7 Surprising Benefits of Meditation

meditation benefits

Did you take your medication meditation today?

Meditation is THE MOST important practice you can have, by a long shot.

The benefits of meditation are mindblowing (I listed some of them in the Introduction to Meditation).

Today, however, I want to share with you some of the more surprising benefits of meditation.

Since meditation is the foundation of everything else, you will notice dramatic improvements in all aspects of your life when you engage in a consistent meditation practice.

Some of these benefits will be completely unexpected, which is why I wanted to write this. Meditation really is the great enhancer of all aspects of life – both directly and indirectly.

Let’s dive right into them…

7 Surprising Benefits of Meditation

1. Confidence

Any inner work helps to cultivate GENUINE confidence. Meditation is one of the best ways of doing this.

If you can face your internal fears, anxieties and looping thought patterns, the external world becomes much easier to navigate. A powerful, authentic confidence naturally emanates from someone who has mastered themselves.

Through regular meditation, nervousness fades away and you become adept at working through fears of all kinds. Underneath all of it is love, and genuine confidence is a byproduct of self-love.

2. Conversational Skills

Building confidence naturally leads to better conversational skills. But that’s not all.

Through meditation, you also become more present in conversations. This means that you’ll be a better listener as well.

Meditation helps you get out of your head and fully into the present moment experience. And we all know how powerful conversations can be when we’re fully present and in that timeless flow state.

3. Resilience

Meditation results in physical, mental and emotional resilience. It creates a space of awareness between yourself and any type of pain.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl

Meditation creates a subtle, yet powerful strength of character. You’re able to act in spite of fears and also let go of any fears you have.

4. Being More Human

When you practice meditation, you become more and more mindful, more and more in the moment, and more and more human. You gain heightened awareness of your body, mind, senses and the world around you.

It’s the difference between truly experiencing a sunset as opposed to just looking and taking a picture, or truly tasting food instead of mindlessly chomping down while watching tv.

Meditation allows you to more fully immerse yourself in the human experience.

5. Sex

Yes, meditation helps with sex too.

Being completely in the moment, confident and moving intuitively is the perfect recipe for great sex. You’ll experience connection like never before.

If two people already have a meditation practice, then sex itself also becomes a beautiful, mutual moving meditation.

6. Patience

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu

When you engage in a regular meditation practice, you become hyper-aware of when you’re stressed, rushed or feeling impatient.

From this awareness, you give yourself the choice to slow down and ground yourself in the present moment. Most people are rushing to go nowhere fast. A meditator is in no rush, yet gets more done.

Any “waiting” can become meditation, instead of neurotically focusing on the future. Travel becomes meditation, instead of driving yourself crazy by wishing you were at your destination already. Eating becomes a meditation, instead of always thinking about the next meal.

Through meditation, you’re able to smell the roses while actually being more effective; which leads to the next benefit…

7. Productivity

Meditation cultivates an unparalleled ability to focus.

On top of that, meditation…

  • Increases mental strength
  • Increases memory retention and recall
  • Enhances cognition skills and creative thinking
  • Enhances decision making and problem solving
  • Improves information processing
  • Improves visuospatial processing
  • Increases the ability to keep focus in spite of distractions
  • The combination of brain-boosting benefits and peace of mind make meditation the ultimate tool for stress-free productivity. And with increased mindfulness, you’ll learn how to prioritize what’s really important, instead of frittering away your time just for the sake of being busy.

    The Easiest Way to Meditate Every Day

    Meditation doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. You don’t have to meditate for hours a day to start seeing the benefits of meditation in your life.

    There’s a ridiculously EASY way to meditate every day.

    It’s literally easier than getting out of bed in the morning.

    Everybody knows that meditation is beneficial. But very few people actually meditate regularly. What’s up with that?

    There are two reasons for this:
    1. It’s hard to find an easily implementable system
    2. Most people feel like they’re doing it wrong

    The idea of meditation can be intimidating for some people. But it doesn’t have to be. There’s no need to sit in the Himalayas or be some crystal-wielding guru. There’s no need to dedicate hours per day or wear silly clothes. Meditation is for everyone, everywhere.

    Want to learn how to meditate every morning? (and do it effortlessly, without it seeming like another thing on your to-do list)

    Join the 7 Day Meditation Challenge. It’s the easiest way to start meditating. Even if you already meditate, it will help you stick to a daily routine as well as give you tips to deepen your practice.

    CLICK HERE TO START THE 7 DAY MEDITATION CHALLENGE

    It’s way simpler than you think to reap the massive benefits of meditation.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P

    meditation

    15 Simple Ways to Improve Brain Function

    brain function

    The human brain is the most complex piece of hardware in the known universe.

    It’s an immensely powerful tool.

    The brain is also the device through which we decode and perceive reality. So to say that it’s important to optimize brain function is a severe understatement. I think we can all unanimously agree that it would be a good thing to improve brain function, right?

    Instead of rambling on with more poetic descriptions of the brain, let’s just get straight to the applicable information.

    15 Simple Ways to Improve Brain Function

    1. Regular Practice – The brain, like everything else, is like a muscle. To strengthen it, it must be exercised regularly. Learn something new every day. Test your memory regularly. The more practice, the stronger it gets.

    2. Variety – While regular practice is the foundation, it’s also important to switch things up. Do new things. Engage in unique experiences. This keeps you on your toes, highly adaptive, thinking spontaneously and builds the skill of learning how to learn.

    3. Limit Sugar – Reduce your sugar intake (and processed, refined foods in general). Sugar is highly addictive and keeps you in the wired-then-tired trap of what I call “the insulin roller coaster.”

    Limiting sugar will help you have healthy gut flora as well, which is intrinsically linked with brain health.

    The brain can run on sugar (glucose) or fat (ketones). In both my experience and that of many other people, the brain operates optimally on fats.

    4. Eat More Healthy Fats – Some of the best healthy fats are fish/krill oil, avocado, coconut oil, butter, olive oil…etc. Coconut oil, for example, appears to be an ideal brain food.

    Here’s a challenge: Instead of starting your day with a carb-heavy breakfast, start with a cup of coffee (or tea) with a teaspoon of coconut oil in it. I call this combination “steroids for your brain.” Yes, it works. Try it out and feel the effects.

    5. Intermittent Fasting – “Human and non-human animal studies have shown that IER (Intermittent Energy Restriction) increases synaptic plasticity (a biological marker of learning and memory), enhances performance on memory tests in the elderly, leads to the growth of new neurons, promotes recovery after stroke or traumatic brain injury, decreases risk for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and may improve quality of life and cognitive function for those already diagnosed with these diseases. IER has also been shown to play a preventative and therapeutic role in mood disorders like anxiety and depression.” (Stanford)

    Want to try fasting? The best introduction I’ve come across regarding intermittent fasting is Eat Stop Eat. It does a great job of explaining the benefits of fasting and gives you a stupid simple protocol that gets amazing results. I’m actually doing a variation of Eat Stop Eat right now.

    6. Brain Boosting Herbs – Brain boosting herbs include Gotu Kola (which I personally take every day), Brahmi, Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba. There’s a lot more too. Do a little research and see which one is best for you.

    7. Learn a New Language – Learning a new language literally opens up a new world to us. When we expand our horizons, neuroplasticity kicks in and we form more neural connections.

    8. Sleep – Sleep is the ultimate recharge for our bodies and our brain is no exception to this. Everyone knows that their brain works better on 8 hours of sleep as opposed to 4. Prioritize sleep and reap the brain benefits.

