The Story of Imaginal Cells (And How You Might Be One)

butterfly imaginal cells

Imagine…

That was John Lennon’s powerful message to humanity. He envisioned a better future and encouraged us to step into it.

Imagination is the basis for the creation of novelty; new ideas, new concepts, new everything. It’s that important and that potent.

Now here’s where things get really interesting. In biology, there is a term called Imaginal Cells. And they got that name for a reason.

We all learned that caterpillars go through a metamorphosis and become butterflies. But few of us know the details of how this process actually takes place. How it happens is absolutely amazing.

Imaginal Cells: From Caterpillar To Butterfly

After a period of ravenous consumption, the caterpillar finds a perch and forms a chrysalis. The end result, we know, is a butterfly. But the mindblowing thing here is that there is no structural similarity at all between a caterpillar and a butterfly.

Inside of the chrysalis, the caterpillar actually dissolves into organic ooze. Cells, which are aptly called “Imaginal Cells,” begin to emerge. This is what starts the process of creating a new form and structure.

At first the Imaginal Cells – the seeds of future potential, which contain the blueprint of a flying creature—operate independently as single-cell organisms. They are viewed as threats and are attacked by the caterpillar’s immune system. But they persist, multiply, and form connections with each other. The Imaginal Cells communicate more, creating larger and larger cooperative networks until they eventually hit a tipping point. And a butterfly is born!

A Microcosm of Humanity

Now let’s relate the Imaginal Cell phenomenon to humanity.

Think about the general state of a caterpillar before it becomes a butterfly: mindless consumption. Sounds familiar, right? Go to any city, any store or just turn on the tv, and the level of mindless consumption is hard to miss. Humanity has been that way for a while, but the paradigm is shifting.

Then, when the new Imaginal Cells start popping up, they get attacked by the other cells. Look at what happened to all of the prophets, geniuses and visionaries (Jesus, Leonardo Da Vinci, Gandhi, Nikola Tesla, Martin Luther King Jr, John Lennon…etc.). They get attacked and demonized by those who are still trapped in caterpillar mode. Those who I just named were some of the first Imaginal Cells, the harbingers of a new level of consciousness.

What if we (humans) weren’t just individuals, but cells of a superorganism?

Now remember that more and more Imaginal Cells start to pop up. Then they begin to connect, work together and create the new being.

Our outdated version of humanity is the caterpillar, mindlessly consuming everything in sight.

But now we’re seeing more and more of these Imaginal Cell-like people emerge, shedding away our collective chrysalis. And if you’re reading this, you’re one of them.

There’s a worldwide awakening going on. We’re coming together and cooperating to bring about a new humanity.

Cheers to becoming a butterfly.

– An Imaginal Cell Named Stevie P

 

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Live Like Every Interaction is Your Last

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We’ve all heard the phrase “Live every day like it’s your last.”

But how many of us truly apply that?

***crickets chirp***

Yeah… Pretty much nobody.

It’s too easy to slip into the dull monotony of day-to-day life, coast through life on autopilot and lull ourselves to sleep inside the deceptive contentment of our comfort zones; only to wake up and find out we’ve missed the dance.

“Live every day like it’s your last” has lost its potency because so many people say it without actually embodying it. So a new phrase that I utilize is “Live like every interaction is your last.”

Serendipitously, I found myself applying that phrase during my travels. “Live like every interaction is your last” has become a perpetual piece of motivational self-talk as I maneuver through my days; and one that has made life infinitely more fulfilling as well.

Everything is an interaction, so whether it be with people, animals, places or circumstances, treat each and every interaction you have like it’s your last.

I was led to approach this “carpe diem” mentality from so many directions. Multiple paths, winding around the requiem of human reality, ended up seamlessly converging on this idea of wholeheartedly diving into each moment, because the next moment is not promised.

11 Key Components to “Living Like Every Interaction is Your Last”

1. Facing the Certainty of Death

The reality of life is that death is inevitable. Death can also come at any time. To not recognize this is ultimate denial. By being consciously aware that death is certain and tomorrow is not promised, you will cherish each moment and squeeze the last drop of divine nectar out of every sacred day you walk the Earth.

