Silent, Still & Open

I am removing what I thought was protecting my heart from being broken one more time. So the love can flow through.  Madeline Johnson

Psychological resistance is like an invisible wall that stands between who we are and who we want to become.

I want to be open to receiving more love.

We resist because we fear. We construct our own invisible walls of impossibility. We do this in all aspects of our lives, but the wall that can be the biggest barrier to our growth is the one we put between us and our relationships.

We need each other to survive.

Whatever you call the wall,  the emotional armor, the fence and property line that separate our thoughts and feelings from those of other people. Sometimes these boundaries keep us locked in, stunted and unable to grow.

I’m taking down my wall, brick by brick.  It starts with me.

No more interrupting what others have to say or predicting what might happen. No looking for fault lines in their character, or scanning for clues for what might hurt me in the future.

No scanning for threats and no rushing to move things along.

Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I let go of unmet expectations and realize that a bit of stress is another way of showing I care.

I am not going to even try to control the conversation and I will remember it’s not only my time, it’s your time. It’s this moment.

Opening to love.

I am removing what I thought was protecting my heart from being broken one more time. So the love can flow through.

I won’t interrupt. I will stop ending moments before they have had a chance to begin.

I remain curious, looking for signs of love. Clues along the way.

Expecting more love from all.

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Featured Artist

Maki Itanami 

 

Sacred Moments

We can only have moments of enlightenment because if we were ever to truly realize how sacred life is. Madeline Johnson

Why can we only achieve flashes of enlightenment? Split seconds of divine inspiration and realization?

Because if we were ever to actually realize how sacred life is, our minds would be blown away beyond our wildest imaginations. Life, us, we are just too magnificently divine.

Everything in life sacred. Everything is spiritual. Everything is astonishing.

It’s so easy to glaze over advice to be more grateful for everything in your life because, well, everyone is on their gratitude game now. The “be thankful” message is blasted all over social media and it’s so easy to swipe up with a nod in agreement and then in the same moment complain about how horrible people can be, or how your life is just not good right now. You are just soooooo busy with this and that.

That moment is when you miss the mark. A sin really.

How Not to Gloss Over the Wonders of Being Grateful

When you examine what the act of appreciation does for you and how it transforms your life, you will see it is like a strong dose of pure magic. To be grateful for what you do have in life, down to the very breath you are taking right now (yes, that is a gift), is to paint a new reality right before your eyes.

It is a reminder that everything is sacred.

To acknowledge the gift of a home cooked meal, will turn those scrambled eggs and toast into a feast of nourishment that warms your heart.

To recognize a text from a friend who is just checking in, can take a lonely and “busy” moment to a new level of love and understanding.

To welcome the opportunity to help a family member in need of advice will  elevate your consciousness from “what an interruption” to a much more meaningful moment in your life.

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According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, regularly expressing gratitude (the quality of being thankful and readiness to show appreciation) literally changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps the gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier.

When you really think about it, the mere moment of appreciation is an act of pure alchemy. Golden.

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Featured Artist

@ruby_marylennox

 

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

 

Grand Thoughts of Peace & Love

“What if this hardship I think I have, is really an honor?”  Could it be that God believes I am so strong that I can can manage it all with Grace & Gratitude? 

When we take a moment to glimpse from a bird’s eye view of our lives, that is, to see it our lives through God’s Grand Plan, we see the bigger picture and we realize that we are here for just a short time. It is with this view that we can begin to see the things that really matter and our unique place in the world.

We take notice of how we connect to everyone and everything and how we are to love and respect all of life, including those we dislike.  Including those that turn against us and those that cause us harm. These people are our most important teachers.

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There is something incredibly freeing when we see that our purpose is to forgive everyone and everything that we believe that has hurt us. To forgive those who don’t know any better, including those who may or may not be on a spiritual path, those who are clinging to a smaller sense of life and those who are white knuckling their way in fear through their short journey here on planet earth.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you” (John 14:27)

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Honoring it all

There is something so uplifting and empowering about believing you can honor your life with courage instead of going about your days begrudgingly. Instead of complaining and moaning about your trials and tribulations. Like I do. Like we all do.  Let’s stop this and view life another way.

I awoke this morning with a revelation. “What if this hardship I think I have, this problem, this pain, is really an honor?”  Could it be that God believes I am so strong that I can can manage it all with Grace and Gratitude?

A new perspective when life seems so hard.

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Featured Art

Early Worm on Instagram

 

Lessons of Love & Effortless Action

What we receive and how much we receive is a sign of respect for the value we give. By Madeline Johnson

If love is to be my teacher, then I begin with the important questions.

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Let’s interrogate love a little, shall we?

