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An Open Letter to the Materialist

Guy

We live in a three-dimensional reality
And experience it through the filter of five senses
We merely see a sliver of the spectrum of light
We only hear a small slice of the scale of sound

If we cannot perceive something
If we cannot measure something
Does that mean it doesn’t exist?

There is an infinity
Of indescribable mystery
Based in energy
Vibration and frequency

Who is the driver of your body?
Who is the witness of your thoughts?

You are pure awareness

Open up
Experience the truth for yourself
Experience the truth of yourself
Feel it

 

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7 Easy Ways to Ground Yourself

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Spring is in the air.

With the influx of warm, gorgeous weather, it’s natural to be really giddy. It’s easy to get engulfed by the fair weather frenzy and feel utterly ungrounded.

In addition to the shift of seasons, there was a full moon and a powerful solar flare this week as well; both of which are known for their mysterious and peculiar influences on human consciousness.

Side note: Without going off on a big tangent, just know that we’re essentially blind to the spectrum of forces that are affecting us. What we perceive and measure is based upon the observation of three-dimensional reality with our five (quite limited) senses. We process an infinitesimally small sliver of “reality” through these human mind-body computers. Everything is fundamentally an interaction of energy, frequency and vibration (ourselves included). But it really comes down to this… Be aware of your state of being and act out of that place of awareness. That’s what this article is all about.

Now back to the topic at hand…

Being grounded is one of those terms that is tossed around a lot in so-called “spiritual” circles. And everyone has a slightly different definition for it. To me, being grounded means having full-body awareness (not being too “in your head” or “woo woo” or “floating in the clouds”) and being connected with nature.

If you’re still a little unsure of what I’m talking about, here are some signs of being ungrounded:
You feel spacey or even a little dizzy.
You find it hard to finish tasks.
You can’t concentrate.
You find it hard to make yourself understood.
You find it hard to understand others.
You get distracted or your mind wanders.
You lose track of time.
(source)

Everyone has experienced at least some of those symptoms from time-to-time. Here’s what to do about it…

“I tell them there’s no problem, only solutions.” – John Lennon

The Solution (7 Easy Ways to Ground Yourself)

1. Spend some time barefoot on the Earth – Even if you can’t get out in nature, just walking barefoot on a patch of grass will do the trick. It sounds so simple, but it’s incredibly effective and feels amazing. Watch the documentary Grounded for an in depth look at this.

2. Deep breathing – When isn’t this a solution?

3. Working out (resistance training) – Leg workouts are especially grounding. This “grounds” you both into your body and the Earth.

4. Turn off the technology – Too much tech will throw your hormones out of whack, make you dazed, robotic and too “in your head.” Take periodic breaks from technology and connect with your inner self and mother nature.

5. Eat grounding food – Anything with roots and anything that resonates with the root chakra is grounding. These include root vegetables, animal proteins (preferably grass-fed and organic) and red-colored foods. Minerals help with grounding as well (so don’t shy away from sprinkling some Himalayan pink salt on everythang). Also, make sure you’re eating enough food, as caloric restriction is ungrounding.

6. Watch the sunrise or sunset – The awe, the wonder, the captivating beauty. Something about the times of dawn and dusk are simply magical. And watching the sunrise or sunset will sync you up with the natural cycles of the Earth.

7. Go hiking – Getting out in nature is the absolute best thing you can do to ground yourself. Do not underestimate how powerful this is for your overall well-being.

My Personal Experience

Earlier this week, I found myself unable to concentrate or focus on anything. I noticed it on Monday, but on Tuesday there was no getting around it. I had the attention span of a goldfish. I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t concentrate on the simplest of tasks at work. And the act of writing seemed as insurmountable as catching Mewtwo with a regular pokeball. It was frustrating, to say the least.

However, I’ve recently come to the realization that it’s useless to resist the flow of life and try to swim upstream. I’ve learned that everything works out when I sail with the currents of life, not against them.

