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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Your spiritual practice

There you are stuck in traffic.
You have everything packed. Your gym bag is fit securely in your back seat. Your coffee mug is full. Your folder with your "big presentation" was placed carefully in your office bag. You brushed your teeth, took a shower and told the wife that you loved her. What are you missing? 

Suddenly a sharp icy feeling shoots down your spine. 

You forgot to meditate! You forgot to do your breathing exercises and you forgot to do your light yoga stretching. Let's not forget, that you also forgot to think of what you're grateful for. Oh the horror. 

You have been putting off all these spiritual practices with a great deal of procrastination and resistance. You say that you don't have enough time. We all know that's not right. You have plenty of time. You had plenty of time to slump on the couch and watch a couple episodes of Golden Girls, didn't you? Yea, I get it. You had a long day at work. We all need out space to relax, unwind and recenter. 

You have these spiritual practices to improve yourself and grow spiritually. Why does it seem so hard and daunting? Why are you seeing them as impeding tasks? 

Ponder this. 

" Yes, I want to go to happy hour with you, but I have to rush home and meditate for 20 minutes, first." 

Sound pretty absurd, right?
If you go out of your way just to meditate, doesn't it defeat the purpose? 

Meditation has such a vast spectrum of practicing techniques. There is no right way to meditate. You can integrate meditation into your day, by returning to your breath or simply focusing on your awareness. Integrating meditation and breathing techniques throughout your day may be more effective then compartmentalizing meditation like the way we schedule or gym time or meal times. 

We want to integrate spiritual and mindful practices into our daily routines. Sometimes those intentional routines get lost in with the habits we have become accustomed to. 

Do these spiritual practices become dull and ineffective when we see them as tasks, habits and means to ends?

Are we trying to be spiritual to improve our lives are we trying to pursue a spiritual identity?

If you are trying to be more of a "spiritual person", doesn't it make it kind of ironic? Trying to identify with a certain label is rooted in the sense of self and the ego. All identities focus on the act of trying to become something. It plays into the illusion of separateness. Simply trying to be "more spiritual" misses the mark of what spirituality actually is or what can be. 

All these buddhists are so attached to the concept of non-attachment. 

The dogma attached to spirituality has misrepresented the core of what spirituality is. It requires no disciplined practice or club. It's only prerequisite revolves around your inner peace. How does that inner peace and stillness influence how you act or react with the world around you? 

A spiritual practice can be anything. A small task. A chore. An obligation.
If something is done with presence, awareness and with the totality of your being, it becomes spiritual. 

Are you sweeping your living room?
Or are you thinking about how you have to pay your electric bill while you sweep? When you aren't fully with that you are doing, you are not being mindful. You are acting unconsciously.

The small act of making your bed or doing dishes can turn into a mindfulness exercise that allows you to live fully. To live in the present.

A true spiritual practice doesn't need to revolve around a strict disciplined practice or technique. Its only requirement is attention and presence. 

So what exactly is your spiritual practice? 

It's legitimacy revolves the ability to question it. Does it cater to your dependencies? Do you feel angry or out of wack if your don't meditate? 

Look at it.
Let it breathe.

At every moment, you have the potential to actually live presently and in tune with what is existing for you. 

Quit the compartmentalization and embrace the integration of being "spiritual" with every moment you are alive. 


Sunday, May 22, 2016

The threat of inconvenience



Welcome to the modern industrialized age! Are you enjoying your stay?
Are you partaking in the technological advancements that has made our lives so much more easier and stress free? Are you in awe with how easy we have it compared to the generations before us?

If you aren't in awe, what is the deal?
We can conveniently tap a few buttons the computers we keep in our pockets and request a ride or even a delivery. We can command someone to pick up some organic milk without knowing who the person is or who and what it took to milk the cow.

What if our precious app or device isn't working correctly?
We get frustrated.
We have wired ourselves for short fuses and we haven't really noticed it.
We get mad at inanimate objects and forget the promising virtue of patience.
We have been promised instant gratification and now we expect that. We expect these technological advancements to be at our service all the time with little to no flaws. To quote Freddie Mercury, " We want it all and we want it NOW!"

We gravitate to places that have accessible WiFi. We want to always be connected ( at least in any way that prevents us from being alone from our thoughts ). We want to always be ready for something to happen or to change courses at the flick of a wrist. We have outsourced our memories and cognition to external devices. We all closer to being more like cyborgs than humans. Some would say we have already reached that point, I agree.

We absorb content as if it were water and have it pass through us as if it was a ghost.
We want the easy to digest, to the point, attention grabbing, manipulative content that perpetuates our continuous relationship with the "feed". 

There it is inviting you... at the tip of your fingers.
Those seasons of that one show on Netflix  allows you to become comfortably nostalgic on your tempting couch. 
That painting you wanted to finish....can certainly wait (?)

What happens when the power goes out and we lose that digital connectedness that permeates our lives? 

Some of us might panic. When we fall into a routine of material and technological dependency, we move farther from the principles and authenticity of our true being. The mind wants us to be busy. Our phones and our screened devices certainly do a great job of removing us from the present moment and allows us to escape into a world of dopamine rushes and echo chambers. This might be one of the best times to be alive to access things that our ancestors could never had dreamed of. Does that make us better off? Does that connect us to the human race and elevate our collective consciousness? These questions are important to consider in determining the utility and ubiquity of technology today.

