Escaping (US) Americanisms

The USA is largely a goal-oriented society that values results more than the struggle or process to attain them. This is somewhat of a departure from many of the other cultures I’ve been blessed to live amongst.

In light of this, much of our time as Americans is spent planning for and envisioning the future. As a result, unfortunately we often are fooled into believing that certain conditions need to be met to be truly happy—if I could just have x amount of money, land that dream job, etc, I would feel complete.

However, as most of us know, when those arbitrary milestones are met, we don’t end up feeling accomplished, at least not long-term. There is almost always a desire for more—bigger and better is the American way.

In contrast, what I’ve realized by observing other cultures is that, in general, they are happy because they’re living in the moment. Individuals can find contentment in the process, rather than chasing after a desired outcome—being present to your situation, no matter how difficult, and fulfillment through a solid day’s work.

‘A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind’

I’ve mentioned briefly in the past that mind wandering is the human brain’s default mode, but haven’t really delved into the mechanisms behind it.

This condition results when the default mode network (DMN) is active, the brain’s preferential state, in which it’s not engaging in any particular task. DMN processes include thinking (daydreaming), remembering the past, and planning for the future.

In contrast, the task positive network (TPN) is active when we are immersed in a singular undertaking, i.e., in a meditative state. Any object of focus in the internal or external environment can trigger this brain state—reading, bird-watching, brushing your teeth, breath meditation, etc. The sole prerequisite is that one partakes in these activities with the whole of their attention.

When functioning, the TPN silences mental chatter, allowing internal peace and helping us be more present. It can be likened to the rest-and-digest (parasympathetic) branch of the central nervous system, in contrast to the flight-or-flight (sympathetic) component that works in tandem with the DMN.

The DMN tends to be the natural condition of the mind—research suggests that, on average, humans spend 47% of their waking hours lost in thought. Unfortunately, these finding also show this tendency has ramifications on emotional wellbeing.

A study by Harvard University researchers published in the magazine Science, revealed that, “How often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.”

The researchers estimated that 4.6% of an individual’s happiness can be attributed to their undertaking, whereas their mental presence accounts for nearly 11%. The gold nugget here is that we have greater emotional affliction when the mind is disengaged than when it is focused, regardless of the object of attention.

Escapism is mental distraction from the typical demands of life. And while it often takes the form of entertainment, daydreaming and even “busy work” in some instances can also be viewed as a type of escapism if used to shirk your innate duties.

Generally speaking, USA-ans are fooled into believing the more they can cram into a day, the more accomplished and fulfilled they will feel, which, based on the above evidence, is hokum. It’s really about doing more with less—tackling the truly crucial things, and making them count by dedicating all of your energy to them.

Productivity Mindset

Often, the productivity mindset is synonymous with the DMN’s wandering, monkey mind. When concerned solely with efficiency, chances are, ironically, you’re multitasking like a mofo. And even if you’re hyper-focused on a singular undertaking, it doesn’t mean your fully immersed in (present to) it, i.e., in the flow state.

Intense and exclusive concentration prevents awareness of the other aspects of your present experience, which is what the flow state (or wu wei) is all about—effortless action in conjunction with all the components of your environment.

Even while living in Latin America, I was beholden to the American custom of productivity. Each day, I set out to work x number of hours editing, or filled my to-do list with things I thought would bring me closer to my desired outcome—the now-turbid vision I had nearly lost all sight of.

The ironic thing is that I thought staying busy was making me feel accomplished, and giving me a sense of purpose. But in reality, it was a way for me to avoid confronting my strife and examining why I felt incomplete.

I was “working” on the things that were my daily concerns (material comforts), instead of focusing on the ultimate concern—living by my morals and building that which gives me a sense of purpose.

A woman with additional arms photoshopped, holding various household cooking and cleaning utensils

My issue with the productivity mindset was that I began to trick myself into believing I was cultivating the self, largely because I was staying occupied. But in truth, I was diverging further from the path I set out on; the one with roadblocks I didn’t used to mind overcoming, instead of trying to escape from.

When times are challenging, action only improves the situation when it is deliberate—and the path of least resistance is found through stillness and looking inside (reflecting). Multitasking and running around like a chicken with your head cut off will not provide a sense of life improving, a sense of control, or satisfaction.

Nor will envisioning all the conditions of your life arranged in such a way that makes you feel whole. The process and pursuit of a vision consumes the vast majority of life—reaching the finish line is only a sliver of existence.

That’s why it’s so crucial to enjoy the journey and be present to it. Daydreaming your life away will almost certainly bring discontentment, even if you are progressing towards your objective.

As mindfulness meditation expert Sam Harris once said, “Even if we’re guarding our time to do the things that are most important to us, we can spend all of that time regretting the past, or anxiously expecting the future, basically just dancing over the present and never making contact with it.”

The Joy of the Present Moment

A few years back, I stayed several days in the home of a tight-knit family a couple hours north of Oaxaca city. What was most astounding to me was how much joy each family member had, despite how many chores that had that day or how rough their living situation appeared (to an American).

They were thrilled to just be in each other’s company, taking each moment at a time.

Each day I get to witness it is a blessing. A constant reminder to slow down, become aware of my present environment, and be grateful for whatever I have. Which sometimes, is just being witness to the awe of life and the cosmos.

– CC


Distraction: When is it Advantageous?

For much of my *professional* life, I’ve been easily swayed by distraction—not just getting down to business, whatever the undertaking may be, but also merely staying on task. I think this is a common struggle in the digital age, as the onslaught of stimuli and noise we’re faced with continues to grow.

For a long time, I viewed distraction as something to be dealt with and phased out. But recently I’ve gained the perspective that often, it can be leveraged to work in our advantage.

Distraction can provide the opportunity to give ourselves a break from the task and allow our subconscious to work through the venture or issue. It can also bring inspiration, as well as fresh eyes and a new perspective for approaching the project.

It really is a matter of context—knowing in which instances to avoid distraction and in which settings to welcome it.

Being Distracted Just Enough to Take Your Head out of It

Humans are over-thinking creatures by nature. As intermediaries in the creative process (the channel), this tendency can quickly get in the way and distort the message between the source and the medium. It can make the work come off as contrived instead of authentic and raw; like adding noise to a clean channel.

