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When you put things down in print before you, they somehow become undeniable. If you want to move from the place you're currently at and into a better place, you'll need to have a clear awareness of the present spot first. A lack of action in either constitutes action for both. When you refuse to choose, you are making a choice. When you decide not to play, you are still in the midst of the game. Now, go into the silence and repeat the following: Forever, my decree is Unconditional Love for humanity with all of me! Forever, my aim is to "Walk on the Sunny Side of the Street" with a soulful beat! If you will not have Unconditional Love for humanity, you cannot" and will not"experience felicity, true bliss. Unconditional Love generates joy, peace of mind, and opens the portals to the Universal Source. Happiness is contingent upon things, but joy is your Universal inheritance. Again, I will ask, "Are you human?" Do not automatically answer "Yes" just because you could read the question. Answering "Yes" because you can read and walk upright makes about as much sense as saying a bird is an airplane because it can fly. Still, most of us will say that we are human. I am sure you are included in this elite group, but of course, we should all aspire to become better human beings, advanced souls who use spiritual technology to create a superhuman and extraordinary life. Do you ever feel weary from the edginess and dreariness that insistent judgments and blaming thoughts bring into your relationships and into your daily life? Have you ever become concerned about the impact that your irritable and mean words and actions have on others? Do you ever wish your life could be happier, or wonder if you might be much moreas a human beingthan you feel you are in the burning heat of angry moments? Have you ever wished that your friendlier, wiser, calmer, and better self would more often appear and guide you in your relationships with your loved ones, interactions with coworkers, and your encounters with the joys and challenges of living every day? Your innate power to change is based in mindfulness, which is another name for awareness. Mindfulness is an energy and quality that all human beings are capable of touching because it is based in our basic human intelligence and is informed by our already present potential for goodness, including our capacity for kindness and compassion.

Remember that effort leads to energy, and energy directed towards mindfulness can have powerful results in your level of awareness. If you are struggling with your practice of mindfulness, make an effort to be more physically active over the course of several days, and begin to incorporate mindfulness practice either into the activity itself (walking meditation, for example) or immediately following the activity (when energy is still high). Notice how the body's exertion and activation of energy can fuel the sharpening of bare awareness. Make a distinction between feelings of being "settled back" versus feelings of "leaning in" when interacting with objects of perception, sensations, or thoughts. A state of being "settled back" implies the type of bare, unassuming awareness that is characteristic of advanced levels of mindfulness. In this state, you are balanced, not overly reactive, and you simply take in various objects as they arise and present themselves to you. Feeling yourself "leaning in" to an object, sensation, or thought, on the other hand, highlights how you may be overly attached to it, or bringing some extra conceptual significance to it, which goes too far beyond simple mindfulness. When "leaning in" in this way, you might often notice extra tension or shortness of breath once you become mindful of the state. The conscious relaxation of tension and deepening of breath, then, can help us along to the "settled back" state. Don't underestimate the benefits of practicing mindfulness in a quiet, natural environment. For all but the most disciplined mindfulness practitioners, the relative lack of sense distractions (beeping car horns, billboards, the smells of a food court) can make for a vastly more successful effort at mindfulness. Set a goal for a minimum frequency that you will seek out that kind of quiet place, and while you are there, note how your mind takes in your surroundings when they don't have the same amount of perceptual "clutter" to filter through. I prefer being a little bit awake before I start writing as I can easily get caught up in unnecessary issues while my brain is still in a fog. I freewrite, but I try not to spend as much time on my problems as I do my possible solutions. I also like to work to-do lists into my journals because they help me to prioritize. You can choose to focus on your plan for the day, yesterday's events, your feelings about those events, your goals, your dreams, your hopes, or your fears. Many people like to keep gratitude journals, writing all of the things they're grateful for. Journal about things to journal about if you're feeling stuck one day. Freedom is the key here. Expression and healing are what's waiting outside the door.

