Time, Values, and Living

How many instances have you started doing something benign, uninteresting, or unimportant (ie. searching the internet, scrolling through social media, watching an uninteresting show or movie, or reading an article in a trashy magazine about the Royal Families new addition) only to find an hour, an afternoon, or a whole day has slipped you by? Time which is permanently lost due to an unchecked habit or a desire to leave the present moment. This is where suffering begins. Suffering because you didn’t get the relaxation you needed, or your work done, or spend time doing the things you love with the people you love. This suffering more clearly defined as any action taken which is contrary to one’s own belief or value system.
A slue of questions then arise. Do we know our own belief and value system? How do we know they are not from others or society as a whole? How often are we prompted to adopt the value systems of others, values the social construct hands down to us all, such as the pursuit of power, money, and objects over mental, physical, and spiritual wellness?
It takes the dedicated and ongoing practice of defining what we believe and what we value, then taking action to move in that direction. We have to counteract the perpetual pull away from ourselves (the external) and move toward developing the self (internal). This can feel difficult in the beginning, moving upstream in a river. But eventually it gets easier, the water becoming increasingly placid and easy to maneuver as one moves toward the head water.
But how to start or correct ourselves when we find ourselves spending our time acting or participating in activities contrary to our values and beliefs? Below are some questions to ask yourself. If you are serious in wanting to live in accordance to your own beliefs and values, take a few minutes everyday to reflect on these questions and take action (great or small). You’ll be better because of it.

-Deep down, what is important to you?
-What do you want your life to be about?
-What sort of person do you want to be?
-What sort of relationships do you want to build?
-If you weren’t struggling with your feelings or avoiding your fears, what would you channel your time and energy into doing?


If you have questions or comments, writer me or leave a comment below.

Questions were taken from Chapter 24 of The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris. 

Using Substances to Support Creativity? I’ve Got Something Better… A Clear Mind.

How many times have you heard people discuss their use of substances as opening the door to feeling or experiencing a different state of consciousness? A more innovative, unfiltered mind? Maybe you yourself have tried to alter your state with drugs, alcohol, or food to tap into the free flow of imaginative thought, experiencing something you thought was otherworldly or a new layer of consciousness. You are not alone. Been there, done that! …too many times to count.

The memories which most stick out in my mind: smoking marijuana before seeing The Killers perform during their 2005 Hot Fuss Tour in Oklahoma City and later describing how I really “felt the music” to friends, a lame-as-hell comment (judgment…sorry!) I cringe admitting now. Four years later I was filling my wine glass while working on my Bachelor’s Degree to assist in writing papers, claiming the alcohol “let it flow out of my fingertips and onto the page”. The outcome? Mediocre ideas, illogical ordering and sentence structure, and horrendous punctuation. Needless to say my professors were less than impressed and definitely weren’t praising me for my creativity.

In a more broad context, at the societal level we see the justification of mind-altering experiences as a way to heal and touch into (or escape from) our consciousness with the legalization of marijuana, utilizing LSD to cure the maladjusted mind, and Ayahuaska to “open the consciousness to experience the universe”, not to mention the abundant access to alcohol, tobacco, and refined foods which line every super-market, gas station, and eatery across the nation. It seems obvious there are false notions surrounding the use of substances as keys to accessing the inaccessible. I’m reminded of an instance in which Albert Einstein was offered a drink by a colleague, to which he famously declined by stating, “My mind is my laboratory”.

Another great mind who addressed this issue was Rudolf Steiner in this discourse entitled The Origin and Meaning of Wine. In this he states,

“Wine was that which separated man from everything spiritual. He who takes wine cannot arrive at the spiritual. He can know nothing of Manas, Buddhi, Atma. The whole course of humanity is one of descent and ascent…the direction alcohol guided us – downwards”.

If these two great minds don’t make it clear enough, that consciousness is a gift to be cherished and refined, then take it from modern day creatives who are clean and clear minded such as Steve Jobs, Russell Brand, Daniel Radcliff, Lady Gaga, Eric Clapton, Elton John (I could continue but won’t).

Poignant and hilariously the creators of South Park address this issue in the episode entitled Quest for Ratings. In it the main characters “get high” on cough medicine in order to come up with ideas. Upon waking they revisit their ideas which they had written while intoxicated and Cartman describes what is scratched on the page, “squiggly line, circle”. The extent of the “good ideas” I read in my own pre-sobriety writings.1522609937986

The notion that substances allow one access to more creative states of consciousness is false. In reality, what we are experiencing while altered are glimpses into our subconscious and unconscious mind, not something external and otherworldly at all. Quite the opposite. The experience comes from the mind, and one should develop the mind to the extent where access is unlimited. But doing this takes time and effort which isn’t for those wanting a quick-”fix”, pun intended.

Most clients I see who are recovering from addiction are the most intelligent, hard working individuals I’ve ever met. And I mean that completely and seriously. They know sobriety and habit change take an incredible about of mental energy and effort. There are no days off. Vigilance and longevity are the keys to success. The same effort it takes to change a habit ingrained in our society is the same effort necessary to develop the truly creative consciousness. It isn’t though bypassing the consciousness by use of substances which taps you into a reservoir of creativity. One must utilize the enormity and complexity of the mind to harness ideas. Doing this will lead to clearer, more focused, sustained creative thought, leading to astounding innovations and works of art.

So drop the joint, put down the booze, and start developing your connection to the conscious mind. It will lead you to the depths of the unconscious, a reservoir of creative thought, tapping you into a truly amazing gift; originality.

