It begins in the dark.
There is a hard exterior around us.
We can feel it. It's constricting.
But at the same time, it's all we know.
It's safe here in this small, dark place.
But still, we know there's something more for us. What's beyond this darkness? What will we find if we leave our small, safe space?
Perhaps the better question is, what will happen if we don't leave?
Nothing doesn't sound so great. We know the nothing. And we know that soon, we're going to be too big, and the nothing will squeeze us until we are extinguished.
And so, we take the first step. We try something. We push on that wall a little bit. This puts a little crack in the shell. We take more steps, and more cracks are made.
This is a bit exhausting. What if this isn't worth it? What if we try to break free, only to find there's nothing out there? What if we break free only to find it's terrible, and scary?
Oh, but what if we break free and find things more majestic than we ever dreamed?
And so we try more, pushing, pushing, struggling, this is so much harder than it seemed. This could go on forever. Maybe we won't make it... maybe we're just not strong enough... or not meant to make it. How will we know when we're close? How will we know when the darkness will give way to something else? Will we ever know?
Maybe that doesn't matter. Staying in the shell will surely be worse, so we might as well keep trying. Keep going. There is nothing left but to have faith we'll make it. No matter what, just keep going.
And then something breaks! A crack goes all the way through, and ah, it's so bright!
We hear something - what's out there? What's waiting for us?
It's calling to us, just a little more, come on, this is it!
A bit more, a bit more, there... there it is! Freedom!
After all the effort it took to break free, to be in the light and see the colors, the faces, the newness. There's so much to see and do from this new vantage point!
The hard, dark interior of the shell no longer looks safe at all. Instead, it looks like what it is - a way to show us who we really are. Each step we took strengthened us. Each time we went on when we thought we couldn't taught us patience, resilience and focus.
We had to be awakened to our strength and courage. We had to face the fear of the unknown.
We had to break free on our own, for if anyone had broken the shell for us, we would have never known all the potential waiting inside of us.
Maybe we were born to do this. Or maybe we learned how along the way. Maybe it's both, or something more we can't understand. All we know for sure is, life is so much sweeter outside of that shell, and what comes next will be full of more challenges, more glory, more things that push our limits.
We will awaken more, coming to realize, this is an ever expanding, ever enriching process that began with one brave step, one miraculous desire to leave the known for the unknown.
There is a button in my brain that I push whenever something feels uncomfortable, uncertain or out of my control.
This button releases chemicals from my brain that trigger heightened feelings in my body. These feelings translate into a quickened pulse, shortened breath and tight stomach. In a word, it's anxiety.
This morning I was thinking about a project I recently submitted for review. I really want this review to go well. I have been working on this project for years, but it was never quite right. Each time I submitted it, I was given a low rating and told to revise and try again.
This repeated response developed a response in me in return. Now, when I think about getting my review back, I reach into my brain, scan those past experiences, and pull together an analysis that says SCARY SCARY SCARY. I remember how it felt to get my past feedback, the disappointment in not only my work, but myself, my life and my seeming inability to get it right.
As I tuned into these feelings of Watch out - you've been here before and it was bad! I pushed the button. My stomach tightened up. I felt myself contract and go into a sort of survival mode, which is my way of preparing for the worst.
And then I remembered - the body follows the mind.
My mind is telling my body to generate these feelings. My body does not create feelings. It doesn't create emotions. Those come from the mind, are processed in the body, and then felt in overwhelming clarity. These body sensations can be so big and powerful, it can feel as if the mind isn't involved at all. But it is. It's pushing the button that starts it all. Sometimes it even pushes it over and over in a panic mode, which deepens the panic in the body, until I convince myself I have no control.
But I do. I always do. And that's the magical key I've been missing all these years. This key unlocks all the strength and grace I knew I was in me, but couldn't get to.
Believing I have no control over anxiety comes from a belief I have no control over my responses to the world. But if I'm not choosing how I respond, then that means I'm on autopilot. I refuse to believe this magnificent mind was designed to go into autopilot and coast, like some zombie, to my last breath.
I know I am an empowered being. I know there is enough power, wisdom and love within me to generate any thought or feeling I want at any time. I just have to accept it.
Accepting I can untangle myself from anxiety does not mean I will now flip a switch and stop doing it. This change, like all change, will be a step by step process. And the first step in this was to acknowledge I'm done pushing this button. I'm ready to change.
