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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Judgment

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I have a confession to make…

Up until very recently, I would judge people… A lot.

Just when I thought I was “spiritually evolved” and free from my ego, it would sneak in through the back door and whisper things about other people like “They’re so closed-minded. How can they not see that? I’m better.”

Judgment is an egocentric, energy-sapping distraction that inhibits everyone’s freedom.

I’ve been shining a light on this within myself and have almost put a stop to the judgment entirely by practicing a simple process of awareness and letting go.

Now whenever I have the inclination to judge people, I remind myself:

1. I’m only judging other people because it’s an outward manifestation of self-judgment.

2. Whatever I’m bothered by is a reflection of something within me that I need to address.

3. It’s none of my business what anyone else does. Everyone is a sovereign being on their own journey. Thinking there is a right/best way to live is an insult to uniqueness and laughably ignorant.

Freedom.._Love_the_sun._(11903767213)

The Solutions (How to Let Go of Judgment like 1,2,3)

1. Find the root of self-judgment by answering these questions: How am I judging myself? Why am I judging myself in the first place?

Directly address these questions and change the underlying belief. Here’s my personal example:

I have long judged myself with the belief pattern “I’m not good enough yet. I can do better.” I can be very hard on myself and I put pressure on myself to constantly excel at everything. A lot of this self-judgment stems from my childhood experiences (like most ingrained beliefs). After a soccer game, for example, my dad would say things like “It’s good that you scored a goal, but you could have scored another one.” Or if I got a 90% on a test at school: “It’s good that you got a 90% on the test, but you got that easy question wrong.” I eventually took these on as self-criticisms and have kept tremendous pressure on myself for most of my life. Nothing was ever good enough. This self-judgment can manifest in many ways if I’m caught in my ego, mostly in the form of being hyper-sensitive to criticism or comparing myself to others (feeling either superior or inferior based on whatever qualities are being compared).

The Release (Awareness + New Belief)
Since I’ve become aware of the root belief, I’m able to “catch” the judgment and it now disappears on the spot (it’s coming up less and less frequently too).

I’ve also been using an affirmation to release this self-critical belief pattern. I say this to myself every day, and the self-criticism is loosening its grip on me: I love myself AS I AM RIGHT NOW.

This all applies to the fear of being judged as well. Fear of judgment from others only exists because you’re judging yourself first. Find the root of the self-judgment, release it and allow yourself to be.

2. Find the internal cause of external judgment by asking: What within me is this circumstance triggering?

I see a lot of people I know getting engaged and married. And this triggers judgment within me. I view it as people blindly following what society tells us to do, giving up their freedom and binding themselves with (fear-based) oaths and legalities instead of being together out of pure love.

Note: This is my opinion. I’m not saying I’m right (or that you should think the same way I do). I’m merely using the subject of marriage as an example of a trigger for me.

Engagement and marriage trigger three things within me. The first is my desire for maximum freedom. Whenever I interpret something as a “loss of freedom,” I get triggered. The irony of this is that by being judgmental, I become a slave to my ego. Ha!

The second aspect is that it’s a way for my ego to feel superior. My ego would say things like “I’m too smart to fall into those societal traps which aren’t working out for most people. Don’t they know that marriage started as a political tool to create alliances? Or that engagement rings are a scam created by De Beers? Well, I do.” The ego will use any fuel it can get to prop itself up.

And the third thing it triggers is the fact that I’ve never had a long-term intimate relationship (yet). This is because I’ve held opposing beliefs of a lifelong relationship being “less free,” while simultaneously desiring a life partner.

The Release (Awareness + New Belief)
I’m in the process of reconciling those seemingly opposing beliefs regarding relationships. I now firmly believe that I can have a life partner without giving up any freedom. It just won’t be exactly according to the (obviously failing) rigid script of western society.

And you know what? This subtle shift in my underlying beliefs is already working. I’m not triggered as much anymore and I’m attracting amazing people into my life.

3. Allow, allow, allow.

Allow everyone else to just be. There is no one-size-fits-all way of living. The world already has too many people telling others what to do. We’re all here, as unique aspects of Source, to spur its continuous evolution through new viewpoints and diverse experiences. Allowing is in harmony with that, control is not.

I know that I can’t control anyone (nor would I really want to, to be honest). The only thing I can do is INSPIRE people based on what I’m doing with myself!

So, like with everything else in this physical reality, the only way out is in. Do the inner work and the external takes care of itself.

Let’s all put our gavels down and frolic in freedom.

Much love.

– Stevie P!

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The Real Reason Behind Blessing Food

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I’m that interesting character at the restaurant, hands hovering over my food as I silently mouth a couple words and sport a slight Buddha-smirk before eating.

No, I’m not a Jesus freak or a “broccoli whisperer,” and I’m not crazy (well, maybe a little bit). As you’ll soon (re)discover, there’s a method to this madness.

Expressing gratitude, praying, saying grace and all forms of blessing food before a meal are among the most universal and ancient behaviors of humankind.

Almost every religion has some tradition of blessing food. And many religious people do it at every meal. But I’ve never come across WHY blessing food is important. (Like with most religious practices, people just do it without asking questions.)

There is, of course, a core of truth to these traditions. However, you can obtain all of the benefits of saying grace without all of the dogma attached to religious rules and regulations.

In today’s society, we tend to discredit and undervalue the unseen. If we can’t physically see changes, they must not be happening, right? Yet when we get out of our egoic minds and become more in tune with the unseen, we realize just how profound something as simple as expressing gratitude can be.

The Benefits of Blessing Food

1. Blessing food brings about a state of presence and mindfulness.
Showing gratitude over a meal forces you to stop and be present. From this state of undistracted presence, you will eat mindfully and enjoy the food more. It turns every meal into a holy communion.

If you eat mindfully, you become more in tune with the food and your body. You’ll know if what you’re eating is beneficial for you. And you’ll be unmistakably aware of the signals your body is sending you to stop eating (making it hard to mindlessly overeat).

Mindful eating also will break compulsive eating and food addictions if done consistently at every meal.

2. Blessing food heightens your senses.
Pausing with gratitude, communing with your food and being in a state of mindfulness will engage and heighten all of your senses.

