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The 8 Stages of Conscious Evolution

consciousness

Have you ever wondered…

About what level of consciousness you’re truly at?

Not in terms of it being a contest, or to say you’re better/worse than other people, but as a kind of inner GPS that simply tells you where you are.

As humans, we tend to have very distorted and biased perspectives, especially when it comes to ourselves.

It’s really easy to go on a yoga retreat and think you’ve transcended stress forever, or think you’re enlightened after reading a few spiritual books.

This is why it’s crucial to have references that “tell it like it is” and objectively reflect where you’re at.

I recently came across what can be described as a map of consciousness. It’s a research paper by Justin Faerman entitled Mapping the Evolution of Consciousness: A Holistic Framework for Psychospiritual Development.

This paper describes, in plain English, eight stages of consciousness. And it’s not abstract or woo-woo. It’s straightforward, simple to understand and backed by a lot of research.

Here are the stages outlined in the paper…

The 8 Stages of Conscious Evolution

stages of consciousness

Note: The first 2 stages are considered lower consciousness, while stages 3-8 are considered higher consciousness. This is not a judgment of being better or worse, but simply a means of classification.

Stage 1: Life Happens to Me (Externalization)

Stage 1 is categorized by patterns of externalization and an overall victim mentality. The dominant emotions are fear, disdain and hopelessness. There is also a belief that life cannot be trusted.

In this stage, blame is placed on other individuals, society, government, nature, disease, etc. and other elements believed to be outside of one’s conscious control and influence.

The motivating forces of stage 1 are safety and security.

Dominant Belief Structures:
Life is not safe; I am not safe

Mantra for Evolution:
“God does not play dice with the universe.” – Albert Einstein

Stage 2: Life Happens by Me (Control)

In this second stage, individuals realize that they have some degree of control. Yet this control is often motivated by fear and survival.

For example, war is an extension of this stage of consciousness. The enemy is perceived as a threat, and because of this, people believe they are morally justified to kill, eliminate or repress that enemy.

We also see various reflections of this stage of consciousness in our collective world. Look at how most people treat the environment and interpersonal relationships. Or consider the dominant mentality of politics and business.

This level of awareness is cut off from the following deeper understanding: Life is not a random series of events over which control must be exerted, but a deeper reflection of the internal psychodynamics of a person’s own mind and consciousness.

Dominant Belief Structures:
I must make it so; What I cannot control will destroy me.

Mantra for Evolution:
“If you bring forth what is within you, then that which is within you will be your salvation. If you do not bring forth what is within you, then that which is within you will destroy you.” – Gnostic Gospels

Stage 3 : Life Happens in Me (Creator)

In this stage, the individual begins to understand the direct connection between their own perceptions, beliefs and emotional state and the conditions of their life, relationships, experiences and reality as a whole.

This level of consciousness is represented by a fundamental shift, from disempowerment to empowerment.

In order to fully complete this stage, an individual must undergo a deep transformational process that includes the purging of all perceptual distortions (limiting beliefs) and the healing/release of all emotional wounds and traumas. The emergence of consciousness into later stages is observed in direct proportion to the evolution of an individual through this process of deep inner healing and transformational work.

Dominant Belief Structures:
I am in control; I am creative

Useful Psycho-Spiritual Practices:
Mindfulness, Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, Emotional freedom techniques, Neuro-linguistic programming, Trauma release exercises, Psychotherapy, Ho’oponopono, Introspection

Mantra for Evolution:
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung

Stage 4: Life Happens For Me (Receiver)

In this stage, we see the evolution of the self into the beginnings of deep joy and peace.

As the resistance to perceived undesirable circumstances in life falls away and one begins to understand that there is an intelligent ‘flow’ operating in every moment guiding the evolution of consciousness on both an individual and collective level through what could be dualistically termed positive and negative experiences.

The individual realizes here that even in great suffering, there is great wisdom and potential for expansion and evolution and that nothing is out of place, ever has been or ever will be.

Dominant Belief Structures:
I am loved; I am supported

Useful Psycho-Spiritual Practices:
Seeing everything as perfect, Surrender, Acceptance, Letting Go, Embracing Flow and Effortlessness, Meditation

Mantra For Evolution:
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

Stage 5: Life Happens Through Me (Philosopher)

At this stage of consciousness, the individual begins to understand and observe that the Universe is evolving itself through them.

The individual begins to realize that all perceived suffering or negative events are either:
a) Created or called into their reality by aspects of their own consciousness in an effort to be resolved and transcended as part of their individual evolution and as part of the larger collective evolution or…
b) Exist due to their conscious or unconscious resistance to what is unfolding, which is essentially a resistance of oneself.

Individuals in stage 5 live more through their intuition, as intuition becomes clearer and clearer as one moves up the stages.

Dominant Belief Structures:
I am safe; Everything is perfect

Useful Psycho-Spiritual Practices:
Intuitive Development, Kinesiology

Mantra For Evolution:
“Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.” – Rumi

Stage 6: Life is Me (Sage)

At this stage of awareness, the individual begins to understand that reality does not exist independent of consciousness, and therefore consciousness, or awareness if you prefer, is the causative factor of the universe and all that exists—that consciousness is creating all reality.

Individuals in this stage experience a profound sense of unity and oneness with everything.

When an individual fully enters and embodies this stage of awareness, their simple presence itself becomes a transformative experience for others. Individuals in this stage often become teachers or leaders, dedicate their lives to service of others or seek solitude to spend time in introspection, although they may also choose to live very normal and inconspicuous lives.

Dominant Belief Structures:
I am one; I am whole

Useful Psycho-Spiritual Practices:
Service, Contemplation, Meditation

Mantras For Evolution:
“You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.” – Alan Watts

“Stop acting so small. You are the Universe in ecstatic motion.” – Rumi

Stage 7: I Am Infinite (Avatar)

Individuals at this stage of growth begin to transcend the physicality within which we are proverbially ‘trapped’ until we reach this point.

Here individuals begin to harness conscious control over this process by directing their awareness in such a way (through belief, emotion, thought, visualization, the manipulation of energy, intent, accessing transpersonal aspects of the self and likely other mechanisms not yet discovered) as to be able to make use of these ‘higher order’ quantum-transpersonal abilities of the self.

Individuals at this stage perceive and know themselves to be limitless and are in various sub-stages of actualizing that reality beyond a simple intellectual understanding.

As individuals move more deeply into this stage they proportionally complete lower stages which leads to an embodied confidence, power and knowingness, which is palpable to most all who they come into contact with.

Dominant Belief Structures:
I am infinite/limitless; Anything is possible

Useful Psycho-Spiritual Practices:
Esoterics, Visualization, Kabbalah, Sound/Vibration/Mantra, Qi/Nei Gong, Kriya Yoga

Mantra for Evolution:
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein

Stage 8: I Am Energy (Mystic-Shamanic)

Individuals at this stage tap into phenomena like:

  • The ability to project consciousness across space and time, which encompasses the ability to see, experience and remember aspects of the self existing in other dimensions of time (past, present and future).
  • The ability to interact with and communicate with other forms of consciousness such as plants, animals, objects and consciousnesses not currently existing in physical form.
  • The ability to intuitively pick up sensory data beyond the limits of the physical senses.
  • The ability to feel, read, manipulate and project subtle energy that is otherwise unperceivable to those in lower levels of stage development and virtually unrecordable with current scientific instrumentation.

Those who have near death experiences as well as users of psychedelic drugs or plant medicines (ayahuasca, DMT, LSD, mushrooms, etc.) are often able to have highly embodied first-hand experiences of this state of awareness pre-development into this stage, giving them a proverbial taste of this reality without necessarily having done the psychospiritual foundational work necessary to experience this stage organically and therefore they often lack a deeper understanding of the larger framework of what is happening along with the ability to maintain it beyond a transitory phenomenon, still nonetheless forever changed by the experience.