I imagined myself getting the email that my report was in. I saw my instant, habitual triggered response - anxiety. I then told myself, you are creating that feeling out of a false sense of fear. You are creating that feeling because you have conditioned yourself to believe it's the only correct response, and in fact, the ONLY response possible. But you know different.
I them imagined myself calming, centering and tuning into my deepest resource of connection, inner faith and self-empowerment. I sat with that, and let that vision plant a seed.
I will nurture that seed over and over until it is my new normal. After I went through this, I realized how often I react to things by pushing this button. I do it all the time. Each time I realize I'm about to do it, I will stop myself, breathe, and tell myself,
This is coming from the mind. You have control over the mind - you do, you're thinking these thoughts, this is you, this is your voice, now listen to it and stop pushing that button. Breathe. Center. All is well.
The thing that I have come to realize is, each time I anticipate myself pushing the button, I contract.
I close myself off from my connection to higher consciousness, inspiration, and all the things that keep me at peace and grounded. In other words, my anticipation of bad things is the thing that creates the bad things.
Stop pushing the button and the results will change for the better.
And when I'm in the moment, way past imaginging myself pushing it, but instead pushing it in a PANIC, then I close myself off even more. I go in the opposite direction of that which I seek. Coming into awareness of this, and wanting that connection to all the magic and love that brings more magic and love, is why I have vowed, with patience and persistence, I will cease to do this.
That button now has a big sign taped next to it: DO NOT PUSH.
And if I do push it, then I will look at the other sign taped next to it:
I love you no matter what.
Many years ago, I visited a Buddhist temple in Amsterdam.
Upon entering, there was a bowl full of tiny, rolled up pieces of paper. Each visitor was encouraged to take one. They were messages for us to reflect and meditate on.
As I opened my mini scroll, I secretly hoped it said something that would make me feel really good about myself. I was feeling so lost then, and so unsure of the path ahead. I almost wanted it to give me permission to believe my life could get better. Little did I know then, that I was the creator of my life, and things would get better, but only from my own conscious choices.
I've carried this tiny meditation in my wallet ever since. It's interesting how it continually takes on new meaning for me as my view of life and the world evolves. It's also sometimes just the reminder I need to close my eyes and ask myself, Who am I?
"I think for me, I just try to be aware that in some ways it's an indication that I'm in the right place.
I think that the fear is informing me that I'm in the place where the known is ending and the unknown is beginning.
That is our job, to consistently put ourselves in a position where we're uncomfortable and going beyond our comfort zone. It's very much a relationship of call and response... A little pebble is put out in front of you and you gotta step toward it. And with each step you're hopefully going further out, and getting beyond what you've done before, and exploring territory that is yet to have been explored.
You have to really make friends with that fear and that discomfort. It's a bit of a tightrope walk."
- Mahershala Ali, via The Hollywood Reporter
I've created a Facebook business page to connect with this website. It's just getting started, and to thank you for giving it some love, you'll find you can stream three of my most popular meditations right there - Ho'oponopono, The Blue Flame and I Am the Universe, The Universe is Me! They're $4 each when you buy them in my store, but you can play them for free all day every day.
Click the like button above, and then go here for the meditations. Please note that Facebook does not show the Guided Meditations tab on mobile devices. You can find it while on a desktop, but if you're on a phone, click the pinned post which has the same link.
If you've ever bought or streamed a meditation from me, you can also leave your comments and a review on the page. I'll be sharing updates and new posts there.
Thank you so much for your time, support and energy! It has uplifted me and changed me in ways that still surprise me, and I cannot wait to share more with you. While you're checking out the meditations, don't forget to like and follow the page. I'll see you over there!
Imagine fish swimming in a shallow pond, just below the lily pads, thinking that their “universe” is only two-dimensional.
Our three-dimensional world may be beyond their ken. But there is a way in which they can detect the presence of the third dimension.
If it rains, they can clearly see the shadows of ripples traveling along the surface of the pond.
Similarly, we cannot see the fifth dimension, but ripples in the fifth dimension appear to us as light.
― Michio Kaku, Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos
"When you think a thought that rings true with who you really are, you feel harmony coursing through your physical body.
Joy, love, and a sense of freedom are examples of that alignment. And when you think thoughts that do not ring true with who you really are, you feel the disharmony in your physical body. Depression, fear, and feelings of bondage are examples of that misalignment.
