I came across a photo meme the other day with this quote by Adyashanti: “Make no mistake about it – enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being… More
Is it just sitting on the floor, not thinking? What is it really for?
Meditation is a mindfulness tool that can teach you to use your mind in a more effective and beneficial way.
It does this by creating mindfulness, which is simply being aware of what’s happening in your mind. Most of us just let our minds run about doing whatever the hell they want — but after some meditation, watching your mind, you will find that much of this business is very unhelpful, and not what you want to be up to all day.
Meditation is very simple. It will lead to experiences that are the opposite, full of intricacy and nuance, it’s a journey, for sure — but the how-to part is super duper simple. Here we go:
Sit. Sit however you like to sit. (Though Ron Swanson prefers to stand, and I totes respect that.) Notice the air slowly going into your nose, filling your lungs, and slowly leaving your body again. As thoughts bubble up, note them without judgement, then let them go. Repeat for as long as desired, the longer the better.
See? Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy! At first you may find that you are indeed just sitting there, feeling a bit bored — and that’s okay. The experience gets richer with time. Keep going. You will eventually experience a significant thought-free break, and you’ll understand what all the meditation folks are on about. It’s an incredibly peaceful and connected feeling to be without thought, it feels very good.
The good feels during meditation are just the beginning though. You will start to understand and see your mind clearly. You’ll see where you’re being cruel to yourself (or others) in your mind, and hopefully, stop that nonsense.
You’ll see how you spin around old memories around in your mind like a toilet that just won’t quite flush. And they’re probably memories that you don’t even like! You’ll stop all that nonsense too.
And on it will go. Meditating, cultivating awareness of your mind, smashing useless mental constructs. (And all the other benefits!) But after awhile you’ll be like, “Sheesh, well what should I think about, then?”, and it might even feel like a legit issue, you might even get those bored feels again.
But then, in that new empty mind space — ideas will start to bubble up. All kinds of ideas. Your mind isn’t at all short of awesome things to say, it just needs the clear space to say some good shit. You’ll see…
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When I first encountered the phrase “be yourself” I remember wondering, “What does that even mean? Isn’t that my only option, who else would I be?” The movie i heart huckabees illustrates the quandary via Jude Law losing all of the things he defines himself by: his job, his home, his relationship. He’s left pondering, “How am I not myself?”
In a time where authenticity is a buzzword, do we even know what we mean?
It seems to me that we are the most “ourselves” when we honor our honest desires and needs by expressing and acting to satisfy them. But what are your honest desires and needs? Sometimes it’s not as easy as it sounds to pin down.
A list might pop into your mind like, I want a book deal, I need to get some sun, I want that hot guy, etc. It’s what’s behind them that holds the keys: why do you want what you want?
Do I want a book deal to appease someone else, or do I genuinely feel that I have a message that can help? Do I really want that hot guy or do I want to be seen with him? Do I want to get some sun for my health or to look tan for someone else?
Examine your motivations (without judgement!) and you might get some clarifying surprises. It often turns out that all too much time spent without regard to what you actually want and need. It’s normal in our society to fill one’s time with obligations, letting them replace our passions under the guise of adulting. Be yourself by getting clear what you truly want and why. Make a list.
A great way to not be yourself is to let your reactions rule you. How do you behave when you’re scared or anxious about something? Are you dick-ish without apology or explanation? That’s hiding, you know. So not you. As is not trying so you can’t fail.
In high school I had specific music for when friends were in the car, lots of top-of-charts songs I didn’t want to anyone to know annoyed me deeply. That wasn’t great self-ing. It’s pretty common to censor oneself like this, attempting to hide or delete the parts we feel might be rejected. It’s not great you-ing though, and isn’t it exhausting? Try dropping it.
“But then I’ll be rejected,” you might say. Yeah, that’s possible. But if you crack that nerdy joke or share that personal revelation – you might be rewarded with connection and empathy. Also known as “being truly understood.” And that’s the good shit.
I bought my first deck of tarot cards in 2014, after having my first reading—which had stunned me with its accuracy. Before that experience I had always likened tarot cards to newspaper horoscopes; lots of general advice that could apply to anyone and therefore really doesn’t apply to anyone. But for me, it’s turned out to be a very different story.
To fill you in on the Tarot, it’s a deck of cards that have different meanings. The cards represent 78 different aspects of life, and each comes with guidance. The origin is debated, some saying they go back to ancient Egypt and others saying Italy in the 14th century, with many other guesses. Some play games with them, but my interest is in divination—using the cards for guidance in life.
