A Complete Guide to the Practice o Meditation

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The Language of Clouds

“I’ve looked at clouds
from both sides now,
from up and down,
and still somehow,
it’s clouds’ illusions I recall;
I really don’t know clouds at all.”
—Joni Mitchell

When I was a small child, I saw clouds as one-dimensional, as if they were painted on the sky by some artistic giant. It was really only after I flew in an airplane many years later that I perceived the three-dimensionality of clouds. At 20,000 feet, flying above and through them, I could see their depth and dimensions, their constantly changing shapes and sizes. It was a revelation to me, and I became fascinated with them. Even on the ground, I could see that they were not really paper-thin but often thick and expansive…and constantly morphing into new forms.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Labyrinth to Shared Happiness

Though I run to get out of the rain, it’s standing in the rain with my hands on my heart that is cleansing. Though I run from the pain, it’s standing in the pain with my face to the sky that is healing. So I never stop peeling the hurt, never stop trusting life to burst through whatever I have to face. Even when lost, there’s a truth we carry that—when released—can return us to the ground beneath all trouble, beneath all pain, beneath the worm in our mind that wants to run. Facing things together is how we move through the labyrinth of trouble, from thinking alone to feeling together. So when my head is burrowed in what I can’t put down, when I can’t find what I’ve just said, please, hold your kindness like a mirror, so I can begin again. Tell me that, hard as it is to accept, the path is right where we are, when too exhausted to chase anything. Remind me that the angels we seek flutter within us, using our hands as their wings.

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Having it all: is it possible?

Some women just seem to have it all, don’t they? Great family, supportive friends, an ideal job situation, the perfect house, and a great wardrobe and hair to go with it. And somehow, they manage to make it look so easy.

Materially speaking, there’s a big focus on ‘having it all’. Often, we are judged by the number of things we possess with our character being a distant second. We envy those women who seem to be swimming in successful personal, professional and financial lives; and we’re left to constantly wonder how they do it.

But there is a misconception here. Especially in today’s world of social media and keeping up with a perception that may not even be someone’s true reality. Maybe those you wish you could be more like are swimming in debt from keeping up appearances. Or others whose “dream lives” you wish you had are killing them inside from stress and anxiety.

To truly have it all, you must refocus your attention. Energize the things that money can fuel, not the material possessions that money can purchase.

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Letting Go of What No Longer Serves You

Spring is a time of renewal in nature. As the cold retreats, it leaves behind the detritus of winter.

All the junk that collected under the snow and the now-sodden leaves from last fall makes the outside world look like it needs a good washing. Now, think of a spring rain. As it falls, it carries away the dirt and the grit and the grime. It leaves behind a clean slate that’s ready for the fresh greens of spring.

The custom of spring cleaning is an imitation of nature’s seasonal house cleaning. The weather is finally warm enough to throw open the windows. The sunlight and the fresh air remind us that now is the time to get rid of all of our own dirt and junk that has accumulated during the cold and dark of winter.

In my house, that’s a lot of junk. You can’t believe the stuff that accumulates with four little ones. Developmental toys, parts and pieces of games, board books, broken crayons, markers long-since dried out. Baby blankets, soft toys, dolls, and piles of stuffed animals that somehow keep getting bigger. Then there are the piles of outgrown clothing, shoes, and accessories. (Please tell me, how did the time go by so quickly?) When it comes to this stuff, there isn’t a stage that I don’t adore. Newborn, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, one year. I swear, by now I’m capable of starting my own Salvation Army Surplus Store.

I admit it, I’m a collector. I’m also unabashedly sentimental. I have a penchant to pack away everything in order to save it from the dumpster, the recycling center, and the second-hand store. In the wee hours of the night, I’ll gently unpack a box of old baby clothes, hold them to my heart, and reminisce about the old days. And then the tears are unleashed. My husband always says that if we lived in a smaller house, I could qualify as a true hoarder. He says it with love, but if I’m honest about my “collecting” tendency, it might be more than a little true. I think saving stuff is my way of trying to stop time from stealing away the present and turning it into the past.
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What Can We Do Without?

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”  — Nelson Mandela


When I read that ratings were up for this year’s Academy Awards—the “no-host Oscars,” as they’ve been called—I have to admit that I wasn’t surprised.

It also got me thinking. If the Oscars can succeed without a host, then what else can we live without that we haven’t considered before?

Well, this week’s news gave me plenty of ideas.

For one, I can really live without the Catholic Church’s response to clerical abuse. It’s pathetic. I can also do without their ridiculously outdated stance on women. It’s absurd.

And while I’m on the topic of religion, I can also do without the United Methodist Church’s ruling this week to keep its ban on same-sex weddings and the LGBTQ community. I mean, are you kidding me? “Shame on you,” as my mother used to say when she saw someone acting in a less than noble manner. Shame on both of these religious institutions for their lack of inclusion, love and acceptance.

