Miracles by The Moment

Our purpose here is to make sure we love enough. Madeline Johnson

You should try this trick I do, because it really helps put things in perspective. You see, I reverse engineer my timeline to determine how I should live my life now. I look to see my future.

I start by picturing myself on my death bed. I am just about to take my last few breaths and I ask myself.

Did I love enough?

I believe an act of loving kindness is the biggest contribution you can make to this world.

Love, is such a big word isn’t it? It’s almost overwhelming.  It’s a word packed with meaning.

Did I love enough? can also be interpreted as, Did I forgive enough? Did I care enough? Did I give enough? Did I encourage enough? Did I appreciate enough?

But before we can really consider how much we love, I believe we have to rethink what we perceive love to be.

What are the first thoughts that come to your mind when you think of the word love? For many of us, even thought we know better, we are brainwashed from a young age to think of love as merely an emotion we feel. We fall in love. Love is something our mother’s are suppose to give us unconditionally.

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Love is not a mere sentiment of emotion, but the ultimate truth at the heart of creation.

– Deepak Chopra

What I am Reading: A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson.

I am contemplating the power of love and the role of love in our lives. I want to renew and relearn my ideas of love. I want to understand the bigger role that love plays in our lives.  The power of love.

Here below are some intriguing thoughts about love. Reflections from the book A Return to Love . .

Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.

♥ The spiritual journey is the relinquishment, or unlearning, of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts.

♥ Love gives energy and direction. It is spiritual fuel.

♥ Love is the essential existential fact. It is our ultimate reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in us and others, it the meaning of life. ♥

♥ We came here to co-create with God by extending love.

♥ Love isn’t seen with the physical eyes or heard with the physical ears. The physical senses can’t perceive it; it’s perceived through another kind of vision.

♥ Metaphysicians call it the Third Eye, esoteric Christians call it the vision of the Holy Spirit, and others call it the Higher Self.

♥ …love requires a different kind of “seeing” than we’re used to – a different kind of knowing or thinking.

♥ Love is the intuitive knowledge of our hearts.

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Am I loving enough right now?

I am staying open and aware to the opportunities to bring more love to everyone today. I will continue to demonstrate love in every aspect of my life. To love more with my thoughts, words and actions.

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God Thinking Through Me

Know for certain that everything is okay. It always is.  By Madeline Johnson

It’s never too late to honor your life, to treat your life like a great adventure. Send yourself off on a truth-seeking journey.

I asked God this morning to get specific about his plans for me. I told him, look, if I just understood what you wanted me to do, I’d be on it already, without hesitation.

Just give me a sign. Something I can understand.

And then I sat still for a while.  A few words came to me and I think it might have been God thinking through me.

Relax. Stay excited and enthused.

Don’t give up on life, no matter what.

Come out of hiding and do what you love.

Do not take anything for granted.

Teach, mentor, learn, share.

Relax some more.

Know for certain that everything is okay. It always is.

Stay assured, confident, faithful.

Be bright. Be light.

Be a torch in the dark.

Project your energy for kinder, gentler, lovelier purposes.

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The Art of Thinking Critically, Logically & Magically

There is what exists (reality).
There is what we perceive it to be. And then there is the many undeniable variations of the truth. By Madeline Johnson

I am passionately interested in learning how we can improve our thinking so we can better understand what is true.

Improving the way we think about life so that we can communicate our ideas more clearly and confidently and identify information that is a result of sloppy, biased, misinformed thinking.

There is what exists (reality)

There is what we perceive it to be

(what we wish, want and believe to be true)

and then there is the many undeniable

variations of the truth.

For the truth isn’t a one-size fits all option.

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Subjective truth is what is true about your experience of the world. How you feel when you see the color blue, what chocolate tastes like to you, what it’s like being with your family, all these are your experiences and yours alone. They are your personal truths.

I am interested in how we might bridge the gap between these personal truths, our perceptions about life and bring them closer together with deductive and inductive truths, to navigate our lives with a better map.

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How might we begin? With acceptance. Acceptance of uncertainty. A fundamental skill for everyone is the ability to accept large amounts of uncertainty. In an ever-changing world, nothing is ever certain.

Here, four good arguments about doing just that. On Quora “How You Can Bridge The Gap Between Perception & Reality?”

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Where Logic & Critical Thinking Fits in to the Truth

Logic is the science of how to evaluate arguments and reasoning. How to decimate what is false from true.  Critical thinking is a process of evaluation that uses logic to separate truth from falsehood, and reasonable from unreasonable beliefs.

