It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Helping Each Other Stay Awake

photo credit: David Bartus Helping Each Other Stay Awake

As I travel to offer workshops and retreats, I enter a depth with willing others who’ve been opened and shaped by life. Through that depth, we create a path to what matters by which we enter the temple that is the world. I remain humbled and excited by the mystical fact that, try as we do, this depth can’t be opened alone. We need each other to do this, even though no one can experience life for you. And so we journey as pilgrims of the heart, alone and together, crossing this threshold of depth whenever we dare to tell the truth of our lives.

I open these gatherings by admitting that I have no answers and that we’re here to compare notes, because no one knows how to navigate the mystery of being alive. I then try to open a heart space through which we can enter the realm of all that matters, which is always waiting just below the interruptions of life which, if followed beyond our wants and fears, will lead us to the bareness of being that informs all life. I open this heart space by reading poems, telling stories, and sharing metaphors that reveal the unseeable architecture of existence.

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The Practicality Of Following Your Passion

businesswoman-waiting-for-the-bus-picture-id1132089073 The Practicality Of Following Your Passion
You may tell yourself that your desires are silly and frivolous like ruffles on overalls or diamonds on a poodle.  They’re unrealistic. They’re ridiculous, at your age. They’re dangerous.  They’re self-inflated.  They’re ravings– not “clues” or signs. They’re distractions, not directions or medicine for your soul.  They’re a desperate mirage, not clear cool water at last, when you’ve been wandering in the seething desert.  Sure everyone wants to paint by the sea in Greece, but it’s not practical, you tell yourself.  But I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. It’s not practical, in the typical mundane, grind yourself to death, factory worker, sense of the word.  It’s magical.  And let me tell you, what’s magical is practical on more levels than you know.  Let me introduce you to a few:

Passion is your Highest Potential of Financial Reward  
Consider that OprahBill GatesWarren Buffet and every multi-billionaire followed their passions.  They did not get rich by staying in soul-sucking, energy-draining jobs. They did not get rich by ignoring their desires, but by following them. They found their element.  Roses bloom when watered.  They shrivel in the desert. Passion is your highest potential of financial reward.  You’ll give endless hours to what you love.  You’ll demonstrate insane and unthinkable proficiency.  When you love something, you have infinite resources and energy.  You have more strength and talent than you know and our world is starving for true excellence.

I have a suggestion for you.  Start looking for examples of people you know or read about who do the work they love and make a living.  The mind is trained to look for what it believes.  If you believe “creative people starve” or “doing what you love will bankrupt you” that’s the examples you’ll see in the world.  You’ve probably heard the phrase, “what you focus on grows.”  Well focus on finding the evidence for what you really do want to see.  You want to see people thriving in the work they love. And they are everywhere my friend.  They have freedom, independence, stability, and pink cheeks.  They are role models to their children, instead of shadows passing by in the morning and night. 
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The Most Important Choice to Make Today

The Most Important Choice to Make Today The Most Important Choice to Make Today

In every age there has been a dominant worldview that people tried to conform to. In an age of faith, everyone asked how they could better serve God. This was their daily concern. In the Industrial Age the question shifted to economics and improving one's lot in life. In an age dominated by science the question shifted again--people asked every day how they could keep up with progress and add to it. As times change, so do people's vision of what is important, and usually they thought they had a better vision than the one which preceded them.

Yet if you back away to see the bigger picture, each age had one thing in common, and it wasn't God, economics, or progress. It was the fundamental idea that life is well lived only if you have a vision. Without one, purpose and meaning are limited. 

It turns out that the one question you should ask every day is this: How can I fulfill my vision today? Whether they put it exactly in these words, this is the secret behind the greatest success stories. Someone dedicated his or her life to a plan, project, or set of values larger than any individual.  A worthy vision, I think, needs to fulfill certain criteria.

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Molding A New Reality

Painting by Rob Gonsalves Molding A New Reality

“If you can dream it, you can do it,” is a famous quote attributed to Walt Disney or one of his staff. 
 

As I wrote in my book The World Is As You Dream It, this concept is also expressed by Indigenous shamans around the world. 

One of the themes in my new book Touching the Jaguar: Transforming Fear into Action to Change Your Life and the World is that our perceptions mold reality. There are no religions, cultures, countries, corporations etc. until people perceive the idea of these, accept certain values that define behavior supporting that idea, and then take actions to manifest it. When enough of us accept a perception or codify it into law, it changes reality. 

An audience member at one of my talks objected to this, saying, “the dream of a prisoner for early release does not necessarily come true.”

