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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Practice of Reading

reading-book-while-drinking-coffee-picture-id932272022 Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Practice of Reading

In our modern age, the noble art of reading has been truncated and compromised. Today, a skilled reader is judged as someone who reads rapidly, who can scan the skeleton of any piece of writing and abstract its silhouette of meaning. Yet this is like taking an x-ray of a person and thinking you now have met the whole person.

The word “read” comes from the German raten which originally meant “to guess.” So reading is always a guess at what matters, a leaning in to all that is beyond words, a bow to all that gives rise to words.

I have always been a slow reader, not because I struggle with comprehending what I read, but because when challenged or moved by what I read, I slow down in an attempt to absorb what I’m taking in. Inherent in immersing ourselves in books is the call to enter time and not just move through it. Understanding reading in this way, books become thresholds to moments of living beyond our own.

There is a story in the Talmud in which students notice that their rabbi has been quietly reading the same passage over and over for several days. Concerned, one of the students approaches his teacher to see if he is alright. The rabbit smiles and says, “When I have come upon this small window into Eternity, why should I go anywhere else?”

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Energy of Hope

person-the-pen-writing-on-desks-picture-id635876658 Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Energy of Hope

I believe that teaching, reading, and writing all have to do with searching. Each involves searching for Wholeness through dialogue and experience. When that search involves other living things, we find ourselves in the province of learning and teaching. When that search involves other living things that are not present or of our time, the dialogue takes the form of reading. And when that search involves things that are present and living but not yet visible or known, we have entered the creative realm, which includes writing.

These forms of search are really inseparable. They constantly impact each other. In truth, a teacher is someone who is actively involved in all three forms of search—whether they have a classroom or not, whether they are reading the wind instead of a book, or whether they ever write it down or not. At the heart of it, learning is really seeing, while writing is really internalizing what is seen through the life of our expression. And teaching is asking questions about what is seen and taken to heart—in an effort that if honestly entered usually leads to seeing further and taking in more.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Refection: Not Great But True

Photo credit goes to Markus Spiske Mark Nepo's Weekly Refection: Not Great But True

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.

Rumi

Because all young people are taught to be ambitious, I began as all young artists do—working toward some imagined greatness that might reveal itself in time if I could stay devoted enough to my craft. But along the way, I was humbled to be more uplifted by what was true rather than what was great, by what was heartfelt rather than what was intricate. It kept me close to my own experience, which when entered honestly began to reveal the common ground of all experience and all time.

From there, I risked more by entering the poems than by writing them, not sure where they might go, and found myself touched and changed by showing up in my life so completely. Well, that’s not very different than being changed by loving another, is it? Now in the second half of life, I am devoted to being in that holy space where the conversation of aliveness exists. It’s not about the words but the poetry of life that is revealed and enlivened by our honest engagement.

The process of writing and expressing—whether you become a writer or not—offers many valuable tools for living. If you concentrate on learning what those tools are and are diligent in using them, this concentration of wakefulness will help you live, and chances are that you’ll surface good writing.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Becoming a Poet

Photo credit goes to Min An Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Becoming a Poet

I started writing in high school after my first love dumped me. I was devastated. Though I wasn’t a loner, I didn’t yet have any close friends. So, I started talking to myself as a way to heal. Once on the mend, I realized I wasn’t just talking to myself. I had begun a conversation with the Universe.

In college, I wasn’t allowed to write creatively in the English department. This was before the burgeoning of creative writing programs. But a kind theater professor, Doc Palmer, took me under his wing, and told me that if I became a theatre major, he would take care of me. So I begin by writing plays, that was part of our deal. I’d sign up for his courses, though he’d give me different assignments. Instead of a paper on Oedipus or Hedda Gabbler, he’d invite me to write specific scenes modeled after the great playwrights. I also had to partake in every aspect of theater from set design to acting. This unexpected apprenticeship has stayed with me.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Bearing Witness

Bearingwitness Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Bearing Witness

Bearing witness is one of the primary ways that human beings hold each other up and help each other grow. Bearing witness is also one of the primary functions of art. No matter what we long for in our imagination, we are just as obliged to affirm the truth of how we mistreat each other and how we lift each other up.

Social media is becoming a modern form of bearing witness that is adding to our communal sense of art. In 2010, it was the viral use of Facebook that helped ignite the Arab Spring, a revolutionary wave of democratic demonstrations and protests leading to civil wars in oppressive societies in North Africa and the Middle East. The ability of citizens to film events in real time has led to an irrefutable bearing witness of excessive force by police throughout America.

This all speaks to the timeless power of naming things for what they are in the open. In 1981, the luminous poet Czeslaw Milosz was invited to give a series of talks at Harvard as part of the ongoing Charles Eliot Norton Lectures. The talks were published a few years later as his remarkable book, The Witness of Poetry. In these deep and sweeping talks, Milosz articulates his belief that poetry should be “a passionate pursuit of the real.” He challenges us to reclaim the power of art to mirror both the failings and blessings of the world. He offers that art, in particular poetry, is our enduring crucible in which to face the moral challenges of our time.