No matter what your belief system is – whether you believe in heaven, reincarnation, evolving into Mewtwo in another dimension or believe nothing exists after this life – your time within this physical body is finite. This completely unique life that you’re living right now has never happened before nor will it ever happen again. So be grateful and make the most of it!

View death, not as your enemy or something to be afraid of, but as an ally motivating you to make the most out of each fleeting moment.

“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” ~ James Dean

2. Positive Programming

Condition yourself to live like every interaction is your last. Find an affirmation or mantra to repeat and help ground you into the bliss of the present moment.

During every personal interaction, I keep the mantra “Live like every interaction is your last” in the back of my head. It helps me to be more present, more compassionate, more loving, more forgiving, more grateful, more bold and more courageous.

We’re always programming ourselves whether we like it or not. Everything you tell yourself is a seed planted in the garden of your subconscious mind. Are you cultivating the kind of garden you want?

3. Letting Go of Judgment

Are you going to waste your time worrying about what other people think of you? Are you going to let the opinions of others determine what YOU DO with YOUR OWN LIFE? Are you going to throw away your own time by judging others? In the grand scheme of things, those petty judgments are ridiculously stupid, and an absolute waste of your precious time here on Earth.

I took a more in depth look at different forms of judgment in these articles:
No One Cares: Your Key to Freedom from Social Anxiety
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Judgment

4. Living Through Your Heart

Don’t let your ego run the show. Reside in your heart-space, that intuitive knowing from a deep place of peace.

Choose love as your motivating force in every situation, not fear.

And as cliche as this phrase is, ask yourself “What would Jesus do?” (or “What would Buddha do?” if you prefer that as the archetype of an ascended master). The point is, what would you do if you were operating from a place of unconditional love? Do that!

5. Practicing Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a pivotal theme here.

Holding onto any negativity is like holding onto a burning coal, thinking that it’s burning the other person. You’re only hurting yourself.

Forgiveness is more about not letting negative emotions fester within you than it is about the other person.

Cultivate mindfulness regarding holding onto grudges or dwelling on negative scenarios in the past. Simply being aware of it will take the wind out of the sails of any negativity you’re holding onto.

6. Recognizing the Stupidity of Negativity

In the grand scheme of things, complaining is useless, getting angry over little things is laughable (and if you really think about it, everything is a “little thing”), clutching onto resentment is idiotic…etc.

Are you going to waste your precious time on Earth mad at the guy who cut you off in traffic yesterday? Get over it and move on.

7. Honesty

Why lie? What’s the point? Think about how it would feel to leave behind nothing but a complex web of lives for those you supposedly care about.

Lying just complicates things anyway, while honesty (though more difficult at times) is much simpler.

Honesty also feels good, because it’s the language of the heart, and any pain felt on the receiving end of a genuinely honest statement (based in love) is pain on the ego’s behalf.

8. Embracing the Little Things

Living like every interaction is your last is not necessarily about going skydiving or throwing a party and inviting everyone you’ve ever met; it’s about cherishing the little things in life.

Savor your cup of coffee in the morning, feel the joy of taking a deep breath through your nose, go for a walk outside and cherish the moment, laugh for no reason, dance by yourself, hold the door open for a stranger and see their beaming smile, give someone a genuine compliment…etc.

Learn to love the little things and your life will be an awe-inspiring experience of perpetual vibrance.

9. Avoiding Regret

“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, Jr.

You’re the brave hero of your own movie, so act like it. And remember that (so called) mistakes make the best learning experiences. Sitting scared in your comfort zone is not living, but a slow death.

Take some risks, be unabashedly honest, talk to that hot girl or guy, write that book you have inside of you, quit your boring job and travel the world, tell your loved ones that you love them every time you say goodbye… Because you never know…

When you’re on your deathbed, are you going to look back and have regrets? Or smile and say “What a ride, baby!”?

10. Presence

The present moment is all that exists, and its fleeting, so cherish it.

The past and future only exist in our minds. And it’s in the mental projections into the past or future where we find our fear, worry, anxiety and all those negative emotions. Remember, there are no problems in the present moment.