If you want to better evaluate the various claims, ideas, and arguments you encounter, you need a better understanding of basic logic and the process of critical thinking.

Introduction to Critical Thinking

By developing your critical thinking skills you learn to evaluate information that you hear and process information that you collect while recognizing your implicit biases.

Characteristics of Critical Thinking

To become a critical thinker, you must develop a few skills.

  • Recognize assumptions you carry with you. Have you ever wondered why you believe the things that you believe? Do you believe things because you’ve been told to believe them? Step outside your own beliefs to observe from a neutral viewpoint. Be aware of assumptions and learn to self-reflect.

 

  • Process information honestly. People sometimes pass along information that is not really true (i.e. the “fake news” crisis).

 

  • Recognize a generalization. Girls don’t like bugs. Old people are wise. Cats make better pets. These are generalizations. They’re not always true, are they?

 

  • Evaluate old information and new ideas. There was a time when doctors thought leeches could cure us. Recognize that just because something is commonly accepted, doesn’t mean it is true.

 

  • Produce new ideas based on sound evidence. Detectives solve crimes by collecting bits of truths and putting them all together like a puzzle. One small deceit can jeopardize an investigation. The entire truth-seeking process is destabilized by one piece of bad evidence, leading to a wrong conclusion.

 

  • Analyze a problem and recognize the complex parts. A mechanic must understand how an entire engine works before s/he can diagnose a problem. Sometimes it is necessary to deconstruct an engine to figure out which part isn’t working. You should approach big problems like this: break them down into smaller parts and observe carefully and deliberately.

 

  • Use precise vocabulary and communicate with clarity. The truth can be blurred by fuzzy language. It is important to develop your vocabulary so you can communicate truths accurately.

 

  • Manage emotions in response to a situation or problem. Don’t be fooled by stirred up, emotional plea or angry speech. Stay rational and keep your emotions in check as you encounter new information.
  • Judge your sources. Learn to recognize hidden agendas and bias when you collect information.

Daily Practices to improve your logical thinking

  1. Don’t accept just anything as true, which you do not clearly know to be such; that is, avoid hasty judgments and prejudice will prevent jumping the gun.  It requires a disciplined mind.
  2. Divide each difficulty under examination into as many parts as possible, or into as many as necessary for the solution of the problem. Most problems are combinations of problems and this failure to understand such will lead to jumping to conclusion.
  3. Begin with the things that are simplest and easiest to understand, and then ascend to knowledge of the more complex.
  4. Make enumerations so complete, and reviews so comprehensive, that you may be assured that nothing is omitted.
  5. Draw out in tables or lists of what you know, and that which is wrong.  If Boolean algebra is needed make, your truth tables of items. Make flow charts of the problem(s).
  6. The answer is in the details. Study each part as itself and then as a whole.
  7. Ask yourself this: “Is it logical, illogical, or nonlogical? Nonlogical does not mean illogical. Nonlogical is a statement like “I like to travel,” or “I love you” (showing emotion or opinions) are ordinarily regarded as non-argumentative and do not require supporting evidence since it solely is in the head of the person making the statement.  Illogical is one, which violates the rules of sound reasoning (like added 2 plus 2 and getting 5).
  8. Do not use All, Always, Never, forever, Not ever, as they lead to false conclusions by over simplifying and generalizing.
  9. The most simplest answer may or may not be the one.  If it truly is only one problem, then the simplest answer is most likely the correct one. If it is a series of problems, or more than one interconnecting problem, then it is no longer just simple.

Avoiding Logical Fallacies

Logical fallacies are flaws in reasoning that lead to illogical statements. Though logical fallacies tend to occur when ideas are being argued, they can be found in all types of writing. Most logical fallacies masquerade as reasonable statements, but they’re in fact attempts to manipulate readers by appealing to their emotions instead of their intellects, their hearts rather than their heads. The names by which logical fallacies are known indicate the way that thinking has gone wrong.

Hasty generalization

A hasty generalization draws conclusions from inadequate evidence. Suppose someone says, “My hometown is the best place in the state to live.” And the person gives only two examples to support the opinion. That’s not enough. And others might not feel the same way, perhaps for many reasons. Therefore, the person who makes such a statement is indulging in a hasty generalization. Stereotyping is another kind of hasty generalization. It happens, for example, when someone says, “Everyone from country X is dishonest.” Such a sweeping claim about all members of a particular ethnic, religious, racial, or political group is stereotyping. Yet another kind of stereotyping is sexism, which occurs when someone discriminates against another person based on gender. For example, when an observer of a minor traffic accident involving women makes negative comments about all “women drivers,” the person is guilty of a combination of stereotyping and sexism—both components of hasty generalization.