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The Aperture of Intuition

aperture The Aperture of Intuition

The opposite of rational is not irrational but intuitive. And while the mind and heart work together, my experience is that the heart absorbs and integrates more deeply than the mind. One way to think of intuition is as an aperture that opens and closes the heart like the lens of a camera, letting in life until it colors our soul.

Reason is often an intermediary for a quicker, deeper, more elusive facility. Reason allows us to think like a ladder, while intuition allows us to think like a constellation. Weaving both, I write about what I need to know, not what I already know. If I had only written about what I know all these years, I would have written very little.

The truth is that I feel things more quickly and more deeply than I understand them. I understand things more quickly and deeply than I can speak them. And I speak things more quickly and deeply than I can write them. One of the reasons I am so prolific is that, years ago, I gave up the notion that I had to understand what I was feeling, thinking, speaking, or writing before I could put it down. Since that time, my writing has become an ongoing curriculum, because I no longer record what I understand but explore what I feel.

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Transformation

coyote-1024x746 Transformation

Entering the fenced area that holds our fruit trees; I saw a red colored coyote running. This vision was in my mind’s eye. Moments later, for the first time here, I heard a coyote call from one of the peaks near our new Arizona home. This is one of the pieces that needed to fall into place before I could settle down and write. We have been living in our home almost a week, and I have not done much contact with social media, or writing. The ideas for my blog were simmering. I needed to get settled enough to feel the pull of the words and peace. So taking in a deep breath, with a candle lit, I am diving into my place of wellness.

I have been thinking of my clients that struggle with staying aware of their ability to enjoy life; simply by monitoring their own reactions. From an outside perspective this is an easy observation to make. From the perspective of a person experiencing pain, frustration, or other emotions; it is not so easy.

Other clients are committed to making a deeper connection to their guides, God, Angels, or the Universe. They desire a strong connection to a higher power. This group wants to experience the inspiration, peace and feeling of confidence that comes with this connection. In our world people are seeking proof or hard evidence that God, or a lost loved one is able to be experienced in this realm.

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Is it time to Scare Yourself?

handwriting-hand-writes-with-a-pen-in-a-notebook-picture-id910204808 Is it time to Scare Yourself?

I am in the midst of a new project, something I’ve never attempted before, and I’ve been keeping a journal of the process. I promise to share all about it at that right time but for today here’s what I want you to know.

Over the weekend I read my journal and I had forgotten how absolutely terrified I was when I began it.

My first journal entry revealed that I was sick with nerves and severe anxiety as I began this project. I was filled with self-doubt and fear of failing. At one point I felt like I would pass out just thinking about the enormity of what I was committing to while having thoughts such as:

“Who am I to attempt this?”

‘”I don’t know how to do this.”

“I’m not smart enough to do this.”

“No one will ever be interested in this project.”

“I’ll end up looking like such as loser for attempting this.”

These and many other negative thoughts consumed my monkey mind, initially.

But, I didn’t let it stop me.

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The Unbusy Life

IMG_4157-1200x900

“I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.
Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
as though with your arms open.”
—Mary Oliver

When Mary Oliver died last month, I felt I had lost a kindred spirit from this world. Someone who lived a life of deep connection to, and quiet contemplation of, nature’s never-ending miracles. All my life I have been drawn to quiet contemplative moments more than busy social activities. Even as a child, although I loved playing with my friends at school, something in me craved the experiences I had in my own backyard alone with nature.

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5 Tips on How to Journal While Travelling

traveljournal 5 Tips on How to Journal While Travelling

Documenting a trip makes for a great keepsake, but it can also be a powerful tool for self-reflection, turning any journey into a spiritual one. In this article, we share 5 tips on how to journal while travelling.

As best-selling author, filmmaker, and tour leader Phil Cousineau reminds us in his book to the Art of Pilgrimage, The Art of Travel: Journal, “by honoring our travel experiences through writing stories, poems, songs or creating sketches or other artwork, we can transform virtually all our travels, whether around the world or around our backyard, and make them more meaningful.”

How will you remember your travels? As a blur or as a vision?


In this blog, we share 5 tips to make a meaningful travel journal.

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A Moment of Decision

beautiful-young-woman-writing-in-diary-while-sitting-on-mountain-picture-id855120740 A Moment of Decision

“The unending paradox is that we do learn through pain.” — Madeleine L’Engle


There I was last Sunday, sitting on my porch reading, when I came across a fascinating and inspiring article in the newspaper. (My porch is my favorite spot to sit, think, read, reflect, dream and write.)

