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: Mind as Keyhole

Beneath the cloud,
everything is grey.

Above the cloud,
everything is light.

Calling the cloud
unfair is being a victim.

Trying to conquer
the cloud is being a hero.

Calling the cloud a cloud
is the beginning of peace.


A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, discuss a time when seeing things other than how they are led to your feeling like a victim or wanting to be a hero.

This excerpt is from my new book in progress, Returning to Where I’ve Never Been.

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Discover the Secrets of Manifestation

We are co-creators with God, so we have the ability to manifest what we want. However, as we all know, this is often easier said than done. We manifest only what we surrender.     ~Martha Beck, 

Certainly it is essential to visualize what we want, along with our excitement about it. Certainly it is essential to take consistent loving action toward manifesting our vision. But then what?

What does Martha Beck’s statement, “We manifest only what we surrender” mean?

To me, it means that, while I need to have goals, if I attach my joy or worth to achieving the goal, I am limiting my ability to manifest. The reason is that when I attach my worth or joy to getting what I want, I am in my wounded self, and the frequency of my wounded self is too low to manifest. I manifest when I let go of attachment and surrender the outcome to spirit, which is NOT something my wounded self wants to do!

My wounded self, by definition, is the part of me that wants control. Since surrender is the opposite of control, the last thing my wounded self wants is to surrender. If I go unconscious and allow my wounded self to be in charge of my intent, I’m actually creating the very powerlessness that my wounded self wants to avoid, and which is certainly not in our highest good during these challenging times.

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Staying In Alignment When The World Seems Crazy

This morning, I felt it. 

All of it… the tears, the grief, the sense of how REAL this all is. If you are the same — feeling the darkness and the fear, I want to send you a huge virtual hug right now. You are not alone! 

And while the hug may help, the REAL path out of the pit is to stay focused on the solutions. We want (and need) solutions-based ways and protocols that keep us close to our higher power, and help us hold onto a positive vision. 

We need to hold space for a true vision, one that isn’t set on “This will be all over on XYZ date, and THEN I’ll feel better.” Instead, we have to make room for the unknown. We don’t know WHEN everything will be over, or when (if ever) things will go back to “normal.” When we do that, we set ourselves up for failure because there’s no way to know when things will be over, or what the new “normal” will look like. That can cause even more stress. 

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Let's Celebrate One Another

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

I've Been Thinking...


Memorial Day weekend, the so-called “official start of the summer.” It’s also the weekend when we are supposed to focus on those who have given their lives for our country. This year, both have taken on new meaning.

It’s hard to “celebrate” the start of summer when millions are still struggling with a new normal and practicing social distancing. So many of us are walking around masked. Millions are desperately struggling to put food on the table, pay rent, or afford diapers for their kids—all in this “most powerful and greatest nation on Earth.”

 

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Existence and the Virus: A Healing Solution

The COVID crisis is being fought on two fronts, medical and economic, but most people are suffering psychologically. The word “existential” rarely comes up in normal everyday life, but the crisis has created all the symptoms of existential dread: a sense of futility, anxiety about the human condition, and a deep fear of death. This comes as a shocking occurrence, and if there is such a thing as existential healing, now is the time for it.

Questions about existence baffle people, and there seems to be no reason to confront them until the last moment. One of the reasons that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s 1969 book, On Death and Dying, was seized upon by millions is that she drew a map of grief that showed dying patients that the inevitability of death wasn’t terrifying in the end. The five stages of grief outlined by Kübler-Ross—denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance—coincides with what is seen in hospice care. The prospect of death for most people leads to acceptance.

But there is a sixth stage of grieving that applies right now: meaning. The most fortunate patients go beyond acceptance to see that their lives had purpose, that existence is meaningful, and therefore that death lost its final power, which is fear and dread. This is the healing that I think should be embraced now. The actual deaths caused by COVID-19 are outnumbered by the cases of fear and dread being experienced on a mass scale. One way or another, we have all entered the grieving process.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Liminality

The phrase “the Unbearable Lightness of Being” was introduced as the title of a 1984 novel by Milan Kundera. (It also became a movie). It uses Friedrich Nietzsche’s doctrine of the Eternal Return to illustrate Lightness.