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How the Power of One Could Change Everything

Modern machines are assembled from separate moving parts, a fact that seems so obvious that we usually don’t notice its vast influence over us. But the image of a machine extends to the human body, which is an assemblage of trillions of separate cells, and ultimately to the universe, which is considered an assemblage of atoms and molecules beyond numbering.

So ingrained is the machine metaphor that it has taken centuries to realize that it has a fatal flaw. The human body and the universe operate as a single wholeness that cannot be explained mechanically or even logically. The general public has a vague acquaintance that quantum physics changed how science views space, time, matter, and energy. What escapes general notice, however, is the revolution that followed the quantum revolution.

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Call on Kali to Cut the Ties That Hold You Back

This week is the beginning of Mercury retrograde in the dreamy mystical sign of Pisces calling up opportunities to redo and revisit some of our leftover internal “stuff from the past”. I am one of those irritating people who loves the retrogrades because I’ve always seen how I can improve and shift my life if I don’t avoid them. If you work it right, you will slow right down, calm down, stop caring if planes are late or if your address book got erased and do the work required.

I see Mercury retrograde in Pisces visually. So, stay with me here and imagine a scene from the movie Moonstruck with Cher and Nicolas Cage when he babbles at her about how much he loves her the morning after they sleep together and she slaps him and yells, “SNAP OUT OF IT!” at him.

I kinda see the Goddess Kali the same way. You can’t BS yourself at all when she is called on to enter the picture. Got a resentment you’re nursing like it’s your new demon baby? Kali will help you cut the ties to your obsession and cut the crap and get accountable for your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors.


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The Key To Freedom From Suffering

No one is responsible for your happiness.

You are.

No one has power over you unless you allow them to have it.

The more you need other people and external events in life to be a certain way in order to feel free, the less free you will end up being.

When you take full responsibility for your inner experience you become powerful.

What are you making responsible for your current experience?

Who are you making responsible for how you feel?

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Relationship Conflict that Gnaws at Our Insides and How to Resolve it

Conflict is an essential part of life. It happens to us in every situation, whether it is within us or in our external zone. We are constantly bombarded with conflicting situations. Relationship conflict is what we are going to talk about, it could be with a friend, a relative, your child or spouse.

ONGOING CONFLICT

The conflict happening in our lives could be an ongoing situation, gnawing at the inside and creating a level of stress that continuously keeps mounting. This can affect health negatively and even affect longevity.

UNRESOLVED STRESS

This type of conflict can lead to resentment and further on to more unresolved conflict.

Most of the time, people tend to suppress their anger or their conflicting feelings, they simply go along with the others, to keep peace within their sphere of life. This doesn't really help. It just keeps brewing under the surface.

UNRESOLVED FEELINGS

People have a habit of shutting down a conversation, the moment it gets heated. They feel that by simply keeping quiet, things will get resolved. But we need to realize that by suppressing feelings, it does not lead to any answers.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Where Are You?

My teacher appeared to me

in the midst of my grief for him.

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How to Stay Focused On the Light

“We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light a candle that can guide us through the darkness to a safe and sane future.”  — John F. Kennedy

How does one stay in the know, without getting lost in the noise?

This is a topic I touched upon in my essay last week, but I want to raise it again because it’s a question that I think about almost every day.

It’s a question that I’ve started to pose to my friends, to thinkers that I admire, to our Sunday Paper columnists, and to those who actually are awake to what’s going on in the world. I want to know what they think and how they’re dealing. I want to know how they are balancing the weight of the world with the need to stay focused on one’s own life and inner world.

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Why Can’t We Get the Brain Right?

For many decades It was assumed that the human brain must be special, as superior to the brains of other mammals as our minds are. This specialness was never seriously questioned, and even basic facts, like asserting that the human brain contains 100 billion neurons, were arrived at with surprising casualness.

In an interesting 2013 TED talk, the articulate Brazilian neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel offers clarity for the first time on several of the basic issues. After devising a way to dissolve brain cell membranes so that only the nuclei remained, and isolating them to be counted, she determined that the human brain contains 86 billion neurons, the most of any primate. Even though the human brain is a small fraction of our total weight, it uses 25% of a person’s daily calorie consumption.


That may seem like an incidental fact, but Herculano-Houzel makes it the cornerstone of her argument, which declares that the human brain isn’t special. We have primate brains, she says, that are in proportion to our primate relatives like chimpanzees and gorillas. But in an odd evolutionary twist, chimps and gorillas cannot sustain the calorie load of an immense brain by eating raw food. Typically, a great ape feeds for eight hours a day to sustain its large body, and over time a choice was made to prefer a very large body with a smaller number of neurons.

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Discover Stillness

Wherever you discover stillness enjoy it and let it feed you.

What doesn't change?

