Flowing Not Forcing

Slow down and let your breath anchor you into this moment, where you remain at peace and with the pace of this universe.  By Madeline Johnson

Today is the day I let go.  I let go and for damn good reason. I let go of attaching myself to what I think I need and want. This is true freedom.

I have no control over when my last breath will be, so if I cannot control something as essential as my breath, which keeps me alive, who is to say I can control anything else.

Letting-go-gives-us-freedom-and-freedom-is-the-only-condition-for-happiness.-If-in-our-heart-we-still-cling-to-anything-anger-anxiety-or-possessions-we-cannot-be-free.-–-Thich-Nhat-Hanh

The only thing between me and death is my breath. I don’t want to catch my breath, I want to slow it down and let it anchor me into this moment, where I remain at peace and with the pace of this universe.

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Recommended Reading

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life – Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Dr. Wayne Dyer

The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

The Tao Te Ching is a series of meditations on the mysterious nature of the Tao–the Way, the guiding light, the very source of all existence. According to Lao Tzu (a name meaning “the old master”), the Tao is found where we would least expect it–not in the strong but in the weak; not in speech but in silence; not in doing but in “not-doing.”

Poems by Cristen Rodgers 

“Once I made it through the darkest and most difficult parts of my personal adventure, I came to realize that this magic key wasn’t meant just for me – it could be a gift to others as well.  I could use my pen to throw the doors wide open and allow the truths that had so profoundly improved my life to find their way to others who are stepping upon the path that I walked myself.”

Featured Artist

@miles_art on Instagram

Miles Johnston  was born in the UK in 1993. He spent the first few years of his early childhood living in Brunei, Borneo, something that he is sure had a major effect on him. The totally different environment gave him the intuition early on that there is no true ‘normal’.

Daily Victories and Mapping Out a Successful Day

BigMagicFinal_cropped-for-headerMost of you will agree that we can read, listen and study for hours upon end on how to enhance our minds and become 1% better versions of ourselves daily, but the greatest lessons in life are from actual experience. 

Mapping Out a Successful Day

I am a professional list maker and note taker. If I don’t write it down, my wild and creative crazy nine year old inner child takes over and the next thing you know I have 20 projects that I have begun but will probably never finish. This is one of the things that I struggle with daily, so I have decided that as I begin to declutter my life and brain, I will become more mindful of my approach and system to tackling the day.

Listening to an interview with one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of  Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear I love the way she handles the creative younger sister in her mind, the one who wants to do everything at once. She calms her down by devoting 15 minutes a day to letting her mind run free and capturing those creative thoughts on index cards and in notebooks – to do later on.   Listen to her interview with Rob Bell here.

BigMagicFinal

The Morning Journal, Master List and the Top 5 for the Day

As for prioritizing my daily to do list, I have a new approach. I have come to appreciate the wild and creative mind that I have as just an excitable version of me that wants it ALL and that is okay. I love that about me, I just know that I can’t do it ALL right now. So here are my steps/system to making it happen over time.

The Morning Journal

After a five minute gratitude journal moment, I write down my goals and tasks for the day/week/month in Evernote. I love how Evernote is accessible from everywhere – my phone, desktop, tablet and laptop and automatically syncs my lists so they are always updated.

Organizing My Tasks – The Master List

I organize these tasks in three categories: Personal, Work and Creating (writing, photography, making things). I dump everything I want to include in this master list – things like outlining my book, clients I have to call, learning more about social media strategy and tools like Periscope, etc.

My Daily Top Five

I then take a notebook from Muji (love this Japanese store) and write down the Top 5 tasks I will complete for the day – or start for the month. I am sure to include at least one thing from each area of my life to keep it balanced. I prioritize by sense of urgency and importance.

I also use Moleskin note books and Pinterest to help keep track of things that inspiring me throughout the day.

Muji-Notebooks-2

Recording Daily Activities

Try this with me.  I am now committed to taking an extra 90 seconds a day and recording not only what I have achieved, but how it felt to accomplish the task. This will include my personal and work achievements because I don’t believe any one of my clients is recording my wins. This job journal will come in handy later on when I decide to raise my fees and move towards more.

Organizing Systems

If you love journals and notebooks and have developed a system for creating tasks and documenting wins I would love to hear more about what works for you. Be sure to comment in the section below.

