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Coffee Mindfulness Meditation

coffee mindfulness

Mindfulness is the very most important state to be in.

Literally everything else in life is hinged upon mindfulness (or lack thereof).

When you’re mindful, you’re fully immersed in what you’re doing, completely present and conscious of your own state of being. This not only allows you to more fully engage in life, but also puts you in a position of power to consciously choose your actions and reactions in every moment. So basically, when you’re mindful, you live life in high definition, immersed in each moment, while exercising your superpower of choice. Who wouldn’t want that?

I mean, it’s no coincidence that the core philosophies of many spiritual teachers focus on mindfulness (Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Lao Tzu, Osho, Thich Nhat Han, Wayne Dyer…etc.). Even Tim Ferriss has found that a regular meditation/mindfulness practice is the biggest commonality among top performers in all fields. So yes, it’s that important and life-enhancing.

Enjoy Your Mindfulness Practice

A thoroughly enjoyable way to practice mindfulness is through eating or drinking, particularly with commonly abused substances which alter your physiological or mental state (coffee and alcohol being the biggest ones in modern western culture).

The practice I’m about to share with you is a coffee/caffeine mindfulness meditation. Coffee is essentially an acceptable drug in our modern Western society. It’s an intrinsic part of our culture that is heavily abused in most cases. The caffeine in coffee stimulates the adrenal glands, which produce adrenaline and puts us in fight or flight mode (activation of the sympathetic nervous system). While this state can be beneficial in small doses, it can wreak havoc if it’s out of balance.

This coffee mindfulness meditation will allow you to actually feel the effects of coffee like you’ve never felt before. Most of us drink coffee as we stare at our phones, computers or the tv, distracted to the point where we’re completely oblivious to our physical, mental and emotional states. Then after drinking coffee, we throw ourselves into the fray of distractions, work, technology and responsibility-juggling of life. This lifestyle of distracted consumption creates an unconscious, auto-pilot existence which often slides into imbalanced, disharmonious and destructive behaviors.

Simply being mindful of what you consume is the solution. From this place of hyper-awareness, you’ll be able to thoroughly enjoy the effects of coffee/caffeine and become conscious of your consumption of it (if you choose to consume it at all).

The Coffee Mindfulness Meditation

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 a cup of coffee – Focus on the subtleties of the taste, the texture, the temperature, the smell…etc. Deeply immerse yourself in the experience of drinking coffee.

3. When you’re finished drinking the cup of coffee, 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 coffee 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, heat, coolness 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 with a renewed sense of mindfulness.

Keep in mind that the effects really start to kick in at about the 15 minute mark.

If you can’t feel anything, you’re either lost in thought or you drink too much coffee and have a really high tolerance. Take a day off from caffeine and try this meditation again after doing that.

This practice is superb for cultivating a sense of mindfulness. It allows you to consciously enjoy coffee and its effects, and enjoy it more deeply than you ever have before. You may also realize that coffee/caffeine isn’t for you. That’s cool too. It’s vitally important to be in tune with yourself.

I personally love the effects of one cup of coffee. It’s a profound and enjoyable experience when mindfulness comes into play. I can really feel my body tingling, my whole system ramping up and being infused with the yang energy of coffee. On the other hand, I’ve also realized that one cup of coffee per day is a good balance for me. Any more than that and I would be too far in fight or flight mode.

Try out the coffee mindfulness meditation.

Live mindfully.

Much love.

– Stevie P!

 

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Are You A Negative Nancy? (Signs That You Are)

negative nancy

Note: This is a guest post by Matthew Snider.

We all know someone who is always the first to point out a flaw. They find the bad in a situation, or highlight an obstacle. These people tend to swim in the negative and have a propensity towards bringing others along with them. While no one really appreciates or thrives in this negative zone, these types are fairly common in today’s world.

Psychological studies suggest that people naturally react more strongly to negative experiences than positive ones. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “negativity bias” and dates back to the days of the cavemen. It is an evolutionary psychological concept and is very powerful in determining future behavior. Although negativity has a natural and instinctive way of pervading our thoughts and actions, if it becomes a habit it can really push people away.

Here are a few telltale signs you might be allowing negativity to dominate your mindset:

You Make Generalizations

One tendency of a Negative Nancy is to make broad generalizations in the negative. For example, if a letter you recently sent gets lost in the mail, you automatically assume the entire postal system is flawed. In another example, your assistant fails to copy you on an important email. Your response is to assume that all administrative assistants are incompetent. These mass generalizations can be very dangerous and even damaging to your psyche. If you find yourself starting to think in generalizations, take a moment to reflect on all of the scenarios in which these generalizations have been proven false. This will help you keep things in perspective and avoid some of those crazed thoughts.