    9. Focus – Limit distractions and cultivate focus. Being scatterbrained severely inhibits mental capabilities. Focus is the precursor to learning and problem-solving.

    Tip: When you need to focus, set a timer for a specific amount of time and only work on the task at hand for that block of time.

    10. A Morning Routine – Starting the day off on the right foot greatly helps with how our brains function. Having a peaceful, enjoyable morning routine gets us in a clear headspace, which allows us to operate with focus for the rest of the day.

    For more on morning routines, read my article The ‘Carpe Diem’ Morning Ritual

    11. ExerciseExercise improves memory and thinking skills. It also boosts mood and reduces stress and anxiety.

    12. Walking – “Walking at one’s own pace for 40 minutes three times a week can enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits and combat declines in brain function associated with aging and increase performance on cognitive tasks.” – (Live Science)

    Walking also helps with creativity and generating ideas, especially when done outside.

    13. Positive Thinking – Stress and anxiety kill brain function. Research has shown that positive thinking, particularly in the future tense, speeds up the creation of brain cells and dramatically reduces stress and anxiety.

    Also, when you’re in a state of fear, it activates the amygdala and shuts off higher brain function (like logic and reasoning). So positive thinking really does make us smarter.

    14. Reading – This one is so obvious. We learn by reading nonfiction and expand our imagination by reading fiction. And sometimes we learn by reading fiction and expand our imagination by reading nonfiction. Reading also improves vocabulary, memory, concentration and helps hone visualization abilities.

    15. Meditation – There are so many benefits to meditation, it’s ridiculous. A regular meditation practice reduces stress, improves memory, combats anxiety, improves concentration, helps kick addictions and increases productivity (along with a lot of other things).

    Meditation helps cultivate awareness of our thoughts and gives us the choice to indulge in positive thinking instead of energy-sapping, negative thinking.

    Meditation also has the absolutely crucial benefit of mindfulness. If you’re unaware of what’s going on in your brain, you’re unconscious and living in reaction-mode. This results in you being a slave to your brain, instead of the master of it. The brain is a powerful tool. It is in your best interest to learn how to use the tool without the tool using you. This is why meditation is so important.

    Learn more about meditation here: Introduction to Meditation

    Time to Apply

    Try incorporating some of these into your daily life. If you want to pick just one to start with, I’d strongly recommend meditation. Meditation is the habit that all other habits build off of, the skill which enhances every other skill and the practice that gets you in touch with the essence of existence.

    Want to start meditating? As soon as you wake up, hit the snooze button on your alarm clock and use that time for meditation. Sit upright, close your eyes, take some deep breaths into your belly and simply observe your thoughts without judgment. Do this every morning.

    With most of this list, it’s common sense that these things improve brain function. But knowing and applying are two different things. Most people don’t apply what they know on a daily basis. Take action and commit to a daily practice.

    Your brain is a miraculous tool. Treat it well and use it wisely.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

    Which of these do you apply on a daily basis? Did you learn anything new? Which ones do you want to start applying? Leave a comment below.
     

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    The 5 Best Self Improvement Podcasts

    podcasts

    I’ve always wished to sit in on insightful conversations; to be a fly on the wall during brilliant exchanges between interesting people.

    Now I can, whenever and wherever I want. This is the allure of podcasts.

    21% of Americans now listen to podcasts. To put this in perspective, that’s the same percentage as Americans who use Twitter. Podcasts are becoming ubiquitous, and for good reason. They are changing the way we experience both entertainment and learning.

    The Audio Advantage

    I prefer audio to other mediums for the simple fact that you can listen anywhere. It allows you to be a time management ninja and learn while going about your day. You can listen to podcasts while driving, walking outside, cooking, stretching, cleaning, performing monotonous tasks at work or just sitting in the dark while resting your eyes (which I personally love doing). Audio is so much more versatile than something you have to watch. Plus, we all spend too much time looking at screens, so it can provide a much needed break from that.

    Authenticity

    Podcasts are usually raw and authentic. I really love and appreciate the authenticity of podcasts. They’re generally unscripted and not edited much. So whether it’s a conversation, interview or a one-person rant, podcasts feel much more genuine and real than radio shows or any traditional media. Many people can no longer tolerate the plastic fakeness of overly scripted, heavily edited and excruciatingly politically correct interviews and/or conversations.

    Choose Your Own Adventure

    With podcasts you choose what you listen to, when you listen to it, when to stop, when to resume…etc. Gone are the days of being relegated to what’s on tv or what’s on the radio. Interactivity, freedom, authenticity and the democratization of information are highly valued in today’s culture.

    Want to learn about health? Listen to a health podcast. Want to laugh? Listen to a comedian’s podcast. Want to hear an interview with a celebrity that’s unscripted and more like a conversation? There’s a podcast for that.

    There is a podcast for every possible niche you can think of. The choice is yours.

    The Perfect Blend

    The authenticity factor of podcasts allows the podcaster to be him or herself while conveying the information they wish to convey. That’s why, more than anything else I’ve found, podcasts have the unique ability to create an experience of learning, mixed with entertainment, all while feeling like you’re there listening in on an interesting conversation.

    I also love the funny quirks and unique sense of humor that people have. When these genuine qualities and “imperfections” shine through, it allows the listener to relate to whoever’s speaking on a deeper level.

    The 5 Best Self Improvement Podcasts

    1. The Tim Ferriss Show

    Tim Ferriss is an author, entrepreneur and human guinea pig. His podcast focuses on dissecting all forms of greatness. In Tim’s own words, “Each episode, I deconstruct world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use. This includes favorite books, morning routines, exercise habits, time-management tricks, and much more.”

    2. The Model Health Show

    This is the best podcast on health that I’ve come across. The host, Shawn Stevenson, has the uncanny ability to break down and eloquently explain complex health concepts. Each show often focuses on one specific aspect of health, making it highly informative and actionable. Shawn is well-read, with an amicable personality and a holistic, big picture perspective. The Model Health Show really is the model of health shows.

    3. ReWild Yourself Podcast

    The ReWild Yourself Podcast, hosted by Daniel Vitalis, is incredibly interesting and packed with useful information. If you want to maximize your entire being and embrace your primalness (instead of ignoring or repressing it), you should definitely check out the ReWild Yourself podcast. Here’s the short description of it…

    “I’m Daniel Vitalis, and I’ll be your guide through the world of human zoology and lifestyle design. We’ll explore the strategies that ancient apes need to thrive in a modern world, awakening our instincts, and freeing our bodies –– and minds –– from the degenerative effects of human domestication.”

    4. Aubrey Marcus Podcast

    Aubrey Marcus is the CEO of Onnit and a master of “total human optimization.” He’s fascinating to listen to and shares valuable wisdom on a wide variety of topic. Anyone interested in practical spirituality and using consciousness to optimize and enjoy life will find tremendous value in Aubrey Marcus’ podcast.

    5. The Joe Rogan Experience

    Joe Rogan is a comedian and UFC commentator. His podcasts are long, hilarious and interesting conversations about everything imaginable. Joe Rogan literally explores every subject under the sun. His comedic wit makes the podcasts laugh out loud funny while discussing often mindblowing ideas with interesting people.

    Though The Joe Rogan Experience isn’t directly self-improvement related, it exposes you to a multitude of topics that will undoubtedly catalyze self-improvement.


