Rediscovering Your Joy

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A few observations struck me over the past few days that had me thinking about when did we lose the joy of ourselves. When did we leave behind the pure essence of ourselves like a faded photograph in some strange exchange for fitting in?  When did we lose sight of our true inner beauty selling ourselves out to be, well, accepted? When did we start to believe what others thought of us mattered… so much so that it started to define us and where we may have put out intentions to meet those expectations or arbitrary criteria for being “normal” or to be like everyone else, or even worse to be someone else?

It was a pleasant spring day and I stopped by a park to get some fresh air and sunshine. I first noticed small children simply playing. Simply just being—running, laughing and overall just oblivious to anyone around them. They were not worrying about what others may have been thinking about them or what they were doing. After all, they were just having fun and in their moments of joy.

As I sat in the sun I saw many people walking, running, etc. In particular, there was one women who caught my attention. Unlike the others who were going about their walk or run in what one would say was more conventional or how most people go about their walk or run, she was “dance-walking.” She had her ear-buds in and was walking at a good pace—but along her walk, she was dancing—breaking out some moves, stopping briefly along the way in a fluid flow of dance.

I saw her circle around the path a few times, all the way moving to her beat—to her song. I have to say, it made me smile and think good for her! There were a good amount of people along her path, but she never stopped. She did not get self conscious or try to subdue her moves.  What also caught my attention was how the adults along the way seemed to “ignore” her as they noticed her, but more so how the little kids gravitated to her. They would stop, look back at her, smile and put a dance move in their steps. It was like magic. sunshine trees

The next day driving home from work I decided to take a different route.  I passed an elementary school that had on its marquee a Dr. Seuss quote from The Cat in the Hat, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out.” The Universe sending me a message for sure—connecting my observations from the past two days.

Somewhere along the early path of our lives, we start to get self-conscious. A phenomenon subtly but increasingly occurs where we start to be compared by others or compare ourselves to others, and where we start to pay more attention to the noise around us about what we are suppose to want, how we are suppose to act, etc. When we don’t think we live up to those expectations or criteria, we work even harder to meet those myths. In a paradox of thinking we are working to stand out, we are actually working to fit in. We work so hard to blend in or to be like others that we forget to just let ourselves be ourselves.

Some people put so much effort or energy into this that their joy is lost. The happiness of being satisfied with who they are, where they are and where they are going gets buried. The music of their souls is drowned out by noise and the colors of their worlds fade. But all is not lost. As I thought about the small children at play, the dance walker and the Dr. Seuss quote, it brought back into focus the importance of re-discovering joy, to heed the advice of being true to yourself and to hear and sing the song of your soul.

Just as anger can be a powerful and palpable emotion, so can joy. Feel it. Let yourself go and be happy. Immerse yourself in it no matter what your situation. When you are grateful for something, feel that completely. Take a few minutes and feel that joy. Stop being so self-conscious. Stop comparing yourself to others and don’t worry so much of what others think of you. Remember, joy comes from within. Joy requires no one else’s approval, validation or permission. Rediscover your joy!

The Meaning of Your Life

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“Let no one be like another, yet everyone like the highest. How is this done? Be each one perfect in himself.”

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


The question of “what is the meaning of life” has been being asked for millennia. This question and the contemplation that it carries onto itself has an array of meaning and perspective from the universal to the individual. And when you think deeply about the meaning of life it is often done through your lens to the world, and often from the inflection point of your purpose in life. With this, the question I would like to explore with you is not “what is the meaning of life” but “what is the meaning of your life.”

Actually the answer is simple and unique to each one of us. The answer is to be the best you that you can be.

We discover our life’s meaning through living. Some may say by creating a work or doing a deed. Some may say by experiencing or encountering someone or something. Some may say by the attitude we hold during suffering. It may be all these combined and more.

As I have talked with you in the past, each of us are unique, special beings. We all have a “built-in” purpose and although this may seem difficult at times, we live or work toward fulfilling that purpose everyday. It is through all our thoughts, words and actions. It it through our individual and collective experiences. And it manifests itself in our mind, body and soul. And in this manifestation resides the power of you, where you can exercise your free will to make choices, to set intentions and to live those intentions.