When you can’t change the direction of the wind — adjust your sails” – H. Jackson Brown

So I decided to lean into the natural cycles and embrace my need for groundedness, as opposed to forcing myself to focus on digits on a computer screen.

What I did to reverse feeling ungrounded within 24 hours of noticing it:
1. I gave up on trying to accomplish anything. I acknowledged my state of being without resisting it.
2. I worked out (heavy deadlifts have quite the grounding effect).
3. I went on a sunset hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with good company (see the picture below).
4. After the hike, I ate… A lot. (Hooray for Carb Backloading)

Then before I knew it, I found myself more productive at work and effortlessly writing this post. No rigid forcefulness required.

Grow powerful wings to fly. But also grow powerful talons for when you need to perch upon the Earth.

Be as liberated and limitless as a mythical dragon, yet as deeply rooted as a mighty tree.

Stay free. Stay balanced. Stay rooted.

Keep feelin’ good, feelin’ great.

– Stevie P!

Sunset me

 

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Embrace the Great Mystery

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The very nature of the universe we live in is that of constant flux. Everything is ever-changing. Existence is a continuous flow.

“No man steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” – Heraclitus

Most people, however, live in complete discordance with this universal flux and instead operate with a fearful, neurotic, false sense of control. To want to control situations, or to even think that the future will unfold a certain way, is utterly insane. Why? Because the only constant is change. Trying to control everything in a universe defined by perpetual fluctuation is like attempting to swim upstream in a gigantic, immensely powerful river. Why resist the flow, when you can leverage it and ride with the current?

Alan Watts summarized it so well…

“There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity. But the contradiction lies a little deeper than the mere conflict between the desire for security and the fact of change. If I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life. Yet it is this very sense of separateness which makes me feel insecure. To be secure means to isolate and fortify the “I,” but it is just the feeling of being an isolated “I” which makes me feel lonely and afraid. In other words, the more security I can get, the more I shall want.

To put it still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.”

The only sane way to approach life within a universe defined by flux is to have to following mentality: Embrace the mystery and enjoy the ride.

Mystery

You can’t control other people’s actions. You can’t control what life throws at you (for the most part). And you don’t know where the future will lead.

Let go and ride the current of life.

Embrace the inherent mystery of the universe, don’t neurotically try to create a vacuum. Like the old quote goes, “Nature abhors a vacuum.”

Deepak Chopra provides similar advice in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success where he presents the following affirmations:

I will factor in uncertainty as an essential ingredient of my experience. In my willingness to accept uncertainty, solutions will spontaneously emerge out of the problem, out of the confusion, disorder, and chaos. The more uncertain things seem to be, the more secure I will feel, because uncertainty is the path to my freedom.

I will step into the field of all possibilities and anticipate the excitement that can occur when I remain open to an infinity of choices. When I step into the field of all possibilities, I will experience all the fun, adventure, magic, and mystery of life.

You will change. Your relationships will change. Your desires will change. Your goals will change. Your circumstances will change. But here’s the kicker… You will be able to adjust to all of it; and thrive. You have the inherent capacity to deal with any situation that occurs in your life. There is no need to fear.

Remember, you might not be able to control what life throws at you, but you can most certainly control how you react to it.

Flow with the river of life.

Embrace the mystery.

Enjoy the ride.

– Stevie P!

 

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A Poem For You, Mom

Mom Dad Me

I act as an inspiration for others
A shoulder to lean on
When reality appears grim

But who do I go to
When the clouds of fear block my vision
And I lose sight of the sunshine?

I turn to you

You are a force of nature
Wrapped in a package that I call “Mom”
Holding space when I doubt myself
Reflecting unconditional love

You are always there for me
Always
No matter what

You have bestowed me with momentum
In the direction of my destiny

You are the bow
The bow that bent gracefully
To pleasantly propel me
Along the trajectory of my essence

I am eternally grateful for you

You remain radiant
You maintain beauty
Inside and out
As above
So below

Your love pervades

You brought my body into this world
Then ushered my spirit in to follow

We share life experiences
Regardless of time
Despite any distance

Our connection transcends

Each exchange ends
With three wonderful words
I love you

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Happy Birthday, Mom.