You Assume Obstacles Are Long-Term

Assuming all obstacles are long-term setbacks is another sign you live in the negative. This chronic attitude tricks your brain into believing there are no alternative solutions to a problem and really hinders your ability to problem solve. For example, you present your budget for a new project and when the financing is not approved you automatically assume your idea is a lost cause. This hopeless thinking can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy, so be very aware of these defeating thoughts and begin to think in a solution-oriented way.

You Are Critical of Others

A negativity bias can make you hypersensitive to the faults of others. For example, your child might get four As and a C on his report card. But your mind jumps immediately to the C, which you offer a lengthy critique of, yet fail to comment on the positive marks. Additionally, you may attend the wedding of a close friend and instead of enjoying the evening of love and laughter, find yourself critiquing every part of the party. This attitude can be exhausting and can also push people away. No one wants to be in a situation where people constantly criticize them. Next time you find yourself nit-picking at a person or situation, try to sandwich your criticism in between two positive statements. This trick has a way of softening the blow and of making you think in a different way about your critique. It’s a win-win solution for everyone and will help you reverse some of your negative thoughts.

Your Close Circle Is Highly Negative

Highly negative people tend to flock together. They also tend to ostracize anyone who challenges their comfortable nit-picking habits with a dose of positive attitude. If you find that your work and social conversation is centered around negativity, complaining, and gossip, you are likely under the wrath of negativity bias. Additionally, if you and your posse find yourself bristling with irritation anytime someone tries to put a positive twist on a situation, you are swimming in the Negative Nancy circle.

If you identify with any of these common situations, you are most likely engaging in overly negative behavior. If you’re looking to reverse this trend, try one of these simple tactics. Your body, mind, friends, and family will all appreciate the positive change.

  • Write a daily list of things you’re grateful for
  • Name two positive qualities for every one piece of criticism you make
  • Practice gratitude – Say thank you at least two times per day
  • Smile and exude positive body language
  • Give a gift
  • Give a genuine compliment
  • Surround yourself with other positive-minded people (Remember, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with)
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    About the Author
    Matthew Snider is a writer, a personal development junkie and a regular blogger at Self Development Secrets. Matt, with his one quarter Asian descent, did not start out as a writer, but he says, “the love for a subject is the most important aspect of writing. The readers want to read something written by someone who understands them.”

     

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    15 Profound Quotes About Life

    quotes about life

    Life is a beautiful mystery. Life is a video game. Life is a challenge. Life is a playground. Life is a learning experience. Life is all of those things, none of those things and much more all at the same time.

    Life is here and now, yet endlessly enigmatic and fleeting. That’s the beauty of it. Without rambling on too much, let’s dance in the mystery together.

    Here are 15 Profound Quotes About Life

    1. “Life is not a problem. To look at it as a problem is to take a wrong step. It is a mystery to be lived, loved, experienced.”
      ― Osho
    2. “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”
      ― Alan Watts
    3. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
      ― Neale Donald Walsch
    4. “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
      ― Charles R. Swindoll
    5. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
      ― George Bernard Shaw
    6. “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
      ― Anais Nin
    7. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
      ― Albert Einstein
    8. “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
      ― James Dean
    9. “Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.”
      ― H. Jackson Brown
    10. “Our life is frittered away by detail… Simplify, simplify.”
      ― Henry David Thoreau
    11. “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
      ― Mother Teresa
    12. “If you are depressed you are living in the past.
      If you are anxious you are living in the future.
      If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

      ― Lao Tzu
    13. “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
    14. “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”
      ― John Lennon
    15. “We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”
      ― Terence McKenna

     

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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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    How the 2016 Election is Revealing Our Collective Sickness

    fat fast food

    Artwork by Steve Cutts

    As a collective, we’ve become perilously unhealthy.

    If we were to think of humanity as one organism, we’re akin to an obese person who is realizing just how unhealthy and overweight we really are.

    Seeing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as presidential nominees is like that first hard look in the mirror at our bulging, blubbery, naked body that we’ve been avoiding for a long time.

    “Wow, I’ve really let myself go. I have to do something about this.”

    That’s how it goes when the delusional trance of denial is finally broken. We’re becoming acutely aware of just how unhealthy we are and how much we’ve been deluding ourselves up until this point.