False analogy

A false analogy draws a comparison in which the differences outweigh the similarities or the similarities are irrelevant. For example, “Old Joe Smith would never make a good president because an old dog can’t learn new tricks” is a false analogy. Joe Smith isn’t a dog. Also, learning the role of a president cannot be compared to a dog’s learning tricks. Homespun analogies like this have an air of wisdom about them but tend to fall apart when examined closely.

Begging the question

Begging the question tries to offer proof by simply using another version of the argument itself. This is also called circular reasoning. For example, “Wrestling is a dangerous sport because it is unsafe” begs the question. Unsafe is a synonym for dangerous, so the statement goes around in a circle, getting nowhere. Evidence of the claimed danger is missing. Here’s another example with a different twist. “Wrestling is a dangerous sport because wrestlers get injured.” Here, the support fro the second part of the statement is the argument in the first part of the statement. Obviously, since wrestling is a popular sport, it can be safe when undertaken with proper training and practice. And here’s yet another example:  “Wrestlers love danger.” This time, the problem is the unstated assumption that wrestling’s supposed danger, not the sport, is what attracts wrestlers. Yet the audience can’t be assumed to share the opinion that wrestling is dangerous.

Irrelevant argument

An irrelevant argument reaches a conclusion that doesn’t follow from the premises. It’s also called a non sequitur (Latin for “it does not follow”). This happens when a conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises. Here’s an example: “Jane Jones is a forceful speaker, so she’ll make a good mayor.” What does speaking ability have to do with being a good mayor?

False cause

A false cause assumes that because two events are related in time, the first caused the second. It’s also known as post hoc, ergo propter hoc (Latin for “after this, therefore because of this”) or the Butterfly effect. For example, if someone claims that a new weather satellite launched last week has caused the rain that’s been falling ever since, that person is connecting two events that have no causal relationship to each other.  One must be careful that the two are connected. Cause and Effect can lead to the ripple effect though.  When many events are related and can be traced back to each other much like the “to build a mousetrap game.” This is a major cause of jumping to a conclusion for many that do not carefully look at the outcome and logically reason out the problem.

Self-contradiction

Self-contradiction uses two premises that can’t both be true at the same time. Here’s an example: “Only when nuclear weapons have finally destroyed us will we be  convinced of the need to control them.” This is self-contradictory because no one would be around to be convinced if everyone had been destroyed.

Red herring

A red herring tries to distract attention from one issue by introducing a second that is unrelated to the first.  It’s sometimes call ignoring the question. Here’s an example: “Why worry about pandas becoming extinct when we haven’t solved the plight of the homeless?” What do homeless people have to do with pandas? If the point is that money spent to prevent the extinction of pandas should do to the homeless, then that’s what should be said. By using an irrelevant issue, a person hopes to distract that audience, just as putting a herring in the path of a bloodhound would distract if from the scent it has been told to follow. This is very big in the political arena.

Argument to the person

An argument to the person means attacking the person making the argument rather than the argument itself. It’s also know as the ad hominem or ad homunem (Latin for “to the man”) attack.  When a person’s appearance, habits, or character is criticized instead of the merits of that person’s argument, the attack is a fallacy. Here’s an example:  “We’d take her position on child abuse seriously if she were not so nasty to her husband.” What does nastiness to an adult, though it isn’t nice, have to do with child abuse? Most people when losing a debate do this “You always think you are right, but you are not!”

Guilt by association

Guilt by association means that a person’s arguments, ideas, or opinions lack merit because of that person’s activities, interests, or companions. For example, here’s the fallacy in operation:  “Jack belongs to the International Hill Climbers Association, which declared bankruptcy last month. This makes him unfit to be mayor of our city.” The fact that the group that declared bankruptcy and has Jack as a member has nothing to do with his ability to be the mayor.

Jumping on the bandwagon

Jumping on the bandwagon means something is right or permissible because “everyone does it.” It’s also called ad popilim (Latin for “to the people”). This fallacy operates in statements such as “How could smoking be unhealthy if million so people smoke?” Just because one can do something doesn’t make it right to do. Also done as justification of actions.

False or irrelevant authority

Using false or irrelevant authority means citing the opinion of someone who has no expertise in the subject at hand. This fallacy attempts to transfer prestige from one area to another. Many television commercials rely on this tactic—a famous tennis player praising a brand of motor oil or a popular movie start lauding a brand of cheese.

