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Alan Watts on Music and Life

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Have you ever said this to yourself before?

“I’ll be happy when [this] happens.”

“I’ll be happy once I find the right girl/guy.”

“I’ll be fulfilled when ________.”

We’ve all done this. But here’s the thing: We’ve been programmed to do so.

We’re conditioned to think that salvation lies at the end of the rainbow. It’s a malicious deception that has us chasing that “something” our whole lives, yet never finding it. We believe that happiness awaits us tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes. So most people spend their whole lives waiting for their lives to start.

Even when we get what we wanted, we don’t fully appreciate it, because our minds have been conditioned to constantly search for happiness somewhere in the future.

Here’s the secret: What we’re searching for is hidden in plain sight, in the here and now. This isn’t some woo-woo metaphorical rhetoric. It’s true and applicable RIGHT NOW. There’s a reason why the core teachings of almost every spiritual or self-help book is presence and mindfulness. It’s something that is absolutely crucial to understand and PRACTICE.

Take just a few moments to be fully present. Tune into the present moment, experience all of your senses (come to your senses), hold gratitude for where you’re at right now, and you’ll realize that this is what you’ve been searching for all along.

That’s the paradox. The happiness we think happens somewhere in the future when this or that happens has actually been with us all along, in the present moment.

You don’t listen to music just to hear the last note. You don’t eat a meal just for the last bite. You don’t just read the last page of a novel. You don’t just watch the climax of a movie. The process – the ups, downs, challenges and triumphs – is what makes everything beautiful, worthwhile and fun. The same goes for life.

Alan Watts brilliantly explains this concept in a lecture called “Music and Life.” The way he expresses this concept will shift your entire paradigm on life. Here’s the transcript:

Alan Watts

In music one doesn’t make the end of a composition the point of the composition. If that were so the best conductors would be those who played fastest, and there would be composers who wrote only finales. People would go to concerts just to hear one crashing chord; because that’s the end!

But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our every day conduct. We’ve got a system of schooling that gives a completely different impression. It’s all graded. And what we do is we put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of “come on kitty kitty kitty”, and now you go to kindergarten. And that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade, and then come on; first grade leads to second grade and so on, and then you get out of grade school. Now you’re going to go to high school, and it’s revving up – the thing is coming. Then you’ve got to go to college, and by Jove then you get into graduate school and when you’re through with graduate school you go out and join the World!

And then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re gonna make that. And all the time that thing is coming. It’s coming, it’s coming! That great thing, the success you’re working for. Then when you wake up one day at about 40 years old you say “My God! I’ve arrived! I’m there”. And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt.

And there’s a slight let down because you feel there’s a hoax. And there was a hoax. A dreadful hoax. They made you miss everything. We thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage which had a serious purpose at the end and the thing was to get to that end. Success or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead.

But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing and we were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.

Alan Watts – Music and Life

Coffee Mindfulness Meditation

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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!

The Power of Surrender

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In our modern Western culture, the word “surrender” is thought of as negative.

The basic definition of surrender is “to yield to the power of another.”

It has become synonymous with giving up and viewed as an irrevocable display of weakness. But, contrary to popular belief, the act of surrender may possess far more power than you’ve ever imagined.

Let’s look at another interpretation. In the religious context, surrender “means that a believer completely gives up his own will and subjects his thoughts, ideas, and deeds to the will and teachings of a higher power.” (Wikipedia)

I’ve come to view surrender as something slightly different than what both the dictionary and religious definitions imply. To me, surrender is letting go of your egoic sense of control and allowing the rational mind to yield to a higher purpose. (“Higher purpose” meaning that it’s beyond and more expansive than the ego, the rational mind and physical reality.)

While the religious perspective has some innate wisdom, I don’t believe that this higher purpose or higher power has to be something separate from us. Separation is a physical illusion, as everything is connected on some level. We are multi-dimensional beings, whose layers eventually roll up to Source, God, the Infinite or whatever you believe is the essence of everything. However, simply heeding this intuitive wisdom, whatever that source may be, is more important than debating about exactly what it is or if it’s something separate from us or not.

This higher purpose often comes in the form of subtle intuition that the conscious mind can’t quite grasp. It can also be a deep-seated feeling (aka gut feeling) that you can’t completely rationalize but know to be true.

Surrendering to the Flow of Higher Purpose

I’m not going to say it’s God or angels or spirit guides or higher self or Zordon, because I don’t know for sure. But there is undoubtedly some source of intuition that subtly feeds us information and guides us in certain directions. I’m just calling it “higher purpose” for the (higher) purpose of this article (see what I did there?). Plus, it reminds me of the great Buckminster Fuller quote “God is a verb.”

Surrendering to the flow of higher purpose is ultimately a surrender of the ego and its controlling tendencies. It’s also a surrender of the problem-solving/problem-finding mind to heart-wisdom or intuition. There is less logic and rationality involved, but more feeling, trust and an intrinsic sense of knowing. You release all fear and flow with a higher aspect of yourself that sees beyond what your conscious mind does. While the conscious mind only sees the next step, the intuition sees the entire journey.

Trying to control life with your egoic mind is like trying to walk on your hands (your hands being your egoic mind and your legs being your higher purpose/intuition/heart-wisdom). Sure, you can walk on your hands, but your legs are so much more capable of walking. Besides, your hands are of far more use when they’re free. It’s just like how your mind is sharper and more useful when you’re not exhausting or stressing it 24/7. Let go of that inner egoic control-freak and surrender to the mysterious wisdom of your heart’s intuition. Remember, the mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.

Think of this higher purpose as a stream carving through the landscapes of life, always leading to the ocean called “What You Need Most for Your Growth” (Yeah, it’s an ocean with a long name). You can choose to flow with this higher knowing, or go against it. And we all know what happens when we go against our intuition…

Additionally, surrender doesn’t mean being a victim or just sitting around waiting for things to happen. It means heeding your intuition, surrendering to that higher knowing and moving with faith, knowing that your intuitive compass is pointing you in the right direction (because it always does). Another major component is surrendering to the moment.

For more in depth articles on ego, intuition and all of that good stuff:
How To Hone Your Intuition
What Does Your Ego Look Like?

Surrendering to the Moment

Though blind faith in man-made systems without any critical discernment can leave you vulnerable to manipulation, not having faith in anything is just as debilitating (if not more so).

Trust the process of life. Have faith that everything happens for a reason. Trust that life is unfolding for your highest good. Well, what’s the other option anyway? Living in perpetual fear and doubt!? Eh, no thanks.

“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

Surrendering to the moment doesn’t mean not changing anything. It’s simply an acceptance of what is, accepting that what is happening is indeed happening. There is none of the paralyzing, insidious self-denial that slowly gnaws away at your well-being. Accepting the moment (what IS) actually puts you in a better position to change or maximize your situation than not accepting the moment.

For example, if it’s 2PM and you surrender to the fact that you’re stuck at work for three more hours, it puts you in a position to make the most of it. But if you resist what’s happening, you guarantee yourself complete misery for the next three hours. Here’s another one: If you’re overweight and you accept it, only then can you make the lifestyle changes to make yourself fit and healthy. But if you’re in denial of the situation, that self-delusion will prevent you from facing reality and making a change.

The Journey of Life

Learn to let go of your sense of egoic control and trust the flow of life. And paradoxically, when you do this, more of your desires come to fruition. Life is strange, right?

Your intuition is your built-in GPS (higher purpose), trust that it’s bringing you to the right place. Just keep your eyes on the road (be in the present moment) and your hands upon the wheel (ready for action).

Feel the paradoxical power of surrender.

One love.

– 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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