How many times have you said that you wanted to start meditating but never followed through?
Or have you started a meditation routine, only to stop after a few days?
I’ve done both plenty of times.
Meditation is both the easiest habit to implement and the easiest habit to skip.
I always wanted to build a ritual of meditating as soon as I woke up every morning. But having a 15-20 minute meditation session hanging over my head, directly upon waking, was too daunting for me. Just the mere thought of it was too much for my lazy-half-asleep mind. So, like humans tend to do, I took the path of least resistance and skipped it most days.
Alas, before all hope was lost, I came up with a solution! (Does using “alas” make me sound sophisticated?)
In order to have a morning meditation practice that I could actually stick to, I developed the “21 Breath Salute.” And since the idea came to me, I’ve done it every single morning (#nodaysoff). It works for me because the idea of just taking 21 deep breaths isn’t intimidating at all. It’s easy to win that self-talk agreement (I know you do it too) when the task at hand seems easy. It plays out like, “Ok, I’m just gonna take 21 breaths and that’s it.”
You don’t have time to meditate? I bet you can spare 21 breaths at some point during your overly-dramatized busy day.
Don’t know how to meditate? Take 21 slow, deep breaths through your nose.
Stressed? Take 21 slow, deep breaths through your nose.
Feeling anxious or worried? Take 21 slow, deep breaths through your nose.
If you’re a human and you’re still alive, I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that you know how to breathe.
The 21 Breath Salute is not time consuming at all and incredibly simple to do. It’s a meditation so accessible that everyone from those with no previous meditation experience to veteran meditators can perform it and reap the benefits.
How to do the 21 Breath Salute
1. Sit somewhere comfortable, with your spine straight (I sit on the edge of my bed).
2. Close your eyes.
3. Inhale deeply through your nose (for about 5 seconds). Inhale into your belly and let your belly expand as you inhale. Allow your back to straighten and your head to rise towards the sky.
4. Pause for a second at the end of your inhale.
5. Exhale through your nose (for about 5 seconds). Gently push the air of your belly. Allow your spine to slightly round forward and your head to move slightly downward.
6. Pause for a second at the end of your exhale.
7. Repeat for 21 breaths.
8. After 21 breaths, place both of your hands over your heart and say “thank you” 3 times, feeling the gratitude in your heart as you say this.
9. Jump back into the world renewed and refreshed.
Here’s a video demonstration of it:
The Finer Points
To get the most out of this practice, do it before you do anything else in the morning. You’ll be in that magical state between sleep and waking, which is very conducive to mediation. I recommend sitting up so you don’t fall back asleep.
Breathing through your nose is important. It warms the air before entering the lungs and filters air much more than breathing through the mouth. According to ancient Chinese and Indian practices (who seem to get most things right), breathing through the nose enables you to effectively process chi or prana (life force energy). This is why breathing through the nose (and especially deep breathing) is so invigorating; it builds life force energy as opposed to sapping it like shallow mouth breathing does.
Don’t obsess over counting your breaths. If you lose count, just continue from the closest number you lost count at. It’s more about cultivating a state of stillness than breathing exactly 21 breaths.
Observe your thoughts, without attachment. You are the sky and your thoughts are just clouds passing by. Allow them to pass. Objectively watch them without attachment or judgment. This state of peaceful watchfulness is what meditation is all about.
21 long, deep breaths will take about 3-5 minutes. You’ll get a feel for the ideal length of inhales and exhales for yourself as you do it. That’s why I say about 5 seconds. Some people’s breaths will be shorter and some will be longer. (Inhale for about 5 seconds + 1 second pause + exhale for about 5 seconds + 1 second pause = 12 seconds X 21 breaths = around 252 seconds total)
Often by the 8th or 9th breath, my mind is pretty clear, so it’s effective as well as being short.
The 21 breath salute will, at the very least, calm your mind, no matter who you are. And I get to a place of complete, peaceful stillness most times. It’s a beautiful thing to start the day with a clear, undistracted mind. What you do when you wake up sets the momentum for the rest of the day. So start from a place of joyful tranquility, centeredness and presence and witness your day transform.
Let’s do a little test to display the power of deep breathing…
Stop reading right now, close your eyes and take 3 long, deep breaths through your nose.
Feel the difference?
And the more you do, the more powerful breath-work becomes.
Try out the 21 Breath Salute ASAP. It’s such a small commitment with tremendous benefits, so why not?
You probably have images of psychics with them lined up like they’re Magic: The Gathering cards.
Crystals are ubiquitous in New Age circles. And you might have even heard your “conscious” friends tout the benefits of crystals like they work divine miracles.
Let me clear the air first… Crystals are not a miracle healing solution (well, nothing really is). They work in subtle ways. To use nutrition as a metaphor, they’re comparable to dietary supplements. Just as supplements are designed to literally supplement a healthy diet, crystals supplement overall well-being. Why are crystals a supplement? Well, because the most powerful determining factor of your health is what you do on a regular basis (your thought-patterns, beliefs, diet, exercise habits…etc.). So don’t expect to exist in unconditional love if the only change in your life was dangling a rose quartz around your neck (it’ll help though).
Crystals are Living Things
Crystals are unique in that they grow, much like living things do. And they grow in specific geometric patterns (sacred geometry) depending on the type. Also, like most lifeforms on Earth, crystals are carbon-based. Crystals, though different from most things we consider “alive”, are really a form of living beings, each embodying a unique spirit. Once you start feeling the unique resonance of crystals, you can confirm this for yourself.
