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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Why Gratitude Affirmations Are More Important Than Ever

What are you thankful for? Have you used gratitude affirmations lately?

In a year like the one we’ve just had, these might be hard questions to answer. 

But here’s the thing: When you’re going through challenging or uncertain times, that’s when practicing gratitude matters more than ever! 

Gratitude allows you to completely transform your mindset and experience in an instant — no matter what is happening in your life or in the world around you. 

So today I’d like to share some gratitude affirmations that will help you change your perspective and stay focused on the positive, so you can attract more of what you want into your life and less of what you don’t. 

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: In Your Hand

I know you can only see red right now

through the cut in your trust. But most

cuts mend and then, the courage is in

finding an open boat so you can row

far enough out that you can drift.


And only when you have given up

going anywhere might you be drawn

to pick up the oars and start rowing

at the pace of clouds.


Then, as your hand is one with the oar

and the oar is one with the water, your

heart will be one with your life and

your life will be one with the ancient

drift that joins all things.
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Is Your Caretaking Covering Up Your Heartbreak?

Jenny grew up with a narcissistic mother who was incessantly demanding attention and demanding to have her way. Her mother would get furious when her husband or children didn’t do what she wanted them to do, or didn’t pay enough attention to her. Jenny, not wanting to be like her mother, learned early to be “nice” and go along with things rather than speak up for herself. She decided that the only way to not be demanding like her mother was to always work conflict out by herself – never voicing her feelings to anyone. In order to do this, she had to deny the heartache or heartbreak she felt when others were unloving to her.

 

She was treated the same way she treated herself…

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I'll Meet You in the Middle

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
 —Edith Wharton


I've Been Thinking...

Happy May! 

Can you believe it’s already May? The speed at which life is moving this year feels both rapid and slow at the same time. I, for one, am trying my darndest to hold that paradox. I don’t want others to aggressively push me head-on into a post-vaccinated world. I want to take my time to sit with the changes that are unfolding and listen.

I listened attentively this week to President Biden detail his sweeping historic plan to put our country back on track. It’s a huge agenda that includes tackling child poverty, racism, gun reform, police reform, climate change, crumbling infrastructure, and our own polarization. Biden ended his speech by reminding us that he needs all of us to play our part in saving our democracy, protecting our democracy, and showing the world we can all come together to do so. It’s time for us to take notice and get moving. I’m ready.

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To See The Future Of AI, Look Inside Yourself

With the heightened promise and potential threats of artificial intelligence (AI) constantly in the news, people have become more deeply confused. Should they welcome the AI revolution or fear it? In either case, robotics and super-computers march ahead with inexorable momentum.

There are warnings from top-level scientists about a future in which computers become so advanced that they will leap into autonomy. Freed to make their own decisions the way humans do, AI machines conceivably might create catastrophes like starting a war. On a more mundane level, robotics has steadily replaced humans in many jobs.

Of course AI is also touted as a huge advance, yet the irony is that the direst perils of AI are already here, in the form of our own human intelligence. We feel intuitively that we have natural intelligence, not the artificial kind. After all, nobody built us from mechanical parts. We lead emotional lives; we are capable of insight and self-reflection. Despite these things, however, the human mind is deeply artificial in many ways, and the negative connotations of the word “artificial”—fake, lifeless, illusory, mechanical, arbitrary—apply to everyday life.

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Rest Your Weary Head

Are you thinking too much?

The Practice:
Rest your weary head.

Why?

The traditional saying that’s this week’s practice has been sinking in for me lately. Thoughts have been swirling around like a sandstorm about work, things I’ve been reading, household tasks, finances, concerns about people, a yard that needs mowing, loose ends, projects, etc. etc. The other day I told my wife: “I’m thinking about too many things.” Know the feeling?