In this age of convenience, the threat of "inconvenience" becomes daunting and disorienting.
Are all these conveniences make us feel more dependent on the technologies we use?
Do we feel empty or agitated when we lose access or are stripped away from our devices?

 -------When you are in public and forget your phone in the car, do you panic?

We are familiar with the anxiety of losing things of great importance. It feels even worse when our " technical appendage" is not within arms reach. We feel that "need" for it. We feel that withdrawal. The mind panics and wants to go back to being gratified and stimulated. We can learn from this. Listen to what it is saying without resisting. We can use that moment of withdrawal and panic to reconnect with the present. Reconnect with our breath. Reconnect with the stillness inside of us that does not care about posting where we are at that very moment. 

Where is the spontaneity and the ability to create creative action from the unplanned and the unseen?
Do we need a backup plan? Do we need to be prepared? Have we become too comfortable?


Humans gravitate towards comfort. This comfort often has us fall into habits and behaviors that we tend to overlook. We want the instantaneous pleasure and the escape from compulsive thought and anxiety. The mere thought of our cars or phones breaking down could throw us in a tail spin. These unseen circumstances are not happening to us, they are happening for us. The things we see as inconveniencing us are more opportunities than hindrances. These instances force us to be creative, more present and aware of what is important to us. When we disconnect from our devices, we can truly reconnect with ourselves and the relationships to others.

Instead of becoming Amish, we can see how technology impacts our lives. In what way does it affect our goals and priorities? In what way does it make us dependent? In what ways does it distract us from our most important relationships?

Conveniently Inconvenient

We can become conveniently inconvenient, where we can go out of our way and step out of our routines. This doesn't mean inconveniencing others. This means consciously inconveniencing your self to reprogram how you react to certain circumstances.

Craving fast food? Normally, you might find yourself going after work after a long day because you expelled most of your glycogen in your brain for the day. Statistically, people make worse decisions towards the end of the day. Instead of going to get fast food without really "thinking" about it, you can make a conscious effort to do the opposite of what you normally. Go out of your way ( within a reasonable distance ) and find a grocery store. Go inside and improvise. Some of the best things arise from the elasticity of the mind and willingness to flow with the moment and what the situation presents to you.

Embrace the broken mug as an opportunity to shift your perspective. Take that broken ceramic piece and put it in a garden or next to an uncanny object. Take the rest of the broken mug  and fill it with soil. Plant a flower or a vegetable. Or take that broken mug and put a candle in it. Have the wax drip down the crevice and onto the shelf. Normally, you would have gotten mad or sad at the broken mug, but you made the conscious choice this time to do something creative!

Let us reprogram our brain and make it a habit.
If we stop being aware,
We will still be chasing the rabbit. 

Out of all of this madness,
We may go off our tracks,
But in the midst of this storm.
There is the opportunity and amazing potential.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Winner Loser False Dichotomy

We get it, you want to win.

We certainly look down on losers don't we? We are fed this information in life that we must be competitive and strive to be the winner in things we want to go after. Competition makes yourself motivated to be "more" than the people competing with you, whether you  are trying to compete for a prize, a job or even a status. Adopting a "better than you" mindset can be quite dangerous since, it is all based on the ego and the illusory sense of self. Each person has their own unique way of doing things that has been sculpted by personal experience. Just because someone can execute a task more efficiently or elegantly, doesn't mean that they are inherently more valuable than other people.

Eyes on the prize, they say.

Certainly, there is nothing morally or ethically competition. Competition allows you compare your weaknesses and strengths to the other competitors. This can have a profound affect on personal growth. This personal growth can allow you to flourish in future scenarios. We can see the habits of competitors as reflections of our own insecurities as well.

The competitive mindset requires balance, honesty and empathy. In this rat racing modern society, we are told to be tough and to step up our game without being vulnerable or showing weakness. This throws the competitive mindset out of balance and into a never ending war of ego driven resistance. We want to present ourselves as strong and competent people that can overcome adversity and be unaffected by external challenges. This is the ego trying to take the wheel. The super competitive self strives to grow itself with the constant comparing and contrasting of the past self and the other people striving for the same types of goals. This identity can be quite blinding. It blinds you from your ability to tune in with your most authentic self.

Daniela Tempesta from the Huffington Post writes, " Ruminating about how someone else is better looking, has more friends, or is more successful than you is both time-consuming and ineffective. Being hard on ourselves actually zaps motivation and decreases goal completion. If you really want to live a life that feels fulfilling you need to dedicate your time and energy to your own values.  ...What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of relationships do you want to have? What do you want people to remember about you? Use these personal values as the barometer upon which you compare, rather than the accomplishments of those around you." 

As we can see, comparing and contrasting yourself to others distracts from personal growth. This however isn't the most destructive behavior if you can see it as data. A person may have something you want, but it belongs to their own journey. The only constructive thing that can come out of comparing yourself to others, is that it can allow you to return to your own path and center and simply show appreciation for others achievements.

When we focus so much on winning, we fail to see the duality in the process. When you win something, there are going to be people that don't win. We like to call these people losers to strengthen the pride of the ego. Most of the time this is unconscious. Some people believe that they deserved what they "won" and that all the other people simply didn't try as hard as them. This stems from a place of judgment and condemnation. Instead of subscribing to a winner/loser duality, we can switch to a more vulnerable state of being that focuses on appreciation and cooperation.