“That’s where actions come in,” I replied. “The prisoner starts with the dream, but then has to set in motion actions that will facilitate his early release (for example, perceiving ways to convince authorities that he should be freed ‘for good behavior’ or perceiving methods to obtain new evidence of his innocence). But you raise an important point,” I continued. “The dream does not change reality; rather, it inspires the dreamer to do things that will change reality. When we ‘touch the jaguar,’ we confront our fears – the obstacles that have convinced us that we can’t change – and use them to energize and empower us to take actions that will alter reality.” 

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6 Tips to Stay Focused on Your Goals and Limit Distractions

businessfocus 6 Tips to Stay Focused on Your Goals and Limit Distractions

When you stay focused on your goals, productivity comes naturally.

Of course, then those pesky distractions come in to mess up your workflow and throw off your schedule.

If your day is anything like mine, you’re probably constantly being thrown distractions that limit the amount of work you are able to get done.

After all, you only have 24 hours in a day and no matter how you try to stretch them, they always add up to the same amount of time.

Learning how to tackle your problem head-on by limiting your distractions, can help you focus on what’s important—your goals.

Start with these six ways to stay focused on your goals and streamline your attention right this minute.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Drop of Ocean

20200211-123915 Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Drop of Ocean

The drop of ocean teaches us about integrity and faith because, no matter how churned up it is, it never loses its transparency or its ability to go clear. As transparency and clarity are intrinsic to the true nature of water, integrity and faith are intrinsic to our true nature. Regardless of how churned up we are, restoring our transparency will enliven our integrity, and restoring our clarity will enliven our faith.

As one drop of the sea contains the entire ocean, each human being contains all of humanity. When churned up and full of trouble, we are disconnected from this living heritage and things always feel worse than they are. When transparent and clear, we reflect and reveal all of humanity and are able to draw strength from the living heritage we are a part of. This is why we need to discover and inhabit a personal practice of transparency and clarity that will return us to our true nature by restoring our integrity and faith.

All the spiritual traditions offer rituals and practices, including all forms of meditation, in order to support us in our ongoing task of returning to our true nature when the roughness of living challenges our assumptions. How do we personalize these practices? How do we create our own? What is your own history of being churned up? What are the ways by which you have restored your own transparency and clarity? Who and what helps you return to your true nature?

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Relax, You’ve Arrived

arrived Relax, You’ve Arrived

Are we there yet?

The Practice
Relax, you’ve arrived.

Why?

We spend so much of our time trying to get somewhere.

Part of this comes from our biological nature. To survive, animals – including us – have to be goal-directed, leaning into the future.

It’s certainly healthy to pursue wholesome aims, like paying the rent on time, raising children well, healing old pain, or improving education.

But it’s also important to see how this focus on the future – on endless striving, on getting the next task done, on climbing the next mountain – can get confused and stressful.

It’s confused because the brain:

  • Overestimates both the pleasure of future gains and the pain of future losses. (This evolved to motivate our ancient ancestors to chase carrots hard and really dodge sticks.)
  • Makes the future seem like a real thing when in fact it doesn’t actually exist and never will. There is only now, forever and always.
  • Overlooks or minimizes the alrightness of this moment – including the many things already resolved or accomplished – in order to keep you looking for the next threat or opportunity. (For more on how the brain makes us stressed and fearful, see Buddha’s Brain.)
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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Stop Fighting

StopFighting-MarkusSpiske Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Stop Fighting
When humbled, we finally stop fighting—

against life, against the tide of time, against

the avalanche of disappointment, if we can

outwait the stubbornness of our dreams. For

every storm, no matter how fierce, dissipates

itself. The question is how much damage

it does while wearing itself out. Eventually,

once broken open, once our soft center

spits out its pearl, we try to put all that

we’ve damaged back together. And no

one tells us that the storm hurts itself.

It guts its own center. Even the surf

crashes into itself. All this to say, I’m

sorry for the path of my storm. I know

some things can’t be put back together,

and we have to live with what we’ve done.

In time, the hardest nut will crack and

wonder why it took so long to lean into

love. But now that we’re here, I don’t know

what to say, other than, please, stay close

for the time we have. Like flowers, we

spend long hours underground, in the

dark, all for these few moments of

blossom that we never thought

would come.
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What Are You Waiting For?

What Are You Waiting For? What Are You Waiting For?

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon – instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today.”
Dale Carnegie, 1888-1955

Right now, take a breath and go inside. Is there something you are waiting for, to be happy? Are you putting off living until something magical happens? How often have you heard yourself say, “I’ll play, or create, or rest, or spend time with loved ones or take that vacation – when everything gets done.” Does everything ever get done?