Life in this physical world is a constant state of change. It is how you are part of the change that helps you have clarity around the meaning of your life—which, again, is to be the best you. Inner and outer change, evolution and transformation will happen to you whether or not you define how it will happen.

One of the most powerful gifts we have from the Universe is the ability to better or evolve ourselves everyday—emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually. Each of us are in a constant state of change. Embrace it and put intention into it and the meaning of you will unfold and blossom. tree-sunset

Live the meaning of your life . . .

—Be aware that you are perfect as you are now and you are right where you are suppose to be. Accept that you can even be in a state of contentment and have an urge for something more or different.

—Enjoy the ride. Change is constant. Every step along your path, at every stage or action, enjoy and celebrate.

—Breathe into the experiences that may seem boring, painful or tedious. All these moments and related emotions add to the fabric of you.

—Understand your values. Give thought to what values have created the you that you are now and may envision yourself to be.

—Set intentions and work toward those intentions by all you think, say and do.

—Make a choice on what is most important or feels right for you now and gently release all else for another time.

—Be in the moment. Whatever you are doing, focus on it. Savor it. Even in sadness, pain or anger do not fight it, suppress it or struggle with it, or wish for more or something different.

—Simplify or spring-clean your life. Simplify your thoughts, your relationships, etc. Allow yourself space and energy to focus on what energizes you.

—Take a break. Give yourself some time to rest. As I say, put your mind or brain on the shelf for a little bit. Allow yourself to just ‘be’ to clear your mind for new ideas and inspiration.

—Follow your instincts. Intuition comes from an accumulation of all your experiences and memories. It speaks to you, so listen.

—Challenge yourself. It’s ok to put yourself in a “discomfort zone” so that you can see your capacity.

—Learn to forgive. Reflect and find a peace with past events and let them go.

—Take time to be grateful every day. Allow the emotions that are attached to what you are grateful for to rise.

—Be healthy. Get rest. Eat healthier foods. And move—put your body into motion everyday. Support your body and mind as it serves you well when fit and healthy.

—Seek new paths for evolving. Open your mind to new experiences and people.

—Celebrate you.

Expanding Your Awareness

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The Mind Should Be Nowhere in Particular – Takuan


We basically have two forms of exercise, mental and physical. In my opinion they go hand and hand and as evolving human beings we should strive to find balance between the two. Unfortunately, most people only focus on exercising the physical side, whether that be going to the gym, playing sports etc. There is of course mental components to all physical exercise, and how much we choose to engage the mind is really up to the individual. There are forms of exercise which begin to merge the two – mind and body. Yoga and martial arts come to mind.

But as a Buddhist monk once told me, most people are keen on keeping their body’s clean, showering daily, brushing their teeth etc., but yet they neglect scrubbing their minds, like much needed mental floss. Exercising your mental side, or your mind naturally does a few things. For one, it enhances your awareness. This includes, your awareness of yourself and the world around you. Another natural by-product is a reduction in stress, which plays a big role in much of the modern illnesses that befall humanity.

Venturing deeper into the expansion of awareness aspect of mental exercise, comes an almost never ending adventure. Awareness is such a deep topic that I can only really touch upon on it here in this blog post. By expanding your awareness, the world becomes more alive and interesting and so do you.

Slowing Things Down

One great way to start becoming more aware and getting yourself off of auto-pilot is by slowing things down. By slowing down your physical movements, this begins to slow down your mind. The only way this works though is if you are present in your movements and not letting your mind wander. Like Tai Chi, by slowing your movements down and being in ‘your body’, your mind becomes more integrated and aware of your body at a deeper, cellular level.

My old XingYi and Tai Chi teacher once told me something that has stuck with me ever since, ‘the slower you go the faster you’ll be’. This I found applies to how our mind can function at a higher level, and can be applied beyond martial arts. If you slow down your movements, and thus your mental activity, you become more aware of the subtleties of your surroundings and your mind actually becomes sharper, more concentrated and acute. By slowing things down and taking our time, we can approach doing the mundane tasks of everyday life as if they are a moving meditation.  galaxy eyes

Now, you could say this is hard to do in this fast paced society where I hear so many people saying (including myself), ‘there is not enough time in the day!’ and rushing through life seems to be the norm. But in my opinion, this is exactly why it can have such a powerful effect and is needed now more than ever. Also, I am not saying to do this all the time, but as an exercise when time permits. Eventually though, you will find yourself being more in tune and slowing down your movements throughout the day. A more methodical experience in your movements will begin to appear if you take this on.