For example, we may put too much emphasis on a certain component of the art, like the voice in a piece of music, potentially making it a grandiose performance that seems inorganic, because it is.

In a recent interview on the Tim Ferriss Show, legendary record producer Rick Rubin described this very phenomenon happening when working with singer Neil Diamond. Rubin suggested the musician also play guitar while recording the song.

The outcome was that he was distracted just enough by holding down the chord changes that he could let his true voice shine through, delivering a genuine performance instead of an ostentatious one.

In a similar way, I realized that when I freestyle rap, I come up with more authentic bars than if I were to sit down and write rhymes on paper. Instead of thinking things out, the message just flows organically off the tip of the tongue. Both my cadence and lyrical content come out as more genuine.

Maybe my heart opens easier because my brain is just distracted enough by having to keep time with the beat? Who knows.

This is one hack the artist can use to bypass our over-thinking monkey mind. Now let’s consider another process that uses distraction to achieve a similar result.

Seeing the Forest For the Trees

Probably the most palmary benefit of distraction is new outlooks, which often pave the way for a fresh, groundbreaking approach to the particular undertaking.

Distractions often allow us to see the forest for the trees, and sometimes even offer an insight that was right there on the cusp but hadn’t been thought of because of our vantage point.

When you spend hours on end immersed in a project, it is easy to become bogged down and perhaps lose sight of your initial intention or the idea you were trying to convey. Your vantage point shrinks when meticulously engrossed in something—literally and figuratively.

In both senses, taking a step back from the situation (expanding your focus) detaches you from any emotions that may have crept up, and allows you to get a more clear, objective picture of what’s happening. Thus, you can view the world (or project) with fresh eyes, seeing more opportunities or avenues to be approached.

Quitting While You’re Ahead

Much in the same manner, knowing when to call it quits for the time being is advantageous. This way, you prevent the thesis of your creative output from becoming convoluted.

Too many consecutive hours (or minutes) fixated on a project can result in getting caught up in the finer details that in the end may not even make a significant difference in the quality of the work or how it is received.

You can end up tinkering with elements that really encapsulate your thesis – either from a technical or cerebral standpoint – and somewhere along the way may be unable to get them back.

The key is being fully present to and immersed in the work when engaging with it, and then leaving it be when not focusing on it. One benefit of this approach is that it becomes easier to tap into your inner-spirit and channel your creative juices.

Another advantage of entirely disengaging is you allow your mind to keep it on the back burner, potentially providing insights that wouldn’t have come when tightly fixated on the undertaking.

Subconsciously Working Through a Project

I think in general, to stew over a problem is not the way to solve a problem. I think to hold the problems lightly…

Record Producer Rick Rubin

For me, I know ah-ha moments often arrive when the issue I had been ruminating over was seemingly the furthest thing from my attention. This suggests that even when you are not actively pursuing a project, it is still an object of your mind, though it may be on a different level—the subconscious.

I often used to ruminate on things I couldn’t remember which I had deemed critical, racking my brain trying to conjure them back. However, the mind knows what is important. If it deserves to be in your awareness, it will bring it back.

This principle parallels the practice of letting your subconscious marinate on your ideas. Often, if the issue is something significant, the mind will find a way to resolve it, so long as you can get out of your own way and stop overanalyzing it.

You can also use distraction subconsciously in a different way—by playing off related subject matter to spark your creative juices.

Gathering Insight and Inspiration Through Distraction

When you switch from create to consume mode, but still focus on closely-related content, you may very well be opening the tap of creativity to let it flow.

A man sitting at a desk taking notes with his right hand while holding his smartphone with the left

Seth Godin, Chuck Close and other esteemed creatives have said things along the lines of “inspiration is for amateurs,” and “there’s no such thing as writer’s block.”

What these authority figures are insinuating is that procrastination or hesitation is simply fear of bad execution. Professionals simply show up and do the work, having faith in the process. In the words of Seth, “Anxiety is experiencing failure in advance.”

While inspiration shouldn’t be a prerequisite to create, there is certainly something to be said for using similar material to inspire, refine and tailor your art. The most seminal works by the prominent figures in your chosen discipline can be used as a blueprint for what worked in the past. However, I’m not advising copying them.

Instead, they can be used to determine where you have leverage and in what ways you can bring a fresh approach to the craft, which may help you break through the noise. View these reference points not as something that allows you to think outside the box of the genre, but defines it, and reveals where opportunity exists for original endeavors.

The caveat is just because something worked well in the past – especially someone else’s work – doesn’t mean it will work for you, or work again, even for them. The stories they told that resonated with others were based on their experiences, their view of world—your devoir as an artists it to make art that is true to you.

However, those works broke through for a reason—something about it resonated with people on a personal level. Maybe it spoke to their identity, or was something they wanted to express about themselves but just didn’t know how.

This defining characteristic is what needs to be leveraged. If you really put the whole of your attention into consuming and digesting the piece but don’t have a motive, you should be able to gain insight into what it is about it that speaks to you on a soul level (how it is unique) and use that to your benefit.

And although you don’t want to carbon-copy that, the idea is to try and replicate its essence in a new way that is distinct to you.

The Wrap on Distraction

Escapism has long gotten a bad wrap, especially in a goal-oriented society that values productivity above all else. Though in excess, it often becomes a crutch to prevent dealing with reality, distraction does have its place in the creative process.

Art is not something that should be rushed. Using these techniques to refresh, refine and expand your creative endeavors should not be frowned upon, as they can allow you to better your craft—quality over quantity.

– CC

Mindfulness: Kill Your Thoughts or Let Them Pass?

From the point of view of mindfulness, the logic is not to care about any of the interesting changes and experiences that come as a result of practicing in this way, because the underlying goal is to be more and more equanimous with changes.

So it’s not to grasp at what’s pleasant or interesting and not to push what’s unpleasant or boring or otherwise not engaging away. What you want is just a kind of “sky-like mind” that allows everything to appear, and you’re not clinging to anything or reacting to anything.

Sam Harris, Using Meditation to Focus, View Consciousness & Expand Your Mind

A wise neighbor and confidant once told me a juicy tidbit about directing your energy—he said, “Whatever you allow to become the object of your mind will manifest.”

