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The Openhanded Life

Openhandedness

“Hold on is what they say
But I say open up your hands and let it fly away
Until the day it comes back and it was meant to be
Take a look at the lovely gift the world has sent to me
Don’t suffer you got to maintain
The rougher the storm gets the more they complain
They don’t aim
They shoot sporadically
Panicky and so dramatically
He ran frantically
Summarized by the look in his eyes
He couldn’t hold on after one too many tries”

– Aceyalone

Do you feel the need to clutch onto everything you desire?

Most of us do. We’ve been conditioned that we must grab what we want and hold onto it for dear life. This applies to everything, from our identity, to our goals, to our relationships, to money, and everything in between.

What if I told you that life is more about letting go than holding on? Well, that is if you want to be happy, fulfilled, present and at peace. If you want to cause yourself more suffering, feel free to stop reading now.

Enter: Openhandedness

Openhandedness is characterized by releasing that fearful, egoic clinging to everything, letting go, generously giving and cultivating the ability to receive.

An open hand can both give and receive, while a closed fist can do neither. If we look at the two basic motivating forces, fear and love, openhandedness is based in love while a closed fist is based in fear. Fear is constricting, an inhibitor to growth and a creator of unnecessary barriers. Love is opening. Love is growth. Love is freedom.

Openhandedness doesn’t necessarily mean walking around with your hands out 24/7 like you’re a Jesus figurine or something. It’s a metaphor for your general mindset. If you’re always so constricted and closed-off, you’ll never have the opportunity to give or receive. A closed fist is also used to cling onto things. And so many of us desperately cling to every part of our lives, for fear of losing whatever it is we’re clinging to. This is absolutely exhausting and completely driven by fear and scarcity.

“Let go or be dragged.” – Zen Proverb

What happens when you cling to a person too much? They feel suffocated and push you away. What happens when you cling to your money? You drive yourself crazy worrying about it, poison your relationships and cut yourself off to making more. What happens when you cling to your identity? You end up pigeonholing yourself and block any spontaneity or change from coming into your life.

This is the mode that most people live in, especially in modern western society. I was completely controlled by this mentality myself until fairly recently. It’s a byproduct of being possessed by the ego, living in fear and not trusting the process of life. That’s a miserable way to go through life.

Yet a magical shift happens once you allow yourself to let go and trust the process of life. That which is meant to come comes and that which is meant to go goes. When you live an openhanded life, you give generously, receive often and joyfully flow with the unfoldment of each moment as it arises. Good things come and go, their beautiful fleetingness thoroughly enjoyed. Challenges are adeptly addressed then let go of. Situations come and go. People come and go. Those who remain in your life remain because they truly want to, not because you fearfully cling onto them. The openhanded life is beautiful, free flowing and rooted in unconditional love.

Lupe Fiasco has a brilliant reference to openhandedness in his song They. Resurrect. Over. New, saying “It’s a new year, every time I open my hands.” When you live an openhanded life, you’re rebirthing yourself in every moment. You’re effortlessly allowing life to spontaneously unfold and dynamically change.

Note: Openhandedness is not synonymous with inaction. When you’re openhanded, you align your actions with the flow of life. You harmonize all aspects of your being instead of letting your ego try to control every situation.

The Main Characteristics of Openhanded Life

Generosity – Giving with an open hand. Giving freely and without expectation. Loving openly and wholeheartedly.

In giving more you receive more. How do you receive more love? By giving more love! Now you might be saying, “This doesn’t work for something like money. You can’t get more money by giving more money.” Well, here’s the thing; if you give more in every aspect of life, you will cultivate a life where you do have more money (and more abundance in general). If you give generously, provide value and help people, you will inevitably find yourself in opportunities that make you more money (professional connections, entrepreneurial opportunities, job promotions, a better job…etc.). So while it may not be an exact 1:1 ratio (ex/ giving $50 and getting $50 the next day), be open to your giving and receiving coming in many forms.

Being Open to Receive – Knowing that you’re worthy of receiving (we all are). Being open to things, situations and people coming into your life when you least expect it. Receiving with gratitude.

Letting Go – Releasing your fearful vice grip to everything. Practicing the power of surrender. Allowing things to unfold as they may. Living motivated by love and without attachment. Remember, attachment is based in fear.

Abundance Mentality – Having an abundance mentality as opposed to a scarcity mentality. The belief that you will always get what you need and you will always be provided for. The belief that there is enough for everyone. The belief that love is an infinite resource.

Faith – Faith in the process of life. Faith in the universe. Faith in your intuition. Being able to trust that things will come into your life when needed.

“It’s a belief: Life is always happening for us, not to us. It’s our job to find out where the benefit is. If we do, life is magnificent.”
– Tony Robbins

Harmony – Harmony is being in alignment. There is no discrepancy between your desires, your intuition and the flow of life. All aspects of your being synergistically work together. When living in closed-fisted fear, the ego attempts to control every situation, which as many people find out, often does more harm than good.