The true nature of competition stems in the ability to recognize and cooperate with others, while strengthening your own unique abilities and values in the process. 

A person who wins has won because of the efforts of the other competitors. You could even say that it is more cooperative than being solely self driven ( an illusion of separation ). Someone can use the behavior and tactics of others to advance their own game plan by simply seeing what they are NOT doing. Instead of aggressively pinning yourself against an opponent, you can see your competitor as a teacher. You can switch from seeing them as walls and more as doors to unseen opportunity.

Winner/ Loser
Winner/ Beginner

If someone loses, they have failed only if they haven't learned something in the process. The "losing" aspect can be a great teacher to see what was done wrong and what could have been done better. In a way, it is a strengthening exercise that allows for a more understanding sense of self and motivational tactics. It is a matter of switching from a "I've lost" mindset to a "new beginning" mindset focused on growth. 

See the duality for what it is and let it be.
Focus on your own inner growth and show gratitude towards others.
See what happens.



Tempesta, Daniela. 2014.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fortunately Unfortunate

Look at
You groan.
How fortunately  unfortunate you are. 

Your car is in the shop, but your house isn't far. Your job isn't the best, but it allows you to afford that car.

Let it be known that you have a roof over your head, 
And also the opportunity to sleep on a nice bed. 
Let it be known, 
That you have access to food,
Far removed from hunting and gathering, 
You have the choice to change your mood. 

Things may not be going according to plan, but you're here and you're healthy. 

What a great time it is to live. 
You have an opportunity to give.
You have an opportunity to see everything as an opportunity. 

Whether it be a helping hand or a gift that means something, 
You get what you give, 
Even if it's nothing! 

How fortunately unfortunate you are to miss that bus and see two squirrels fight over an acorn. 

How unfortunately fortunate you are to spill the coffee on your pants. 
So hot.... It may make you dance. 
Let us not forget how it reminds us to not take things too seriously. 
How these little trials remind us to recenter and be grateful for what we already have.
To be grateful for that mole on your back that makes you uniquely you. 
To be grateful for the ability to forgive a friend that yelled at you. 
To patch up miscommunications.
To own up to our own transgressions. 

To simply take responsibility for things we can control. 
Like how we everything. 
To simply accept the things we can't control. 
To simply accept that it may not all be that simple. And that gift is such a great teacher. 

How unfortunately fortunate you are to complain. 
How fortunately unfortunate you are to see the effects of your actions to others.
To see the mess you have made.
To learn from the mess you make. 
To correct the mess that you made.

How unfortunately fortunate you are to be human. To experience the vast spectrum of emotions. 
To taste. 
To smell. 
To excrete. 
To orgasm. 

To be rude. ( and learn from this rudeness ) 
To be kind. 

Mostly, how fortunate you are to even experience this life. 

How unfortunately fortunate we are to move towards death and feel the amazing fragility and beauty of life itself!  


Saturday, May 14, 2016

But what if you smile too much?!

I am thinking about smiling, but what if I smile too much?
Will smiling benefit me and others? 
Will smiling change my behavior?
Will I create a permanent smile on my face that won't allow me to express my authentic feelings in the future?
What's the point in smiling?

It would seem that a smile would be an outward projection of inward joy, contentment and happiness. From living and growing, we can see that people can use smiles as a response to discomfort. We may want to smile just to appease the people we spend time with. We certainly don't want to be sad and depressed around the people we love. We can use smiles as a mask for our insecurities.

Wouldn't it be a better and happier world if everyone around could smile more often?
Ideally, this concept seems pretty airtight, but it blinds us from emotional intelligence and places us in a trap of utopian ideals. It doesn't make logical sense to have everyone smile because it would devalue the authenticity of a "real" smile.

If someone angers us or makes us feel uncomfortable, we may smile as a protection from us revealing our animosities and internal aggressions. At this point, a smile is merely a gesture of repression and resistance. I can say that I have been guilty of this behavior. If it is not worth the conflict ( which most of the time it never is ) it is best to keep the peace and simply move on.

When we can recognize an authentic smile, we can learn to appreciate the meaning behind it. An authentic smile will automatically make us smile. When we are present and vulnerable, a mutual smile can be an amazing gift.

So, is it ever appropriate to tell someone to smile?

Telling someone to smile is not based in understanding. It is trying to get someone to do something that you want to do. It has roots in authoritarianism and manipulation. On the outside, telling someone to smile seems relatively harmless. People are responsible for their own emotional state. If someone doesn't like someone else smiling, it is not their duty to try to change that. This seems obvious, but many people like to create a world they want to see, while disregarding other people's emotions and intentions. Manipulating and commanding behavior is just a reflection of their own unchecked insecurities.

What are some of the benefits to smiling?

According to some research done by psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales, people with botox treatment had more of a benefit to their general well being when they were "forced" to smile due to the preventative nature of the botox injections. 