Even after I bought the cards I was still a bit suspect. I thought that maybe the intuitive reader was just very skilled, and that I probably wouldn’t come up with much on my own. I tried anyways, and within a few days I was shocked at the frequency of certain cards. Over, and over, and over, and over; these same cards would pop up, cards that had serious meaning in regard to my present life.
I’m still at it! I draw three cards every morning for guidance on the day, it feels like “flying blind” on the rare occasions that I don’t get my tarot in. I’ve occasionally had others read for me, they tend to expand on what I’ve picked up on my own—and have yet to contradict anything!
Tarot cards don’t predict the future, they won’t be like, “Yo Meg, your shit’s about to take off, your book’s gonna be published, and it’s going to be a cultural phenom.” But they’ll be all, “A prosperous new time is coming”, or more often, “Work your ass off, honey.”
They don’t say it like that, of course, but most cards do come with books for explanations of the cards meanings; and it’s your job as the reader to feel into how they could apply to your life. I like to meditate while I shuffle for a few minutes, then I just choose the cards that feel right.
Sometimes I draw however many I like, in response to my own questions; like a dialogue with the cards and my guidance. Other times I use traditional card spreads with just one question in mind. I’ve noticed that they seem to respond to my mood—and I no longer draw cards when I’m feeling fearful or upset, it just makes it worse!
Tarot has become an insightful and entertaining tool for guidance and inner-exploration in my life. I quite fancy it, and recommend it to anyone who’s even remotely curious. The Rider-Waite deck is the most universal, and a great place to start.
Nothing, inherently. It’s nice to want to get along and it’s normal to prefer being adored over disliked, of course.
The problem is when you start giving fucks in order to get someone to like you: Agreeing when you actually don’t, censoring yourself beyond politeness, doing things you’d really rather not, allowing attitudes towards you that are less than respectful, and all kinds of other ways we diminish ourselves when we make our objective to “be liked.”
Because when that’s your MO, there’s no choice than to be less of yourself. Giving fucks in that way makes a dull wash out of the glory that you are when you’re behaving with more inner-direction, when you’re really being yourself.
This realization terrified me when I first had it. I thought of myself as being a good friend, well-liked, caring, friendly, fun––I was only considering myself in relation to others. This led to trouble when I was alone. Over analyzing my relationships. Considering others’ perspectives on things like my art, or even what kind of music I was listening to, ie “I’d be so embarrassed if xxx knew how much I love this.”
It was like I was never alone, not really, despite larger-than-normal amounts of time spent alone. Who was I even living my life for?
It was such an important realization: My life should be about me.
It was like I was spending all of my energy on being the best co-star in everyone else’s movie. Not that I didn’t pursue my own passions and whatnot––but “they” (those I’d prefer like me) were intrinsically involved in my decisions, even ones that had nothing to do with them. Just little blips of thought that seemed like nothing, but as a mindfulness-obsessed sort I quickly realized that they added up to living on the periphery of my own life.
Watch your mind and see if you do this. (You do. We all do.) And try to drop it. To just do what you think is best. What you want to do. This will help loads in the next step, staying inner-directed when you’re with others. Fighting the urge to blend in. Saying what you think, what you really think. (Don’t be a dick or anything… Or maybe do, I don’t know what’s best for you.) Start paying attention to your feels when you’re around others, and right afterward.
It’s important to feel good.
I feel like that’s almost a controversial thing to say, I can hear the cries of, “but selfish!” It’s not selfish to ensure your well-being, not at all. In fact, making sure you’re feeling centered is responsible. Being where you want to be and doing the things you want to do is responsible. The world needs you at your best.
You’ll probably find that even when you’re acting from a truly inner-directed place you’re still a positive force in others’ lives. Perhaps not in the same ways. And perhaps with a totally different flavor: martyrdom vs weeeeeeee.
And the funny thing is that when you get really good at this inner-direction thing, most folks will indeed like you. It’s nice to be around people who are at peace with who they are, comforting even. They lack neediness and emanate confidence. They offer unique perspectives and speak their truth.
But others will still think you suck. C’est la vie.
Once upon a time, I was a teenager. My favorite hobbies were dancing, gymnastics, figuring out who’s parents were going out of town next, and gossip.
I relished in knowing what was going on with everyone else, and was sure to fill anyone in who didn’t know. I’d like to say that I was the girl reading Catcher in the Rye and rolling her eyes at girls like me, but I was not. Not even a little.
