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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Always Building and Mending

Pixabay Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Always Building and Mending

I start each day by opening the blinds and making coffee for my wife. This way, I enter the day by letting in light and doing something for someone I love. From there, come what may, I’m centered in the strength of light and care. Then I feed our dog and go to work, which for me is re-entering my conversation with life. Like an astronomer who spends his days looking into the galaxy, tracing the movement of stars and planets, I look into the inner galaxy, tracing and mapping what I can.

By midmorning, I take Zuzu, our yellow Lab, for a walk. It’s there that the trees and birds begin to speak. Or rather, I begin to listen, as they’ve been sharing their secrets constantly. Most mornings, I see birds tending and feeding their young, flying to and fro with twigs, or pecking at the ground for seed. They’re always building and mending their makeshift nests. Much like us, going to and fro to gas up the car, and pay the bills, and get the tools we need to patch the roof. Endless tasks that keep us a part of life.

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God Is a Blue Heron

blueheron God Is a Blue Heron

Every day I walk two miles on a nature trail near where I live. I have come to call it my “walk with God” because in nature I often feel that deep connection with all I see. One recent afternoon, before leaving on my walk, I stepped out onto the lanai just in time to see a great blue heron standing stationary at the water’s edge right in front of me. Its body was stretched tall, its legs long, its eyes alertly focused on something nearby. Its presence was so striking that to me it felt like an extraordinary being dropped in from some other celestial realm. As it walked majestically by, that impression only intensified. “God is a blue heron,” I thought.

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The Power of a Renewed Mind

Source: Unsplash The Power of a Renewed Mind

When the new year rolls around, many of us resolve to change something about our bodies, our careers, or our relationships. All of those things, though, are external. What will bring about a real change in your life is a change in your mindset.

The effect our mentality has tangible aspects of our life is astounding. You'll find that a renewed mind can put a new shine on aspects of your life you may have neglected, and help you to see the beauty in the small things. Here's how to achieve a refreshed mind in 2019.

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156 Hits

Relax, You Are Already There

relax Relax, You Are Already There

We spend so much of our time trying to get somewhere.

Are we there yet?

The Practice:
Relax, you are already there..

Why?

We spend so much of our time trying to get somewhere.

Part of this comes from our biological nature. To survive, animals – including us – have to be goal-directed, leaning into the future.

It’s certainly healthy to pursue wholesome aims, like paying the rent on time, raising children well, healing old pain, or improving education.

But it’s also important to see how this focus on the future – on endless striving, on getting the next task done, on climbing the next mountain – can get confused and stressful.

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The Language of Clouds

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“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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The Unbusy Life

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“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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How can we raise our children to be ecologically conscious?

ecology children How can we raise our children to be ecologically conscious?

Question: I am the father of a three year old. It appears that, given the current trends, the planet will become uninhabitable before he can live out a normal life span. There will be a lot of suffering if human life on the planet comes to an end. I understand that it is all supposed to be perfect, but how do you view this situation from a cosmic perspective and what should we be doing at this time?

Ram Dass: I think that more than ever we are beginning to awaken to the fact that we are part of an eco-system and that we are entities in that with some responsibility for the nest we live in and the maintenance of the nest. In the same way that we clean up our house, we also have to clean up our environment. That consciousness seems to be slow in happening because the motivation to keep it from happening  — because there are economic costs in that awakening  —  that in the reorganization — not in the long run, but in the short run — there is an economic realignment of power.

And the people that have the power have a lot of inertia. I mean the stockholders of a big company are not ready to do dramatic shifts unless they are forced to do it because it changes the amount of dividends that come. And all of us aren’t quite willing to change our lives that much in the little ways. I mean, we don’t have to make those big guys the bad guys, because we’re all part of that web too. But there is an increasing consciousness now about rain forests, about air, about water, and so on. It is hard to access what the outcome will be.

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173 Hits

Guided By Love

heartwitnter Guided By Love

Encourage love in all its forms to flow through you.

What's carrying you?

The Practice:
Guided by love.

Why?

Feeling both the world and myself these days, one phrase keeps calling: lived by love.

Explicitly, this means coming from love in a broad sense, from compassion, good intentions, self-control, warmth, finding what’s to like, caring, connecting, and kindness.

Implicitly, and more fundamentally, this practice means a relaxed opening into the love – in a very very broad sense – that is the actual nature of everything. Moment by moment, the world and the mind reliably carry you along. This isn’t airy-fairy, it’s real. Our physical selves are woven in the tapestry of materiality, whose particles and energies never fail. The supplies – the light and air, the furniture and flowers – that are present this instant are here, available, whatever the future may hold. So too is the caring and goodwill that others have for you, and the momentum of your own accomplishments, and the healthy workings of your body. Meanwhile, your mind goes on being, while dependably weaving this thought, this sound, this moment of consciousness.