Here’s an excerpt from Natural News

Thus, whether seeing, smelling, inhaling, or, most strongly, touching the food, changes to the person that occur during blessing of natural food include:
 

  • Salivation increases, as full attention is place on the natural food’s unique, distinct aromas
  • More digestive enzymes are secreted
  • The circulatory system routes blood to the digestive tract’s organs
  • Hormones benefiting metabolism are released
  • Breathing patterns shift from one best suited for working to one best suited for eating.
  • Abdominal muscle contraction changes from a tightness that supports hard work into a different, more relaxed state, which relieves pressure around the digestive tract
  • The brain becomes in a receptive mood ready to enjoy, experience sweet gratitude, and eagerly pay attention to the stomach’s stretching sensors, to trigger the neurotransmitters which engage peristalsis
  • The eye becomes aware of both the food’s beauty, which enhances digestion, as well as alert to any danger signs in the food’s appearance
  • The senses of smell and taste, when focused and entrained on the food about to be eaten, becomes enhanced, increasing enjoyment and sharpening the ability to notice anything “off” or spoiled in the food.
  • And finally, firing patterns of the enteric nervous system (the neurons lining the gut like a sheath) shift to better control the digestion and absorption of food. Technically known as the enteric nervous system, the second brain (as described by the Chair of Anatomy at Columbia University Medical Center) consists of “sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, or alimentary canal, which measures about nine meters end to end from the esophagus to the anus.” There are 100 million neurons in the enteric nervous system, more than in the spinal cord, and more than in all the peripheral nervous system.
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    3. Blessing food relaxes your digestive system.
    Holding gratitude and blessing food will switch your nervous system out of sympathetic mode (fight or flight) and into parasympathetic mode (rest and digest). As a result, you will digest the food and assimilate the nutrients much more effectively than if you’re holding stress.

    This concept is common sense. For example: try to eat while driving in traffic, with cars beeping all around and see how well you digest.

    4. Blessing food infuses the food with positive energy.
    This may seem a little woo-woo, but bear with me here. Food, like everything else, absorbs energy from its environment. If food is being prepared in a hectic kitchen and the chef is stressed out, the food absorbs that. If the beef your eating is from a tortured cow, it’s going to carry that energy. It’s vitally important to instill food with positive energy before eating it. And this can be done through something as simple as holding the intention of gratitude before eating.

    Dr. Emoto’s water experiments beautifully demonstrate how words and music affect the molecular structure of water. All life on Planet Earth is water-based and therefore, affected by words, intentions, music and any other vibrations in the environment.

    5. Blessing food leverages the Placebo Effect.
    If you believe that the food carries good energy, it will. If you believe that the food will make you happy and healthy, it will.

    The placebo effect, though overlooked by modern science, is a profoundly powerful phenomenon. It’s a testament to the power of the mind. Whatever you believe, in the depths of your heart, determines the result you’ll get.

    If a placebo knee surgery is just as effective as real knee surgery, think about what it can do to the food on your plate.

    6. Gratitude itself improves health.
    Do not underestimate the power of gratitude. Gratitude has been shown to lower stress levels, improve sleep, improve heart health and enhance overall well-being.

    Gratitude also opens the door to abundance. When you’re grateful for what you do have, you attract more.

    Feel gratitude, and feel every aspect of your life change for the better.

    Egyptian_food_Koshary

    A Simple Food Blessing (Do This at Every Meal)

    1. Pause for a second and center yourself.

    2. Express and feel gratitude for the food in front of you.

    3. Thank everyone involved in the process of getting the food to you.
    It might look something like this: “Thank you to the Earth for growing this and all of the people that handled it. May it assimilate into my body with health, happiness and vitality.”

    4. Send energy to the food through your hands.
    Feel the tingle as energy flows from your hands into the food.

    5. Feel gratitude in your heart.

    6. Eat mindfully and enjoy the food.

    Commune with your food. Eating is both pleasurable and necessary. Be grateful for having food on your table, enjoy every bite and reap the benefits.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

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    Simplicity: Your Key to Lasting Happiness

    Simplicity

    If you’ve been indoctrinated into modern society, you’re conditioned to believe that accumulation equates to happiness.

    You go through life accumulating – money, gadgets, relationships, cars, houses, degrees…etc. – thinking that these additions will make you happy (And how’s that working out for everyone?). But actually it’s removal that begets happiness. Once you clear all of the bullshit, there’s nothing left but peace, joy and positive emotions.

    Happiness comes from removal, not accumulation. Remove fear, remove doubt, remove expectation and you’ll find that you’re left with happiness. Joy is your natural, essential state. You’ve just piled so much on top that you’ve forgotten the bliss that lies beneath it all.

    Meditation is the perfect example of this. Meditation is a “non-doing” in which you slip into the silent space between thoughts. It’s a transcendence of the neurotic thought loops of the mind, bringing you to a state of no-thought. It’s the ultimate removal. And guess what? Everyone feels positive emotions when they meditate (peace, bliss, joy, happiness, serenity…etc).

    “One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.”
    – Bruce Lee

    And living a life of simplicity doesn’t mean being a simple-minded simpleton. It’s really about being intelligent enough to let go of what doesn’t truly serve your best interest.

    “I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. ”
    ― Henry David Thoreau

    Simplicity & Lying
    In the phenomenal book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, the first agreement is “Be impeccable with your word.” Speak with integrity, say only what you mean, avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or gossip about others and use the power of the Word in the direction of truth and love.

    Being straightforward and truthful with your word harmonizes your emotions, thoughts, words and actions. That’s why it feels good. Because everything is in alignment.

    Morality aside, lying just makes things too complicated and tedious. For me, having to build and maintain a complex web of lies is much more difficult and emotionally taxing than being brutally honest (even when it’s not politically correct).

    Think about the relationships you have where you’re the most honest. Though your ego may take a few slaps to the face, those relationships are far more fulfilling than those which you wear a mask. Life is far simpler, genuine and enjoyable when honesty prevails.

    “Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”
    ― Isaac Newton

    Simplicity & “Stuff”
    The accumulation of “stuff” is a huge problem plaguing so many people. Buying things to make you happy is a quick fix that quickly fades. And soon enough, you’ll need another hit of it. Buying things can really be like a drug addiction.

    This also leads to the accumulation of stuff, which can bog you down and hinder your freedom on multiple levels. With less stuff, there’s less to clean, less to upkeep and less to distract you from your natural state of happiness.

    One of the first posts I’ve ever written here is on this topic: Possessions vs Experiences: Straight From the Horse’s Mouth

    Simplicity & Desires
    The vast majority of the desires you have are the result of societal programming. If you strip all of the conditioning away, all we really desire are simple things like love, happiness and personal growth. When you simplify your desires, you remove the self-created walls between yourself and happiness.