Early one morning, as I was driving to the airport on my way to New York for an Intensive, a spectacular sunrise took my breath away. “How fortunate am I,” I thought, “that I get to drive to the airport basking in this incredible display of God’s art. How fortunate am I that I get to breathe in the fresh crisp air of fall.” It was one of those moments that filled my heart and soul with peace and joy and gratitude.

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Simple Habits to Manifest Change

businesswoman-working-in-cafe-picture-id642103876 Simple Habits to Manifest Change

I am always pretty much in sync with everyone else by the end of January still considering change and transformation as a bit of a sport I might actually win. Yes, I have learned how to make change into a game since I am not always successful in avoiding the pitfalls of the myriad threads of old storylines to prove my essential unworthiness. You know what I mean, 3 weeks of pure bliss on a new food plan and anti-aging Goop-approved weirdness, then face plant without noticeable cause into a giant vat of cream cake. Who me? Not I!! 

You might identify with being sick and tired of being sick and tired, or raring to go and get a brand new you, or realizing nothing is actually broken, you just aren’t where you want to be… yet. This brings up the “mindful of remaining in the moment and being with what is” existential dilemma. 

Oh, what a hairball!  

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One of My Most Emotional Cases

moviemind One of My Most Emotional Cases

Today, I want to talk to you about place memory. It’s the ability to pick up vibrations and detailed information, whether it’s seen, felt or heard, of a past event. The more traumatic the event—the stronger the impression.

The easiest way to describe it, it's is as if someone took a snapshot in time, and etched it in the atmosphere of the actual environment or the fabric of the building where the event took place.

Fortunately, most people don’t have such finely tuned psychic antennae to be able to tap into such memories. Otherwise, we’d all be walking around looking shocked and miserable every time we go near a disaster site. On a lesser scale, many people may walk into a room and feel an argument that just took place, or pick up on the atmosphere in a room that doesn’t feel right. We’ve all experienced this sometime in our lives.

In my case, I have the ability to go way beyond this feeling. My ability can literally be stretched over the canvas of time. It really doesn’t matter if it was yesterday, last week, or even hundreds of years ago. Scenes play out in my mind as I slip back in time, and often the clarity and detail is like an old movie that’s been digitally restored. I feel as if I’m actually there.

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How to Make Sure You Actually Follow Through with Your Goals

How to Make Sure You Actually Follow Through with Your Goals How to Make Sure You Actually Follow Through with Your Goals

In the past, I’ve talked about the power of persistence and what it takes to follow through on your goals. If you have the willpower and drive to pursue your goals NO MATTER WHAT, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

I’d like to take that one step further by teaching you how to develop the kind of relentless persistence — so you’re able to follow through on any goal you desire.

The good news about willpower is, it’s not some inherent skill you’re born with — it’s something you learn and develop. It’s like a muscle — exercise it regularly and it grows stronger and stronger.

So how do you flex that muscle in a way that gets results and helps you achieve your goals?

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Lately

Photo credit: Brett Sayles Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Lately

Death has been with me, getting my attention, saying nothing. So this morning, in a hotel in New York, I take a long shower, hoping the hot, anonymous stream might wash the aches from my heart and the fear from my mind. Yet once rinsed of my memory and worry, death takes off its mask and it is only life trying to get my attention one more time. But I insist, I have never taken any of this for granted. And now, from the inside, I can see the story of the Universe in the homeless man’s eye, and the kindness of time in the sun off the thunderstorm puddle, which will evaporate by noon. Like me. Like you. Now life appears as a small bird drinking from the puddle. So that’s it. All our efforts come down to one life offering itself as a drink to another before we evaporate into everything else. It makes me sad to think that you and I will vanish. But the way this works is elegant: the expending of one life till it is seamlessly absorbed in the next. And so, this morning, these thoughts hardly seem my own.

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Anything Can Work Out Right Now (Unless You’re Not in the Now)

edelweiss-with-mountain-in-background-alps-picture-id824629116 Anything Can Work Out Right Now (Unless You’re Not in the Now)

Are you ready to discover your calling? Or become a household name? Or meet the love of your life? Then rip up your scorecard, baby. Sit at the doorstep of Creative Possibility. Step into this uncorrupted moment, and allow your years, disappointments, and opinions to disappear. Call it Zen. Amnesia. Surrender. The Zone. Whatever lingo works for you. Because as a career and an inspired success coach, I know this breakthrough strategy works. It’s this: I have the willingness to allow things to work out, even if they haven’t worked out before. 

Let’s face it. The eager run through open fields and meet new opportunities. The beleaguered trip on daisies. They call it “experience.”

