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: Allegro 28

I happened into the cathedral downtown
and heard serious, ancient song in Latin
or Greek. Wonderfully, the words had no
meaning but the weight the voices carried,
the search their eyes revealed.

I was happy to receive no message
so beautifully.

It made me want to whittle new myths
for our children’s children
to lose their way by.

Finding is never as urgent
as needing to look.
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Shine forth in glory on the planet

As we step into the New Year with an essential sense of enthusiasm,  we skeptically look behind us at the year gone by.  Even though there are apprehensions galore at how things went by, yet undeniably a new wave of excitement does seem to run through our veins. 

The uplifting sense of warmth and cheer despite the wintry chill of January keeps us smiling with inherent peeps of joy from within us.  

Celebration all over the globe, this year, has had a different meaning. The usual parties and hugs between friends, to celebrate the new level of awakening within us, has had a change in its manner. The year gone by has left us with a fresh perspective on life and it's meaning.  

So many questions to life's mysteries, so many answers of various kinds. 

As always, the onset of the New Year gives us a time for reflection. And this year we can all say in unison from all over the globe that the New Year has dawned with a whole new level of hopes and aspirations. Being positive is now considered a "way of life" not to be ignored. 
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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Finding It

How will you ever find peace

unless you yield to love?

Rabia


If you put down what you carry

in case of emergency, you will make

space for what can really help. For

clutching onto failure or success

will only make you sink.

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Farewell to Florida

As our last weeks in Florida go by, I find myself looking with fresh eyes at the natural world right outside our door, just like I did when we first arrived here. When you know you are moving (and who knows when you will return), everything takes on a special light, a different vibration. Habit falls away and you see every detail with delight and appreciation. A group of ten white ibises with long curved orange beaks walks slowly past our lanai. A palm warbler on the window ledge looks around curiously, bobbing its tail. A giant swallowtail butterfly, the largest in the U.S., serenely floats by and lands on a bush next to the trail where I am walking. A zebra longwing butterfly flutters in the air nearby. So many amazing creatures so close and clearly visible. None of them native to Massachusetts. These are once-in-a-lifetime moments, I say to myself; savor them.

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Colette's Holiday Gift Guide

First off, can we just say that if there’s ever been a holiday season when we all deserve to treat ourselves and each other… it’s 2020! 

As I’ve been looking for gifts to treat my friends, family, and — okay, I admit it — myself, I’ve been naturally pulled towards those that help us create a cocoon of self-care and nurturing (doesn’t that sound amazing?!).

So pull up a squishy chair, tuck your pajama-clad legs underneath you, grab a mug of something warm, and let’s do some self-care gift shopping! 

Colette’s Spiritual Self-Care Gift Guide

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection - INTERIOR PSALM

The wind, skirting the dock, lifts a

veil and I feel a sudden relief. I watch

the endless variations of wave and think,

what will be will be. I have arrived beyond

yes and no. Now the loss of what is familiar

and the fear of what might come are torn.

Now my deeper eyes appear with nothing

between them and the world. The wind

buffs my soul and I slip beneath my name.

A lone duck lands, its bottomless eye con-

veying some message beyond words. I call

the duck closer by the mere authenticity

of my being. Now the duck glides toward

me, swimming imperceptibly, its efforts

below unseen on the surface. As it nears,

I admit that I am as alone as that bird,

gliding on a vast and changing sea,

yet at one with the Universe.
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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Singing in the Face of Days

dhikr in Islam, japam in Sanskrit, witness in English:  the repetition of a name or face of God.


In the air that lets a leaf fall slowly.

In the mud that swallows every blade.

In the bridge that creaks but will not break.

In the fence that fails.

In the secret maps that lead us nowhere.

In the questions that sprout from our mistakes.

In the suffering that makes us give more.

In those slain for no reason.

In those spared for no reason who keep naming the slain.

In how the mind stops spinning its web in light.

In how truth like rain makes tender hearts swell.

In how arms spread like wings when dropping all they carry.

In how petting the dog keeps us from leaving.

In the smoothing of a stone by a thousand waves.

In the smoothing of our ego by the slap of time.

In the drops of blood covered by snow.

In the stories of kindness finally praised.

In how we keep dying without dying.

In how we keep losing without losing.

In how we live in spite of everything. Like

hungry fish parting the water of our days.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Now That You’re Gone

In my sixty-eighth year, I saw a dancer, middle-aged, outside a café. I was at a conference in California and she was hired to dance at lunch time in the open. I sipped my coffee and watched her for a while. Most of us were busy going to what was next. Something in how she leapt and landed softened me. For she was so thoroughly herself that there was nowhere to go. And I realized that all of us were there to find what she had found.