Card-stacking

Card-stacking ignores evidence of the other side of the questions. It’s also know as special pleading. From all the available facts, only those that will build the best (or worst) possible case are used. Many television commercials use this strategy. When three slim, happy consumers praise a diet plan, only at the very end of the ad does the announcer—in a very low and speedy voice—say that results vary and even that language seems to have been chosen to be vague and non-informative.

The either-or fallacy

The either-or fallacy offers only two alternatives when more exist. This fallacy is also called false dilemma. Such fallacies tend to touch on emotional issues and can therefore seem accurate until analyzed. For example, “Either go to college or forget about getting a job” is an example of an either-or fallacy. Obviously, many jobs don’t require a college education.

Taking something out of context

            Taking something out of context deliberately distorts an idea or a fact by removing it from its previously surrounding material. For example, suppose that a newspaper movie critic writes, “The plot was predictable and boring, but the music was sparkling.” And the next day an ad for the movie claims “critics cal it ‘sparkling.’” This is an example of the critic’s words having been taken out of context thereby a distortion of the original.

Appeal to ignorance

            Appeal to ignorance ties to make an incorrect argument based on its never having been shown to be false—or, the reverse, an incorrect argument based on its not yet having been proven true. Such appeals can be very persuasive because they prey on people’s superstitions or lack of knowledge. Such appeals are often stated in the fuzzy language of double negatives. Here’s an example:  “Because it hasn’t been proven that eating food X does not cause cancer, we can assume that is does.” In truth, the absence of opposing evidence proves nothing. Telling half the story or giving half the information, then drawing a conclusion from that.

Ambiguity and equivocation

            Ambiguity and equivocation are statements that can be interpreted in more than one way, thus concealing the truth. For example, suppose a person is asked, “Is she doing a good job?” and the person answers with “She’s performing as expected.” Such an answer is open to positive or negative interpretation. A similar example of this fallacy is when the question “Have you made any progress?” is answered by “We’ve held some meetings.” Most who do this answer with nonspecific answers, never directly answering the question at hand. Avoidance is the key to identifying this.

This is a reposting from Recognizing and Avoiding Logical Fantasies

You can find over 300 logical fallacies here at Logically Fallacious

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(Some) of The Most Important Things That Matter

I use to fill every moment of my day with something I could cross off my list later. #thatain’tliving

Elizabeth CarlsonI am Falling in Love with My Imperfections“.  A poem to learn from.

The more time I spend with the aging and the dying, the more I am beginning to understand what really matters each day.

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Their regrets become my wisdom and the important lessons to win tomorrow, while there is still life to be lived.  This is the stuff I should’ve learned so long ago and the lessons that should be taught in school.

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1. This moment right now, make it matter.  Make this moment important, vital and worth living.

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For so long I made a pact with myself to seek the truth, until I realized, that . . .

2. The truth you seek is only a matter of your perspective. There are many different versions of the truth.

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There are many realities. There are many versions of what appears obvious. Whatever appears as the unshakeable truth, its exact opposite may also be true in another context. – Amish Tripathi

Embrace the ability to see all things as they are and not as we ‘think’ they are. Reality in all it’s forms, is our friend.

3. All of our experiences shape us. We should seek new experiences and adventures each day. Try stuff. All sorts of stuff.  Expand our borders.

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You may think your “story” is boring, ordinary and not worth sharing, but you are wrong. Very wrong. You have some experience with life and someone out there can learn from your mistakes. You hold the power to lift someone up with a single sentence, a lesson learned.  Share your lessons with strangers.

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4. We are so much more powerful than we even know. Our words can be weapons, a single sentence can be as sharp as a sword. You can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.

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To play our roles in life well – whatever the roles are, brother, father, husband, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, mentor. . .we simply must be and do that which is right at the moment and do it with patience and kindness.

Done in Love

 

5. The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.

So listen deeply to friends and enemies. Listen quietly for all the missing words, the things they don’t say. All of it can teach you as well.

And remember, fear not the angry and rageful. To see compassionately how others may be in pain.

Stay soft and available always. Yes, you can train, practice and prepare for the future, but most importantly, be adaptable, flexible and ready to pivot, detour and move on when things aren’t going well.

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Sharing our gifts, bringing our best and leaving those we encounter feeling stronger and more inspired after we leave them.

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Be emotionally free, while letting go of all resentment and anger. Forgiving all.