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Recovery Coaching (2)

Great Expectations: Overcoming Unnecessary Suffering

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I woke up on a Friday morning with great expectations. The list included wanting to spend quality time with my partner; making breakfast and drinking coffee in a relaxed manner. This followed by working out, cleaning and organizing my entire house then meeting briefly with a client at noon (already you might be thinking, “All of that by noon?!” Yes, I’m ridiculously driven as well as naive:). This was to be followed by several hours of dedicated writing and packing the car for a weekend in the wilderness. “All of this is to be done by 3:00 pm” I told myself.P_20180928_104356_vHDR_Auto

 

Morning unfolded in the most pleasant of ways; breakfast and coffee led to running on a path lined with changing deciduous trees near the river with an unexpected sheep which lingered behind us the last 1/2 mile, to whom which we gave the name “Steve”. Finally, looking at my watch, I realized noon was fast approaching. I hadn’t accomplished what I had set out to do for the day. I felt my anxiety rise. I projected into the future, sensing the expectations I had set for the day not being met. Suffering ensued.

Sitting in front of a coffee shop doing my best to remain equanimous, I felt huge waves of anxiety rise and fall. I knew I had to let go of something or this pain would continue and negatively affect my inner tranquility and my relationships with the people around me. I had to look directly at what I choose to value in life.

As a practice for focusing my life, each month I reevaluate my values, goal and action steps (see attached photo). Having this list of values that I’ve created each month is a reference point for having a life well-lived as defined by me.

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Values:

  1. Myself: Cultivate and care for my physical, mental, and emotional self
  2. People: Family, Partner, Friends, Community
  3. Career; Recovery Coaching, Workshops, Yoga and Meditation, Writing

Looking at this list and cross-referencing it against my current obstacle, I reflected on specific questions. Did I offer myself self-care? Yes. Next on the list are the people in my life. Am I giving 100% of my attention to the person in front of me, whom I choose to spend the majority of my time, to create with, have a career and a life?

It is amazing to me that someone has chosen to spend their life in conjunction with my own. Is this not the most amazing aspect of any relationship? As I realized the answer to my question (if you haven’t gotten it yet, the answer was “no”…) I made the conscious choice to realigning my thoughts, words, and actions with the values I set. Letting go of the expectations I held for myself, I gained back my mental fortitude, equanimity and energy. After jumping over this mental hurdle, I was able to flow through my day with ease and joy. I got what I could done and was able to go camping; truly enjoying myself in the process.

The take-away:

Don’t let your own or others’ expectations lead you away from the values you set. Allow life to unfold in its own time without fighting against reality. This is where happiness can be found.

Photo Credits: http://www.davidbain.org/value-of-suffering-project 


Work With Me!

Recovery Coach Post Card Updated 514

Vip Vip Hooray and Thank you!

I want to give a sincere and robust thank you to all of you for supporting me this past year! Teaching Mindfulness and Yoga to the people in this valley has been my absolute pleasure. Recovery Coaching, working with adults and youth to continue living without reliance on substances, has been exciting, challenging, and insanely rewarding.

I could not offer these programs without your support!

When you show up, you inspire me to show up and fulfill my life’s goal to inspire wellness in us all.

Because of this inspiration and wealth of support, I am finally partaking in the opportunity to attend a 10 day meditation retreat known as Vipassana, or insight meditation. 10 days of silent meditation without cellphones, work, music, reading, or writing. It will be a challenge, but I know I will be better because of it. And I know I couldn’t have taken these steps without you all.

Thank you to the moon! And I’ll see you all in 2018.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season filled with love, connection, laughter and joy.


 

The Importance of Community

Over the past few years, I have immersed myself in exploring the Eight Limbs of Yoga and how they affect the body and mind. At times, the Eight Limbs of Yoga have seemed daunting, unreachable, and yet simple (read more on the Eight Limbs in the ‘Interested in Yoga?’). These practices have given me the courage and awareness to question my beliefs, habits, and ways of thinking, in search of liberation from pain, fear, and hate.

Because of this awareness, I can more clearly see how pain and fear have profoundly influenced my life. Because of the pain I felt, I looked outside of myself for relief. This took on the form of approval seeking from others, drinking to escape, and adding more and more to my schedule until I had no time at all. These were crutches I used to function in everyday life. I did this to escape my feelings of unworthiness or non-acceptance of self. It was much easier to add more, numb, or ignore completely my feelings than to sit with the pain.

At one point, I realized I had the ability to notice my habits. I was aware of my false beliefs and how they shaped my being. Aware but somehow unable to break the chains of habit. It wasn’t until I found others, communities of people, who had broken through these chains, that I was able to break through my own. These communities supported and guided me on my journey, and continue to do so today.

During the beginning of my journey it was difficult to find teachers or people on the same path. I searched online and read any book I found at the library on the subject of yoga, Buddhism, meditation, or eating live foods. I found myself walking into shops, yoga studios, and meditation groups, feeling out of place and nervous, only to be welcomed with open-arms by genuine people passionate about self realization, acceptance and love.

Slowly, over years, with the support of these people, I have removed the crutches from my life. No longer do I drink to numb, base my acceptance of self on what others think, or constantly fill my schedule until I am overwhelmed with stress (this is the toughest for me! I have come a long way, but am still a work in progress).

As I found these groups, others seemed to find me. Each person asking questions about meditation or healing their bodies and minds with food or yoga. With each new situation, I find answers to issues which support me on my path of healing while supporting others on theirs. I find the bonds of the communities surrounding me getting stronger, more interwoven, with each passing situation or life event.

Whether it’s a community of yoga students at your local studio, coworkers, meditation group, hiking buddy, sister, mother, father, aunt or uncle, son or daughter, feel supported by this web of care, love, and acceptance. It is from these bonds that we can flourish and become our best selves, aiding others in their journey. At the end of the day, we are all One.


 

Some of the many communities I belong to

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