By “head” I mean the cognitive aspects of experience such as planning, analyzing, obsessing, considering, worrying, making little speeches inside, going back over situations or conversations, and trying to figure things out. “Weary” means being fatigued due to continued exertion or endurance, sometimes also with a sense of being dismayed, even depressed; its roots as a word have to do with the effects of a long journey. Basically, your tank is running low.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Drinking There

No matter how many conversations I

start, they all end with me kneeling at

the same deep well. And drinking there,

I remember who I am. I rise from that

drinking able to see, again, that we are

at heart the same. And the secret wound

you show me there is my wound which I

have hidden for so long. And the secret

joy you bring into the open is my joy

which I thought I had lost. Experience

has us meet in the most unexpected ways.

Until we’re forced to show the soft center

that never dies. Until our soul appears in

the world like a pearl before it hardens.

Until the gift of life stirs in our hand

like a tuft of feathers that needs to

be loved into a wing.
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Hitting the Wall and Not Giving Up

For the past two and a half years I have been working hard on writing my first novel. Along the way I have discovered how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know about writing fiction.

After publishing 11 non-fiction books, I considered myself a relatively talented writer.
Big mistake.

Imagine if you were a house painter who took up painting portraits and expected your first work to hang in a museum. That’s how big a difference this was for me. Oy.

I am so happy that I didn’t know how steep the learning curve was going to be or I would have never made the attempt.

A few days ago, I “hit the wall.” 

Marathoners will know exactly what I am talking about as most have experienced “hitting the dreaded wall” at Mile 20.
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What Is Enough?

“To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step.
We will fail when we fail to try.” 
 —Rosa Parks

I've Been Thinking...

I’ve found myself thinking quite a bit lately about the idea of “enough.” What is enough? When do you know you’ve had enough? When do you finally feel that you are enough? When is enough enough?

I’ve thought to myself, have we as a country finally seen enough gun violence to actually do something about it, or does more have to happen? Have we seen enough about mental health to declare it a national emergency? What about climate change? Have we experienced enough racism, sexism, and ageism to say we’ve had enough, or do we need to experience more for things to finally change?

Is a man seen kneeling on another man's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds enough to enrage you and push you to want deep, systemic change? Is it enough to push you to become active and fight for that change in our society and in our world? If so, will you now vote differently? Talk differently? Spend your money differently? See the world through different eyes? How will your actions signal that you’ve had enough?

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Choosing A Better Path In Life

The word “path” has been adopted by people who are on an inner spiritual journey, but it has much wider implications. Everyone is on a path, even if they don’t always realize it.

There are two basic paths we take through life: thinking and feeling. To think your way through life appeals to rationalists, but they are fooling themselves. Feeling is always a part of every experience, every decision, and every life choice. Here are some examples of how the mixture of thought and feeling operates, often to our confusions.

  • Think of a food you hate (an American President made headlines by hating broccoli). See yourself putting a bite of this food in your mouth. It could be snails, a raw oyster, or boiled cabbage. Try to taste it as if you loved it instead. You can’t, because the taste is cemented with your feeling about it.
  • Put yourself in the place of a homeless person living with small children on the street. Visualize the situation; no doubt you’ve observed something similar in real life. Imagine that a stranger walks up to you and hands you $1,000 in cash. You thank him profusely, but then he laughs scornfully and snatches the money back. Can you see the situation without any emotion? This is a dramatic example of how everything we see comes with an interpretation at the level of feeling. 
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Poetry For Our Conscious Journey

It’s National Poetry Month here in the U.S. and I’ve been rereading some of my favorites and thinking about how poetry is the perfect vehicle for communicating both the individual and universal at once... 

It gives shape to the human experience, and can be a place for profound connection as well as a lens into other ways of seeing and being in the world.  

The poet Jane Hirshfield goes as far as saying, “Poetry itself is an instrument of resilience,” and I think we could all use a little resilience these days...

So today, I’d like to share a few lines of poetry with you that speak to the conscious journey we are on together in hopes that they will provide you that sense of connection with others that many of us are sorely missing these days, as well as fuel to cultivate resilience during challenging times: 

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Peru Travel Itinerary: Discover Peru Sacred Sites

By creating a Peru travel itinerary surrounding the many Peru sacred sites, you’re securing yourself an immersive experience in a culture rich with healing arts. 