An article in the Scientific America written by Melinda Wenner states, 

“It would appear that the way we feel emotions isn’t just restricted to our brain—there are parts of our bodies that help and reinforce the feelings we’re having,” says Michael Lewis, a co-author of the study. “It’s like a feedback loop.” In a related study from March, scientists at the Technical University of Munich in Germany scanned botox recipients with fMRI machines while asking them to mimic angry faces. They found that the botox subjects had much lower activity in the brain circuits involved in emotional processing and responses—in the amygdala, hypothalamus and parts of the brain stem—as compared with controls who had not received treatment."

Smiles beget Smiles.
This brings up some interesting points. Can forcing a smile actually change our physiology and trick our brains into feeling better? Can smiling be a coping mechanism for our anxiety, fear and depression?  

What we can gather from this article is that if we constantly practice the act of smiling, we can perpetuate a general sense of well being. We can see smiling as a way to realign ourselves to the present moment much like mindful breathing techniques and mantra like meditation practices. With this in mind, it makes more logical sense to smile than frown because of the long term effects on our neural networks and our balanced emotional states. 

Eric Jaffe, from the Association of Psychological Science breaks down the science of what happens with the smile in the context of human physiology. Eric beautifully says, "A smile begins in our sensory corridors. The earcollects a whispered word. The eyes spot an old friend on the station platform. The hand feels the pressure of another hand. This emotional data funnels to the brain, exciting the left anterior temporal region in particular, then smolders to the surface of the face, where two muscles, standing at attention, are roused into action: The zygomatic major, which resides in the cheek, tugs the lips upward, and the orbicularis oculi, which encircles the eye socket, squeezes the outside corners into the shape of a crow’s foot. The entire event is short — typically lasting from two-thirds of a second to four seconds — and those who witness it often respond by mirroring the action, and smiling back."

The last part of this quote points to some very interesting details. The length of a smile is pretty short, but the impact can bring great reward. The data that stimulates the brain has a beneficial effect. It also illustrates the "humanness" we all share. It is a gift to be able to recognize and appreciate smiling. The fact that we are able to smile at all is truly remarkable.

Smile Variances 

There is a vast spectrum of different smiles that we can study and appreciate. Much like faces, the smile possibilities are endless. This makes the smile such an interesting and amazing feature of evolution. People can show a smile with teeth or smile like a grin on that veers toward one side. People can flare their nostrils when smiling and lift their eyebrows. The smile changes the totality of the face that most of the time has a positive effect for the people able to witness it.

Eric Jaffe talks about a smile common in Art History. The Mona Lisa Smile. This may be one of the most famous and "natural smiles" we have seen throughout the awareness of smiling.

"Other muscles can simulate a smile, but only the peculiar tango of the zygomatic major and the orbicularis oculi produces a genuine expression of positive emotion. Psychologists call this the “Duchenne smile,” and most consider it the sole indicator of true enjoyment"

Since there are specific names of smiles, we can truly inform ourselves on the outward expression of people's inner chemical reactions. 

 Smile Attraction

Most of us have heard that, "Smiling is Contagious". At first this seems like a stale platitude, but it could have some reasonable evidence for itself. When we smile, we are projecting some type of outward appearance. We are creatures that learn by mimicry. We have evolved to imitate behaviors from a young age. It is no surprise that when we see a smile, we might smile back. This sometimes happens without us knowing it or controlling it. It is learned from past experiences and written into our genes. When we smile, we are sending out a vibe through physical signals. We are reacting to the inward processing of outward information. We have the ability attract what we send out and give. The act of smiling ( spontaneous or conscious ) can attract certain people and situations into our life.

Jaffe writes, "Another function of smiling (and one that anecdotal evidence supports) is that it enhances our attractiveness. One of the most famous characters in American letters, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby, had an irresistible smile that “assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.” For its part, science has identified part of the reason for a great smile’s allure. A recent fMRI study found that viewing attractive faces activated the brain’s orbitofrontal cortex, a region involved in processing sensory rewards. While this held true for all pretty mugs, the activity in this region was even stronger when the face in focus wore a smile. “The presence of a smile may provide an important signal that a reward is or is not attainable,” the researchers wrote in a Neuropsychologia (2003). Although some might argue that the brain, in seeing a smile, has already considered the reward attained."

The last part of this quote has some interesting implications. Our brains get a sense of "reward" when we analyze a smile. Most of this is done within the brain involuntarily. The only thing we can do is to recognize it and be mindful of it. This is one of the benefits of being conscious, aware and present. It is so fascinating to even be aware of the science of the smile.


With all the research that has gone into the mechanics of smiling, is there a good reason to smile?
We can logically look at the data in context and try to apply it to events in the real world, but sometimes it doesn't quite work. We may know that smiling might boost our "reward centers" and ultimately have a better physiological and psychological impact on us than "not smiling", but we sometimes want to hold on to our present emotional state. You may be angry or sad and feel that smiling is an unfruitful type of expression. This is because of your resistance to the present moment. When you are caught up in "mind games" and compulsive thought, you cannot allow yourself to be present. You can't be angry and happy at the same time. You can't be caught up in the past and be in the present moment at the same time, either.

When you step back from your habitual passing mood type behaviour, you can see the madness in the ego and self. You can make the choice to recognize and question why certain things are preventing you from being present. Try to smile when you are angry. Look at how it affects your moods. Let your anger pass and be with it. Do not act on it, but let it come and inform you. Do not resist. These emotions can be awesome teachers. Smile at the anger, whether it be "in your head" or on your face. Do not see the smile as a way to resist the emotional state. Smiling at transient emotions will allow for inner growth to happen and presence to enter.