When you intuitively live and act in harmony with the flow of life, life takes on a level of beauty and serendipity that you never could’ve imagined from the limited viewpoint of egoic fear. This sounds like overly poeticized rhetoric but I know it to be true, both from personal experience and the stories of many, many other people.

Spontaneity – Flowing with life, dynamically adapting to any situation. Sailing with the winds of change. Not clutching onto what was or how things could be. Living fully in the present moment and truly enjoying life.

Now that you’ve read about openhandedness, it’s time to apply.

Live that #openhandedlife

Much love.

– Stevie P!
 

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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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16 Things You Need to Know About Ayahuasca

Aya

Master Shaman Alberto whistling an icaro into my cup of ayahuasca

Ayahuasca… You’ve probably heard the word recently.

The spirit vine, as it’s called, has been used traditionally by Amazonian shamans for (at least) thousands of years. Ayahuasca is typically consumed as a brew that has entheogenic properties and contains DMT (Dimethyltryptamine aka the spirit molecule). Now, with a global awakening in progress, Ayahuasca’s profound spiritual effects are now attracting more and more westerners. Although it may seem like it’s the latest trendy beverage in the consciousness niche of the internet, Ayahuasca is in another realm (literally) compared to your health food store kombucha.

I very recently went on an Ayahuasca retreat and I already feel that it has fundamentally changed my life for the better. Much of this inner shift has come in ways which were previously unfathomable to me, which further adds to the alluring aura of the spirit vine.

If you’re skeptical, do not dismiss Ayahuasca as a “drug” offhand. It is the complete antithesis of an escape and has been consistently shown to break drug addictions. Many plants provided by Mother Nature harbor potent healing properties and Ayahuasca is a prime example of this.

Here are 16 things you need to know about Ayahuasca. This isn’t a copy/pasted list of generic facts and you won’t find this type of information on Wikipedia. This article is a synthesis of some of my firsthand experience (so far). And funnily enough, you can apply most of this list to life in general, making it practical and pragmatic for everyone (even if you have no interest in doing Ayahuasca).

1. The stronger Ayahuasca calls you, the more ready you are for it.
Every single person who I’ve talked to that has communed with Ayahuasca has said that it was calling them in some way, shape or form. This is a sign that you’re ready for the medicine and it happened with me as well. For the last 2 years, the word “Ayahuasca” kept popping up everywhere for me (articles, books, people mentioning it…etc.). It eventually got to the point where I had to heed the call.

2. Ayahuasca is different for everyone.
Like everything in life, Ayahuasca is unique to each person. And that’s the beauty of it. Some people get a lot of visuals and some get more feelings; some have difficult experiences and some have joyous experiences beyond their wildest dreams. Ayahuasca provides a dynamic experience that gives you exactly what you need, which is the next point.

3. Ayahuasca will give you exactly what you need.
Along with being unique to each individual, Ayahuasca gives everyone exactly what they need. If you have a major limiting belief regarding money, Ayahuasca will address it. If you’re too ego-driven, Ayahuasca will put your ego in its place. A great example of “getting exactly what you need” was the experience of my roommate at the retreat. He was skeptical of Ayahuasca in the beginning and a bit frustrated because he didn’t experience much during the first three ceremonies. But the fourth ceremony turned out to be an epic journey for him. He said that he went “to the singularity and back,” saw “everything” and now believes in God (not the religious God, but the “God energy” which is the everythingness/nothingness/source that everything comes out of). He even told people that he went from a rigid atheist to openly spiritual in less than 24 hours, which is exactly what he needed.

4. You must relax into Ayahuasca to maximize the experience.
Waiting for Ayahuasca to kick in (after drinking it) is a lesson in and of itself. You won’t get deep into the medicine if you’re resistant, fearful and tense. You need to let go and surrender to it, which is excruciatingly difficult for the control-craving, egoic mind. Surrender is often thought of as negative in Western culture, but it’s not. It’s an act of trusting and letting go of all fear. When you take a train, do you try to stop it, turn it, or constantly look out the window to make sure it’s moving correctly? No, you trust that it’s taking you to your destination. In this context, Ayahuasca can be thought of as a train to unconditional love.

5. You have to meet Ayahuasca halfway.
Like I just described, you have to relax into the medicine for it to fully work. Ayahuasca will be most effective when you help out from your side. Also, after the ceremonies, it’s up to you to carry the momentum into your daily life. Although Ayahuasca does a lot of work behind the scenes, it’s also your responsibility to integrate your experiences, break out of patterns that were limiting you and continue evolving into the best version of yourself.

Think of it like getting a boost to climb over a wall. You may get some help in the form of a boost, but it’s ultimately up to you to grab the wall and climb over.