Moleskine_notebooks_GROUP Moleskine Classic Notebook, Extra Large, Plain, Black, Soft Cover (7.5 x 10) (Classic Notebooks)

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Not just for wandering the world, Midori Traveler’s Notebook Brown Leather (1, 1 LB)

Because inspiration can spark at any time. . .

353_Field_Notebook
Rite in the Rain – Green Tactical Note Book (All Weather)

On your road to greatness, the details make all the difference. Write them down.

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Leuchtturm Medium Notebook, Ruled, 5.75 x 8.25 inches (LBL11)

Lightening Up, Sparking Joy and Creating Love

heartAs I read many of your blogs I can see that we are on a similar path of questioning our lives, bettering ourselves and pursing our dreams. As I seek to accomplish the same, mine is a three part story and also an endless loop of lightening up, sparking joy and creating love. Creating a life that I love and that inspires the world.

Success So Far

Some of the less exciting details. In the past year I have lost 25 pounds, toned and strengthened my body, spent five to eight hours a day examining my values, thoughts and inner-conflicts while embracing a new lifestyle mindset of mindfulness and minimalism. All with the help of some of the best mentors, teachers, authors and leaders I can find.

laoFilled with Mad Love

Without going through the harrowing details of my personal backstory, the most important thing to know about me (that I think can help you) is that on July 18, 2014 I had had enough. Enough of everything, including –

  • The exhausting “weight of the world” that I thought I held.
  • Managing clients with entitled attitudes and bad business models.
  • Rushing through my days without a moment to breathe.
  • Feeling like a worn, torn and tired door mat.
  • Arguing and getting enraged at my family because I didn’t know how to ask for help.
  • Tackling daily task lists that ran the length of a full page of Staple’s copy paper.
  • Trying to play the role of super woman while managing everyone’s mess but my own.

wavesThe monumental motivation factor was raging anger, a deep-seated mammoth-sized storm of anger. Not depression, not a feeling of deflated defeat, no, an exasperated tsunami convulsed with rage.

Change don’t come easy.

I honestly believe it takes that amount of anger, pain and/or strong emotion to push someone out of a rut and/or from the false sense of security that society is trying to sell us to creating and designing a life that you love.

This type of energized and emotional fuel is what takes you from reading your hundredth self-help book filled with life hacks to actually taking action.

picassoWe are what we do

We are not what we think, or what we feel or what we say, we are what we do. Actions do indeed speak louder than words. If you are unhappy with a particular part of your life, take a strong look at what you are doing to be happier.

My Story

Part 1 Lightening Up

Symbolically, I think the added 25 pounds that I gained were due to the heaviness of life, daily strife and stress and uncertainty. I was caught in the spin cycle of success. That compounded with sitting at my desk for 10 hours, eating a mindless lunch and  banging away at the keyboard with only face-to-screen interaction for most of the day that did me in.

My transformation began with

  • Getting up earlier each morning to make the time for me.
  • Changing my habits and designing result rituals – daily, repeated steps towards my success.
  • Remembering to rest, breathe and take a moment to come back to the present.
  • Counting calories while eating low-fat nutrient dense foods.
  • A powerful dose of daily cardio and strength training workouts.
  • Scheduling a 10-20 minute vipassana meditation practice daily.
  • Starting each day with a gratitude journal.
  • A never-ending commitment to reading, learning and expanding my mind.

Part 2 Sparking Joy (where I am now)

It’s all about letting go. Realizing that perfect is the enemy of good. While it is important to have control over our lives, it can be counterproductive to attempt to control our lives. The energy spent trying to be perfect can keep us from enjoying and appreciating all the good things that exist right before us.

Which also means letting go of thoughts, things, people and habits that no longer spark joy in my life.

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

tidying upWith no time to clean or organize (for reasons stated above), shopping for things I already had, my mind and home has become a disorganized array of clutter with stuff I don’t even like, yet enjoy.

I am in the process of –

  • Removing anything in my home and work environment that doesn’t give me a sense of true enjoyment.
  • Guarding my time and my mind with my life. (Note: The 7-Day Mental Diet helps with the mind part)
  • Detoxing my doubts and limiting beliefs about what I can actually achieve.
  • Saying no instead of yes to people who want my time, even if the immediate rewards seem really great. My new motto, “If I don’t feel it, I don’t do it.”

