The Simple Secret to a Fully Fulfilling Life

mindfulness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mind full or mindful

6 Ways to Cultivate Mindfulness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Practice the Five Sense Walking Meditation

6. Read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

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

Meet each moment with blissful totality.

– Stevie P

Selfie Sticks and Knickknacks (A Unique Take on Tourism)

Tourism is an interesting phenomenon.

On the surface, it seems pretentious and annoying – flocks of foreigners, swooping in on new (to them) lands, taking more pictures than they’ll be able to look at in five lifetimes and throwing their money at local knickknacks that don’t really serve any purpose; all while looking laughably out of place.

But tourism as we see it today is a symptom of transition. People are starting to become interested in different places, different cultures and different ideas. And that’s a beautiful thing. It’s just that most folks haven’t yet honed their inner guidance system enough to proficiently pilot their newfound curiosity through this hybridized world of natural wonder infused with exponentially increasing technology.

The old paradigm, which never served humanity or our planet in the first place, is fading away before our very eyes. We’re moving away from the days of people comfortably sitting in their “identity boxes” (nationality, sex, race, religion…etc.), ignorantly fearful of those within other “identity boxes.” Two world travelers, even from the most different places imaginable, will never go to war against one another. Why? They’ve seen and experienced enough to realize that, at the end of the day, we’re all humans, co-inhabiting this big floating rock. Ignorance is the prerequisite for division-based violence. And in today’s transparent, global society, the dark shadows of ignorance are quickly being illuminated out of existence.

We (the people, not the lawmakers) are also harmonizing many areas of the world toward a more peaceful vibration. This is the flip-side of the utter monstrosity that was colonial imperialism/vampirism. Tourism can be corny, annoying and even mildly exploitative at times, but it’s a step in the right direction. The underlying intentions of tourism (curiosity, wonder and adventure of everyday people) are a far cry from the intent of organized oppression and thievery of entire continents by those in power.

We’re waking up to the fact that we’re all humans, sharing this planet. A reinvigorated, healthy respect for one another, as well as Pachamama (Mother Earth), is sweeping through our collective consciousness. Today’s tourism, tinged with selfie sticks and knickknacks, is just a silly bridge between the old and the new.

One love.

– Stevie P

PS – This post wouldn’t be complete without a selfie of my own…

I don’t usually take selfies, but when I do it’s with contemplative monkeys.

A photo posted by steviepthatsme (@steviepthatsme) on


 

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Annihilate Anxiety With Deep Breathing

Anxiety has been a topic of great interest to me recently. I’ve pored over research, pondered extensively, talked to many people about it and brainstormed some creative solutions. That’s why I created an online course, entitled Annihilate Anxiety, which will be available very, very soon (check out the website here for more information).

When it comes to transcending anxiety, one key element is deep breathing.

Enter the breath…

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The breath is the gateway to self-mastery.

Whatever you do, do not underrate the practice of breathing. Like with most normal human functions (walking is another example), you can easily fool yourself into overlooking its profound power. Just because the act of breathing is so simple does not make it ineffective. It’s actually quite the opposite. Deep breathing is an essential everyday panacea.

What makes the breath unique is that, even though the majority of it is done unconsciously, you can override this process and breathe consciously. This “conscious override” makes it a highly effective, special tool.

As you (hopefully) already know, deep breathing relaxes your body and mind. But the key is to truly, wholeheartedly understand this and be aware of your breathing as often as possible. When you’re aware of your breath, and consciously breathe deeply, you place yourself in a power position to change your mental, emotional and physical state.

Take a second, right now, to be aware of your breath…

Is it shallow? Hurried? Erratic? Where are you breathing into? Your throat? Your chest?

Inhale deeply. Breathe into your belly. Let your stomach expand as you take in air through your nose. Exhale slowly. Do this a few times.

Do you feel the change?

Notice your breath as often as possible, and breathe deeply. Shallow breathing goes hand-in-hand with fear-based emotions (like anxiety), while deep breathing is peaceful and calming.

If you feel anxious, move your focus to your breath. Breathe deeply, and after a few seconds your mind will naturally calm down. Deep breathing doesn’t just help with acute anxiety either. Incorporating conscious, deep breathing in your day-to-day life gives your overall experience a coating of blissful, zen-like centeredness. It’s like breathing yourself into the eye of the storm. There may be utter turbulence surrounding you, but you reside in a place of smirk-inducing serenity.

A mantra that is greatly helpful while deep breathing is “All I have is my breath.” Whenever I feel anxious or too in my head, I repeat that mantra to myself while taking deep breaths. Then, after just a few moments, there is a shift. And I feel much more at peace and centered.

It seems so simple, but deep breathing really works.

One of the best specific breathing techniques for overcoming anxiety is Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 Breath. Here’s how to do it:
1. Inhale for a count of 4
2. Hold your breath for a count of 7
3. Exhale for a count of 8
4. Repeat this cycle 4 times

Making this a daily practice is tremendously beneficial. Plus it’s so short that anyone can incorporate it into their day.