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Experiencing Protection

fallen-picture-id868954706 Experiencing Protection
I stepped into the shower, noticing a glass bottle of vinegar that someone had used on their hair. Once again I made a mental note to not leave glass in our stone shower.  

 
While enjoying the warm water I was thinking about my day. I put conditioner on my hair enjoying the luscious smell. An ominous sound entered my awareness. I then began to feel the shower move underneath my feet. We were experiencing an earthquake, a big earthquake. 

 
No time to turn off the water, I grabbed a towel and bolted. My son, the dogs and I ran down the stairs and out the door. Before the power went out I noticed art work on the ground or hanging precariously on the walls. It was like looking at everything in slow motion. I could hear the sounds of shaking and falling. I could see the destruction. Time stopped.

 
Once outside I stood barefoot in the snow hugging our son. Our dogs were completely confused, one ran away. I don’t remember even feeling cold. I had practically nothing on, wet, in 20 degree temperatures. I regrouped and took a deep breath. 

 
As I hugged Finn, I reminded him we are always protected. We will be OK. As the Earth beneath our feet calmed down, we went back inside. There was no power and the sun was not up yet. I returned to the shower to rinse my hair. The after-shocks continued. 

 
Finn looked for the run-away dog. I walked through our home. It could have been much worse. Only glass objects were broken, no structural damage was apparent. I touched base with my husband and other family members. We were all in semi shock, but doing fine. 

 
As I cleaned up pieces of glass I thought about protection. What is this protection I promise myself and our children? Today called for me to dig deeper into my spiritual beliefs and reckoning on protection.  


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144 Hits

Spirit Animals Choose You (not the other way around!)

horse-in-water-at-sunrise-picture-id873197024 Spirit Animals Choose You (not the other way around!)

Have you ever noticed a specific animal, bird, insect or fish that shows up for you in an uncanny way, perhaps even more than once when you’re in a dilemma or looking for confirmation about something?

Most of us were never taught that we share our environment with Nature’s oracles (other sentient beings). Actually most of us never even knew what an oracle was since it’s deemed taboo by some! That said, I was lucky that my Scottish nanny Mrs. Kelly brought me the gift of this sacred knowledge when I was little. I learned to pay attention to what happened in my backyard and she pointed out when we went to church the halos around the saints were the same as the ones I was seeing around the bees and dragonflies and our pet raccoon Petunia. All life was sacred and magical to Mrs. Kelly, and she reminded me that the comings and goings of animals were signs from Spirit.

That said sometimes a dog is just a dog, or a skunk just a skunk. But there are those moments when, in a flash of energy, you just know somehow that the appearance of an animal is meant to bring you a message. It’s built into our intuitive systems to tune into the language of Spirit Animals naturally. Example, a Spirit Animal is the presiding spirit of not just one dragonfly but all dragonflies, and contain the symbolic meaning of the essence of Dragonfly. This is not some anthropomorphic new age gobbledygook. Over thousands of years we’ve assigned meaning to these encounters, and in cultures around the world, there is an accepted language about these sightings and their significance.

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Why It’s Time to Move Beyond Plastic — And 8 Ways You Can Help Solve The Plastic Problem

plastictrash 8 Ways You Can Help Solve The Plastic Problem

It seems like plastic is almost everywhere. But it turns out to be hazardous to your health and your planet. Get the facts, and find out how you can take action to solve the plastic problem and cut back on your use of single-use plastics.

From bags to food containers to car parts, plastic is a significant part of our day-to-day lives. Global production of plastic has been nearly doubling every decade. But experts are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of plastic on the environment — and on human health.

How harmful is plastic? And what about plastic bans? Do they work? Or are there better ways to tackle plastic pollution?

And what can you do as an individual to protect yourself from harm and to help solve the plastic problem?

What Is Plastic?

There are seven main types of plastic, each used for different purposes. They’re labeled with numbered codes, helping you determine which kind of plastic you’re dealing with and if you can recycle it.

Though the first plastics were once natural products (used as far back as 3,500 years ago), almost all plastics today are man-made and derived from fossil fuels, including crude oil and natural gas.

Scientists have also created new forms of plastics made from renewable materials — known as biopolymers or bioplastics.