    “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
    – Epictetus

    Simplicity & Busyness
    Work smarter, not harder. Focus only on what you really need (or want) to get done, instead of dozens of asinine tasks. This will allow you to prioritize and accomplish the most important tasks while being less stressed throughout the process.

    “Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”
    – Tim Ferriss

    Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”
    – Peter Drucker

    Read my post on busyness here: 15 Ways to Cure the “Busy Syndrome”

    Simplicity & Your Body
    Create lasting health and happiness by simplifying diet and exercise. You’ll enjoy it more and it’ll become a natural part of your lifestyle.

    With diet, it might look something like this: Just eat real food (JERF), eat when you’re hungry and have fun splurging every once in a while.

    Regarding exercise, I’ve personally made the most progress using simple, basic routines. Just consistently improving at the most fundamental exercises has worked wonders for me.

    Simplicity & Your Mind
    Think of the mind like a computer. If you have too many programs running at once, the computer will slow down or even crash.

    Focus only on what’s really important, and focus on one thing at a time.

    Having a regular meditation practice will greatly help you in clearing all of the unnecessary programs running in your mind.

    Simplicity & Presence
    Simplicity brings you more into the here and now (all that really exists). The simpler life is, the more conducive it is to cultivating a state of present moment awareness.

    “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 (The Power of Now)

    Read more: There Are No Problems in the Present Moment

    Simplicity & Minimalism
    Minimalism is a form of simplicity. Once you clear all of your baggage (physical, mental, emotional…etc.), you have less burdens, less weighing you down and less obstructions to your happiness.

    “Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual.”
    – Linda Breen Pierce

    Read more: The Joy of Minimalism: Traveling the World with Only Carry-On Luggage

    Simplicity & Quality Over Quantity
    Quality over quantity is a common phrase, but how many people really put it into practice? It applies to everything, especially relationships. If you build a few good quality relationships, instead of just trying to please everyone, it’s far more fulfilling and rewarding.

    Simplicity & Money
    Prioritize your happiness, instead of making decisions solely based on money. Budgeting and worrying about every penny you spend is a miserable existence. Feel abundant, and abundance will permeate your life. If you have an abundance mentality, you will, by the laws of the universe, attract more abundance.

    Here’s a personal example: I was just in Goa, India and the town I was in (Arambol) only had one working ATM. It was a long walk away, always had a long line and had a limit to how many rupees you could withdraw. Basically, going to the ATM was about as fun as being the wicked witch of the west and caught in a tsunami. So what I did was I would go to money exchange places, which were closer and much, much easier. They charged a 3% exchange fee, but the convenience was so worth it.

    Another aspect of this is simplifying the bills you pay. Evaluate what you’re paying on a monthly basis and figure out what you really need (or want). Get rid of the unnecessary. Also, automate your bill payments, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to pay them (less programs running on the mind-computer).

    Simplicity & Distilling Information
    The skill of distilling information is being able to simplify and concisely assimilate information. This allows for more clarity on whatever you’re learning about, prevents you from succumbing to information overload and puts you in a position to effectively implement the information.

    If you can’t simply explain a subject to a young child, you don’t truly understand it.

    You can build this skill of distilling information by succinctly summarizing things on a regular basis. This could be through writing, verbal explanations or even giving presentations on certain topics.

    “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
    – Confucius

    Find bliss in simplicity.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

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    What Does Your Ego Look Like?

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    EGO = Everything Gets Ominous

    I just came up with that acronym, which seems to succinctly capture that mischievous creature which resides in all of our minds.

    The ego can be loosely defined as the part of your mind that separates yourself from others, or your sense of self-importance.

    As you’ve probably experienced, the ego can be deceptive, shadowy and a master of creating problems out of nothing. But it’s not all negative. The ego is necessary for things like your (physical) survival and personal uniqueness.

    While the ego is a natural part of being human, the key is not letting it run the show. As long as you’re human, there will be ego, but does it control you? Are you completely engulfed by it? Or can you draw your perspective back and observe it?

    The ego is a terrible master because it lives off of fear. It only exists because the reality we’re living in is based upon duality and separation, which is divergent from the truth of oneness (see my series on oneness, linked below). Being a product of this disharmonious paradigm, the ego exists in perpetual fear and seeks to control every situation to ensure its survival. This is why people who are completely controlled by ego live in constant fear, create problems out of thin air and try to control everything. When you’re not mastered by the ego, you can let go of fear, follow your intuition and trust the process of life.

    On oneness:
    Distilling the Truth of Oneness: Events
    Distilling the Truth of Oneness: Part 2
    Distilling the Truth of Oneness: Symptoms of Separation

    What Does Your Ego Look Like?

    I recently participated in a guided meditation that included visualizing the ego. And I was surprised, because the image that instantly came to me was the Pokemon “Gengar” (see the picture below).

    Gengar

    It’s so appropriate, especially when reading the description on Bulbapedia

    “Gengar has the ability to hide perfectly in the shadow of any object, granting it exceptional stealth. However, Gengar’s body acts as a heat sink; its presence cools the temperature of the surrounding area by nearly 10°F, because it absorbs the warmth. In addition, Gengar possesses the ability to fly through the air, as demonstrated in the anime.

    Gengar is very mischievous, and at times, malicious. It enjoys playing practical jokes and casting curses, such as pretending to be one’s shadow, then behaving erratically. When the quarry notices, the Gengar takes delight in its victim’s terror. However, Gengar has been known to be loyal to a Trainer who treats it well. Gengar lives in shadows of rooms, caves, and dark places where shadows form. It is especially fond of urban areas such as cities and back alleys, but only during the night.”

    Why the Ego is Like Gengar

    • It’s the “shadow self” or negative aspects of yourself that remain hidden – “Gengar has the ability to hide perfectly in the shadow of any object, granting it exceptional stealth.”
    • It’s “mischievous, and times, malicious.” – The ego is cunning and deceptive. If you let it run the show, it will sneakily create problems and coat your life with an undertone of fear.
    • It’s a good servant, but a terrible master – “Gengar has been known to be loyal to a Trainer who treats it well.” When you’re able to just observe the ego, without being governed by it, life is all good.

    Now let’s get into some practical tools.

    How to Know When Your Ego is Coming Out to Play
    (This is not a definitive list by any means. But it will give you a good idea about how to know when your ego is popping up.)