(Or because we both know that time is an illusion, happy revolution around the Sun!)

Love,

– Stevie P!

 

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It’s All Research, Therefore I Cannot Fail

This is a guest post by Alton Eckel.

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My mother taught me one of the greatest lessons in life: it’s all research. It was a lesson that I took with me into my first Ironman race last summer. When I felt exhausted, or my body ached, I re-evaluated my current state and redirected myself to a more constructive frame of mind. What could I do differently next time? What had I done properly that day? How had my training prepared me for the day’s elements? I can confidently say that I have never “failed” due to this outlook. When something has been unsuccessful in training or racing (or anything in life for that matter), I simply consider it a disproven hypothesis.

I am an adolescent when it comes to the world of endurance racing and triathlons; I still have a sense of immortality and innocence to me. I have not heard of an obscure race that I would not try or a distance that I did not believe was achievable. My ambition has carried me to many daunting start lines and my tenacity has pushed me across the same number of finish lines. That’s correct: in more than one hundred races ranging from 5k’s to full Ironman triathlons I have never shown a DNF (Did Not Finish) next to my name.

I did not run during high school. As a matter of fact, a telephone pole length was a distance event during my teenage years. I was an All American cheerleader who had avoided her bike since middle school. Then, one day, a middle aged, slightly overweight man asked me to join him for a two mile run. He tore up the pavement and left my ego at the door. This shifted my perspective. I became lit up at the idea of improving my run. Not to mention getting out of the gym and stationary machines. Within five months of my first official run I did my first half marathon. My sense of accomplishment fueled my interest in continuing with the sport. And in less than a year I ran my first marathon.

I also bought a bike and entered a sprint triathlon around the same point in time. This was where I faced my greatest challenge, since swimming has always been a struggle for me. I used a noodle on the swim. It may as well have been an inner tube. Out of two thousand women, I was 9th from last on the swim. Then I kissed my bike, made my way through the crowded streets and ended up finishing in the middle of the field. I learned a great deal during that race about my self and my ability. I was not invincible. I needed to practice swimming. I needed to train with more brick sessions. I needed to alter my nutrition.

The following year, I returned to the same sprint triathlon determined to test out my new skills. I had done my research. I had taken swim lessons. I had done weekly bricks. I had tested my nutrition through trial and error. The hard work paid off. I finished that race first in my age group and nineteenth overall. I discovered how a challenging experience could be used as research toward a more positive one in the future. Now I’m always excited for my next race, as it’s an opportunity to test my hypotheses once again.

While recently juggling triathlon training and attending college full-time for my Master’s in Psychology, I have realized that the two are closely intertwined. The cognitive aspect of training and racing is an exercise in mental toughness and inner dialogue. I have self reflected over and over again and discovered the therapy that endurance racing offers.

This also elicited the question of why I’m able to use my inner dialogue to push forward, while some athletes are paralyzed by self-defeating thoughts and fear. I am not the bionic woman; my legs feel like lead bricks at mile 18 of the run during an Ironman, my back aches from a 40 lb pack after my seventh summit of the day in the White Mountains, and my vision becomes impaired at mile 90 of a hot century ride. Yet, somehow, I push through this feeling while others surrender to of the pain, turn back, or give up.

