Our perception builds and constructs our reality; which in turn becomes our life. With the help of our good, bad and indifferent judgements, our choice of language, our cognitive biases, past experiences and memories, we assemble how we choose to see the world. All of these inferences paint the way we experience our lives and effect the lives of those closest to us.
What we see is one thing, what we perceive is a completely different matter. Our reality is a co-production. Everything is a projection of what we hold inside our mind. So, I wonder, what if everything we see is really our very own optical illusion? Everything in a way, our own private hell hall of hallucinations.
Like this beautiful parrot. . .
That’s really a woman painted to look like a parrot.
What if we could change the way we see everything, to see more clearly, to expand our mind and in turn our world? What can we bring to this next moment, day, week, year so that we may live a life filled with more purpose and meaning?
Instead of allowing our brains to create a haphazard existence based on our misconceptions and judgements. . .
What if we played a more active role in the process of creating our lives?
Perhaps we begin with examining some of our cognitive biases. A cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking that affects the decisions and judgments that people make.
We all wish for a simple, peaceful, calm and enjoyable life, but challenges and problems are inevitable. Awesome advice from Demetrius the cynic on how to rise to life’s daily frustrations and annoyances.
“If you have nothing to stir up and rouse you into action, nothing which will test your resolution by its threats and hostilities; if you recline in unshaken comfort, it is not tranquility; it is merely a flat calm.”
Bear as bravely as possible the things one cannot avoid. Clothe yourself with a hero’s courage. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca . . .Read more stoicism philosophy –
What passes for spectacular and awesome in today’s culture is mostly synthetic and artificial – most experiences fading like fireworks in a night sky.
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 thoughtshere
“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” – Marcus Aurelius
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 –
Date, time, and place of observation
Specific facts, numbers, details of what happens at the site
Personal responses to the fact of recording fieldnotes
Specific words, phrases, summaries of conversations, and insider language
Questions about people or behaviors at the site for future investigation
Page numbers to help keep observations in order
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.
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.
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.
“You need to be exposed to many things,” she told me. “You should expose yourself even though you might not know if you’ll be interested.” When you find something that catches your attention: follow-up; see if it sticks. In other words, discovering passion requires a dedication to unstructured exploration.
You have to leave large swathes of free time in your schedule (a technique I call underscheduling), and fill this time with the exploration of things that might be interesting. Of equal importance, when something catches your attention you must leverage your free time to aggressively follow up. As Caldwell’s research reveals, true passion can’t be forced. You can participate in personality tests and self-reflection exercises until you drop from exhaustion, but it’s unstructured exploration coupled with aggressive follow-ups that most consistently leads people to a life-consuming interest.
“For you the world is weird because if you’re not bored with it you’re at odds with it. For me the world is weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable; my interest has been to convince you that you must assume responsibility for being here, in this marvelous world, in this marvelous desert, in this marvelous time. I wanted to convince you that you must learn to make every act count, since you are going to be here for only a short while, in fact, too short for witnessing all the marvels of it.”