I remember the first time that I realized that this behavior was a bad thing. It was normal to me, it was how all of my friends behaved, and how we had behaved since sometime in elementary school. It just was.
But then one day someone finally called me on my shit.
Myself, my high school boyfriend, our friend, and another girl had gone a double date – their first date. I can’t remember exactly how it went, but at the end of the night I was sure they were going to “hook up.” The next morning at school I spread the word in the usual fashion. (It didn’t take a lot of effort, I went to a very crowded high school of bored kids in a small Alaskan city. Word got around fast.)
Turns out, they did not “hook up” as it were. Things had turned awkward, and their first date was to be their last. So everyone was coming up to my friend all like, “Yeahhh, dude, heard you got some!” When indeed, he had not.
He came up to me in the hallway that day and called me The Queen of Shitgibbers.
I was a silly lil’ teenager, but even then I knew that was a title I shouldn’t have earned and sure didn’t want. I had done a shitty thing, and it was the first time I really realized it was a shitty thing to do.
I’ve made huge strides in kicking the gossip habit, but it happened the other day. I cracked a joke about someone else, to someone who I knew would find it funny. It was a cheap shot, not even remotely clever, and remembering it later made me cringe with regret.
Why was I posturing like that? Fucking fucks, I thought I lost you. (Clingy buggers.)
So the next time I get the urge to discuss another person behind their back, I hope that I remember it’s a very fleeting satisfaction. For a split second I can connect with another, get a laugh, feel empowered, a little bit superior…but then just awful. This is kinda trite, but Eleanor Roosevelt once said:
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
I will strive to be great. I will frequently be average. I will even spend a huge portion of my time discussing the weather or my lunch. (Burrito, B-, overnuked.) But behaving in a small-minded manner like this just isn’t worth the squeeze.
Lucid dreaming is the experience of realizing that you are indeed, dreaming. Once you gain awareness of what’s happening, you’re able to control the dream. You can conjure up any experience that you want; from flying through the sky, to fascinating conversations and telekinesis.
The big trick is simply remembering to question if you’re dreaming whilst doing so. Because once you wonder that––it’s on.
Here’s a few tricks to get there:
- Remember your dreams––Start a dream journal, either writing or babbling into the mic of your phone. The point is to train the mind to think about dreamtime, to create awareness of it and a relationship to it in your waking hours.
- Dream Checks––During your waking day, ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?” Do so every time you do something routine; like every time you check the clock or look out the window, ask yourself “Am I dreaming?” The habit will carry over into dreamtime.
- Plan what you will do––Do you want to fly? Get laid? Chat with Albert Schweitzer? Daydream it as practice for the real thing.
- Watch the movie Waking Life––That’s how I had my first, after watching this amahhhzing flick, and without even trying!
- Think about lucid dreaming as you fall asleep––After you’re all cozied in, simply remind yourself that you are going to go lucid dream now. Focus on it, intend on doing it.That should do ‘er! Don’t worry if it takes some time, all of the coolest things in life have a learning curve.
That should do ‘er! Don’t worry if it takes some time, all of the coolest things in life have a learning curve.
Due to a problem with my nervous system, I am disabled and chronically ill. My symptoms often become incorporated to my dreams, sometimes it’s almost funny: a man getting an electric foot massage on my back when the machine shorts out. (Okay, weird/scary, not that funny.) More often, it’s just me trying to keep up with the dream and sorely falling behind.
I just woke up from a miserable one. A repeater. Familiar people are telling me that I’m faking it. That I’m pretending to be weak to get attention. That I’m just irresponsible and lazy and need to try harder. Or worse, they roll their eyes and give one another a knowing smile like, “Won’t this be fun to dish about later?”
It’s bad enough to have to constantly having to explain what’s wrong with me and why I can’t do x, y, and/or z just like everyone else––but then to have convince them that you aren’t telling falsities, and to do so when your brain can’t even recall basic information reliably––I can’t explain how awful it is. How demoralizing. How it just makes a person want to give up.
But then to also do it every night in my dreams? Shiiiiiiit, this has to stop.
I clearly still have issues with people from my not-so-distant past, that’s where I can do work. Forgiveness. Self-love. Continuing to hang with empathetic folks.
But the real problem lies with society. The people in my dream aren’t “bad” guys. They are very “normal” people. We, as a society, still don’t have a strong understanding of invisible illness. (Even though it’s pretty darn common.) And we definitely aren’t aware of how to behave with empathy in regard to it.
