake

Study – The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake

What passes for spectacular and awesome in today’s culture is mostly synthetic and artificial – most experiences fading like fireworks in a night sky.
Feeling Awesome
Awe is not a function of the brain. Awe is a feeling that comes from that mysterious place deep within the heart and soul. Awe isn’t a product of thought. Rather, awe arises from the gap between our thoughts. There, we connect with that which is beyond description and understanding – something that can only be felt – something that can be shared, but not explained. Read more awesome thoughts here
“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” – Marcus Aurelius
Read his philosophy here

Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions)

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Profound truths are in the anthropological field notes of life.  The sweet honey fragrance of pink plumeria aromatizing along my pre-dawn morning walk.  The salty, slightly cooler fresh air blowing through my hair from the Gulf of Mexico. The nervous scurrying about of the hard shell blue crab across the inter coastal dock.
Life’s Field Notes
When searching for awe in the ordinary, I study life like an anthropologist. Ethnographers engage in participant observation in order to gain insight into cultural practices and phenomena. To facilitate this process, ethnographers must learn how to take useful and reliable notes regarding the details of life in their research contexts. My journals may include –
  1. Date, time, and place of observation
  2. Specific facts, numbers, details of what happens at the site
  3. Sensory impressions: sights, sounds, textures, smells, taste
  4. Personal responses to the fact of recording fieldnotes
  5. Specific words, phrases, summaries of conversations, and insider language
  6. Questions about people or behaviors at the site for future investigation
  7. Page numbers to help keep observations in order
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The Blue Crab as Spirit Animal
Time to come out of your shell and be yourself. Stop hiding. He is reminding you that not all paths lead directly to your personal goals. Sometimes a sideways approach is necessary. Shift your focus to what is all around you because your inner senses are trying to guide you through an easier way. Alternatively crab can be reminding you that community is vital for growth, however equally important is a time of introspective seclusion. Know when to withdraw and discern what is right for you.
Crab can also be letting you know that it is important to fuel your curiosity on all levels. Exploration of the world around you leads to discovering new horizons and a vibrant life.

Biking through Bali and The Future of Travel through Space and Mind

 

baliI am currently researching and planning a trip to visit the best of Bali. I want to find the less traveled, secret and sacred places.  Oh what an adventure this will be.  95-miles-wide and located in the Indian Ocean, Bali is a part of the Indonesian archipelago known as the Lesser Sunda Islands north of Western Australia. I am sure one of the highlights of this trip with be a bike tour through the bamboo forests of Bali and have found Bali Countryside  offering what looks like amazing tours.

The Future of  Space Travel

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In the meantime, I have been pondering the potential of space and mind travel – the last two frontiers of exploration. I’m currently reading and recommending Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. If you are interested at all in space exploration, than I believe you will be fascinated by his mission to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. For up to the moment news on his progress, follow space exploration @elonmusk on Twitter

The Creative Possibilities of Mind Travel

I became very curious about the idea of  creative mind travel this morning after reading this quote from John O’Donoghue’s book Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
“No one else has access to the world you carry around within yourself; you are its custodian and entrance. No one else can see the world the way you see it. No one else can feel your life the way you feel it.”

Dance Trance, Strobbing Lights and Whirling Dervishes

derviches_tourneurs___whirling_dervishes_by_baleineau-d5lp1eyAll travel and stories start with an idea in our minds –  in the inner vast space of potential, limitless creativity. Now imagine taking self-exploration to the next level – tripping if you will, sans drugs, for mind expansion.

This is not a new idea at all. Psychologists and neuroscientists have been experimenting with stroboscopic lighting techniques to activate the pineal gland which in turn produces visions not unlike a psychedelic trip.

Entering a dance trance  have had many throughout time traveling into the spirit world. Native cultures such as the Australian Aborigines, African tribespeople, Sufis and American Indians have utilized the power of dance to make contact with the spirits as they enter a world of vivid color and surreal architecture and archetypes.

Those that practice insight meditation have reported experiencing hallucinations. From simple shapes and colors such as one might see on a low LSD dose to full on “out of body” experiences where entire characters and environments are formed and interacted within.

