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Honoring the grey to nurture the green in your life

During the last week of 2018, I traveled from sunny, warm Los Angeles, California to wintery Owego, New York. As the doors of the airport slid open, a blast of frigid air hit me square in the face.  My eyes immediately begin to water uncontrollably. 

I loved it.
 
Everything around me was frozen, gray and bare. The sky was gray, the ground was gray, the trees were gray.

I grabbed a coffee in town and fell into an easy conversation with an Owego resident. She is a born and raised Owego boomerang who has lived there for over thirty years. She shared with me how this winter has been one of the toughest for her in a long time because the sun hadn't come out in over three months. I told her I lived in Los Angeles, where the sun shined practically year round. She paused, contemplating her response and then replied, "Yeah, I think I'll take this rough patch we're having here instead."
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When tears start to fall: Why crying is necessary for emotional healing

For many people—especially men—crying creates an effect the way garlic has on vampires. It repels people. Some people don’t know what to do and don’t know how to react around someone in tears. It’s considered a weakness, and in some situations like the office, a taboo. While there are inarguable reasons as to why, when and where crying is appropriate, crying—in healthy doses—is actually a cathartic process that is not only healing, but also builds resilience and strength.

I’m a cry baby. There, I admit it, although I wouldn’t call myself such. Ever since I was a little girl, the people around me called me weak-hearted because of it. I would cry out of joy, sadness, grief, anger, fear, pain, and frustration. I would cry if I felt lost or vulnerable. I would cry over tear jerking scenes on television or the movies. Hard as a I try, I do not seem to have an off switch like many people. The waterworks would just come and I have no control over it and I had always wondered why.

I wanted for it to change. I wanted for me to have control over it. I still do. So I kept searching for the answers. It was not until the recent past that I found it. I learned that not only am I a highly sensitive person (HSP), I am also empathic. Judith Orloff, M.D. on Psychology Today defines an HSP as someone who has “a low threshold for stimulation; the need for alone time; sensitivity to light, sound, and smell; and an aversion to large groups. It also takes highly sensitive people longer to wind down after a busy day, since their ability to transition from high stimulation to being quiet is slower.”

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When Your Dream ISN’T Happening

We’ve all been there. We’ve got a big dream, a desire, or a goal.
We feel pretty sure it’s meant to be.

We do all the right things: we take our inspired action steps, we pray, meditate, dance naked under the full moon.
We re excited. We anticipate. We tell ourselves to be patient.

We read a book or two or three. Take a workshop. Make the effort.

And nothing happens. Not one thing. Ugh!

When this happens to me, the first thing I do is immediately create something fun and pleasurable for myself. I give myself a big dose of love and yumminess.

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Are we drivers in our own biology or victims of our genetic makeup?

The research that first led me to question scientific dogma took place in the petri dishes that are the workhorses of cell biologists' laboratories when I was cloning stem cells. Stem cells are embryonic cells that replace the hundreds of billions of cells we lose daily in normal attrition due to age, wear-and-tear, etc. As hundreds of billions of cells die every day, hundreds of billions of new cells are created from our bodies' stem cell population.

For my experiments, I would take one stem cell and put it in a petri dish all by itself. That cell would then divide every ten to twelve hours. After a period of about a week, I’d have about 50,000 cells in the petri dish. For my experiments, the most important factor was that all of the cells were genetically identical because all of them came from the same parent cell. Then I split up the cell population into three dishes, each with different culture mediums, i.e. each with a different environment. Despite the fact that all the cells were genetically identical, in environment A, the cells formed muscle; in environment B, the cells formed bone; and in the third environment C, the cells formed fat cells.

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Soul Talk On The Hill: CAN SPIRITUALITY AND POLITICS GOVERN?

Have you ever wondered who our congressional leaders are? What do they really believe, beyond what we know of their policies? Who are the people making the decisions for the lives of citizens in America?

“Soul Talk on the Hill,” a series hosted by Sister Jenna takes us into the halls of the U.S. Capitol as she engages in heart-to-heart conversations with some of our Congressional leaders. The series takes us where no policy hearing ever has. Together, we will discover the heart and minds of the men and women of the United States Congress.

Are we united in some way? Do we share a common story and wish for humanity? You will be amazed by the profoundness that some of our leaders’ responses to these questions entail. If more people were exposed to this series connecting these members of Congress to the average individual, Capitol Hill will no longer be a distant mystery to the American public.

The future of the United States Congress is progressive and hopeful. The 116th United States Congress, which just convened on January 3, 2019, includes a record number of women, minorities and first-time candidates who ran for office. Women make up nearly a quarter of its voting membership – the highest percentage in U.S. history. These times are a big wakeup call and they require each and every one of us to develop strength and discerning powers so that we can make choices that benefit the country as a whole.

Tag, You’re It

“Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”  — Henry David Thoreau

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the different speeches that have been on TV these last few days.