As an individual becomes more grounded in the later phases of stage eight—which encompass this dimensional awareness—and simultaneously completes their evolution through lower stages, one would theoretically achieve complete enlightenment or non-dual self-realization.

Dominant Belief Structures:
Everything is energy; I am awareness; Reality is an illusion

Useful Psycho-Spiritual Practices:
Energy healing, Esoterics, Visualization, Kabbalah, Qi/Nei Gong, Kriya Yoga, Meditation, Visualization, Remote Viewing, Astral Projection, Telekinesis

Mantra for Evolution:
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Although this model ends at stage 8, this doesn’t imply that no further stages exist and that somehow stage 8 is the pinnacle of conscious evolution. However, any claims as to what happens beyond stage 8 at this time are simply conjecture.

stages of consciousness

Self-Awareness

At this point, you probably have a pretty good idea of where you’re at.

When the descriptions are objectively laid out, it forces you to be honest with yourself.

It’s also helpful to accept where you’re at right now, while continuously learning and growing. Don’t resist where you are right now or beat yourself up, neither of those serve your highest interest. Choose love, gratitude and compassion in each moment and you can’t go wrong.

Here’s another important point: you’re not limited to one stage! Chances are that you’re dipping into different stages on a daily basis. But it should be fairly apparent as to what stage you’re grounded in at this point in your life.

For me, I’m pretty grounded in stage 5, though I often fluctuate between stages 3 and 6. I’ve tasted stages 7 and 8, yet these experiences have been few and fleeting. Sometimes I’ll even find myself in stage 1 or 2, and that’s okay. It’s all a part of the human experience.

This framework is beautiful because it allows you to effectively calibrate where you are. It naturally creates self-awareness. Awareness is the first step toward any change, and transformative in and of itself.

I encourage you to read the full paper, which you can download for free here:
Mapping the Evolution of Consciousness: A Holistic Framework for Psychospiritual Development

Which stage are you in at this point of your journey? Is this framework helpful for you?

Leave a comment below.

Much love to you on your path.

– Stevie P
 

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Throwback Thursday: The Ego Shell and Emotional Armor

muscular

That’s me in July of 2011.

I recently came across this picture again… And you know what? I never even realized how muscular I was then.

Seriously, I didn’t. Body dysmorphia is an insidious delusion. Our minds play tricks on us more often than not.

At that point in my life, I was dead set on achieving perfection in every aspect of life. I NEEDED to be the fittest, smartest, funniest, wisest and most creative person in the room, simultaneously; at all times. Now how about that for some constant pressure based on unreal expectations?

If I could sum up my belief system, it would be this – Nothing was ever good enough.

Of course, there are far worse problems to have. But this is an exposé of the more shadowy delusions so many of us face (or choose not to face).

It’s not all bad though. This mentality greatly helped me in many, many ways. Due to this hyper-imbalance towards the warrior archetype, I’ve been able to learn, apply and do so much within a short span of 28 years. I’m grateful for that, though I recognize it no longer serves my highest good.

I now know this phase needed to happen in order to get to where I am now and to give me massive momentum in the direction I’m going.

With that nod of gratitude, I want to dissect for you the psyche behind the muscular frame you see in that picture…

Layer 1: Emotional Armor

I’m a sensitive person, a prototypical Cancer in that sense. Up until very recently, I would take any criticism like an arrow to the heart.

When I started working out and seeing results, it was like discovering armor against criticism. Since I was wrapped in my ego and focused on the illusion of perfection (among other things), I created a need to protect myself emotionally. I feared criticism, so I devised ways to mitigate it.

I felt like being muscular gave me armor against criticism. It was an ego shell. I thought that because I was “jacked”, people would be less inclined to criticize or make fun of me when I would act like my weird, authentic self.

It worked, for the most part, and it did help me to get more comfortable with who I am as a unique individual. But I needed to address the root. Why was I afraid of criticism in the first place? The revelations I describe below helped me drop that fear.

Now I no longer need emotional armor. I have nothing to defend, no false identity to parade to the world. Sure, I stay pretty fit. But the difference is, I don’t give a fuck now, whatsoever. I love myself no matter what (except sometimes when I forget to).

Last year I actually took a few months off of working out. I just did a lot of yoga and walking. Why? Because I needed to go into my feminine side and allow myself to evolve, instead of forcing it or unknowingly closing myself off with a hyper-masculine, stubborn attitude.

This more yin approach worked wonders and I was able to go through some incredible transformations. Then after a few months, I felt ready to ground back into my masculine side again. So I started working out again, but from a place of self-love, not to build emotional armor.

Layer 2: Perfectionism

Perfectionism was omnipresent for me throughout most of my life. I still even need to be mindful of perfectionist tendencies.

Much of perfectionism is due to cultural conditioning. Our parents and teachers praised us only when we did something they labeled as good. The media perpetually force-feeds us with artificially projected images of perfection for every aspect of life.

So many of us are slaves to our ego, which drags us along on the roller coaster of superiority and inferiority. No aspect of our society teaches us to embrace our uniqueness and accept ourselves as we are right now.

Perfection doesn’t exist (in this reality at least). We’re all imperfect beings. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. Imperfection allows for uniqueness and continuous improvement. That’s so beautiful, so… perfect. In a paradoxical way, we can find perfection in the imperfection of everything.

For me, as I said before, nothing was ever good enough. I was critical of others, but even more critical of myself. My inner judge was a slave driver, constantly pushing me. I thought salvation was found in some future achievement or in becoming something more. My sense of self-worth was tied to the chaos of external circumstance.

For a deeper dive into perfectionism, check out my article How to Overcome Perfectionism

Layer 3: External Worthiness

I used to believe that I could attain worthiness by achievement. Oh, how that resulted in unrelenting difficulty. Again, this is culturally perpetuated and many of us have this belief to some degree.

I would not love myself as I was in any given moment. Instead, as I said before, the hope of salvation was somewhere in the future. But tomorrow never comes.

Self-worth is a journey all of us face. We all must go within and remove the debris we’ve piled on top of our essence. That’s the key.

The ironic thing for me is that my perfectionism made me want to improve every aspect of myself, even regarding self-love. Recently I got to a point where I felt clear and free. I still have certain hang-ups and delusions, yet I’m mindful of them and I accept my imperfections.

I got so good at solving problems and shoring up weaknesses. But then I realized that this need to correct everything was the very thing blocking me from true self-love. So in essence, I raced down the highway of personal growth, only to find out that my biggest lesson was to enjoy the scenery.

I’ve cultivated unconditional love within myself (most of the time). And because of that, I’m now able to love others unconditionally.

Love… that’s what is underneath all of the layers.

The biggest paradox of self-improvement is that we’ve had what we were looking for all along. We just couldn’t see it.

Thank you for reading.

– Stevie P!
 

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Gratitude: Your Secret Weapon

Gratitude

What if I told you that you have a secret weapon available to you at all times?

This secret weapon is not physical, nor destructive. Its power actually extends far beyond the reach of physical constraints.

It lifts the illusory veils we build, the many forms of fear that hinder our experience. You see, the fears we have in our modern western world are almost entirely psychological. We face almost no real danger. This means that the fears most people walk around with are overwhelmingly self-projected abstractions.

If we were facing the invasions of orc hordes every day, we would need mighty swords to fight them off. The orc hordes we face, however, are the fear-based ruminations of our own mind. The ultimate weapon against the forces of fear is the sword of GRATITUDE.

That’s not even a perfect metaphor because gratitude doesn’t involve fighting or resisting at all. Gratitude is so powerful because it’s essentially fighting by accepting. Let me explain…

Gratitude naturally and effortlessly transmutes fear.

Gratitude is like a laser beam that magically transforms insidious inner demons into Casper the Friendly Ghost.

It’s a calm breeze that refreshes your inner landscape.