“In crystal we have a pure evidence of the existence of a formative life principle, and although in spite of everything we cannot understand the life of crystals – it is still a living being.” ~ Nikola Tesla
Those aren’t the words of some quixotic hippie on an acid trip, but of a scientist far ahead of his time, who Albert Einstein even considered to be the smartest man alive.
How Crystals Work
Crystals emit specific energies (each one is different), which interact with our energy fields. Since crystals hold certain energy patterns, this can act like a tuning fork, syncing our energy body to the resonance of the crystal. Remember, the base state of reality is a quantum soup of energy/frequency/vibration, constantly blending and interacting.
“If you want to find the secrets of the Universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” ~ Nikola Tesla
The bottom line is that science is only beginning to investigate nonphysical phenomena. But with what has been studied so far, there is undoubtedly something to it.
Firsthand Experience > Reading an Article
I’m not asking you to believe anything. I encourage you to experience this stuff for yourself. If you relax and still your mind enough, you will be able to undeniably feel the energy of crystals. Though types of crystals all have similar properties, every single crystal is unique. They all have a personal vibe to them, just as people do.
I was honestly a bit skeptical of crystals when I first heard about them. I’ve had crystals because they intrigued me, but I never truly got to feel their energy until I started doing the following practice.
Note: You can feel the energy of a crystal before reading about its properties or benefits. Doing it without previous knowledge of the crystal will eliminate any form of the placebo effect.
How to Read the Energy of Crystals
1. Take some deep breaths and bring yourself into a centered, meditative state.
2. Hold the crystal in the palm of your left hand (the left hand is the feminine, receptive hand).
3. Place your right hand over it.
4. Feel the energy of the crystal being received by your left hand.
5. Words, images, feelings or sensations will come to you. Allow them to flow without judgment from the mind.
6. Write down the qualities you felt the crystal exuding. Write down how you yourself felt as well.
Experience the unique feel of different crystals and you’ll find out for yourself that they all have personalities. You can experience, firsthand, that there’s more to crystal healing than wishful thinking.
This technique can be applied to many other things as well. I’ve recently been doing something similar with trees and even huge rocks and literally receiving messages from them (by just placing my hands on them and stilling my mind). A few years ago, if someone would’ve told me that a tree said something to them, I would’ve instantly deemed them crazy and proceeded to finish my beer. But personal experience (combined with critical analysis to make sure you’re not making things up) is a profound way of finding truth.
The above method is an effective means of obtaining firsthand experience regarding the qualities of different crystals and their unique benefits.
Don’t take my word for it though. Try it out for yourself.
I don’t own a TV. I don’t watch the news. I don’t pay attention to any of the bread and circuses. I’m too busy improving myself and those around me.
But word on the street is that it’s getting close to election time here in ‘merica.
People ask me what I think about Donald Trump running for president or whatever other WWE-like political stage show is going on. This inevitably leads to me saying “I’m not going to vote.”
Now before you fall off of your high horse in astonishment, let me explain… I choose not to vote, not out of ignorance, nor out of apathy (actually quite the opposite), but out of noncompliance with a broken, fundamentally corrupt and laughably ineffective system.
If given the choice between stabbing myself with a knife or stabbing myself with a fork, I would choose neither (after questioning why I would even stab myself in the first place).
C’mon, do you really think the votes are counted fairly after fiascos like the blatantly manipulated “Florida recount” of 2000? There’s obviously foul play going on, and digitizing the voting process makes it even easier to rig the game. It’s not even a popular vote anyway. People’s votes (supposedly) go to selecting members of the Electoral College, who then elect the president. (Another safeguard to make sure that only “selected” candidates are voted in?)
“Presidents are selected, not elected.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Isn’t it ironic that most people feel like their opinion is negligible when it comes to most things? But in terms of voting (which is a blatantly rigged game), they fall for the fairy tale that their vote counts?
When I tell people I don’t vote, I get two predictable reactions…
Some people say “If you don’t exercise your right to vote, then you don’t have a right to criticize anything.” But I would contend that if we have the right to vote, shouldn’t we also have the right to NOT vote? Mandatory compliance for the entire population is the antithesis of freedom. This leads into the next one.
Other people say “If you don’t like it, then leave.” Well, America was founded on the principle that the people have the right to criticize the government, and the right to overthrow it if it becomes tyrannical. Then there’s that little freedom of speech thing that just so happens to be the first amendment. If you live in a country where you can’t criticize the government, you’re in a 1984-like nightmare. I’d rather not slide down that slippery slope.
“To criticize one’s country is to do it a service …. Criticism, in short, is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism – a higher form of patriotism, I believe, than the familiar rituals and national adulation.” – U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright
The Two Main Reasons Why I’m Not Voting
1. The System is Broken
The entire political system in the US is basically a branch of the big banks. The vast majority of senators are lap dogs for big corporations (lobbying is just a fancy way of saying bribery). And the entire hierarchy is designed so that the most obedient to those interests rise to the top. Anyone who tries to bring about any real change from within it is either silenced into submission or converted into another spineless drone dancing the puppet master’s dance.
If you can’t see that there’s a massive conspiracy at hand, you’re in deep, deep denial. This is a call for you to wake up.
Here’s just the tip of the iceberg of deceit:
The US has unlimited money for wars, but never enough to feed the poor? How’s that for priorities?
Under the NDAA act (passed by Obama in 2012), any American who is suspected (not even proven) to be a terrorist can be indefinitely detained. (New definitions of terrorist include things like “blaming the government”, “traveling an illogical distance” and “paying with cash.”)