It’s been a week since I flew home. And I’m up early, having dreamt of the dancer being herself. And before the sun comes up, I realize Mom, now that you’re gone, that this was all you ever wanted—to find a spot in the sun where you could leap out from under the turmoil of your life and be thoroughly yourself.

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Finding Beauty and Inspiration in Devastation

There is no denying where we are right now.

The shit has hit the fan.

Or, you more evolved types might say “the shift has hit the fan.”

In this moment in time, where no one knows when the pandemic will end, and how and when the economy will recover, I am navigating my rollercoaster of emotions that range from sheer terror to excitement and possibility.

One of my favorite thought leaders and scientists is Bruce Lipton. He is a Stanford stem cell biologist, bestselling author of The Biology of Belief, and recipient of the 2009 Goi Peace Award, and below is a short explanation of “imaginal cells” that he wrote many years ago that is timely today. I think you will find fascinating and uplifting:

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Perceiving through Pygmalion

Today I’d like to share with you a well-documented phenomenon called The Pygmalion Effect.

The name is derived from the mythical Greek character, Pygmalion, who had carved such a beautiful statue that he fell in love with it...and brought her to life.

In other words, Pygmalion’s perception of this seemingly inanimate rock as a beautiful living woman  changed its very nature into a beautiful living woman.

The effect was popularized by a study that showed that teachers’ perceptions of their students impacted their students’ innate IQ level. When the teacher perceived a particular student as an “intellectual bloomer” (even if this held no measurable validity), that student became an intellectual bloomer.

The Pygmalion Effect then can be seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy…

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Wishing for you in 2020: Serenity

My hope is that you’ll find serenity in the New Year, the calm within the storm, within yourself. 

In this world, we need that calm, centered place!

As I write, I’m looking out at the sky. Moments ago it was pouring down rain. Now there’s a break in the clouds, the light is streaming through, and it’s spectacular!

If we watch and listen, we can find that place again and again. 

HEALTH. SERENITY. GRACE.

That’s what I hope you see in the New Year. 

Nourishing thoughts!

Rebecca

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How to Trust the Universe Fully

Folks often ask me how to develop trust in the Universe.

How do you not have trust and faith in life?

Look around.

We live in a crazy unique, amazing, unbelievable universe.

If you simply just observe life, observe the nature of what is, the nature of life: the sun, the sky, the moon, the animals.

There is an intelligence.

There is something that is functioning for all existence.

Every day for billions and billions of years life was existing.

Life is existing…

Enjoy my short video on How To Develop More Trust and Faith in the Universe. 

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Sitting with God

I don’t believe luck randomly offers people a place in our life.  There is a deeper connection involved when a moment, lesson or even message needs to be shared.  There is a supreme force of power, love and light that brings us together.  We join this energy of infinite possibilities on a journey that brings light and love to the surface. 

This morning, after hiking I created an office space outside.  The sun had warmed the Earth a perfect temperature.  The birds were singing and some of my favorite music was playing.   It was one of those moments that reminded me of how perfect life can be.  My intent was to catch up on emails and begin my blog.  My heart was wide open.

I was thinking about yesterday, an artist confided in me how her art reveals secrets of what is going on in her life.  Each peace shares a connection to what her heart is experiencing at the time of creation.  In the past decade she experienced a divorce, followed by a diagnosis of a serious health threat.  She also had children to raise. It was this powerful need for strength and purpose that brought healing and passion into her art. Finally she is ready to release some of the pieces created in her darkest time.  They have served their purpose.  The healing is complete.  She is now painting over the original art, and sharing a different story for people to connect with.

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Birdsong: Don't Let the Music Die...

In 1962, Rachel Carson called it the “silent spring,” the time when pesticides would destroy birds and other wildlife and leave humanity existing in a half-life of stunned silence. Her work was the impetus for the environmental movement and has influenced millions of people worldwide. Yet today, more than 50 years later, pesticides are still very much in use, and we are facing the slow, agonizing fulfillment of her prophecy. In September, the journal Science published the results of a comprehensive study of North American bird populations. The results: Since 1970, there are nearly 3 billion fewer birds singing their spring songs, a staggering 29% gone from the Earth. Bird experts and conservationists are calling it “a full-blown crisis” and “the loss of nature.”*

The day I read these figures, I wept. I could feel my heart breaking. The losses are so huge. Beloved warblers in all their colorful variety: 617 million gone. Two of my all-time favorite birds: Baltimore orioles, 2 in 5 gone; wood thrushes, 6 in 10 gone. It is hard to fathom. Almost unbelievable. The birds that I eagerly anticipated seeing and hearing each spring are vanishing and may one day be gone forever. What would spring be without birds? Without the robin’s cheery song and the redwing blackbird’s flashing colors and ringing call? Dead air, everywhere.