Gratitude is the zenith of “positive” feelings. Actually, gratitude is beyond the duality of positive and negative. And it must be felt to be truly understood.

Where There is Gratitude, There is No Fear

Gratitude and fear cannot coexist. It’s just like how darkness is the absence of light. Once you shine the light of consciousness, the shadowy fears simply disappear.

This goes for any form of fear too. Fear is the undercurrent of all so-called “negative” emotions. Anxiety, worry, jealously, resentment, regret, stress, guilt…etc. are all children of fear. For example, stress is putting pressure on yourself for fear of an unwanted outcome; and being judged, by yourself and/or others, as not good enough. Anxiety is the fear of some possibility in the future. Can you see the trend here?

If you feel fear of any kind, shatter the illusion with gratitude. When you can feel gratitude, you’re letting go of fear. Don’t just think gratitude, FEEL gratitude, EMBODY gratitude.

The Great Transmuter

Gratitude is the master transmuter. Transmutation is the act of changing or the state of being changed into another form, which is exactly what gratitude does with what you would label as “negativity.”

It’s all a matter of changing your perspective. Show gratitude for the so-called “negativity” in your life and it transforms. Failures become lessons, crises become opportunities and imperfections become beautiful symbols of uniqueness.

Since gratitude and fear cannot coexist, all you have to do is be in a state of gratitude and all “negativity” dissipates.

Gratitude won’t necessarily change a situation, but it will change how you view the situation. And when you change the way you look at things, surprisingly, the things you look at start to change.

Remember, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.

The Magic is Right Here!

Gratitude is all about accepting where you’re at, at any given moment. It’s about seeing the big picture and being able to show compassion towards everything, positive or negative.

Through gratitude, you’re able to both accept situations and accept yourself as you are right now. Gratitude is a reminder that you are good enough, no matter what. Here’s something I’ve experienced over and over again: When you love and accept yourself in each moment, you’ll grow, effortlessly and continuously, without having to force it or put pressure on yourself.

Gratitude is also rooted in presence. We only get lost in fear when we forget about the present moment and enter the obsessive thought-patterns of the past or future. There are no problems in the present moment. Show gratitude and bask in the blissful realm of the eternal now.

Gratitude Practices

There are so many ways to express gratitude. It really comes down to anything which allows you to truly FEEL gratitude. Here are some ideas…

  • Write down what you’re grateful for (a great resource that incorporates writing things you’re grateful for every day is The Five Minute Journal)
  • Give thanks every morning when you wake up
  • Express gratitude as many times as you can throughout each day
  • Practice Ho’oponopono
  • Say “I appreciate you” to someone you care about
  • Thank “negative” situations for the lessons they provide – For example; I know a lot of people who were living life at a frenetic pace, and the thing made them slow down and appreciate their lives was a car accident.
  • Even if you can’t think of anything to be grateful for, you’re alive! The chances of you being born are about one in 400 trillion! Now that’s something to be grateful for. If you’re not grateful for life, you’re just going out of your way to make yourself miserable.

    When in doubt, be grateful.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!
     

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    A Completely Different Perspective On Trump’s Presidency (This Will Make You Think)

    Note: This article was written by Bernhard Guenther and originally appeared on Collective Evolution. I don’t usually re-share articles, but this article is phenomenal and so necessary.

    Considering the hype around the latest celebrity statement about Trump by Meryl Streep and the upcoming ritual to put “the man” into “power” officially (which will most likely result in protests by moral, upstanding patriotic citizens), I thought to repost what I wrote (trigger warning!) right after the election.

    Hint: This is going to come down to you, and it’s deep!

    Here’s the thing from a basic Jungian perspective: Trump is your shadow, America, a reflection of your unconscious, especially concerning people who identify themselves as Leftist, Liberals, and Progressives, their own shadow which they never deeply acknowledged, and hence project outwardly at the “other side” in their “holier than thou” political correct attitude, over-estimating themselves and dreaming to be awake.

    The self-inflation, narcissism, greed, the “bigger is more,” the “quantity over quality,” the entitlement, the hypocrisy, the drive for recognition and fame, the “best” in the world, the bully, the “money can buy everything,” the racism and sexism, etc…..or anything else you despise in the man….it’s all you, buried in your unconscious. It’s also the shadow side of the “American Dream” and obviously reflected in America’s Imperialism.

    It’s About You!

    Anyone who identifies him/herself as “Liberal,” “Progressive,” “Leftist,” and projects disgust, hate, or anger on to this man, (really anyone who is triggered/irritated by Trump beyond political identifications), or reacts with fear, sadness, worry: you are looking at your own shadow and it won’t go away if you keep up with these reactive projections and look for external solutions or a different “leader” to follow or project your “hope” onto while still believing in the religion of government (which feeds off of the polarization and perpetuates separation consciousness) based on illusory tribal/national identification and adherence to/worship external authority constructs.

    Moreover, nothing will change but will in fact reinforce the schism as long as you keep identifying with any side because it defines the other side. One cannot have the one without the other as long as you feed and play into this game of fabricated false duality which is exactly how Empire controls you – all entirely based on illusory socially/cultural conditioned identifications and beliefs which you are so attached to and define yourself by. It’s the basis for population control and social engineering, reinforcing the Stockholm Syndrome and “invisible” slavery/prison out of your own “free will.”

    prison

    But here’s the real “shocker.” Trump is actually your “teacher,” for he creates more friction and shadow triggers, hence more potential to wake people up from an esoteric alchemical perspective (Clinton would have been the sleeping pill for most people, even though she’s the more dangerous psychopath, hidden behind the mask of a “woman”), but only if people take back their projections and engage in some serious and sincere soul searching cutting through their programed socially/cultural conditioned identifications to ignite the alchemical fire within.

    Any negative reactive emotion you have towards the “man” (including his silly tweets) or his supporters is a sign of giving away your power and life energy (literally). It shows you where you work is when it comes to basic Jungian psychology of shadow work until you can come to a place of non-reactive zero-point consciousness rising above fabricated duality and tuned into your true inner power and guidance, connected to Spirit and the wholeness of nature: a sovereign embodied Individual.

    If you do that sincerely and go deep, you will finally stop believing in and supporting this religion of government (that was never, ever in place for the people and never, ever can give you true freedom), and realize that it was never about Trump, Clinton, Sanders or any other authority statist puppet to begin with, stop this silly idea of “voting for change” and fragmented mechanical/programmed search for “external solutions” and “leaders, worship of authority and then really, really question everything you believe in and have been told/taught, and most of all drop and let go of your identification, which just feeds the polarization. This the path towards a true shift and evolution of consciousness. Anything else is just going in circles, re-arranging the furniture and tapestry of your prison cell (you are not aware of), instead of breaking out of it.

    And that is not a comfortable (internal) process at all for it entails utter disillusionment and taking full responsibility without blame and externalizing. Nobody can do it for you and nobody is going to save you. It takes tremendous humility and sincere self-honesty facing the lies within, which make up your conditioned personality, which is not who YOU truly ARE but mistake for you real Self. It’s much easier to project outwardly, protest, look for the next leader and keep up with the futile idea of fragmented “activism,” new “systems” and “external solutions,” all based on the fragmented male aspect of consciousness (your inner unconscious tyrant projected on Trump) removed from the wholeness of the feminine aspect of consciousness (nothing to do with gender) that is tuned into the wholeness of nature.

    In the end, America got the president it “deserved” and when you act like slaves, looking for a leader/savior to follow, you get masters…and always will, as long as you support and believe in the religion of government, regardless what system is implemented. Also “democracy” seems like such a good idea until you don’t get your way, right? (oh, I forgot, it was the Russians messing with the election…right, of course….whoever you want to blame and keeps you from looking deeply within into your own shadow).