The present moment is the ever-moving point of unending actualization which encases the physical dimension. It’s a ceaseless vortex of infinite love that goes wherever you go. You just have to surrender to it.

Feel, in the depths of your soul, the indescribable magic of each moment.

Meet each moment with joyful totality.

11. Your Legacy

What are you doing to make the world a better place? What are you creating? Are you living with purpose? What message are you conveying by the way you live your life?

What is your legacy?

Let the answer to that be a guiding force for the way you live your life on a moment-to-moment basis.

The Catalyst of Travel

Travel has a profound way of spurring this way of living like each moment could be your last. With all of the new (and sometimes scary) places, all of the perilous bus rides and the natural fear of flights, you become far more likely to constantly consider your own mortality.

From that perspective, a choice presents itself in every moment: “Will I make the most of this moment, or succumb to fear and complacency, letting it slip away forever?”

The choice is up to you. You have the option, in every moment, to make the most out of that fleeting moment and live like every interaction is your last.

One love.

– Stevie P!
 

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The Real Reason Behind Blessing Food

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I’m that interesting character at the restaurant, hands hovering over my food as I silently mouth a couple words and sport a slight Buddha-smirk before eating.

No, I’m not a Jesus freak or a “broccoli whisperer,” and I’m not crazy (well, maybe a little bit). As you’ll soon (re)discover, there’s a method to this madness.

Expressing gratitude, praying, saying grace and all forms of blessing food before a meal are among the most universal and ancient behaviors of humankind.

Almost every religion has some tradition of blessing food. And many religious people do it at every meal. But I’ve never come across WHY blessing food is important. (Like with most religious practices, people just do it without asking questions.)

There is, of course, a core of truth to these traditions. However, you can obtain all of the benefits of saying grace without all of the dogma attached to religious rules and regulations.

In today’s society, we tend to discredit and undervalue the unseen. If we can’t physically see changes, they must not be happening, right? Yet when we get out of our egoic minds and become more in tune with the unseen, we realize just how profound something as simple as expressing gratitude can be.

The Benefits of Blessing Food

1. Blessing food brings about a state of presence and mindfulness.
Showing gratitude over a meal forces you to stop and be present. From this state of undistracted presence, you will eat mindfully and enjoy the food more. It turns every meal into a holy communion.

If you eat mindfully, you become more in tune with the food and your body. You’ll know if what you’re eating is beneficial for you. And you’ll be unmistakably aware of the signals your body is sending you to stop eating (making it hard to mindlessly overeat).

Mindful eating also will break compulsive eating and food addictions if done consistently at every meal.

2. Blessing food heightens your senses.
Pausing with gratitude, communing with your food and being in a state of mindfulness will engage and heighten all of your senses.

Here’s an excerpt from Natural News

Thus, whether seeing, smelling, inhaling, or, most strongly, touching the food, changes to the person that occur during blessing of natural food include:
 

  • Salivation increases, as full attention is place on the natural food’s unique, distinct aromas
  • More digestive enzymes are secreted
  • The circulatory system routes blood to the digestive tract’s organs
  • Hormones benefiting metabolism are released
  • Breathing patterns shift from one best suited for working to one best suited for eating.
  • Abdominal muscle contraction changes from a tightness that supports hard work into a different, more relaxed state, which relieves pressure around the digestive tract
  • The brain becomes in a receptive mood ready to enjoy, experience sweet gratitude, and eagerly pay attention to the stomach’s stretching sensors, to trigger the neurotransmitters which engage peristalsis
  • The eye becomes aware of both the food’s beauty, which enhances digestion, as well as alert to any danger signs in the food’s appearance
  • The senses of smell and taste, when focused and entrained on the food about to be eaten, becomes enhanced, increasing enjoyment and sharpening the ability to notice anything “off” or spoiled in the food.
  • And finally, firing patterns of the enteric nervous system (the neurons lining the gut like a sheath) shift to better control the digestion and absorption of food. Technically known as the enteric nervous system, the second brain (as described by the Chair of Anatomy at Columbia University Medical Center) consists of “sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, or alimentary canal, which measures about nine meters end to end from the esophagus to the anus.” There are 100 million neurons in the enteric nervous system, more than in the spinal cord, and more than in all the peripheral nervous system.
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    3. Blessing food relaxes your digestive system.
    Holding gratitude and blessing food will switch your nervous system out of sympathetic mode (fight or flight) and into parasympathetic mode (rest and digest). As a result, you will digest the food and assimilate the nutrients much more effectively than if you’re holding stress.