When describing the importance of pilgrimage to Peru’s sacred sites such as the Sacred Valley Peru, our journey leader Puma Quispe Singona says: “There is so much that is constantly affecting us. So we need to take care of our heart. We need to take care of our mind. . .We have ceremonies. We have rituals. We have ways of being and thinking. . .so we can be healthier. So we can be happier and in inner peace.” 

Puma is an Andean medicine man and wisdom keeper who leads our Heart of the Pachamama journeys through the sacred lands of Peru. 

In this article, we serve as your guide to forming a Peru travel itinerary to discover Peru sacred sites based on our own time in Peru with Puma. You’ll learn where to go and what to do during your time among the traditions of the Andes in Peru.

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Why You Need a Vacation: 5 Benefits of Disconnecting

Are you among the 55% of Americans who don’t take their allotted vacation time from work? That may not be such a good move for your health, happiness, or productivity. There are important reasons why you need a vacation instead of burning the candle at both ends.

Because I travel so much for all the seminars, workshops, trainings, and speeches I give — as well as all the time I spend writing books or recording new online courses and video blogs when I am home — my wife was becoming upset about the lack of time we were spending together.

She suggested we take a month-long vacation together to reconnect and deepen our relationship with each other. So we rented a house on the ocean in Maui, Hawaii, for a whole month. 

At first, I was nervous about being away from my work for a whole month, but with the success of our online programs that don’t require my live presence every week, and the ability to prerecord video blogs and social media messages, it turned out fine. 

I made an agreement with my wife that I could write and handle critical emails for a maximum of two hours a day, and the rest of the time I would spend with her.

As I reflect on the month, here are five valuable insights and lessons that I learned about the value of disconnecting through taking a vacation. Hopefully, they’ll help you discover why you need a vacation too.

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Is the Movie of Your Life a Blockbuster Hit?

This approach to life…it might not be a regular conversation at your family dinner table…

The view I’m referring to is, what you experience is what you want to experience, because you live inside of a movie You create.

You are a Creator. You write and produce your movie, the one that you call life. You cast yourself in the starring role. You agreed to the supporting cast in your movie, too.

You’re here, in this movie, waking yourself up to a version of you that you did not know existed. Perhaps a version of You you did not know was possible.

We project the movie we’ve written onto a movie screen. Instead of sitting down to watch the movie from our theater seat, we forget it’s a movie and get caught up in the story.

We, in our “splatted” state, step into the movie and think it’s real life. We think our experiences are happening to us. We forget that things are happening for us. We think other people are doing things that are hard for us to deal with.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: It Only Gets More Real

In the way that erosion makes every face in nature more elemental, everything we go through only makes us more real. Once we give up our masks and excuses, we are humbled to accept the tenderness of having nothing between us and this thing we call life. It is this fragile, resilient state that lets us breathe more deeply, that lets us hear what love has to say, that lets us experience Oneness over the idea of Oneness. The more real we become, the more we experience love over the dream of love. Until Love and Oneness emanate in the coffee steaming as I wait for my wife to come out of the shower while our dog is belly up, her tail wagging at the supreme joy of absolutely nothing. It is then that I admit that I am hopelessly simple, gratefully simple, eager for the moment at hand to stay unadorned and free of veils. There is no five-year plan or bucket list or dream of living in another country. There is only breathing in the country of this moment where everything touches everything else. And though tomorrow, I will drift or fall away from this bareness of being, I remain devoted to all the things, pleasant and harsh, that help me return.

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How to Integrate Cosmic Ordering into Your Business

What Is Cosmic Ordering?

The person who introduced me to cosmic ordering was Ellen Watts. Ellen explains that essentially, cosmic ordering is asking the Universe for what you want – and it arrives. It’s not something she has created all by herself either; rather, it’s been around forever. You’ll even find cosmic ordering in the Bible, where it is referred to as ‘miracles.’

Ellen shared with me her cosmic ordering technique, which is to say: “What I really want is X” and finish by saying “For the good of all concerned.” Ellen stresses that it is very important to finish each cosmic order with that final sentence as it ensures that no one should ever lose out in order for you to gain. This is very important to her when she places her orders, especially orders relating to money, as she doesn’t want anyone to die in order to leave money to her.

