This is my second post in a series, where each Monday I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during every day life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.
B= a Beautiful Life: Life is truly the most amazing miracle of all, just being alive, right here right now is a beautiful and wondrous gift. it is truly awe-inspiring, and humbling, when you take a step back and look at the infinite sequences of events that had to occur for you to be here right now: from the big bang to the formation of life on our planet, to the evolution of our species and the unbroken chain of ancestors that have struggled to make each of our lives possible.
As you may have already read in the About the Author Section, the motivation for this blog began with my own quest to truly live life to the fullest, and live in the now by trying to fully experience each moment of life. I used to be the type of person who always thought that happiness was around the next corner (stage of life), or would surely be found after I accomplished the next goal. I was also the type of person who thought that if I did what other’s expected of me, then I would find happiness. Therefore, it was truly liberating when I came to the realization that I could indeed find happiness in there here and now, I merely needed to tap into the beauty and mystery of life that constantly surrounds each of us. I also came to the realization that I needed to do the things that made me happy, and live the life that I wanted to live, rather than a life that other’s expected of me. Read more…
Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. ~Anthony J. D’Angelo, The College Blue Book
Well, I have already blown one of my New Years resolutions, which was to write a post a week. Well, sometimes life just happens, and that’s okay. I have had an extremely hectic past few weeks, and this week looks like more of the same. One thing that I have had to constantly remind myself over and over again during the hectic past few weeks has been to simply, “stay positive”. Staying positive is relatively simple, yet it has profoundly positive effects on our moods, emotions, and overall quality of life, because it helps you to make the best out of life and enjoy your present moment (living in the now).
If you stop and think about it, our moods and emotions (feelings) are largely governed by our thoughts. For example, when you are stressed out about something, you are probably running a constant stream of thoughts through your mind involving the cause of the stress (stressor). Also, if you are angry with someone, you are likewise probably running a stream of thoughts through your mind reminding yourself of all the ways you have been wronged, and how you are justifiably angry. Even negative feelings towards our jobs and relationships are governed by our thoughts towards the relationship or situation. Read more…
The U.S. just finished celebrating Thanksgiving Day, which is a wonderful holiday devoted to spending time with friends, family, and giving thanks for the many blessings in our lives. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because I am able to take a break from work and everyday life to just slow down and enjoy some down time. I am thankful that my work gives everyone a four (4) day weekend off to enjoy the holiday, and during these days off I have really enjoyed unwinding and releasing some stress and tension that has been building up.
Too often we get caught up in the rat race of life, and we fail to really slow down and enjoy life, and the things that make us happy. We tend to push things the things that make us happy like spending time with friends, family, relaxing with a good book or a movie, to the side or marginalize them. Generally this leads to stress and general feelings of unhappiness and discontentment.
I think it is key to really identify the things in your life that make you happy, and make time for those activities, people, or groups. Even if what makes you happy seems to be mundane or a “waste of time” it is neither of those if it makes you happy, because sometimes the simplest things in our lives bring us the most pleasure. Of course it is important to make sure that the activities, people, or groups that make us happy aren’t based on attachments for material possessions, or support destructive behaviors, because that can cause the cycle of stress and general unhappiness to perpetuate itself.
While this may seem overly simplistic, we must make time to enjoy the things that make us happy. For me, family and friends are an important part of my life and bring me a great amount of joy and happiness, and so does reading, writing (which this blog is a wonderful outlet for), and driving my old Corvette (weather permitting of course). I know that no matter how stressed out I am, I can turn to these things to bring a sense of comfort and happiness, so they have become a bit of a refuge that I can turn to.
Today, on my birthday, I awoke to my iPhone notifying me that I had over 60 postings on my Facebook wall (all before 7:00am!). As I went through my morning routine I scrolled through the numerous birthday wishes, and it was a pleasure to see so many people wish me a happy birthday, many of whom I have not seen or spoken to in person for many years.
I have always made a habit of using my birthday as a time of reflection. This year I was struck by how much my life has changed during the past few years, and how many new friends I have made along the way, and how many I have lost touch with. Read more…
I have recently found the website/community www.soulpancake.com, where spiritual seekers of all faiths, backgrounds, and viewpoints discuss various topics involving faith, religion, spirituality, and life in general.
Recently there was an activity which encouraged the users to take pictures of ordinary things that would normally go unnoticed, but that are inspiring in some way. This idea really resonated with me, because living in the now requires you to slow down and really experience life and the world around you. Therefore, for the past few weeks I have tried to really tune into the mundane things that surround each of us for inspiring material.
As I have mentioned previously I have a bad tendency to put my head down and push through every task in front of me, including in my spiritual path. While I have made tremendous progress in slowing down and enjoying life, I tend to focus on my emotions, thoughts, and general awareness, rather than my individual physical senses; therefore this visual activity was extremely useful for me.