What separates us? I propose that it’s my inner dialogue, which is motivational and empowering. I have a drill sergeant within my own mind. When I grow tired or ache all over, my internal self says, “Suck it up, this is nothing!” My exhaustion and desire to slow down is overcome by my excitement and drive, while other athletes’ exhaustion and desire to slow down are exacerbated by feelings of disempowerment and defeat. The same thought creates a different inner dialogue for different athletes. The perception of our thoughts produces different behaviors and subsequent outcomes. As it turns out, endurance athletes are in a continuous process of engaging in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with themselves.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is therapeutic intervention in which thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are intertwined. The way we choose to react to a triggering event is dependent on our interpretation and thoughts surrounding it. Following our thought is an emotional response, which in turn affects our behavior. Therefore, our thoughts and emotions control our actions… even when training and racing.

CBT

How can we use CBT to improve performances and interpret failures in a motivating way? First, pay attention to what your inner dialogue is saying to you. To use running as an example: The next hard tempo run that you go out for listen to your thoughts and physical responses. Do you give up on the fast pace a half mile prior to your anticipated distance? If so, then what were you thinking when you chose to slow down? Was your body tense and in a state of fear?

Understanding what happens within our body and thoughts just before we decide (yes, it’s a decision) to give up or slow down helps us to change future outcomes and improve performances. If we have self defeating thoughts such as, “I cannot meet my goal, I’m too tired” then working on a more productive thought pattern such as, “I’ve felt this tired before, time to dig deep and work toward closing in on that goal” can improve our performance and boost our confidence.

Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in training and racing. Challenge yourself to improve your inner dialogue and find the lesson learned in unmet goals. Work toward using difficult days as motivation. As my mom states, it’s all research. None of us have failed, just disproven hypotheses.

“Do not dedicate your life to your sport, but rather, dedicate your sport to your life.”
-Dan Millman

“There is no failure, only feedback.”
-Mark Allen

About Alton:
Alton is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness. She’s also a trail runner, triathlete, wolf mama and part-time superhero.

Follow Alton on Instagram: @trailbright

Alton

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8 Ways to Transmute Self-Doubt Into Faith

The_Leap_of_Faith

Self-doubt is crippling.

What makes self-doubt so insidious is that it’s the only thing that truly stands between where we are and where we want to be.

The only limitations we have are those we place upon ourselves. And these walls of fear that we place around ourselves are what keep us imprisoned.

Doubt’s polar opposite is faith. Instead of focusing on getting rid of doubt, focus on building faith. This is the concept of mental transmutation as described by ancient Hermetic teachings.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

Doubt simply cannot exist in the presence of faith. It doesn’t matter if it’s yourself, God, the Universe or having Bulbasaur as your starting Pokemon. Faith in something is absolutely crucial in leading a happy and fulfilling life.

Remember that everything that happens in your life is perfect for your personal growth. You also have the inherent capacity to deal with any situation that occurs in your life. There is no need to fear.

“Nothing in the affairs of men is worthy of great anxiety.” – Plato

I’m writing this because I noticed self-doubt creeping in recently. Being burnt out a couple weeks ago left me exhausted and made me question myself.

But by overcoming burnout and implementing a few strategies, I’ve been able to transmute that ugly self-doubt into beautiful self-faith.

8 Ways to Transmute Self-Doubt into Faith:

1. Affirmations
Affirmations are statements to program your subconscious mind a certain way. They’re immensely helpful for getting through any difficult time. You become what your dominant thoughts are. Program yourself for joy and empowerment.

Here are some sample affirmations to help transform doubt into faith:
If you’re afraid of bad experiences – “Everything is a learning experience.”
If you’re anxious about the future – “I can handle anything life throws at me.”
If you’re worried about money – “Thank you Universe for the abundance of money flowing into my life at all times.”

With whatever you want to embody, simply search for related affirmations and you’ll find an abundance of them.

Write down affirmations on a daily basis and continuously repeat them to yourself. That’s how to maximize the immense efficacy of affirmations.

2. Visualization
Visualize yourself achieving your goals. Be as specific as possible. Picture it like you’re already doing it. What does it feel like?

This is another means of programming yourself to achieve what you truly want in life.

Visualization has worked for many of the world’s top performers (especially athletes), so it will certainly work for you. Visualize the action and actualize the vision.