In the same way that sculptors mold clay into the creation that pleases them, you create by molding Energy. You mold it through your power of focus - by thinking about things, remembering things, and imagining things. You focus the Energy when you speak, when you write, when you listen, when you are silent, when you remember, and when you imagine - you focus it through the projection of thought.
Like the sculptors who, with time and practice, learn to mold the clay into the precise desired creation, you can learn to mold the Energy that creates worlds through focus of your own mind. And, like the sculptors who, with their hands, feel their way as they re-create their vision - you will use your emotions to feel your way to Well-Being."
- Ask & It Is Given, Esther & Jerry Hicks
If you have the Apple Music service you can play several of my meditations for free!
The albums, which are also available on iTunes, include my most popular meditations. Check out the tracks below and come find me on Apple Music! If you don't have Apple Music you can find all of the meditations listed below in my store.
The quantum field responds not to what we want; it responds to who we are being.
Since every potential in the universe is a wave of probability that has an electromagnetic field and is energetic in nature, it makes sense that our thoughts and feelings are no exception.
I find it a useful model to think of thoughts as the electrical charge in the quantum field and feelings as the magnetic charge in the field.
The thoughts we think send an electrical signal out into the field. The feelings we generate magnetically draw events back to us.
Together, how we think and how we feel produces a state of being, which generates an electromagnetic signature that influences every atom in our world. This should prompt us to ask, What am I broadcasting on a daily basis?
- Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, by Dr. Joe Dispenza
"If it weren't for painting, I wouldn't live; I couldn't bear the extra strain of things."
- Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill is best known as the prime minister of England during WWII. He is also known as an excellent speaker, writer and lover of cigars and alcohol. I've turned to his quotes many times before as sources of inspiration and motivation.
What is less known about this fascinating man is that he also loved to paint. To say he was a man of contradictions would only scratch the surface of his complex personality. By all means, he loved the military and serving as a leader during times of war. But he also had a soft side to him which he was not afraid to indulge nor show. While reading his autobiography, I found that he loved butterflies, and he spoke of them for a whole page.
I looked up some of his paintings today, and was amazed to see he was rather skilled with a brush and some paint. Winston, like all great people of this world, understood the importance of art. It is healing for both the person who creates and those who get to view it. This world would be a dark, bleak place without art. So if you make art, in any form, even if it's just for you, carry on. It is as vital as a butterfly landing before a flower, brightening your day.
This week I was one of eleven experts asked to contribute to a collaborative article on Learn, Evolve and Thrive.
The topic was "Cultivating an Abundant Mindset," and my article was focused on the importance of embracing learning and growth. I'm glad I was asked to contribute, because I LOVED writing this!
In the last few months I've thought a lot about what ashtanga yoga has done for me. It has been more than a physical experience, and one that has made yoga a far more spiritual and empowering practice for me. I hope you enjoy the article, and if ashtanga yoga has impacted your life in some way also, leave a comment below and let me know!
You probably already know the name M. Night Shyamalan, but if not, he's the director of The Sixth Sense, which was followed by two other successful (though not quiet as profitable) films - Unbreakable and Signs.
After this, things took an ill-fated turn, and continued to get more grim with each movie he made. The lowest rated of them is The Last Airbender, which has an aggregated score of 6% on Rotten Tomatoes. That's pretty brutal.
During his post-2006 run of critical and box office failures, a campaign started online to send Shyamalan back to film school. When I read about this, I thought about how that would feel if it was me, and needless to say, it felt like shit.
It would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for me to read that kind of mockery and criticism and continue on.
But M. Night Shyamalan pushed that aside and continued on. This is something I find inspiring and fascinating about him.
For a lot of people, their worst fear is to fail. An even bigger fear is to fail publicly, and to be humiliated on a grand scale.
I'm sure, some of those people (or maybe most) who fear failure more than death are the ones who attack Shyamalan. He triggers their deepest anxieties about life and their sense of self-worth. The fact that he refuses to see failure as a stopping point upsets people in ways they can't explain.
It makes them question their own fortitude, willpower and sense of self.
This might sound like I'm analyzing people I don't know, but from what I've seen time and again, things don't bother people unless it feels personal to them.
Things don't sink in and sting and rile us up unless we either agree it's true about ourselves, or we fear it could be true. So the fact that people are so relentlessly obsessed with cutting Shyamalan down says as much about them as it does about the director's career.
Everything we do and say is a reflection of ourselves.