Agent provocateurs, who often turn out to be DHS (Department of Homeland Security) agents, stir up violence at otherwise peaceful protests so that the media can claim the movement to be violent. (See: Occupy Wall Street, Ferguson…etc.)
There is a revolving door with the FDA, big pharma and Monsanto (creating severe corruption regarding food, health, nutrition and drug policies).
There is a revolving door with the FED and the big banks (creating severe corruption regarding economic policies).
The military industrial complex stages and allows horrific false flag attacks on US soil as an excuse to invade foreign countries. (Research: Sinking of the Lusitania to enter WWI, Pearl Harbor for WWII, the Gulf on Tonkin incident for Vietnam, 9/11 for the endless war on terror and occupation of the middle east we’re seeing today…etc.) This is known as Hegelian dialectic, or Problem-Reaction-Solution.
The US prison population was 2,220,300 (1 in every 110 US citizens), as of the end of 2014. This is by far the most out of any country in the world and the number is even higher now. Most of these people are imprisoned for nonviolent crimes. Oh, and then there’s the alarmingly large proportion of minorities in prison (another byproduct systematic racism).
Can you get any more dysfunctional and deceptive? Everything that’s projected at us is one big, theatrical lie. To even give such an institution legitimacy is an insult to our intrinsic nature as sovereign beings.
Don’t get caught up in “what’s wrong” though. Running around like a fearful, paranoid conspiracy theorist won’t help. You just need to be aware of the forces holding you back in order to transcend them.
We must focus on building a better system rather than trying to repair a hopelessly broken one.
If a glass breaks, do you waste your time trying to glue all of the pieces back together? Of course not. You get a new glass!
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Dan Millman
Is Elon Musk trying to change the auto-industry from the inside? Is he trying to take over Ford or Chevy? No, he’s creating better alternatives (through Tesla Motors) that are rendering the traditional technologies futile.
And really, all of the bullshit legislation and asinine topics of discussion are akin to switching chairs around on the Titanic. We need to change the fundamental paradigms which western society is based upon. We need a monetary system that does not funnel wealth into the hands of a few. We need energy that creates abundance as opposed to limitation. We need to embrace love, as opposed to being conditioned from cradle-to-grave with fear.
2. The Power of Noncompliance
“Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” – Sun Tzu
For some reason, most Americans have been conditioned to believe that peaceful noncompliance isn’t an effective driver of change. Quite the opposite is true. This false belief has been propagated because, when used properly, it’s an immensely effective force.
Peaceful resistance is the only way to create positive, lasting change. Noncompliance is the kryptonite of any control system.
No law, no system, no government can be implemented unless people COMPLY with it. Any manifestation of a control system cannot exist without our acquiescence.
“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Society is overwhelmingly shaped by acts, not laws. People are inspired through the heart, not necessarily through documents and signatures. What law did Gandhi pass? What law did MLK pass? Did Rosa Parks go through a legislative process? Hell no. She practiced peaceful noncompliance by refusing to sit in the back of the bus. And it was a huge moral victory.
We can also look at the events that have shaped society in more negative ways. Look at 9/11. It was a false-flag attack engineered to instill fear within the population (along with being an excuse to occupy the Middle East). Ever since that tragic day, Americans have been literally programmed with fear.
We need to take action to spark positive change, along the lines of Gandhi and MLK.
In the phenomenal novel The Fifth Sacred Thing, a utopian(ish) society neutralizes the invasion of a dystopian society through noncompliance. The utopian society had built better alternatives in every aspect of living. When the armed invaders came, they were met with peaceful noncompliance. At first, some were killed for not obeying orders. But eventually, the invading army recognized that the place they had invaded provided a better life than they could have imagined back home. The strategy of peaceful resistance caused the hierarchy of the violent invaders to implode from within.
You can’t fight fire with fire. It must be put out with water. Noncompliance is that water.
What would happen if the majority of the population refused to vote? Not out of apathy, but out of noncompliance with a system that they don’t agree with. And letting it be known, emphatically, on top of that. (See the “call to action” at the bottom of this article to do just that.) Everyone would be forced to take a long, hard look and question even the most fundamental beliefs that the government is based upon. When noncompliance hits a tipping point, the established system of government would have no choice but to be uprooted and rebuilt from the ground up.
And don’t think you don’t matter in the grand scheme of things (yes, you reading this). You most certainly do play a part. Just as an ocean is a collection of individual drops, a nation is but a collection of individual people.
“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.” – Voltaire
It’s about time we started an avalanche of positive change.
Change starts from within. There must first be internal change for there to be any real, lasting external change. That’s why Gandhi said, “Be the change we wish to see in the world,” not “Hope someone else will come along and change things for you.” (Which is the trap most Americans have fallen into.)
Want Real Change?
Wake up to the fact that everything being projected at us is one big, theatrical illusion.
Do the inner work – Get to know yourself, meditate, journal, spend some alone time in nature…etc. Establish some self-awareness and recognize your patterns. Why do you think society keeps us distracted and focusing on utter nonsense 24/7? Because once we go within, the game is up.
Clear your demons – From a place of awareness, you’ll be able to address the fears, traumas and limiting beliefs that are holding you back.
Connect with love – Connect with the essence of love within you (it’s there), which is the underlying component of everything (aka God, Source, the Infinite…etc.). With this connection, love will be the main motivating force in your life, as opposed to fear.
Practice small acts of kindness every day – Do not underestimate the power of small acts of kindness done consistently.
Start expressing your gifts, whatever they may be – Some people are great architects, some are great engineers, some are great healers, some are great writers, some are great permaculturists…etc. Everyone has a unique gift to share with the world. We all have special talents that will become building blocks in creating a better world. You just have to do the inner work so it can express itself.