An effective way to leverage the power of visualization is to visualize your ideal day/lifestyle (while being as specific as possible) every morning. You can even include it in your meditation practice.

3. Take action
Don’t just sit there marinating in self-doubt. Work towards what you want. Take that first step in the direction you want to head in. Any sort of progress cultivates faith and quells doubt.

4. Build skills
Acquiring and building skills naturally increases genuine self-confidence. You become more capable, which then alleviates that insidious self-doubt.

Pick a skill to develop, and consistently work to improve it.

5. Be present
Doubt creeps in when you start projecting your mind into the past or future. Self-doubt is usually about the future; anxiety over imaginary “what if” scenarios.

What are you doing right now? Be with it totally. Be here now.

For example: If you want to write a book and you’re outlining it today, focus on that. Don’t focus on how other people have books published. Create the best outline you can today and continue to move forward. This will not only maximize your work, but keep you present and minimize any self-doubt.

“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and
not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms
of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.” – Eckhart Tolle

6. Embrace the mystery of life
A major aspect of transmuting doubt into faith is embracing the inherent mystery of life. The very nature of the Universe we live in is constant flux. So letting go of trying to control everything and simply enjoying the ride is key. Deepak Chopra discusses embracing the mystery of life in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success where he outlines the following affirmations:

“I will factor in uncertainty as an essential ingredient of my experience. In my willingness to accept uncertainty, solutions will spontaneously emerge out of the problem, out of the confusion, disorder, and chaos. The more uncertain things seem to be, the more secure I will feel, because uncertainty is the path to my freedom.”

“I will step into the field of all possibilities and anticipate the excitement that can occur when I remain open to an infinity of choices. When I step into the field of all possibilities, I will experience all the fun, adventure, magic, and mystery of life.”

7. Rest, then dive back into your work
Sometimes self-doubt comes from fatigue or burnout. In this case you need to rest in order to function at maximum capacity long-term. Life is a balance of the yin and yang. I discuss how to do this in more detail in the post “How to Avoid Burnout.”

8. Know that there are forces bigger than your rational mind at work.

Learn to trust your intuition. Be in that state of deep-seated knowing, and your doubt will be transmuted into faith.

Stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great.

– Stevie P!

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Join on the Journey

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The currents of life are continuously shifting
Matching your resonance in each moment

Endings and new beginnings intermingle
Within the infinite tapestry of existence

Everyone enters your life for a reason
Everyone you encounter is a teacher

Do not clutch on
Do not possess
Let go
Let be
Run free
Inspire freedom within others
For the ones who are meant to be
Will join on the journey

 

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How to Avoid Burnout

Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work. (Wikipedia)

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Last week, I experienced true burnout for the first time in my life.

I’d be lying if I told you that I hadn’t felt it coming. And a lot of people in my life hinted that I was trying to do too much. I was going on about 4 months of every minute of my life being goal-oriented. That goal, was (and still is) earning a living online, to give myself freedom of time and location.

During that period, I abstained from a lot of activities in favor of “getting shit done.” I didn’t drink any alcohol, rarely went out, didn’t have sex and didn’t see a lot of my good friends. I wrote like a madman, dove into countless projects, read voraciously, worked out like I was Ronnie Coleman and did a lot of yoga and meditation in an attempt to offset my extreme output. And this was all while holding down a 9-5 job as well.

I put insane amounts of pressure on myself at all times, constantly forcing myself to get more done. I was my own slave driver. Of course I enjoy this work (it’s a major part of my life purpose), but literally everything I did was geared towards my goal(s) in some way.

The yoga and meditation I practiced became goal-oriented (which, in some sense, almost defeats their purpose). I was practicing yoga to counteract all of the sitting I was doing and help rest (so I could workout harder and produce more content). I was meditating with the goal of gaining a higher perspective and getting more creative inspiration.

I even viewed sleep as merely a means to recover my ability to produce more.