Bioplastics: Plastics Made from Plants and Other Natural Materials

Bioplastics are made from natural sources, including vegetable fats/oils, corn starch, straw, wood chips, and even food waste.

While bioplastics are typically considered more environmentally-friendly than traditional plastics, they aren’t a catch-all solution. Many still end up in landfills, and as more come on the market, there are issues with land use, proper disposal, and toxicity.

Researchers are currently working on bioplastics that are compostable, degradable in water (should they end up in the ocean), and non-toxic. Though promising solutions are in development (such as bioplastic straws made from avocado and bioplastic coffee cups made from potato starch, corn starch, and cellulose — the main component of plant cell walls), they aren’t yet widely available.


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Upside Down and Backward

IMG_3880-1200x900 Upside Down and Backward

When I was a child, I used to lie on the living room rug and gaze up at the ceiling, imagining it as the floor. I pictured how it would be to live in an upside down house and walk from room to room stepping over the doorway arches. My partner Anne used to do the same thing when she was little, even though she grew up in an entirely different part of the U.S. Is this something that all kids do, or just a coincidence? I found myself wondering if it is a genetic code within us for novelty and reinvention, which somehow gets lost as we grow older. How do we keep our vision of the world fresh in an adult world that teaches us that physical reality is solid, unchanging, and that facts and predictability are the basis for living a safe and orderly life?


At an early age, children often aren’t interested in order and rigid perceptual rules, unless they have had it already instilled in them via parental fears. What if, at heart, we aren’t either? What if our souls really want imagination, improvisation, and exploration? The element of surprise. After all, we came to this extraordinarily diverse and beautiful planet to live our human lives fully and completely. Who wants to live it in a box of repetitive, expected events and experiences? I’ve always intuitively felt this way. That’s why I’ve moved and traveled so much in my life, from coast to coast and continent to continent. Every time I went somewhere else, I saw the world with fresh eyes. I loved it. I still do.

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245 Hits

Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: Why We Should Make Time for Wonder

africa Why We Should Make Time for Wonder

Dear Friend (a.k.a., you, the Sunday Paper reader),

How have you been? I’ve missed you over these past few weeks. Even though I spent August taking a spiritual break, I found myself missing our weekly connection.

I must confess, there were moments when I found myself wondering whether you missed me as well. But as I stepped back from work for the month (which was way harder than I anticipated), I found that I was better able to realize what I was seeking in my life. (Remember, I said that I wanted to make good on Rumi’s quote, “What you are seeking is seeking you.”)

Turns out, I was seeking less busyness. Less intense thinking. More calm. More connection. More wonder.

Wonder gets you out of your head. It feels less intense than thinking. It feels more stream of consciousness and more creative. It actually feels freeing and it allows one to connect more with oneself and others.

As I set out for Africa with my youngest son Christopher at the beginning of August, I decided that my month would be focused on that concept of wonder.

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665 Hits

I Rise on the Song of the Sparrow

sparrow I Rise on the Song of the Sparrow

There is a large courtyard in the building where I live. It plays an important role in my self-balancing to deal with the day ahead.


I wake up, meditate, get dressed, grab a coffee and go to sit in the courtyard – there is an overhang of the second floor so there’s protection from the rain.


My courtyard experience always starts with Gratitude. When I sit down of a morning, my thoughts turn to all the things I am grateful for, from evenness of spirit to beloved friends.


Second comes a visit, not from something majestic or mighty but from the lowly, common sparrow.


"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." ---Matthew 10:29-31


Sparrows are sprightly birds, quick and attentive.


I have created a position that when I see a sparrow it’s going to be a good day. Look at them, going about their business, hopping and bopping, cocking their heads this way and that; in camouflage colours of gray and brown, when they explore around the woody branches they are visible only by their movement. And then they fly, quickly, to the hedge or the two Japanese upright maples. This being a chosen sign for me, I do not have the opposite idea – that if I don’t see a sparrow it’s not a good day. I just miss them when they don’t show up.

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217 Hits

Another Day in Paradise

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When I used to take walks at my favorite nature sanctuary, Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I often thought to myself, “This is paradise,” as I gazed up at the towering oak and maple trees and listened to the varied birdsongs. Now that I live in Florida, I find myself feeling much the same way. Each morning after sunrise, I walk the nature trail that encircles the perimeter of the community where we live, enjoying the palm trees and flowering bushes and the calls of birds that make Florida home. This morning at the end of my walk, another walker passed me, said “Good morning,” and commented, “Another day in paradise.” I laughed and agreed with him. Most people I pass on my walks make some similar comment about the beauty of the day.