Therefore, it’s best to strike negative thoughts or attachments from your mind when they arise to not give them power over you or control your destiny.

It’s often true that in the case of sickness and disease, what the mind habitually thinks, the body will manifest—belief is a powerful tool. But I’m not sure how beneficial mindsets are when applied to clinging to material stimulations, favorable past experiences and future outcomes.

On paper this seems like a logical, sound approach, but I believe most times it’s just sticking a band-aid on the underlying issues—if we don’t address the root cause of what we are grappling with, how are we to fix the problem?

Controlled vs Non-Structured Meditation

There are many benefits of concentrative meditation, including better focus, stress-reduction, and improved memory, sleep and wellbeing.

A deliberate meditation practice, like a manta or object-focused meditation, takes a dualistic approach to awareness—subject and object, actor and observer.

The practitioner focuses on one particular aspect of their experience and tries to consciously control it, instead of objectively feeling or looking at the entirety of their present experience. In this instance, they envision the self and the object of their awareness as separate entities in which the object being viewed is distinct from the subject that is doing the viewing (you).

It’s the sense that there’s kind of a rider on the horse of consciousness as opposed to just consciousness and its contents.

Dr. Sam Harris

However, though there are numerous cognitive and emotional benefits with this type of meditation, there is always a motive, an object of focus. In light of that, this deliberate awareness can inhibit the cultivation of mindfulness, i.e., total immersion in one’s present experience.

Concentration (or focus) can happen on its own. For example, consider one being fully engulfed in a movie, so much so that they are oblivious to anything else going on in their immediate surrounding environment.

In contrast, mindfulness and concentration are a packaged deal—wherever mindfulness is, concentration is also.

Though cultivating your concentration ability can improve mindfulness, and it then becomes much easier to recognize your mind wandering and shut it down, redirecting your mental comings and goings isn’t doing you many favors beyond improving your focus.

Suppressing Your Thoughts

For a long time I held the belief that the best way to combat mental afflictions like difficult emotions or clinging to things or ideas, and the daydreaming resulting from that suffering, was to strike it from your awareness.

When you notice it, bring your focus back to the desired mental formation (samskara) – be it an object, thought or feeling – in order to absolve yourself of the painful mental state.

In the particular case of painful emotions, I would try to supplant them with more pleasant ones. By doing this, you disrupt your brain’s tendency to have those conditioned responses—or so goes the logic.

Thought this likely will improve your ability to focus, the practice engages just as much impulsivity as the responses you seek to change do—it just tips the scales in the other direction, grasping for favorable reflexes instead.

The goal here is the avoidance of pain, and in order to prevent it, you become just as reactive; there is no buffer between the stimulus and the response, no attempt to resolve it. So ultimately, those same negative mental formations still have their fangs in you despite the adaptation.

photo of a lobotomized man rubbing his temples, with an illustration above his head of paper airplanes swirling around his brain

However, an approach where ones takes time to digest the stimulus before their reaction puts the organism (O) at the center, with them acting as an intermediary between the stimulus (S) and the response (R), instead of the impulsive ‘S’ => ‘R’ model. In my view, this SOR theory is likened with mindfulness.

Since you are merely bypassing your negative mental formations in favor of pleasant ones with the SR approach, no momentous healing or improvement can take place. You are subjectively focusing on one aspect of your experience and trying to consciously control it, instead of objectively feeling and looking at the entirely of your experience and just letting it unfold as you would with mindfulness.

Despite the fact that you are conscious of them, often these fixations on adaptation begin to have thrall over your mental processes and conduct, just as much as the initial mental formation. It simply takes the form of aversion instead of attachment.

Sometimes, the objects of our consciousness become something very strong. And they continue to weigh heavily on us, so that our way of speaking, thinking and acting are conditioned by it.

Thich Nhat Hahn

And the best way to lift that weight is to lean into it instead of just trying to drop it.

Letting Thoughts Arise, Just Be, and Dissolve

The idea here is that, when you notice a negative emotion or your thoughts drifting, don’t try to avoid it. Instead of getting frustrated or judgmental and purging the thought, emotion or image from your mind, embrace it. See it through, and bring your focus back to sensation when it has passed.

Though difficult at first, the fact that you’ve succeeded in making your negative thoughts and emotions the object of your mindfulness means your self-awareness has already improved, and the grasp those afflictions have on you is loosening.

If you just are willing to pay 100% attention to it, a couple of things happen.

One, is your resistance to feeling it goes away, by definition, because now your goal is to just pay attention to it. And you recognize that so much of the suffering associated with the pain was born of the resistance to feeling it.

Dr. Sam Harris

Though in this context, he is speaking of physical pain, the process applies to mental turmoil as well. And in the case of mental affliction, in addition to the realization you very likely had been overdramatizing the issue, you can gain insight into where it initially stemmed from.

The S-O-R technique will undoubtedly serve to resolve the conflict, though it may take practice. Material attachments to things like sweets, nicotine, or alcohol are more easily broken than longing for past circumstances or clinging to future outcomes by employing dopamine fasting, or sensory deprivation.

Breaking these addictions – which often arise from being discontent – is something that will come with time. But when pining for the happy times in the past or romanticizing the future, just diverting your attention from this daydreaming isn’t going to cut it.

When I find my mind gravitating towards a scheduled vacation five months from now, I meditate on my mind and reflect—what is lacking in my current experience that has me craving more or living for the future (or past), and what can I do to manifest it?

The answer usually comes fairly effortlessly for me when I let these thoughts and emotions arise and just be with them. With practice, it should eventually become just as easy for you to use mindfulness to stop running from yourself towards things, the future or past.

– CC

Exteroception vs Interoception: Getting Out of Your Head

Most people have an interoceptive bias—they’re focused more on what’s going on internally [mentally] than on what’s happening externally.

I think that this is an issue because we hear so often about the need to do a meditation practice that allows us to focus inward and that we’re getting yanked around by all the stressors of life, etc, etc.

And we are, we’re getting yanked around by all the stressors and demands of life. But as we do that, we tend to be very focused on what’s happening with us.”

Andrew Huberman, The Science of Meditation

With the rise to prominence of vanity-inflating and anxiety-inducing social media channels, I find this claim spot-on—self absorption is at an all-time high.