The following are some pictures that I have taken over the past few weeks with a brief description of why I found the subject material interesting and/or inspiring:
The fall (autumn) season is a time of transition, it is a time of change from the hot hectic pace of summer (yard work, vacations, gardening, etc.), to a slower paced time of harvest and relaxation in the cool weather. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I live in Oklahoma, so the fall is a wonderful respite from the brutal summer heat, especially this year which was one of the hottest, and driest since the dust bowl. I also love fall for its cool crisp mornings and evenings, and for the spectacular foliage color change.
The other day as I was relaxing on my back porch enjoying a fine cigar and watching the squirrels busily gorge themselves on acorns, as well as hurriedly stash away reserves for the coming winter months. While I was ruminating on the fall season in general, as well as other transitional periods/seasons, my mind kept drifting back to one of my favorite movie scenes of all time, the “Carpe Diem” scene from “The Dead Poets Society”, starring Robin Williams. Please watch the clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQtmGcdSDAI
Carpe Diem is a Latin phrase which translates to “Seize the Day”. As the Character of Robin Williams conveys so well in the scene, today is all we have, so seize today and make the most of it. As most of my readers should know the concept of enjoying life to the fullest, and truly “living” life, is an essential element in my life, as well as in my spiritual path (which is also evidenced by the title for this site). Read more…
Momento Mori is a Latin phrase which translates to “remember your mortality”. I first heard this phrase several years ago shortly after I joined the Freemason fraternity, and it is a phrase that has profoundly shaped my life ever since. It is a phrase that has both motivated me to achieve my goals, as well as caused me to enjoy life to the fullest, to truly live in the now, because tomorrow, or even the next minute, is not guaranteed.
Death is generally a taboo subject in Western culture, and as such it is rarely discussed, and most people earnestly try to not even think about it. Most people may think about the concept death when they learn of the passing of someone, but most generally quickly file the subject away, in order to avoid thinking about it too much. The subject of death can be an uncomfortable subject, because the death of our physical body represents the end of life as we know it, it is the end of everything we are certain about. As Shakespeare so eloquently stated in his Hamlet “To Be or Not to Be?” soliloquy, death is that, “undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns”.
Death is something that we each will face, and instead of being something negative, it can be a powerfully motivating force in ones life. I know for a fact that I am not immortal, and because of this I will someday die, perhaps sooner than later. By being aware of this, I am motivated to live life to the fullest, to achieve my goals, and to accomplish as much as I can in whatever time I have left on this earth. As one of my favorite historical figures, Thomas Jefferson, once said, “Never put off till tomorrow, what you can do today”. Read more…
“Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors“
- Jonas Salk (Developer of the first Polio Vaccine)
Recently I have ran across several blogs, topics, books, podcasts, etc., promoting the message, “Be a Good Ancestor Today”. While it appears that the message originates from the above quote by Dr. Salk, the message has recently been popularized by the World Wildlife Fund, Dr. Judith Rich, Samantha Power, as well as various other authors and academics.
The central message of this theme/movement is that we must undertake actions that will ensure that future generations, our kids, grand-kids, etc., enjoy a healthy society and environment. While this might seem opposed to a “living in the now” mentality, it is not. While a living in the now mentality involves enjoying and fully experiencing each moment of life to the fullest (Zen Buddhism has excellent teachings on this), it certainly does not mean that we should undertake actions which are selfish, or harmful to others. To the contrary, we each have a duty to make sure that others are not harmed by our actions. We should always seek to help, but take care to never harm or negatively influence others. Future generations should look back on our life, and find it worthy of emulation. Read more…
During the first day of teachings that preceded the Kalachakra, H.H. The Dalai Lama, gave what amounted to a comparative religion lecture. One of the keys to his lecture was the fact that the attributes of love, compassion, and kindness are central tenants of every world religion. Every world religion teaches these attributes because they will not only have a positive influence on yourself and those around you in this life, but they will also benefit you in whatever awaits each of the death of our physical body.
Unfortunately, too often in our technological world, these attributes are lost, because most interaction occurs without any real face-to-face interaction with one another. This makes it is easy to become disconnected with the fact that the person on the other end of the phone line, or on the other side of the internet connection is a person, just like you. These disconnected interactions allows us to feel okay about treating someone poorly, or even in an outright hateful manner. Read more…
When most people think of a “spiritual person” they usually think of some sort of New Age guru, a hippie, a or a die-hard fundamentalist of one creed or another. Unfortunately this imagery has turned many people off of spirituality, because they don’t want to be thought of as “that person”, or have to answer to a particular religious group or creed. In reality, “spirituality” is not the exclusive realm of any one religion, or any of the aforementioned stereotypical practitioners. There are truly spiritual people who go to church, mosque, synagogue, satsang, etc. at every opportunity, and there are those who never attend any formal religious function.
Oftentimes, so-called spiritual people, also make spirituality seem overly difficult and dogmatic. This is ironic because many self-styled spiritualists began their own personal spiritual path by leaving very rigid and dogmatic religious systems.
Without using any New Age or religious buzzwords, spirituality at its most basic level is about discovering who “you” truly are, which means discovering the divine (created by God) soul that resides in each of us, and bringing your thoughts and actions in-line with your true nature, which is love and joy. Read more…
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