Just because you can’t see a person’s pain doesn’t make it less real. To us who deal with invisible illness, it’s all the more real: because we’re so often received with disbelief and even bitterness in place of compassion. Can you imagine? No, like, really try to imagine.
Take a couple of minutes: Imagine waking up in agony, trying to shake off dreams like I just explained. Knowing that you have maybe 3-4 usable hours, that this agony is as good as you’ll feel all day, that it’s just going to get worse. Pushing through everything that you can get done despite your symptoms––which is never even close to the amount that needs to be done. As far as keeping up with life goes, you’re fucking drowning.
And then the pain levels rise so high that you can’t think straight. And then the fatigue levels get so high that just taking a bath is daunting. The television, and all sounds, feel abrasive; so all you can do is lie there until you feel tired enough to pass out despite the pain. But once you actually get to bed that’s rarely the case, as your memory foam feels like pavement––squishing your tender body and making it scream all the louder, a cacophony of miserable symptoms that you just have to lie there and bear. For hours. Every. Single. Night.
Imagine getting through a day and night like that, and then having someone say to you, “Man, I’m jealous––I wish I could stay at home all day!”
Do you see how demoralizing that could be to someone? It’s a private fucking hell, it’s truly awful. Not that my whole life is awful, but more days than not are indeed this bad, and all too often that’s people’s attitude. It really wipes my resting niceface right off, and totally screws up my “fake it ’till you make it” coping strategy.
But how can you really know if someone’s sick if they don’t look it?
WITH THEIR WORDS, dummy. LISTEN TO THEIR WORDS.
Trust the people in your life who tell you they’re not feeling well. Your reaction to someone else’s admittance of that, which often doesn’t happen until a breaking point––can have a HUGE impact on their life. Be the person that helps them find the right doctor. That googles their symptoms in-depth to help find answers. Or simply be the person that listens to what’s going on with them, instead of hurrying away uncomfortably or changing the subject.
We’re doing it all wrong when it comes to our attitudes about chronic illness, and it’s at the detriment of those of us already in a very precarious place. This is off-topic for the website, I know, but it’s really important to me––so I suppose my sharing here is fuckless.
Thanks for listening.
I wrote this when I was 23, somehow already 11 (very event-filled) years ago:
To create a community of people who desire a paradigm shift in our world, and to help create these changes via creative endeavors. These are the main desired changes in our paradigm:
- Environmental: Realize that if we don’t support our environment, then it won’t support us. We need to breathe, drink, and eat. If we poison what sustains us we won’t survive as a species, nor will anything else.
- Empathetic: Humans are humans no matter where they live. We all deserve to live a life that provides sustenance, self-sufficiency, and a lack of fear. We need to learn to see ourselves in others. We need extreme change to happen, and without violence.
- Conscious: We need to remember that our place on this Earth is about growth, loving and evolving-not about money and ego.
It came out of nowhere, whilst meditating on what the hell I wanted to do with this life. (Like most of the posts here.) My first move on this mission was to name it, I consulted one of my favorite books – the thesaurus. Within just a couple minues––Halcyon it was! Its beauty jumped out of the page and seemed to shout, this is your future!!!
I started by learning how to organize events to raise awareness and cashoola for non-profits and other causes, and did a shit-ton of those as well as joining a couple of their boards and doing fun work there. I also wrote a business plan for the do-gooder Halcyon Cafe, something I pursued tenaciously for years and still intend to create, someday.
But I still knew I was ignoring something, a dream that was so scary I very rarely even let it gurgle up to the surface: to write a book that could help TONS of people connect to their authentic (and awesome, fearless, centered) selves, and to do it in a way that spoke to “average” Americans.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m way woo and don’t mind a bit (anymore): but mindfulness and personal growth often come in really cheesy packages, and it makes a lot of folks kinda want to hurl. And it doesn’t make them closed-minded, I think it’s mostly a matter of presentation and taste–but it blocks so many of us off from really solid wisdom and life approaches.
How I Lost All My Fucks is my answer to this dilemma. It’s part book, part meditation training, and part experience that the reader rocks in 30 days. (That won’t soon be forgotten.)
I want it to make meditation in public the norm. I want it to introduce people to what they *actually* want and value. I want it to introduce people to happiness regardless of circumstance, and that’s *any fucking time* happiness.