What would love teach me about trust?

Life is a continuous act of healing and forgiveness.

What would love teach me about understanding myself?

I am a sacred miracle. A divine work of art. So are you.

What would love teach me about my work?

Create everything with loving intention and attention.

What would love teach me about feeling abundant?

What we receive and how much we receive is a sign of respect for the value we give.

What is love’s lesson about life?

Every thought, word and action is infused with the divine grace to heal all suffering.

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What would love say about letting go and surrendering to the divine?

Replace stress and struggle with a sense of living freely – with effortless action.

Wu Wei (pronounced ooo- way) is the early Chinese philosophy (Confucianism and Taoism) of effortless action. The art of not trying. We might understand it as a state of flow.

Do not try to be effortless.

Learn more here

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Featured Artist

Sergey Fett

 

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

 

Paying Attention To Our Lives

Try to loosen the grip on life. Stop white knuckling your way through the day. By Madeline Johnson

Life does not guarantee us time here. In an instant our lives may be altered in some way. In a moment, our trip may be over. Waste not a minute in worry.  It’s mind-blowing really . . . .

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In the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own history, there has never been another day just like today, and there never will be another just like it again. Today is the point to which all your yesterdays have been leading since the hour of your birth.

It is the point from which all of your tomorrows will proceed until the hour of your death. If you were aware of how precious today is, you could hardly live through it.  Unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all.

Frederick Buechner

Perhaps the most unifying theme throughout all of Buechner’s writings (pronounced “BEEKner”) is to “pay attention” because God is constantly at work in our everyday lives. A writer and theologian, his books are on my reading list and include Secrets in The Dark.

The message today – to remember how precious life is, how sacred this day is. I know I will make more time to enjoy, to relax, to release myself into everything I do.

I will loosen the grip, noticing how I hold on to things so tightly. In an effort to control, I white knuckle though my days. Now I soften the grip, so I may remain calm and let life be.

I will remember how supported I am. How much love and encouragement surrounds me and how it lifts my heart and helps me propel forward.

The entire universe opening up to give me – giving me more time to focus on what is important. To do what I cherish.

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I will know without a doubt that God is within me, loving me and guiding me all the way.

I know that my intelligence is something that I can trust. That clarity comes from tapping into my moral compass – doing what is right and best not for just me but for all.

And if I become anxious, concerned, if I don’t know something, I will go to the wisest ones I know, to seek and to learn.

I will remain open so God can show me what I may be overlooking,  because . . .

Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eyes.

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Read Life’s Little Instruction Book

Featured Artist

@lesslightmorebright on Instagram

Removing What Isn’t Love

At any given moment you can give up your old stories of what love is or isn’t and redefine the way you feel. By Madeline Johnson

What do I know about love? Never said. No, no. no. Dad demanded respect and mom was angry at dad.  With all that yelling and screaming, it felt as if love was too weak walk the halls of our home.  Love was too soft for stomping feet, midnight tears and hands that punched the sky.

It wasn’t mentioned, or even whispered, because it wasn’t important. Not when there was work to do, bills to pay and good grades to impress. There was struggle to be had.

Love might have been dad working to provide and mom cleaning house and making meals.

There was a movie. Love Story. It was about a man and a woman and the woman was dying of cancer. Love was sad.

Something you lose.

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The first time I felt something like love was when dad brought me home a puppy. The cutest puppy in the world. That felt like joy, comfort, happiness, until I realized that someday I wouldn’t have him anymore, because he’d die.

Because love is something you lose.

The second time I felt love was on Easter. Grandpa brought me a huge milk chocolate  bunny. It was almost a foot high and I sat on the floor near the bed, hiding and ate it all before dinner. I wanted that love safe, in my belly.

Because love is something that you might lose.

What did I learn about love?

Love was something that went missing. It went upstairs to the bedroom and it moaned and groaned from the pain.

Love was still in a casket. Death unexplained. I was too young to understand.

Love was painful. It hurt like hell.

And love was embarrassing. Thanks to you Bob.  Love was everyone knowing about the cum all over your winter coat.

Love was shameful.

Love was losing him to a girl with big breasts. Love was carving my initials in my wrist. Love still knew that I did exist.

Then love became an obsession. It was to be chased. Love became a distant feeling that I wanted to grasp and hold and cling to.

But it kept running from me.

Love broke my heart wide open.

Love was fragile, something I wasn’t worthy of.

Now, I remove all of what wasn’t love, to something much more defined by me.

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Tell me, what do you know about love?