    • If you’re feeling self-doubt
    • If there is any “problem” that does not involve immediate danger (like getting chased by a bear)
    • If you’re judging
    • If you’re blaming someone or something
    • If you’re offended
    • If you feel good only because someone complimented you
    • If you choose a label as your identity (nationality, race, religion…etc)
    • If you feel any form of fear (The ego is sustained by fear. The fundamental fear is the fear of death (or non-existence), because the ego dies with the physical body)
    • If you’re playing out scenarios in your head
    • If you’re trying to justify yourself
    • If you’re trying to prove that you’re right
    • If you’re playing the victim
    • If you see others as separate from you or your group
    • If you’re instantly labeling something
    • If you’re feeling inferior or superior
    • If you’re comparing
    • If you’re jealous
    • If you’re attempting to control a situation, person…etc (anything related to control is ego)
    • If you’re making decisions based on what other people think of you
    • If you’re nervous or anxious
    • If you have a static image (persona) of yourself that you’re trying to maintain

    2 quick tips to help you distinguish between your heart and your ego:

    1. Ask yourself if the source of the thoughts or beliefs is that of a wise elder or a cynical, fearful skeptic speaking. The wise elder is your heart wisdom (the inner truth, which I discuss in more detail in this article), while the cynical, fearful skeptic is the ego.

    2. Is it coming from a place of love or fear? Love is heart. Fear is ego. Simple as that.

    Remember, there’s no need to judge or condemn the ego. That’s actually how the ego sneaks in again through the back door. Just accept it and observe it. Because once you’re aware of the ego, you’re beyond it and it no longer controls you.

    Ego Visualization Meditation
    1. Sit, stand or lie down with your eyes closed (whichever is more comfortable).
    2. Take 10 deep breaths through your nose, focusing on your breath.
    3. Visualize your ego – Let go and see what image pops into your head. What does it look like? What color(s) is it? Is it similar to something you’ve seen before?
    4. Visualize your ego in front of you – What feelings do you get? What vibe does it give off?
    5. Shake hands with it or pet it (depending on what it is).
    6. Smile at it with compassion and amusement, knowing you’re the master.

    Try this out. Acquaint yourself with your ego. Build that awareness and you’ll be able to differentiate between the blabberings of your ego from the intuitive wisdom of your true self.

    A fun challenge to give you more “ego awareness”:
    If someone gives you an ego compliment (ex/ “You look good today.”), respond with “My ego thanks you.” It’s hilarious, lighthearted and will cultivate more awareness regarding the ego.

    So I’ll leave you with the question, what does your ego look like?

    One love.

    – Stevie P!

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    Do You Even Feel, Bro?

    feelBRO

    Here’s your life…

    Think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think, think.

    All you do is think.

    You’re so caught up in your head that you’ve forgotten how to FEEL.

    “Remember, concentrate on the moment. Feel, don’t think. Trust your instincts.” – Qui-Gon Jinn (Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace)

    Feeling is understanding. Feeling is both your inner guidance system and the means by which life becomes fully, deeply and totally experienced.

    Pause for a second and allow your awareness to drop from your mind and into your body.

    How do you feel? (This isn’t some ambiguous, hippie question to have you hold hands and sing kumbaya. It’s both practical and unfathomably important.)

    Ask yourself these follow-up questions right now:

    What sensations are going on in my body?

    What emotions am I feeling?

    What feelings or emotions are accompanying my thoughts?

    Establish a habit of asking yourself these questions, every day, in different situations and build your “feeling awareness.”

    Can You Feel Me?

    Fully inhabiting my emotional state was always difficult for me to do. I was so conditioned to always use my mind, to be consumed in thoughts and to (over)think things through instead of feeling things out (especially as a man being born in the US). Western people, and particularly western men, are so dominated by the mind that feelings and intuition are suppressed to the point that many of us aren’t even aware of them.

    I would always understand things conceptually, but I never realized that most of the time, I wasn’t really FEELING the truth of the matter. To reiterate the point from before, feeling is true understanding. There’s an indescribable feeling you get when you deeply know something to be true.

    Gratitude is a great example of something I’m finally learning to feel. I always thought that being grateful was merely thinking about gratitude (all in my head). But I rarely actually FELT gratitude. Now, when I’m grateful, I not only think it (in my head) but I feel it like waves washing over me (usually in my chest/heart center). And sometimes the feeling is so intense that I feel like I AM GRATITUDE. It’s a different world than just thinking about gratitude. It’s magnificently real.

    Why is Feeling Even Important?

    I’m a man (in this lifetime at least), so I’ve often wondered about the usefulness of feeling. Something like “I thought that feeling was some overly-emotional, feminine, drama-queen shit. How would feeling benefit me anyway?” And you might be thinking something similar, especially if you’re the product of western (mind-dominant) culture. I’m not saying to be a drama queen or a slave to your emotions, but just to simply be aware of your feelings. Here’s why:

    Feeling is your inner guidance system – Your feelings and emotions are your compass, your inner guidance system. It is through the awareness of feelings that you tune into your intuition. This taps into the wisdom of the heart, which perceives from a much more expansive perspective than the mind. As you know, the mind can be deceptive. It’s so easy to trick yourself with the mind, or let self-doubt restrain you from your full potential. Go into your feelings and access the wisdom of the heart. It’s the only guidance you’ll ever need.

    Feeling allows you to fully experience life – What is a sunset without the feeling of peaceful bliss associated with it? What is sex if you’re in your head, not feeling the ecstasy flowing through your being? What is hitting the game winning shot if you don’t feel it? The shot is taken through instinct, not by thinking about it, and followed by a feeling of tremendous celebration. Life is an experience, and experiences are to be fully felt, not merely thought about.

    Feeling supercharges your manifestation abilities – Most people are familiar with the law of attraction. What you focus on is what you bring into your life. Your thoughts help create your experienced reality. But, here’s the thing, thoughts are only powerful attractors when combined with passionate emotion. It’s the emotion that makes your focus a strong magnetic pull.

    This was something I never fully grasped until very recently. I would merely think thoughts, or write them down, thinking that I was attracting the object of my thoughts. And guess what? My manifestations have always been slow going. In contrast, many women I’ve been around are very powerful manifestors. Why is this? Because every thought of theirs is blended with powerful and passionate emotion.

    This is why visualization is so powerful. Visualization is imagining something you desire like it’s already happening. You feel it and all of the emotions that come along with it. Successful athletes have famously applied the power of visualization to excel at their sport. It’s a secret weapon of elite athletes and it works astonishingly well.

    Here’s an action item (if you want to improve your feeling, visualization and manifestation abilities):
    Take 10-15 minutes each day and visualize yourself living the life you desire. Feel it like it’s already happening. Go through all the facets of life; your body, your relationships, your career, your life experiences…etc. Visualize and FEEL it, and you will be a powerful magnet for whatever you focus on.