Every single thing I did was aligned with my vision, and that became problematic. I was pushing the envelope of extreme output.

As last week progressed, I began to feel more and more burned out. But this drove me to a profound realization… I wasn’t ever allowing myself to just BE. And that’s the root of what was gradually wearing me down.

My creativity was the first to go last week. I noticed that I was less creative than usual on Monday and Tuesday. That was followed by feelings of fatigue. Then, on Wednesday night, a headache came on. The headache stayed with me into Thursday. The feeling of utter burnout got to the point where I left work early, went home and napped.

Note: These were all glaring signs to me. I was so used to creating as ravenously as 2pac. Feeling tired is so foreign to me. I don’t even remember the last time I had a headache before this. And I can only nap when I really, really need it. So with that combination of symptoms, I knew something was wrong.

After napping, I decided to spend the rest of the day completely “goalless.” I did some stretching, mobility work and practiced any yoga poses that felt good. I took a long shower. I watched some fascinating YouTube videos that caught my eye. I ate a jar of sunflower seed butter (so good). It was revitalizing to allow myself to just BE; no pressure, no to-do list and no goals.

I wound down for the night by reading The Fifth Sacred Thing until I fell asleep.

Then on Friday morning, I woke up feelin good, feelin great again. I feel like a phoenix, arising from its own ashes.

The Lesson

You have to balance the yin with the yang. You need rest to support activity. You need to balance goal-oriented time with goalless time.

If you keep pushing with blatant disregard for everything else, you’ll end up in a gray-zone of constantly trudging forward at nowhere near your full capacity. And if you continue this pattern long-term, you’ll end up in a downward spiral of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual dysfunction.

When you rest enough to balance your activity level, you’re then able push harder and continuously evolve into the greatest version of yourself.

What are some symptoms of burnout?

  • Less productivity – Spending more time while actually getting less done.
  • Less creativity
  • Less motivation
  • Loss of mental sharpness
  • Brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Self-doubt
  • Anxiousness
  • Poor decision-making
  • Not taking care of yourself – Falling into negative patterns or activities more often.
  • Life begins to lose its vibrancy

How do you avoid or alleviate burnout?

  • Grounding into the Earth (walk barefoot in nature or just on grass) – This syncs you up with
  • Mother Earth. Because burnout has to do with mental overuse, you need to ground yourself into your body and the Earth.
  • Get out in nature – This goes along with the previous tip. Getting out in nature is wholly revitalizing. Do something like hike a mountain or walk in the woods.
  • Sleep more – Get the rest you need.
  • Engage in “yin” activities regularly – These are rejuvenative activities for the body, mind and spirit. Examples include meditation, gentle yoga, tai chi, qi gong, reiki, massage, acupuncture…etc.
  • Reduce screen time – Turn off the technology and unplug for a bit. Keeping your eyes glued to digital screens tend to exacerbate feelings of burnout.
  • Go on vacation – Go somewhere relaxing for a few days (or longer, depending on how burnt out you are) where you don’t have to do anything.
  • Set aside some “goalless” time – This worked like a charm for me.
    How to spend goalless time:
    1. Do whatever you feel like. Seriously, spontaneously do whatever you want (as long as it’s not harmful to yourself or others, of course). This is one of the most freeing things you can do.
    2. Don’t put any pressure on yourself. There is nothing to accomplish, no goals and no to-do lists.
    3. Just allow yourself to BE. Be present and thoroughly enjoy whatever you’re doing.
  • And most importantly, HAVE FUN! Life is too short to be taken too seriously. Enjoy yourself, live authentically, laugh, dance, climb trees and high five strangers.

Stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great.

– Stevie P!

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The Shirters (A Short Story)

 

Assorted colos

 

Once upon a manifestation of infinite possibility, people always wore shirts.

Because people always wore shirts, everyone defined themselves by the color of the shirt they wore.

There were people dressed in every color shirt imaginable, spanning the spectrum of the sense of sight.