    Obama mirror

    That’s just on the surface 3D level. From a hyperdimensional perspective, all the anger and disgust, anything projected on the “man,” the polarization, protests, revolts, hypocritical speeches of statist celebrities about “empathy,” “equality,” and “protecting truth,” engaging in this unconscious shadow dance and reacting mechanically (and programmed) is exactly what the occult Matrix overlords and Empire want you to do and feed upon. In fact, that frequency is all they are after for it strengthens your slavery and sustains them, no matter what puppet they put in place for you to identify with or project anger on. It’s the old game of divide and conquer…and the Matrix has you.

    “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. Everyone carries a Shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.”

    ~ Carl G. Jung

    —————-

    “At every turn, the synthetic culture of Empire implores us to throw our hearts and minds into unconscious polarization. It wants us to radicalize ourselves to either patriot or terrorist, believer or atheist, white or black, liberal or conservative, strong or weak, and then embark on an endless crusade to reform, condemn, or destroy the other side. This one-way polarization renders all participants impotent, regardless of which side they pick. This subtle but devastating trick deactivates our will and we automatically forfeit our capacity to rule ourselves. Lost in unconscious polarization, we serve Empire.

    Mass culture is a control mechanism that devalues the individual. It is aimed solely at promoting collectivism. It seeks to enforce the dependence of the individual human on a collective group and the priority of group ideologies over individual life paths. It is, at the base level, the very heart of socialism, communism, fascism and totalitarianism. It employs nationalistic impulses to setup polarities of antagonism that exclusively benefits a set of ruling elites. At the top level, the elites fully comprehend that there are no distinct nations, ideologies or cultural imperatives to speak of. To them, there is only power and no power.”

    ~ Neil Kramer

    —————-

    “[Look] at what happened in 1914 – or for that matter at all that is and has been happening in human history – the eye of the Yogin sees not only the outward events and persons and causes, but the enormous forces which precipitate them into action. If the men who fought were instruments in the hands of rulers and financiers, these in turn were mere puppets in the clutch of those hidden [hyperdimensional] forces.

    When one is habituated to see the things behind, one is no longer prone to be touched by the outward aspects – or to expect any remedy from political, institutional or social changes; the only way out is through the descent of an [embodied] consciousness which is not the puppet of these forces but is greater than they are.”

    ~ Sri Aurobindo

     

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    The Simple Secret to a Fully Fulfilling Life

    mindfulness

    We’ve all had those truly special moments in life: being on top of a mountain looking out at an amazing landscape, at a party singing with a group of our best friends, a wedding day, getting off of the plane in a new country…etc.

    Those are all beautiful moments in which we forget about our fears, leave our problems behind and bask in the blissful infinity of the present moment. We all chase this feeling throughout our lives. We fall into the trap of thinking “I’ll be so happy when [insert desire] happens.” Some of us even squander our present well-being for the mere potential of “that feeling” in the future.

    What if I told you that this feeling is available to you in every moment?

    I’m all for those cliché amazing moments listed above, but why can’t every moment be amazing in its own way?

    Well, every moment is. Each moment is brimming with bliss, peace, joy, love and happiness. We just never stop to see it. The secret portal is right under our noses and it exists within one simple word: Mindfulness

    Most people are so lost in thought that they hardly ever actually experience the present moment in its full brilliance.

    When we live with mindfulness, even the simplest moments are infused with that feeling of blissful presence that most people only experience a handful of times in their lives. It’s like living life in high definition, a much richer experience than just going through the motions while neurotically thinking about everything other than what we’re doing right now.

    Mindfulness is like a happy drug. It’s a happy drug that comes from within us, is inexhaustible, always available and has no adverse side effects. Who wouldn’t want that?

    The great irony of humanity’s plight is that we search everywhere except for within ourselves for that sense of fulfillment. The truth is that what we’ve been searching for has been within us all along.

    Happiness, joy, bliss, peace and love are not waiting at the end of some illusory rainbow. Those feelings we deeply crave don’t reside in the future when this or that will happen. They’re always with us in every moment, if only we’d pause, dip into the present moment and look within.

    That feeling we’ve been searching for is right here, within us. It always has been. It always will be. All we have to do is be fully present.

    mind full or mindful

    6 Ways to Cultivate Mindfulness

    1. Meditation – Engage in some kind of meditation practice on a daily basis. If you’re a beginner, try my 7 Day Meditation Challenge. Meditation naturally begets mindfulness. The benefits of meditation are seemingly endless and well-documented, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to have some kind of regular meditation practice.

    2. Practice Mindful Eating – When you eat, just eat. Don’t watch tv, don’t look at your phone, don’t walk, don’t drive. Just eat. Focus on the taste of the food, the subtle textures and smells. When you do this, you’ll enjoy food like you never have before.

    Also, mindful eating builds awareness regarding what you eat, helps you listen to your body and helps in overcoming unhealthy eating habits. You can even create a practice of blessing your food before you eat to create more mindfulness around eating.

    3. Try Phone Fasting – Smartphones can be weapons of mass distraction. Everyone knows that the constant notifications, social media scrolling and email checking makes focus almost impossible and sucks you right out of the present moment.

    Here’s a solution: Make a practice of taking some time to not use your phone. I personally don’t look at my phone for an hour before I go to sleep and an hour after I wake up every day. At night, this creates time to unwind, undistracted. In the morning, this creates time for me to engage in a morning routine and start the day off peaceful and centered, instead of instantly leaping into the fray of distraction. Another strategy is to not use your phone for a day (you can take a day off once a month or even once a week). Both of these practices are surprisingly freeing and cultivate focus, empowerment and mindfulness.

    Phone fasting creates a pattern interrupt. It allows you to become more aware of your phone usage and helps you transcend the habit of mindlessly looking at your phone.

    4. Practice Mindfulness in Everyday Situations – Practice being completely present in conversations, while walking outside, while listening to music, while drinking coffee or during any other day-to-day activities. So many of us live life on auto-pilot. A bit of mindfulness makes life more vibrant and exciting, as if you were a kid again.

    5. Practice the Five Sense Walking Meditation

    6. Read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

    Try out all of these and make mindfulness a part of your daily life. Like everything, mindfulness is a muscle. The more consistently you practice it, the stronger it becomes.

    Meet each moment with blissful totality.

    – Stevie P
     

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    Sagittarius in Love

    sagittarius

    Stevie P’s Note: This is a guest post by Mystic Medusa. And here’s my perspective on astrology to preface this… Space is not empty. We essentially live in a quantum soup, where everything is connected to everything else. So the movement of anything (especially that of large celestial bodies like planets) affects other things. Also, astrology is not a fixed fate. It’s more of an archetypal predisposition with room for your individual free will.


    On the surface, Sagg seems quite simple to please. They like a lover they can have fun times with, like going skiing, dancing, or on junkets to exotic destinations.

    They prefer it if their partner is not into turgidity, tiresome emotional demands, or other manifestations of the dreaded negativity. Some Sagittarian spouses come to feel that just living with Sagg is a variety of extreme sport. But Sagittarians of a certain age don’t mind being bonded as a pair like this. They just don’t like having to stay home and relate to their partner. And sometimes Sagg thinks love is having to grovel your head off just to get some personal space. Remember that Sagg thinks groveling is letting someone else finish a sentence.

    Like cousin Gemini, they are also often fairly hopeless at dealing with high emotion. They don’t realize that saying something like “chill, babe, you’re getting hysterical” is not especially helpful.

    Although Sagittarians have contributed a fountain of wisdom to the world, sage advice dealing with deeply tricky emotional situations is not usually forthcoming from them. “A good many dramatic situations begin with screaming,” actress Jane Fonda helpfully noted.

    Sagittarian seduction techniques are fairly simple. They’ll give it a go. But getting one of these folk to fall in love with you is fairly simple. Just study everything you can on the Gemini genre and behave like one of them. A Sagg with a soul mate is a vision of love and supportiveness; this is one person who will never ever stand between you and your most grandiose dreams.