However, self-obsession and mental affliction isn’t a product of inward mindfulness meditation. Instead, they result from identifying with your thoughts or external constructs without the proper training.

A bias towards interoception doesn’t inherently constitute a high aptitude for self-awareness, i.e., keen interpretation of sensations, impulses, thoughts or feelings—being stuck in your head differs from the capacity to examine your mind and its contents.

Self-awareness is dependent on mindfulness (the ability to stay present), and the capacity for “watching your thoughts pass,” which, ironically, is refined through mindfulness meditation focused on the breath or body.

Therefore, self-contentment and self-actualization can be realized, but the mind needs to be disciplined in order to attain them, by way of self-awareness instead of self-involvement.

Interoception vs Exteroception

Interoception is the perception of what’s going on at the level of your skin or a deeper internal level. In contrast, exteroception is everything more external than skin level.

In Huberman Lab episode I pulled that introductory quote from, neuroscientist Andrew Huberman says that a good benchmark for gauging interoceptive awareness is if you can detect your heartbeat and rate without needing to physically take your pulse using your hand.

Well, I used to not be able to do that worth a lick, and I certainly was in my own head most of the time. That’s why I believe an interceptive bias and the tendency towards being consumed by your thoughts should be viewed as distinct entities.

When we meditate on our mind, or do an externally-focused practice, we dissociate from our internal world and our sensory perceptions. Thus, we are unable to tap into our self-awareness and gather context of ourself in relation to the surrounding environment.

Taking this into consideration, interception at large is not synonymous with self-awareness. Again, insights into yourself arrive when you are conscious of and focused on your body or breath, i.e., practicing mindfulness meditation in contrast to focused on your thoughts.

The realizations can be basic, like the recognition of your breathing, body or posture, or more astounding, like the understanding of your thought patterns.

In the quote above, Huberman alludes to the belief that the majority of us should engage in exteroceptive-focused meditation, as we generally are internal-looking.

But in my experience, ironically, an internally-focused practice – so long as it is not centered on the mind – lends itself to better immersion in the present external environment, and makes us less susceptible to being pulled around or influenced by those externals stressors (distractions) we mentally expound upon.

If you’re more dissociative – somebody who’s more focused on events outside your body – and you want to gain more interoceptive awareness and more “feeling state,” you want to do a practice that’s third eye or breathing-focused.

Andrew Huberman

Personally, I don’t believe dissociation to encompass being caught up in the external environment. Dissociation results when there is a disconnect or lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions, and identity. Thus, it is more synonymous with being consumed by your fears, worries, or regrets than it is exteroceptive awareness.

Again, there is a more clear-cut divergence between body or breath interoception and mind interoception than between exteroception and general interoception—ruminating on your thoughts removes you from the present, irrespective of if your focus is the external or internal environment.

Consciousness encompasses experiences, feelings (sensations) and perceptions in your environment, body or mind, regardless of if you are cognizant of them. In contrast, awareness is “knowledge or perception of a situation (internal or external) or fact,” or it can be likened to attention.

However, while attention (focus) can only be applied to one or a few things, awareness is a lot more inclusive. It can be focused or unfocused on a particular object or activity, or arrive as insights and understanding. In short, awareness is recognition.

Awareness is awareness, and if you can cultivate it on one level, you can apply it to any other—refined interoception lends itself to exteroceptive capacity. However, cultivating self-awareness – recognizing and regulating thoughts, impulses and actions – is an internal process.

Thus, body or breath mindfulness meditation affords us better understanding of ourselves and our relationship with (how we fit into) the world around us—in a word, better self-awareness.

In contrast, though our default mode generally is to be internally-focused – but more specifically, in our own heads – this tendency doesn’t necessarily translate into improved self-awareness or wellbeing—in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

The Mind: The Interoception Spectrum No-Man’s Land

I’m perceiving things, remembering things, and anticipating things all the time about the future. But by focusing my attention on the one organ for which I have no sensation – that is, my brain – thoughts, feelings (emotions), and memories start to grow in their prominence in my awareness and in my perception.

Andrew Huberman

Based on this statement, Huberman doesn’t discern between perceiving thoughts and being present to – i.e., mindful of – them. For example, I could be highly focused on my thoughts, in which they are tremendously vivid. However, they could come in the form of past memories or expectations of future occurrences.

In this instance, I am not being mindful of the mind. While I may be conscious of and attentive to them, I’m basically letting my thoughts run amuk, without the capacity to understand the underlying patterns and regulate them accordingly—an ability known as metacognition, i.e., self-awareness.

This can be a dangerous game. Though being attentive to the mind is technically interoception, applying attention to your cognitive processes opens the door for racing thoughts. There is a clear distinction in the interoceptive spectrum between feeling (sensing) and thinking (or feeling emotions).

It’s very clear that for people who do that typical third eye meditation for 13 minutes a day, if they do that too close to when they want to go to sleep, they have a hard time falling asleep, which makes perfect sense because they are becoming more interoceptively aware—they are ramping up their level of focus.

Andrew Huberman

Well, they are focusing on their thoughts, so this outcome does make perfect sense.

In contrast, had they “ramped up” focus on their breath or body – on their sensations instead of thoughts – they would have calmed down the nervous system. Therefore, intense focus doesn’t inherently equate to alertness (sympathetic nervous system arousal).

Again, ruminating on your mental formations by meditating on the third eye, especially without proper training, is more dissociation than it is interoception, as Huberman even himself alluded to. This is evident because – as mentioned – you can be fixed on your thoughts without being present, i.e., mindful.

This same principle applies to exteroception; when you focus on the surrounding environment, you may forget entirely that you have a body. You can quickly get swept up in external stimuli.

Even if you don’t and can keep paying half a mind to your breath or posture, your attention is still divided between two points of emphasis, and you won’t receive the benefits you would have had you kept your entire focus on your body.

However, when you bring your full attention to the body and make it the object of your mind, you can’t help but be mindful, remaining in the present—you are aware of your breathe or body, which are only available in the present.

A woman sits at a desk with eyes closed and clasped hands over her lips in deep reflection

In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, “when body and mind are together, you are established in the present moment.”