    More Ways to Hone the Power of Feeling

    Cultivate body awareness – Practice bringing your awareness into your body. When you have a thought, go into your body and feel the feeling associated with it. When you feel an emotion, notice the corresponding feeling in your body.

    Yoga – Yoga is meditative movement, bringing you out of your head and into your body. The practice of yoga is one of the best ways to cultivate bodily awareness. You will naturally be able to intuitively feel things out more. In addition, many yogic poses are heart-opening, opening you up to the world of feelings/emotions (and positive ones at that).

    Do anything to get out of your head – Meditate, express yourself creatively, write in a journal, exercise, walk outside, go for a hike, watch the sunset…etc. Anything that helps you to get out of your head will allow you to become more aware of your emotional state.

    Drop into your heart-space – Practice bringing your awareness out of your head and into your heart-space (the heart chakra in the center of your chest). Allow your consciousness to reside there. I’ve been doing this a lot recently and it’s been profound. I’m more intuitive and a deep feeling of love pervades my being when I drop into my heart-space. For phenomenal resources regarding this topic, check out the HeartMath Institute.

    The mind is a phenomenal servant, but a terrible master. Let your heart be your guide, but don’t forget to take your mind along for the ride.

    So I’ll leave you with one question: Do you even feel, bro?


     

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    0

    The No Excuse Nomad Workout for Traveling

    NENW

    Do you lose any semblance of a workout routine when you’re traveling or on vacation/holiday?

    We all do to some extent. It’s so easy to not “do squat” (see what I did there?) while living the nomad life.

    But just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you have to leave your good ole friends health and fitness at home.

    No gym? No fancy equipment? No problem. You don’t need anything (besides your own body) to get a good workout in. Rage against the machine and make use of the vessel you’re inhabiting.

    I’ve been traveling for over two months now and I’ve created an effective travel workout routine as a result. Each workout takes only four minutes and all you need is your own body. It can be done anywhere and requires very little space (you can even do it in a tiny hotel room). So there are no excuses.

    It’s never lack of time; it’s a lack of priority that prevents you from doing something. If you really want something, you will make time for it.

    With this workout routine, you literally have no excuses for not doing it, besides being a lazy lemur.

    Note: Anyone can do this and benefit from it, no matter your fitness level, gender, age…etc. You can also substitute variations of any exercise if they’re too difficult for you. For example, if regular pushups are difficult for you, you can do pushups from your knees.

    The No Excuse Nomad Workout
    These workouts follow the tabata template, which is 20 seconds of an exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, and this is repeated 8 times. So the workout lasts for a grand total of four minutes.

    During each 20 second set of an exercise, make sure to push yourself. Go hard, rest, repeat.

    Aim to do one workout everyday (but don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day), rotating between the upper body and the lower body workouts to give your body sufficient recovery time. Here’s what a week might look like: Monday = Upper body, Tuesday = Lower body, Wednesday = Upper body, Thursday = Whoops I forgot to work out, Friday = Lower body…etc.

    And here’s a demonstration of me (in all of my European-esque sexiness) doing the first workout on the beach in Goa, India:

    Workout 1: Upper body
    Exercises: Pushups and Towel Rows

    20 seconds of pushups
    10 seconds of rest
    20 seconds of towel rows
    10 seconds of rest
    20 seconds of pushups
    10 seconds of rest
    20 seconds of towel rows
    10 seconds of rest
    20 seconds of pushups
    10 seconds of rest
    20 seconds of towel rows
    10 seconds of rest
    20 seconds of pushups
    10 seconds of rest
    20 seconds of towel rows
    10 seconds of rest

    Variety:
    For variety, you can do pike pushups for shoulders for one or two sets, instead of regular pushups.

    Want to do more?
    If you’re still feeling energized, you can do some bent over raises and curls with whatever is around (ex/ books).

    Workout 2: Lower Body and Abs
    Exercises: Jump Squats and Leg Raises (see the links for examples)

    20 seconds of jump squats
    10 seconds of rest
    20 seconds of leg raises
    10 seconds of rest
    20 seconds of jump squats
    10 seconds of rest
    20 seconds of leg raises
    10 seconds of rest
    20 seconds of jump squats
    10 seconds of rest
    20 seconds of leg raises
    10 seconds of rest
    20 seconds of jump squats
    10 seconds of rest
    20 seconds of leg raises
    10 seconds of rest

    Want to do more?
    If you’re still feeling energized, you can do some lunges and calf raises

    Pick a time of day that will work for you:
    Are you traveling for work? Do it in the morning or after work. Are you vacationing for leisure? Workout whenever you feel like it. Wake up early, or workout during that afternoon lull…etc.

    2 Mindset Switches That Will Greatly Help You

    1. Priorities – Are you going to prioritize working out? Are you willing to devote four minutes a day? As you probably know, the benefits of exercise (particularly resistance training) are virtually endless. Find that motivation within. Because, really, there are no excuses for not doing such a quick and accessible workout.

    2. Stop caring about what other people think – There are opportunities everywhere, especially in public places, if you’re open to them (the beach, a park, playground…etc.). If you’re on the beach all day, why not work out? The only thing preventing you is caring what other people think. There will be no public hanging for you after you work out in public, I promise. Just do it.

    Step into the strongest version of yourself.

    Enjoy the journey.

    – Stevie P!
     

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    2

    5 Reasons Why Traveling is Like Playing a Video Game

    IMG_0644

    Pai, Thailand

    Here you are…

    You materialized in the third dimension, popped out of your momma and ended up a resident of planet Earth.

    So don’t you want to explore it? Don’t you want to see what it’s all about? Aren’t you curious?

    I know I am (to say the least). And deep down, beneath all of the fear, you too want to explore as much as you can before you’re gone.

    The concept of life being like a video game fascinates me. For many reasons, I think it’s such a profound (and accurate) comparison.

    Beyond the argument that so many signs are pointing to this universe being some sort of grand holographic simulation*, the principles of video games also apply to life in general. That’s the aspect which I want to focus on here.

    Read another post of mine about life being like a video game here: Life is a Video Game: The Challenge Perspective

    We only grow through overcoming obstacles. Everything is a learning experience. If life weren’t challenging, it wouldn’t be fulfilling, rewarding or fun. Think about it this way, would you play Super Mario if all you had to do was casually stroll to the right the whole time, meeting no obstacles? Of course not. That would get boring after two minutes. The same theme applies to life.