 

Featured Artist

@city_scum

Believing in Ourselves & Receiving Love

Start asking yourself “How would the person I’d like to be, do the things I am about to do?” By Madeline Johnson

I have become obsessed with understanding all of the ways I stop myself from believing in myself and why I have such a difficult time receiving love from others. I think the two are connected some how and I am on a quest to know how I can swim through that undercurrent of self-doubt and vulnerability that I feel each day.

Low self-confidence can feel like a life sentence, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  I believe that self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered–just like any other skill.

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Why don’t I believe in myself? Well, I actually do, to a certain extent, but for some reason, I get to a certain level of confidence and then I tense up, I can’t let go – I can’t seem to grow into more of who I can be.

I am not imagining this, for it is real and it is my challenge. I know somewhere deep inside that I am capable of many great things, but I have blocks to believing that I am capable, worthy and deserving of love from myself and others.  I honestly want to remove these blockages, so I can upgrade my level of confidence and move forward to become a more powerful version of myself. Not just for me, but for my work and for everyone I encounter.

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It was a healer, a shaman from Columbia, his name Jesús, who I let examine my heart during a healing ritual. It was pretty trippy because I went back to a vision of myself living as a shaman in an ancient Mayan village. Jesús told me I must learn to believe in myself. He asked me over and over, why don’t you? why don’t you believe in you?  Why don’t I believe that I am much stronger than I think I am?

More recently, I noticed that I have blockages to receiving love.  It was during a spiritual session at Casa Mana Bliss, when our guide was taking our group through a guided meditation of giving out and receiving love and compassion –  while doing gamma breath work with diamond mudras and immersed in a beautiful symphony of sound bath therapy.  This was one of the most creative sessions that I have experimented with – and I have been to many a healer, shaman and retreat. It is fascinating to work with people who are attempting to shift your way of thinking, who are trying to help the world expand their consciousness.

I applaud anyone attempting to do this.  It is not easy.

Now while the meditation was a beautiful experience, what I really took away was a very important lesson. I was very aware that I had a difficult time taking in that love and compassion for myself.  No problem giving it out – but an inability to breathe it in like I want to.

Wait a minute, you lost me, what the hell is gamma breath work?

Gamma Breathing is meant to upgrade your brain processing power and change your state of breathing. It is a great way to get out of a funky mood.

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So far I have concluded that in order to believe in myself more, I most do more.  I must be willing to test, experiment, and try new things even when I feel uncertain that they will work or that I can do them.

The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you.” –William Jennings Bryan

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If you are working towards becoming a better version of yourself, than perhaps you should start asking yourself “How would the person I’d like to be, do the things I am about to do?”

Watch: TedX “How To Believe In Yourself

Read How facing discomfort can help you believe in yourself @zenhabits

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Featured Artwork

Julia Lillard on Instagram @julialillardart

 

In Search of A More Peaceful Existence

Enough with the busy, busy, busy going nowhere fast. Let’s find the time to do some deeper work. By Madeline Johnson

Each year, the Institute for Economics and Peace releases the Global Peace Index. This is a study of 163 independent nations and territories around the world that uses indicators to determine which nations are the most dangerous, as well as which are the most peaceful. At the top of this list is Iceland. This isn’t a surprise, as this nation has taken the top spot for 10 years in a row. Features that stand out in this country that make it the most peaceful in the world is low crime rates and “non-existent” tension among the economic classes. My husband says it’s because very few people live there.

Why am I searching for the most peaceful places in the world?

I am in search of stillness, peace and more time for me. A place where I can savor the day and not feel engulfed by the competitive madness and ongoing consumption.

It Takes Time To Be Better

You see, when you set out to improve your life, to be a better person, you take on the responsibility of owning your actions, behavior, thoughts, words and reactions to others. This process invites you to continually observe yourself and treat your life like an experiment. You are the lab rat.  This self-inventory and reflection takes time and deep thought. So most of us who claim we don’t have that extra time to focus on ourselves, are advised to get up earlier. Yes, rise up at 5:00 am so you can have an hour or so to yourself. Time to journal, meditate, pray and contemplate your existence without a flurry of text messages or email requests disrupting your concentration.

Now the rest of the day is spent showering, eating, commuting, emailing, talking, working, writing, waiting in line, food prepping, laundering, shopping, and the list goes on.  . .

I ask you, what kind of world do we live in that we are told just 10 minutes a day of meditation and a few yoga breaths and stretches is all we need to feel better?

Enough with the busy, busy, busy going nowhere fast.

Let’s find the time to do some deeper work. Some unraveling of our emotions, resting of our souls, listening to our hearts, feeling our emotions, basking in our spirit and rising to our light.

 

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Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys.

-Rita Schiano

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Featured Art

Kulinovic Marko on Instagram