Since focusing on your thoughts is an entirely different practice than on your sensory perceptions, though both internal awareness, the two have different outcomes on the body and the mind. Breath or body awareness brings healing and insight, while mind focus often brings negative emotions like discontentment, worry, or fear—primarily because we’re not living in the present.

Mind-wandering appears to be the human brain’s default mode,” a trait that does not lend itself to wellbeing or self-awareness. Mind-wandering is merely not being present, which includes dissociation by way of third-eye meditation.

The study linked above showed a negative correlation between daydreaming (being in the past or the future instead of the present) and mood, regardless of if the participant found the activity they were doing to be pleasant or not.

Fortunately, we can improve both our self-awareness and our mood by constantly bringing our focus back to the present moment through body or breath mindfulness.


The act of refocusing has been proven to benefit all sorts of mental processes, including concentration and emotion. It allows you to adapt default conditioned responses to internal or eternal stimuli by rewiring cognitive connections.

For example, when you bring your attention back to your breath after realizing your mind was wandering, or you let go of feelings of anger when something had triggered you, in both instances you weaken the association between your brain and the stimulus.

This restructuring of neurons is known as neuroplasticity. The process involves weakening synaptic connections between neural pathways, through which impulses are sent after being triggered by a given stimulus.

Through functional neuroplasticity, these connections are adapted to create new default responses (physical and emotional reactions) to those same triggers. When you refocus your attention or release the emotion that had consumed you, you lessen these conditioned inclinations and make the brain malleable enough to begin replacing them with more favorable ones.

Ironically, though recognizing and refocusing your attention or your emotions is a cognitive process, it becomes much easier when you have sharpened your self-awareness through mindfulness of bodily sensations.

Of course, it may be difficult to not get frustrated when you notice your mind wandering, especially when just starting out. However, with each realization, your ability to recognize these tendencies is improved.

Rather than think about your ability to focus, think about your ability to refocus, and the more number of times you have to refocus, the better training you’re getting.

Andrew Huberman

…and the better your self-awareness is becoming.

Wrapping Up

Our thoughts can swallow us whole when we identify with them, or just as quickly if we try to resist them. The perception of our mental formations can have devastating effects on us if we view them from an improper vantage point, or even merely take a dualistic approach, i.e., subject and object, as so many rudimentary meditators do.

Attempting to suppress thoughts can paradoxically ramify our sense of self or self-involvement. However, instead of meditating on the mind, bringing awareness to the breath or the body allows us to be far enough removed from our mental impressions to see them as “emerging objects in consciousness” distinct from the self.

When we put all of our perception into our thoughts, we see how disorganized, how wandering they are and, in fact, how random and intrusive those can be.”

Andrew Huberman

And when we become mindful of them, we gain insight into what is causing them, and hopefully the motivation to do something about those afflictions.

– CC

Mindfulness of… Cleaning?

Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something

We can cook our breakfast mindfully and continue to produce the energy of mindfulness, concentration and insight.

We do not have to go to a temple, to a meditation center in order to generate these three kinds of energies.

You don’t have to set aside time to practice mindfulness—you practice while you brush your teeth or take a shower, do the dishes. And you are fully alive in these moments. This is the art of living.

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Suffering Retreat Day 1

Many think that you need to use traditional meditation practices in order to cultivate mindfulness. However, this is not entirely the case—at least, it doesn’t require meditation in the conventional sense.

Any activity can be carried out mindfully – and as a meditation – and can serve to sharpen your awareness and concentration abilities when you make it your singular focus.

Further, you can enjoy activities you dread (chores) simply by your total immersion in them, following the breath, and relaxing the body.

A “Meditative State”

Meditation is defined as a “deep concentration on a singular activity.” The pastime can be anything—walking, cooking, even simply breathing.

Mindfulness is a very related – but distinct – concept. It can be viewed as full immersion in the moment. It is a mental state obtained by bringing one’s attention to the present, while being conscious of and accepting one’s thoughts, feelings, and sensory perceptions.

This ability is strengthen through meditation. When I use the term mindfulness, you many envision an image of someone sitting with their eyes closed, face relaxed and hands in their lap.

But as I alluded to, ‘meditation’ doesn’t require you sitting in the lotus position (cross-legged) with the back of your hands resting upright on your knees. You can cultivate your mindfulness capacity by bringing your attention to your breath and body, and concentrating on a sole undertaking, releasing other thoughts from your mind.

When you are fully present and engaged (mindfully engaged) with a singular activity, it can dramatically impact your ability to focus, be present, and your capacity for insight.

The fundamental mindfulness exercises generally produce straightforward insights, like awareness that you have a body, period, or that you’re holding tension in a particular area—insights into the body.

The more profound insight that comes with a more developed practice are those into the tendencies of your mind and its formations (it’s attachments, impulses, feelings and afflictions).

“Insight is the fruit of mindfulness and concentration. It is by ignorance the we suffer. But when we begin to touch the insight, the insight touching our true nature, there’s no longer any fear—there’s compassion, there’s acceptance, tolerance.” 

Mindfulness, Concentration and Insight

Thay describes the process of mindfulness (breathing, consumption, walking) as composed of three components, or as he refers to them, three energies.

Wherever mindfulness is, concentration is also. When you are mindful of your in breath, you are concentrated on your in breath. When you are mindful of your tea, you concentrate on the tea.

First come mindfulness and concentration. Then insight arrives, which can be viewed as the byproduct of mindful and meditative (focused) states, practiced together.

Mindful breathing or walking brings you back to the present. And when you’re established in the present, you are aware of what’s going on. Thus, you recognize things as they are, i.e., obtain insight.

As I mentioned, your first recognitions will be regarding your body—your posture, tense areas, etc.

But as you further develop your consciousness-spectating ability through routine practice, you’ll begin to see the inner-workings of your mind and its shortcomings, leading you down the path towards self-actualization—if you’re so inclined as to follow it.

Mindfulness of Something: Reaching Self-Actualization

According to the practice, everything you do in your life should be done mindfully. And if you do it mindfully – like walking or driving or cooking – you are truly alive.