    Travel is an aspect of life where the video game comparison is unavoidable. Here’s why…

    5 Reasons Why Traveling is Like Playing a Video Game:

    1. You Expand Your “Mental Map”

    The mental map is a concept that my friend (shout out to Cole King) and I came up with while we were working as pizza delivery drivers in high school. We compared learning new streets to the maps found in many video games. You know how in video games the map starts as completely black, and as you explore it, it clears? (You can see a good example of it in this video.) Well, the same applies to your own mental map in life. Everything is just a mysterious abyss when it’s unknown. And you “clear out” and materialize that abyss by personally exploring it.

    It would be a damn shame to die with only a tiny speck of your mental map cleared out. There’s so much out there (and in there) to see and experience. Make your story exploratory!

    2. You Level Up Through New Experiences

    I love the concept of “leveling up.” When traveling, I find myself gaining new insight (like whoa), broadening my perspective and developing skills at a mindblowing rate. Improving at anything is leveling up, and travel is conducive to improvement in many facets of life.

    When traveling, you continuously expose yourself to new experiences. You’re perpetually launching yourself out of you comfort zone. You don’t learn or grow by going through the same monotonous routine all of your life. New experiences provide the fertile ground for you to grow, level up and evolve into the greatest version of yourself.

    3. You Meet New People (Allies)

    If you’ve done any traveling, you know that you meet so many awesome, interesting people. You learn from all of these people too. Everyone you meet is a teacher. People you meet are like allies you encounter in a video game.

    4. Each Place You Go to is a New Level

    Each and every place has its own unique culture, landscapes, architecture, quirks and personality. They are all different levels within the video game that is your life.

    5. You Must Defeat the Bosses

    In most video games, there are bosses to defeat at the end of each level. The “bosses” in life, however, are often intangible forces and/or fears to overcome. For example, You may have a fear of heights that you defeat by cliff jumping.

    “Bosses” that I’ve defeated on this trip:

    Travel anxiety – The fear of missing a flight, not finding a place to stay…etc. All of that fear based on projecting into the future. I’ve learned to do what I can, let go and be present instead of uselessly worrying about the future.

    Fear of rejection – This fear would come up when approaching women. But I’ve acted in spite of this fear so many times that it’s no longer is a big deal. And you know what? Every time I’ve said “fuck it” and approached someone I wanted to talk to, it turned out well (or it’s a funny story). I’ve even met some really, really amazing people doing this. Maybe I’ll elaborate on it more in another post.

    Striving syndrome – I’m hyper-critical of myself most of the time. I constantly put pressure on myself to keep improving, be a better person, learn more, write more and stay focused on goals. This is good when it comes to achievement, but it can rob you of the bliss of allowing yourself to just BE. There have been many moments where I had to stop and give myself permission to just BE; to simply enjoy the moment, with no goals and nothing to strive for. It’s difficult to balance being grateful for where you are right now and continuously improving. But I’m finding that balance. Due to my awareness of this tendency within myself, the “striving syndrome” now has less of a grip on me.

    Kayaking in Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Kayaking in Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Where I’ve been to so far on this trip (aka the details of my mental map expansion):
    Marseilles, France
    Barcelona, Spain
    Croatia – Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar Island, Zagreb
    India – Pune
    Thailand – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai
    Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur

    This trip feels like I’ve squeezed multiple lifetimes into this journey called “Stephen Parato.” I’m so grateful to be doing this and I want to inspire you to follow your heart as well.

    Have fun and keep leveling up.

    Greetings from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    – Stevie P!

    PS – For pictures and some short goofy videos of my travels, follow me on Instagram @steviepthatsme

    *Resources regarding our reality being a holographic simulation:
    Physicists May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation
    The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot

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    2

    The Most Invaluable Skill You Can Have

    mesunset

    Candid photo of me practicing what I preach

    I was walking through the Delhi airport in India when, out of nowhere, this insight hit me like a lightning bolt: The most invaluable skill you can have is present moment awareness.

    Immediately, I typed that sentence into my phone before it was lost in the endless slipstream of memory. As I started to metabolize this spontaneous strike of wisdom, it began to make more and more sense.

    Ask yourself…

    When is it not now? When was it not now? When will it not be now?

    Life is always now. The present moment is all we ever have. The past and future are only projections in our minds.

    “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now)

    Read more about the concept of time here:
    Time is a Sailing Ship
    Is the Concept of Time Stressing You Out?

    The Future Trap

    Living in the future is a trap. You’re always looking forward to what is coming, while missing the present moment. Today you’re thinking about what you’re going to do tomorrow, but you’re missing today! Then tomorrow, you’ll be missing the moment by thinking about what you’re going to do the next day. This fallacy of thinking that happiness lies somewhere in the future will leave you utterly unfulfilled.

    All it takes is a bit of presence to put the magic back in life. You can still have nostalgia. You can still plan when you need to. But the key is to just be consciously aware that the now is all that exists.

    “Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” – Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now)

    IMG_0662

    Took this one yesterday. The White Buddha in Pai, Thailand.

    6 Reasons Why Present Moment Awareness is the Most Invaluable Skill You Can Have

    1. It helps you maximize experiences – Present moment awareness enables you to truly enjoy and appreciate everything. This has become so ridiculously apparent to me now that I’m traveling the world. I’m having such amazing experiences on a daily basis, so I have to constantly remind myself to be fully present and cherish the moment. When you’re wholeheartedly in the moment, life leaps to new levels of bliss and excitement.

    2. You’re able to observe your thoughts and emotions – Instead of being a prisoner of your overthinking monkey mind and its neuroses, you’re able to objectively witness its activities when you’re present. The is the basis of mindfulness and meditation. Present moment awareness is a point of power from which any change stems from.

    From a state of presence/mindfulness, you have a “higher perspective.” You’re able to use your mind as a tool, instead of being the tool. Think about it this way, would you rather use a hammer or be a hammer? As a present moment carpenter, you’ll be able to use your mind to build the life of your dreams.

    3. You transcend all of the ego’s fear – The ego’s very existence is based upon fear and conflict. When you’re completely present, you transcend the ego. From this place, you’re MC Hammer to fear and all of its derivatives (they can’t touch you).