6. Continue to strip life of all that bogs us down. Boiling our actions down to the most important.

Speaking fewer words, owning less of everything, accomplishing more by doing less.  Every so often, it is our duty to cleanse our emotional baggage and past hurt. Heal our pain and fix our faulty parts by becoming more self-aware while understanding the genesis of our emotions

7. Treat ourselves well. Guard our minds, keep thoughts bright, clear and as strong as can be.

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8. To prepare for the transition of  life/death/life. Learning to love the open ended mystery of not knowing why.

Balance out the days with enough sleep time, intimacy time, work & focus time, time in (self-reflection), down time and play time. Live each day as if it was your last.

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Remember this, when it all falls apart or there’s a heavy cross to bear and the storm is on the horizon. Learn to adapt and adjust daily.

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“Amid a world of noisy, shallow actors it is noble to stand aside and say, ‘I will simply be.”
Henry David Thoreau

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.”
Allen Ginsberg

“The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.”
Lao Tzu

    • Featured art “Sounding Silence” by

Michael Cheval

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Self-Abandonment, Sitting with Painful Emotions & Some Damn Good reasons for Building Self-Trust

I was seeking the truth about why my words contradicted my actions.  Why my good intentions were backfiring.  Why I would say “I want to achieve this and I want to achieve that” all day long- but I never really met my goals head on. I got some half-assed results.  Whether it was ” I will never let anyone treat me like that again,” as I jumped into bed with my ex or “I’m not eating another piece of fattening bread again,” as I smeared a slab of butter on the dinner roll.  Contradicting myself all the time.  Oh to be human.

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I would set myself up each day for success, at least in in my mind, but by dinner time, I was right back where I started, sometimes even worse off.  Self-sabotage.  Overpromising too many people, including myself and underdelivering and setting myself up for failure.

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It came to the point where I just couldn’t trust myself at all any more. I’d say things to myself like  “I’ll start saving money soon,”  as I continued to rack up my credit cards at my favorite boutiques, restaurants and cafes.

I’m working on building my trust back. Honestly, how can you trust anyone else if you don’t trust yourself?

Read: 21 Signs You Don’t Trust Yourself

Pains

Trusting yourself is what builds confidence. On the other hand, NOT trusting yourself, because you are lying to yourself, is what leads to self doubt and ultimately painful emotions. And you know how we don’t like to feel those.

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“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part

Trusting Only The Good Parts of Ourselves

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Personally, I have found that self-trust starts with self-forgiveness and taking the time to understand why we are so self-deceptive. I took sometime to think back on all the terrible, selfish and thoughtless things I have done to myself and to others throughout my life.  Then I read the list. God that was hard. Then I waited a day and thought about more bad things that I did and added to the list. Oh, to take a good look into the guiltiness of it all. It was so damn painful. The crazy thing is – I would write down something I remembered that I did that hurt someone and then I WOULD MAKE AN EXCUSE FOR WHY I DID IT. Really??

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The point I am trying to make here is that we can’t just trust some parts of of ourselves. Like the good parts with the good emotions. We have to trust our whole entire being. The good, the bad and the ugly.  This starts by not abandoning yourself.  You abandon yourself every time you don’t allow yourself to be completely honest, feel badly and sit with some of the pain and sadness you have brought to your own life.  Don’t dwell there, just become more aware.

“Self trust is the essence of heroism.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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But I think that because they trusted themselves and respected themselves as individuals, because they knew beyond doubt that they were valuable and potentially moral units — because of this they could give God their own courage and dignity and then receive it back. Such things have disappeared perhaps because men do not trust themselves anymore, and when that happens there is nothing left except perhaps to find some strong sure man, even though he may be wrong, and to dangle from his coattails.
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Blind to the Beauty of This Moment

Distraction is the main problem for us all – what the Buddha called the monkey mind. We need to tame this little monkey mind. Tenzin Palmo

As entertaining as it can be, please don’t feed the monkey mind.