    The mainstream media has completely disempowered our mindset with fear-based programming, our metaphorical couch has become too comfortable to leave and there are many institutions in place that profit off of our junk food consumption and collective sickness (note: both physical and metaphorical junk food consumption and sickness).

    This situation is literally forcing us to reevaluate everything and choose new ways to live, or passively welcome our own death.

    I don’t have to go into the details about how both candidates don’t have the people’s best interest in mind, or that democrats and republicans are two wings of the same bird (the illusion of choice), or that presidents are selected, not elected, or that the US government is an illusory democracy (technically an oligarchy) which is systemically corrupt to the core. We all know, on some level, that just about every major system on the planet is not serving our highest good. It’s pretty obvious for anyone with eyes to see. But it comes down to this, we need to figure out more harmonious ways to live as humans, and it all starts from within. If we’re possessed by our own egoic delusions and fearful within, everything we create externally will be a manifestation of that.

    “Tomorrow, I’m going to start eating healthy and working out.”

    This commitment to health is the next step after someone realizes the staggering extent of their unhealthiness. Yet without deep conviction, self-love and consistent action, this initial spark of inspiration will fizzle out.

    We must shift our mindset to health, then take consistent action towards the achievement of health. We need to change our lifestyle and our overall ways of thinking, living and being. It all starts within us. We must be the change first. Because if there is not a strong internal change first, we’ll eat a salad for one meal, then quickly slip back into the old patterns that created our sickness in the first place. This is why revolutions, without the foundation of a shift in consciousness, just end up as oppression under a new mask.

    Sure, being healthy sounds good, but how do we get there? We’ve never eaten healthy before and we don’t know the first thing about working out. But we can learn. There’s knowledge out there (and more importantly, in there). There are better ways of doing things and there are people who have achieved success in all areas of health. We can learn, and through consistent effort, become that healthy, vibrant person we always knew we were.

    It’s up to us to get healthy from the inside out. No longer can we blame our unhealthiness on all of the factors outside of our control; how convenient McDonald’s is, how busy we are, how expensive healthy food is or even our genetics. We need to step up and literally embody health ourselves.

    “I don’t even know what to eat though.”

    It’s time we do some research and come to our own conclusions as to how to eat healthier. There isn’t one diet that is perfect for everyone. We’re all unique and thrive off of a wide array of foods. It’s not even that complicated, the key is to eat as naturally as possible and trust our intuition. Even if we have no idea about health, we do know this… This fast-food, cotton candy oligarchy is killing us and we need to stop consuming it all.

    “I don’t think I can do a hard workout. Plus, I’m unsure about how to even start.”

    It’s all about being simple and consistent. That’s how long-term, lasting results are achieved.

    The best workout would look something like intuitively exercising according to our needs and pushing ourselves to the limit while listening to every part of our body in the process (metaphor hint: anarchy – the absence of government), but we’ll probably pass out or hurt ourselves if we tried that right now. We can, however work towards our ideal level of fitness.

    Maybe we need a personal trainer to teach us and help us transition to becoming our own personal trainer, with keen body awareness and strength that inspires others. We’ve always viewed the personal trainers as something scary (outside of our comfort zone), as they’ve been so counter to our lifestyle, but we can learn a lot from those doing things differently than we have. I mean, look where our complacency got us.

    “It’s going to be a long road, but I’m committing to change.”

    This isn’t going to be an overnight process. It’s going to take months, or probably years to even get close to where we want in terms of health.

    And non-metaphorically, personal change can take years, and collective, externalized change takes much longer than that.

    Essentially, we’re at the point of realization, where we need to look within, evaluate our options and work towards the direction of health. This will most certainly be a multi-generational process, so while we can’t expect ourselves to live in a utopian society next year, we can undoubtedly move ourselves in that direction.

    There are better ways of doing everything; energy, money, government (or lack thereof), education, disease prevention/curing, housing, transportation, farming, food, work…etc. We must find the courage to gradually let go of the old, embrace the new and work towards a better world. No matter how unhealthy we are, as long as we’re still alive, health is always an option. And it all starts within you.

    Ask yourself these questions:

  • What kinds of junk food (both physically and metaphorically) am I consuming?
  • What am I doing with my life to create a healthier collective humanity?
  • What internal fears or delusions do I have to get rid of in order to contribute as best as I possibly can?
  • What actions am I taking on a daily basis, no matter how small, to bring about a healthier collective?
  • The simplest way to be a catalyst for positive change is to choose love over fear in every situation. I urge you to vote for love in every moment.

    Cheers to creating a healthy collective.