The practice of living mindfully helps you to look more deeply at everything as it presents itself in the present moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh

As noted, this type of insight, and ultimately, self-realization, doesn’t require a traditional meditation practice to be attained. You simply need to practice and deploy mindfulness and concentration as you conduct your daily activities, and pass from one to the next.

I think this is the main distinction between traditional Chinese Qigong and Buddhist meditations styles. Taoist Qigong meditation typically involves some form of dedicated practice—either one incorporating movement (Dao Yin) or simply Taoist breathing techniques (Tuna).

And while the movement component is beneficial, in terms of opening up Qi blockages in the body and improving mobility and mental wellbeing in general, it is distinct from mindfulness meditation in the traditional Buddhist view. Meaning, it is not a necessary means for releasing tension or ultimately, cultivating self-actualization.

I often get more profound tension release, insight, and awareness from just mindful breathing or walking than I do when trying to be mindful during dedicated Qigong practice on a particular day.

A barefoot person taking a step is shown from the thighs down

Maybe it has to do with intention, but if I’m not looking forward to practicing for whatever reason that day, it’s much easier for my mind to wander. However, I can typically steady it eventually and release it into my body and focus solely on the breath if I’ve cultivated sufficient present-moment focus through mindful walking or mindful cleaning that day.

I think contrary to many, I often don’t find it difficult to deploy body awareness while doing chores or going about my daily routine. It’s just easy for me to transition effortlessly between mindful walking or breathing will sitting the the following activity while staying aware of my body and the mind.

Ironically, I have a more challenging time being mindful when I’m engaging in pleasurable activities—likely because of the concomitant dopamine release, i.e., the “molecule of more.”

Staying Mindful During Pleasurable Sensory Experiences

Thay uses an excellent analogy between eating chocolate and mindful breathing in one of his’ Dharma talks. To indulge in the chocolate mindfully is to let it melt on your tongue, feel it move slowly down your throat, and taste all of the flavor nuances as it osmoses into your being.

Well, he surmises that a good practitioner can get these joyful sensations (and insight and eventually self-realization) from elementary mindful walking or breathing as well; enjoying each breathe or each step as much as every luscious bite of cacao—with the added benefit of not having to worry about excessive consumption.

This intrigues me on a number of levels.

The first being that other Buddhist practitioners I’ve heard address the subject of eating discuss not putting emphasis on or attaching to taste.

The other idea I like is the excessive consumption aspect. As someone who had been going through a long stretch of progressively worse and worse attachment, it was encouraging to hear that my material longing can be replaced by simply enjoyment of each mindful breath or step in the present.

Maybe the reason Thay believes in the enjoyment of pleasurable impulses received by the sensory perceptions is because he’s not clinging to the experience produced by the stimulus—he’s alright with indulging in the pleasurable ones so long as that indulgence doesn’t become a fixation.

For the record, these fixations don’t just manifest as pleasant experiences. They can also arrive in the form of unfavorable or dreadful ones. Like cleaning the apartment, for example.

Finding Joy in Mindfulness of Dreaded Activities

When you wash the dishes, if you know how to breathe and smile and produce the energy of mindfulness, concentration and insight, washing dishes becomes a very pleasant thing.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Returning to the chocolate analogy, something else encouraging for me is to know that activities traditionally thought of as unfavorable, like doing the dishes or dusting countertops can be pleasurable when done mindfully.

There is hard data to support the mood-boosting effects of mindfulness during unpleasant activities. A study in the journal Science titled “A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind” found that a person’s awareness during a given activity had more influence on their happiness in that moment than the activity itself.

Somewhat surprisingly, regardless of if they were thinking unpleasant or happy thoughts, if their mind was elsewhere instead of engaged in the activity, they were more likely to report feeling unhappy at that time.

Embodying this practice and belief has also helped me eliminate the tendency to procrastinate.

As a side note, I’ve discussed it before but another way to kill procrastination tendencies is to consider the sense of accomplishment you feel when crossing things off your to-do list.

Distractions also provide an avenue for procrastination and are a coping mechanism for unfavorable tasks, in addition to just preventing us from being mindful. When we are swayed by distraction, we forget that we have a body.

I’ve received many insights about myself through mindful consumption and living, but probably the most significant about the external world is how the sensory stimulation so prevalent in our society serves a purpose—to prevent us from living and consuming mindfully, and generating insight.

The sheer nimiety of clutter we face in many daily circumstances – whether mindless entertainment, anticipating salivary stimulation (namely sugar or excitotoxins) or endless push notifications of “breaking news” on our devices – is a calculated means of stopping us from connecting with each other, our inner-voice, and generating meaningful insight.

Insights into human nature – like how we’re all connected – or into our own personal true nature; i.e., discovering our calling or pinpointing what’s preventing us from seeing it.

Whatever it is that keeps us running from the present and is vying for and winning the battle over our consciousness is what we need to renounce.

Large scale automation is also partially to blame for our inability to practice mindfulness. Because so many of our daily tasks are now delegated to machines (like driving, for example) it is very easy for the mind to wonder, instead of staying conscious of the task at hand.

I can’t genuinely say if this absent-mindedness is a goal of automation – as with keeping us wrapped up in distraction – or just a byproduct, but regardless, that’s what transpires, at least for me.

However, by deploying mindfulness and focusing our attention on solely the activity we are currently engaged in, we can come back to the present, and hear the voice within (our intuition)—the inner compass that tells us what we need and subtly nudges us in the right direction towards self-realization.

Wrapping Up

If I need a mechanism – some kind of practice – to produce Qi, I can’t do it with pure awareness, then’s there’s probably too many distortions on the nature to apply it to the mind to allow that quality to grow from inside.

Damo Mitchell, Hidden Intention in Qigong Practice – Part 3

These “distortions” are expectations, longings, emotions and judgements that come from the distractions I discussed previously. But by bringing our awareness back to the present – to the body or the breath – we become conscious of these distortions.

We all have distortions. However, some people are more aware of and better at letting go of them than others. The key is to not judge yourself for having them.

Through mindfulness they will come into your consciousness, which is a great start. And with enough practice their grasp on you will begin to loosen, eventually fading away entirely.

No doubt, there are detrimental physical (and mental) health effects that can be attributed to laying on the couch all day. And they probably outweigh the benefits gained through laid-out mindful breathing.

