The Balloon Technique

…Because counting sheep doesn’t work.

Letting-go

I recently came up with a technique to help myself fall asleep. And maybe it can help you as well. I call it the balloon technique. What I do is envision every thought that pops into my mind as a balloon, then I let go of it. Like a child letting go of a balloon and watching it float towards the heavens. Envision the thought as a balloon, and let it gracefully float away. So many people have trouble falling asleep because they let their minds run wild. Tame the beast. It’s bed time, you don’t need to preoccupy yourself with incessant thought patterns now.

How to implement the balloon technique:

Step 1: Be aware. Be still. Be the sky, with your thoughts being passing clouds.

Step 2: Envision your thought as a balloon.

Step 3: Picture letting it go and it floating up, up, and away.

Step 4: Repeat until no more thoughts pop up and you fall asleep.

Try this out. It works for me, and hopefully it’ll work for you.

Happy Holidays friends!

3

Good Reads: Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife

I recently finished reading “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife” by Eben Alexander. It’s a great book, to say the least.

Front Cover

If you couldn’t guess what it’s about, it’s a (supposedly true) story about a neurosurgeon who falls into a coma for 7 days. While in a coma, he experiences “the afterlife” and comes back to tell about it.

What’s so interesting about Eben Alexander’s experience is it’s almost like the perfect storm of near-death experiences. First of all this guy was a rigid, scientific atheist. A true skeptic. When in a coma, he lost all neocortex (our higher level, human brain) function. This resulted in his experience being without the incessant filtering and constraints of the analytical mind. Dr. Alexander also made a miraculous full recovery, allowing him to share his story.

Eben Alexander’s experience reinforces a lot of ancient spiritual teachings and Eastern philosophy. He describes a higher state of existence, beyond the limitations of this reality. Overwhelming, unconditional love, feeling (as opposed to deciphering with our worldly senses), and the non-existence of time as we know it are described. He also states how words fall short in describing his experience. Eben Alexander’s story seems to be very credible in my opinion. It reinforces many spiritual concepts I’ve understood. And this isn’t just some hippy on an acid trip. He’s a friggin’ neurosurgeon! He also systematically debunks every other hypothesis of what could have caused his experience, leaving a very convincing argument to this being a genuine experience.

I’m not using a grading system for these book reviews. Just offering my opinion and sharing some intriguing information.

Now here’s some of my favorite excerpts from the book. Enjoy!

20121215-103721.jpg

20121215-103755.jpg

20121215-103816.jpg

20121215-103843.jpg

20121215-103853.jpg

6

Dietary Hodgepodge: Salsa & Almonds

Because peanut butter and jelly is so played out. Yeah, it’s good, but we gotta step outside the box and find some new awesome combinations. Introducing… Salsa & Almonds.

Salsa!

So how do I make this masterful mix?” You might ask (in a high-pitched, half-singing, British accent).

Ready for it?

Take a handful of almonds…………and throw it in some salsa.

It’s so easy a caveman can do it. And speaking of cavemen, I guess it’s Paleo too (if that’s your thing). You can eat it with a spoon (are spoons Paleo?), or if that’s not caveman enough for you, your bare hands.

I’ve been using Tequila Lime salsa (see the pic) and roasted almonds. But you can use any combination of salsa and probably any kind of nut as well. Get experimental with it. That’s the point. It makes for a great snack. Capping dinner off with this combo really hits the spot. Plus it’s “healthy” by most standards.

And I haven’t decided on a name for this. Salsalmonds? Almalsa? Salsanuts!?

Drop a name in the comments section if you like. I’d be happy to hear some suggestions.

4

Yo Elliott! Live in New York City

Earlier today I was at Yo Elliott! Live in New York City, and I can honestly say it one was of the best events I’ve ever been to. Limited to 30 people and in a Crossfit gym, it was 4 and a half hours of unscripted awesomeness. Elliott just answered the questions we had for him. He shared his personal knowledge and experience, providing insight to ultimately help us help ourselves.

