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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The Future of Personal and Planetary Well Being : An invitation to Sages and Scientists Symposium, Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville Arkansas

Despite a steady increase in life expectancy, medical science is facing diminishing returns. It has been estimated that every increase in lifespan since 1990 has resulted in only ten months of increased healthy life; the rest is only prolonged suffering and the decline of aging. Globally more people now die of so-called “lifestyle diseases” than from infectious diseases. Doctors cannot make choices about lifestyle; only the patient can. Finally, half of all heart attacks before old age occur in people who live a good lifestyle, managing their weight, eating right, and exercising regularly.

What lies beyond lifestyle? That’s a matter of much speculation. Will human existence be improved in the future through technology, genetic manipulation, nano-robots in the bloodstream serving as cancer hunters? Or will it take a new philosophical conception, one that entices people away from a life of speed, constant activity, and stress?

By all odds it will take both, because innovations in technology can’t succeed if we continue to define well-being in old, outworn ways. Consider the following statements, which almost everyone, including doctors, take as fact:

  • The body is a machine, and like all machines it breaks down.
  • Aging is a pre-determined process, probably controlled by our genes.
  • The body is a mindless lump of matter except for the brain, which has evolved to produce mind or consciousness.]
  • The causes of most diseases are now known. What remains is to find effective drugs to target each malady.
  • You are healthy until something goes wrong, which is signaled by the appearance of symptoms.

In reality none of these statements is correct. The body isn’t a machine; machines cannot heal themselves. The body isn’t mindless; every cell is imbued with vast knowledge that far surpasses anything found in medical textbooks. The brain doesn’t produce the mind; that’s merely an assumption that has never been proved.

The most urgent need facing each of us is how to envision our bodies without the burden of outworn assumptions, which is why, starting in two weeks, an annual symposium known as Sages & Scientists Symposium will bring together the best thinkers with views both humanistic and scientific. This year’s theme is “The Future of Well-Being,” and the public is invited to attend. There is nothing on the planet as open to the free exchange of ideas, from every kind of thinker and researcher, all aiming to find a way forward into a viable future.

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Don’t Be Intimidated

What makes you feel threatened?

The Practice:
Don’t be intimidated.

Why?

Humans evolved to be fearful, since anxiety helped keep our ancestors alive. Consequently, we are vulnerable to being alarmed, manipulated, and even intimidated by threats, both real ones and “paper tigers.”

This vulnerability to feeling threatened has effects at many levels, ranging from individuals, couples, and families to schoolyards, organizations, and nations. Whether it’s an individual who worries about the consequences of speaking up at work or in a close relationship, a family cowed by a scary parent, a business fixated on threats instead of opportunities, or a country told it’s under assault by “them” – the same human brain reacts in each one of these cases.

Therefore, understanding how your brain became so vigilant and wary, and so easily hijacked by alarm, is the first step toward gaining more control over that ancient circuitry. Then, by bringing mindful awareness to how your brain reacts to feeling threatened, you can stimulate and therefore build up the neural substrates of a mind that has more calm, wisdom, and sense of inner strength – a mind that sees real threats more clearly, acts more effectively in dealing with them, and is less rattled or distracted by exaggerated, manageable, or false alarms.

How?

The nervous system has been evolving for 600 million years, from ancient jellyfish to modern humans. Our ancestors had to make a critical decision many times a day: approach a reward or avoid a hazard – pursue a carrot or duck a stick.

Both are important. Imagine being a hominid in Africa a million years ago, living in a small band. To pass on your genes, you’ve got to find food, have sex, and cooperate with others to help the band’s children (particularly yours) to have children of their own: these are big carrots in the Serengeti. Additionally, you’ve got to hide from predators, steer clear of aggression inside your band, and not let other hunter-gatherer bands hurt you: these are significant sticks.

But here’s the key difference between carrots and sticks. If you miss out on a carrot today, you’ll probably have a chance at more carrots tomorrow. But if you fail to avoid a stick today – WHAP! – no more carrots forever. Compared to carrots, sticks usually have more urgency and impact.