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When we are unaware that we are unaware.
Then we rush and ramble through the day, doing the “important” and the urgent, going after the goals, just killing it, aren’t we though?
Both numb and dumb to the fierce and wild beauty of the present moment.
Asleep at the wheel.
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Not taking notice of our surroundings, the people we are with and even our own presence. Too busy snapping instead of savoring.
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Oh to be mindless,  as we let the monkeys swing from vine to vine through our head. Pulling us from thought-to-thought with our every emotion.  The seedlings for anxiety and panic.
So disconnected with life smack in front of us – to notice the simple and ordinary joy of the day or the pain and suffering of our brother nearby.
And those seemingly little blessings that are happening every moment for our benefit? Wait for it.
Your mind just can’t be here, there and everywhere, yet this is how we go.
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To be painfully and gratefully aware and awake with appreciation.  This is how we grow.
Inspired by my mother’s doctor who removed her cataracts today. Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 and is the principal cause of blindness in the world.
Overtime, like many people, mom got use to seeing the world in a blurry, shadow-like haze. In faded color instead of technicolor. It happened gradually over time. Let us not get use to going blind to the beauty of this moment.
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To Die To Everything of Yesterday

To Die To Everything of Yesterday
To be free of all authority, of your own and that of another, is to die to everything of yesterday, so that your mind is always fresh, always young, innocent, full of vigour and passion.
It is only in that state that one learns and observes. And for this a great deal of awareness is required, actual awareness of what is going on inside yourself, without correcting it or telling it what it should or should not be, because the moment you correct it you have established another authority, a censor.
From the teachings of  J. Krishnamurti 
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Shedding Some Light on Just How Damn Annoying Life Can Be

Life can be so absolutely annoying when things don’t go as planned. Come on, don’t you agree? It’s all quite amusing how we think just because we set these great goals and go after them with all our might that everything is going to open up for us.
Sure I’d like to believe that life is happening FOR me and not TO me (thank you very much Tony Robbins) and that I am not a victim of circumstance, but the truth is life is very very complex and a lot of stuff just happens that is way out of our control. Things we don’t understand, that nobody understands, and then to add insult to injury,  we take this shit so personally. It’s a mystery really.
Just for Now

Working with The Monsters in Our Mind & NOT Becoming a Fugitive To Our Fears

On my future read list “The Life of Milarepa Read on to understand why.

I like to read like three books at a time, maybe more. Right now in the morning, I am reading Pema Chodron’s  When Things Fall Apart 
I don’t want anyone to know that my life seems to be continually falling apart, so I covered the front of it with a sticker from Spoonbill Books, one of my favorite stores in Brooklyn.
Chapter 19’s a trip wire.  “Three Methods for Working with Chaos” Pema outlines three methods for relating directly with the most difficult circumstances of our lives as a path of awakening and joy.
Method #1  No more struggle
Method #2  Using poison as medicine
Method #3  Seeing whatever arises as enlightened wisdom
These are methods for working through the most painful moments in our lives. Method #3 according to Pema reminds me of Inviting Mara to Tea, in other words, inviting what scares us to introduce itself and hang around for awhile. Sounds like a fun Sunday right? Yeah sure, but that’s how we grow.
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Quote from the book . . .
As Milarepa sang to the monsters he found in his cave, “it’s wonderful you demons came today. You must come again tomorrow. From time-to-time we should converse.”
We start by working with the monster in our mind.  Then we develop the wisdom and compassion to communicate sanely with the threats and fears of our daily life.
What I found absolutely fascinating was the image used in Tibetan Buddhism for working with chaos, the charnel burial grounds. As Pema explains, in Tibet, the charnel grounds are what we call graveyards.  The American Indians seemed to also have the idea. . .
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Now, the bodies were not under a nice mowed lawn with little white stones carved with angels and pretty words.
In Tibet the ground was frozen so bodies were chopped up after people died and taken to the charnel grounds, where the vultures would eat them.  Some would  be asked to meditate at the charnel grounds to understand the circle of life, complete with death.
Death, probably our biggest fear.
More practical ways to understand more about leaning into fear from Leo at Zen Habits.

On a more pleasant note. . .

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When we Don’t Grow Emotionally

My daughter recently called me emotionally immature. She said it in such a loving way, but it stung none the less. When we moan, groan and whine when we don’t get exactly what we want, when we want it, how we want it. This usually happens when we are not at our strongest, when we are frightened perhaps?  Maybe we are tired, hungry, angry, lonely, scared. Who knows?  But it is then that we can take every disturbance and interruption  so damn personally don’t we?

For Example . . .