One of the best ways you can use your journal is to explore each of the topics presented in this book. It will help you to remember and better incorporate the suggestions. Here are some questions to ponder: Have you ever wondered why things happen the way they do? When someone asks how your day is going, have you responded, "Same stuff, different day?" Do you ever regret being here, on this planet? Have you ever felt uninterested in what happens to you or your life? Do you feel that some people are just "born lucky?" Have you ever wondered why some people are prosperous in every respect, while others suffer calamities throughout life? Do you aspire to become a better person and experience a fruitful life? Do you ever feel as though you are just going through the motions of living? Feelings of anger or tolerance, intense emotions like hatred or love, intentions to make war or to make peace, whatever the feeling, thought, or action, it lives and dies inside each one of us, as a response in each human heart to something we feel, or think, or as a reaction to someone or something around us. Whether or not the emotion is sustained or grows, or fades and dies, depends in large part to how we treat, consciously or unconsciously, the reactive stream of thoughts and emotions that unfolds within and flows constantly through the present moment of our lives. It's true for all of us. Something happensa car cuts us off on the freeway, a colleague makes a thoughtless remark, a friend sends a kind noteand suddenly a feeling or an emotion rises up inside us. It could be blame or gratitude, judgment or acceptance, and even feelings of boredom or of interest and engagement. The amazing range of human feelings and emotions begins with some eventa sound, a sensation, or a thought, for examplewhich then triggers a reaction in mind and body. The emotions can come and go very quickly, or they can linger. How we relate to the emotion makes all the difference in whether they will linger or fade away within us. Focus on the present, and try to minimize your thoughts about how things were in the past, or your hopes and worries for what they may be in the future. Bringing in concern or desire for times that are outside of our present control reduces the mindfulness that we can devote to the objects of perception that are apparent to us here and now. When meditating as part of your mindfulness practice, make it a point to remind yourself, in as simple of terms as possible, of the purpose of your practice immediately after you settle into your posture. Sometimes when we are beginning meditation, we are so obsessed with assuming the correct posture that by the time we relax into it we've forgotten why we sat down originally, and our mind already lacks clarity.

The purpose doesn't have to be elaborate, and can change by the second based on what one is feeling that moment: "I am here to still my mind...I am here to be mindful of my body...I am here to study my breath." The reinforcing aspect of such a reminder, in general, is more important than the specific content of that reminder. Think of the cultivation of mindfulness as a foundational stepping stone to building a mindset of investigation and inquiry. Internally investigating and inquiring into the basic, true aspects of various objects of our perception requires, first, that we are simply mindful of the objects (or sensations) themselves. From this basic mindfulness, we can then move to further investigation and inquiry as to how we tend to perceive these objects and sensations, the effects they have on our mind and body (for example, mental feelings of lust or disgust, or physical feelings of relaxation or tension), and how those effects can detract from bare mindfulness. For some, seeing mindfulness as a necessary step leading to this type of wisdom can bring extra motivation to practice clearer awareness. When we accept our less pleasurable feelings, they also pass a lot more quickly. We let go of the fear and judgement that gives them their sticky staying effect. By accepting them, we gain the ability to see them more objectively and better understand them. We all need to get back to a place where we understand that all our feelings are valuable and worth experiencing. Even the ones that hurt. Even our depression. These feelings won't kill us, and they can serve in countless ways to actually benefit our lives. They can help us grow to be more understanding and compassionate. They can motivate and teach us. They can help us learn to be more patient and accepting. They can fuel creativity in all areas of our lives. Jackson Pollock, Vincent Van Gogh, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Michelangelo, Edgar Allan Poe, and countless other artists and authors were known to have suffered with depression. They each were able to channel their pain into some of the most beautiful creations in the world. To be human means to feel. Our lives are fullest when we feel everything the pain, the sorrow, the joy, the anger, the grief, the excitement, the ecstasy.

They're all essential colors on the palette of life and to deny any of them is to start coloring the entire world gray. When you look at something, what do you see? Most of us would say that whatever our eyes gaze upon is what registers in our mind. Physiologically, that is correct. However, one principle controls not only your physiology, but also your thoughts and actions. I call this the "Principle of Self." It pertains exclusively to the essence of "you," your true or higher self. This higher self is not comprised of all the emotional content (feelings, attitudes, and thoughts) driven by your intellectual nature. Your higher self is your infallible connection to the Universal Spirit. Within your True Spirit, there is no emotion, intellect, fear, worry, doubt, limitation, anger, or hopelessness. Your True Spirit knows only one emotion, one experience, and that is pure Unconditional Love! The emotion of anger is also like this. How angry you feel or how angry you become in response to any given experience, even whether you become angry at allit all depends on what happens inside you: what bodily sensations you feel and what you think. Perhaps you have had the experience of anger (or related feelings such as blaming, judgment, irritation, or rage) taking over your life for a moment or much longer. What did that feel like in your body? What were your thoughts telling you then? Perhaps someone has told you that anger has become a problem for youat work, as a health issue, in a relationship, or in some other way. Have you been aware of the anger inside of you, or is this surprising news? Or, perhaps you have, at some time or another, felt that anger energized you, and that it helped you get something you wanted. Possibly only afterward did you realize the pain your anger caused, and maybe even then you dismissed it by saying something about the end justifies the means. Or, equally likely, perhaps you never noticed or truly realized the depth of harm to others that your anger caused. Pinpoint one to three concise, simple reasons that you are interested in furthering your mindfulness practice.