    – Stevie P!
     

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    How to Prioritize Self-Care

    self-care

    If you don’t love yourself, then how are you going to love someone else?

    If you’re not empowered, then how are you going to empower others?

    If you don’t grow an inherent capacity to give from, then how can you consistently give?

    In order to serve, you must first be fit to serve. This is why self-care is a prerequisite for any positive change externally. The cultivation of self-love must be a priority, or else everything else in life is compromised.

    Self-care is essentially anything that rejuvenates your being, facilitates your growth and helps you love yourself more fully. A wide array of things can be self-care: meditation, yoga, working out, walking, hiking, reading, writing, drawing, painting, knitting (if anyone still does that), dancing, baths, saunas, massages, reiki, acupuncture, qi gong, tai chi, stress-free cooking, watching something funny, watching something inspirational, learning (on your own accord of course), traveling and even sleeping. We all know what can be considered self-care by the reinvigorating feeling that comes along with such activities.

    The Importance of Self-Care

    You Can’t Pour From an Empty Cup

    That expression is so true, yet few people apply it. Fill your cup first and give from the overflow.

    Get over the limiting belief that self-care is selfish. It’s not. And neglecting yourself does no good for anyone. You can only give more by increasing your capacity to give! Self-care, being compassionate towards yourself, helps you to embody compassion in every situation you find yourself in.

    Creating a Harmonious Foundation for Everything Else

    If you don’t clear your own bullshit, everything you do is going to be from a place of fear, lack and delusion. Without a high level of self-love, you will consciously or unconsciously project your delusions and fears into all of your relationships. Without a practice of self-care, even giving will be a distorted version of itself. You will find yourself giving out of duty (as opposed to love), giving because you feel like you have to (creating bitterness), giving with strings attached (conditional love), or just not giving at all because you’re so internally depleted.

    If you don’t have a harmonious foundation within, all of your relationships will be based in disharmony and built on shaky foundations. So many relationships are dysfunctional because so few people do the inner work. Harmony and alignment within creates relationships based in harmony and alignment. Disharmony and misalignment within creates relationships based in disharmony and misalignment. Build a strong foundation first, or you will be living in a house that’s falling apart.

    Your internal state ripples across every aspect of your reality. Cultivate self-love and let compassion ripple into the ocean of your existence.

    How to Incorporate Self-Care into Your Daily Life

    1. Make a commitment to self-care – Make self-care a priority. In order to fully follow through with anything, you must prioritize it. When something is a priority, you will do it by any means necessary, but if something isn’t a priority, you will find any excuse not to do it.

    Make a commitment to self-care right now, whether it be in writing or a strong mental affirmation.

    2. Simplify your life – Cut out all of the unnecessary distractions. Let go of the asinine commitments you’ve taken on that don’t serve your highest good. Reduce the amount of stuff you have (less stuff = less to upkeep = more time for you).

    3. Focus on simple, tangible daily practices – Commit to daily habits of self-care, not vague promises of things you might do in the future. Create a system for yourself to implement to bring you in the direction you wish to head in. Simple systems are more effective than lofty goals, as they’re easy to implement on a daily basis and you’ll get a lot more done in the long run while enjoying the process.

    Pick one self-care activity right now that you can implement on a daily basis.

    4. Make time (don’t find time) – When you prioritize something, you make time for it, no matter what. If you’re really pressed for time or if you have young children, you might have to squeeze in your self-care early in the morning, late at night, on your lunch breaks…etc.

    5. Do it!

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

     
    Make a firm decision to love yourself and prioritize self-care. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

    Cultivate unconditional love within and share it with others.

    Create a ripple effect of compassion.

    – Stevie P!
     

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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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    6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Focus

    focus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Focus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Now focus on applying those.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!
     

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    7 Simple Rules to Make Life Simple and Happy

    happiness

    Note: This is a guest post by Sophie Addison.

    You have that inner longing to be authentically happy, and if you could only get hold of a simple formula from any lifestyle news that would spell out the tips on how to be happy, you would surely gladly exchange everything you have to get hold of that simple formula. There are indeed some simple rules in life that—if you practice on a regular basis—would readily help you become a happy person. These simple rules are quite ordinary that you would never think that they actually hold the secrets to a happy life. Here are seven of these simple rules:

    1. “Consider every day as a gift.”
    You may find it not easy to develop this habit of treating each day of your life as a gift. Once you begin to see each day as a gift, you would soon become the happiest person in this world (Stevie P note: at least top 5 haha). The reason for this is that you would seldom find a person who is not thankful for a gift, and a gift always brings in a happy disposition to the recipient of the gift. Therefore, once you look at each day of your life as a gift, you will begin to be appreciative of your life. Your appreciation of each day will imbue all aspects of your life, and soon, you will radiate happiness from deep within you.