    This concept is common sense. For example: try to eat while driving in traffic, with cars beeping all around and see how well you digest.

    4. Blessing food infuses the food with positive energy.
    This may seem a little woo-woo, but bear with me here. Food, like everything else, absorbs energy from its environment. If food is being prepared in a hectic kitchen and the chef is stressed out, the food absorbs that. If the beef your eating is from a tortured cow, it’s going to carry that energy. It’s vitally important to instill food with positive energy before eating it. And this can be done through something as simple as holding the intention of gratitude before eating.

    Dr. Emoto’s water experiments beautifully demonstrate how words and music affect the molecular structure of water. All life on Planet Earth is water-based and therefore, affected by words, intentions, music and any other vibrations in the environment.

    5. Blessing food leverages the Placebo Effect.
    If you believe that the food carries good energy, it will. If you believe that the food will make you happy and healthy, it will.

    The placebo effect, though overlooked by modern science, is a profoundly powerful phenomenon. It’s a testament to the power of the mind. Whatever you believe, in the depths of your heart, determines the result you’ll get.

    If a placebo knee surgery is just as effective as real knee surgery, think about what it can do to the food on your plate.

    6. Gratitude itself improves health.
    Do not underestimate the power of gratitude. Gratitude has been shown to lower stress levels, improve sleep, improve heart health and enhance overall well-being.

    Gratitude also opens the door to abundance. When you’re grateful for what you do have, you attract more.

    Feel gratitude, and feel every aspect of your life change for the better.

    Egyptian_food_Koshary

    A Simple Food Blessing (Do This at Every Meal)

    1. Pause for a second and center yourself.

    2. Express and feel gratitude for the food in front of you.

    3. Thank everyone involved in the process of getting the food to you.
    It might look something like this: “Thank you to the Earth for growing this and all of the people that handled it. May it assimilate into my body with health, happiness and vitality.”

    4. Send energy to the food through your hands.
    Feel the tingle as energy flows from your hands into the food.

    5. Feel gratitude in your heart.

    6. Eat mindfully and enjoy the food.

    Commune with your food. Eating is both pleasurable and necessary. Be grateful for having food on your table, enjoy every bite and reap the benefits.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!

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    9

    9 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once in Your Life

    travel solo

    Traveling alone may be the single best catalyst for personal growth.

    My solo traveling experiences have created quantum leaps in various areas of my life. And every person I’ve met who has traveled alone has been among the most interesting and awesome people I’ve encountered.

    Read more about my solo travel adventures and the resulting insights here:
    Why I Left My Job
    The Joy of Minimalism: Traveling the World with Only Carry-On Luggage
    11 Unique Ways to Optimize Your Travel Experience Wherever You Go

    It may sound paradoxical, but the more you explore the world outside, the more you explore the world within. Solo travel gives you free rein for the exploration of both the external and internal world.

    Sure, it can be lonely at times, but you meet a lot of people and get to know yourself when there aren’t familiar faces always around. And yes, it’s hard leaving your friends and family behind for any period of time. But it’s completely worth it and you will come back a better person.

    9 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once in Your Life

    1. Self-sufficiency – You learn to be independent, do things on your own, problem solve for yourself, navigate on your own and become your own best friend. Self-sufficiency is an invaluable byproduct of solo travel.

    2. You meet more people – When traveling alone, you’re forced to talk to more people (unless you just want to be by yourself 24/7, which would drive anyone insane). I’ve gone out alone plenty of times and I always end up meeting more people than if I went out with a group of friends. Why? If you go to a bar alone, for example, you’re not just going to stand in the corner by yourself. It forces you to leave your comfort zone and talk to anyone near you (which leads to the next reason).