However, the point is, peace and joy, healing, insight, and potentially even self-attainment can arrive be being present, aware of your body, and following your breath.

Now, take the power back!

– CC

Breaking Bad Habits by Strengthen Good Ones

The road to vitality and self-attainment is paved with a lot of surrender. Very often, it takes the form of bad habits.

And though this post is part of series on identifying and following your higher purpose, these strategies can be useful for anyone interested in ridding themselves of bad habits or adopting beneficial ones.

You can either use a desire for ascension as motivation for breaking bad habits, or first change your behavioral patterns and then your true calling will be revealed to you when you have less afflictions occupying you mental space. Regardless, it’s imperative to eliminate what is deterring from your presence in the here and now.

Anchoring with Linchpin Habits

You can use linchpin habits to strengthen the likelihood you will take on good habits or cut out negative ones, and create entire new, beneficial routines. These actions serve as a foundation habit on which many others are built.

Linchpin habits are habits that when practiced (or dismissed), make others easier to engage in or avoid (bad habits)—the type of habit that has a ripple effect on other conducts.

For the sake of this topic, let’s use vitality as an example. In order to be fully lucid, engaged, adaptive and jovial during the day, I want to ensure I wake up well rested. I enjoy getting eight-plus hours of quality sleep, mainly because of how I think and feel the following day.

It also provides the benefit of the ability to be opportunistic in whatever situation may arise. As you may have also experienced, I feel like I can take on the world and whatever circumstances life may throw at me when I’m well-rested, and thus fully adaptable.

The intention of vitality in waking life means that I have better impulse control over nighttime behaviors that prevent optimal shut-eye. I’ve touched on this before, but these include eating (especially animal protein), blue light exposure, and other forms of stimulation – like watching sports or tv – during the several hours before laying down for bed—basically, any activity that will induce cortisol (the stress hormone) production.

If I were still a drinker, alcohol consumption would absolutely be included here, because in additional to have a stimulating effect on yours truly, it dramatically reduces sleep quality for various different wavelength patterns of sleep.

What I strive for instead are things that will help me wind down, and create a smooth transition into quality sleep—serotonin and melatonin-evoking activities. These include self-massage, reading (on good, old-fashioned paper) and laughter.

Another example of a linchpin habit is exercising first thing in the morning, or at least during the early hours. By starting yourself off on the right foot, chances are you will be more likely to follow a pattern of subsequent healthy or productive habits throughout the day—this same principle applies to making your bed in the morning.

You can also use a different habit-sequencing practice to help free yourself of fixations, impulses, or bad habits you’re intent on removing—a technique know as replacement behaviors.

Replacement Behaviors

A replacement behavior is when you undertake a positive habit or behavior immediately following recognizing you indulged in a bad habit, in order to counteract the negative action or thought’s influence on the brain and the reinforcement of that tendency.

Behaviors rely on a set pattern of neuron firings. I’ll try to spare you the scientific jargon behind the mechanism, but essentially what you are doing by applying replacement behaviors is breaking the firing sequence of different brain neurons associated with a particular detrimental behavior.

This is know as long-term depression, but not the type you are probably imagining—this version doesn’t have much to do with mood (well, at least not on the surface).

For example, if neuron A and neuron B are active, but at a different intervals outside of the particular timeframe associated with the stimulus (behavior), long-term depression will weaken the bond between neuron A and neuron B, and thus the tendency to slip into the bad habit.

So, by engaging in a replacement behavior, you leverage the fact the neurons culpable for producing the bad habit were just active, and start to initiate other neurons that can somewhat dismantle the firing pattern linked to the unfavorable tendency. 

Instead of pinpointing your mental state or the occurrences that led to or triggered the adverse habit – which is proven effective but extremely tough to accomplish – you must apply your awareness in the period immediately following it, which the majority of people are conscious of—that moment of disbelief and disappointment.

This instant immediately after the unfavorable habit’s execution is your chance to slip in a different type of behavior—anything that’s out of sync with the unwelcome habit.

In a closed loop system – one action, one set of neural firings – leads to another, then another, triggering this domino effect of complimentary, associated behaviors. But, by changing the number of features in that loop, it disrupts its closed circuitry, and provides an open loop with a better opportunity to intervene.

By applying a replacement behavior, you begin to link the regrettable habit to the implementation of this other positive behavior. Neuroscience research suggests this practice seems to create enough of a cognitive mismatch in the brain that it becomes easier to recognize when you’re heading toward to bad habit. 

This method affords the opportunity to reconfigure neural connections linked to unfavorable habits in a fairly effortless way.

And so, when you use this technique, it removes the need to be conscious of your thoughts, impulses, and behavior immediately prior to the bad habit—something that’s very difficult to do. 

However, it can be accomplished by watching your awareness, an ability that can be developed through a dedicated, habitual mindfulness practice—mindful breathing, or walking.

Putting it into Practice

There are certainly other techniques you can use, but these two strategies I’ve found to be the most effective and effortless.

It really helps to just consider your soul purpose (if you’ve already discovered it), and reflect on if your habits are an embodiment of that, or if they are deterring you from aligning with or reaching it.

Stay dilligent out there!

Identity, the Self and Finding Your Higher Purpose

Too many things nowadays are outsourced—you are outsourcing maybe your happiness to outside circumstances.

Once you spend time with yourself, investigating, the inside (Self) comes.

Shi Heng Yi

Some people go their entire lives without satisfying their fulfilling, true purpose. While they may reach contentment, it may be they have become complacent, and settled for comfort—a life they convinced themself they want because it fills a commendable social role.

Though in some way, deep in their soul, the know they are lacking, and use distractions as a coping mechanism to avoid examining the issue head-on.

This post is the last in a three-part series on becoming refined (soul ascension) and how that provides you insight into your Devine-inspired true calling. It is also an excerpt from my upcoming e-Book, Conscious Consumption.

When you can tap into the Self, Devine inspiration will come. And when you follow and channel it, you will be fulfilled. You just need to surrender and assoil yourself of your afflictions, whatever they may be. Let go of (self) concepts, ideals and worldly attachments (obsessions), and judgement altogether.