    I highly recommend you check out these podcasts and see if they resonate with you.

    Keep laughing and learning.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!


    Resources: Apps to listen to podcasts on your smartphone

  • Stitcher (this is what I personally use)
  • Podcasts
  • Overcast
  •  

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    28 Benefits of Floatation Therapy

    floatation tank

    Floatation tanks (aka float tanks, isolation tanks or sensory deprivation tanks) are lightless, mostly soundproof tanks filled with Epsom salt and water at skin temperature, which makes you float on the surface of the water.

    In this setting, you experience little to no external stimuli and are able to relax your body far more than otherwise possible. These conditions provide the space for an incredibly unique experience of stress relief, tension release, self-awareness and journeys into peaceful nothingness.

    I’ve personally been floating for the last two months and have experienced its many benefits. Floatation therapy has the tension release qualities of a massage, the stress relief qualities of drinking a glass of wine in a jacuzzi, the state of self-awareness comparable to psychotherapy and the trauma/fear release potential of ayahuasca. Floating also makes it relatively easy for anyone to dip into the infinitely blissful void described by experienced meditators and yogis. Essentially, floatation therapy provides the space necessary for self-healing on all levels of being.

    28 Benefits of Floatation Therapy

    1. Promotes total calm and peaceful relaxation
    2. Eliminates fatigue and jet lag
    3. Improves sleep
    4. Alleviates stress (mental and physical)
    5. Reduces or eliminates depression, anxiety and fear
    6. Facilitates freedom from habits, phobias and addictions
    7. Facilitates an acute awareness of thought patterns
    8. Stimulates left/right brain synchronization
    9. Shifts brain waves from beta to lower frequency alpha, theta and even delta
    10. Creates mental clarity, alertness and mindfulness
    11. Increases creativity
    12. Enhances problem solving ability
    13. Heightens visualization ability
    14. Deepens meditation (you’re able to go into much deeper meditation than when you’re sitting on the floor)
    15. Expands awareness
    16. Enhances all senses
    17. Enhances hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis
    18. Decreases the production of cortisol, ACTH, lactic acid and adrenaline
    19. Reduces pre-menstrual tension
    20. Reduces post-natal depression
    21. Increases production of endorphins
    22. Speeds up rehabilitation, recovery and healing
    23. Relieves pain (arthritis, migraines, injuries…etc.)
    24. Boosts immune function
    25. Improves circulation
    26. Reduces blood pressure
    27. Improves athletic performance
    28. Makes you feel amazing afterward 🙂

    Fun Facts About Floating

    • The first floatation tank (or isolation tank) was developed by the neuroscientist John C. Lily in 1954. He used it as a form of psychotherapy, often in combination with LSD (when it was still legal).
    • Carl Lewis used in-tank visualization techniques to prepare himself for his gold medal long jump at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
    • John Lennon reportedly used a flotation tank in 1979 in an attempt to kick his heroin habit.
    • Two-time NBA MVP, Steph Curry reportedly floats every 2 weeks.

    Try out floating for yourself. Experience peace like you never have before. Experience your true self.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

     

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    21 Inspiring Children’s Books

    Children absorb everything, good or bad.

    As humans, we spend the first few years of our life in sponge-mode, soaking everything in, before we begin to express our own personality. For better or worse, we’re literally programmed according to what we learn and experience early in life. This is why it’s of crucial importance to instill love and empowerment within children.

    This is where children’s books come into play. Children’s books can act as imprints of love, positivity and empowerment that children take with them for the rest of their lives.

    So in the spirit of instilling love and empowerment, here’s a list of some of the most inspiring children’s books. Even if you don’t have young children, you too can benefit from a little lighthearted inspiration.

    21 Inspiring Children’s Books

    1. Oh The Places You’ll Go By Dr. Seuss

     
    2. The Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire by Dharmachari Nagaraja

     
    3. Apples to Oregon: Being the (Slightly) True Narrative of How a Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes, and Cherries (and Children) Across the Plains by Deborah Hopkinson

     
    4. Walk On!: A Guide for Babies of All Ages by Marla Frazee

     
    5. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

     
    6. Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

     
    7. Incredible You! 10 Ways To Let Your Greatness Shine Through by Wayne Dyer

     
    8. Little One Step by Simon James

     
    9. The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

     
    10. Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems

     
    11. Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges

     
    12. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

     
    13. Matthew’s Dream by Leo Lionni

     
    14. Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats

     
    15. An Awesome Book! by Dallas Clayton

     
    16. Beautiful Oops! by Barnie Saltzberg

     
    17. Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

     
    18. Fancy Nancy Poet Extraordinaire by Jane O’Connor

     
    19. I Believe in Me: A Book of Affirmations by Connie Bowen

     
    20. I Think, I Am! by Louise L. Hay

     
    21. Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are by Dr. Seuss

     

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    6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Focus

    focus

    Today’s world is an endless, omnipresent circus of distraction.

    We’re in the process of learning how to integrate all of this new technology into our lives. It’s trial and error on a gigantic scale. Because ubiquitous technology is so new to our species, we’re overwhelmed; bombarded with emails, Facebook notifications, text messages and unlimited information at all times. Perhaps the biggest casualty of this has been our ability to focus.

    Technology isn’t going anywhere, so we must learn how to master it as opposed to being a slave to it. So instead of passively letting our world of distraction deteriorate our focus, we must proactive maintain mental mastery or suffer from scatterbrained madness.

    Training yourself to consciously focus on one thing at a time is transformative and freeing. The ability to focus brings you into the present moment, allowing to peacefully and deeply engage in whatever you’re doing without being assaulted by the daunting worries of the past and future. A focused mind is far more relaxed, clearer, and sharper than a wandering, distracted mind that wastes energy on minutiae.

    Life becomes simpler when you’re focusing on what you’re doing in the present moment. Life is chaotic and overwhelming when you’re worrying about everything at once.

    Here’s a little secret too. If you consciously focus on one thing at a time, you’ll get a lot more done without any of the paralyzing anxiety, worry, regret, fear…etc. This state of conscious focus is what Buddhists call the one pointed mind.

    Think about the situations in your life where you were fully immersed in whatever you were doing, completely undistracted and in the zone. Didn’t it feel great? It’s like you freed yourself from the heavy burdens of the past/future and dipped into the peaceful ocean of the present moment. In addition to the serenity is a sense of clarity and sharpness that is far beyond the murky and turbulent waters of a distracted mind.

    There’s no need to believe that focus consists of grinding effort either. Focus simply means that your point of attention is being consciously directed towards something. Focus should ideally be effortless, a natural byproduct of a clear mind.

    Everything is a muscle that can be strengthened through practice. Here’s how to build your focus muscles.

    6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Focus

    1. Gazing Meditation (Trataka) – Sit and gaze at a specific object (most people use a candle) for a certain amount of time. Then close your eyes and visualize the object in as much detail as possible. The practice of gazing meditation hones your powers of concentration and visualization. It is the ultimate one pointed mind builder.

    Really, any meditation practice helps with focus, but gazing meditation is the most effective if your goal is specifically to improve your focus.

    2. Set blocks of time for specific tasks – Choose a specific task, set a timer and only focus on that task for the allotted time. This is essentially an agreement with yourself, a commitment to focusing on only one thing. Close your email, turn off your phone and all other distractions while doing this. Start with a small chunk of time, like 15-20 minutes, but no longer than 50 minutes.