    Sagittarius – Aries
    It should be obvious that Sagg and Ramzilla are absolutely fantastic together. This duo exhilarates each other. Fiery optimism dictates the Sagg conduct. And in Aries the Sagg may have found one of the few people who will not only let Sagg be Sagg, but will actually jump up and down cheering. It’s a perfect match intellectually, energetically, and physically, assuming both can stay in the same place long enough to actually mate. This could easily become one of those alpha couples, supportive of one another’s dreams and ambitions, taking turns to hog the limelight. The catch? Sagittarians do need to work on the supportive bit. This is not going to be a long haul relationship if either party declares superior status, or that they have the most demanding ego needs. Ideally, they thrash out issues of power and prestige early on in the affair. Aries may need to tone down the famed Sagg candor. Ramzilla is probably not ready for the unvarnished truth about the great Aries screenplay, or the bid to become an astronaut.

    Sagittarius – Taurus
    Sagittarians are initially stunned by the Taurean combo of physical beauty and financial stability. How can someone so attractive lead such an apparently non-turbulent life? Sagittarius raves about the Taurean strength, sexuality, and an attribute that can only be referred to as being centered. This often happens when a Fire sign (like Sagg) meets an Earth sign (such as our Cow). Sagittarians will tend to find sanity quite the novelty at first, but soon they’ll begin to long for some of the old delirium. These two drive each other to new heights of “good in bed” and Taurus feels compelled to impress with great performances. But everyday relating can send Sagg running. All Sagg lovers—of whatever gender—can wind up running around being silly while the Bull plays the role of supportive dullard. It can work so long as Sagittarius stops messing with the Cow Person’s head. Memo to Sagg: Don’t move their things. Don’t touch their things. Don’t sell their things. Don’t knock their bodies.

    Sagittarius – Gemini
    Astrologically, Gemini signifies the so-called lower mind while Saggs represent the higher mind. That’s right! The Gemini brain is chock-a-block with trivia—they tend to be way up on new music or breaking Hollywood info, but not so informed on the profound issues pondered by higher-minded Saggs. And yet these two are so compatible. The Gemini adds dash and sparkle to the Sagg wit, while Sagg contributes desperately needed depth to the Gemini riff. This duo is so mentally stimulating to one another that they could live happily for years on a conversation-only basis; in fact, they may have to. The Gemini libido, though famously kinky, is also sporadic. Note: The way for Saggs to fire it up is by constantly changing the themes of their rants. Boredom sets in quickly if the Gemini isn’t kept challenged. Saggs may also have to put up with high-level flirtation aimed elsewhere. Both crave attention; both are heartbreakers who, once they’ve lost interest, scoot off without compassion. These two deserve each other.

    Sagittarius – Kataka/Cancer
    Sagg is a swinger—the Crab Person is just a mood-swinger. By the time Kataka/Cancer has made up their mind to be vaguely human again, Sagg is out the door. No time for negativity. No patience for people who walk around like those cartoon characters with little black storm clouds over their heads. Sagg can’t possibly visualize a future with someone so unstable and clingy. Or can they? It could be time to grow up. And, if emotional maturity is the goal, the clever Crab Person could be the ideal lover for Sagg. And, of course, Crabs are also often very attractive. Sagittarians will have to get used to talking about their emotions in the candid mode Crabs say they like, but all the time making sure to lie enough so their feelings aren’t hurt. You’ll know by now that the Crab is sensitive, prone to feeling sorry for everyone even when it is their own fault. They must have their compassion, but Saggs shouldn’t let themselves feel guilty for one second. This is not because you don’t deserve it, but because it will insidiously undermine this love affair. The big bonus of this relationship? Saggs get the support; Crabs get a blast of air.

    Sagittarius – Leo
    This is one of the most desirable couplings of the zodiac. This may very well be “meant to be.” Sagg and Leo make each other look even better than they are naturally anyway. Sagg is candlelight to the Leo’s complexion—a rose-tinted mirror for the giant Leo ego. Sagg contributes fun and youthful vigor to what might otherwise be an overly ostentatious existence. In return, Leo simply adores Sagg, providing structure and a solid frame of worshipful support for the genius. These two get along in bed and out, during good times and when the crap hits the fan. Both are naturally optimistic life enhancers. They tend to agree about the important things—who is and isn’t a pain, what is or is not music, and how to while away a beautiful Sunday. But to truly cement this relationship, Saggs must tame the leonine ego. It’s a beast of a thing, demanding an endless flow of flattery in order to function. Saggs must find a balance between boosting the Leo vanity and keeping their own genius intact.

    Sagittarius – Virgo
    A relationship between Sagg and Virgo is one of the weirdest known to humankind. Both envy aspects of the other that equally repel them. Sagg admires Virgoan efficiency and their holistic togetherness, yet secretly suspects them of suffering from anhedonia (the inability to experience pleasure). What Saggs don’t know is that, when the Virgo carps on about having to disinfect some cupboard or cull the book collection, that is their pleasure. A Virgo guilting over how big their bottom has become is just Virgo enjoying decadence. The Sagittarian role in this is to engage that famous Sagg candor and say, “yes, your bottom has grown kind of sideways, but it’s more low-slung than usual, and it appears to be developing cellulite.” This could be a ruthless, S&M of the mind-type relationship, especially as Virgo can apply analytical skills (of which Sagg has few) to studying Sagg fecklessness, lack of application, and scattered energies. And does Sagg want to hear such negativity? No, no, no!

    Sagittarius – Libra
    These two are blessed with soul mating potential, given a slight temperament alteration from Sagg to begin with. Libra finds Sagg ludicrously attractive—and this Libran may be the most alluring being that Sagg has ever set eyes on. One prob: Saggs are known for candor (a.k.a. bloody-minded tactlessness) and Librans prefer appealing fallacy to fact or at least a highly varnished truth. There is no room for bumbling oafs in Libra’s life, and nor can Saggs expect to get away with the rants that they claim are conversation. To win the Libran heart, Saggs must become mannered. Once you’re back from finishing school, this relationship tends to flow smoothly. Libra loves the expansive Sagittarian intellect and boundless optimism. There are endless subjects to gossip about and when all the social and intellectual life is exhausted, there’s a happy tumble in bed. Note: If Sagittarian shacks up with Libra, the bed will have to be color-coordinated, flattering, and osteopathically approved.

    Sagittarius – Scorpio
    Sagg has noticed, for someone who swoons on about being so into “seeking” the truth in everything, this Scorp friend is freaking out when actually hearing any truth. One of the good things about the Sagg–Scorp tryst is that Sagg will never have to worry whether they’re weirder than the Scorpio. It’s a given. And the Scorp will rarely bore Sagg, except when they flip out into possessiveness, which can be on several occasions a week. Unless they’re totally soul mated, the Sagittarian attitude toward love and relationships could politely be described as cavalier. Sagg certainly doesn’t enter into relationships just to be nagged and made to feel negative. Heck, no. If that’s what’s going to happen, Sagg will just go out that door, and old Scorp can hiss on about facing up to stuff on a solo basis. Shudder. When Saggs have fallen wildly in love with a Scorpio, they may have to have a few words to them about this. Constant scrutiny is not something that Saggs thrive on, especially if the Scorpio has charged the detective agency to Sagg’s credit card.

    Sagittarius – Sagittarius
    It could be hard for these two to get down off their soapboxes long enough to actually relate. Sagittarians love to get together and just rant the night away about their various issues: politics, eco-activism, education, art… whatever. Sagg and Sagg make an absolutely gorgeous couple. They roam the world inspiring each other and every person fortunate enough to socialize with them. But they may be so busy having civilised fun that they omit the harder emotional work of a relationship. And when one does finally admit to feeling something non-intellectual, the other is prone to waving it away in a fit of pique at having to deal with such negative stuff. This couple can live together in a state of blissful denial. Identifying this tendency is the first step to eradicating it and establishing intimacy. Two Sagittarians really bond by respecting one another’s need for space and not taking (too much) offense at bloody-minded Sagg candor. Few other signs can tolerate Sagittarians for too long. This is a heaven-sent match.