Why is deep breathing so effective? (A short list of some benefits that are directly and indirectly related to overcoming anxiety)

  • Creates mental awareness
  • Creates physical awareness
  • Relaxes the body and releases physical tension
  • Relaxes the mind and releases mental/emotional tension
  • Fosters presence (which is indescribably life-transforming)
  • Provides a sense of empowerment
  • Creates a “sacred pause”
  • Oxygenates the body and brain (healthy body and optimized cognition)
  • Readjusts focus (ex/ If you focus on your breath, you won’t focus on what you’re getting anxious about)
  • Begets a “higher perspective” (mastering the mind as opposed to being a slave to it)

Deep breathing is an immensely powerful tool with benefits that span the spectrum of existence.

Cultivate breathing awareness.

Inhale serenity, exhale anxiety.

Find your breath.

– Stevie P!

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There Are No Problems in the Present Moment

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While I was in the shower this morning, I found myself getting annoyed and worked up…

I recently broke up with the woman I was dating. So I was grappling with my ego and mulling over the past. Realizing that I had created this negative mental spiral, I asked myself “What am I doing RIGHT NOW?” My answer was simply “I’m in the shower.” No problems, nothing bad happening to me, just water happily running over my body.

Of course, parting ways with someone close to you is difficult, but being completely present helped me to transcend the incessant, ego-driven thought loops that didn’t serve me.

To be clear, I’m not saying to suppress or ignore emotions. They must be acknowledged and dealt with or they will manifest in insidious ways. I’m merely pointing out that, through presence, I was able to stop the repetitive, problem-creating “ego-talk” that wasn’t doing me any good.

Combine intense presence with viewing everything as a learning experience or challenge (see: The Challenge Perspective), and you’ll be alright no matter what.

“There’s no place quite like here. There’s no better time than now.” – Jhene Aiko

Be here totally. Be here now.

When you’re completely in the moment, you feel blissful no matter what. It just works that way. But when we obsess over the past or future, everything starts becoming an issue. Our neurotic monkey mind, which can be an extremely useful tool, becomes problematic when we’re engulfed by it.

“The circumstances you are experiencing are not the cause of your suffering. The cause of your suffering is the thought that what is happening should not be happening or is not supposed to be happening.” – Teal Swan

That message is profound. And it does not mean that you should become passive and do nothing with your life. Not at all. To put it another way, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. Just be. Totally accept the present moment and fully immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing; that’s when so-called problems fade away and life becomes magical.

How to steep yourself in the sweet nectar of the present moment:

1. Recognize when you’re obsessing over the past or future.
Are you caught in endless loops of thought? Are you playing out arguments in your head? Are you defending yourself in your head? Is your ego trying to justify itself? Are you thinking about how you’re better (or worse) than someone? Are you worrying about something that might happen in the future? Are you marinating on something in the past that you can’t change?

2. Ask yourself “What am I doing RIGHT NOW?”
What are you doing right now, at this very moment? Not five minutes from now, not next week. What are you doing NOW? Whenever you do this, you find that it’s all good and that the problems you’re creating in your head are based on projections into the past or future.

The exception to this is something like getting chased by a bear. But in any life-threatening situation, you don’t have “time” (see what I did there?) to worry or feel bad for yourself. You’re just absorbed in the moment and existing in pure, adrenaline-fueled action. Danger can be very real but fear is a mental construct.

3. Firmly tell yourself to “Be here now.” (Or any other affirmation that helps to bring you back to the present moment.)

A mantra that keeps me present and worry-free is “All I have is my breath.” I breathe deeply and repeat those words to myself. This mantra grounds me into the moment and makes me truly understand that anything can be taken away from me at any time. It puts me at peace with the perpetual, enigmatic flux of the Universe.

To drive the point hOMe, here are some quotes from The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle:

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”

“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”

“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.”

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”

Embrace the present, it’s a gift.

Much love.

– Stevie P

The Shirters (A Short Story)

 

Assorted colos

 

Once upon a manifestation of infinite possibility, people always wore shirts.

Because people always wore shirts, everyone defined themselves by the color of the shirt they wore.

There were people dressed in every color shirt imaginable, spanning the spectrum of the sense of sight.

Eventually, those who wore white shirts (the “white shirters”) began to claim that their color shirt was more “pure” than the rest. They despised anyone who wore a different color shirt. This hatred bubbled up until the white shirters started attacking non-white shirters. The white shirters held the fearful belief that any other color shirt was a threat to the pureness of their white shirts.

In their first offensive, the white shirters formed a large group and marched towards the home of some blue shirters. In a frenzy of senseless malice, the white shirters started killing blue shirters left and right. The blue shirters, feeling terrorized, organized into their own group and retaliated. But they lost the battle.

Hearing the news, every color of shirters divided into their own tight-knit group. Each group armed themselves, ready for any outside attack.

The red shirters, however, decided on a more proactive strategy. Trying to beat the white shirters at their own game, they launched an attack on the white shirters. They also began to attack everyone else who wasn’t a red shirter. In doing this, they became the very force that they were fighting against and caused even more chaos.