    I set myself blocks of time to write and it has produced amazing results. I get deeper in the zone (flow state) and produce many more words per minute (and better quality writing) than I did before using this technique.

    3. Read more books – Remember those things called books? Start reading them again. While reading a book, you focus on that book and that book only for significant amounts of time. This greatly hones your focus.

    If all you do is read click-bait listicles online, watch silly cat videos, read tweets and creep on people’s Facebook photos, your ability to focus is going to be pretty pathetic and you’ll be relegated to the mediocre purgatory of ceaseless, unfulfilling distraction.

    4. Practice presence – Practice being present in everyday situations. If you’re with someone, or eating dinner, or going for a hike, or playing with kids or your dog, turn your phone off and put it away. Be completely present in the moment. This will teach you to focus on what you’re doing and deepen your experience of the present moment (which is all we ever have).

    5. Listen to music – When you listen to music, just listen to music! Don’t do anything else. Listen mindfully and hear the subtleties that you’re usually oblivious to. This is an easy and enjoyable way to hone your focus.

    6. Make sure your body is healthy – A healthy body makes everything easier. It also optimizes your mood and cognitive function, which will naturally enhance your ability to focus.

    Eat well and exercise regularly. Eat real food and healthy fats for brain function, walk a lot, hike, do yoga, resistance training, HIIT workouts, kettlebell training (my personal favorite)…etc. A healthy diet (like this one) combined with exercise allows your mind to function at its highest capacity. If you’re eating fast food and sitting all day, your mind isn’t going to work nearly as well as it could.

    Now focus on applying those.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!
     

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    Release Limiting Beliefs With These 5 Simple Steps

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    We learn our belief systems as very little children, and then we move through life creating experiences to match our beliefs. Look back in your own life and notice how often you have gone through the same experience.
    ~ Louise Hay

     
    Limiting beliefs are like heavy bags, filled with useless stuff, that you carry with you wherever you go.

    You may think that whatever you’re carrying in those bags is important, but the bags ultimately weigh you down and greatly restrict your mobility. There’s also the aspect of becoming accustomed to carrying the bags. Once you do it for a while, it becomes your default state. You don’t know any better, so you go around carrying your baggage without ever stopping to ask, “Wait, what am I doing?”

    Limiting beliefs are insidious because you don’t really know that they exist until you’re able to objectively look at yourself. It’s like the old phrase, “The fish will be the last to discover water.” Until you’re able to observe your thoughts, emotions and actions, you’ll forever be confined within a bubble reality of limiting beliefs and disempowering false assumptions.

    Many of the limiting beliefs we hold are learned from our parents. As children, we are subconscious sponges, constantly picking up beliefs, habits, behavioral patterns and general views of the world from our parents. This is how our model of reality is sculpted, for better or worse. (See: Face It, You’re Parents are Flawed).

    The Power of Mindfulness

    I cannot stress the importance of mindfulness enough.

    In order to be able to view yourself objectively and even have the option to change, you must cultivate mindfulness.

    Think of mindfulness as self-awareness from a higher perspective, or the ability to objectively observe your thoughts, emotions and actions.

    Mindfulness is the basis of any change. It is the foundational phenomena that, once, cultivated, will put you in a position of power to change anything. Instead of unknowingly repeating limiting or negative patterns on auto-pilot, mindfulness gives you the choice in every moment to indulge those patterns or not (and choice is a superpower).

    If you develop mindfulness, you will be in a position to intuitively discover and release anything that’s holding you back. With enough mastery, you won’t need any external information. If you can still the waters of your mind and just listen, you’ll be able to receive all of the answers you need. Remember that.

    Mindfulness is cultivated through a regular meditation practice. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated or time consuming either. The notion that meditation has to be difficult is actually a limiting belief that many people have. You can start just by sitting with your eyes closed and observing your thoughts for 2 minutes every day. Just 2 minutes! Another ridiculously easy practice is the 21 Breath Salute. Once you feel like you’re able to consistently watch your thoughts and they appear less and less, you can extend the time or try out other forms of meditation. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of meditation; even the shortest and simplest daily practice will be greatly transformative over time.

    A Simple 5 Step Process For Releasing Limiting Beliefs

    1. Ask Questions and Embark on a Scavenger Hunt

    Your limiting decisions are hiding out in the areas where you’re producing results that you don’t want.
    ~ Matthew B. James

     
    Your limiting beliefs are the shadows lurking beneath the results you’re getting that you don’t want. So here’s the big question to identify limiting beliefs: What results are you getting that you don’t want? This can apply to any and every aspect of life.

    If you’re having money problems, for example, chances are that you’re holding a limiting belief around money. So ask yourself these kinds of questions to get to the bottom of it:

  • What is my self-talk regarding money? (Maybe it’s something like “There’s never enough money.”) And in what situations does this negative self-talk come up?
  • How am I reacting to my financial situation? A feeling of helplessness? A victim mentality? Anger?
  • Hint: If you’re reacting to your situation in a disempowered way, that’s a telltale sign of a limiting belief.

    If you’re having problems finding a relationship, there’s probably a limiting belief standing in the way. Here are some ideas of questions to ask yourself regarding this:

  • Do I think all women are (insert negative adjective)? Do I think all men are (insert negative adjective)?
  • Do I think that women only interested in X? Do I think that men only interested in Y?
  • Am I waiting for perfection?
  • Do I not want to settle down yet?
  • Do I not feel worthy of a good relationship?
  • Use these types of questions for any facet of life that you wish to release limiting beliefs. You’ll be surprised at how much you can uncover just by asking the right questions.

    A major part of releasing limiting beliefs is treating it like an internal scavenger hunt. You have to be honest with yourself and willing to make a change. Adding elements of gamification and viewing the process as a scavenger hunt makes it more fun and less intimidating.

    Note: Choose one specific limiting belief at a time for the rest of the steps. Focusing on one belief at a time will help create a deep awareness regarding that belief and allow you to effectively and fully eliminate it.

    2. Write down the limiting belief.

    Writing something down leverages the power of externalization. There’s something magical and cathartic about getting something out of your head and into written form. If you write your limiting beliefs down, it will give you perspective, objectivity and insight that you never would have imagined if you had just kept everything in your head.

    3. Recognize that it is a belief, not necessarily truth.

    This is crucial to understand; just because you believe something doesn’t make it true. Viewing beliefs from this perspective is transformative in and of itself.

    Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
    ~ Marcus Aurelius

     
    4. Change your thoughts until the belief changes (belief transmutation).

    The most effective way to get rid of limiting beliefs is to replace them with more empowering beliefs.

    A belief is simply a thought that you think over and over again. With mindfulness you can observe and change your thoughts. If you change a thought consistently, then you’ve changed a belief!

    Affirmations are immensely useful here. Let’s go back to the limiting belief regarding money, “There’s never enough money.” Every time you say “There’s never enough money,” “I don’t have the money,” or anything like that (to yourself or out loud), change it to something like one of the following affirmations:

  • I always have more than enough money to meet my needs, wants and desires.
  • I delight in the financial security that is a constant in my life.
  • I am open and receptive to all the wealth in the Universe.
  • I always attract whatever I need for a glorious future.
  • Money comes to me easily and effortlessly.
  • Wealth constantly flows into my life.
  • My actions create constant prosperity.
  • I am aligned with the energy of abundance.
  • Find an affirmation that intuitively feels right for you or create your own based upon the specific limiting belief you wish to replace.