It is important to remember that you must never wish for anything bad on someone else as that is just a way to create bad karma for yourself. In fact, orders asking for something bad to happen to someone else will never be delivered. Cosmic orders are about you – specifically what you want for yourself – and are therefore delivered to you. It’s similar to when you go to a restaurant and place an order for your food. You order what you want to eat for yourself (pizza with a side order of chips) – not anyone else.

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The Work Of Our Lives

“You only are free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”
—Maya Angelou

I've Been Thinking...

Good morning. Good day. Good evening. No matter what time you read this essay, my hope is that you find yourself in a good place to take it in.

I know that’s not an easy ask for most of us, especially now. I know there are so many things that go into feeling “good" or even just "good enough.” I know that for me, it’s hard to feel good if something feels off in my life. It’s especially hard if something is off with someone I love, or if anyone in my family or friend group is upset or struggling. After all, relationships are so important to our overall well-being and to our sense of self, our sense of community, and our sense of belonging. 

But this week, it wasn’t my personal relationships that brought me down or left me feeling off-kilter. It was the images in my news feed. It was the image of the U.S. Capitol police officer's family. It was the image of Alex Toledo, a 13-year-old boy, with his hands up as he was gunned down by Chicago police that left me aghast. It was the scenes in the courtroom and on the streets of Minneapolis. It was a white man aggressively confronting a Black man in his neighborhood, telling him he didn’t belong and to get the hell out. It was the news of eight people gunned down in Indianapolis.

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Four Steps to Making a Fresh Start in Life

Many of us have done drastic things trying to make a fresh start in life. But no matter what we do, nothing seems to change. Outer conditions may be different, but inside we're still the same. If changing things outside doesn’t make a difference, where does a genuine fresh start begin?

The answer lies in four connected steps:


Step One: Learn What Prevents Us From Making a Fresh Start 

Our plans to make a fresh start have not delivered the new life we’d envisioned. So the first fact we need to understand – that runs completely contrary to our usual ideas of starting over – is that we can't plan to do it.

If I plan a new start, that means I've envisioned a new position, power, or possession by which I will enjoy a sense of newness. The problem is, everything I imagine doing or becoming is a variation of past experiences and dreams. And clearly, nothing I pull from my past can bring a fresh start. It’s just a reconfiguration of an old idea that didn’t work the first time around. Our image of what it means to be a new human being is a product of our past, and it is what keeps us from making a real fresh start.

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Your Unique Happiness Quotient

Happiness is what we all chase, although differently. This is also because everyone experiences happiness differently. It is actually the gauge of man's feelings living within his personal environment
 
Feelings, some people seem to realize, are highly overrated. And yet, what is man, if he is not going by his own feelings. Chasing happiness and joy, is basically chasing your own inherent feelings.

WHAT KIND OF FEELING IS HAPPINESS
Katherine Mansfield has described it as the most rapturous moment, like the glowing sun. We all chase some sensations, but these sensations only come to us when we least expect them. 

POSITIVE FEELINGS
It is the belief of most people, that we could find happiness, if only we knew where to look for it. It is a state of Self understanding.
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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Inside the Pandemic

Now that we can’t touch, I am awash

with all the ways that touch sustains us:

like an electricity from one heart to another

or the ancient rush of water down a falls into

the basin of a village. I’m thinking of how you

wiped my brow in the hospital and the time

you stroked a fallen bird, its beak aquiver,

and the time your mother held your face,

saying, “I saw how loving you are the day

you were born.” Or the moment I caught

a stranger in the parking lot as her groceries

splattered, her cart wobbling away. Earlier,

it was Grandma hoisting me to my feet in

her Brooklyn alley and the hands of my

father guiding mine as he taught me to

use a chisel. Now I’m seeing Whitman

as a medic in the Civil War wrapping a

bandage around a corporal’s chest. And

now I close my eyes to send my touch

like a Shaman across the dreamscape,

hoping it will reach you.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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