The truth is, you do not need a reason to smile. When you place reasons to smile, you are making a smile a means to an end. Smiling becomes arduous and tedious when it turns into a task. A smile as a task will eventually lose it's flavor and essence. You will trick your reward center and foster a dependency on smiling as a coping mechanism. Be aware of when you smile and why you are smiling. See what it does to your inner being. See what it does to your body. Feel it. Do not try to hold onto it, but be aware and let everything "be". Smiling just to smile will lead to a more conscious and fulfilling life.

The Smile as a reflection of gratitude 

 When we can switch our brain chemistry to gratitude and away from the worrying monkey mind by practicing gratitude. When we practice gratitude, we focus our attention on what we already "have".
Gratitude does not focus on attainment of the lust for more material and mental goods. Being grateful can have a profound effect on your life. Here is an interesting exercise.

Think of a few things you are grateful for and close your eyes. Take in a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds. Breathe out and see what happens.

Did you smile? Did you get a sense of calming and contentment in your mind? What happened to your body when you practiced this gratitude exercise?

When you are grateful, smiling comes as a gift and a byproduct.

When you are present, joy is a byproduct as well.

Author Cynthia Morton describes what joy is in a profound way.

" Without emotional habits that we engage in regularly to re-ignite our heart with pure JOY, we may not be able to disengage our head from work and problem solving thoughts. We become stressed and although physically present our hearts JOY is muted if we can't turn our head off off from work or life problems. Emotional habits that create the most JOY have no cost for they add to our lives not take from it. JOY is also a byproduct of the present moment. When we pause from striving, reminiscing or focusing on others and actually pay attention to our here and now with a grateful heart, JOY rises up, like popcorn!"

Awareness brings presence.
Presence brings joy.
Joy brings smiling.
We send out those vibrations.

Smiling is great and an awesome thing to see and experience.
The most important this is that we become more aware and elevate our consciousness.
We can experience the broad spectrum of human emotion and know that we can always smile.
We can choose to move towards a more conscious life or get stuck in an unmindful habitual existence.

So, again, What if I smile too much? ( This is mostly a silly rhetorical question. )

Well, you certainly can't. Let the smiles be smiles and appreciate them for what they are and what they can GIVE. 

Instead of telling someone or manipulating someone to smile, we can shift our focus to appreciation.
Instead of commanding someone to perform a facial gymnastic, we can show them that we are grateful for their presence. Accept and treat the people that don't smile the same as the giddy grinning people.

See what happens when you just say, " I appreciate you."

You may not get a smile out of it, but that's the point.
Smiling or not, there is always plenty of love to go around.



Wenner, Melinda.

Jaffe, Eric. 2010.

Morton, Cynthia. 2014.

Friday, May 13, 2016

You know that's just my opinion...

You know, I've been thinking about it. I think that some burritos are better than others. More significantly, I think that vegetarian burritos are better than burritos with various meats. I think that is partially just because how I was raised. Maybe I had a bad meat burrito in the past. Maybe my biology doesn't crave chicken or steak like others do. I am fine with that.

You know, that's just my opinion.

Did I really need to say that?
What importance do my opinions have in certain matters?
Are opinions helpful for other people or are they reflections of our personal and subjective experiences?

Opinions are heavily waited on the context in hand. Opinions usually are preceded with an " I think" perspective that is personally fitted to the waist band of one's consciousness. If I think one thing is greater or more important than another thing, does that change or influence the opinion of another person? It certainly may, but opinions are merely biased to each person or people that tend to band together in like minded groups. Opinions, like beliefs, have the ability to unite or divide people.

When people are having a discussion, they tend to come from a place of ideology. The " I think" perspective stems from a projection in one's mind that routes them in a certain way of thinking. Opinions tend to be influenced and sculpted by the opinions of other people. A person can be swayed to a certain way of thinking by past experiences and take in an outside perspective that aligns with their views, values and principles. People tend to get lost in their own opinions when engaging in debates and arguments, while moving further from universality and truth.

" I think beer is better than wine"
" I think Wine is better because it doesn't make me feel as bloated."

Both of these perspectives are different and don't really move towards a sense of informed consensus. At this point, each person can recognize the other person's opinion and move on. You have the choice to accept and acknowledge someone's opinion while having a deep respect for the unique perspectives of individuals. In this regard, opinions can serve as windows to how a person thinks, behaves and acts in certain situations.

Opinions at times can lead to us judging, condemning and labeling certain people. We may put a person into a certain box based upon their own subjective beliefs. We unconsciously align ourselves to people that tend to think the same. Obviously, not all of us can have the same opinions. One of the most proactive things we can do is to see opinions as thinking and "of the mind". When we sculpt the totality of a person solely from their opinions, we blind ourselves to the uniqueness and diversity they have to offer. We can build up walls and see other people's opinions as reflections of our own insecurities.

We tend to fall into a comfortable pattern of our own biased thinking. When we feel our opinions are threatened, we can fight back to try to validate our opinions as if they were our own virtues. Opinions tend to be more emotionally based than logic based. We may " feel " a certain way about something, which makes us attached to our own opinions. We can lose sight and some from a place of emotion in order to express our own views without the respect and patience for how others "feel".