    Consistency is key with this practice. Continuously substitute limiting self-talk for more empowering self-talk and soon enough your belief will be transmuted.

    5. Consciously change your actions based on the new belief.

    How would you act if you had this new belief? Act that way. It’s as simple as that. Act like the belief you want is your reality until it actually becomes your reality.

    Using the example of limiting beliefs around money again, changing your actions doesn’t necessarily mean spending extravagantly. It can be as simple as expressing gratitude (and not guilt) whenever you do spend money. It can also consist of staying open to and actively pursuing more income, instead of just complaining about your lack of money. Another strategy is to not let money be the biggest factor in determining everything you do. For example, if you’re really craving almond butter, splurge and get the expensive almond butter without worrying that it costs $5 more than you usually spend. If you don’t let money control your decisions (while using discretion, of course), then guess what? Money won’t control your decisions.

    Do you think you’re weak? Start acting like you’re strong, lift some weights and you’ll gain strength every week. Do you think you’re a bad writer? Write every day, and after a year, you’ll be a better writer than anyone you know. Do you think you’re bad at talking to men/women (whoever you’re attracted to)? Approach 100 people in the next month and you’ll be smoother than a frictionless surface after that. Do you see the trend here?

    Clarity comes through action. The car has to be in motion in order for the steering to work.

    You can’t sit around and do nothing, expecting your life to magically change. You have to meet the Universe half-way through your actions. Visualize the action and actualize the vision.

    Note: Do steps 4-5 simultaneously until the limiting belief has been transmuted into a more empowering belief. This may take a day or two for some, or as long as a month or more for deeply ingrained beliefs.

    Abundance

    The Paths Are Infinite

    There are also strategies that have the potential of helping you to spontaneously release limiting beliefs. This includes things like plant medicine (ayahuasca, iboga, psilocybin…etc.), energy work (reiki, acupuncture…etc), yoga (especially when holding certain positions for longer periods of time) and insights that emerge out of deep meditation.

    Though this article focuses on a specific process, remember that there are an infinite number of ways to reach any destination. Thinking that there is only one way to achieve something is a limiting belief in and of itself (wink, wink).

    Burst through the bubbles of limitation and embrace all possibility.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P

     

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    The Top 7 Websites for Consciousness Expanding Articles

    Mountain Cosmos

    Knowledge isn’t necessarily power…

    Applied knowledge is power.

    Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
    ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

     
    Think of information as the sign posts along your journey. Information you come across can guide you along the way, but you ultimately need to navigate yourself.

    This is why I’m such an advocate of applicable practices and direct experience. Reading can show you the way, however you have to walk the path yourself to truly reap the benefits of the information.

    If you want to expand your consciousness and harmonize the totality of your being, there are many practices which you can implement. Engage in some kind of meditation daily, exercise, do yoga, hike, get out in nature, express yourself through art or movement, travel, commune with plant medicine if that calls you…etc. There are many tools for “walking the walk” of consciousness expansion. It’s all about taking the information you learn and running with it.

    This list is for those on the spiritual path, or those who want to get started on that path. Anyone who is a seeker or fueled by curiosity will find immense value in these websites. I honestly don’t read too much on the internet these days, as I’m focused on creating my own content, but this is a nod of gratitude toward some of the websites that have been of great value to me along my journey.

    The Top 7 Websites for Consciousness Expanding Articles

    1. Waking TimesWhere Evolution and Revolution Collide

    Core message:
    Waking Times is an independently owned and operated online magazine that seizes on the transformational power of information to trigger personal revolution and influence humanity’s evolution.

    Article of mine on Waking Times:
    Stop Consuming Culture and Create Your Own

    2. The Mind UnleashedUncover Your True Potential

    Core message:
    The Mind Unleashed is a conscious news dissemination organization that seeks to inspire out-of-the-box thinking and act as a catalyst for people to discover the limitless potential that exists inside us all.

    Article of mine on The Mind Unleashed:
    Reveal Your Life’s Purpose by Asking These 15 Questions

    3. Elephant JournalIt’s all about the mindful life

    Core message:
    Elephant Journal is dedicated to sharing the good life beyond the choir, and to all those who didn’t yet know they give a care about living a good, fun life that’s good for others, and our planet. The mindful life is about yoga, organics, sustainability, conscious consumerism, enlightened education, the contemplative arts, adventure, bicycling, family…everything. But mostly it’s about this present moment, right here, right now, and how we can best be of benefit, and have a good time doing so.

    Article of mine on Elephant Journal:
    Fun Now & Fun Later — Categorizing our Life Experiences

    4. Positively PositiveYour Attitude Your Choices = Your Life

    Core message:
    At its core, Positively Positive is about optimism and inspiration. About seeing the possibility within each person— and within each day gifted us. It’s about wisdom and how we lift one another up to richer, more fulfilling lives. It’s about tapping into our true nature and capacity.

    Article of mine on Positively Positive:
    Why Learning Is Like Jet Fuel for Happiness

    5. Spirit ScienceSeeking Higher Consciousness

    Core message:
    Fundamentally, I am about demonstrating the truth that we are all One, and bringing together Spirit, and Science, two sides of the same coin. Oh, and that Love can change the world and make life amazing for EVERYONE!

    6. Collective EvolutionBe Change

    Core message:
    We (CE) believe in creating change by raising consciousness and thinking outside the box. We aim to challenge the current status quo by shaking up how we currently think about the world. We encourage and inspire each other to take action with the goal of bringing to life a bright future for us all. Positive and heartfelt journalism is a big part of what we do.

    7. Expanded Consciousness

    Core message:
    We are all one heart. One living breathing and maturing evolution of life. You are destined to grow in the process of this unfolding and we are here to give homage along your way. Here on Expanded Consciousness you’ll find inspiring stories, insightful information, and a forum to contribute to the advancement of other visitors. Enjoy!

    Article of mine on Expanded Consciousness:
    What Does Your Ego Look Like?

    Finding Truth for Yourself

    Remember, don’t take anything you read as ultimate truth, no matter the source. Expose yourself to a diverse array of sources, exercise some critical analysis and form your own conclusions.

    Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.
    ~ Bruce Lee

     
    What Makes Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great Unique?

    While the websites listed above are akin to major hubs of conscious information, Feelin’ Good Feelin’ Great is like a quaint small town; a hidden gem with distinct character and charm. This is what makes FGFG unique.

    Every article is written by me (Stevie P), besides the occasional guest post. My full energy, attention and passion goes into everything published here. It’s all original content which I pour my heart and soul into.

    I’ve written an article every week since September 2012 and I don’t plan on stopping.

    There are no ads, no filler content and nothing to distract from my genuine expression. Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great is a fresh river for the continuous flow of inspiration, positivity, personal growth and consciousness expanding ideas. If you’re reading this, I thank you for being a part of the journey.

    I hope you find value in the content here.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P

     

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    Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great remains ad-free and I’d like to keep it that way. As you probably know, a lot of work and focus goes into maintaining a website and regularly posting publishing quality, life-enhancing articles from the heart. If you find value in this content, please consider supporting Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great. You can become a monthly contributor with the amount of your choosing.


     

    10 Profound Benefits of Listening to Classical Music

    classical music notes written

    I’ve been hanging out with a few old friends lately: Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorak, Bach, Chopin, Handel, Wagner and the rest of those OG’s.