But wait, before I get into this, you know who Elliott Hulse is right? He’s that guy with all of the Youtube videos. The strength coach who goes off on philosophy tangents. That jacked dude shaking like a maniac at the gym. And in my opinion, he’s a genius as well as an inspiration. Here’s the thing, we all have the potential to get to that level (that Elliott and other mentors are at); we just need to realize and actualize it. And people like Elliott Hulse are guiding us in that direction.

Here’s a pic of Elliott and I, because, you know, if you don’t get a picture, it never happened, right?

(I think it’s time for me to get a hair cut.)

But anyways, when we all got there everyone made a name tag. But with the addition of some artwork to express our individual uniqueness. I felt like I was in first grade again (in a good way of course), so I took it and got all deep with it. Steve = Infinity symbol/plus sign/eye/heart/eye. Interpret as you wish.

So, yeah, back to the event. Everything we discussed is still sinking in, but here’s a hodgepodge of discussions and quotes from Yo Elliot! live in NYC:

My question to Elliott was actually about this website, regarding passion and purpose. Here’s what it looked like. (It’s not word for word because I was busy paying attention, so I didn’t write it all down or video tape it. But you’ll get the point.)

I’ve come to the realization that my passion and purpose seems very broad and can’t be labeled. I have a knack for positivity and feeling great that I want to share with people. My website/blog is actually called “Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great.” What’s your opinion on finding a niche as opposed to just doing your thing and seeing where it goes?

And here’s the gist of Elliott’s response to my question:

Stop letting the mind categorize everything.

Just let God work through you.

Don’t hold anything back.

Don’t worry about fitting into a category, throw yourself into the river and see where it takes you.

All of the great minds throughout history couldn’t categorize themselves. How do you categorize something that’s new?

Give birth to new ideas. Just do it.

Share whatever you’re passionate about with the world. We all need it.

This was an awesome confirmation for what I’ve been feeling inside. The content I’ve been posting here has been what I NEED to share and express. Maybe I can’t put a definitive label on it now, but I’m going to keep doin my thang here until I blaze my own path. Because I CAN’T NOT help as many people as possible to go dance through life while feelin’ good, feelin’ great.

Enough about me. Here’s some of the topics/concepts we covered:

Heartbeat, which is creating/establishing a  daily routine to reach a goal. As an example, Elliot makes one video and writes one e-mail (for his newsletter) every single day.

Correcting movement patterns. He helped one person perform an exercise to practice engaging his glutes. He helped another check his form while performing front squats. And he helped another person find out how to improve ankle stability with one-leg balancing progressions.

Neurotic holding patterns. Conditioning. How repressed emotions manifest in bodily tension. Learning to express yourself through speech, motion, exercise, and countless other ways.

Finding new universes on the quest for knowledge. When you have a thirst for learning, you constantly go deeper and deeper into rabbit holes of information. Elliott explained his love for indexes in books, which serve as a portal to vast new worlds of knowledge.

The art of detachment. And how it benefits us.

And some quotables from Elliott:

“I owe the world.” (Referring to his passion of helping people become the strongest versions of themselves)

“Don’t be so selfish as to hold things back that you can share with the world.”

“We all tell ourselves stories. We define ourselves with our stories. Is your story helpful? You won’t be able to tell a new story until you stop identifying with your old one.”

“We live in a society where we want a guarantee. But the truth is we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“No fucked up situation happens overnight. You get little taps on the shoulder as warnings. You need to recognize the signs.”

“The whole idea is you gotta get over the bullshit.”

“Our society praises extroversion to an unnecessary degree.”

“Bamboo grows downward before it grows upward. It has the extroversion (above ground) and the introversion (underground). The power lies within the roots. But all you see is what is above the surface.”

“What attracts people to me is that I’m relentlessly me, to the point that it’s fucking weird.” (This seems to be a common theme among people I view as mentors)

“People appreciate people that are different because it gives them permission to be different.”

“You’re a unique flower, don’t compare it to flowers that already have been.”