Interested in touring the deep vastness of your mind without magic mushrooms, microdots or black sunshine? You can read more in this article How to Hallucinate Without Drugs.

Adventure as a Mindset

To embrace the unplanned experiences and to fully appreciate the spontaneity of life is to believe the next adventure is about 5 minutes  away.

On the Go Movement, Growing Good Habits and Elon Musk

 The Emotion & Motion Connection 

I stay in youth-mode – powered with an ageless mind – armed with a liberated, open, playful, light-hearted and free-spirited attitude. In youth-mode, I am limitless.

Not exercising each day makes me feel lethargic and depressed. Over the past decade I have noticed that all forms of daily, disciplined movement – walking, biking, running, yoga, Pilates -helps to soften the rigid suit of armor I call my body. Tense from head to toe, my body takes in and holds all of my emotions – memorized in the tightening of each muscle. The connection between my emotions and motion is fascinating to me. Stretching releases the ache and tightness I feel in my neck as I release the “weight of the world” from my shoulders. Sit-ups strengthen my lower back so I feel strong and “supported” as I feel my “intuition” making better “gut reactions” from strengthening from my core. Squats help tone my legs and my knees and joints give me more balanced, confident  “legs to stand on”.

Habits are Everything

We are an accumulation of everything we do daily. To see change in our lives we must change the way we go about our day. I use to wake up worried, now I turn the channel in my mind  to gratitude – literally forcing my mind to think about what I truly appreciate in my life from the moment I open my eyes.

Eat More Salt to Curb Sugar Cravings and eating healthier on the go.

My next good habit will be switching my taste buds to healthier on-the-go eating  – especially for days like today – when I have been on a golf cart buggy to the dock, boat to the mainland, taxi to the airport, plane to the States, and finally train to my car. I will shop, plan and make snacks to bring along – fresh vegetables, salads and home made health to eat along the way.

Elon Musk -Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future  by Ashlee Vance

I just started reading the incredibly fascinating life of Elon Musk. creator of the Tesla and now working on a way to have us living in outer space.

Where Mark Zuckerberg wants us sharing baby photos, Musk wants to save the human race from self-imposed or accidental annihilation. He’s wired like a scientist and suffers mental anguish at the sight of a factual error.

Love this thought from Musk – “It seems like one should make the world a better place, because the inverse makes no sense.”

Happiness is a Skill, The Dangers of Impoverished Thinking and Coconut Muscle Mylk

bikeCall it what you will, bliss, contentment, excitement, enthusiasm, well-being, enchantment — happiness is a skill, a skill that needs to be trained and practiced daily.  My mind and body training includes a daily ritual (beginning around 5:30 am) of gratitude prayer, stoic philosophy studies, meditation practice, workout training (running, hiking, biking, swimming and high intensity interval training) and learning something new every single day.

Self- experiment for the day – to pay very careful, non-judgmental attention to the contents of my consciousness in the present moment. To watch my mind – to bring my soul into harmony with itself, and not let my purpose be out of tune. Seneca wisdom Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics) Why all this mind watching? Because it’s a over-crowded zoo in there.

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Through the Lens of Thought
What lens are you using? The way we see and think about things is the most powerful force that shapes our lives. Any impoverished thoughts that are brought into our perception are like poison for the brain. This would be thinking that is deprived of richness or strength; thoughts that are limited or depleted.  Yeah, these thoughts have to go.   Inspired by the wisdom of  Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

 

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Biking Plantation Run & Coconut Muscle Mylk from COMO Parrot Cay

Rode the sweet four-mile palm-covered path to the fresh coconut plantation on Parrot Cay. Yes they grow their own and serve it up for breakfast daily.

Coconut Muscle Milk

This delicious drink speeds muscle recovery by reducing inflammation and replenishing electrolytes and nutrients with 1 banana, 1/2 cup young coconut water, 3 slices of coconut meat, a teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 cup of almond milk, handful of flax seeds, 3 dates and a few cocoa beans. Blend and replenish.