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)

 plumeria
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
 crab
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

spacex

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.

Mastering Your Mind with Charlie Bradford Part 3

 

enlightenmentI started this blog to connect with brilliant thinkers and doers like yourself with the intention of making new friends from all around the world. It’s been a little over  a month and I am excited to say, that it’s working. I am inspired by what I am reading and learning from so many of you.

I recently discovered, thinker, writer and modern day philosopher,  Charlie Bradford, author of Ensouling Potential. If you haven’t read Charlie’s work, I highly recommend you do. He is an authentic and insightful explorer of life and the bigger questions about our existence. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @CharlieBrad4ord

Why do you think people are attracted to negative conversation and news on mainstream media?

The answer to your 3rd Question:

Great question. People get a kick out of negative news primarily because it serves as a means to justify their own circumstances. If they see someone on the news, or hear about someone who’s in a worse situation than they’re in; they’re more likely to see their own life as a blessing. Which on the surface doesn’t sound like a problem; but this is a subtle form of psychological warfare, because the person who believes their life is fine just the way it is, because they’ve seen worse, will actually stop growing and unfolding their potential. Thus they are more inclined to settle for less in the presence of the greater possibilities that are out there, simply because they do not want to end up like the person they just saw on the news. Thus this negative information can condition the sub-conscious mind into a state of hopelessness, anxiety and general fear of the outside world. The world is not an evil, negative place. The Earth is in fact a beautiful garden that facilitates the unfoldment of all life, and anyone who has courage enough to take back their power from negative programming, will see the greater wonders that life has to offer.

Whats Really Going on with the World

The second thing is this: People want certainty. They want to know exactly what’s happening in the world. But here’s the bigger picture – everything is happening in the world. Anything that can happen, will happen, and is happening each and everyday. Wow, what a relief! Just by knowing this can clear our mental and emotional sinuses. The only thing mainstream media can do, is report on a tiny fraction of what’s going on in the world, because they could never cover what’s really going on because that would be an impossible task. Once we realize this fact, we can begin to wean ourselves away from the need to be informed by an institution that propagates provocative sound-bites that leave most people lost and afraid.

Cultivating an Improved Attitude

And lastly, we give away our limited daily-resources, our will power – every time we partake in such negative conversation and commotion. Most of the people who consume this kind of media, are not solution orientated. They’re happy to point the finger at who’s to blame, but they have no interest outside their own sphere of influence to offer any constructive means of correction.

The greatest investment we can make as individuals – is to cultivate a positive attitude. Positivity builds, negativity breaks down. If we nourish the mind, it remains useful, if we abuse it and feed it mental-junk, then it will lead us to our own destruction. We’re as free as our thoughts permits us to be. It’s that simple. We need to have a clear vision of what it is we want to experience in this life. If our mental barriers are not strong enough, and we allow negativity to creep into our greater vision – it’ll never become anything more than a vision. Personally, I have not participated in the news for almost six years now. In fact, I don’t even own a television. In realizing the bigger picture, I have been able to pull back from the miasma, and identify a greater truth that is to be found outside of the consensus reality. The further from negativity you get, the more beautiful your life becomes.

Free spirit

  I stay in youth-mode. Liberated, open, independent, playful, light-hearted and free-spirited. I let my imagination run wild. The world is my playground.

With a child-like curiosity and deep love for learning, I believe progress starts with restlessness and discontent. I am okay with feeling uncomfortable.  

I am engaged in newness and experimentation. In youth-mode I am limitless.

Dreaming Big, the Maldives and Shambala in Bali

bali-17-the-holy-water-15-728‘Man needs reckless courage to descend into the abyss of himself.” – Yeats

Somewhere along the line, over the course of a few decades – between paying the monthly mortgage, grinding through the 50 + hour work week, suffering through the daily three hour commute, sitting in front of a screen for eight to ten hours, my heart-felt dreams faded into the background and literally sailed off into the far-away sunset.  I’d forgotten how to dream. I became fearful of the “unknown”. I felt like I was leaning forward, tumbling into the fear of the future. 

No More Fear

Around this time last year, I reached a point. The point where my mind, body and spirit just said no to the manic attempts to run from my life and bury myself in work and possessions.

“A time comes when you know that you can no longer wallpaper your soul.”

This deep inner reflection takes rigorous daily practice, because if you are or were stuck like me, you need to unwind the tape and reverse back into your own true nature to discover the deepest natures of your fear. It’s a painful path and the self-delusion must cease to exist. Every excuse you make is nothing more than an attempt to justify why you are not doing what you truly dream.

Interesting side note: the phrase “do not be afraid” recurs 366 times in the Bible.  think about that.

What is truly important

After shining a flashlight in the face of fear I have discovered -what my heart really longs for is deep love, connections, peace-of-mind, serenity, calmness, security and freedom.