“Find your awesomeness, and be flamboyantly awesome.”

“The stronger version of yourself wants to come out, but you’re creating prisons.” (self-imposed limitations)

People ask me, “Elliot, are you a philosopher?” And I respond with “Do I need a piece of paper to be one?”

“It’s the implementation of your knowledge that really matters.”

“I have a feeling that the future of education is going to go back to the roots. And that is apprenticeship.”

“Two things you never go cheap on, your food and your knowledge. Because both become who you are. Your food becomes your cells, and your knowledge becomes your ideas.”

“You know what’s one of the best inventions? Audiobooks. I love those things.”

“For the nervous system, repetition is the most important thing.”

“I’m not attached to anything.”

“Think about the power you have when you can readily entertain and deviate from ideas.”

“The minute I tried to be something, I realized I wasn’t that.” (referring to categorizing and labeling yourself)

“There’s a version of you that’s completely detached from race, religion, nationality…etc.”

And this is the note he ended on:

“See what’s possible for you when you let go. Just be.”

Thank you for an amazing day, Elliott (if you’re reading this).

Now I’m even more inspired to pursue my passion and fulfill my purpose of sharing my thoughts and ideas to help others.

The snowball effect of awesomeness is in motion.

___________________________________________________________________________

Elliott on the interwebz:

http://www.facebook.com/elliotthulse

http://www.youtube.com/user/strengthcamp

http://www.youtube.com/user/elliottsaidwhat

http://www.youtube.com/user/CampaignNonJob

http://www.hulsestrength.com/

 

 

9

Life is a Game: The Challenge Principle

Video games are meant to be challenging. They are based on overcoming obstacles. Why? Because it makes it so much more satisfying when it’s all said and done.

The same principle applies to life in general.

What would a video game be without any challenges? It would be boring and absolutely pointless.

Would you play Super Mario Bros if all you did was leisurely walk to the right the whole time with no obstacles? Hell no! What’s the fun in that?

Would you enjoy playing Pokemon if you had unlimited master balls and rare candies? (I hope you got that one haha). It’s all about the journey, baby.

Think about movies too. Just about all movies are based on overcoming challenges and the progression of the main character(s).

We develop through struggle.

We need darkness to appreciate light.

We need clouds and rain to appreciate sunshine.

Everything is a learning experience.

Every situation is an opportunity.

Learn, move on, and persevere.

“The universe tends to unfold as it should.” -Random guy from Harold and Kumar

But seriously, that’s an awesome quote.

Whatever you’re going through at the moment is what you need most right now (in this game we call life) and an opportunity to better yourself and grow.

Here’s a personal example. I packed on the infamous freshman 15 (lbs) in my first 4 months of college. This was a major wake-up call for me. But instead of getting depressed about it or ignoring it, I used it as an opportunity. I started educating myself on health and fitness. And more importantly, I applied what I learned. I worked out consistently and made better food choices. This strengthened my body and mind, and helped me shed the excess fat I had accumulated. This has not only given me a plethora of knowledge and experience in health and fitness, but also created a snowball effect of successes in every aspect of my life since then. It was exactly what I needed, and I took advantage of the challenge presented to me. Overcoming that challenge made me a stronger person and greatly helped in developing my character.

“What you call a setback, I call a challenge, if I fall I know I’ll get back, it’s all a balance.” -Crooked I

So embrace your challenges. Embrace your difficulties. They are learning experiences on your way to progression and building a stronger version of yourself. Because life would be so boring if we just coasted through.

 

1

Guest Post: Inward Control

This is a guest post by Jason Martuscello.

From an evolutionary perspective, we have seen magnificent growth in science and technological advancements as well as increases in pools of information and knowledge. As a result, the choices we make everyday have exponentially increased. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Halo 4, iPad mini, Call of Duty, iPhone 5, fluorescent colored shoes, 50 Shades of Grey – are just a few examples of choices that we may encounter that keep us on the cusp of this evolving society. We are all consumers and are required to make choices everyday that add complexity to our everyday lives. Should I buy? Should I read? Should I listen? Should I remember?