The Practice:
Discover stillness.

Why?

Things keep changing. The clock ticks, the day unfolds, trees grow, leaves turn brown, hair turns gray, children grow up and leave home, attention skitters from this to that, the cookie is delicious but then it’s all gone, you’re mad about something for awhile and then get over it, consciousness streams on and on and on.

Many changes are certainly good. Most people are glad to put middle school behind them. I’m still happy about shifting thirty years ago from single to married. Painkillers, flush toilets, and the internet seem like pretty good ideas. It’s lovely to watch grass waving in the wind or a river passing. Fundamentally, if there were no change, nothing could happen, reality would be frozen forever. I once asked my friend Tom what he thought God was and he said “possibility.”

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How to Get Stress Free Fast

Stress is something we all feel from time to time but it shouldn’t control your life.

In fact, you can take control of the stress by taking radical personal responsibility for the way you react to that stressful situation.

First of all, it’s vital to act out of integrity and silence the ego mind’s rantings, blaming everyone else for the pain and confusion.

Next, remove yourself from the situation if at all possible. Even stepping away temporarily has tremendous benefits.

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How the uniqueness of your own persona impacts your stress response

We are all creatures of our own kind, unique to each experience. We react to situations according to our individual perception. We can actually say that we each one of us respond to stress in our own unique fashion.

Although most of the responses seem to have a universality about them, as basic human nature remains the same, yet I feel that our personal identity which reflects the uniqueness of our own persona also impacts our stress response in a given particular situation.

I think and feel that the most fascinating part of the human species is the individual status of each one of us. Of course in the lesser aware and lesser educated beings a commonality of thought does exist, but it is only the uniqueness of a person that truly impacts society and social norms.

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The Unbusy Life

“I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.
Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
as though with your arms open.”
—Mary Oliver

When Mary Oliver died last month, I felt I had lost a kindred spirit from this world. Someone who lived a life of deep connection to, and quiet contemplation of, nature’s never-ending miracles. All my life I have been drawn to quiet contemplative moments more than busy social activities. Even as a child, although I loved playing with my friends at school, something in me craved the experiences I had in my own backyard alone with nature.

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Our Tears Are Just Rain

Wow. Is it really true? I haven’t written a word here on this site for one whole year.

1-11-2018. One year ago today. Well, I cannot, will not let 1-11-19 pass without writing. The magic of this day revealed itself to me four years ago. You can read about it here if you’d like.

And so I honor it by putting my fingers back on the keys. Because a message from beyond is a treasure not to be ignored.

When The Voice talks, I listen and do my best to honor it.

I wish I could report that my book “Pink is Everything!” is humming along but it came to a screeching halt months ago.

I think I need more Pink balloons floating on my ceiling.

2018 was rough. It forced me to dig deep, uncovering old uncomfortable truths and wounds. I cycled through joy and sorrow and even anger, an emotion that doesn’t visit me often but maybe is buried so deeply I don’t even know it’s there.

After a few months of riding this wave, I checked in with my astrology-minded friend who took a look at my chart and remarked: “Barbara, if I didn’t know you better, I’d worry you were going to jump off a bridge.”

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3 Keys To Dealing With Criticism

....... It’s never easy when someone criticizes you. It can hurt or even be really painful at times.

Most people hide and never fully express their true gifts out of fear of being criticized.

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Are You OPEN to Magic & Miracles?

Here’s what I love most about the Law of Attraction: it works! And nearly every day, since 1984, I have more and more proof that it
works.

Now I know many of you have lots of proof that it hasn’t worked for you in the past and that is no reason to give up on it. It’s a delicate process that takes time to master and has “laws” that take time to understand…especially the one about Divine Timing which can be the most frustrating because you can’t have what you want as fast as you say you want it.

There are many ways we approach manifesting a desire.

Some of us take the “if it’s meant to be it will just happen” approach. Others take charge and go into “make it happen” mode.

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Be your SELF not your selfie: The reality about our story on social media

How many of you have taken a selfie? If you have, raise your hand. Okay, I can’t really see you raising your hand but I’m pretty sure most people had taken many selfies. In fact, in the past I took many selfies even before they were called selfies using my camera’s self-timer (yeah millennials, go ahead and laugh), all because of Facebook. That was around 2007 before it exploded to having more than 2 billion daily users. It was back on the day when updating your status was still done in the third person and the newsfeed was called the Wall. These days, even my 68-year old mother takes selfies to post on Facebook. So yeah, we all have done it.

 All these years, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with social media. I’ve deactivated my accounts many times in the past and stayed offline for years. The superficiality of it all really bugged me. I am the type of person who would rather have a handful of close friends instead of a big circle. But the person who introduced me to Facebook is the type of person who “collects” friends because, as she puts it, “You’ll never know when you need them.”

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

Join Soulspring for conscious insights...

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

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