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Smackdown

Sometimes you’re the windshield;
sometimes you’re the bug….
Sometimes you’re the Louisville slugger;
sometimes you’re the ball.”
—Mary Chapin Carpenter

Life has a way of smacking us down, hard, sometimes repeatedly, when we least expect it. Things can be going along smoothly, and then out of the blue: wham! You are knocked off your feet by a sudden turn of events or twist of fate. It can be a minor passing upset or a major trauma. Life doesn’t tell you ahead of time what’s coming up around the next corner. Each day can be really wonder-full or really challenging. This is how I would describe my life over the past year.

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Joy on hold: Are you afraid to be happy?

“He who laughs the loudest, cries the hardest.” Someone said this in high school during lunch as we watched a girl laughing so boisterously that everyone in the cafeteria turned to look. “She’s so going to cry tomorrow,” she declared matter-of-factly. How would she know? I thought to myself. She was only 15, after all, just like me. And yet, somehow, what she said haunted me in the many years to come.

After that, whenever I had extreme moments of happiness, it would be followed by tears of sadness. So, I learned to hold back. I didn’t want to be too happy because the higher the high, the harder the fall. Each time I allowed myself to feel happiness full on, I braced for impact. I expected to be slammed back down to the ground. But does happiness really lead to sorrow or misery? Is it really happiness that is to blame?

Of course, it wasn’t! The B.S. that was put in my head by a random character in high school took hold of me. I gave it life. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s the energy of manifestation in action—if you believe in something strongly enough, it becomes real.

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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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Who’s Ready to Work Hard and Play Hard?

Did you raise your hand and scream, “I AM!

If you’re like most of us, before you can have fun and shake your sillies out, you probably feel like you need to squeeze in a few more minutes of work before you play. With your computer screen, phablet, tablet, or smartphone always on and filled with things to do, it’s hard to unplug and break away.

And of course, if you do get away from your job responsibilities, you may still need to pick up the kids, help with homework, cook dinner, wash clothes, check the mail and pay some bills. Phew!

If that describes you, then you, my friend, have joined the American cult of “Work Yourself Ragged.” The problem is, being exhausted and not taking time to refresh diminishes your creativity, and cuts into your productivity. And that can cost you money.

I know, because once upon a time I was more raggedy than Ann and Andy put together! (You know, the dolls? Okay, that’s a bad joke, but they are cultural icons and me and my sister had one of each when we were kids. Anyway . . .)

When I started my business, my type A personality was more like AAA+++. I was fully plugged into my belief that I had to constantly drive HARD to get ahead in this all go, no stop world.

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You are a Diamond. Own Your Personal Growth.

When I first began this journey of transformation that began 33 years ago and brought me here, I came to it with a lot of ideas of being victimized by life, of the unfairness of the stories perpetuated in my family by real tragedies, and by my own experience. Why would I believe in a better life? I will be honest, I didn’t trust that it was really possible for me. The issues that dogged us convinced me that life was hard, and it would be hard and when it didn’t work out the way I hoped, it was proof that I had done something wrong, and that fate would continue to prove that I was a mistake. 

Everything changed when I got sober and began following a specific spiritual program. I began to see the world as alive. I see the world today as ensouled—everything animated with life and Spirit. I don’t see myself as a victim ever. What changed? 

Well, it was a number of things I began to do differently—one was attending meditation classes at a Tibetan temple in Toronto frequented by others in recovery who were seeking new ways of living. There was one evening, now indelibly etched in my memory—one of those definitive moments, a turning point in my life when I sat with our teacher after class sharing a moment of hopelessness (which I had less and less but that night I was in some drama about my then-boyfriend.) He turned to me after quietly listening with great patience and said, “You see the hurt, but I see your life is like a diamond, a path of time and great pressure. When you can see the gifts in this, the great value, see what you’re becoming then you will be free.” 

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We All Have Super Powers

I've Been Thinking...

The other night, I had dinner with a new friend. We talked for hours about life, relationships, our missions, and our goals. Then, this friend said something that I had never heard before. It was a phrase that took me aback. “All of us have a superpower,” she declared. “It’s kind of like your cape.”

 

I had never thought of myself as having a superpower, but as I walked home that evening, the description made me smile. I went into the makeup room at TODAY the next morning and asked Edna and Gina (two talented women whom I work with) if they felt that they had a superpower. Like me, neither had ever thought of themselves in that way. Still, they were both able to easily answer the question.