The idea of “eternal return,” explains that our universe and our existence, has occurred an infinite number of times in the past, and is cyclical and will continue to occur forever.

This is a heady, intellectual concept, but I’ve been thinking about it lately in terms of how to make sense of the earth (and soul) shattering times we are currently in.

Last year I discovered a new word, liminal, which is also appropriate for these times.

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Feed the Mouse

Got cheese?

The Practice:
Feed the mouse.

Why?

To simplify a complex process spanning 600 million years, your brain developed in ways that are loosely related to the three major stages of vertebrate evolution:

  • Reptile – Brainstem, focused on avoiding harms
  • Mammal – Subcortex, focused on approaching rewards
  • Primate – Neocortex, focused on attaching to “us”

Since the brain is integrated, avoiding, approaching, and attaching are accomplished by its parts working together. Nonetheless, each of these functions is particularly served and shaped by the region of the brain that first evolved to handle it.

In this three-part series, the previous JOT – pet the lizard – was about how to soothe and calm yourself. This affects your brain as a whole, including its most ancient structures and the management of perhaps the first emotion of all: fear. This JOT continues the series by focusing on how to help you feel rewarded, satisfied, and fulfilled – in a word,  fed – which also engages your brain as a whole, with a particular focus on its subcortical regions that emerged mainly during the mammalian stage of evolution.

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The Miracle Of The Coronavirus – Part 3

The coronavirus has sent us all home, so to speak, to assess and re-assess who we are, what we are doing, and why we are doing it. It has mandated a break for eight billion of us from our mindless, urgent, spot-light focus on the particulars of our lives and encouraged us to examine our lives with a flood-light, so to speak. It shows us the little things in our lives from a more accurate perspective. They are little things. Why then, do they appear so large, important, and immediate? Time in isolation allows us to explore these things, if we choose, yet there is no such thing as “isolation.”

All of us, all of Life, and everything we encounter, have encountered, and will encounter belongs to the Universe. They are the Universe. We belong to the Universe. We are the Universe. What is there to be “isolated” from? Can wet be isolated from water? “Time in isolation” is time with the Universe. Every time, anytime, anywhere is time with the Universe. The coronavirus is giving us opportunities to investigate this. If your experience at home includes children, that is time with the Universe. If it includes in-laws, that is time with the Universe. If you have no home to go to, that is time with the Universe also.

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4 Keys To Letting Go Of Your Past

No matter how much you dwell on the past, you won't change it.

The only way to change the effects of it is to release it.

What you've done in your past does not have to define who you are today.

We are all going to make "mistakes." All of those experiences give us the lessons we need to evolve. Take full responsibility for what happened, make amends, then move on.

In this video, I discuss how to let go of your past. We all have things we regret or offenses we're holding on to or hurt we are harboring.
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The Secret to Enjoying a Happy and Loving Relationship - It’s not what you think

When you remember that everyone has conditioned thoughts running their lives (including you) it can relieve unnecessary stress from any relationship.


Everyone’s individual unconscious codes and programs hide the miracles and magnificence of who they really are. 


When someone in your life upsets you… 


Ultimately it’s not about the situation or the circumstances, it’s about the unconscious stories and beliefs around them. 


We’re all constantly being triggered by hidden programs that can have us lashing out and saying and doing things that are not kind, tolerant or loving. This leads to feeling separated from love and going into the low frequency codes of guilt, shame and blame.

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Viewing Life from a Different Perspective

As they say," It is all in the mind". Your mind is your most prized possession, but it is only of consequence when used wisely.