Watch society change from the inside out – When we do the inner work, we will transform, then communities will inevitably transform and eventually the world as well. Change happens from the inside out, not the outside in (and especially not from the “top” down). What will this look like exactly? I don’t think we can even imagine the exact details of it from where we’re at right now. But as MLK famously stated, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
We’ve been focusing all of our energy on external authority figures for so long that we can’t even fathom what the world would look like if we all stepped into our inherent power. And that is exactly what needs to happen for any real change to take place.
Stop focusing on what, deep down, you know to be illusory and embody the change.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
We hold the key to change, and it lies within.
We shape society based on our daily actions, not by hoping someone else will come and save us.
And that’s why I’m not voting.
– Stevie P!
How Real Change Actually Takes Place
CALL TO ACTION
If you don’t want to vote, out of noncompliance (not apathy), you can do these two things to have your voice heard: (Imagine what would happen if thousands of people did this.)
Here’s a general script for the comment: (You can copy this or create your own, with your own name of course)
Dear US Government,
I’m not voting in the presidential election, not out of apathy, but out of noncompliance. I do not wish to give legitimacy to a fundamentally corrupt system.
Every president presented to us has been SELECTED by the shadowy and deceptive powers that (wanna)be. The interests of the people have taken a backseat to the interest of big banks, big corporations, big pharma, the military industrial complex, the oil companies…etc.
I also do not have faith in the voting system. It is a rigged game and there never really was a truly popular vote.
I’m grateful, however, that I at least have the right to express this. I wish to let it be known that I am not voting out of noncompliance.
After about 5 months of inspirited vagabondism all over this beautiful planet, I’ve decided to stop traveling (for now).
What? Why? Are you crazy? Don’t you want to keep traveling the world?
Not really, at least for this phase of my life.
I had a myriad of amazing experiences, met hundreds of wonderful people, discovered so much about myself and gained an enormous amount of clarity regarding, well, everything. In short, I got what I was looking for (but of course, the journey now continues in other ways).
How I Decided Where to Go
My travels were guided by places that were calling me. I would get these deep, intuitive callings to go places. And that’s what I followed, no matter what. Money, distance and convenience all took a back seat while I faithfully navigated via my inner compass.
Every place was special and served as an auspicious co-conspirator for my personal evolution. They all played a role that I never would have imagined if I didn’t follow “the calling.”
“There is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.” ~ Albert Einstein
Why I Stopped Traveling
I stopped traveling because no particular place is calling me right now.
However, that calling is now coming in the form of new endeavors (there are big things on the horizon for Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great) and building relationships with kindred spirits.
I have an incredible pull coming from the depths of my being. So that’s my focus right now. That is the theme of this chapter of my life.
Where in the World was Stephen Parato?
Here’s the general list of places I went to (notice that most of it doesn’t make sense from a strictly logical standpoint):
Hvar Island, Croatia
Pune, India (at the Osho International Meditation Resort)
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Arambol, Goa, India
Iquitos, Peru (and the Peruvian Amazon)
Isla Del Sol & Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
Panama City, Panama
Bocas Del Toro, Panama
Isla Basimentos, Panama
San Jose, Costa Rica
Uvita, Costa Rica (and Envision festival)
I took a bunch of buses, a few trains and 13 flights throughout those 5 months (like a so-rad, pro-nomad).
I stayed everywhere from hostels, to Airbnb places, to guest houses and even a fancy hotel in Panama City for a night.
Such diversity of life experiences allows me to appreciate everything more, develop the perspective to be able to relate to anyone and evolve into the greatest version of myself.
Traveling for the Sake of Traveling
Since no place is truly calling me right now, if I were to keep gallivanting around, I would just be traveling for the sake of traveling. Doing that would actually be going against my intuitive guidance (which is pointing me towards new projects and building relationships, not more travel). And we all know what happens when we ignore our intuition.
If you’re traveling for the sake of traveling, are you really being guided by your internal compass? Are you traveling just so you can take beautiful Instagram pictures so that everyone thinks you’re cool? These are questions I’ve periodically asked myself. Notice when your lifestyle choices are based upon other people, or society, instead of your own inner guidance.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” ~ Steve Jobs
I’ve learned to trust my intuition and trust the process of life. When I do, life is infinitely more fulfilling and magical. On the surface, continuing to travel seems exciting, but I know that I’m entering into a different phase right now. I know that as I walk this path of inner truth, opportunities will present themselves that I never would have imagined beforehand.
What is Calling You?
Get in tune with what is calling you. Be brutally honest with yourself.
What do you have a deep, irresistible calling towards?
Who cares what anyone else tells you? Live based on your own genuine, intuitive (heart-based) desires otherwise you’ll forever be a slave to other people and external forces.
The calling will be different for everyone. For you, it may be be starting a family, or learning a new language or traveling to the country where your grandparents were born. We’re all utterly unique, on different journeys and at different stages of our own hero’s journey.
I found myself wading into the alluring blue-green Caribbean Sea, with my right hand on a surfboard and my eyes fixated on an immense wave approaching. I’ll admit, it was a bit intimidating: an ominous undulation, already taller than me, quickly rising out of the infinity of liquid power. But the fear within, which had risen along with the wave itself, was immediately transmuted into childlike excitement as I snapped into action, spinning the surfboard around and hopping on, belly first.