I want it to help–with SO many of others creations–create a lasting paradigm shift in this wonktaculous world. (I have more ideas too! Like low-income housing for senior citizens and at-risk young adults that’s full of do-gooding community fun.) But first things first, to make How I Lost All My Fucks happen:
I found an awesome agent who’s already helped so much with the book; she just needs me to create an impressive following so she can sell my baby!! I really appreciate any follows/likes/etc on social media, links are on the right side of the page.
I also appreciate your presence, thanks for hanging out, friend. ❤
When you have hard times, and you will, your relationships will be tested. Whether it’s an internal angst, or an external set of circumstances, at some point you will have a shitty time. When this shitty time occurs there are those who will disparagingly judge you for it, we often call them fairweather friends.
One morning on the MAX train I found myself daydreaming about getting even with one of these people. I’m devout to my meditation practice, and I am generally keenly aware of my thoughts. Revenge fantasies are not normal for me.
Maybe it was because I was hungover that day, something I hadn’t experienced in months, or because I was due for my Depo-Provera hormone shot, but I found myself in a reverie about warning a fairweather person’s fiance of her nasty nature and then telling her to go fuck herself.
(Why suggesting someone go masturbate is so satisfying, I do not know. Perhaps because it’s saying someone isn’t worthy of another’s affection? Or because it’s something deemed shameful in our repressed society? Or perhaps the reason isn’t so deep, and it’s just the hard consonant ending with the flowing ‘fff’ sound? Go fuck yourself. It really is satisfying to say…almost as great as indubitably. I’ve only ever actually exclaimed it once, a jillion years ago, and I admit, it was wildly satisfying indeed. But, I digress.)
I snapped out of it, a bit shocked at where my mind had wandered, and recalled the only time my vengeful Scorpionic side had been truly revealed. It was a over a decade ago, my Junior year in college. A dude had chased me for months, charming me, asking me out, pursuing me relentlessly. Even in my shenanigan-filled college
Even in my shenanigan-filled college days my intuition was pretty sharp, and I didn’t trust him. There was no reason for it, I just felt in my gut that he was up to no good. He eventually wore me down, and we spent an unsatisfying few minutes together, after which he never returned my call.
I was pissed. Back then I was totally hot hotty hot, I had stalkers for Christ’s sake, and this dude gets me, then doesn’t call me back?! It was the first time I felt really and truly burnnned. I stewed in my anger whilst watching the movie Grumpy Old Men on basic cable. I was judging the characters for wasting so much time spiting each other when judgment turned to inspiration.
I had been invited to a kegger at the dude’s house by his roommate, and suddenly decided I should attend...with Grumpy Old Men inspired supplies. I called a couple best buddies who went to the grocery store with me, where I purchased several fish. (Heads and gross eyeballs attached.) I remember my dear friend E saying, “Meg, this is a disturbing side of you, but damn if it isn’t entertaining”.
We went to the kegger, where I pretended like I wasn’t mad. After some friendly chitchat I excused myself to the restroom, which was just outside of the jerk’s room. Inside it I found a clothes hamper. I emptied out half of the clothes, placed the fish inside (heads and gross eyeballs attached), and replaced the clothes. I exited, signaled my accomplices, and we bailed the party, laughing all the way home.
The jerk moved away, and I wound up making good friends with his roommates. About a year after my revenge, one of the roomies told me a devastating story about how someone had ruined his best suit by placing several fish (heads and gross eyeballs attached) in his hamper. My revenge had struck the wrong person!!
I turned beet red, cried a little, and apologized profusely. He wouldn’t let me pay him back for the ruined duds, and he forgave me immediately. Ooooohwie, did that hurt! I remember wishing that he would have told me off like I deserved. I still feel awful about it, and haven’t attempted revenge since. I learned my lesson.
So, those few who dismissed me during some of the hardest times of my life (dark night of the soul), will not be the butt of a cruel prank parlayed clumsily by myself (heads and gross eyeballs attached), nor a diatribe of their perceived faults, nor any euphonious sneers. Of course, as I learned with my wayward fish prank, kindness really is the best revenge.
The compassionate act of forgiveness doesn’t mean allowing oneself to be mistreated, but simply acknowledges the harmful actions, and releases emotional attachment to them. It’s wise to forgive, not so the transgressor heals, but so we heal. Holding on to resentment to hurt someone else is as useful as holding onto a grenade for the same reasons. It’s only going to hurt you.
It’s empowering to let go, and an apology isn’t necessary to move to forgiveness. We can release ourselves whenever we choose. Why not now?