    Sagittarius – Capricorn
    The Sagg–Cap pair brings two disparate personalities and molds them into an unbreakable unit. First, Saggs have to respect their Capricorn mate, resisting the temptation to screech “Straight!” at them just because their Cap is trying to stop their partner from becoming one of the sad Saggs sitting in some bar, fingering their sacred crystals. Saggs have big dreams and a stunning breadth of vision. Cap can help make this all happen, but there will be a price—the Sagg nomadic spirit may be tamed by Capricorn’s sexy stability. Sex, if the Sagg can stay still long enough, is sensational. And in comparison to Sagg, Cap can be boring and prosaic. Saggs wanting to get serious with the canny Goat Person will have to play against type and learn to compromise their full-on personalities. And what does the Goat have to give up? For a start, sanity, as far as the Capricorn understands it. The Sagg is a total liver of life and is excited by the kind of risks that canny Cap spends a lifetime avoiding. Capricorns must decide early to channel this energy, not destroy it. Capricorn and Sagg can be so powerful—the Goat brings the calm ability to work the system and Sagittarians have the intellect and energy to build a money empire if only they can bring themselves to listen to Capricorn.

    Sagittarius – Aquarius
    These two could almost have been genetically created for one another, cloned and programmed to titillate one another. At first meeting they can’t believe how alike they are and how fast they can power bond. This coupling has the potential to run forever, especially once it’s agreed that trifling differences of opinion should not creep into the socio-sexual reality. It is very sad to see a Sagg–Aqua couple turn celibate just because someone bought clothes made from non-organic cotton or sweatshop labor. Saggs are more flexible and candid than their Aquarian partner. The Aqua can be a bit of a hypocrite, a raving snob, and yet an armchair anarchist. A Sagg’s opinions may be fickle, but at least they’re honest about their principles being a work in progress. The Aqua is often the kind of person dubbed a bo-bo-half-bohemian, half-bourgeois. They torment themselves with middle-class ideals of how to live, and then feel guilty for not being ethical enough. Saggs are more the genuine wilderness article.

    Sagittarius – Pisces
    This is a misalliance waiting to happen; a liaison dangereuse that has the most chance of flourishing when both parties live on separate continents, meeting up occasionally for “discreet fun times.” It could also work out if Sagg has significant planets in Water signs or the Fish person has strong Sagittarian influences. Saggs are the most active sign of all—say the word and they’re off on that snowboarding junket. Pisceans are generally creatures of the chaise longue. Too much activity stifles the flow of Fish-Person whimsy. They don’t like group sporting action and, no, they will not sit patiently at home awaiting the Sagg’s triumphant return. The Pisces will probably invite around one of their still-doting former lovers to entertain in the Sagittarian absence. Then there’s the small matter of candor. Sagittarians are candid by nature but the Fish just fibs for leisure. Fish People will drive Saggs insane through being needy, dishonest, and passive, yet they will act most devastated (not remorseful) by the breakup and, of course, it will all be the Sagittarian’s fault.

    About the Author
    Mystic Medusa is an astrologer with a website where you can find an awesome astrology blog, super on point horoscopes, an amazingly accurate online oracle, year ahead astrological scheduler and 12 Card Instant Tarot Read.

     

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    Alcohol Mindfulness Meditation

    craft beer

    Note: This is the same general practice as the Coffee Mindfulness Meditation, but with some slight variations.

    Are you living your life consciously or through unconscious patterns?

    Are you mind-full or mindful?

    If you’re mind-full (lost in thought), you’re living life on auto-pilot, unconsciously reacting to everything that comes your way. It’s essentially sleepwalking through life while being entirely possessed by your own thoughts. Mindfulness is the solution.

    Mindfulness is the practice that everything else hinges upon. It allows you to be completely present, establishes awareness regarding your thoughts/emotions and puts you in a position of empowerment to choose your actions in every moment.

    Here’s yet another fun way to practice mindfulness: with alcohol. Now before you think I’m telling you to go chug a 12-pack, let me clarify a bit.

    Alcohol and Mindfulness

    The combination of alcohol and mindfulness almost seems counterintuitive, as alcohol’s effects beget less mindfulness and less conscious awareness. But when mindfulness is applied throughout the process of consuming a single drink (yes, just one), it is one of the best and most enjoyable mindfulness practices. You get the enhanced sensory experience of drinking the alcohol with complete presence. You also provide yourself space to actually feel the light buzz slowly infuse your system.

    Alcohol is by far the most heavily abused substance in our modern Western culture. It’s a legal drug, a multi-billion dollar industry and an enhancer of many harmful acts. Also, it’s called “spirits” for a reason, but that’s another tangent. Like I said, alcohol’s effects make us less mindful, and that’s why it’s even more important to apply this mindfulness practice. We should be able to consume anything we want (freedom!). But without a foundation of self-mastery, anything we do can become extremely imbalanced and problematic.

    It can be argued that some forms of alcohol are beneficial in the range of 1-2 servings, but beyond 2 drinks alcohol is undeniably toxic and damaging (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually). So remember, if you’re consuming more than 2 servings (or even one if you’re small), you’re choosing to poison yourself.

    If you’re completely mindful, you’ll have no interest in binge drinking anyway. From a state of mindfulness, you will be able to hear your body’s signals loud and clear. So instead of mindless, unconscious consumption (which is the mode most people operate in), you’re presented with the choice to mindfully enjoy what you’re drinking. Again, choice is a superpower.

    The Alcohol Mindfulness Meditation

    I recommend doing this with a good quality alcoholic beverage that you enjoy the taste of. I’m talking about a good craft beer, glass of wine or your favorite liquor on the rocks. The goal here is enjoyment and being mindful of the effects, not drinking for the sake of drinking. My preference for this is a strong, tasty IPA.

    1. Find a quiet and comfortable place to yourself to sit – Make sure there are no distractions, leave your phone alone while you do this.

    2. Mindfully drink your drink – Focus on the subtleties of the taste, the texture, the smell…etc. Deeply immerse yourself in the experience.

    3. When you’re finished drinking your drink, close your eyes and just sit for 20 minutes, observing your body (you can set an alarm for something like 25 minutes before you drink your drink if you want).

    4. Relax completely – Let go of any tension. Let go of your to do list. Let go of the past. Let go of the future. Relax into the present moment.

    5. Feel the changes in your body – Notice any tingling, flowing, rushes of energy, warm and fuzziness or any other sensations. Focusing on the body also has the benefit of getting you out of your head. Most people are lost in thought 24/7 and they don’t even know it.

    6. After 20 minutes, get up and go about your day or night with a renewed sense of mindfulness.

    Like with coffee or anything else you ingest, keep in mind that the effects really start to kick in at about the 15 minute mark.

    You can even do a loose version of this practice when with other people, just by being mindful while drinking and tuning into your body.

    Bringing a mindfulness practice to alcohol consumption is life-changing. It really is. Apply this practice and bask in your own journey of self-discovery.

    Find Your Balance

    My body usually tells me to stop after one or two drinks. Alcohol is poison after all. If you consume mindfully, you’ll enjoy it more. And you become hyper-aware of your body’s signals to stop, which makes it harder to binge drink. If you’re mindful, you’re literally forced to contemplate on why you want to continue drinking even though your body is telling you to stop. I guarantee that you won’t drink a lot if you’re completely mindful with each sip you take.

    People only get intoxicated to drop their inhibitions and forget about problems. There are thousands of other ways to do this without poisoning the body. Practice mindfulness every day and you’ll naturally learn how to troubleshoot your own fears and problems.