“The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.”
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Part 3 Creating Love 

For me, creating love in my life begins with forgiving myself and others, no matter what my ego says.

Forgiving ourselves is a process that continues our whole life. We are so used to replaying the story of what is wrong with ourselves and others that living with a resentful, tight heart can become our most familiar way of being.

Thousands of times we might find ourselves caught in stories of what we are doing wrong. Thousands of times we might drop under our blame to where the deeper pain lives. With each round of freeing ourselves through forgiveness, we strengthen our recognition of our basic goodness.

Quote from

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

416XVNN6NRL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_If you have decided to make a change in your life, I would love to hear about your transformational process – what is working for you, books you are reading, workouts you love, films that have inspired with you.

The Miracle of Mindfulness and Mono-Tasking

thich

thich-nhat-hanh-colour“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.

Thích Nhất Hạnh

Adventure travel isn’t always about riding big waves, biking through forests and ascending new heights — sometimes it’s about wandering inside, to explore the realm of our inner worlds. I’m stoked to be going to Town Hall NYC  to hear one of the most influential spiritual leaders of our time, Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh

This week in the US, 75 monks and nuns from Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastic order launched a cross-country “Miracle of Mindfulness” tour. #miracleofmindfulness Visit http://www.tnhtour.org/ for the tour schedule.

stoke

Mono-tasking – the opposite of multi-tasking, when we are really engaged in what we are doing, that one thing right now. The unobstructed mind.

This practice helps us to become more and more awake to our presence. To wake up to recognize what is really taking place right now.

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Interested in learning more about Buddhism and Thay? The 14 Mindfulness Trainings from the Order of Interbeings.

Read

The Miracle of Mindfulness: The Classic Guide by the World’s Most Revered Master

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.

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.

Mastering Your Mind with Charlie Bradford. Part 1

enlightenment

I 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 first one.

MJ: Charlie, how long have you been thinking about tapping into a higher awareness and mastering the mind? How did you become such a deep thinker?

CB: Well, It all started for me when I was in my late teens. I had been reading a lot of great material on simplicity, minimalism, Zen, meditation, the power of the mind, which opened me up to a new world that I was eager to dive into. I grew up with video games, movies, and homework. Before I knew it, I was reading about the infinite potentials of the mind. I’m on-board, where do I sign!? I loved this new sphere of knowledge that I had dived into. Even prior to my teen years, I was very much inclined to read Buddhist philosophy, but lacked the mental facility to fully appreciate what I was reading. But none the less, it planted a seed in my young mind that would eventually lead me to the importance of simplicity, self-control, and mind-mastery.

Seeking Some Enlightenment

So I made it my personal mission to investigate all kinds of knowledge, wisdom, philosophies, books – old and new, exoteric, and esoteric, anything that would enlighten me to the true potentials that lie within each and every one us, and more importantly; how to actualize that potential. I began exploring the importance of Mind, Body, and Spirit, as well as the fundamental principles of Nature. I renounced almost all of my possessions, gave away my television, my video games, changed my diet, my attitude, and started doing my own homework. I had cleared the pathway so that I could receive Truth in my quest for it.

Training the Mind to Relax in the Face of Uncertainty

I’ve always loved exploring deep questions. It’s not about answering them. It’s more-so about getting the mind comfortable with uncertainty. The mind is constantly trying to make sense of everything. So by enquiring in profound matters such as, Why are we here? What is Life? What is Death? What is the Ultimate Plan? Where are we all going? We begin to train the mind to relax in the face of uncertainty. This is similar to the use of Zen Koans, phrases used to stray the mind from its ordinary processing. I’m amazed at the level of insight you can receive simply by concentrating upon a single question! I’ve become compelled to entertain all kinds of questions, especially during meditation, or out in nature where I can let my mind unfold. There were many key points along my path that led me to this conclusion: We are far more than we could ever know within the scope of one life time.

For the next three Mondays I will post more questions for Charlie, but if you have any, please free to ask them here.

just enough

crave

How long shall we go on making demands upon the gods, as if we were still unable to support ourselves?  How small is the amount, which will satisfy nature? A very little will send her away contented.

It is not the natural hunger of our bellies that cost us dear, but our solicitous cravings.

Read

Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)