    “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 (The Power of Now)

    4. You become infinitely more observant – When you’re present, not absorbed in looping thoughts, your powers of observation are remarkably heightened. Your senses are sharpened, you’re fully aware of everything around you and you notice the subtleties of the surrounding environment. This effect becomes especially apparent around other people. If you’re present and the other person is in their head, you will comment on things around you that they’ll be completely oblivious to. Being stuck in your head all of the time is like going through life wearing a blindfold and earplugs. Being present, in a state of heightened senses, is to feel fully alive.

    Also, being aware and hyper-observant in the moment is the basis of survival. This is how all animals operate. They’re fully aware of their surroundings, alert and present; because if they’re not, death is always lurking around the corner. That’s just how important present moment awareness can be.

    5. You actually listen – With present moment awareness, you truly listen. You wholeheartedly listen to other people while they’re speaking, instead of always thinking about what to say next. You fully listen to music, creating an experience, instead of thinking about what you have to do tomorrow while the song is playing. If you truly listen, you not only wholly experience the present moment, but you learn and understand so much more.

    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey

    6. It allows you to flow with the fleetingness of life – Everything is temporary and fleeting. Being present is in harmony with the impermanent flux of existence. You’re able to spontaneously ride the wave of each moment as it comes.

    You can immediately feel this too. If you’re stuck in your head, you feel discontentment, resistance, fear and rigidity. But if you’re present, you feel peaceful and joyous, coated with a subtle sense of oneness with everything. It just feels right.

    A simple way to hone present moment awareness:
    Remind yourself to “Be here now” as often as possible. Say it to yourself whenever you’re marinating in the past or future. Gently bring yourself back to the present moment. The more often you do this, the easier it becomes. Soon presence will be your default state and you will notice life being more vibrant and blissful than ever before.

    Enjoy the moment.

    – Stevie P!

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    8

    9 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once in Your Life

    travel solo

    Traveling alone may be the single best catalyst for personal growth.

    My solo traveling experiences have created quantum leaps in various areas of my life. And every person I’ve met who has traveled alone has been among the most interesting and awesome people I’ve encountered.

    Read more about my solo travel adventures and the resulting insights here:
    Why I Left My Job
    The Joy of Minimalism: Traveling the World with Only Carry-On Luggage
    11 Unique Ways to Optimize Your Travel Experience Wherever You Go

    It may sound paradoxical, but the more you explore the world outside, the more you explore the world within. Solo travel gives you free rein for the exploration of both the external and internal world.

    Sure, it can be lonely at times, but you meet a lot of people and get to know yourself when there aren’t familiar faces always around. And yes, it’s hard leaving your friends and family behind for any period of time. But it’s completely worth it and you will come back a better person.

    9 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once in Your Life

    1. Self-sufficiency – You learn to be independent, do things on your own, problem solve for yourself, navigate on your own and become your own best friend. Self-sufficiency is an invaluable byproduct of solo travel.

    2. You meet more people – When traveling alone, you’re forced to talk to more people (unless you just want to be by yourself 24/7, which would drive anyone insane). I’ve gone out alone plenty of times and I always end up meeting more people than if I went out with a group of friends. Why? If you go to a bar alone, for example, you’re not just going to stand in the corner by yourself. It forces you to leave your comfort zone and talk to anyone near you (which leads to the next reason).

    3. You become a better conversationalist – Because you meet so many people when traveling alone, you naturally enhance your conversation skills. There is no one else who you can depend on to carry a conversation; it’s all on you. So naturally, you get better at starting conversations and less hesitant about approaching people.

    4. You get comfortable being uncomfortable – During solo travel, you’re almost never in your comfort zone. You get used to the excitement, the adventure and the bold decisions. Though you’ll undoubtedly face inner resistance, push through it. This is where the magic happens. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Growth only happens when you push your boundaries. This is a big reason why traveling alone spurs so much personal growth.

    5. Flexibility, freedom and spontaneity – You are in complete control of everything you do during solo travel. If you want to do something, there’s no one else to consult with and no consensus to be made. You just do it. Traveling alone gives you ultimate flexibility, a high degree of freedom and the opportunity to be as spontaneous as you wish.

    6. You’re able to put yourself first – This is most applicable to highly empathetic individuals, but still applies to everyone. When you travel alone, you have the rare opportunity to do whatever you want, whenever you want and spontaneously follow your own intuitive desires on a whim. It also allows you to work on any personal projects or develop specific skills you desire while traveling. To use myself as an example, I get much more writing and blog work done when traveling alone compared to when I’m with other people.

    Traveling solo creates a situation in which you can put yourself first, without worrying about hurting other people’s feelings and having to come to a mutually beneficial consensus about everything. If you’re at all empathetic, you always make sure that people around you are happy. This is good of course, but sometimes you have to put yourself first in order to really know yourself (which is the next point) and evolve. And don’t view it as selfish; when you do the inner work, you actually expand your capacity to give to others.

    7. You get to know yourself – When you have to do things on your own and spend time alone, getting to know yourself better is an inevitable side effect. You become more self-aware (in a good way). You become more in tune with your emotions, tendencies, habits, patterns and the deepest aspects of yourself. “Know thyself” was inscribed on The Temple of Apollo at Delphi for a reason. It’s that important.

    8. The lone wolf aura – There’s something beautifully enigmatic about someone who’s confident when they’re alone in a new place. I call this “the lone wolf aura.” People are curious and intrigued by someone who is genuinely self-assured. Solo travel cultivates your own unique lone wolf aura.

    Read my poem “The Lone Wolf Aura” for a deeper look at this.

    9. It’s a pilgrimage – You’re the hero, the star of your own movie. A key component of any hero’s journey is some form of pilgrimage. And it’s always been a crucial step on the path of life for humans.

    Jesus apparently went to Asia for many years to hone his spiritual practices. Buddha supposedly ventured into the woods alone and meditated under a tree for a while. Ash Ketchum traversed Canto and Joto to catch ‘em all (I had to drop a Pokemon reference). The hero archetype is brought to fruition by some form of a pilgrimage.

    What’s unfortunate about our society today is that there is no real guidance regarding this stuff anymore. There are no rites of passage in the modern world.

    But that missing ingredient is why pilgrimages have been making a resurgence in the form of things like backpacking and world travel. People are exploring the world more now than ever before. So this phenomenon is becoming something like a nondenominational pilgrimage. Not subject to any rigid rules of what you should or shouldn’t do. It’s a personal journey. And the details of it are up to you.

    2456363834_25e9a85b59_o

    I hope this post inspired you to embark on an adventure of your own. It may take time and effort to line everything up, but it’s totally worth it.