    3. You become a better conversationalist – Because you meet so many people when traveling alone, you naturally enhance your conversation skills. There is no one else who you can depend on to carry a conversation; it’s all on you. So naturally, you get better at starting conversations and less hesitant about approaching people.

    4. You get comfortable being uncomfortable – During solo travel, you’re almost never in your comfort zone. You get used to the excitement, the adventure and the bold decisions. Though you’ll undoubtedly face inner resistance, push through it. This is where the magic happens. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Growth only happens when you push your boundaries. This is a big reason why traveling alone spurs so much personal growth.

    5. Flexibility, freedom and spontaneity – You are in complete control of everything you do during solo travel. If you want to do something, there’s no one else to consult with and no consensus to be made. You just do it. Traveling alone gives you ultimate flexibility, a high degree of freedom and the opportunity to be as spontaneous as you wish.

    6. You’re able to put yourself first – This is most applicable to highly empathetic individuals, but still applies to everyone. When you travel alone, you have the rare opportunity to do whatever you want, whenever you want and spontaneously follow your own intuitive desires on a whim. It also allows you to work on any personal projects or develop specific skills you desire while traveling. To use myself as an example, I get much more writing and blog work done when traveling alone compared to when I’m with other people.

    Traveling solo creates a situation in which you can put yourself first, without worrying about hurting other people’s feelings and having to come to a mutually beneficial consensus about everything. If you’re at all empathetic, you always make sure that people around you are happy. This is good of course, but sometimes you have to put yourself first in order to really know yourself (which is the next point) and evolve. And don’t view it as selfish; when you do the inner work, you actually expand your capacity to give to others.

    7. You get to know yourself – When you have to do things on your own and spend time alone, getting to know yourself better is an inevitable side effect. You become more self-aware (in a good way). You become more in tune with your emotions, tendencies, habits, patterns and the deepest aspects of yourself. “Know thyself” was inscribed on The Temple of Apollo at Delphi for a reason. It’s that important.

    8. The lone wolf aura – There’s something beautifully enigmatic about someone who’s confident when they’re alone in a new place. I call this “the lone wolf aura.” People are curious and intrigued by someone who is genuinely self-assured. Solo travel cultivates your own unique lone wolf aura.

    Read my poem “The Lone Wolf Aura” for a deeper look at this.

    9. It’s a pilgrimage – You’re the hero, the star of your own movie. A key component of any hero’s journey is some form of pilgrimage. And it’s always been a crucial step on the path of life for humans.

    Jesus apparently went to Asia for many years to hone his spiritual practices. Buddha supposedly ventured into the woods alone and meditated under a tree for a while. Ash Ketchum traversed Canto and Joto to catch ‘em all (I had to drop a Pokemon reference). The hero archetype is brought to fruition by some form of a pilgrimage.

    What’s unfortunate about our society today is that there is no real guidance regarding this stuff anymore. There are no rites of passage in the modern world.

    But that missing ingredient is why pilgrimages have been making a resurgence in the form of things like backpacking and world travel. People are exploring the world more now than ever before. So this phenomenon is becoming something like a nondenominational pilgrimage. Not subject to any rigid rules of what you should or shouldn’t do. It’s a personal journey. And the details of it are up to you.

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    I hope this post inspired you to embark on an adventure of your own. It may take time and effort to line everything up, but it’s totally worth it.

    I’m not condemning traveling with others either (I’m doing it right now for this part of my trip). However, I believe that everyone can benefit immensely from solo travel, even if it’s only once in your life. If you feel that inner calling, take heed and make it happen.

    It’s all about the journey.

    Live each moment to the fullest.

    – Stevie P!
     

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    6

    Solitary Refinement: The Profound Power of Solitude

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    “Above measure the singular pleasure of solitude” – MF DOOM (Bookfiend)

    That line serendipitously seems to seep into my consciousness whenever I’m immersed in the unique euphoria that solitude brings.

    Solitude can be indescribably blissful, or utterly torturous, depending on your state of being and self-love. Solitary confinement? Or solitary refinement? The choice is up to you.

    I spent the majority of this past weekend in solitude and it was completely cathartic. That’s why I’m even writing this right now.