Sleep Can Become an Adventure

I think it goes without saying, but sitting meditation is a great tool to help expand your awareness and if you have not added some form of daily, sitting meditation into your life, I highly recommend you do. This can also effect the quality and awareness of your sleep, especially doing so right before bed. I have had experiences where I am actually aware of myself falling asleep. In these interim states of awareness, you can do things such as astral projection and have out of body experiences. Even sleep can become much more exciting! There are more detailed exercises you can engage in to facilitate this type of awareness when falling asleep which I may touch upon in more detail in future posts.

A wilderness survival teacher I had once told me, ‘most people are so unaware that they don’t even notice which way the wind blows when they step outside’. The benefits of increasing your awareness become more apparent, for instance being more aware of your surroundings and thus the people in it. You begin noticing things you and most people normally would not otherwise, including people coming into your sphere and even picking up on their intent.

The impact this can have on your safety is obvious. Another benefit is you naturally become less reactive as you are in more of a state of flow when you are more present, aware and relaxed. Ultimately, this is a state of mind to strive for and I feel is one where I like to be as much as possible.


Spring Training for Life

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“April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go.”

~Christopher Morley


For many of us the Spring season is arriving. We are starting to see some warmer days, grass turning green and trees budding. There is an emergence of a sense of renewal and hope, and some moments of calm and peace as we breath in the fresh Spring air. There are a few times during the year where we have a desire or intent to make some changes, to hit the re-set button, take stock and do some things differently.

Typically, we experience this on New Year’s. For some it may be when there is a change of seasons, with Spring being very symbolic of a renewal and growth. This is the time to ride the collective energy that is being generated as a large portion of the population is not only in this mindset or thought of positive intent for change, but more so, putting these thoughts into action.

On a Universal level, the change of seasons inspires us to think or contemplate and take action relevant to the season. During the Spring in particular we often see more people getting outside—bringing their exercise program to the outdoors, cleaning yards, planting, dining outside, walking about and even simply taking in the sunshine on a park bench. We also see Spring training move into high-gear, as teams get ready for their respective seasons. They are staring a new season with physical conditioning, practice or scrimmage games, fine-tuning skills and preparing themselves mentally and emotionally for the season ahead. There is a sense optimism. There is motivation. There is strong intent. And there is belief.

This is an interesting and enlightening phenomena that we can use in our daily lives, which prompted me to think about how to apply Spring training to our lives. Spring-Mountains

Indeed, there is a very physical part of Spring training, where we pick up again, change or intensify our workouts. If we run on the treadmill in the gym in the Winter, we take to running outside. In the warmer weather we can do alternative outdoor workouts and activities like bike riding, boating and team sports like baseball, track and field, etc. We get the opportunity to mix it up a bit.

This all helps the body—with the extra benefit of being outside to help with grounding ourselves and helping us feel more centered.  Take Spring training into your physical life—leave the building for lunch, incorporate an outdoor workout into your routine, practice and work to develop some new skills, even if it is running or walking an extra mile everyday.

There is also the mind part of Spring training, as we work to hone or develop skills and try new things that take concentration and focus.  It impacts senses as with the smell of fresh cut grass, hearing birds chirping, etc. It engages us socially as we join outdoor gatherings. It provides us with a new “place” of solace. It energizes us and may even give us moments of calm and peace.

Spring training helps fuel our souls and helps us move toward more of a mind, body and soul connection and balance. Take Spring training into your mind and soul. Carve out some time to go outside to meditate, contemplate or reflect. Take a moment to deeply breath in the Spring air. Work to clear your mind of clutter and reduce the volume of noise in your life so you can focus and gain clarity.

Also look at Spring training as just that—training. This is a time to practice, to try new things, find new perspective and meet new people. For a moment think about your life in terms of Spring training—but not from the perspective of training for some end or conclusion. Think about it from the perspective of a journey, as the opportunity to take a chance, try something new, open your mind, body and soul to new experiences—and keep at it as you build your skill and confidence.

Sure, along the Spring training road there will be some sore muscles, a few bruises, exhausted minds and tired bodies. These are the physical and mental side-effects of making change, moving forward and working