Yes, I watched the president speak from the Oval Office on Tuesday about the wall and our government shutdown. I also watched the Democratic leadership’s rebuttal right afterward.

Neither of these speeches moved me. Instead, they just made me mad. They made me mad about where we are right now in our country. They made me mad that so many hard-working Americans aren’t being paid and are struggling to get by. They made me mad that our country’s leadership can’t come together and find some path to common ground. They made me mad because, if you ask me, it feels as if the president and the Democratic leadership have put up a wall between themselves…

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Magic Happens When The Self Aligns With the Soul

Dearest You,

I wonder if you know what your soul needs, and is that different than what your small self wants? Are they ever the same? Can they be? The answer is yes and when they align you’re in the magical miracle zone!

As I went over my 2019 list of what I intended to manifest in my life, I asked myself this question. Are my intentions in alignment with my soul? For a long time now I have known that if I only focus on my wants and desires without giving equal space for the needs of my soul I find that my manifestations will not be satisfying. There is a big difference between inspired intentions and wanting something to happen.

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Drop the Stone

Are you lugging around a needless burden?

Is it heavy?

The Practice: 
Drop the stone.

Why?

As we begin a new year for many people, it’s natural to consider how to make it a good one. Besides taking action in the outer world—from fixing a dripping faucet to feeding every child—we can act inside our own minds... and take the benefits with us wherever we go. This year, what do you think are the top five things you can do inside yourself to be happier, stronger, wiser, and more loving?

In this JOT and those that follow, I’ll suggest my own top five:

  • Drop the stone
  • Let it flow
  • Take in the good as you go
  • “Us” all “thems”
  • Open into awe


So, what do I mean by “drop the stone?”

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What Does This New Year Hold For You?

"I Wish" is enough of a statement. As we step into a New Year, we always have mixed feelings."I want this" "I wish I could have this" "My this year's resolutions" "My this year's activities "

Each one of us comes up with our own Wish List and our own unique ideas on what the New Year holds for us. Which direction do we choose, or do we choose at all. In today's world I feel every thinking individual does like to believe that he is giving himself a chance for the better, in every which way.

Each one of us is geared towards getting the maximum from their own lives in terms of happiness and success.

According to me, I will give my readers an insight from my own personal perspective on which direction they should take, and how to go about achieving a happy and stress free life.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Mansions We Dream Of

I have longed for people I thought I would die without. And wanted books and music I was sure would bring me peace. And I’ve driven myself to accomplish things I thought would secure my worth. And though I seldom touched what I longed for or got what I wanted or achieved what I pushed for, the remnants of my longing burned like ancient wood on the fire of my soul, making the heart of my being burn brighter. To my surprise, I loved and worked and pushed till I used my self up. To my surprise, using my self up was the fate under all my aspirations. At the end of all we want, we’re meant to glow. So long and want and dream till you exhaust your heart’s desire. We learn so much from longing, and wanting, and dreaming. Mostly, that they are not the mansions we dream of living in, but the wood that keeps our fire going.

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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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Your Adventure Awaits

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” — T.S. Eliot 


On the first day of 2019, I sat down and meditated on how blessed I am to get this chance at a new year of life.

I focused on my intention to embrace the year ahead as one big magical adventure. My mind raced at times while thinking about this challenge to myself, but as I slowed down and focused my breathing, I found myself feeling calm and hopeful about what’s ahead.

If I have one big goal for this year, it’s to approach all of my professional and personal decisions from a place of adventure in 2019. Or, as one of my favorite poets the late John O’Donahue writes, I want to “awaken my spirit to adventure” this year. (You can read his poem in the “Sunday Reflection” section below.)

This year, I want to venture out, venture forward and venture into the unknown. I want to make decisions by asking myself, “Am I going to see and/or experience something new by doing this? Will it scare me or push me outside my comfort zone? Will I be able to look back and feel like I learned something or grew in some way? Will it be fun, meaningful and worthwhile?”

If my answer to these questions is “yes,” then I’ll know I’m making the right choice.

In 2019, I want to push myself to try things I might have said “no” to in the past. I want to challenge myself to keep an open mind about new opportunities. I  want to stop looking at the items on my calendar as things I have to do, and instead, view them as experiences that I get to embark upon. And, I want to keep track of it all along the way.

That’s why I’m excited about “I’ve Been Thinking… The Journal,” which came out last week. This journal is a place for me (and for all of you as well) to write down what I’m thinking and experiencing throughout the coming year. It will also be a place for me to document how I’m feeling, what I’m excited about, what I’m scared of, and what I’m hopeful about.

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Make 2019 Meaningful & Amazing

We’re at the beginning of the year and if you’re anything like me you’ve got your intentions all set and raring to go! But, sometimes the “new year new you” vibe can create too many expectations that can weigh heavily on you especially if you haven’t put closure on last year!