    For the last 3 months I’ve applied mindfulness to alcohol consumption. In doing so, I enjoy the taste much more (and only drink what I actually enjoy instead of for the purpose of getting drunk). When I go out, I’ll have 1-2 (sometimes 3) drinks, depending on how my body is feeling. I’ve also spent the last year actively stalking my shadows, releasing fears and letting go of limiting beliefs, so I don’t need alcohol to have fun or express myself. That’s freeing in and of itself.

    Live mindfully and enjoy yourself.

    – Stevie P!

    For more on meditation, check out my Introduction to Meditation.

     

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    The Float Chronicles: A Journey into Nothingness

    floatation tank

    A Prelude to Nothingness

    “Only nothingness can be infinite; somethingness is bound to be finite. Only out of nothingness is an infinite expanse of life, existence, possible – not out of somethingness. God is not somebody: He is nobody or, more correctly, nobodiness. God is not something: he is nothing or, even more correctly, no-thingness. He is a creative void.

    Never for a single moment think that nothingness is a negative state, an absence, no. Nothingness is simply no-thingness. Things disappear, only the ultimate substance remains. Forms disappear, only the formless remains. Definitions disappear, the undefined remains.

    The awakening of a buddha is total. In that total awakening there is a luminous awareness surrounded by a positive nothingness. It is not empty, it is overfull. Things have disappeared… and what has remained is inexpressible. We try to express it as blissfulness, as ecstasy, as eternal joy, but these are just faraway echoes of the real thing.”
    – OSHO

    My Float Experience: A Journey into Nothingness

    Disclaimer: This is simply my float experience. Floatation therapy, like anything that consists of going within, is completely unique to everyone. So while I hope you find value in my personal experience, keep in mind that your experience could be different in every way. That’s the beauty of it.

    When I got in the tank, it took me a few minutes at first to find a position that “felt right.” After a little trial and error, the chosen pose consisted of having my arms above my head, elbows slightly bent (floating on my back of course). From this position, I relaxed into a state of acute awareness. This is the kind of awareness that is virtually inaccessible in our world of constant noise and distraction (to all but the experienced meditator).

    Soon enough, I became hyper-aware of facial tension I was holding onto, particularly in my jaw. I brought my awareness to the jaw tension and it dissipated a bit. It was stubborn though, so I opened my mouth as wide as I could, stretching my jaw and exhaling the tension out. Little did I know, this would become my release valve for the rest of the session. After I released this tension from my jaw, I moved through my cheeks, eyes, eyebrows and forehead. With the tension in those areas, all I had to do was bring my conscious attention to them and hold the intention of letting go.

    I relaxed back into the void again; pure awareness. From this second level of awareness, I became aware of a recurring thought pattern. I kept thinking of telling people about floating, how amazing it is, how “nothingness” is the answer to everything and playing out conversations in my head. Each time I became aware of these thoughts, I would immediately cut them off (almost with a sense of disdain).

    As the thoughts faded, I became aware of another, deeper layer of jaw tension. Again, I stretched my jaw open and exhaled the tension out. I knew it worked because I relaxed back into a third level of awareness.

    From this third level of awareness, I started dissecting the root of these thought patterns and this is when my float session revealed itself to be a bit of an internal scavenger hunt. I called this phenomenon of plotting futures scenarios “Reverse engineering from the future.” I realized that when I’m immersed in these kinds of thoughts, my mind is in the future and I’m reverse engineering that future until it connects with the present moment. This mindset can be useful (this is what allows for meticulous planning and much worldly success) but it robs us from the present moment. It takes away that gratitude for just being and replaces it with an endless chase for the illusory pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    Following this revelation, I noticed another layer of tension in my jaw. Yet again, I opened my jaw as wide as I could and exhaled. This created space for me to begin addressing some questions regarding these conversations that were playing out in my thoughts. I was now in a fourth level of awareness, but there’s no need to get hung up on the numbers.

    The question that came up was “Why do I even want to tell people about this?” Well, I want to inspire and help people help themselves. That’s my heart-based motivation, if you will. But my ego piggybacks on this motivation and uses it to make me look interesting and pioneering in the eyes of others. I also realized that the ego will always do this. It’s fine that it’s piggybacking, as long as my prime motivation is heart-based. As long as the ego is not my master, it can go on doing “ego stuff” while I amusingly observe it.

    This led to a second question, directed at my ego: “Why do I want to look interesting anyway?” Which really meant “Why do I want to win love or approval?”

    I instantly knew where this came from. When I was younger, my father put pressure on me to perform my best at everything I did, whether it was sports or tests in school. Because of this, I inherited a limiting belief that I had to perform or prove myself to gain acceptance. This is also one of the reasons why I constantly place immense pressure on myself. But I also realized and truly understood that my father had the best intentions. It may have came out a little intense-sounding at the time (he’s a fiery Italian), which was that good intention filtered through his own limiting beliefs, pain and imperfect perceptions. And what I did was take it on and apply it to myself in an amplified way. The term “belief amplification” came to me, so that’s what I’ll call it. As kids, any beliefs we inherit through our parents are amplified because they are essentially our superheroes and their words literally mold our psyches. Additionally, any belief that is applied to ourselves will be stronger than beliefs we apply externally. This is the phenomenon of belief amplification. With that mini-epiphany, I was able to forgive my father with ease.

    With my being permeated by forgiveness and gratitude, I drifted back into pure awareness. Out of that awareness emerged a theme of self-acceptance. “It’s ok,” became my affirmation. “It’s ok if I want to tell people about this. There’s no need to judge that part of me. It’s ok if my ego wants to look cool (as long as it’s not running the show). It’s ok if I don’t always perform up to ridiculously high standards. It’s ok. There’s no need to always put pressure on myself.” I basked in this dialogue of self-acceptance, feeling the love ripple through every part of my being.

    Note: This self-acceptance is why I’m able to share this right now. It’s ok to share. And if my ego likes it if people find value in it, cool. It can do its thing while I playfully observe it from my heart-space.

    The self-acceptance slowly transitioned into another mini-epiphany. I had realized that I was being my own therapist, shaman and guru all at the same time. While this initially felt empowering, I soon drifted into fear. “How deep is this going to go?” I asked myself worriedly. My state of grace quickly darkened to that of fear, almost panic. I had let myself plunge into the hell of endless chaotic thoughts. They violently swirled in and around me, to the point where it felt tangible. My heart was beating furiously in my chest. It felt like a distant drum whose drummer had gone mad. The only way out was in, in through the present moment. The phrase “here’s the now” came to me. It felt right. So I repeated “here’s the now” to myself over and over again, while taking some deep breaths, until I was back in a place of tranquil awareness.

    This is where yet another epiphany struck me. This game, this internal scavenger hunt, can go on forever if you choose to keep playing. The sentence that came to me was “If you’re looking for something, you will find it.” If you’re looking for problems, you’ll find problems (or even make them up). It’s also like what the physicists are doing at CERN. They’re always trying to find smaller and smaller particles, so as a result they’re always finding smaller and smaller particles.

    This insight made me realize that I didn’t have to keep playing this game forever. However, I became aware of one last layer of tension in my jaw. I also knew somehow that it was tied to a deep fear. It frightened me to even entertain what this fear was but I knew it had to go. So I tapped into the depths of my being for courage, stretched my jaw and exhaled to release the tension. As soon as I did this, a phrase popped into my mind, “The fear of nothing.”

    “Wow. The fear of nothing? That’s final layer of jaw tension? This “ultimate fear” was the fear of… nothing?”

    “There’s NOTHING to be afraid of!” I chuckled to myself and broke into childlike laughter.

    I repeated it again with even more amusement… “There’s NOTHING to be afraid of!”

    At this point I was overcome with delight. I wiggled around in the float tank, giggling like a little kid until the gentle music came on. The session was over.