    2. “Accept the things that you can’t change.”
    Stephen Covey, the author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” once said that there are two circles of life—the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern. The Circle of Influence includes the things that lie within your control such as yourself, your habits, your mind, and your behavior. The Circle of Concern, on the other hand, includes the things beyond your control such as the behavior of other people, politics, your boss, the world, and many other things. If you dwell on the things within your Circle of Concern, you will inevitable end up feeling depressed, bitter, and anxious, because you do not have control over them. If you dwell on your Circle of Influence, you will feel fulfilled and happy because you are in control of these things. Anxiety and depression usually set in when you dwell on things that you are out of control, and for this reason, the more you focus on the things within your control, the happier you will become. As for the things beyond your control, you simply have to accept them.

    3. “Choose to be happy.”
    Being happy is a decision to be happy and to let go of the things that burden your heart. You can only effectively decide on things and matters that lie within your control. Your behavior is always within your control, in the same way, that your mind is within your control. Hence, you can decide on how you are going to react to any situation; and you can either choose to react happily or sadly.

    4. “Start to live in the present.”
    Living in the present is also a great habit necessary to live a happy life. “Living in the present” means you are fully immersed in the present moment and enjoying it without cluttering your mind with future and past problems. Once you start living in the present, you begin to appreciate the simple things that life brings and become fully alive. If you cherish every moment, you would naturally find yourself sporting an optimistic and happy outlook on life.

    For more on this: There Are No Problems in the Present Moment

    5. “Minimize your wants!”
    Happiness comes easily when you realize that the many desires and wants of your life are making you dissatisfied with life. Happiness is usually tantamount to being satisfied. Thus, if you develop the habit of minimizing your wants, you will unburden your heart and mind with unfulfilled wants and desires, and your outlook will eventually lighten up, and your mind will be free to appreciate the simple things in life that you have.

    For more on this: The Joy of Minimalism

    6. “Wish always the best for your beloved.”
    There is no greater joy in life than that of seeing the person you love so much achieve in life. Likewise, once you see that those you love are improving and succeeding in life, you will in turn feel light and satisfied. Real love is wishing the best for the beloved, so it’s a win-win to pray and wish that those who are dear to your heart are achieving, growing, and maturing along the way. The more you wish them happiness, the happier you will become.

    7. “Lastly, you should get in touch with your inner self.”
    Happiness comes from within; it can never be feigned nor faked. It is a satisfied state of mind wherein you feel at peace deep within. It is akin to the feeling of satisfaction after having eaten your favorite food. More importantly, you feel happy when there is no conflict deep within your mind and heart. Hence, for you to be truly happy, you need to resolve the inner rumblings deep within your heart; and there is no better way to do it than to engage in a relaxing meditation and self-awareness activity on a regular basis. Stay in contact with your inner self and you will surely find a center deep within that will serve as your source of happiness.

    About the Author
    Sophie Addison is a popular blogger and skincare expert. She is very passionate about writing on skincare and beauty. She has posted articles on tips for fine lines under eyes, weight loss and fitness news. Apart from work she likes gardening and listening music. You can also contact her on Facebook, and Pinterest.
     

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    Family in Flight (A Poem)

    family sky poem

    This poem just came to me as I was meditating this morning. That’s the beauty of poetry, it’s pure inspiration conveyed through the language of the heart.

    The theme here is family as a catalyst for personal growth. We’re all here to support each other. And essentially we’re all family.

    Family in Flight (A Poem)

    Went from a fist full of drugs*
    To blissful with hugs
    From sister to cuz
    Never missin’ the love
    Through the mist with my bruv**
    All our missions are tough
    Momma listens to us
    With beneficent trust
    Meet me father (farther)
    Into the gust
    Spreadin’ wings
    The wind is whiskin’ us up


    Notes:

    *”Fist full of drugs” refers to always holding a beer (alcohol is legal drug). It’s also a reference to a closed fist, signifying being closed-off and stressed/holding tension. Stress is basically a drug epidemic in our society. Plus, “fist full f drugs” just sounds good as something to rhyme with.

    **Bruv is slang for brother.

    I hope you enjoyed that poem and it inspired you in some way.

    One last thing: tell someone you love them today.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

     

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