Now I know, one does not need to travel to find any of this, but re-igniting a sense of adventure  also helps set the course.

underwater-sculpure1So this is one of the reasons I yearn and plan to visit Bali and the Maldives. Yes they are on the dream bucket list and yes I am determined to visit, what I believe a place for a soul retrieval – a slice of nirvana – heaven on earth.

I’ve been inspired by others who have gone and have raved about the experience.

I’m just back from Como Shambhala Estate, and life has not been the same since. Spread out across the lip of the Ayung River Valley, about 10 kilometres from Ubud in Bali’s green hinterland, Como Shambhala is a silken, holistic health resort, one of the world’s finest, according to the arbiters of such places, a “Retreat for Change” by its own definition.

Bali and the Maldives. Mother nature provides the magic.

maldives-L-fzBFca

I would love to know, I am very curious, what does your heart long for?

A Sky Like Mind, Active Abs and The Art of Slow and Mindful Eating

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Have you thought about what pace feels right for you? At times I do have a need for speed and love the energy and creativity that feels supercharged in big cities like Manhattan. Right now, I feel the need to breath deeply, chill out and slow down to refocus. Not unplug, just down shift to first or maybe second gear.

Something clicked the minute I stepped off the plane at Providenciales. An assuring voice inside my head delivered a comforting message “a more intentional pace.” This slower island pace. Not the harried, brisk and hurried hustle of New York, but the more deliberate and intentional easiness, much like the gentle movement of the waves and soothing breezes of this island.  I am not describing a snail-like, creeping, lazy/boozy pace, but that of speaking, thinking, walking and working which is more conscious, considered and purposed. More thoughtful living. This is the pace for now.

And so it goes with meals, especially meals together. My memories of my youth bring me back to four hour dinners around the long outdoor communal table, under the grapevines, with my loud and excited extended Italian family. The never-ending conversations, the slow and relaxed experience of enjoying a meal together.

The Art of Slow and Mindful Eating begins with an intention to create an experience. Setting the mood, dimming the lights, selecting soft and slower music and smaller plates,  create an atmosphere for mindful eating.  Imagine setting a stage to enjoy and savor your meal. This mindful eating ritual can be extended to any meal – from breakfast to dinner. For more tips on mindful eating, check out Dara Rose, PhD, neuroscientist, foodist, author and the creator of Summer Tomato.

I start my meals by saying grace. Sometimes privately, sometimes with my family. Saying grace can transform a mere meal into an act of celebration, focus, and gratitude.

Listening to meditation talks from Tara Brach, I actually envisioned what she describes as “A Sky Like Mind“, a more expansive mind that allows me to open to the very healing, healthy and beautiful moment that is right now, this healing presence.  Tara’s podcasts and book, Radical Acceptance has really helped release the fear, worry and pain that stems from the mental swirl of anxious activity, the grasping and wanting that only proves to enslave my mind.

It is by meeting each moment throughout the day with radical acceptance for what ever is going on and holding those feelings that arise with a compassionate and open heart, a forgiving heart, this is feels like true freedom.

Reading
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Active Abs

With everything moving at a slower pace this week, I had the opportunity to try Pilates class for the first time. One of the slowest classes I have attended in a long time, a slight pick up from yoga, nothing about the Pilates Method is haphazard. The reason you need to concentrate so thoroughly is so you can be in control of every aspect of every moment.  The one reminder that I have walked away with today is Active Abs and focusing on my posture, especially when sitting at my desk for hours at end.  Two exercises to help you feel your abdominal muscles correctly.

Mastering Your Mind Part 2 with Charlie Bradford

enlightenmentI started this blog to connect with brilliant thinkers and doers like yourself with the intention of making new friends from all around the world. It’s been less than a month and I am excited to say, that it’s working. I am inspired by what I am reading and learning from so many of you.

I recently discovered, thinker, writer and modern day philosopher,  Charlie Bradford, author of Ensouling Potential. If you haven’t read Charlie’s work, I highly recommend you do. He is an authentic and insightful explorer of life and the bigger questions about our existence. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @CharlieBrad4ord

Charlie was kind enough to allow me to ask him a series of questions. Here, he reflects on my second one.

What authors, books and/or films have inspired you?

An important book for me, as it pertains to simplicity and minimalism, is ‘The Power of Less‘, by Leo Babauta. His book really helped me eliminate all of the non-essentials from my life, and adopt the minimalist lifestyle; which gave me tremendous clarity and a greater sense of inner-peace. This next book, in my opinion, is one of the best self-development books out there, ‘How I found Freedom in an Unfree World‘ by Harry Brown. Never before have I read a book that so clearly reveals the traps we all get ourselves into, and how we deny ourselves from living the life we know we’re capable of living.