The world is changing and people have started talking about the "New Earth". Did our minds ever conceive of anything so drastic and dramatic entering the lives of humanity, and then turning it into a Global scenario?  Well, life has changed permanently, although we can still agree with the cliched phrase, which is that "Change is the only Constant" 

Over the years, in the mad rush over materialism, human values had taken a back seat. The stresses of life were mainly, "What what one could, or couldn't buy".And yet, all that mulling over seems to be a thing of the past. We are living in the times of a Pandemic, which has brought the world down to its knees. 
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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Conference Of Flowers

The garden grew this way and

that as a circle of flowers gathered

to discuss the meaning of life. The

tulip leaned toward the peony and

asked, “Is there a purpose to any of

this?” The peony, drooping toward

the ground, replied, “Oh, can’t you

see? Our purpose is to open when

filled with light.” The rose shook

its pistil, pondering, “If this is a gift,

then who is the giver?” The shrubs

and trees fell silent till the iris gently

swayed, offering under the wind,

“The giver is that great force that

causes us to break ground.” A young

boy was listening and thought they

were talking about the fate of young

boys. He told his grandfather who

knew the boy had heard the

secret of all desire.

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10 Tips for Surviving Our Stay-At-Home Time

I recently hosted a Facebook Live session filled with tips on how to cope with the anxiety you’re going through right now with the coronavirus and having to stay at home.

I wanted to check in this week and see how you were all doing. Plus, I thought I’d put my 10 Tips in this blog so you can have them handy. I hope they help to make your time at home a little easier and a little less stressful.

Here they are—10 Tips to Survive Staying at Home:

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Where Is Your Home?

The coronavirus mandate to “stay at home” has meant different things to different people. For some, it has meant freedom from external-world busyness and distractions and a return to inner peace and quiet. To others, it has felt like unwanted confinement and loss of in-person social contact. Some have lost their jobs and incomes; others, like healthcare workers, have had no choice but to leave the “safety” of home to provide critical services, despite the risks. All of us are suddenly facing issues of life and death. Our entire world, inside and out, has changed radically and continues to do so. In the midst of these huge ongoing changes, what does home mean?

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Waking Close to the Bone

We each discover the Timeless Center through love and suffering. And just seeing the Center burn under everything changes the way we look at the stars, the way we hold the wood we gather. It changes what we see while making love. Once entering this moment, waves of feeling ache close to the bone. I used to think that ache was sadness, and spent many years trying to get rid of it. But now, it is deeper than not getting what I want or losing what I need. Now I feel this ache, the way the earth feels its core grind about that central fire that no one sees. It is the slight burn of being here. Thankfully, we are brought in accord with life by making a covenant with the sweet ache of being here, each of us hollowed, in time, to an instrument of care. It’s how the fire of life that no one sees keeps singing. This is our destiny: to awaken our soul by loving the Center under everything. This is the hard-earned peace, which no one can teach, that keeps the light of Spirit rising in the world.

A Question to Walk With: Describe what it means to you to wake close to the bone. How would you describe the difference between sadness and a feeling of depth?

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How You Speak Affects Your Finances

Have you heard the research from the universities of Chicago and Munich? If you have a regional accent, then it’s likely you could be earning a fifth less than your colleagues with neutral accents. This is huge news for anyone who cares about their financial potential!

The way you speak has a direct effect on your current finances and your earning potential… but wait. I recommend taking this a step farther than just polishing your accent and really dive deep into how you speak.

How Do You Speak?

Have you ever paid attention to the way you speak? Maybe you take time to think about what you say before you say it in a business meeting or job interview, making sure you select the right words so you communicate clearly and effectively, but have you thought about it any deeper than that? Obviously you understand that the way you communicate in certain situations can have an impact on the outcome of that situation, but what else can your words impact?

I never used to think overly much about how I spoke. I didn’t ask myself if the way I was speaking was genuine for me rather than how I’d been raised and convinced to speak. I didn’t examine my words to see if they built me up or tore me down. I didn’t really take the time to think if I was speaking like me, presenting myself accurately, or inviting what I really wanted through my words.

I didn’t yet understand what a huge impact my words have on my life.

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Surrender or Giving Up?

I was asking Spirit what topic I should write about and I heard: “Talk about the one you’re in” and I smiled. So … I am writing about SURRENDER!  I recently spent the entire morning working on surrender as I rescheduled our trip to Peru. It is such a bummer, and at the same time totally necessary right now.

The day before, around 6:30pm, I got a call from my travel guru who said, “We must decide on Peru – in like 36 hours. Everybody who has signed up for the trip has to make a decision, not just us.” My heart sunk as I realized we would have to contact over 35 people and get an answer within the next 36 hours.  We had been asking for information for three weeks as to what we could do and what the options were … and they were not great. And of course, we all want to go.

