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: The Context of Every Struggle

We spend so much time anticipating what will happen next that we miss the whisper of Heaven that unfolds wherever we are. Though I have known and survived many forms of pain, fear is the troll in my mind that anticipates more. And just as a loud noise prevents us from finding the peace in the center of silence, fear prevents us from finding the inch of Heaven in the center of whatever moment we are in. Yet, no matter how much I’ve been through and how much I’ve learned, I can’t stop the wave of anticipation. No one can. It is part of being human.

But I can escape it from time to time. When fully engaged in learning, or caring for another, or in a moment of devotion to all that I believe about the Mystery of Life—in these openings, the anticipation loosens and I am completely present, at least for a while. The practice of authenticity is building on these moments until they open up our days.

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“I Don’t Know Anything!”

What if you knew that, not only do you know nothing, but that you don’t need to know anything?

“One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.” Socrates

One of my all-time favorite movie lines is in the Alastair Sims version of A Christmas Carol. Scrooge has just returned from his night with the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. He is thrilled that it is Christmas Day and that he has an opportunity to act on his new understandings of life and love. With his new awareness of what life is really about, he delightedly states, “I don’t know anything! I never did know anything but now I KNOW I don’t know anything!”

This is actually a very profound statement. What it means to me is that our ego mind always thinks it knows stuff, but the truth is that it doesn’t know anything. A turning point in my life came when I KNEW I didn’t know anything—when I knew that truth doesn’t come FROM my ego wounded mind, but rather THROUGH my mind.

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Creativity is Your Destiny

When it comes to the idea of creativity, many operate from a very limited view of what “creativity” entails. In the 30-plus years working with patients and students, I’ve heard people say: “I’m not very creative. I’m not really the artistic type.”

Creativity is so much more than artistic talents or mindsets associated with painters, musicians and other creative types. The truth is, the entirety of the universe is made of creative energy. There is nothing that is not made of creative essence.

If you take the entire universe and begin compressing it down, science shows us this compressed version of energy is you. This means, you’re not only intended to be creative; you are made of creativity. Additionally, if science were to break down the physical world we’re living in, it would find that photons, the smallest, tiniest particle known, are completely influenced by our very whims. Each time we think a thought, those photons move and rearrange in accordance with that thought.

That’s how creative we are. That’s how creative you are.

The following story is an example of how powerful our creative force can be when we choose to live from that truth.

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We’re All Connected … Especially Now!

A few short weeks ago, we were going about our normal lives … driving to work, picking up groceries, dropping our kids off at school, meeting friends for dinner, taking trips to see our relatives, attending a live event and catching up with our neighbors at the dog park.

Then it all came to a sudden and unexpected halt that shook the very foundation of our lives!

Now, we’re being urged to practice social distancing and isolation. Residents in many states have been mandated to stay at home. Businesses have shut down. Some cities are closing their beaches and parks. Some countries, such as Italy and Spain are virtually at a standstill.

Like you, I felt a pang of fear in my gut and my head was full of questions as this news was unfolding. Why is this happening? What’s the message we’re supposed to get from this? Will the world as we know it ever be the same?

Weeks earlier, we yearned to step away from our overwhelming schedules so we could spend more time with our loved ones or by ourselves. Now that we’re forced to do it, it’s scaring the heck out of us.

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Lower the Pressure

Is it truly urgent?

The Practice:
Lower the pressure.

Why?

Things come at us with so much urgency and demand these days. Phones ring, texts buzz, emails pile up, new balls have to be juggled, work days lengthen and move into evenings and weekends, traffic gets denser, financial demands feel like a knife at the neck, ads and news clamor for attention, push push push PUSH.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Next to Me

Later, we’ll see Kenzie dance at NYU. She is sixteen and close to her source. She ran through my legs when she was little. I’m fifty years older than her. How did this happen? This morning, in a favorite café, a couple close to thirty. They’re signing some papers, so blinded by their love and dream of the future that they can’t see that the man waiting on their signature is not trustworthy. I want to warn them. Of course, I could be wrong. But more deeply, no one can be saved from their possibility and their path. Not I or the young couple or Kenzie. Near the window, another young man, his arms covered with intricate tattoos. Suddenly, each marking is the story of a life. He has headphones on and is lost in his computer. And I wonder if the ancient, stone Buddhas at Angkor Wat were living beings whose wounds and lessons were inked into their bodies. Like this one. I wonder if, over the centuries, they hardened into these compelling remnants of ordinary people trying to find their way, who we have turned into gods.