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Dancing Butterflies, Ghost Orchids, Wild Skies: The Florida Dimension

“To live here is to know God, to live here is to understand the power of Nature, to live here is to celebrate life.”—Panache Desai

Like a quartz crystal sparkling in the sun, Florida has many facets. Last year, in late June 2018, my partner Anne and I moved here from Boston. As we drove south along the eastern seaboard, we felt ourselves dropping past identities and memories along the way. By the time we reached Florida, we were living lighter, not anticipating or looking back, but just being, living fully in the present moment. It was a heightened state of awareness, and it carried us seamlessly to the edge of new beginnings and unexpected experiences in an entirely different place.

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Love the World

Are we really so separate?

The Practice:
Love the world.

Why?

To simplify and summarize, our brain has three primary motivational systems – Avoiding harms, Approaching rewards, and Attaching to “us” – that draw on many neural networks to accomplish their goals. 

Lately, I’ve started to realize that a fourth fundamental human motivational system could be emerging as well.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors depended upon their habitats for food and shelter. Today, over 7 billion of us are pressing hard up against the limits of Lifeboat Earth. To survive and to flourish, cultural and perhaps biological evolution are calling us to love the world.

The world is near to hand in the food you eat, the air you breathe, and the weather and climate in which you spend your days. And then in widening circles, the world extends out to include complex webs of life and the physical characteristics of the land, the sea, and the sky.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: All We Can Hope For

I’ve known this world in all its splendor and breakage for a lifetime. Or has it been a moment, the blink of some cosmic eye that let’s anyone still enough see the script of history all at once. I only know that when the forces of life and I move too fast, we author violence. When we stop and open, we discover a softness at the center of all things that gives rise to a music of acceptance. Very few things evoke this soft equanimity, which feels like a violin exhausting itself at the center of a symphony when the composer has spent his creative storm and is wondering if there’s anything left to say. Every day, the things we love sprout and emerge, or break and wither, as the vine grows quietly up the wall toward the light. Perhaps this is all we can hope for. The other day, we watched a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis, it’s wings still wet. It had to wait for its wings to dry before it could flutter its way into life. Perhaps loving ourselves and each other and life itself is how we dry and open our wings.

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Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll And … Shapeshifting With Plants

A Special Note from John Perkins

I just finished speaking at the Colours of Ostrava music festival in the Czech Republic, am now headed into the Amazon rain forest, and then in September to Omega in Upstate New York to facilitate an experiential workshop: “Soaring with the Jaguar: Shapeshifting with Plants into a Better World.”
 

Question: What do these three seemingly different venues share in common?
 

Answer: They empower us to raise our consciousness, to steer our space station Earth to the future we want. 
 

When I was a Peace Corps volunteer deep in the Amazon in the late 1960s, Ayahuasca saved my life – and forever changed it. Today, shamans, plants, musicians and speakers at many different forums inspire us to change our lives. A large part of the message involves honoring our connections with nature and to being good Earth stewards. 

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: A Lifelong Process

When the question arises, “Why write? Why create?” I’m drawn to ask, “Why breathe? Why climb to a place where you can see the horizon? Why look for things soft and durable to wrap around a wound? Why call into the canyon between us to see if anyone is there?” Because all these efforts help us live.

Repeatedly, we’re called to engage experience as a way to manifest what we carry within us, bringing what is dormant into the world. As the tree that a seed carries breaks ground in time, reflection, dialogue, and writing are seed-like forms by which we release our inwardness into the world. This is why we listen and express. This is why we write, why we create. Because expression is like sunlight that emanates from within. It causes the soul to blossom in time.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The River of Light

Both Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo left a trail of unfinished art greater than anyone else in modern history. Still, they are regarded as two of the most talented artists who ever lived. They are extraordinary examples of how the journey of expression is more important than the final product.

William Blake is another inspiring example. Toward the end of his life, Blake endeavored to illustrate Dante’s Divine Comedy, the medieval epic poem that follows Dante’s transformative journey through Hell and Purgatory into Paradise. Blake created 102 watercolors, planning to engrave them all, but he only had time to begin seven.

More than his immense effort to create art, Blake’s innate devotion was to immerse himself deeply in the thickest currents of life. Though he couldn’t finish engraving his illustrations, I imagine that, at some point, the life-force Blake was so devoted to began engraving him. What more can any of us ask for but to be created by the very thing we feel compelled to create? This is where the holy work of effort leads, regardless of its trail.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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