6. Ayahuasca should be treated as sacred.
It’s not a recreational drug. It’s not an escape from reality (quite the opposite in fact). Ayahuasca is a sacred plant that is most effective when used ceremonially. It also does not mix well with a lot of other substances, which is why you should only consume it with people who know what they’re doing.

7. Ayahuasca will be one of the most unique experiences of your life.
An Ayahuasca journey is so different, indescribably different, from the physical reality you’re accustomed to. Space and time become irrelevant slipstreams as you explore the most fantastic realms of existence. Words only point in the general direction of the experience, so I’ll just leave it at that.

8. The terror equals the ecstasy.
One thing that Ayahuasca has become infamous for is the terrifying experiences it can deliver. Sure, it might be scary at times, but every new realm we enter can be scary before we learn how to navigate them. Think about the first time you went into a gym. I remember being terrified, not knowing how anything worked and thinking everyone was watching me. But as I learned how to navigate the gym realm, the fear faded away.

Another dimension of this is that in order for a tree to grow tall, it must first have deep roots. The same applies to us; we must all go into our roots, our darkness, in order to grow towards the light. It’s all a balance. If you want to get metaphysical, we only experience this balance of both sides because we live in duality right now.

And lastly, there’s really nothing to fear, as everything you experience is a part of you (which is the next point). Also, remember that “Infinite love is the only truth, everything else is illusion.”

9. It’s all within you.
Everything you experience on Ayahuasca is something within you. Every scary thing you experience is a part of your psyche. Every battle is you against you, so there is nothing to fear. Fear is actually what creates the disharmony. An Ayahuasca journey is a matter of unraveling the disharmony within.

Life in general is similar, with everything in external reality being a reflection of internal reality. Change the inner, and the external changes as a direct result. Ayahuasca is just a direct, intense means of changing the internal.

10. Ayahuasca will show you things you’ve hidden deep within.
Things that you’ve kept hidden from yourself will be brought to the surface and released. You may not even consciously know it until they come up and are healed. So many people have become experts at deceiving themselves and Ayahuasca uncovers the deceit before your very eyes (or before your third eye haha).

11. All of your preconceived notions will be shattered.
Your sense of possibility will be wide open after an Ayahuasca journey. All of your fundamental assumptions will be tested and all of your limiting beliefs will be dropped. Yes, it’s that mind-blowing.

12. You will become a better person.
Ayahuasca releases what doesn’t serve you and aligns you with the harmonious energy of love, opening you up to continuous growth and evolution. I can already feel that I’m a significantly improved person now, less than a week after my Ayahuasca retreat.

13. It takes weeks and months for the physical body and physical reality to fully catch up to the energetic changes made.
Ayahuasca does most of its work in the energetic realms and the energetic reality is the template from which the physical manifests. However, the physical (being physical) is much more slow and rigid than the non-physical. As a result, changes which are immediate energetically take a while to physically come to fruition. This is why many people experience the most profound changes in their daily physical life during the weeks and months after taking Ayahuasca.

14. Ayahuasca is not the be-all and end-all of personal growth and healing.
Ayahuasca is just another modality for self-improvement. There’s no need to get lost in it. It’s tremendously effective and does a lot of work in a short period of time, but it’s not the only way. There are an infinite amount of ways to reach any goal.

15. Ayahuasca tastes nasty.
I just want to throw this out there; Ayahuasca tastes like a combination of tobacco juice and stale espresso, with the consistency and texture of sludge. But don’t let this minor detail deter you from one of the most profound experiences of your life. You can get it down.

16. Choose a safe, reputable place to consume Ayahuasca.
Ayahuasca opens you up energetically and can make physical reality seem far, far away. Because of this, you’re much more open on every level, for better or worse. So choose to be open for the better. Don’t put yourself in a vulnerable state around people who don’t have your best interest in mind.

If Ayahuasca is calling you, I would highly recommend you to do it with Blue Morpho (the organization that I did my retreat with). They provide the best environment possible and their staff is among the kindest, most helpful people I’ve ever met.

Note that this is not a comprehensive list. Ayahuasca is so dynamic and so profound that fully describing every detail of it would be next to impossible. I just had to stop somewhere before this post turned into its own book.

Love and medicine.

– Stevie P!

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Poetry: Surprise! It’s Life

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Unpredictability
Perpetual flux
An endless series
Of unforeseen mystery

Just when you think
You have it all figured out
Surprise
Curveball
Keep that ego in check

We can try to create buffers
Chasing the mirage of perfection
Faking invincibility
Feigning protection

But all in all
We are utterly unguarded
Wholly exposed
Altogether vulnerable
To the whimsical whims of the universe

Yet paradox prevails
For it is in surrender
Not resistance
Where we find our strength
Our infinite power

Take that leap of faith
Dive into the river of life
And see where it takes you

Every experience
Is surprisingly perfect
For your personal growth
And ethereal purpose