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A Message For Times Of Crisis (Dealing with Fear & Coronavirus)

“In Chinese the word ‘crisis’ means opportunity. I believe that in the midst of these times, there is an opportunity, there is something more than before seeking to emerge for not just you and I individually, but collectively as a humanity.”

In this episode, I share some thoughts, ideas, inspiration and perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis that we are currently experiencing. My intention is to help you move through this time with much more insight, wisdom, resilience, willingness, openness and understanding, so that you’re able to participate in such a way you will grow, evolve, purify and cleanse your own consciousness to come out even stronger on the other side. COVID-19 is a wake up call.

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Give Over to Good

The Practice:
Give over to good.

Why?

In every moment, you and I and everyone and everything else – from quantum foam to fleeting thoughts, intimate relationships, rainforest ecosystems, and the stars themselves – are each a kind of standing wave, like the ever-changing though persistent pattern of water rising above a boulder in a river.

We are the result of multiple causes flowing through us. As Buckminster Fuller famously said, “I seem to be a verb.”

This fact is amazing, but it’s corroborated by both modern physics and deep ecology. We can get silly-cosmic about it (done this myself – not only as a college sophomore!), but the implications are very down to earth.

As unique standing waves, you and I are constructed each moment by the currents – the forces and factors, both internal and external – flowing through us. We have no choice about being lived by these currents, continually given over to them.

But we can choose to give ourselves over to the good ones.

By “good,” I mean that which leads to happiness and benefit for you and others; “bad” means the opposite. (Of course, honesty about what is actually turning out to be truly good is important; history holds many cautionary tales about people giving themselves over to things they thought were good – e.g., Nazism – but weren’t.)

Giving over to good means relaxing into, opening to, being buoyed and guided by things like your own naturally good heart, the impulse to take the high road, love, compassion, vitality, courage, the longing for justice, and the wisdom and support of good friends.

Then your life’s wave becomes simpler, happier, and more beneficial.

How?

There are two steps: knowing what the “good” is for you, and then giving yourself over to it.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Signature of Being

I stop in the middle of our conversation on the street and feel those around us working on themselves and their relationships, solving problems and imagining new ways of being. For a moment, as the sun comes through, I can sense the entire city at work on their worth, unlacing trouble, looking for peace, each trying in their own way to be kind and useful in the face of storm and time. I am stopped by the sound and glow of souls being hammered in the smithy of circumstance. I lift my face to the sun, thankful to be part of an unfinished humanity, everyone trying to find the love and keep the love, everyone working as a part in the unseeable Whole. All of us like a medieval guild working in the sun: this one repairing a wheel, that one cobbling a shoe, and another repairing the path, while someone over there is baking bread. And the secret is revealed: we are never more alive than when working on the way.

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A Revolution of One

There are some things we should all know -- without having to think about it: humanity is headed in the wrong direction. Everyone knows this except for those who believe they can benefit from tearing their own ship apart -- while it's still at sea -- in order to sell its pieces at a profit.

But, much as in the timeless story of "The Emperor's Clothes," where no one would speak the truth of their ruler's nakedness for fear of losing the King's favor, so we continue to deceive ourselves. We hope for a happy ending that never comes...because undetected self-deception never ends. How can it when the only thing we change about ourselves are images that have already proven powerless to change anything? And so it is that blame has become the balm of our suffering. Yet, rather than healing these wounds in our psyche, such fault-finding only makes them worse, and the cycle of pain deepens in the darkness of ourselves. Let's be clear:

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We Are All The Helpers

"...in trying to help others, we might come to realize that compassionate action involves working with ourselves as much as working with others." -Pema Chödrön


I've Been Thinking...