Imagine that you stepped into the new year still dragging along a big bag of invisible stuff you don’t actually want, nor is even vaguely good for you Yet here you are trying to jump up and down with glee about all things new however your jump up is so lame and everything feels so slow and heavy? It’s like you’ve taken a detour in your mind and you find yourself all wrapped up about a future outcome that can’t make lift off! This can leave you feeling like you are fending off negativity at every turn. Or maybe your mind has run willy-nilly to a past hurt as if it just happened? Or, perhaps you are wandering in the potentials that seem so far away from where you are now, that you get confused as to how anything could happen to move you forward? It’s a big ol’ New year Hairball!

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What Does It Mean to Live in the Present?

In recent decades the concept of living in the present moment has been widely discussed, prompted by the surprising success of Eckhart Tolle’s 1997 book, The Power of Now. For millions of readers Tolle’s basic thesis, that there is something special about the here and now, came as a spiritual message they could seize upon in daily life.

The power that the present moment possesses, as many people now believe, is its reality. To be in the now means that you are not distracted by memories of the past or expectations about the future. You dwell instead on whatever is right in front of you, applying mental clarity, alertness, and your full attention. Simple enough—until one looks deeper. Young children live in the now. Are they better off for it, considering the years of maturation that lie ahead to bring about full-fledged adulthood? The elderly suffering from dementia typically have severe memory loss, forcing them to live only in the passing moment, and this condition becomes confusing and blank, not to mention a source of distress.

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Crush the Box

Learning to live outside the box is essential to living your authentic life. This is difficult because we often have perceptions of reality imposed by society. Our western model of success (a house, kids, picket fence, two cars, etc..), may not bring the fulfillment and happiness you’re looking for. Our high-tech, low-touch society doesn’t promote your unique brilliance. But there is something greater and unique within you, waiting to get out of the box.

Have you ever been told that you weren’t good enough? Have you ever felt that your ideas were unimportant? This happens all the time. Belief in judgement and unrealistic expectations limit your potential. Your belief of these lies needs to be transformed into realization of your full potential. Your beautiful, unique expression lives outside the box.

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Acquire Goodwill

Ill will creates negative qualities whereas good will creates positive qualities

Do people ever make you mad?

The Practice:
Acquire goodwill.

Why?

As the most social and loving species on the planet, we have the wonderful ability and inclination to connect with others, be empathic, cooperate, care, and love. On the other hand, we also have the capacity and inclination to be fearfully aggressive toward any individual or group we regard as "them." (In my book - Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom - I develop this idea further, including how to stimulate and strengthen the neural circuits of self-control, empathy, and compassion.)

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Stop Facebook? And Other Questions For The New Year

Questions you might ask yourself as you contemplate 2019:


1) Should I stop using Facebook, given all the controversy around the sharing of information with other companies and possible collaboration with the Russians?

2)Should I stop shopping at Amazon because its founder makes so much money, appears to exploit his employees, and pits cities against each other for lower tax rates and fewer employment benefits?

3)Should I stop drinking water in plastic bottles because of the horrendous damage the petroleum and plastics industries are causing?


Those questions and others like them remind me of one asked of the Dalai Lama by a member a group I led to India a number of years ago when we met in the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamshala. The questioner referenced a call for everyone around the globe to pray for peace on a certain day.

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The Secret Sauce to Achieving Your Goals in 2019

Successfully manifesting your desires is a combination of several factors.

First, you need clarity on what exactly you are asking for.

Second, you need to take time each day to move out of your head and into your heart to feel what it will feel like to have that desire right now, in this moment. I call this a feelingization.

And finally, you need to implement the “secret sauce.”

Research shows that making goals is useful. People who set goals are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t!
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How to Achieve Your Missed 2018 Goals in 2019

With the New Year comes a time to reflect on the goals you achieved in the previous twelve months – as well how to overcome failure of not achieving some goals in 2018 – because your failures are just as important for your growth as your successes are.

Failures teach you extremely valuable lessons you need to learn in order to be better able to create the life you want in the future.

But you have to be willing to acknowledge your failures and then analyze them in order to extract new awarenesses and wisdom from them.

Here are 5 tips to overcome failure and achieve your missed 2018 goals in 2019.

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A Reflection As We Approach the New Year

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.” — T.S. Eliot

Another year is upon us. Isn’t it amazing?

It feels like just yesterday that I was embarking on 2018 and preparing to launch I’ve Been Thinking… into the world. At the time, I had no idea how the book would be received or whether people would enjoy reading it. I have to admit I was even a little scared. But today, I am able to look back on this past year in awe and with deep, deep gratitude.

I loved being on the road this past year meeting so many of you at book events. I also enjoyed meeting you at our Move for Minds events benefiting The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, through my work at NBC News, and through my work with my daughter Christina talking about our Netflix film “Take Your Pills.” Being on the road throughout 2018 was inspiring and invigorating. Why? Becaus eit gave me a chance to meet so many of you, our Sunday Paper readers.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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...on all things life, wellness, love, transformation and spirituality...

 PLUS! Get your FREE Guide: 12 Mindfulness Practices to a Peaceful Mind