Eventually, those who wore white shirts (the “white shirters”) began to claim that their color shirt was more “pure” than the rest. They despised anyone who wore a different color shirt. This hatred bubbled up until the white shirters started attacking non-white shirters. The white shirters held the fearful belief that any other color shirt was a threat to the pureness of their white shirts.

In their first offensive, the white shirters formed a large group and marched towards the home of some blue shirters. In a frenzy of senseless malice, the white shirters started killing blue shirters left and right. The blue shirters, feeling terrorized, organized into their own group and retaliated. But they lost the battle.

Hearing the news, every color of shirters divided into their own tight-knit group. Each group armed themselves, ready for any outside attack.

The red shirters, however, decided on a more proactive strategy. Trying to beat the white shirters at their own game, they launched an attack on the white shirters. They also began to attack everyone else who wasn’t a red shirter. In doing this, they became the very force that they were fighting against and caused even more chaos.

Though damaged by the red shirters’ attack, the white shirters continued their campaign. Next, they attacked the green shirters.

Storming into the village of the green shirters, they came across an elder green shirter.

In a condescending tone, the white shirters collectively chanted, “We, the pure white shirters, have come to eliminate you pathetic green shirters.”

The elder, scanning the group of white shirters with a curiously tilted head, said, “I’m not a green shirter. It’s just the color of the shirt I’m wearing, not who I am.”

The white shirters were perplexed by this assertion. They couldn’t fathom the concept that a person’s identity does not lie within the color of their shirt.

“I see a green shirt! So you’re a green shirter!” Exclaimed one of the more rowdy white shirters, and the whole group erupted in angry agreement. In a fit of blind fury, they killed the elder green shirter.

The next village to pillage on the white shirters’ treacherous campaign was that of the black shirters.

One black shirter, knowing that the white shirters’ rampaging approach was imminent, had a sudden revelation…

As the white shirters arrived, the black shirter removed the black shirt. The shirtless individual then walked up to the herd of white shirters, who were frozen in stupefied surprise by the sight. Suspenseful silence permeated the air.

In fearful confusion, the head white shirter barked “What color shirter are you?”

With arms wide open, the individual cheerfully replied, “I’m not wearing a shirt.”

The white shirters couldn’t comprehend this. Both themselves and everyone they ever saw had worn a shirt their entire lives, and dutifully classified themselves by its color.

In a wave of realization, one brave white shirter removed their white shirt. The others gasped in horror as the individual walked up to the other. They greeted one another with a hesitant handshake that transformed into a wholehearted hug.

Seeing the two together, both shirtless, the group couldn’t help but realize that everyone shares the same essence underneath their shirts.

Gradually, more and more white shirters joined in and removed their shirts. Some resisted at first, but eventually the whole group was shirtless.

One individual, who had been a staunch white shirter his whole life, looked at the awe-inspiring scene and pondered to himself…

“How silly a concept, to believe that I am nothing but the color of my shirt. And how ridiculously stupid it is to kill others that I view as different based on such a silly belief.”

Seeing how they had caused so much harm and hardship by separating themselves, all of the various shirters eventually removed their shirts; their layer of false identity.

They realized how pointless it was to divide themselves into opposing groups. Now united as one, all vowed to cooperate with one another and co-create a more harmonious reality together.

The beginning…

 

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You are the Captain of Your Vessel

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As humans, we tend to learn best through metaphor. That’s why the most profound spiritual texts are gloriously allegorical.

To leverage this effect, I came up with an illuminating metaphor for the mind, body and spirit:

Life is a voyage and you are the captain of your vessel.

Life is the journey, the expedition, the adventure. It’s truly a tremendous experience.

“Reality” is the scene upon which your voyage takes place. It is the ocean, the weather, the wind…etc.

Your body is the ship, or vessel. Your mental and emotional states are the sails of the ship. And you (the ‘I am’ presence) are the captain of the ship.