Exuding exuberance, I glanced over my right shoulder to see the wave swiftly advancing toward me. My warrior ethos kicked in and I paddled with powerful, staunch strokes, building just enough momentum right as the wave tasted my heels. The wall of water surged upon me, thrusting me into a realm of slowed time and total focus. The board was no longer a lifeless object, but a kindred spirit, conspiring to maximize my moment. It was a beautiful communion between beings, conceived through coalescence and driven by synergy.
With a blast of pizzazz, I popped up onto my feet, landing in the classic surfer stance (totally, dude). What a feeling! The inner child within me was jumping for joy as I cruised towards the shore with a beaming smile on my face.
That was the conclusion of my very first surfing lesson. It was a true climax of bliss, fueled by the magical phenomenon of… LEARNING.
Learning is an integral element of the human experience.
We came into this life to learn and grow. And without learning, no growth is possible.
All inhibitors of learning and growth (stagnation, monotony, boredom, fear, comfort zones…etc) drain the joy out of life and deaden the spirit. On the other hand, learning, growth, progress and perpetual new experiences infuse life with a euphoric vivacity. This feeling of elation is a tell-tale sign that you’re in alignment with your inner truth.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch
Life’s tendency is toward progression. Life is defined by growth. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.
Learning is a precursor to growth and an undeniable catalyst of happiness.
The act of learning doesn’t have to be strictly intellectual either. If it’s something physical, like surfing, your mind and body work together in the learning process. This weaves threads of cooperative harmony through all levels of being.
It is undeniable that learning is crucial to the human experience. Learn to love learning and your life has no choice but to change for the better.
Think about how good improvement feels. Think about how good personal evolution feels. That feeling is the child of learning and growth.
Be Willing, Eager and Open to Learning
Willingness to learn is as equally important as the learning process itself. If you’re open and eager enough, you will learn anything you wish to.
Three Manifestations of Willingness that Will Greatly Accelerate Your Life Learning Process
Embrace curiosity – Einstein put it perfectly when he said, ““I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
Listen – Listen to what other people have to say, instead of talking all of the time. Listen intently, listen with curiosity and listen with an open mind.
Ask questions – Question everything and entertain any idea.
Be willing, eager and open to learning and the doors of understanding will eagerly open to you.
There are, of course, ways to refine and streamline the learning process as well.
An effective model for rapid learning is Tim Ferriss’ D.S.S.S. strategy from his book The Four Hour Chef. The acronym D.S.S.S. stands for Deconstruct, Selection, Sequencing, and Stakes.
Deconstruct “What are the minimum learnable units, the LEGO blocks, I should be starting with?
Selection “Which 20% of the blocks should I focus on for 80% or more of the outcome I want?
Sequencing “In what order should I learn the blocks?”
Stakes “How do I set up stakes to create real consequences and guarantee I follow the program?”
The human attention span is not very long, so learning in short stints (30-60 minutes at a time, with short breaks in between) is a great way to leverage this. The percentage of information you’re able to retain drops in the middle of any learning session. This is why most people only remember the beginning and end of a long, study marathon. So instead of trudging through things for hours, engaging in short sessions with breaks allows you to function at maximum capacity and actually get more done. Plus, it just feels better (which is a subtle hint itself).
This is why many schools found it more effective to have 50-minute classes, because after that point, kids stop paying attention.
I personally thrive off of getting things done in 20-30 minute chunks, followed by breaks. This is a great strategy for learning, writing and really accomplishing anything.
Tim Ferriss (again) beautifully charts this phenomenon in The Four Hour Chef:
Why Surfing is the Perfect Medium for Learning
Surfing is both physical and mental – Surfing simultaneously engages the body and mind, and is healthy for both. You use both simultaneously, which creates harmony between the two. Plus, it’s a form of exercise (which, as everyone knows, has a ton of benefits itself).
Nature therapy – You’re outside and connected with nature while you’re learning. You get your feet in the sand (grounding/Earthing), the sun on your face (Vitamin D), the breeze in your hair and you’re in the water (which comes with benefits too). It’s a beautiful, healthy combination of learning and the four earthly elements.
Surfing engages the warrior ethos in a healthy manner – It’s a positive outlet for your warrior spirit. Surfing is both a physical battle and a cooperation between you and the ocean. For those like myself who have a deep connection with the warrior archetype, positive expressions of it are necessary for your well-being. For too long, the warrior ethos of humanity has been relegated to war and other forms of senseless violence. Learning to surf is also learning to bring out your warrior ethos in a healthy way.
As you can tell, I love learning. And learning how to surf was a tremendous experience for me.
Keep learning. Keep growing. Find happiness along the journey of continuous expansion.
On the surface, it seems pretentious and annoying – flocks of foreigners, swooping in on new (to them) lands, taking more pictures than they’ll be able to look at in five lifetimes and throwing their money at local knickknacks that don’t really serve any purpose; all while looking laughably out of place.
But tourism as we see it today is a symptom of transition. People are starting to become interested in different places, different cultures and different ideas. And that’s a beautiful thing. It’s just that most folks haven’t yet honed their inner guidance system enough to proficiently pilot their newfound curiosity through this hybridized world of natural wonder infused with exponentially increasing technology.
The old paradigm, which never served humanity or our planet in the first place, is fading away before our very eyes. We’re moving away from the days of people comfortably sitting in their “identity boxes” (nationality, sex, race, religion…etc.), ignorantly fearful of those within other “identity boxes.” Two world travelers, even from the most different places imaginable, will never go to war against one another. Why? They’ve seen and experienced enough to realize that, at the end of the day, we’re all humans, co-inhabiting this big floating rock. Ignorance is the prerequisite for division-based violence. And in today’s transparent, global society, the dark shadows of ignorance are quickly being illuminated out of existence.