The article, which appeared in the LA Times, was about Madeleine L’Engle, author of the wildly successful children’s book “A Wrinkle in Time.”

As a married mother of three, L’Engle spent years pursuing her passion for writing on the side. But, as the article states, she felt “spasms of guilt” for trying to write and never having much success. At age 40, L’Engle reportedly almost gave up writing altogether. But then, she had what she called her “moment of decision.”

That moment, according to the article, was when L’Engle realized that she had to keep writing for herself, even if she never successfully published another book again. And so, she began anew.

L’Engle got the idea for “A Wrinkle in Time” while on a family camping trip. She wrote the book, submitted to her editor, and then the rejections started to pour in. “A Wrinkle in Time” received “forty-odd rejections,” according to the article. L’Engle called each one “a wound.”

Nevertheless, she persisted, and “A Wrinkle in Time” went on to become the bestselling phenomenon that it is today.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Mystic Spinning of Threads

silhouette-of-woman-dancing-and-rejoicing-to-god-at-sunset-picture-id523033651 The Mystic Spinning of Threads


I wonder where you are tonight.

Each of you. You who I lived with

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Why You Need to Create Intentional To-Do Lists

map-direction-journey-wanderlust-explore-route-concept-picture-id538472014 Why You Need to Create Intentional To-Do Lists

Have your to-do lists gotten out of hand? Could they easily be mistaken for a short novel? Hey, friend, I’m not judging. I get it. To-do lists keep us focused, right? They keep us moving in a forward direction. Or, do they?

For several years, I took pride in having a long to-do list because it meant I was setting goals. As a writer of several fiction books, I always have some project that I’m in the middle of, another project that I’m just beginning, and a crazy amount of marketing that always needs to be done.

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What do you do when you can’t seem to find your voice but you gotta get it out?

crumpled-paper-burning-in-fire-picture-id904146554 Write and Burn

One of my favorite ways to move energy when I feel stuck is to write and burn. It’s not like you just write and burn and it’s done… it truly is a healing process. You may have heard of Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” ritual that invites you to journal stream of consciousness thoughts for ten minutes each morning. It’s a great way to get the funk and the junk out of your subconscious so you are more capable of being creative, intentional and free. Write and Burn, is similar, but different. It invites you to get honest with the feelings that don’t feel good … so honest that you are willing to move them out of your head and heart and onto paper. It is an extremely powerful process that I have been doing for years. I find it so helpful that I suggest it to about 90% of my clients at one time or another.

Writing to heal is scientifically proven. I knew I always felt better after I had written in my journal, especially the painful yucky stuff, but I didn’t know there was “real” science that backed up what I felt. Not until I read an article about James W. Pennebaker, a psychology professor. He became deeply interested in the physical and mental benefits of what he called self-disclosure and created an experiment to test out his theory. He gathered a group of students who were asked to write about their own traumatic experiences for 20 minutes, on three consecutive days. Serving as a control group were an equal number of students asked to write about unimportant matters.

The results showed that there was a marked difference between the two groups in terms of the impact of the writing exercise. In those who had written of trivial matters, there was no change either in their physical or mental health. In contrast, those who had written about traumatic experiences showed a marked strengthening of their immune system, decreased visits to the doctor and significant increases in psychological well-being. These findings were measured using physiological markers, behavioral markers and self-reporting. In another study in the 1990s of people with AIDS, those who wrote about their diagnosis and how it had affected their lives experienced a beneficial increase in white blood cell counts and a drop in their viral loads.

Writing & Burning is a safe place for you to release. It’s a place for you to get honest with yourself and your pain. A place for you to allow yourself complete freedom to write whatever you want. No one else but you will ever see it, so swear and curse if you feel the need and write down everything that you feel about the person or the situation that is affecting you. Write about why you feel the way you do … even if it doesn’t make sense.

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The Birth of Be Here Now – An Origin Story

vintagebuddha The Birth of Be Here Now – An Origin Story

There are a lot of things that my guru Maharajji said to me in the small amount of time I was with him.

I had been with him from November, 1967 to March, 1968. “With him” means I was in a temple to which he was connected. I’d estimate I saw him a total of four hours in that time span. Out of that time came “Be Here Now,” because he was involved in it very clearly.

There was a moment in 1968 when Hari Dass, who was the teacher that Maharajji had given me, came to my room, and he was silent. He wrote on his slate, “Babaji has just given his ashirvad for your book.” I said, “What does ashirvad mean?” and he said, “Blessing.” What book was he talking about? I had no idea, so when I left India and came home, and started to live like a yogi in New Hampshire, I didn’t know what to do with my time.

I thought, “He gave me his blessings for a book, I guess I’m supposed to write a book.”

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6 steps to Discovering Your Purpose through Automatic Writing?

young-business-woman-sitting-at-table-and-writing-in-notebook-on-is-picture-id1001533590 This is a question I get asked all of the time… How Do You Discover Your Purpose?