The trip to Peru was scheduled for late June, which of course seems so far away; but the reality of it is, as far as international flights go, we could not wait any longer.  So, we had to make the decision very, very quickly to reschedule what dates we could reschedule during a time when the travel industry in general is closed. Hotels are closed, employees are on furlough … so the connections were sparse.

It has been really challenging. And I know this travel situation is not something that is new. It is happening for everyone. So, I am not complaining about it. To try to reschedule things and work on all this stuff without being able to get contacts, emails, responses, and communication within a foreign country was not an easy thing. So, that morning, I surrendered.

In my heart I knew everyone was going to be disappointed, but at the same time I held onto the thought that we still get to go. We just bump it out a year. That was the first surrender. It was certainly a challenge for me and my sense of responsibility because it is my group. I am taking 31 people to Peru. It is my responsibility, my risk, my people. They are MY responsibility. And at the same time, my hands were tied in a lot of ways and I did not have control. I’m not able to just snap my fingers and change it or figure it out or force it. Like there is nothing in my ability to do besides surrender. And so that is why I thought this would be a great topic to write about … because that’s how I started.

I had to sit in the energy of surrender … versus what is the other option?

Just give up?

Just quit?

Cancel everything and just shut down and go hide away and hide under the blankets and be depressed?

That is an option as well.

BUT it is not an option for me.

So, I surrender.

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How to Connect With the Soul of India

In India, spiritual seekers come across the Sanskrit term sacchidānanda, that is,consciousness, existence, and bliss as experienced when encountering Ultimate Reality, or Brahman.

In our journey overview video for our February 2021 journey: Shiva Dancing: Sacred South India With Andrew Harvey, Andrew states: “We are children of divine joy. If we build that joy and nourish that joy, it will grow and grow and finally, it will open into total liberation.”

Andrew is the founder of Sacred Activism, a merging of the passion for God and the passion for activism. His statement on being “children of divine joy” is important to think about when considering a journey through India, a foolproof way to water this divine joy so might it blossom into “total liberation.”

Here’s how to best connect with the soul of India. This is critical for connecting with the soul of who we ought to become if we are to cast light through the perilous shadows currently pervading the world.

Embrace the Soul With Monastic Life In an Ashram 

From our past journey at Shantivanam Ashram: taking food in silence
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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Each Day, an Anniversary

With each passing year,
the climb turns into a drift:
turn of phrase, turn of pot,
spot of sun, touch of dog.


After all this way,
we wake in what we wanted,
like a painting we used to drive
to see in which we now live.


Like swimmers who tire into
ease, we are, on good days,
cradled by the deep.


Thankfully, we have crawled
into the O of ordinary
and found beauty.


We walk our dog, following
the streets that warm in the sun,
share a glass of water, and watch
the cherry blossom bend, one
more year, toward something
no one can see.

A Question to Walk With: Describe a simple detail that carries the essence of a significant relationship in your life. What does this detail represent? Honor this detail by talking about it and its significance to the person it involves.

This excerpt is from my book of poems in progress, Elsewhere.

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Find Your Own Way

Did you truly choose this path?

The Practice:
Find your own way.

Why?

The human body has about 100 trillion cells (plus another ten quadrillion microscopic critters hitching a ride, most of them beneficial or harmless). Each one of your cells has aims – goals, in a sense – controlled by its DNA: cells conduct processes aimed at particular functions, like building bones or gobbling up harmful invaders. Cells also work together in larger and larger assemblies in pursuit of broader goals, such as the 100 billion neurons in your brain that run the nervous system, which as a whole is itself the master regulator of the body.

In effect, there are layers, hierarchies, of goals in the body – and a similar architecture of aims in the mind. For example, operating right now is the goal of moving your eyes over these words, which serves the goal of understanding them, which serves larger goals such as desires to learn new things, new skills, and to be truly happy.

In short, whether in the body or the mind, there is no life without goals. Trying to “transcend” goals is itself a goal. The only question is: Are your goals good ones? In other words, do they lead to happiness and benefits for you and others rather than suffering and harms?

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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