We (the people, not the lawmakers) are also harmonizing many areas of the world toward a more peaceful vibration. This is the flip-side of the utter monstrosity that was colonial imperialism/vampirism. Tourism can be corny, annoying and even mildly exploitative at times, but it’s a step in the right direction. The underlying intentions of tourism (curiosity, wonder and adventure of everyday people) are a far cry from the intent of organized oppression and thievery of entire continents by those in power.
We’re waking up to the fact that we’re all humans, sharing this planet. A reinvigorated, healthy respect for one another, as well as Pachamama (Mother Earth), is sweeping through our collective consciousness. Today’s tourism, tinged with selfie sticks and knickknacks, is just a silly bridge between the old and the new.
– Stevie P
PS – This post wouldn’t be complete without a selfie of my own…
Master Shaman Alberto whistling an icaro into my cup of ayahuasca
Ayahuasca… You’ve probably heard the word recently.
The spirit vine, as it’s called, has been used traditionally by Amazonian shamans for (at least) thousands of years. Ayahuasca is typically consumed as a brew that has entheogenic properties and contains DMT (Dimethyltryptamine aka the spirit molecule). Now, with a global awakening in progress, Ayahuasca’s profound spiritual effects are now attracting more and more westerners. Although it may seem like it’s the latest trendy beverage in the consciousness niche of the internet, Ayahuasca is in another realm (literally) compared to your health food store kombucha.
I very recently went on an Ayahuasca retreat and I already feel that it has fundamentally changed my life for the better. Much of this inner shift has come in ways which were previously unfathomable to me, which further adds to the alluring aura of the spirit vine.
If you’re skeptical, do not dismiss Ayahuasca as a “drug” offhand. It is the complete antithesis of an escape and has been consistently shown to break drug addictions. Many plants provided by Mother Nature harbor potent healing properties and Ayahuasca is a prime example of this.
Here are 16 things you need to know about Ayahuasca. This isn’t a copy/pasted list of generic facts and you won’t find this type of information on Wikipedia. This article is a synthesis of some of my firsthand experience (so far). And funnily enough, you can apply most of this list to life in general, making it practical and pragmatic for everyone (even if you have no interest in doing Ayahuasca).
1. The stronger Ayahuasca calls you, the more ready you are for it.
Every single person who I’ve talked to that has communed with Ayahuasca has said that it was calling them in some way, shape or form. This is a sign that you’re ready for the medicine and it happened with me as well. For the last 2 years, the word “Ayahuasca” kept popping up everywhere for me (articles, books, people mentioning it…etc.). It eventually got to the point where I had to heed the call.
2. Ayahuasca is different for everyone.
Like everything in life, Ayahuasca is unique to each person. And that’s the beauty of it. Some people get a lot of visuals and some get more feelings; some have difficult experiences and some have joyous experiences beyond their wildest dreams. Ayahuasca provides a dynamic experience that gives you exactly what you need, which is the next point.
3. Ayahuasca will give you exactly what you need.
Along with being unique to each individual, Ayahuasca gives everyone exactly what they need. If you have a major limiting belief regarding money, Ayahuasca will address it. If you’re too ego-driven, Ayahuasca will put your ego in its place. A great example of “getting exactly what you need” was the experience of my roommate at the retreat. He was skeptical of Ayahuasca in the beginning and a bit frustrated because he didn’t experience much during the first three ceremonies. But the fourth ceremony turned out to be an epic journey for him. He said that he went “to the singularity and back,” saw “everything” and now believes in God (not the religious God, but the “God energy” which is the everythingness/nothingness/source that everything comes out of). He even told people that he went from a rigid atheist to openly spiritual in less than 24 hours, which is exactly what he needed.
4. You must relax into Ayahuasca to maximize the experience.
Waiting for Ayahuasca to kick in (after drinking it) is a lesson in and of itself. You won’t get deep into the medicine if you’re resistant, fearful and tense. You need to let go and surrender to it, which is excruciatingly difficult for the control-craving, egoic mind. Surrender is often thought of as negative in Western culture, but it’s not. It’s an act of trusting and letting go of all fear. When you take a train, do you try to stop it, turn it, or constantly look out the window to make sure it’s moving correctly? No, you trust that it’s taking you to your destination. In this context, Ayahuasca can be thought of as a train to unconditional love.
5. You have to meet Ayahuasca halfway.
Like I just described, you have to relax into the medicine for it to fully work. Ayahuasca will be most effective when you help out from your side. Also, after the ceremonies, it’s up to you to carry the momentum into your daily life. Although Ayahuasca does a lot of work behind the scenes, it’s also your responsibility to integrate your experiences, break out of patterns that were limiting you and continue evolving into the best version of yourself.
Think of it like getting a boost to climb over a wall. You may get some help in the form of a boost, but it’s ultimately up to you to grab the wall and climb over.
6. Ayahuasca should be treated as sacred.
It’s not a recreational drug. It’s not an escape from reality (quite the opposite in fact). Ayahuasca is a sacred plant that is most effective when used ceremonially. It also does not mix well with a lot of other substances, which is why you should only consume it with people who know what they’re doing.
7. Ayahuasca will be one of the most unique experiences of your life.
An Ayahuasca journey is so different, indescribably different, from the physical reality you’re accustomed to. Space and time become irrelevant slipstreams as you explore the most fantastic realms of existence. Words only point in the general direction of the experience, so I’ll just leave it at that.