The answer is simple:

You discover your purpose by being present in the moment. Listening to your inner guidance. Paying attention to the messages you are receiving at any given time. Being aware of the feelings in your body when certain things awaken a desire within us. And being absolutely mindful of our thoughts. If purpose is within us, and you desire to discover consciously what your purpose is, then we must understand that spirit speaks to you in present moment. You cannot hear the message from spirit when thinking about the past or thinking about the future. Spirit speaks to you in present moment. It is a now experience.

Using Automatic Writing /Journaling to Discover Your Purpose

This exercise can be done at any particular time when you are in need of clarity or guidance. Your purpose is constantly changing as you change and grow and expand. So, this exercise may be helpful at any given time along your journey of life. Automatic writing will help you to be conscious of what is calling to you at this particular time in your life so that you can live intentionally and consciously.



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Listening

listening Listening

In many ways, writing is listening and simply taking notes. One of the reasons I love the process of writing is that it enables me to listen until my loneliness opens into a blessed sense of aloneness. The gift of deep silence is that it allows us to let go of what we want so we can receive what we have.

I’ve always been a learner of the heart, not a specialist of the mind. I can dissect and hone and prune away the excess. But the shimmer of Wholeness and the dynamics of Oneness show themselves when we can absorb and integrate rather than sort and choose.

As a young writer, I would try so hard to be a mirror, to reflect back to everything its color and verve. But as a more experienced writer, I try to be a window now, to open a threshold between people and the inner world.

Being still and listening allows us to behold what is before us. The deepest form of bearing witness is to behold another in all their innocence. This is the key to love. To listen until the noise of the world subsides. To listen until the noise of the mind subsides. To listen until the noise of our wounds subsides. To listen until we only hear the life before us.

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Tap into the Power of Synchronicity to Discover your Map of Destiny

perfect-form-of-arch-picture-id520622970 Tap into the Power of Synchronicity to Discover your Map of Destiny

Do you know that paying attention to and tapping into the power of synchronicity is a way to hone in on your partnership with the Universe and create your destiny?

I know it appears I’m repeating myself as I have written about this many times in the past because it’s so important to underline especially these days. With all the turmoil in the world, it’s easy to only believe what appears to be true in that crazy environment where the media reports only the drama and very little of the amazing and good. We are in a time of great change and if we rely on only what we see and are exposed to we will only be responding to a sliver of the whole story. It’s easy to get stuck in the challenges. Yet there is a guiding principle that engages us through meaningful coincidences that Swiss psychologist Carl Jung called synchronicity.


No matter the temporary conditions, your intentions and energy are reflected through this invisible guidance. It’s kind of like the universe working anonymously on your behalf.

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A very effective tool for stress relief

womans-hand-writing-on-a-notebook-with-a-pen-on-a-wooden-desk-picture-id847069454 A very effective tool for stress relief

We all have come to understand that feelings of anxiety can lead to stress. Over the years I have been helping my clients finding newer and more feasible tools for stress relief. Taking to more easier ways which would perhaps be more coherent and conducive to our modern day environment. Here as a writer I strongly recommend journaling as one of the most effective tools for stress management.

The most important need for us humans is to express ourselves and also to be understood. We need to realize that we first need to understand our own selves. The best way I feel we can do it is by putting all our thoughts on paper. Let's get started by stating the following ways

WHAT IS JOURNALING

As a way to manage stress, journaling needs to be done constantly. By this, I mean, writing every day, your feelings and emotions. The mere expression on paper gives a sense of relief and helps you to rid yourself of your budding anxiety.

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How’s Your Life Force?

How’s Your Life Force? How’s Your Life Force?

In order to lead a completely soul-filled, energetic life, giving life everything that you have to offer and being all that you can be, you must keep your soul power (life force) entirely strong and intact. I constantly remind people when I’m teaching that we’re all made up of energy!

As energetic beings, we have what’s known as energy cords, which we constantly emanate, whether consciously or unconsciously. When you direct your thoughts and energy to a particular person, place, object, situation, or even an uncompleted project, you begin to establish an energetic cord with whatever you’re focusing on. The more you send your power there or obsess about it, the bigger and stronger the cord becomes. In turn, what happens is that your energy attaches itself to the object of your concern, and your own precious resource seeps away from your soul, where it’s most needed.

I’m sure that you’ve heard the expression “giving your power away.” Well, that’s exactly what happens. Not only are you giving it away, which is a form of soul leakage, but you also become energetically entangled once this energy connection has been established. I’m not advocating that you never become attached or that you disconnect yourself from those around you or from life itself. You can have healthy attachments to people, places, and situations, ones that feed your soul and supply you with energy. In other words, I’m referring to anything that’s taking your power away and draining you — the unforeseen connections that pull or tug on your energy, leaving you feeling drained.

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