    Classical music has become a staple in my life. It’s a truly beautiful form of music that comes with a seemingly endless list of benefits which we can all reap. The first thing I do each morning is put on those harmonious, orchestra-driven melodies of classical music.

    Why do I listen to classical music all of the time?

    I like to call it “serenading the space.” Playing classical music instantly turns any room into a church of good vibes, a temple of celebration or your own tranquil sanctuary. Turn on some classical music and you’ll instantly experience this for yourself (if you haven’t already).

    Classical music is the background music to my morning stretches, my writing routine and almost everything else I do. It weaves a fundamental layer of peace and harmony into the fabric of my life.

    Now this is coming from a hip-hop head. Classical music was never really my thing. I don’t necessarily sit down and listen to it very intently either, but its benefits as background music are utterly unparalleled. Here’s why..

    10 Profound Benefits of Listening to Classical Music

    1. Increases Physical Performance

    Classical music, especially fast-paced classical music, has been consistently shown to increase physical performance.

    We’ve all experienced that extra push that music can give us when working out. It gets you to squeeze out that extra rep, or run that sprint a little bit faster. And I don’t know about you, but I feel like the hero of a movie whenever I exercise to some epic classical music.

    Also, because it doesn’t have words, classical music allows you to focus more on what you’re doing, instead of focusing on the music. If I listen to hip-hop when working out, I get a surge of motivation, but I’ll be less mindful of the exercise I’m doing. But with classical music, I get a similar surge in motivation, but I’ll be completely mindful and more present when performing the exercise.

    Sources:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10573664

    2. Increases Sleep Quality

    Classical music calms the mind, and when the mind calms down, the body follows. Listening to classical music is greatly effective for people who suffer from insomnia and other sleeping disorders. The soothing effects of classical music are tremendously conducive to sleep.

    The conclusion of one study (entitled “Music improves sleep quality in students”) reads “Relaxing classical music is an effective intervention in reducing sleeping problems. Nurses could use this safe, cheap and easy to learn method to treat insomnia.”

    Sources:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18426457

    3. Eases Chronic Pain

    Classical music has inherent healing properties and has been shown to reduce pain. Along with distracting people from the pain they experience, the relaxing and stress-reducing effects of classical music actually reduce pain as well.

    Many hospitals have caught on to this and now play classical music because of its potent effects on pain reduction.

    On top of easing chronic pain, classical music actually accelerates healing too. But whether it’s just the relaxing effects that stimulate healing, or if the sound vibration itself is healing, is up for debate. But the bottom line is that classical music reduces pain and helps the body heal. So drop the pain killers and put on some Mozart instead.

    Sources:
    http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S0021-75572006000300006&script=sci_arttext&tlng=en
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21704068

    4. Improves Mood and Fights Depression

    Classical music is well-known to boost mood, relax the mind and increase dopamine levels. Anyone can experience this too, just play some classical music and notice your mood shift for the better.

    Classical music also has the same physiological effects as a massage, which is an impressive testament to how much music (frequency and vibration) really affects us.

    The flipside of the coin of happiness is depression. So because classical music makes you feel good, depression naturally fades away, making classical music a powerful anti-depressant as well.

    A large-scale example of classical music’s positive effects on mood is that it literally fights crime. Classical music is like a super hero and has been shown to reduce crime rates when played in public places.

    Sources:
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000689930400736X
    http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/06/10/05/how_classical_music_can_reduce_crime_benefit_your_mood_and_increase_your_spending.htm

    5. Lowers Stress Levels

    Going hand-in-hand with its mood boosting properties, classical music notably reduces stress. This makes sense, of course, due to its relaxation and mood enhancing properties.

    Classical music has been repeatedly shown to lower cortisol levels as well. Cortisol is known as “the stress hormone,” so it’s a way to tangibly measure stress responses in people.

    Stress is an epidemic in modern society, so listening to classical music is a great way to fight back against the chronic stress we’re all faced with in our day-to-day lives.

    How can you be stressed when you’re relaxed and happy? You can’t.

    Sources:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1069901/Listening-classical-music-relieve-pregnancy-stress.html
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110826/

    6. Boosts Brain Function

    The positive effect of classical music on brain function is so well known that it’s referred to as the “The Mozart Effect.”

    Here are some examples:
    In 1996, the College Entrance Exam Board Service conducted a study of all students taking their SAT exams. Students who sang or played a musical instrument scored an average of 51 points higher on the verbal portion and 39 points higher on the math portion of the test.

    In a controlled University of California study, students who listened to 10 minutes of Mozart before taking SATs had higher scores than students who didn’t.

    In a University of Washington study, people who listened to light classical music for 90 minutes while copyediting a manuscript caught 21% more mistakes.

    7. Sharpens Memory

    Being so beneficial for brain function in general, it’s no surprise that classical music improves memory as well.

    Studies have shown that music enhances the memory of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. One of these was a UC Irvine study, which showed that scores on memory tests of Alzheimer’s patients improved when they listened to classical music.

    There’s a slight caveat regarding classical music and memory though. In the 1960’s, a Bulgarian psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Georgi Lozanov found that different pieces of classical music were more beneficial to memory than others, depending on what stage of the learning process they were used. The learning process can be divided into three stages: relaxation, active learning and memory consolidation. Lozanov, after 30 years of experiments with music and memory, found that specific pieces of classical music yielded better results in these different stages of the learning process. Some pieces were better for relaxation, some were better for active learning and some were better for memory consolidation.

    Sources:
    http://www.rocketmemory.com/articles/music-and-studying/

    8. Decreases Blood Pressure

    Among classical music’s health benefits is that it decreases blood pressure. The tempos of music have a profound impact on both heart-rate and blood pressure. Slower, gentler music is relaxing, which slows the heart-rate and reduces blood pressure, while music with a faster tempo does the opposite.

    Many pieces of classical music are also in sync with the body’s natural rhythms. For example, blood pressure rises and falls every ten seconds or so, which is a rhythm that many composers mirror in their works.

    Another fun fact is that the second part of Beethoven’s famous Fifth Symphony is called the “music of a healthy heart” and it is especially recommended for high blood pressure.

    Sources:
    http://www.techtimes.com/articles/59065/20150610/your-heart-loves-music-operas-and-classical-music-can-lower-your-blood-pressure.htm

    9. Enhances Creativity

    Classical music is like a magical creativity catalyst. The good vibes put you in a clear, creative mood which acts as fertile ground for harvesting new ideas and insight. Combine this with enhanced cognitive function, being stress-free and relaxed, and you have a recipe for great creative work.

    Classical music, because it doesn’t have words, doesn’t disrupt the creative process either. I personally get into much more of a flow state, especially when writing, when listening to music without words. Music with words tends to be distracting when doing any creative work.

    10. Improves Productivity

    Want to be more productive? Classical music helps with that as well. An often overlooked advantage of listening to classical music is that it can make monotonous tasks more tolerable. If you’re engaging in a repetitive task, classical music can “get you out of your head” and help pass the time in a more enjoyable fashion.

    I personally would listen to classical music whenever I had to do a repetitive task at my job. It would transform an assignment, consisting of hours of manual data entry, from torturous to “this isn’t so bad” in a matter of seconds.

    Lyric-less music aids productivity as well. According to studies from Cambridge Sound Management, intelligible words can force us to shift focus from our work to figuring out what someone is saying (that’s why it can disrupt creativity too). According to Cambridge’s 2008 study, speech distracts about 48% of office workers. So while classical music can boost productivity, other more-wordy genres of music may actually hinder it.