Let me elaborate a bit…

Life is like a “choose your own adventure” game as well. You select your ship and set out on your own unique voyage.

Reality, the ocean, is the stage upon which life is set. Can we control the weather, the wind or the scenery? Perhaps. Maybe reality is participatory and co-created by all of us, like a highly advanced, completely customizable online multiplayer video game. But until we know that for sure, this quote provides potent advice…

“When you can’t change the direction of the wind — adjust your sails” – H. Jackson Brown

Sail towards your purpose. Sail towards your passions. Sail towards your essence. And realize that it’s not about the destination, but about the journey itself. The deep sense of fulfillment you’re looking for is found by fully embracing the bliss that lies within every moment of the experience.

Harmonizing all aspects of self will maximize your journey. Neglecting any element of yourself will inevitably result in a less-than-enjoyable voyage.

If you neglect your physical body, your vessel, you’ll become a shipwreck prematurely. A damaged ship will gradually sink, no matter how nice the weather or how competent the captain is. And before it sinks, it will move slowly and require constant maintenance, leaving little time for enjoyment.

If you neglect your sails, you’ll always be at the mercy of the weather. You will be a victim of circumstance. The winds will have their way with you. You will have trouble avoiding turbulent weather. No matter how adept your captain is or how strong your ship is, it won’t last long being battered by constant storms.

If you neglect your spiritual self, the captain, then you essentially become a vessel without a pilot. You will be aimless, with no awareness to experience the beauty of the journey. The absence of the captain makes the voyage meaningless.

To harmonize the totality of self, you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t need to be the perfect captain, or have the perfect boat or have the perfect sails. But you cannot neglect any of them if you wish to make the most of your voyage.

A harmonious self would consist of a fun-loving, skillful captain, sailing a strong vessel. The sails would be well-kept and adjusted to each unique circumstance. You will be able to enjoy the good weather, and when storms come, persevere and become stronger as a result.

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How to Maximize Your Voyage: 2 Actionable Items for Each Aspect of Self that You Can Implement Today

Regarding Your Body (The Ship):
1. Just Eat Real Food – The 80/20 of healthy eating is as simple as eating real food. If it has a commercial or a mascot, it’s probably not good for you. Like Jack LaLanne said, “If man made it, don’t eat it.”

2. Move – Move your body daily. Walk as much as possible, practice yoga, lift weights, hike a mountain…etc. Our bodies are built to move. So much dysfunction comes from too much sitting and stagnation. Even gentle movement (like walking or light stretching) allows for lymphatic circulation, blood circulation, chi circulation, effective digestion and normalized hormones; all of which are absolutely crucial for good health.

Regarding Your Mind/Emotional State (The Sails):
1. Don’t complain for a day – Complaining is utterly useless. It’s passive and negative. Either let things go, or take action to change them, and continue flowing through life with a sense of empowerment. Challenge yourself to not complain and your life will never be the same.

2. Be present – Be here now. The present moment is all that ever exists. Only refer to the past or future when they’re completely relevant to the now. Presence is where inner peace is found and creates space for awareness. From that awareness, you are in the position to change anything in your life.

“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and
not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms
of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.” – Eckhart Tolle

Regarding Your Spirit (The Captain):
1. Meditate daily – If you’re new to meditation, set a timer for 2 minutes and do absolutely nothing. You can sit or lay down, whatever is more comfortable. Simply observe your thoughts while breathing deeply. Meditation, like presence, begets awareness. Meditation allows you to use the mind as a tool without getting overwhelmed by it. Make it a daily habit.

2. Show gratitude – Every day, write down at least three things that you’re grateful for. Show gratitude for everything in your life. This will not only make you happier, but also open the door to all forms of abundance. The feeling of gratitude is so fulfilling and it aligns your spirit with the other aspects of yourself, uniting the wholeness of your being in joyful harmony.

Remember, you are the captain of your vessel.

Enjoy the voyage.

– Stevie P