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538 Hits

Are We Listening?

amy-rollo-651804-unsplash_orig Are We Listening?
One of the greatest gifts we can offer each other is our true attention. A spell of inspiration and confidence is cast, when everything else is put aside. The message is sent. I care about you. 

Really listening is taking the time to hear; without trying to control or fix what is going on in the speaker’s life. It is the act of being present. This is one of the most powerful things we can do, and it’s free.

What happens to relationships when people are not being heard? Partners, family and friends often begin to drift away. Sharing your presence with another deepens the trust and the invisible connection of love. 

Are you listening to the loved ones in your life? Are you picking up the messages they are trying to share? All of us have fallen short at one time or another, in being present. Here is a little quiz to see how you are doing. 
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Crisis Ignites Evolution

petunia-growing-through-crack-in-the-concrete-picture-id89151966 Crisis Ignites Evolution

We are in a world of crisis, from economic collapse to environmental decay to climate change to war, hunger and poverty. If today’s headlines make you wonder about the fate of our planet, here is some news that may surprise you: from an evolutionary standpoint, we are exactly where we need to be.

Contrary to what conventional science and religion have been telling us, evolution is neither random nor predetermined, but rather an intelligent dance between organism and environment. When conditions are ripe—either through crisis or opportunity—something unpredictable happens to bring the biosphere into a new balance at a higher level of coherence.

The good news in the bad news is that frontier science offers both the hope and challenge that we can safely navigate this dark passage to a healthier sustainable future. Advances in epigenetics, quantum biophysics and fractal geometry reveal civilization is poised on the threshold of a major evolutionary event.

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5076 Hits

Why Do I Shapeshift And Use Sacred Plants?

cebus-monkey-picture-id842647104 Why Do I Shapeshift And Use Sacred Plants?

The question has been asked: Why does a guy who writes books on global economics also give workshops on shapeshifting and sacred plants and guide people on trips to experience such things with indigenous shamans in Latin America?

 

The answer is one that is best experienced for yourself – although I offer a short version below. For the real answer, I invite you to join me at an experiential workshop or trip – limited to 15 participants. A few spaces are still available:

 

August 22-24, 2018 
Sacred Plants: Touching the Jaguar, Omega Institute, NY
Learn more. 

December 4-15, 2018
A Journey To The Land Of Transformation: The Mountains, Jungles, Kogi, & Caribbean Coast Of Colombia
Learn more.

January 2-19, 2019
A Journey To The Lands Of The Maya: Guatemala – Shapeshifting into Higher Consciousness
Learn more.

January 10-18, 2019
Raising Consciousness – Magical Plants In The Costa Rican Jungle

Learn more.

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267 Hits

Celebrating Solitude

celebrating solitude
Even though I’ve been in a couple for 35 years, I love being alone. It’s been a part of my life since childhood. I grew up as an only child on five acres in rural Illinois, where I spent a good portion of my childhood playing outdoors alone (or with my dog) and sitting in trees reading. I don’t ever remember feeling lonely. My parents and I were close, so I was with them a lot too, and I had school friends who came to visit, but at the core of my life was time spent in solitude. It became the peaceful center from which I lived outward into the world. As an adult, I always relied on time alone to come back to myself, away from jobs and social situations. Don’t get me wrong—I loved my friends, but there was a certain point at which I had to step away and be alone. It was like breathing to me.

I have so many memories that involve finding joy in being by myself. One of the most vivid was when I worked for a senator as a student intern in Washington, DC, in college. One lunch hour I wandered around outside the Capitol Building alone and then sat in the sun in a quiet spot where no one else was walking. I can remember having a sudden flash of absolute exhilaration when the thought crossed my mind, “No one else on Earth knows where I am right now.” There was something incredibly exciting about that to a 19-year-old living in a new city, trying out grown-up life on her own. I’ve never forgotten that feeling—of being an alive, independent, free spirit in the world.

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A Message From Our Ancestors

john-perkins-a-message-from-our-ancestors

Visiting ancient sites of the Aboriginal people here in Australia, I am struck by both their deep connection with nature and their fascination with the mysteries of the universe. The cave drawings and glyphs carved into stone cliffs that I have seen tell stories similar to those still told today by my indigenous friends, the Shuar and Achuar of the Amazon, the Kogi of Colombia, and the Maya of Central America.

Throughout the world, we see that ancient peoples had a deep fascination with Orion, Pleiades, and ideas around mysterious visitations from other planets. We also see that they enjoyed rich traditions centered on the spiritual and healing powers of animals and plants.

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823 Hits

30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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