Meditation today on the beach was almost ruined by an awfully noisy and very annoying beach tractor circling around me. Trying to find a quiet place to close my eyes and be “in the moment”, this guy just wouldn’t go away.  He kept moving closer and closer to my towel. I tried to meditate in spite of the loud motor drowning out the peaceful sound of the ocean waves.
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Just keeping focusing on the breath. Just accept it, I kept telling myself.  My mind fluctuated between just go and flow with it . . . all the way to . . . WTF, I just can’t get this time back. It was torture. It almost felt like he was doing it on purpose.
I actually started to tell myself that story.  “He’s purposely trying to ruin my beach meditation and Sunday swim.
Now, why the hell would I take this so personally? As if. But don’t we do that often. When things don’t go our way. When people annoy us with their absolute nonsense? When things don’t go as planned. When we are really disappointed.
Only after thinking more clearly did I come to the realization that this man has an actual job to do – it has nothing to do with me.  He gets paid to clean up the beach so people, like myself, can enjoy it. How about asking the question “Why am I getting in his way?” Always thinking about me. It’s all about me. Blah, Blah, Blah.
A poem by Dana Faulds
Let it Go
Click to read Pema’s book

Thoughtless Action

What has made matters worse, is how hard I actually try. It amazes me how I try so hard to make everything in life exactly how I want it to be without ever thinking of the possible effects my decisions might have on future outcomes and on those around me. I spend my days running from pain, chasing pleasurable moments and trying to get some “me” time, planning, scheming and doing all of the special things that I want to do.
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Leaping Before You Look

How I absolutely leap before I look and act so impulsively based on what I want for myself. I want more money, so I take on more really difficult projects without even thinking about the actual time, effort and energy these projects will take. Then I kill it by overpromising and ultimately under delivering.   Just wonderful.  So many great intentions failed miserably because I didn’t take the time to think things through.
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Becoming More Discerning

For example, if I am feeling the slightest  bit lonely and I want more friends, I open myself up to meeting and embracing anyone that comes into my life instead of realizing the value I will bring to the relationship and how much more discerning I need to be about who I choose to spend my time with.  I think we all do it from time to time. I act more out of FOMO instead of becoming more self aware of my actual needs from a true friend. This is probably why friendships can disappoint us.

What’s this About The Importance of Self-Value?

If you have any interest in the possible healing powers of Ayahuasca, I strongly recommend you check out The Last Shaman documentary. You can watch it on Netflix. It got mixed reviews, but it was absolutely eye opening in many ways. I have always wondered about the powers of “grandmother’s medicine” but frankly, I prefer meditation as my medication.
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Oh, side note: Ayahuasca is an hallucinogenic drug concocted by chopping and boiling Amazonian plants known to indigenous people for a very long time. The first western knowledge of ayahuasca was by a British biologist in 1851. The principal ingredient is made from a vine, Banisteriopsis caapi, (‘vine of the soul’ or ‘vine with a soul’); a second key ingredient, is either chacruna (Psychotria viridis) or chagropanga (Diplopterys cabrerana). Ayahuasca contains a powerful psychedelic substance DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine). Drinking the brew induces an altered, hallucinatory state that lasts up to eight hours.

And More about Self-Love

And what is it about the devaluing of oneself that serves us? Why do I not think about becoming a bit more compassionate and self loving? Why don’t I focus on this more. Wouldn’t I be more of a delight to be around if I sometimes took care of myself first?
If I took care of my needs and came to the party called life with my best dress on?
The one I thoughtfully chose to wear? Why not spend a bit more time on me? Does that seem to selfish? Perhaps we tolerate so much of others nonsense because we are not self aware enough to know what we truly value in ourselves and others.

Decreasing the Pain in the World

I find the more I open up to listening and learning from others, the more thoughtful I become. It’s like building a better brain by borrowing from others curiosity, understanding and deep research.
I am listening to James Altucher interview AJ Jacobs and the two of them brought up a great point about how we might focus our actions – actually become more thoughtful about whether our actions are increasing or decreasing the suffering in this world. Big or small, every action you take can either add to the pain of others or make life easier.
Listen to James Altucher’s Podcast, an interview with A.J. Jacobs The Intersection Between Discomfort & Curiosity.
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Whatever it Takes. Four New Ways to Grow Today

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Surrender and Slow Down

Expect some pain today. When faced with problems during the day, I like to think of them as growing pains.

You see, the counter-intuitive (and funny) thing about embarking on the path of personal growth is that it’s not going to be all cake and cookies. Read: 7 Harsh Truths About Personal Growth.

However, whatever you do, don’t add to your pain and problems. Slow down, see life as it is, not worse than it is. Please don’t make it worse with a second  arrow.

What’s a second arrow?

“If you get struck by an arrow, do you then shoot another arrow into yourself?” 

If we look at the way we move through the day, when something happens, when we have pain in our body, when somebody treats us in a way that feels disrespectful, when something goes wrong for someone we love, that’s the first arrow.