Though damaged by the red shirters’ attack, the white shirters continued their campaign. Next, they attacked the green shirters.

Storming into the village of the green shirters, they came across an elder green shirter.

In a condescending tone, the white shirters collectively chanted, “We, the pure white shirters, have come to eliminate you pathetic green shirters.”

The elder, scanning the group of white shirters with a curiously tilted head, said, “I’m not a green shirter. It’s just the color of the shirt I’m wearing, not who I am.”

The white shirters were perplexed by this assertion. They couldn’t fathom the concept that a person’s identity does not lie within the color of their shirt.

“I see a green shirt! So you’re a green shirter!” Exclaimed one of the more rowdy white shirters, and the whole group erupted in angry agreement. In a fit of blind fury, they killed the elder green shirter.

The next village to pillage on the white shirters’ treacherous campaign was that of the black shirters.

One black shirter, knowing that the white shirters’ rampaging approach was imminent, had a sudden revelation…

As the white shirters arrived, the black shirter removed the black shirt. The shirtless individual then walked up to the herd of white shirters, who were frozen in stupefied surprise by the sight. Suspenseful silence permeated the air.

In fearful confusion, the head white shirter barked “What color shirter are you?”

With arms wide open, the individual cheerfully replied, “I’m not wearing a shirt.”

The white shirters couldn’t comprehend this. Both themselves and everyone they ever saw had worn a shirt their entire lives, and dutifully classified themselves by its color.

In a wave of realization, one brave white shirter removed their white shirt. The others gasped in horror as the individual walked up to the other. They greeted one another with a hesitant handshake that transformed into a wholehearted hug.

Seeing the two together, both shirtless, the group couldn’t help but realize that everyone shares the same essence underneath their shirts.

Gradually, more and more white shirters joined in and removed their shirts. Some resisted at first, but eventually the whole group was shirtless.

One individual, who had been a staunch white shirter his whole life, looked at the awe-inspiring scene and pondered to himself…

“How silly a concept, to believe that I am nothing but the color of my shirt. And how ridiculously stupid it is to kill others that I view as different based on such a silly belief.”

Seeing how they had caused so much harm and hardship by separating themselves, all of the various shirters eventually removed their shirts; their layer of false identity.

They realized how pointless it was to divide themselves into opposing groups. Now united as one, all vowed to cooperate with one another and co-create a more harmonious reality together.

The beginning…

 

Why Meditation Is An Indispensable Tool For The Information Age

Why is meditation so necessary in this age of information saturation?

Because it’s a break. A break from absorbing. A vacation from the state of mental-overload.

You temporarily halt the assault of data input through your senses.

Metaphor #1:
Think of it like when the star of a basketball team gets a much-needed 2 minute break on the bench. All they need is a little time to catch their breath, then they jump back into the game, giving it their all until the sound of the final buzzer. Without a short break, fatigue would accumulate and his/her performance would suffer. Your mind is the star player, and meditation is the much-needed short break.

Most of us are constantly absorbing, leaving us with no “break”, let alone an opportunity to create something.

Metaphor #2:
Our minds are like a mop. A mop absorbs liquid and cleans a floor. Our minds absorb information and we act on that information. Mops periodically have to be squeegeed before they become over-saturated and lose functionality (turning the floor into a big, dirty puddle). Our minds have to be cleared before they become over-saturated and lose functionality (ie paralysis by analysis, information overload, anxiety, over-thinking…etc). We need to clear our minds regularly in order to maintain optimal functionality.

Meditation is cleaning the mind clutter.

Meditation is a break from the constant external bombardment of the information age.

And this break I’m talking about allows for 4 things:

1. Inner peace, joy, harmony, love- You know the feeling when it strikes. You just know.

2. Inspiration– It clears all of the noise (input) and allows inspiration to come through. This is when you can get great ideas. People come up with their best ideas when they’re relaxed and at ease. Meditation is the epitome of that state.

3. Self-resetting- Meditation is a reset for your entire being. Mind, body, and spirit. It’s a reset button that leaves you feeling refreshed and anew.

4. Increased focus- When you clear your mind, you allow it to function at its full capacity. The mind doesn’t function well when it’s constantly cluttered, preoccupied, and tired. It’s so much easier to focus on the task at hand when you regularly practice meditation.

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I came across the following lil gem while writing this:
“…and if we don’t actively reset ourselves, then we miss out on the joy that is life, and we overlook the astounding beauty that lies in each moment. Life is a gift and a treasure, and the best revenge truly is living well.” -Dylan Charles

Here’s a quick guide on the basics of meditation. And remember, meditation can come in various forms. Whenever you’re in a state of no-thought, just simply being, that’s meditation.

Break and create!

Once you “free your mind” you’ll get all kinds of inspiration out of nowhere. So much that you’ll feel an insatiable urge to create. And what you create will be completely up to you.

Relax your mind. Be a creator.

Stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great.

-Stevie P