We are constantly battling a tension of forces of human progression and adaptation versus conforming and adapting to society. In other words, should I buy/adopt the newest, latest, and greatest? Are we in control of decisions or are we just pawns getting played in a game chess? We all toil with this dilemma to some extent but the ones whom prevail in these situations demonstrate a sense of inward control. To better understand lets consider the alternative, ones who lack a sense of inward control, allow the complexities of life run rampant. For example, they may easily succumb to peer pressures, influences, information and are (sub)consciously controlled by the external environment.

In one sense, controlling complexity can be considered a balancing of information, influences, memories, and experiences. Left uncontrolled, our minds become bombarded with unregulated sensory input, which can contribute to increased stress, emotional trauma, anxiety, misery, conflict, and negativity. Inward control puts you in the position of power and you become the gatekeeper allowing simplicity, peace, and happiness. Inward control begins with a free, open and clear mind and provides the foundation for simplicity in life.

If you’d like to get in touch with Jason, you can e-mail him at jmartuscello@mail.usf.edu

1

Happiness is THE Goal

Happiness is THE goal, and a continuous one at that.

Everything else is just a means to an end.

Why do you want a girlfriend/boyfriend? Because you think it will make you happy.

Why do you want a new car? Because you think it will make you happy.

Why do you go out and drink alcohol on Friday nights? Because you think it will make you happy. (Happy hour!)

Thinking this way is like chasing a nonexistent oasis. It is illusionary. You can buy that car, but the thirst will not be quenched. This leads to a vicious cycle that never addresses the root of happiness. No external thing (or person) can truly make you happy. It comes from within. And it is a choice.

You can choose to be happy right now.

Think about that. You determine your happiness. Empowering, right?

Everything else is a means to an end. Happiness is that end, and it is continuously produced from within.

The choice is up to you. Just do it.

And here’s a tea bag that I opened while writing this. Synchronicity at its finest.

 

What We Can Learn From Children

^yeah-dats-me

Children, before they become conditioned, retain what I call the essence of being. We’re pure Love/God/Energy/Consciousness (or whatever you wanna call it) inhabiting these human bodies. Children are indicative of that. Take any child before any sort of conditioning and they manifest pure love.  And as we grow up, we get assaulted with conditioning from every angle, covering up our true selves.

Take a minute and observe children (preferably not from an old, white van), then observe adults. 99 times out of 100, the kids are having wayyyy more fun doing whatever it is that they’re doing. And why are adults so damn serious? We can learn a lot more from children than our mature, civilized, egos think we can.

Be like children. Not childish, but child-like.

Here are some characteristics of children that us (so-called) adults can apply:

Be in the moment. Kids fully immerse themselves in whatever they’re doing. That is truly living. They don’t obsess over the past or future like adults do. The present is a gift, so act like a little kid on Christmas.

See everything with fresh eyes. Admire the beauty of everything around you. Be in perpetual wonder, not on cruise-control through life like so many grown-ups (sadly) are. Let go of your baggage and rigid belief systems; be open to new ideas.

Non-judgment. A young child will treat a CEO the same way they treat a janitor. You think most adults would do the same? Don’t let your conditioning and preconceived notions dictate how you think, feel, and act.

Express yourself. Children have very expressive reactions to everything. If they feel happy, they jump for joy. If they feel anger, they throw a temper tantrum. Either way, they get it out. As adults, we are taught to suppress and even ignore our feelings. Never expressing yourself results in so much dys-function and dis-ease, both physically and mentally. Quit internalizing everything. Find constructive outlets for your feelings and emotions.

Ditch the inhibitions. This goes hand-in-hand with the last point. If you have the urge to dance, then dance. If you feel like yelling just to hear the echo of your voice, do it. If you see a tree you want to climb, CLIMB THAT SHIT. We need to stop worrying about social norms and what other people think.

Play. Stop being boring and have some fun.