The other morning, I awoke early. It was dark outside, and the rain that greeted me the previous mornings had stopped. Now there was only silence at my door.
 

Over the past few days, I’ve tried to stick to my morning routine: Prayer before my feet hit the floor, coffee, meditation/silence, and then exercise. What comes next has been, let’s say, more fluid.

With nowhere to go, I started practicing as if I had to go to work. I got dressed. I got ready. I wrote and practiced “calm, heart-based leadership” for my Sunday Paper team and my Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement crew, both who are also at home trying to stay calm and carry on. I also practiced it for my kids, who have seemed extremely concerned about me, reminding me hourly that I’m in the “vulnerable population“ and that I dare not go out lest I end up in the hospital. In fact my son, Patrick, has moved in with me to make sure I'm not alone. (How touching is that!)

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Our Collective Moment

Our dog, Champ, brings joy and comfort to everyone in our home. 

I've Been Thinking...

“We would like the country to realize that as a nation we can’t be doing the kinds of things we were doing a few months ago…” —Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


That is the truth of this moment and what a moment this is. It’s a moment to listen up, pay attention, and follow the guidelines so that those on the frontlines are better able to do their jobs.

Like all of you, I’ve been trying to make sense of the seriousness of this moment and yet also get some perspective as I’ve lived through many big “moments” in my life. The Cuban missile crisis, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the AIDS epidemic, and of course, 9/11.
 

All of our lives are made up of moments. Some big. Some small. Some inconsequential. Some life defining. Some joy-filled. Some traumatic.

Usually, the moments we experience in our lifetime are deeply personal. The moment you fall in love. The moment your child is born. The moment you get your dream job. The moment someone you love passes away.

It’s rare, however, that we face a collective moment like the one we are experiencing right now. Rarely do we all experience a moment like this simultaneously. 

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Singing Light

When I was ill, I walked
the antiseptic corridors,
holding God so tightly
I couldn’t see a thing.

Only now, years later, have
I had this dream in which
a small bird is singing light.
It follows me and everything
it brushes begins to glow.
I catch it, to have with me always.
But in my hands, it stops singing.

It’s made me see that more than
holding, we need to be held,
by the larger things that
enable us to live out loud.
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Do You Take Accountability For Your Mistakes?

Are you afraid to be accountable for your choices? Discover why and what to do about it.

What’s the first thing you think when you make a mistake? If you’re like most people, you will either blame someone else or blame yourself.

Blaming, even blaming yourself, is not at all the same thing as being accountable.

Why is it so hard to be accountable for ourselves – to take responsibility for ourselves? One of the problems may lie in the connotations we have applied to these words.

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New Life

Do you know how much Spirit loves you? How the Divine Consciousness (Quantum Fred, God, The Dude, Mary and/or whoever else you name Divine) sees you as a spark of its own Infinite Unlimited Potential? That you are definitely not here as a mistake, that your dreams are most important and that your desire for a purposeful new life are sacred?

You’re not being punished or threatened just because transformation is painful.

Just like birthing a baby, we are at an overly prolonged crowning stage and yes let’s all say OUCH together!

Here is what I know today more than ever as I myself have stepped into a more authentic version of myself. Resistance is futile. Have courage and jump in and you will honestly find that if you let go of what’s not working, and you will see this change is magical!

Honestly!

You must feel this chaos at some level within you that mirrors the astrologers’ take on how the planets are teaching us about transformation.

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A Brave New World, and How to Get There

If you find yourself living in a troubled world, what should you do? The question is as old as recorded history, but over the millennia only three basic answers have emerged. If you find yourself living in a troubled world, you should A. Turn to God or the gods, B. Place your trust in science and rational thought, or C. Renounce the world and retreat inward.