    Sources:
    http://cambridgesound.com/sound-masking-references/
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0003687072901019

    Oh, and did I mention that listening to classical music instantly makes you well-cultured?

    Classical music comes with a whole host of benefits that you can leverage to optimize your well-being. The composers were geniuses who could create audio medicine, gently speaking to our subconscious mind and harmonizing the totality of who we are.

    So put on some Mozart and compose art. Play some Handel and handle your business. Bump some Bach and get “bach” to being happy.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

    PS – I wrote this whole article while listening to classical music.

     

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    Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great remains ad-free and I’d like to keep it that way. As you probably know, a lot of work and focus goes into maintaining a website and regularly posting publishing quality, life-enhancing articles from the heart. If you find value in this content, please consider supporting Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great. You can become a monthly contributor with the amount of your choosing.


     

    What are You Hiding From Yourself? 14 Ways to Discover Your Blind Spots

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    I thought I had it all figured out a few months ago…

    My ego loved the (false) sense of elitism that came from the (small) amount of wisdom I had accumulated and the personal growth I had achieved.

    This sense of egoic comfort allowed my blind spots to subtly suffocate my growth and choke out my compassion towards others. As Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars would say, “It’s a trap!”

    Luckily, I realized that my ego had snuck in through the back door. Deep down I knew that, in the grand scheme of things, I had next to nothing figured out, so I decided to shake things up a bit. In a hopscotch of faith, I leapt into innumerable experiences that shattered any sense of “having life figured out” and launched me to unforeseen levels of self-discovery and growth.

    These experiences included 5 months of (mostly solo) world travel through 10 countries, meeting hundreds of amazing people, journaling every single day of my travels, having cathartic experiences at the Osho center, attending a few yoga retreats and workshops, getting certified in kinesiology, learning Siddha healing, practicing many different meditation techniques, jumping into new relationships, communing with Ayahuasca in the Peruvian Amazon, struggling to communicate with my weak Spanish speaking skills, hiking Machu Picchu in pouring rain, learning how to surf, going to the Envision Festival alone and embarking on countless other adventures that catapulted me out of my comfort zone. All of this intensely illuminated so many of my blind spots, quantum-jumped my knowledge of self and spurred so much improvement that I still haven’t assimilated it all. And I’m still riding this momentum.

    “We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.” ~ John Wheeler

    The more you know
    The more you realize you don’t know
    And you don’t know
    What it is that you don’t know
    Until it’s known
    But you do know
    That you don’t know everything
    So rest in the fact that there’s always more to know

    We all have blind spots, forces that we’re completely unaware of that may be holding us back.

    The human mind, though it’s an immensely powerful tool, is littered with self-deception and cognitive biases. It’s so easy to trick ourselves, and over time, deepen the groove of a skewed view of reality.

    That’s why one of the most important things you can do is take an objective look at yourself and reveal your blind spots.

    What if your comfort zones are actually false fortresses of security that are doing you far more harm than good? What if everything you’ve been basing your reality on was a lie? What if every aspect of your life is really based on false assumptions, feebly held together by other false assumptions to rationalize the former false assumptions?

    We’ve all seen the extremes of self-denial and glaring personal blind spots… The religious zealot who ignores overwhelming evidence contrary to her rigid, literal interpretation of the bible and believes ridiculous things like the idea of Jesus riding dinosaurs. The corporate guy, whose identity is so wrapped up in materialism, that he goes to great lengths (buying fancy clothes, watches and cars, having beautiful girlfriends just to impress others, exorbitant vacations to show off…etc.) in order to fill that feeling of emptiness inside. The high school friend, who has hesitantly convinced himself that he’s happy still living in the same hometown, working the same job and going to the same bar every Friday night. These epitomic cases may seem sad and even pathetic to us, but we’re all guilty of self-denial to some extent.

    In order to become the greatest version of yourself and make the most out of life, you need to be able to observe yourself from an objective perspective. You need to call yourself out on your own bullshit. Everything from your most fundamental beliefs, how you view reality, your sense of what is possible, your identity, your habits, your patterns, your limiting beliefs, your assumptions, your false confidence, your fears, your egoic desires, your intuition, your intrinsic motivations, your reactions to external stimuli, your view of others, your freedom (or lack thereof), how you move your body, your choice of music, your choice of entertainment, your sources of information, your biases, your community, your inhibitions, your different personalities among different people, your dietary habits, your addictions, your vulnerabilities, your childhood pain that you’re still carrying, your biggest fear for the future, your self-judgments , your comfort zones, the excuses you make to yourself, the labels you mindlessly slap on things, the little lies you tell yourself, the secrets you’re hiding in the depths of your psyche, the truths you’re afraid of being true, the reason why you were born…etc.

    As you can see, there are a lot of potential blind spots out there (or in there). Here’s how to develop a perspective of increased self-awareness, put yourself in a position of continuous personal evolution and be genuinely YOU-nique.

    maxresdefault

    14 Ways to Discover Your Blind Spots

    1. Meditation

    Meditation cultivates a state in which you can objectively observe your thoughts and emotions. We often go through life completely consumed by our thoughts and emotions, not being able to witness them. This is why meditation is so crucial. With practice, you will create awareness regarding your emotions, thoughts, habits and patterns.

    This state of awareness makes change possible. If you go through life oblivious to your patterns, because you’re too engrossed in them to know what’s going on, you’ll never be in a position to make a change. As the old proverb goes, “The fish would be the last to discover water because they’re immersed in it.” Meditation can take you out of the metaphorical water of your assumed reality and help you realize “Wow, I was really IN THERE this whole time?”

    If you’re new to meditation, try starting out with my 21 Breath Salute. It’s so easy and takes less than 5 minutes to do.

    2. Intimate Relationships

    Intimate relationships are the most powerful tools for showing you your own weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

    Your partner is like a mirror of your own internal state. Your fears, limiting beliefs, doubts, delusions and repressed emotions are reflected in intimate relationships.

    One example of this is getting angry at your partner for forgetting something. Chances are that you get angry at yourself for forgetting things, and because this person is so close to you, you do to them whatever you do to yourself. So get to the bottom of why you get angry at yourself for something so asinine. Did your parents do it to you? Do you put pressure on yourself to never make mistakes? (And where does that belief come from?) Share this revelatory process with your partner as you go through it. You’re on the same team, right?

    Here’s another example. If you have a fear of abandonment from, let’s say, your father leaving you as a child, you will find yourself desperately clinging to relationships, even when it’s obvious that it’s not to your benefit. But you have to have some degree of self-awareness to be able to see this play out in your life (as well as a self-aware partner who can help you to realize these things as they come up). Otherwise, you’ll just blindly repeat the cycle over and over again.

    You need to open to love to be in a relationship. And when your heart is open, you’re also vulnerable. This is why past pain that you thought you had hidden resurfaces. This is why your ego takes many bruises and why certain words penetrate to the core of your fears.

    When an intimate relationship is honest, open and transparent, you will see all of each other’s deepest blind spots. Then you have the choice to work through them, or ignore them, letting them forever influence your life from the shadows of your subconsciousness.

    3. Close Family and Friends

    Family and friends can be similar to intimate relationships, though less of a “mirror” because our focus isn’t on them like it is on an intimate partner. (Although it can be very strong if you have children, because your complete focus is often on them. This is why having children can teach you so much about yourself.)