For your reading and learning pleasure –

The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life

and How to Free Your Mind 
How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. –

On the more Spiritual and Esoteric level, I receive great benefit from studying the ancient wisdom teachings, such as ‘The Tao Te Ching’ by Lao Tzu, ‘The Dhammapada’ (the sayings of Buddha), and other Philosophical and Metaphysical teachings regarding the hidden aspects of life. I really love exploring deep knowledge. The recent philosopher, Alan Watts, also had a profound impact upon my developing mind, as well as the philosopher and writer, Manly P. Hall, who spoke a great deal about our greater capacities, and the importance of becoming a living symbol of all that is good and right.

On Writing

When I first got into writing, I had two books to draw inspiration from: ‘If you want to write’ by Brenda Ueland, and ‘Ensouling Language‘ by Stephen Harrod Buhner. The latter being a more non-conventional, free-spirited approach to writing. Both were very beneficial in helping me find my voice as a writer.

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit  and
Ensouling Language: On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life

and Film

In terms of films, there are so many to draw upon, The T.V series ‘Lost’ made a huge dent in my life back in the day. I was really attracted to the journey of self-discovery that each of the characters were going through, and how each of them had an unfolding destiny within them. Three films that have served as inspiration in recent times, have been: ‘The Shift: From ambition to meaning’ with Wayne Dyer, ‘Living Luminaries’, which presents many great teachers. And I’ve also found the new movie, ‘Lucy’ to be very illuminating, as I can see where that film is coming from. All of these films and many others have contributed in some way to the unfolding pattern of my life, and I’m sure the same can be said for many other people too.

What books and movies have influenced you along your path? I’d love to know. Please share on the comment thread below.

Blue moon beach

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It is one thing to read and listen to inspiring thoughts, another to put in the effort to practice them. So if life is made of precious moments than I am inspired to create moments that spark joy. To write a better story every day. To live with more intent.

Everything we do brings joy.

Brushing our teeth, cooking our breakfast, walking in the meditation hall — everything we do, every step, every breath should bring joy and happiness to us. Life is already full of suffering; we don’t need to create more. Read Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh: 365 days of practical, powerful teachings from the beloved Zen teacher mise en scène A beautiful blue moon beach picnic in Bayville, Long Island, New York.  A toast to another  long work week endured. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset this photo turned out to looking more like a painting with the VSCO Cam filter. serving up Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Recipe for a crisp coconut & lime shrimp and mango salad. chop and toss the following ingredients with olive oil 20 jumbo lime-soaked shrimp 2 ripe avocados 20 cherry tomatoes (quartered) 1 red onion 1 mango 2 red peppers toss with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil 1/2 cup of shredded coconut 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts Serve with sliced pumpernickel toast points sweetness honey drizzled figs & cold ripe organic cherries The sounds Listen – Astronauts, etc; Glass Animals, Crystal Fighters, Chet Faker, etc . . .

spotify:user:madelinemariejohnson:playlist:3rXEYCjemsQsmGJr0UM6lZ

The late night flick Holy Rollers – free on SnagFilms. I discovered this free indie film site via Tiny Buddha

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Photos processed with Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Creating Headspace, Vagabonding and Living Well

Beatiful-Beaches-World-03

Every day is its own kind of hectic. Filled with lists, work, frustration, chores, bills, etc.  And as much as I’d like to take a leave of absence, a few days off or dare I say, go on a “vacation”, right now I’m satisfied with stealing daily moments of downtime, right where I am.

Near future plans for travel include far off adventures to the Isle of Skye in Scotland; Bahia, Brazil; Angkor Wat, Cambodia;Koh Rong in the Gulf of Thailand; Palau in the Pacific . . . . .wild and natural places, near and far.

The mindset of a traveler.

I’m currently listening to the audio version of Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. More like a guide book for freeing your life, it’s not just about tactical advice on own to make room for your own travel adventures, it’s about adapting a new way of thinking, living, working and exploring the world.

A sample quote –

“Vagabonding is an attitude—a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word. Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend. It’s just an uncommon way of looking at life—a value adjustment from which action naturally follows. And, as much as anything, vagabonding is about time—our only real commodity—and how we choose to use it.”

Read

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

A Meditation Vacation

Oh how I look forward to the adventures ahead, but in the meantime, I keep my mind in a calm, relaxed and summer vacation-like state with meditation. I began practicing Vipassana meditation about three months ago for about 10 minutes a day. It’s not easy letting go of all the racing thoughts and anxious emotions, so I looked for a guide.

I started with the Headspace App.  It’s an app created by Andy, a zen-like surfer who teaches you how to meditate. It really is genius. The first 10 minute meditation has you focus just on breathing and I found it to be incredibly soothing.  Get Some Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day

Becoming aware of the mind’s power to incorporate moments of calm and peace, the type of relaxed inner calm you might get on a vacation can serve to reduce stress in just a few seconds. It’s like a road trip for the mind.

For mere living is not good, but living well is another thing altogether. Reflect on the quality of your life, not the quantity. – Seneca
Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)