These answers have practical outcomes, which is why we have cathedrals, space programs, and monasteries. But what if none of the three time-honored answers works anymore? That’s the general situation most modern people find themselves in, and so they retain a diluted loyalty to old answers in the absence of a better one.  For example, most Americans do not believe the creation story in the Book of Genesis, but neither do they completely believe Darwinism, telling pollsters that in some undefined way God enters into evolution despite the view among evolutionary scientists that Darwin’s theory is completely valid.

The third option, retreating from the world, is actually the one most of us have chosen more or less automatically. We lament the state of the world but spend every day occupied with our personal affairs. If you do nothing to improve the world, you are for all intents and purposes reliant on your own thoughts and actions. A higher authority or proven worldview is irrelevant.

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The Unexpected Pleasures of Aging

One of the greatest joys of my life is that I get to meet some of the most brilliant and evolved humans on the planet and this includes my friend, Chip Conley.

Chip has written several New York Times bestsellers, including Wisdom at Work, and now is the innovator of “becoming a Modern Elder.”

I spent a week co-leading a workshop with Chip a few months ago at his fabulous Modern Elder Academy in Baja.

Today I am thrilled to share with you one of his recent blogs on “The Unexpected Pleasures of Aging:”

Just when I got comfortable in my skin, it started to sag. But that’s okay. I take life less seriously today than I did ten years ago. The Latin root of the word “serious” means weighty and grave. But even though my weight is 15 pounds heavier than it was in 2010, and I’m closer to my grave, I don’t feel more serious.

Buddha said the root of all suffering is attachment, but underneath that attachment is comparison. Part of the reason it can be painful to go to your college reunion is it reminds you of all the comparing you used to do. By the time you hit midlife, hopefully, you see what a silly game that all was… and is.

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Start Your Day Choosing Happiness

When you learn to realize that every kind of stress is your own creation, you begin to understand that it is within your own grasp to be happy or unhappy. You need to actually learn to accept that there is a subconscious which is ruling you,  and it is that very subconscious which can actually relieve you of your stresses. 

The stresses are created in this very state, so they can only be de activated in this state of mind. 

TRANSITORY HAPPINESS

You can remember many instances in your life which made you elated.  It could have been a matter of getting a first class in High School, a post graduate degree with flying colors, the excitement  on the day you got married or when you bought your first car. These were all moments of elation in your life,  but did that happiness continue is the question. It was only transitory, it lasted in moments,  and then after a little while brought you back to your same old questioning self. 

CHOOSE HAPPINESS

You have to learn to make a choice. Life changes everyday from moment to moment. You need to decide what is it that you desire. Allow the divine order to flow through you. 
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Have You Made a Karmic Agreement?

Do you ever feel as though you’re missing out

Lacking in love… 

Low in self confidence…

Crushed by guilt and feelings of low self worth…

You might be surprised to find that you’re not alone.

Some of the most successful people we work with are plagued with these same feelings…

Doubting themselves and feeling unworthy of the very things they proclaim to want most in life.

Each day just feels like a struggle…

Why do you feel these things?

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Helping Each Other Stay Awake

As I travel to offer workshops and retreats, I enter a depth with willing others who’ve been opened and shaped by life. Through that depth, we create a path to what matters by which we enter the temple that is the world. I remain humbled and excited by the mystical fact that, try as we do, this depth can’t be opened alone. We need each other to do this, even though no one can experience life for you. And so we journey as pilgrims of the heart, alone and together, crossing this threshold of depth whenever we dare to tell the truth of our lives.

I open these gatherings by admitting that I have no answers and that we’re here to compare notes, because no one knows how to navigate the mystery of being alive. I then try to open a heart space through which we can enter the realm of all that matters, which is always waiting just below the interruptions of life which, if followed beyond our wants and fears, will lead us to the bareness of being that informs all life. I open this heart space by reading poems, telling stories, and sharing metaphors that reveal the unseeable architecture of existence.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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