    I lifted my head, ever so slowly out of the water. It felt as if I was being rebirthed into a new world.


    Let go completely and allow yourself to dip into nothingness, for that is where all possibility resides.

    – Stevie P!

    PS – I’m releasing a new online course soon, called “Primal Release.” In it, I give you the tools to release all kinds of unwanted baggage you’re holding onto, which goes far beyond what I did in this float session. If you haven’t already, subscribe to our newsletter below to be the first to hear about it.
     

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    Spiritual Backbone: Could I Be a Good Counselor?

    spiritual-backbone

    Note: This is a guest post by Katie Kapro.

    Some of my closest – and most spiritually badass – friends are independent counselors. It’s a career that attracts sensitive, resilient, and altruistic souls. It asks a lot of them. And it gives them the opportunity to give back to their communities.

    The connection between spirituality and work is fascinating, and this counseling phenomenon can go unnamed no longer. Why are so many spiritually-inclined people drawn to counseling?

    If we better understand the connection between esoteric studies and counseling careers, then perhaps more would-be counselors will find their calling.

    Joshua in Cambridge, whom I met at a meditation retreat, sees his clients in a Persian rug laden office in his home behind Harvard Square. He’s been practicing for 40 years, helping one client at a time integrate mindful breathing, gratitude, and interconnectedness into their daily lives.

    He sees everyone from recovering drug addicts to stressed-out graduate students. Instead of offering them a list of medications, he offers them meditation practices.

    It’s pretty cool, and his work benefits countless people with all sorts of spiritual beliefs.

    Why are spiritually-inclined people so drawn to independent counseling?

    Spiritual people expend so much inner and outer energy practicing oneness and self-effacement, it only makes sense that they’d want to spend the majority of the day doing something beneficial for the world.

    Let’s face it, we live in a world of egos. The ego serves a purpose. To live fully in the world is to recognize and accept the ego for what it is rather than shun it or attach dogmatic meaning to it. Counselors are required to deal with the ego on a daily basis; they are realists if nothing else.

    When I consider how many of my deeply spiritual friends work in psychology, I think it must have something to do with self-awareness. When you accept the reality of your own ego, personality, and humanity, it’s only natural to want to help people navigate their own.

    Perhaps this sounds like you?

    What are the benefits of a spiritually sensitive counselor?

    First, let’s hone-in on what spirituality means in the context of therapy.

    It’s broader than religion, and it’s generally accepted to account for all “cognitive and philosophic areas of thought as well as aspects of emotions and behavior.” Meaning, in regular-speak, that spirituality is the way a person understands their nature, existence, and internal experience.

    For some people this means church. For others it means nature. It’s simply the act of awareness.

    There are different schools of thought when it comes to spirituality in counseling. Many therapists are supportive of integrating spirituality into their work, while others feel it’s a slippery slope.

    Psychotherapy in particular has had a historically rocky relationship with religious spirituality, starting with Freud himself who called religion “comparable to childhood neuroses.” But in more modern times, therapists have drawn a clear distinction between religion and spirituality, reframing Freud’s old biases against any particular tradition.

    This reframing allows modern counselors to reach out to their patients from a unified yet impersonal place, and grow the kinds of trust bonds that benefit the therapist-client relationship. They can adopt a “psychospiritual approach” that utilizes common ground and universal themes shared by all people, instead of trying to make the personal relationship do all the heavy lifting.

    If a counselor leads a client in an exercise about minding one’s breath, say, they both feel the shared sensation of meditating, which can be a pretty powerful feeling.

    Of course, finding the words to describe this sensation can be tricky. Many therapists fear that if they’re too open about their own values, they may unwittingly impose them on their clients. It’s important to choose one’s words carefully. The ability to navigate a client relationship with this level of sensitivity is vital to a healthy practice.

    Perhaps another reason why so many spiritual people are good therapists is because they have a tendency to be highly sensitive people (HSP’s). They understand the importance of sensitivity in human relationship.

    Can anyone be a counselor?

    Yes and no. Not everyone should be a counselor. Use your imagination. Who would want to go to a counseling session led by Donald Trump? Not me.

    It takes a very specific skillset to flourish in this particular job 1) without burning out and 2) to actually help people. But if a person feels the impulse toward counseling, it’s always worth exploring. Work in therapy allows a unique amount of independence from the mainstream work model – many counselors set up their own LLCs – but candidates must first demonstrate their ability to navigate the ins-and-outs of academia by obtaining the proper education and getting licensed – a process which varies from state to state – and then complete an internship or practicum. Becoming a licensed therapist is not a quick and dirty process, for obvious reasons. Again, Trump. It takes time and commitment.

    That being said, the path is easy when the work is something that fits your character. Counseling can be a deeply rewarding career for someone who is naturally self-aware, patient, compassionate, and nonjudgmental.

    It’s a way to bring one’s spiritual practice off the mat and into the wider world.

    About the Author
    Katie Kapro is a Sufi and writer in the Intermountain West. When not writing, she can usually be found burying her face in sage in the foothills behind her house. Follow her on Twitter @kapro101

    Stevie P’s Postscript

    This article is incredibly relevant for both myself and everyone reading this, as I just launched the Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great Mystery School. It’s essentially a modern, online version of the ancient mystery schools that will help you integrate spiritual concepts into your daily life. The general “curriculum” (I use that term loosely) is based upon recurring themes I’ve had with individuals which they’ve found great value in, so I’m sure you’ll find value as well.

    Click here to find out more about the Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great Mystery School

    Much love.

    – Stevie P
     

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    The Blossom of Femininity

    blossoming femininity

    The dance of the yin and yang, feminine and masculine energy, has always been of great interest to me.

    What adds to the intrigue is how imbalanced these energies have been throughout history (his-story). The shadow side of the masculine has dominated and controlled, suppressing the feminine and relegating femininity to its own shadows.

    Since society doesn’t provide us with ideal versions of these energetic archetypes to put into practice, we must create our own.

    This is why I’ve been exploring and defining my own version of masculinity. And in doing so, one word seems to exemplify masculine, or yang energy: Giving.

    Helping, serving and supporting are all expressions of this true masculine/yang energy characterized by the spirit of giving. This interpretation of the divine masculine can take many forms, giving any type of love, helping someone in any way, material giving, the giving of undivided attention, emotional support (a shoulder to lean on)…etc. This kind of giving is unconditional and from a place of compassion, not fear-based or done in a “strings attached” manner.

    A major role of this true, giving masculine, in my opinion, is to provide a safe space for the divine feminine to thrive. A strong masculine energy rooted in love can give femininity, not only within women but also within men, a safe place to fully express itself and blossom. This is not possible with the assault of domination and control from the shadow masculine, which suppresses and squashes the fruits of femininity. The divine masculine must support the growth of the divine feminine (not work against it) in order for humanity to live more harmoniously. Our world urgently needs the blossoming of femininity and its defining qualities like intuition, creativity, holistic thinking, compassion and cooperation.

    In the spirit of this topic, these concepts are far better conveyed in more feminine, poetic language than masculine, hyper-rational prose. That’s why I’ll leave you with a poem…

    The Blossom of Femininity

    Too often we’ve seen the shadows
    Masculine
    Dominant and violent
    Feminine
    Deceptive and vain

    Forgive the fear
    It’s time we embody the archetypes
    Through the incarnation of love

    Giving
    Is the essence of masculinity
    The masculine must serve the feminine
    For the dance of duality to flow
    Not a servant-to-master dependence
    But out of the free spirit of giving
    The strength of providing
    Providing space for the feminine to blossom
    Providing safety for the feminine to express

    Just as the sun shines its light unconditionally
    Ever-giving energy to Gaia
    Our light must shine the same
    Unyielding and unconditional
    Nurturing intuition
    Cultivating compassion
    Harvesting harmony
    To engender the flowering of the heart
    And see humanity in bloom

     

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