There is a tendency to think that failure and criticism doesn't hurt famous and/or rich people the way it hurts everyone else. There's almost an expectation that not only does it hurt them less, but they deserve it in some way, like they should have to "pay" for being so successful.
In truth, a painful experience is not dulled because of your success. In many cases, it's the opposite. Your failure is witnessed, talked about, digested, made fun of and examined by MILLIONS of people.
If success softened the blow of failure, criticism and judgement, we would not bear witness to a multitude of celebrities having mental breakdowns, addiction problems and public meltdowns. But, the thing with success is, whoever you were before, that's who you are after. If you are sensitive now, you will be sensitive when you're rich. If you feel defensive when people criticize you now, you will feel that when you're famous, and at a higher level of intensity.
So if you have big dreams, the time to cultivate inner strength, peace and self-worth is now. It will not get easier later, but in fact, may only get harder as you find yourself in a new arena that triggers things in other people.
Which is what makes Shyamalan such an intriguing person to me. There is something about him that is so centered, so inwardly connected, so tuned into his passions above all else, that he can rise above the chorus of boos and negativity. He is a man that has never let outside circumstances dictate his fate. He has never let other people tell him what's possible, and who he should be. He has never let failure tell him he's not worthy of trying again.
He knows that the only thing stopping him is him.
This is a rare thing in this world. Most of us stop before we've even started. He has hit obstacles the size of which I cannot even fathom. But he sees them as just that - obstacles, challenges to be met.
They don't mean anything other than to find another way.
The last Shyamalan film I saw was The Visit. And I liked it. A lot. I didn't even know he directed it until I was talking to a friend about it afterwards. It was creepy and surprising and made good use of what looked like a low budget. And maybe this is what Shyamalan needed - to have the excess stripped away, to have to work with a small amount of money, so he would be forced to focus on his characters and storytelling.
I'm sure it was an incredible learning experience for him. And also, very humbling. But had he given up, had he let the cruelty that often accompanies being a public figure get to him, he would have missed out on making this surprisingly good comeback film. And I would've missed out too. Not just on enjoying an entertaining little film, but I would've missed out on what this taught me about resilience, persistence and embracing the art of failure.
Cheers to you M. Night Shyamalan. Haters gonna hate. But you're having a blast in this journey of life, and doing it in your own way, and for that, I raise my glass in a toast to you. I think of you and your work when I feel afraid of failure, and I then remember the only thing to be afraid of is my own inner voice, and for that, I thank you.
Lately, I’ve been wanting to write about a line. It’s a line I’ve envisioned in my head to keep me from spinning out, from distressing myself with images or thoughts that don’t exist.
I often think there is some pre-determined path I’m on where I have no say.
I think I’m going to be mugged at any moment. I think about car accidents, terminal illness, or that I’m going to lose the people I love prematurely. I think I’m going to be late to work, that my room is never going to look right, or that I’m not organized enough. I think too far into the future, and even further into the past.
This is what I call spinning.
I don’t always realize I’m spinning until the world becomes a blur and I’m too dizzy to walk. It’s hard to pin point exactly how out of control my thought processes can sometimes be because this spinning happens so frequently, it’s part of my day, of who I am.
But I want it to stop.
So I’ve drawn a line. I see it in my head. It’s comfortable.
It’s straight, it’s firm, and it’s steady. It’s my rope, only softer. Or sometimes it’s a warm open road. When I hold onto it, or when I walk across it, I feel safe, like I’m right at the center of my being, like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and the wind isn’t going to blow me away to some unknown place where I am paranoid and afraid.
Anywhere outside of this line, be it two feet to the left or six miles to the right, is where I’m spinning. I’m spinning away from that warm, straight and narrow, off into places known only in my head, places that are typically cold with no light.
I’ve started to recognize this spinning in my life now more than ever before. When I feel like it starts to happen, I hold fast to the line. It’s comfortable, it reminds me of where I am, and keeps me tethered to one place when I’m off on paranoid flights of fancy. My feelings of anxiety or paranoia disappear. My heart slows, and I’m able to carry on drinking coffee, loving life, and blogging about ‘line therapy’.
I'm sure everyone has their own version of this line, some image or vision they think about that calms them and brings them back to center.
The line is mine. Its steadiness is comforting and peaceful, reminding me that yes, awful things are bound to happen, but that they can be dealt with as they happen, and not a moment before. Especially when those awful things have been fabricated entirely by me, and don’t actually exist.