8. The terror equals the ecstasy.
One thing that Ayahuasca has become infamous for is the terrifying experiences it can deliver. Sure, it might be scary at times, but every new realm we enter can be scary before we learn how to navigate them. Think about the first time you went into a gym. I remember being terrified, not knowing how anything worked and thinking everyone was watching me. But as I learned how to navigate the gym realm, the fear faded away.
Another dimension of this is that in order for a tree to grow tall, it must first have deep roots. The same applies to us; we must all go into our roots, our darkness, in order to grow towards the light. It’s all a balance. If you want to get metaphysical, we only experience this balance of both sides because we live in duality right now.
And lastly, there’s really nothing to fear, as everything you experience is a part of you (which is the next point). Also, remember that “Infinite love is the only truth, everything else is illusion.”
9. It’s all within you.
Everything you experience on Ayahuasca is something within you. Every scary thing you experience is a part of your psyche. Every battle is you against you, so there is nothing to fear. Fear is actually what creates the disharmony. An Ayahuasca journey is a matter of unraveling the disharmony within.
Life in general is similar, with everything in external reality being a reflection of internal reality. Change the inner, and the external changes as a direct result. Ayahuasca is just a direct, intense means of changing the internal.
10. Ayahuasca will show you things you’ve hidden deep within.
Things that you’ve kept hidden from yourself will be brought to the surface and released. You may not even consciously know it until they come up and are healed. So many people have become experts at deceiving themselves and Ayahuasca uncovers the deceit before your very eyes (or before your third eye haha).
11. All of your preconceived notions will be shattered.
Your sense of possibility will be wide open after an Ayahuasca journey. All of your fundamental assumptions will be tested and all of your limiting beliefs will be dropped. Yes, it’s that mind-blowing.
12. You will become a better person.
Ayahuasca releases what doesn’t serve you and aligns you with the harmonious energy of love, opening you up to continuous growth and evolution. I can already feel that I’m a significantly improved person now, less than a week after my Ayahuasca retreat.
13. It takes weeks and months for the physical body and physical reality to fully catch up to the energetic changes made.
Ayahuasca does most of its work in the energetic realms and the energetic reality is the template from which the physical manifests. However, the physical (being physical) is much more slow and rigid than the non-physical. As a result, changes which are immediate energetically take a while to physically come to fruition. This is why many people experience the most profound changes in their daily physical life during the weeks and months after taking Ayahuasca.
14. Ayahuasca is not the be-all and end-all of personal growth and healing.
Ayahuasca is just another modality for self-improvement. There’s no need to get lost in it. It’s tremendously effective and does a lot of work in a short period of time, but it’s not the only way. There are an infinite amount of ways to reach any goal.
15. Ayahuasca tastes nasty.
I just want to throw this out there; Ayahuasca tastes like a combination of tobacco juice and stale espresso, with the consistency and texture of sludge. But don’t let this minor detail deter you from one of the most profound experiences of your life. You can get it down.
16. Choose a safe, reputable place to consume Ayahuasca.
Ayahuasca opens you up energetically and can make physical reality seem far, far away. Because of this, you’re much more open on every level, for better or worse. So choose to be open for the better. Don’t put yourself in a vulnerable state around people who don’t have your best interest in mind.
If Ayahuasca is calling you, I would highly recommend you to do it with Blue Morpho (the organization that I did my retreat with). They provide the best environment possible and their staff is among the kindest, most helpful people I’ve ever met.
Note that this is not a comprehensive list. Ayahuasca is so dynamic and so profound that fully describing every detail of it would be next to impossible. I just had to stop somewhere before this post turned into its own book.
This time of year can bring some dreariness to the soul as you look out the window and see an abundance of one color: grey. Grey streets, grey sky, grey and bare trees. And this may leave you feeling a little grey and dreary yourself.
Consider your neighbor whose sunny disposition transgresses time and season. What is it that makes them have that zeal and zest for life that, right now, you just can’t seem to catch hold of?
Well, it’s different for everyone, but chances are your neighbor may have formed some habits you have not been introduced to quite yet. These habits are what differentiate the doers from the observers.
If you feel like maybe you’ve lost some of your zeal, keep reading for encouragement that will help rekindle your passions. Don’t spend life sitting on the sidelines and watching other people take advantage of life. Use these seven ways to be more passionate about the life you are living:
1. Take a Self-Evaluation
Getting to know yourself is key to understanding what will help you become more passionate about life. By taking a self-evaluation, you’ll begin to understand the areas of your life you value and that give you energy. When you find out what gives you energy, you find your passion. Ask yourself these questions:
• When do I feel most alive? When do I not?
• When do I feel most like myself?
• Who inspires me and why?
• What are my biggest talents?
• What am I most afraid of?
• Where do I spend most of my time, and am I happy with that?
• Where would I like to go, and what would I like to do?
• What do I value?
Writing your answers down can help clarify your thoughts and will give you good records to review when necessary.
2. Make Goals
Once you’ve discovered some of the areas you want to grow in, make goals to get there. Remember to make them SMART, as in specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. If you feel the greatest when you are writing but have insecurities about your abilities or just need some practice, consider taking a class or joining a group of other writers.
3. Simplify Your Lifestyle
To achieve anything, you’ve got to make way for it. This means decluttering your life is essential. Take inventory of the activities you and your family participate in. Include work time and work functions when creating your mental and/or physical list. If there are areas in your life that take away from your prime values, it may be time to cross them off the list or at least not let them have as much influence on your day-to-day schedule.