Recently I coached Julie, a psychotherapist who had three hot new prospects call her in the past week. I felt excited for her. But I noticed Julie’s tone was as flat as my kitchen table, well, as flat as my kitchen table is, underneath a small mountain range of piles. She could have been telling me about historic weather patterns in downtown San Diego.

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10 Ways to Resolve All Conflicts and End War

on-todays-menu-good-friends-and-good-times-picture-id915727756 10 Ways to Resolve All Conflicts and End War

The recent reckless skirmish between the U.S. and Iran held a deep irony. Neither side wanted to go to war, and yet neither side could talk to each other except in terms of war. Language and action go together. If you are stuck in the metaphor of war, with its winners and losers, revenge, enmities that last for generations, and the macho image of the warrior, you can never end war even though you want to.

There is no clean end to war once you are in a war mentality. Winners in one war become losers the next, and combat runs into a quagmire in which it is obvious that neither side will be able to claim victory, war thinking keeps stubbornly drilling home the same metaphor of war. As history teaches us from World War I to Vietnam and now Afghanistan, wars are at once pointless, relentless, and endless. War heroes on one side are war criminals on the other.

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How To Develop A Champion Mindset

boy-and-dog-in-toy-racing-car-picture-id1162019476 How To Develop A Champion Mindset

Life is challenging.

Accept and make peace with that.

There will always be ups and downs. It’s the nature of being in a human experience.

Don’t pray for life to get easier.

Instead work to develop your inner strength and resilience so that you can handle the challenges that life throws your way.

Your challenges are gifts in disguise sent by the universe to strengthen your character. Your dreams chose you for a reason. And your dream will take you on a journey of having to become the person who is capable of fulfilling the vision.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Prosperity

Photo credit: Chris Munnik Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Prosperity
Living with an open heart,
all is real. And we become
briefly all that we meet.


I touch your sadness and I
become sad. I brush against
your wonder and I am restored.


But under all the sadness and
wonder, I remain who I am.


This is integrity, the want to
feel everything and become
nothing.


The orchid in the sun stretches
but remains an orchid.
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How to Set Intentions for the New Year Into Motion: Count Your Teeniest Wins!

all-our-chores-are-done-and-dusted-picture-id1150727431 How to Set Intentions for the New Year Into Motion: Count Your Teeniest Wins!

At the beginning of every year, there’s an energy that’s palpable where you feel such huge promise for newness, in every way. Yes, we all get to start again! YAY. Yoga, Pilates, promises to yourself to change your diet, let go of the old habits that messed you up the year before, start a prayer and meditation practice and quit sugar/alcohol/(fill in blank) for real this time, take some interesting classes you’ve always wanted to do. Everyone is raring to go. Success by design is inherent just in the words “new year”. The failures of yesterday can be erased on Jan 1. That is a big fat promise.

But not so fast. These are all worthy intentions but what if your old self, the one you’re trying to change is not willing to do the list in your hand. What if your old self is so invested in your identity of feeling shitty, lonely, hard done by, angry, etc. that it thinks your new ideas are just phooey and is determined to prove it to you?

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It's Complicated

MShriver.cover It's Complicated
“No matter how many bombs we drop, no matter how skillfully our soldiers fight, we are not responding to the ultimate challenge until we show the world how and why we must all learn to live in peace...”   -Sargent Shriver

I've Been Thinking...

There was so much news this week it was almost impossible to keep up with it all.

We began with stories of retribution, revenge, and a possible war. (Thank God cooler heads seemed to have prevailed.) Then we ended with what’s being portrayed as a war inside the House of Windsor, a.k.a. the British royal family. Impeachment, climate change, a downed airplane killing all on board, and the devastating loss of Australian life and wildlife also competed for our attention. 

Leave it to the queen to sum it all up for us. In a statement from Buckingham Palace, she or her aides pronounced: “It’s complicated." You think? Holy moly.

“It’s complicated” (which also happens to be one of my favorite movies) seems to perfectly sum up our politics, the Middle East, and how many families are feeling these days. 

What I took away from everything this week was this: life is indeed complicated, but it can also be really simple. Like Harry and Meghan, each of us has the personal right or duty to take a moment to step back and reassess what is or isn’t working—be it in our families, our relationships, our places of work, and or our politics. Then we can each make a decision to step up and speak out, or step back and stand down.

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A Conscious Reset

IMG_0456-1200x900 A Conscious Reset

There are times in life when you may feel as if you’re running backward down a dark alley that has no outlet. Kind of like a bad dream. When you finally realize you’re backing yourself into a dead end, there’s nothing to do but stop, take a deep breath, and look honestly at where you are. In fact, you are being given a precious opportunity to fully awaken and live with greater awareness. It’s what I call a conscious reset. And it’s what I’m experiencing right now.

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