Understanding opinions takes a great deal of meta cognition. You know, thinking about thinking about opinions. You have to be able to pause and be mindful of the value of your opinions. Does giving your opinion advance in any insight to the context of the situation? Is your opinion based around a cognitive bias that is molded from your subjective experience? Are you enforcing your opinion with any type of aggression or intimidation? Are you voicing your opinion in order simply say what you "think" needs to be said? Does your opinion lead to more questioning and curiosity? If your opinion doesn't hold much value in advancing the topic at hand, it is might be a good idea to just focus on listening and realign with the present moment.

Maybe writing about opinions is just based on my own opinions. I certainly have a strong opinion about opinions. Why would i take time to write my opinions about opinions? Am I thinking that this piece will help with understanding opinions?

All I have done has gotten you and I to look at opinions critically. Some of us get so caught up in our own opinions that it becomes part of or all of our identities. We latch onto ideologies and political philosophies that align with how we want to see the world. We may favor almonds over pecans and gravitate towards other people that think the same thing. Does favoring almonds make us against pecans? Not necessarily. Am I getting a little of track? I certainly think so, but that may just be my opinion.

Opinions that aren't based in any concrete sense of reality or morality deceive us and move us towards unconsciousness. We can see opinions much like emotions. Opinions can change, mutate and pass through this human experience. Our experiences are a part of our self which is a product and the culmination of time.

Here's an interesting example: 

We may have been surrounded by the color blue as a child and gravitate towards more blue objects. The color blue may give us a sense of comfort and nostalgia that pleases our senses. We favor blue things over red things. It is something we get accustomed to. We are programmed to like the color blue. At this point, our opinions on the color blue are unique to our own past experiences. We may not be able to see why someone would favor so many red things to blue things. Our opinion of the color blue is surface and only in our minds. 
The paragraph above crudely illustrates how most opinions are formed. We can use the best of our abilities to inform others of our opinions based upon past experiences and environmental factors. Our opinions can illustrate the state of consciousness we are in now compared to how we were informed in the past. 

We can choose to see our opinions as opinions and move towards truth or move towards a realm of unconsciousness entrenched with unchecked emotional responses, cognitive bias and diluted compulsory thought. To facilitate growth, one must consistently question the necessity of opinion.

When people can set their opinions aside and see them as subjective thoughts, they can  focus on elevating each others consciousness and creating a more compassionate and present existence in this world. 


You know,
That's just my opinion?


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Don't Believe in Yourself

  1. Belief is not reality
  2. Belief is not reality. You may believe in God, but your belief has no more reality than that of the man who does not believe in God. Your belief is the result of your background, of your religion, of your fears, and the nonbelief of the communist and others is equally the result of their conditioning. ...
  3. - Jiddu Krishnamurti 
  4. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  5. " You just have to believe in yourself!"

  6. It seems as though we have seen this platitude over and over in our lifetimes. It runs along the sayings such as....

  7. Follow your passions.
  8. Follow your dreams.
  9. Don't give up. 

  10. These are the inspirational memes and quotes beaten into our brains to try to motivate us and keep us on a track of positive thinking and productivity. Although the idea of believing in yourself can be comforting, it can lead to stunted inner growth. 

  11. What is yourself? 

  12. Well the self is a product of time. The self ties in heavily with ego. It ties in with the "I" and the "me". It relies on the possessive. You are talking about YOURSELF here! Do you own your self? 

  13. Are you your self? 

  14. The self is simply a part of you. It is an identifier. It is a construct. It is how we see ourselves. Now that we can see that, we can see that when become the witness to our self, we cease to wear the mask that is the self. 

  15. What would believing in yourself mean? 

  16. Well, let us take a look at belief. 

  17. What is belief? 
  18. 1.
  19. an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
  20. "his belief in the value of hard work"
  21. 2.
  22. trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.
  23. "a belief in democratic politics"

  24. synonyms:
  25. faith, trust, reliance,confidence, credence
  26. "belief in the value of hard work"

  27. ( taken from a google search ) 
  28. ------------------/---------

  29. As we can see, a belief doesn't require any real logic, reason or evidence to legitimize itself. Much like the belief in a higher power. We can simply choose to believe things based on how we feel about it. 

  30. You can believe that karma exists without necessarily needing to prove that it exists. You can believe that everything happens for a reason. That is not a factual part of reality. Beliefs thrive on perspectives that comes from the self. Since the self is a culmination of past experiences, it creates a perception based on those experiences. It leads one to think in certain ways that will influence how they want to act or "believe" for the sake of the perpetuation of a future "self". 

  31. If one were to believe in one's self, they would be choosing to attach to a certain perspective that is unique and biased towards your own life experiences. You are essentially trying to achieve a means to an end by putting on an "act of believing yourself." 

  32. Why would you want to believe in yourself? 

  33. Most likely you are trying to achieve a certain goal or task that will happen in the future. 

  34. You want that promotion. 
  35. You want to finish that book. 
  36. You want to have a healthy relationship. 

  37. You tell yourself that all you have to do is to "believe in yourself." You leave it there. You don't question that stale platitude. You must have heard it from someone in the past. They might have told you that that is all you need. They might have just told you that as a quick answer to get you out of the way. It's Easy!  