“Being all in with everyone I know,” one of them said. “Forgiveness,” said the other.

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3 Keys to Activating The Flow of Money and Abundance in Your Life

“Abundance starts with remembering who you are. When you remember who you are, you start tapping into that inexhaustible stream of energy that is life. At that level, there is no scarcity.”

Abundance is not about what you have but about your attitude and feelings towards what you have. Abundance is not really about money because real abundance is a state of being. Listen to this insightful episode to learn how to shift your vibration in a way that attracts more abundance in all aspects of your life and the key practice to get out of scarcity.


Some Questions I Ask:

  • What do your relationships and life reflect about yourself?
  • What is your relationship with abundance?
  • How do you feel about yourself ?
  • Can you celebrate everything that you are and are not?
  • How often do you thank your body?
  • What pain, problems or challenges can you solve for humanity?
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To truly make a difference, you don't need to make a splash: A single drop is enough to cause ripples

“I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. Your book is great. In fact, I love it. Your writing style is really good. But you don’t have social media following or a substantial email list.” This is what a publisher told an acquaintance of mine when she pitched her book. Another acquaintance was turned down to be an affiliate marketer by an online course provider because they required at least 250,000 followers and a website with “very good” traffic for her to qualify.

These are just a couple of examples of how social media has shifted the way we’re seen and treated these days. In both cases, they were explicitly saying, “Without the numbers, you are worthless to us.” Through the social media lens, our worth is only as much as the number of followers we have or the size of our email list; the number of pageviews, impressions and clicks; and all the other vanity metrics that people seem to care a great deal about nowadays. So, if you’re not an influencer, forget about it.

In the meantime, while many people strive to be the next Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian or PewDiePie, those who truly want to make a difference in the world get caught up in the crossfire and are measured by the same vanity-metrics yardstick. Those numbers translate to money, after all.

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What Happens to Your Brain When You Complain

Do you need to stop complaining?

It’s well understood that complaining never accomplishes anything positive, but did you know that complaining can have some very real, negative effects on your brain as well?

Complaining can actually rewire your brain over time and set you up for failure, time and time again, without you even knowing it.Research has shown that, on average, people complain about once a minute during a typical conversation.

As with any task that we instruct our minds to repeat over and over again, it doesn’t take long for your brain to pick up on the pattern and develop neural pathways specifically dedicated to complaining.

Just like a musician will develop neural pathways dedicated to the specific movements and thoughts associated with playing their instrument, people who frequently complain will do the same for the act of complaining.

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Shed the Old and Embrace the New.

The way energy works, opens your eyes to a whole new world of possibilities, which we are never really quite aware of. This is a very liberating thought, as it keeps you at the helm of affairs, by giving you control of your own destiny.

EMPOWERING
Since energy understood at a conscious level, allows you to determine, the direction of your destiny, you can allow yourself to be totally convinced of your own power.  We need to understand that energy can be moved, and this is only possible through change, which is only possible through changing our thought process. This also goes to tell us that our stress levels are completely under our control and need to be dealt with accordingly.

CREATING A DESTINY
This statement in itself, shows us the way. In order to create a new life, a new destiny, we need to make a concious change within our own selves.

Shed the old and embrace the new.
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Are You Ready To Own Your Inner Superhero?

Halloween is almost here. Many of us have spent days planning and putting together the perfect costume. I am always fascinated to see the trends in Halloween costumes since I view them as a commentary on what is relevant in today's society. This year, there is no question we will see all sorts of references to what’s making headline news as well as fake news. There will be groups of people representing everything from the IT movie clowns to Disney Princesses to the cast of Suicide Squad. And even though we will have the classic stand-bys like the naughty nurse, Rocky Balboa, or the Addams Family, there is no question that year after year, the most popular Halloween costumes are superheroes. From DC to Marvel Comics to the Avengers, the number and wide array of superheroes that are out protecting, patrolling and partying in the streets are always ever-present on Halloween night!

So, what is it about superheroes that make them so popular? Their superpowers, of course...And the desire we all have to possess them, even if it only is for one night! 

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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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Science Indicates Feelingizations Work!

For those of you who do my feelingizations to manifest your desires, you know that they all begin with a “heart lock-in,” a tool developed by The Institute of Heartmath, to get you into a state of “heart coherence (HRV).”