    We live in a society that overly praises extroverted tendencies and dismisses introverted tendencies as being “anti-social.” Noise is excessively celebrated, while the silence that all sound comes from is overlooked.

    With this imbalance skewed towards extroversion, the word “alone” has become synonymous with “lonely.” But that’s not the case at all. You can be lonely in a crowd, or feel connected with all-that-is when alone.

    I’ll ask you this: Have you mastered yourself, accepted yourself and do you love yourself enough to bask in the glory of solitude?

    “Solitude is painful when one is young, but delightful when one is more mature.” – Albert Einstein

    You must view solitude as a necessary practice in order to become the best version of yourself.

    Solitude comes with an abundance of benefits. It’s no coincidence that many of the greatest people to walk the planet engaged in a regular practice of productive solitude.

    Getting to know yourself.

    The phrase “Know thyself” was famously inscribed at the Temple at Delphi. Knowing oneself is absolutely crucial for any form of self-awareness or personal growth.

    Solitude is the fertile ground upon which the seeds of self-mastery of sewn. When it’s just you and your thoughts, you’re able to bring the subtleties of your own nature into conscious awareness.

    “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” – Lao Tzu

    Empowerment.

    Everything you desire, is first and foremost, an inside job. External peace is not possible without inner peace. External harmony is not possible without inner harmony.

    If you choose to be happy, you’re empowered. But if you rely on external factors to be happy, you’re giving your power away in exchange for victimhood.

    By engaging in productive solitude, you build a solid foundation to become the master of your own destiny.

    Idea generation.

    Solitude gives you space to reflect. It provides the golden silence necessary for you to receive the subtle gems of the universe.

    Ideas just flow effortlessly when you’re alone and in a good state of mind.

    Recharging.

    Solitude acts as a rejuvenating self-reset. It gives you the opportunity to take a break from the chaos of modern life and bring yourself back to equilibrium.

    The ability to give more when around others.

    Just as you’re able to perform at your physical peak after a good night’s rest, you’re able to give more to others after engaging in solitude. Restful yin energy is what allows for the maximization of the active yang energy.

    Someone who has developed themselves simply has a greater capacity to give. Remember, you can’t truly love someone else if you don’t love yourself.

    Also, independence is cultivated in solitude. So this means that you’re far less likely to be a nuisance or unnecessary burden to others. Conscious alone time is essentially flexing your handle-your-business muscle.

    You’re most free when alone.

    There are no compromises, no voting and no worries of pleasing people. Every decision you make is entirely up to you. That’s why it’s easy to be boldly spontaneous when alone, which can be a lot of fun.

    Solitude fosters creation.

    “Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” – Pablo Picasso

    Almost all artistic creation occurs in solitude. There is a level of concentration reached when alone that just doesn’t happen around other people. Combine this with the idea generating nature of solitude and you have a recipe for prolific creation.

    I create my best work when alone. I’m also hard pressed to create anything with others around. A subtle reason for this is that I give everything I’m doing my full attention. So if I’m with other people, connecting with them is my focus.

    Great people have always embraced solitude.

    People who have made a significant impact on the world spent a lot of time in solitude.

    Buddha and Jesus went off by themselves for years. This solitude was a major part in both of their breakthroughs into the level of consciousness available to all of us.

    A major aspect of the hero’s journey (described by Joseph Campbell) is this form of self-discovery.

    “Opportunities
    To find deeper powers
    Within ourselves
    Come when life
    Seems most challenging.”
    – Joseph Campbell

    Writers and any artists thrive off of solitude.

    This goes hand-in-hand with the last two points. Solitude begets creation, as well as the self-reflection to produce timeless works of art.

    Henry David Thoreau (The Notorious HDT) epitomized productive solitude with his two year getaway at Walden Pond, where he produced some of his best work.

    “I’ve never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” – Henry David Thoreau

    Don’t worry though, you don’t have to go to the extreme that Thoreau did to leverage the power of solitude. All it takes is making some productive solitude a regular practice.

    The point of solitude is not in becoming a recluse, but in returning to the world as an ever-evolving version of yourself.

    Cultivate the power of solitude.

    Thoreau-ly enjoy yourself.

    – Stevie P!