    With family and friends, honest relationships are paramount. Surround yourself with people that love you enough to call you out on your bullshit and wake you up from your self-delusions.

    I’m not saying to obey everything that other people say, but pay attention to the words spoken from the heart of someone you care deeply for.

    4. Plant Medicine

    Plant medicines are some of the most powerful catalysts for self-realization and growth. Some examples of plant medicines are “magic” mushrooms, Ibogaine and Ayahuasca (which I’ve done myself and wrote about here).

    Plant medicines will help you see where your blind spots are, reevaluate your life, examine your fundamental beliefs and aid you in breaking out of the patterns that don’t serve you. It’s like a crash course in self-improvement. Before you dismiss plant medicines as drugs, be aware that there’s a growing body of research regarding the healing effects of psychedelics on addiction, depression and mental disorders such as PTSD.

    When used in clinical or ceremonial settings, these sacred plant medicines have profound healing properties.

    5. Be Aware of Cognitive Biases

    A cognitive bias is defined as “a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion. Individuals create their own “subjective social reality” from their perception of the input.” (Wikipedia)

    One prominent cognitive bias is called the backfire effect, which is when you reject evidence that contradicts your viewpoint or conclusion, even if you know that the evidence is true. How many times have you seen people do this? A lot, right? And I bet you’ve done it too. I know I have.

    Another notable cognitive bias is the bandwagon effect. This is when the probability of one person adopting a belief increases based on the number of people who hold that belief. The bandwagon effect is a testament to how powerful groupthink or herd mentality can be. Don’t overlook the possibility that your most fundamental beliefs may be based on false premises and they’ve only been collectively accepted, not because they’re true, but because of phenomena like the bandwagon effect.

    This article outlines 57 different cognitive biases that us humans can have. And there’s probably more too that we very well be unaware of.

    Get familiar with the many variations of cognitive biases and ask yourself the tough questions: On which topics are my views biased? What cognitive biases do I have? Which ones am I most vulnerable to? In what kind of situations do they arise? What viewpoints am I vehemently or even irrationally defending? What am I desperately trying to justify? Maybe there are cognitive biases at play.

    6. Build Ego Awareness

    The ego is sneaky, cunning and a terrible master. If you become a slave to the ego and let it run your life, you will be engulfed in a world of endless fear, judgment, deception and self-sabotage.

    Know when your ego is trying to run the show. Learn to differentiate between your egoic desires and the genuine desires of your heart.

    Your ego will wrap its identity in labels (nationality, race, religion, gender…etc.) and constrict you in the process. It will have you stubbornly defending ideas that you’re not quite sure are true. It will have you clinging to comfort, blocking out any exposure to growth.

    Read my article “What Does Your Ego Look Like?” for a deeper dive into the ego.

    7. Investigate Your Resistances

    Resistance is the ego at work. If you have great resistance towards something, look into it. It will often be your ego resisting something that is actually beneficial for you.

    The classic examples of resistance are politics and religion. People are so emotionally attached to their ideologies (and there are so many cognitive biases involved) that even a mild counterpoint is met with hostility and defensiveness. If you notice this kind of resistance in you, see where it comes from. Are you afraid that what you cling to will be gone? Do you think you won’t have an identity if you step outside of the box of the political/religious ideology you follow? Are you merely following an ideology based on the fear of consequences if you don’t?

    If you have extreme resistance towards something, it’s probably something you’re desperately trying to suppress and it’s driving you crazy in the process. Examine everything with an open mind and meet resistance with love.

    8. Be a Beginner Again

    Try something new where you have to start from square one. If you’re an intellectual, try learning how to surf. If you’re an athlete, try playing chess.

    Taking on something completely new and foreign will shake you out of your comfort zones, make you vulnerable (in a good way), uncover weaknesses (or strengths that you never knew about), highlight any stubbornness you have, enable you to connect dots from seemingly unrelated areas and catalyze so much learning in a short period of time.

    9. Get Out of the Echo Chamber

    This is closely related to trying something new.

    An echo chamber is “a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an “enclosed” system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented.” (Wikipedia)

    Sometimes, we get so caught up in our niche communities (especially online), that we don’t realize that it could be an echo chamber. The extreme version of this is something like Scientology, but I’ve seen various degrees of “echo-chamberism” from spiritual communities to scientific communities and everything in between. It’s cool to connect with like-minded people, but just make sure that you’re not illogically rejecting things to hold up false premises. Question everything and always exercise your critical thinking faculties.

    If you’re a floaty spiritual person, switch it up and read some scientific literature. If you’re scientific-minded, read some spiritual stuff. If you’re a hip-hop head, listen to some classical music (the real OG’s). All of this will give you a completely different perspective on things, make you more well-rounded and spur so much new insight it will blow your mind.

    10. Find a Group Setting that Facilitates Self-Discovery

    Attend a retreat or a workshop. These kinds of events are designed to be learning experiences provide you with new perspectives in a concise package.

    Every retreat and every workshop I’ve ever attended has revealed profound insights that were previously blind spots for me.

    11. Put Yourself in Other People’s Shoes

    See the world from someone else’s perspective. Visualize their perspective in detail. Think about their motivations, point of view, beliefs, fears and how their experiences have shaped who they are. Have empathy and compassion and truly understand their point of view.

    This kind of empathetic visualization will greatly expand your perceptions give you a unique perspective on your own life.

    Also, studying the behavior of others will create an awareness of those same behaviors within yourself (if you’re willing to look within).

    12. Keep a Journal

    Journaling is one of the best tools for self-reflection. Deep-seated revelations arise when your thoughts and emotions are externalized.

    The process of writing itself also creates objectivity and newfound understanding. Journaling allows you to witness your state of being from a higher perspective. And reading about your past experiences will give you more clarity for the present (hindsight is 20/20).

    13. Travel

    Travel is the ultimate perspective-expander. You experience new cultures, new ideas and new ways of living. You also meet tons of interesting people, often travelers themselves, who grave great wisdom to share.

    Traveling also forces you out of your comfort zone. After any stint of travel, you’ll be able to step back and look at yourself and the world around you with new eyes.

    “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

    14. Read Books

    Reading is one of the best ways to learn and grow as a person. Every book you read is a rung of your ladder of knowledge, helping you climb above the walls of your own ignorance.

    Here’s a tip to spur even more self-discovery and growth: Once in a while, read something that is completely different than normal for you. I stubbornly only read nonfiction for a while, thinking I was being practical and learning a lot (which I was). But once I started reading fiction, I unexpectedly learned so much more, and in ways I never would have expected. My imagination bloomed like a flower in spring, my power of visualization strengthened, my vocabulary greatly expanded and my writing ability reached new heights. Also, because I read fiction before bed, I started falling asleep more easily. Imagination and visualization were blind spots for me, and I probably never would have thought about them if it weren’t for reading fiction.

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    There you have it. Those are some excellent ways to illuminate the caverns of your psyche and bring awareness to your blind spots.

    Don’t just read this and then fall back into the same patterns you know don’t serve your highest interest. Apply! Apply! Apply!

    “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Life gets excruciatingly stale when you’re held down by the shadowy forces you refuse to face. Release the fear of what you’re afraid of discovering, because it’s all you and, in the grand scheme of things, it’s all love.

    Uncover your blind spots, keep learning and keep growing.

    Make the most out of your short time here on Earth.

    One love.

    – Stevie P!
     

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