  38. When you are in the present moment, does it matter if you believe yourself or not? 

  39. Think about it. 
  40. Now, think about thinking about it. Beliefs are just floating thoughts, aren't they not?

  41. You are sitting on a rock and looking at the trees around you. They are beautiful, organic and serene. They give you an amazing feeling. You take a deep breath, close your eyes and connect with what is. 

  42. Do you need to believe in yourself to do what you just did? No. You did it without questioning whether you could do it or not. You disconnected from the self. You didn't try to label the trees. You didn't try to think about what you were going to eat for dinner. You were there, present and aware!

  43. So, since your self is an illusory concept, why would you choose to merely believe in what it is? You can certainly accept the self for what it is. That is being the witness. That is being aware of how your mind works. When you see the self for what it is, you can be curious, compassionate and willing to listen to what it has to say. You don't have to blindly believe what yourself says. That wouldn't let you grow. 

  44. One must consistently question the "self" in order to expand and grow. Instead of believing in yourself, look at yourself. Hold the mirror up to how your brain is working. Look at what is happening within you. When you can connect to the present and accept what is, believing holds no water. 

  45. Acceptance Over Beliefs. 
  46. Presence brings joy. 
  47. Your actions speak what you value. 
  48. Beliefs can Divide. 

  49. DG
  50. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  51. "You believe in God, and another does not believe in God, so your beliefs separate you from each other. Belief throughout the world is organized as Hinduism, Buddhism, or Christianity, and so it divides man from man. We are confused, and we think that through belief we shall clear the confusion; that is, belief is superimposed on the confusion, and we hope that confusion will thereby be cleared away. But belief is merely an escape from the fact of confusion; it does not help us to face and to understand the fact but to run away from the confusion in which we are."- Jiddu Krishnamurti

Wednesday, May 4, 2016



You're doing nothing !

Bob walks by an empty corner in a mall. Randy is sitting quietly in a chair that is placed right in front of the corner. Randy is sitting still and has a small grin on his face. Bob goes to talk to Randy. 

Bob: Hello, sir. May I ask what you are doing? 

Randy: I am sitting down and just trying to relax.

Bob: It looks like you are doing nothing. 

Randy: Well, I wouldn't say I'm doing nothing. I most certainly am doing something. I am sitting and being present aren't I? 

Bob: Well true, but you aren't being productive. You aren't really doing anything of benefit or help to others.

Randy: Interesting, I would beg to disagree. You see, I am most certainly benefiting myself by trying to relax and observe what is going on around me and what is inside of me. I am taking myself away from trying to be busy and focusing on how I am doing. Do I need to be busy all the time? What could I do that would be more productive or helpful towards others? 

Bob: Well, you could be shopping in this fine mall or even working or volunteering at a food bank or farm. It seems as if you are being lazy and avoiding certain things in your life. 

Randy: I see the people walking around me that are plagued by compulsive thought. They keep going because they do not want to take time to look within themselves. They are trying to be busy to escape things they don't want to confront. It's always about focusing on doing something or being something. No one just wants to focus on "being". Do you understand where I am coming from? 

Bob: I can see where you are coming from, but you can feel a great deal of fulfillment from productivity. What if you were to learn a few songs or even make poems for a little cash? You could sit at your chair and put out a hat for some strangers to throw cash in. Wouldn't that be a good use of time? 

Randy: You seem not to understand where I am coming from. I enjoy sitting here and letting my mind and body relax. I enjoy paying attention to my breath. I enjoy watching the world go by. I enoy seeing the interactions of fellow man. I have accomplished much today and I plan to do more things later, but I am here now. Maybe a new idea will pop in my head or a new plan with blossom in front of my eyes. It feels good to step out of the rat race. 

Bob: Hm, very intriguing. I'm always from one thing to the next. I never really take the time to evaluate or look inside of me. I thank you for telling me this. What can I do now to be more like you? What can I do to live a more relaxed and peaceful life? 

Randy: Pull up a chair! 


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Hey, Go Thank Yourself!

Hey You!
Yeah, You!

I have some things to say to you. You may not agree with them at first, but you may change your mind at the end of this piece. I've been doing some thinking and I think that all of us could benefit from a little "thanking". Yeah, you heard me! Now, hear me out.

We are surrounded by "Thank Yous" in our life that we tend to look over. Some thank yous may be empty gestures. We may say them out of kindness or automatically say it to transactions or things given to us in life. These standard and conditioned Thank Yous are a necessity in keeping peaceful interactions intact. Thanking people is an honest and direct form of gratitude. Whether we are fully conscious of it or not, we have great influence upon others around us.

I am more interested in the Thank Yous that deal with you. Yeah, you! Have you thanked yourself recently? For any reason? There doesn't have to be any reason really. I mean, look at you. You have made it this far in life. You are here reading this piece of writing. You are able to read! I mean I am sure you could thank your parents and education for that, but let's focus on you. What are you grateful for that deals with you? Maybe you can thank yourself for being sober for 3 days? Maybe you can thank yourself for cutting the lawn before it turned into a jungle? I feel like the Thank Yous could be endless for you. So....