The mind can be tricky like that, but in the same way it tricks you into believing in things that don’t exist, surely it can trick you into believing that these paranoid, awful things will never exist. Wouldn’t that be great?
Of all the things I've written about on here, none has felt more strange or uncomfortable than the idea of me coming here to say I've given up coffee. There is something about coffee that is so ingrained in not just our culture, but our world, that the idea of giving it up feels like something I should be whispering to you in a dark alley. When someone tells me they don't drink coffee I always thinks, "Wow, really? That is SO weird."
And now I am one of those weirdos.
Just to sit here and write without coffee is very strange. I feel a bit out of sorts, not just from the withdrawals, but because my routine has been shattered. I have been a daily coffee drinker for the last ten years. Coffee has been a source of comfort, connection and grounding for me for a decade.
When I was about 26, I could feel myself going from casual coffee drinker to dependent, needy coffee drinker, and I tried to quit. I only made it two days. I had severe headaches, I was irritable, and in general, it felt like hell. I gave in and swore I would never try again. It wasn't worth it. Plus, coffee has actual health benefits, so as long as I kept my intake low, what reason did I have to quit? It felt like one of those things for obsessively healthy people who are are way too preachy about their lifestyle.
But then I gave up added sugar and alcohol, and I suddenly had more natural energy. I felt motivated to get up and do yoga and meditate at 6AM (which I'm still doing!). Previously, my routine was to wake up and have two cups of coffee and drag myself into the day. But after I changed to yoga and meditation, I didn't want to pour an acidic drink in my stomach. I wanted yogurt and fruit, which gave me more natural energy, and before I knew it, it was noon before I really wanted coffee.
Without really trying, I weaned down to two cups a day. The second cup in the afternoon was only out of habit. It felt bizarre, but it ignited a curiosity in me. I began to wonder how I would feel if my natural energy ruled my days. What if I didn't wake up craving any outside stimulants, but instead, listened only to my body and my feelings?
On Sunday, while at yin yoga, I laid quietly, and I could feel all these subtle sensations in myself I never noticed before. I wanted to know more, to feel more, to feel what it's like to be totally free of all dependencies.
So I bought some decaf coffee, and that afternoon decided I would make the switch. But even decaf has small amounts of caffeine in it, and if I'm going to do this, I'm going all the way.
My last cup of coffee was yesterday at 10AM. It's now 3:30PM the next day, which means I've made it past the 24 hour mark. Since I had already drastically reduced my intake, today has been hard, but not as brutal as before. My mistake last time was trying to force something to happen I wasn't ready for. I had a slight headache today, and yeah, I was really tired, but I can't say all of the tiredness is from a lack of caffeine.
I'm sure part of it is my body processing and changing now that it's been given space to breathe and heal. One of my big motivations for quitting was reading about how coffee drinkers (and others who drink high amounts of caffeine) experience more anxiety. I could not deny that as I weaned down, I felt calmer and more at peace. Apparently, this correlation between caffeine and anxiety has been known for awhile, but it's one of those things that seems to get brushed aside.
I have also been reading about adrenal fatigue, which happens when your adrenal glands begin to give out. Our adrenal glands regulate our hormones, including our stress hormones. The more coffee you drink, the more you stimulate your adrenal glands, and the more your ability to naturally regulate stress gets obliterated (this is part of why coffee increases anxiety). As your adrenal glands give out, you set off a chain reaction that can result in - get this - fatigue.
The very thing I was drinking to wake me up was the same thing that was causing my body to feel tired. And this in itself becomes a chain reaction. Without realizing it, I'd gone from using coffee as a stimulant to being something I depended on just to feel somewhat normal and awake.
While reading about this, I came across a woman who replaced her coffee with rooibos tea (which is naturally caffeine free). She said that after adding steamed milk, it was the closest thing to coffee she could find. I tried this today, and I have to say, it was very pleasant to sit with my cup of rooibos tea in the morning. In the afternoon, I added a teabag of turmeric, just to make it more brown and more coffee-tasting, and it was perfect.
I can only imagine what drinking rooibos and tumeric, which have incredible healing properties for the body, does for me, instead of cup after cup of coffee.
I would love to wrap this up with some beautiful words of wisdom, but I am still a bit brain fogged. However, I also feel really good, like something big has shifted in me. The amazing thing about giving up a routine, no matter how much I loved it, is I make space for something new, and I am always ready for new and interesting things to show up in my life!