Essentially you are guided to move your attention from your head down to the area around your heart as you recall and re-experience feelings of love, appreciation or gratitude. You “re-member” one or all of these feelings and as you do, your heart rhythm changes into the HRV state and that is measurable.

Once you are in this HRV, heart-centered state, it is from there that you drop in your desire, for whatever it is you most want to manifest, knowing and trusting that what you have asked for is already yours. These feelingizations are available for free, click the button below!

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An Empire in Collapse

In the Amazon, vast areas of rain forest are burning. Globally, millions of species of plants, animals, birds, insects, and reptiles have gone or are going extinct. Glaciers are melting. The Barrier Reef and corals around the world are dying. Children displaced by the climate crisis and brutal governments are starving, being imprisoned, and murdered. Fascism is on the rise. On and on. . . 

“We Mayans know that it sometimes takes catastrophes of apocalyptic proportions to convince humans to change,” the shaman told our group as we sat beneath the Great Jaguar Pyramid in Tikal, Guatemala. “We experienced this a thousand years ago. Our leaders continued with policies that cut forests, drained swamps, destroyed the environment and changed the climate. Crises followed crises. The once great Mayan empire collapsed.”

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A Meaningful Conversations Moment

I've Been Thinking...

At the Democratic debate last Tuesday night, the final question posed to the candidates was one about friendship.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked each of them to describe a friendship they’ve had with someone who has different beliefs than them. The question came in light of what I wrote about last week, which was the uproar over comedian Ellen DeGeneres sitting next to former President George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game. Lots of people seemed to be upset by the debate question, but I found it revelatory in terms of how the candidates answered it and how they didn’t.

Having the question come up in a presidential debate at all tells us that there is a prevailing feeling of fear in our country. There is a fear that people don’t want to be, or are too scared to be, friends with people who have different beliefs than them.

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Ringo and a Lesson in Grief

I was raised with cows, horses, goats, dogs and a couple other species of animals.  These creatures and our very large garden, taught me at a young age, about the time and energy involved in animal and garden care.  I love plants, but choose to not commit the time to growing them.  For many years that’s how I viewed animals.  I love animals. I even eat a plant based diet because of my spiritual beliefs that acknowledges the sanctity of animals.  Still I didn’t have the time needed to properly care for an animal.

When my children were no longer babies I finally decided I had the energy and resources required to care for a family dog.  This is after years of our oldest child asking for a puppy.

My husband was shocked when my stance of no, no, never..  changed to, “ lets get a poodle.”

That is how Ringo came into our lives.  We bought him from someone out of state.  She claimed her poodles had service dog dispositions.  Ringo was born in December and he came to us in April.  We picked him up at the airport in the evening.  When we opened the crate he was all legs.  He looked more like a young horse then a dog.  He quickly became part of our life.  For the first few years our oldest was the person that slept with and helped care for him.

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See What’s Likable

What’s to like?

The Practice:
See what’s likable.

Why?

Liking feels good, plus it encourages us to approach and engage the world rather than withdraw from it.

Your brain continually tracks whether something is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. In essence, is it a carrot, a stick, or safely ignored? Naturally, we like – we enjoy – what’s pleasant, dislike what’s unpleasant, and wish what’s neutral would get pleasant pronto.

Natural opioids – pleasure molecules – are released when you see things you like; on the other hand, disliking things can activate the neural networks of pain. Liking things feels good, so we approach them; disliking things feels bad, so we avoid them.

We are hardwired to like some things, like the sweetness of sugar, and dislike other things, like shivering from cold. But most situations are in the middle and formed of many parts. Consequently, our response to them – liking or disliking – depends a lot on what we pay attention to and on our own perspective.

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Create a new experience, create a new life.

At every second we are participating in the creation of our destiny. We are constantly shifting on an energy level, and so are, our stress levels.

There is our shifting thought process which is responsible for all that goes on within us. It's totally up to us to be stressed or to remain de stressed.

People are stressed because of taking all their various perspectives into the loop, whether its their lifestyle, careers, personal relationships, and all other aspects , but we need to understand, that all these variants are connected to our inner selves. It is our own personal level of consciousness that responds to it.
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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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