4. Seek out Opportunities to Use Your Gifts
Practice makes perfect, right? So seek out opportunities to use your gifts and abilities. As you use them more, you’ll become more comfortable with them and the cycle will continue — much to your benefit. And who knows? Depending on your gift, you may be able to make a business out of it, which would be great for your mental health as well as your wallet.
5. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
There are going to be times when you fail. That’s part of it, but learning to not take yourself too seriously can help you laugh at the times when you struggle. Most situations are not life and death, so don’t act like they are. Take things in stride, and you’ll find yourself better off for it.
6. Learn When to Say “No”
Even when you start simplifying your life and crossing things off your list that aren’t helping you get to your end goal, people are going to ask you to do or commit to other things. When this happens, get comfortable with politely saying, “No.”
7. Get Past Fear
Sometimes what keeps us from trying anything at all is fear. Fear of failure. Fear that others will make fun of you. Fear that you won’t make any money or you may even lose some. Fear that your friends and family won’t support it. And the list continues.
The best way to overcome fear, though, is to meet it straight on. As Babe Ruth once put it: “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”
If you’d like to get some of that dreariness out and rekindle your fire and passion for life, start using these seven ways to do just that. And don’t wait for tomorrow. Do it today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Megan Ray Nichols is passionate about writing and science. She frequently discusses scientific news on her blog, Schooled By Science. On clear nights she likes to gaze at the beauty in the universe with her telescope.
Up until very recently, I would judge people… A lot.
Just when I thought I was “spiritually evolved” and free from my ego, it would sneak in through the back door and whisper things about other people like “They’re so closed-minded. How can they not see that? I’m better.”
Judgment is an egocentric, energy-sapping distraction that inhibits everyone’s freedom.
Now whenever I have the inclination to judge people, I remind myself:
1. I’m only judging other people because it’s an outward manifestation of self-judgment.
2. Whatever I’m bothered by is a reflection of something within me that I need to address.
3. It’s none of my business what anyone else does. Everyone is a sovereign being on their own journey. Thinking there is a right/best way to live is an insult to uniqueness and laughably ignorant.
The Solutions (How to Let Go of Judgment like 1,2,3)
1. Find the root of self-judgment by answering these questions: How am I judging myself? Why am I judging myself in the first place?
Directly address these questions and change the underlying belief. Here’s my personal example:
I have long judged myself with the belief pattern “I’m not good enough yet. I can do better.” I can be very hard on myself and I put pressure on myself to constantly excel at everything. A lot of this self-judgment stems from my childhood experiences (like most ingrained beliefs). After a soccer game, for example, my dad would say things like “It’s good that you scored a goal, but you could have scored another one.” Or if I got a 90% on a test at school: “It’s good that you got a 90% on the test, but you got that easy question wrong.” I eventually took these on as self-criticisms and have kept tremendous pressure on myself for most of my life. Nothing was ever good enough. This self-judgment can manifest in many ways if I’m caught in my ego, mostly in the form of being hyper-sensitive to criticism or comparing myself to others (feeling either superior or inferior based on whatever qualities are being compared).
The Release (Awareness + New Belief)
Since I’ve become aware of the root belief, I’m able to “catch” the judgment and it now disappears on the spot (it’s coming up less and less frequently too).
I’ve also been using an affirmation to release this self-critical belief pattern. I say this to myself every day, and the self-criticism is loosening its grip on me: I love myself AS I AM RIGHT NOW.
This all applies to the fear of being judged as well. Fear of judgment from others only exists because you’re judging yourself first. Find the root of the self-judgment, release it and allow yourself to be.
2. Find the internal cause of external judgment by asking: What within me is this circumstance triggering?
I see a lot of people I know getting engaged and married. And this triggers judgment within me. I view it as people blindly following what society tells us to do, giving up their freedom and binding themselves with (fear-based) oaths and legalities instead of being together out of pure love.
Note: This is my opinion. I’m not saying I’m right (or that you should think the same way I do). I’m merely using the subject of marriage as an example of a trigger for me.
Engagement and marriage trigger three things within me. The first is my desire for maximum freedom. Whenever I interpret something as a “loss of freedom,” I get triggered. The irony of this is that by being judgmental, I become a slave to my ego. Ha!
The second aspect is that it’s a way for my ego to feel superior. My ego would say things like “I’m too smart to fall into those societal traps which aren’t working out for most people. Don’t they know that marriage started as a political tool to create alliances? Or that engagement rings are a scam created by De Beers? Well, I do.” The ego will use any fuel it can get to prop itself up.
And the third thing it triggers is the fact that I’ve never had a long-term intimate relationship (yet). This is because I’ve held opposing beliefs of a lifelong relationship being “less free,” while simultaneously desiring a life partner.
The Release (Awareness + New Belief)
I’m in the process of reconciling those seemingly opposing beliefs regarding relationships. I now firmly believe that I can have a life partner without giving up any freedom. It just won’t be exactly according to the (obviously failing) rigid script of western society.
And you know what? This subtle shift in my underlying beliefs is already working. I’m not triggered as much anymore and I’m attracting amazing people into my life.
3. Allow, allow, allow.
Allow everyone else to just be. There is no one-size-fits-all way of living. The world already has too many people telling others what to do. We’re all here, as unique aspects of Source, to spur its continuous evolution through new viewpoints and diverse experiences. Allowing is in harmony with that, control is not.
I know that I can’t control anyone (nor would I really want to, to be honest). The only thing I can do is INSPIRE people based on what I’m doing with myself!
So, like with everything else in this physical reality, the only way out is in. Do the inner work and the external takes care of itself.
Let’s all put our gavels down and frolic in freedom.