    I’m not condemning traveling with others either (I’m doing it right now for this part of my trip). However, I believe that everyone can benefit immensely from solo travel, even if it’s only once in your life. If you feel that inner calling, take heed and make it happen.

    It’s all about the journey.

    Live each moment to the fullest.

    – Stevie P!
     

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    2

    My Experience at the OSHO International Meditation Resort

    OSHO

    There I was, wearing a maroon robe, in a pyramid-shaped auditorium full of people, screaming incoherent gibberish in a voice that was half Yoda and half Jamaican until I broke out into uncontrollable, cackling laughter.

    Here’s the kicker… This was all part of a meditation. How awesome is that?

    I just spent two weeks at the OSHO International Meditation Resort in Pune, India. The word cathartic immediately comes to mind in describing my experience.

    What is the OSHO International Meditation Resort?

    It’s a meditation retreat center, founded by the author, philosopher, spiritual teacher and not-giving-a-fuck-connoisseur Osho. Osho founded the center prior to the death of his physical body in 1990. (Check out the website here.)

    Even though the OSHO center is based on meditation, it’s far from sitting in the lotus position and being serious all day. Most of the meditations are active meditations, combining various kinds of movement, dancing, laughing and all sorts of eclectic techniques along with the traditional sitting in silence. I’ve never danced so much in my life, my activity level was through the roof and I felt like a little kid again.

    Another distinguishing characteristic of the OSHO International Meditation Resort is the attire. Everyone has to wear maroon robes throughout the day and white robes during the evening ceremony held each night. I actually had resistance to this idea at first. I’m such an individual that wearing the same thing as everyone else feels like I’m stifling my authenticity. But everything has a purpose (especially when it comes to Osho). When people wear the same color, or the same outfit, it syncs everyone up and amplifies the group’s energy. This collective syncing can be used for positive (meditation, celebration…etc.) or negative (dictatorships, armies…etc.). I wore a sleeveless maroon robe, so I felt like a badass warrior shaman for two weeks. It was surprisingly enjoyable to wear each day. And after every meditation, I felt like I was gliding more than walking. I may never go back to pants again.

    Here’s a little run down of the strengths and weaknesses of the OSHO International Meditation Resort, from my perspective:

    Positives

    The Atmosphere – The vibes of the place are just so positive, peaceful and freeing. It’s conducive to leaving your inhibitions behind and reclaiming your childlike nature. Everyone is pleasant, everyone talks to each other, laughter is ever-present, dance is continuous and the whole place is coated in a feeling of joyful serenity. Besides a few slight imperfections (which you’ll read below), it’s an ideal way of living.

    The People – It’s a potpourri of interesting international people. I met dozens of amazing people during my time at the Osho center. The people in general tend to be very open and friendly, which I really appreciate. There’s not really any awkwardness either, because the environment enables everyone to be wholeheartedly genuine and authentic.

    The Meditations – Osho’s meditations are so effective because they’re active. They’re designed to clear out all of the mental/emotional baggage through movement and expression before going into the depths of meditation. If you were subjected to western conditioning, there is no way that you can just sit in silence with a clear mind. You must first get rid of all the bullshit you’re holding onto before you can experience true meditation. Movement and expression are the mediums through which you become a blank slate again. And from that blank slate, you quickly learn to transcend the incessant chatter of the mind.

    I’m able to go far deeper into meditation after I’ve exerted myself. It’s really difficult for me to just sit in silence and pretend like my body doesn’t exist. When I fully express and let go of everything I’m holding onto, my mind stops getting caught in circuitous thought loops. I’m able to dip into the blissful serenity of nothingness. That’s true meditation. This is why Osho’s meditation techniques resonate with me far more than anything else I’ve come across.

    For more information, check out OSHO Dynamic Meditation.

    Fun – The place is a lot of fun. People leave their inhibitions at the door. No one takes anything too seriously. Everyone dances their heart out, laughs a lot and radiates positivity. During the evening meetings, Osho’s talks are played on a big screen. They’re the perfect blend of insight and hilarity. Osho is funnier than most stand-up comedians, and that’s no exaggeration.

    I had so much fun during my time there. My dear friend hit the nail on the head by describing it as “a place where we learn to become a little kid again.”

    Negatives

    Too Many Rules – There’s a bunch of tedious rules. You have to wear a maroon robe all day, you have to wear maroon when swimming in the pool, you can’t walk through the campus while the evening ceremony is going on (They lock the gates. What happened to freedom?), you have to scoop food into your bowl a certain way at the cafeteria…etc. There are a bunch of weird, little rules. As someone who values extreme freedom, this was a difficult adjustment for me.

    I think the rules are excessive. I know that some are meant to create awareness, but it’s to the extent where it makes things a bit frustrating, especially for a “no rules” person like myself. I got charged extra for not putting food in certain containers one time. And I couldn’t go in the pool my first day because I didn’t have a maroon bathing suit (I had to buy one). But I learned, adjusted quickly and got into a nice flow before I knew it.

    Also, by the points above, you can tell that it’s becoming more of a beurocratic structure by the day (and especially because Osho himself isn’t around to lend his vision). Although it’s still far more open and freeing than most places, it really epitomized that when it first started. Apparently it was cheap, had little rules and was even more free and open. That’s why some people think that everyone just has sex there. Maybe that was the case back in the day, but now it’s just about as sexual as any open European culture; which is a good balance, in my opinion.

    Costly – It costs a lot to be there. Most people from Western countries can afford it, but it’s very expensive for India. It’s as costly as most retreats I’ve seen in the US. It’s also the opposite of all-inclusive. There are also countless little things to pay for. You have to pay for food, to use the pool, for your robes, a maroon bathing suit, courses, any meditation accessories (meditation chair, mat, blindfold…etc). Just when you think you have everything you need, you have to buy something else.

    Because of those two drawbacks (rules and costliness), it’s not a quick or smooth adjustment when you first come. I expected to just walk in and be all zen’d out from the get go, but I actually went through a day or two of frustration before I eased into a nice groove. Most people I talked to experienced the same thing as well. But you know what? Overall, it’s worth it. The juice is worth the squeeze.

    Conclusion

    I would recommend the OSHO International Meditation Resort to anyone looking to get to know themselves better, do some inner work and have fun throughout the process. If you’re willing to shell out some cash and adjust to mildly annoying rules, you will benefit exponentially, meet some amazing people and have a truly life-changing experience.

    “You are a paradise, but you have forgotten yourself. You are looking everywhere except within you, and that is the only place where you are going to find the treasure, the truth of beauty.” – Osho

    One love.

    – Stevie P
     

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