Why don't you go to the bathroom and Thank Yourself?
Look at yourself in the mirror . Look right in the eye and Thank yourself.
Thank yourself for times that you behaved at a work luncheon.
Thank yourself for the times you took the Uber instead of driving.
Thank yourself for reminding your future self to pack a lunch and put on deodorant.
Thank yourself for only getting the burger instead of the Burger, Fries, Coke combo.
Thank yourself for keeping your cool when someone brought up 9/11 at a party.
Thank yourself for being a good partner.
Thank yourself for making the choices that made you who you are today.

It may seem silly. It may seem uncomfortable. It may seem oddly satisfying.
Just do yourself a favor and GO THANK YOURSELF!


Who Cares?

Who Cares? 
Do you care? 
I mean do you really care or do you only care when people are looking? 
Do you only care about what people think? 

It seems as if people are doing a lot of not caring these days. Most of the not caring stems from the frustration of it all. We saturate ourselves in enthralling content that occupies our minds. We spend hours on the internet frustrated from the atrocities happening around the world. Sometimes, it seems like not caring is the easy way out. We choose to voice or frustrations and opinions rather than being courageous and curiously investigating the views and perspectives of others. 

I mean who would want to care? 
Sometimes caring seems like a huge burden that we would rather not carry. Caring about something or another person takes a great deal of self knowledge, patience and the willingness to be open. Caring implies honesty and empathy which go hand in hand. When we choose not to care, it is a decision made by our ego. It is stepping away from challenge and fueling the illusory sense of self. 

Should you care more? 

Well, I don't care. Ha! Realistically, you shouldn't try to care so much. You are acting when you are trying to care. It is a force and falsified emotion much like unchecked sympathy and pity. The "I don't care" statement is apathy at its finest and ugliest. It is choosing not to be held accountable or responsible. Sometimes " I don't care " can translate to " I don't want to deal with being responsible and too frustrated to try to engage with attentiveness and compassion." 

When do you really know that you care? 

When you are present and aware of your emotions, you are able to speak with clarity and respond with curiousity and intelligence. If you try to care, you are forcing yourself to become something. You are putting on an ego mask in order for self preservation. Caring arises out of not trying to care in the first place. It is putting on a front and not being vulnerable. When you are present, accepting and vulnerable, true compassion care will arise. This care will be more than just a word, but an opportunity to connect with authenticity of anther human being. The best outcome arises out of not caring about caring in the first place.

Do you still care? 
Is caring a priority in your life? 
If not, that's cool. But be "careful" you don't keep falling into the same flustered " I don't care " scenarios. Catch yourself when you say that internally or out loud. Look at it. 
Why are you saying it? 
Are you just trying to escape important issues or issues that make you uncomfortable? 
Are you seem discomfort as an annoying gnat and not a place for growth to happen? 
Your growth is determined heavily by how you handle the obstacles in your life. 

Who cares what people think?
Who cares if they upset you?

Who cares about yourself? 


You care about yourself first and your care for others will come quite naturally. 


Your stubborn fixed mindset

There you are giving yourself labels again. 
You stand almost a foot deep in dirty laundry wondering why you can't be a normal functioning adult in the first place. You go with the convenient excuses like.. 

" Well, I'm just a messy person." 
" I've been super busy and haven't had time." 
" I got super deep into a Gilmore Girls marathon on Netflix." 

Yadda yadda yadda. 

You are conditioned by your habits and behaviors. Sometimes we choose not face the small challenges in our lives and immediately assign it to who we are as a person. Excuses drag us into a habitual tornado of avoidance and stagnation. 

You may be able to accept your faults or shortcomings, but changing them is all about being aware of them and making conscious effort. Are you cornering yourself for future behaviors? Are you perpetuating a cycle that ultimately gives you justification for the way you are? These are important questions especially if you have any inclination or motivation to elevate your consciousness or improve your life situation. 

A fixed mind set relies on having a stern point of view that is resistant against any contrary perspectives. It feeds on your resistance to cling to comfort and ignorance. To transition out of a fixed mind set, one must look inward, be attentive and be open to seeing all sides of the psyche. A fixed mind set will always run you into the ground with platitudes, constant criticism, and lack of emotional intelligence. 

When you open yourself up to be more vulnerable and non judgmental of yourself ,you are seeding a new mind set focused on growth. It is taking in account your reactions to outward situations and inner turmoil. A growth mind set focuses on witnessing the area between stimulus and response and accepting it for what it is. You can let your emotions become your teachers, guides and motivators to advance awareness. 

A growth mind set thrives on questioning information that is fed to you constantly. It is questioning every experience from your past and questioning the perspectives of others from a curious and compassionate point of view. Your discomfort will seed the soil for future growth and new revelations of truth. 

You have bad road rage issues. 
You accept it. You look to see that it has no benefit for you or others. You notice that it does not serve you. You breathe through the anger and let it go. 

A couple of weeks later, you have the same road rage scenario. You remember how you acted last time. You consciously make the effort to "let it go". 

A day later you encounter a similar situation on the road. You have a different reaction. You accept the person that cut you off. You focus on driving better with more attention and awareness. You realize you have grown from how you use to deal with road rage situations. 

What seeds are you planting for your future garden? Are you tending to the care of your plants? Are you letting weeds take over the garden? How are those plants producing? What can you do to have a successful and beautiful garden? 

Many lessons to be learned. 
Much growth to be made.