Our mind and body go into a reactivity that does not help to bring healing. We blame others, we blame ourselves. That’s the second arrow. – Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance.

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What I’ve come to learn and accept is that there is always a solution of the highest good, but it may not be aligned with what we think we need.  Our job is to surrender to the fact that the Universe has a plan far better than ours. I’ve found that the more I surrender to the Universe’s plan the easier it is to move through the discomfort of uncertainty.  @GabbyBernstein Read: The Universe Has Your Back

 Connect meaningfully

Heart to Heart

If you look at it this way, it becomes clear. If you don’t add value to another person’s existence, then you will not be missed when you are gone.  Read: 13 Simple Ways You Can Have More Meaningful Conversations.

 

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Understand the Payoff

of Putting Things Off

The payoff you get for procrastinating is that you don’t have to do the work. You don’t even have to try. It’s so much easier to stay the same, to stay small.  Hell, you’re use to it. It’s comfortable. You may not like it that much, but it kind of works. You know what to expect from your day. The work is easy. You are complacent, but you can deal with that. That’s the payoff.

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Once you begin to realize that doing the same things you always do will give you the same results you don’t want, then you realize the hard part is starting.  You have to put in the effort and be okay with stumbling and bumbling around for a while. It’s like walking through a dank and dark tunnel without a torch. Starting something new is really hard and frightening sometimes.

 

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The Temptation to Control and Repair Everything Around You

When life is uncertain – and when is it not really? – I feel the need to try to control the people around me. It gives me a false sense of security. If I can control what they do, then maybe I can control some of the results. The outcomes.

And we all know, no one really wants us to control them. So, this only has me feeling more frustrated. I am wasting all that control energy doing something that is absolutely frustrating. The only thing I can control is me and my attitude.   I must be like water.

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Go with the Flow

Try this. Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless. Be water My Friend.

In order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature. This is the true meaning of ‘Be water’. It is the complete and unconditional acceptance of the self. Where the self itself melts and becomes formless, fluid and flexible. When you attain that state, you are water

Read: How to Stop Trying to Control Everything

The Best Gift You Can Give

The best gift you can give anyone is your full and true presence.

Distractions are everywhere, and who has the time for anyone, really?

I resolve from this moment forward to make more time for truer communication with those I love. This is what makes life more memorable.

Generous Listening

Inspired by Becoming Wise

I’m thinking about how important it is to listen generously. How to compassionately communicate and hear another’s soul, even through the most difficult conversations.

To listen with an awakened heart & mind. To listen openly, without trying immediately to fix the problem at hand or impulsively come up with an answer right now.

To drop the agenda.

I’m thinking about how improved my relationships would be if I just follow the emotion of the moment, if I let the conversation flow.

What if I tolerated more of them and watched my timing of words?  What if I made room for the difficult to pour out, for the pain to set itself free?  Dissipate.

How would the conversation go if I were more flexible with my speech? If I softened my tone? If I held out my arms?

What if I let the conversation move where it will, if I gave up control?

Imagine if I released myself of judging everything to not a single word. How would it look if I decided to just observe it all as if I had never heard it before. What would I see?  If I listened less guardedly.

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Healing Words

The next opportunity I have for a true conversation I will include words of kindness. I will believe that I am exactly what is needed to help heal the situation.  Everything needs a measure of healing, don’t you think?

I vow to not let  differences define what is possible between us. I can argue with your opinion, but not your experience.

I will try, yes I will try very hard, to understand why you are behaving the way you are behaving. Perhaps you are in pain. What can I say or do to help you soothe it away?

I won’t look with anger, but I will try to find the good in you, even during your worst of rage.

A More Courageous Conversation

Even more importantly, I will open up my vulnerable parts to keep the conversation real. It may feel raw, uneasy and probably very uncomfortable, but that is where we grow. I will admit my weaknesses and recognize that what I have done so far has gotten me here, not where I want to be.

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Feature Photo – Artist: Egon Schiele

Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

Repeating this mantra softly to myself has helped me sail through the hours of overwhelming tasks in a day. It has stopped me from rushing and I hate rushing. Rushing just sucks. It makes life feel hasty.  I want to savor life. Even the boring parts.

This idiom also applies to anything you do. It has helped me improve my days.

When properly learning something new

quote-the-only-skill-that-will-be-important-in-the-21st-century-is-the-skill-of-learning-new-peter-drucker-81-53-26Any new skill that you are trying to learn should first be practiced slowly.

Performing any action too fast will have you sacrificing technique which will in turn slow your development. It will also limit the greatness you could have achieved.