(Self) Identification

More than anything else, self-identity – and being misaligned with it – is what had fucked me up in the past. Yes, I would get depressed because I wasn’t taking the actions I needed to bring myself into congruence with who I saw myself as. But therein laid the problem—conceptions of the self in the first place.

I view identifying with a self-concept to begin with as the real issue. Your heart knows who you are and what it is that fulfills you, but the role you convince yourself you must fill is a manifestation of the mind.

All the daily tasks you tell yourself you must accomplish to fulfill your ‘duty,’ deemed by the mind and likely also society, may be off-putting and unexciting because this identity is not a construct of your soul.

For example, there was a years-long stretch in which is told myself I wanted to be an electronic music producer. I can still remember the video that sparked that inspiration in me because it send chills throughout my being—it was a video of pop artist Mike Posner producing and singing over a cover versions of Beyonce’s ‘Halo.’

However, though for years I tried my hand at digital music production – and did indeed improve my skills – I never really found the drive to go full force and relentlessly pursue it.

Despite the inspiration I received when I first saw that video, that resonated on a core level (music has always been my true calling), a lot of my motivations were actually ego-driven instead of for the benefit of society—i.e., I wanted to “make it” and be a household name, rather than be of service to the world.

Even though I knew I would use whatever influence I was able to garner to spread positivity and compassion.

I think that’s why I would procrastinate and put off the measures I needed to align with – what I believed to be – my role or self-identity. However, though the soul had insight into what I actually needed to feel whole, it was the mind that made me discontented, depressed, and thus made me fixate on worldly, sensory stimulation to derive pleasure.

I just wasn’t on the right path, and these obsessions were preventing me from achieving mental clarity, and finding it.

When you can detach your spirit and consciousness from the thoughts and impulses of the mind, the true Self can be content, at peace with just being in any environment. And that’s when insight comes, or when you can really get to work examining.

Sitting with the Self

If you want to see what the quality of your life actually is, put down the drink, put down the computer, put down the smartphone, put down the book, put down the headphones, and just sit by yourself doing nothing.

Then you will know what the quality of your life actually is, because that’s what you’re always running away from—that’s why people when they try to meditate to sit down like, “I hate it, I can’t sit still.”

Why? Because your mind is eating you alive. Your life is unexamined, your mind is running in loops over things that it has not resolved, desires you have that have gone unmet, contradictions you’re living, or ways which you feel trapped.

Naval Ravikant

When I was in the worst throes of my addiction, sitting like this was almost something inconceivable. Sure, I was doing multiple hour-plus-long qigong sessions each day, but those practices mostly relied on at least some minimal movement, not absolute stillness.

There had been times in the past when I regularly practiced a 20-minute seated heartfulness meditation, but didn’t stick with. I remember feeling the benefits, and how it seemed to make my soul and body lighter, but I think my “unexamined mind” running in loops during the practice prevented me from achieving all of the substantial conscious mind-refinement.

However, when I started practicing zhan zhuang is when all that changed. Besides just the physical benefits I’ve discussed before on the blog – like bringing your awareness to areas in the body you hold tension – the impact on my awareness was profound.

Though not a seated meditation, the practice is stationary. It’s rough translation in english is “standing like a tree,” in which you ground your “roots” or feet and legs to the earth, with arms outstretched, as if embracing a tree trunk.

It’s widely-recommended to practice for at least 20 minutes at a time, but the less time you tell your mind you will practice, the less it will be likely to wander. I started with a five-minute session, which at first even was challenging.

Despite daily habitual qigong practice for nearly two years, just staying stationary while focusing the mind in the body was difficult—it wouldn’t be more than a minute before I would catch my mind drifting.

But as always, I used the breath to bring my focus back to the body. Deep, abdominal breathing, focusing on the in and out-breath brought my attention to the dan tian, or gravity center. Which in turn gave me insights into where blockages were within my body.

Physiological awareness brings self-awareness. By being conscious of the sensations occurring in the body, the mind becomes attuned to the here and now, rather than occupied by past or future occurrences or other abstractions disconnected with the present.

Balance, Recognition and Moderation

Your biases and your preferences and your emotional reactions will never lead you to a place of finding meaning in life. Only to a place of defending the development of the sense of self and avoiding any kind of higher purpose whatsoever.

But if you have free will and you can separate yourselves from the biases, the preferences and emotional reactions, you will gradually start to find some kind of purpose, because you will gravitate towards that which is more correct for you.

Damo Mitchell

Mind traffic means all sorts of thoughts and impulses. Whether material obsessions, expectations (hopes or worries) about the future, or regret or longing for the past, it’s any mental complexity that undermines your conscious presence.

Again, the mental inventory exercise outlined above is the best way I’ve found to detach from cognitive, emotive loops. It helps transform your subconscious intentions into your conscious intention, where these ruminations, instincts, impulses can then be worked with and brought to your attention—and finally, removed.

When disturbing thoughts and images come from your subconscious intention into your awareness (or conscious intention), it’s important not to bludgeon them and suppress them back into the subconscious—that’s what you’ve been doing in all instances in waking life.

Instead, become conscious of them, investigate them briefly, and let them pass freely. Pure attention is more about stepping back from your mind, using this kind of detached observing, than it is about focusing it. Thoughts, ideals and roles that you identify with can then be conjured into your awareness, and expelled, if you so wish.

You don’t have to kill them entirely; what you should seek is non-attachment. As quoted, just bringing them into your periphery will loosen the grip they have, and you can dissociate yourself from the things and ideals you currently identify and are infatuated with.

When you become aware of the thoughts and impulses swirling in your mind, you also become conscious of your future expectations and (pre)conceptions.

Freedom from identification and learned concepts also means liberation from expectations. And when you can forget about the future, aren’t shrouded by impulses 24/7, and just be open to the present experience, things and roles will fall into your lap. And they will be that much more fulfilling because they came naturally from the Devine above.

Then, it’s just a matter of recognizing the signs.

Channeling the Devine to Find Your Path

When you begin to live from the realization that you’ve been given the gift of giving the gifts you’ve been given, you can step into your role as a divine conduit. Then, all things are presented to you and you present them out, totally in harmony and engaged with heaven.

So, if the beyond calls you to do [it], you have to obey. And we don’t know why, we don’t need to know why exactly, we just need to know that it feels honest, and true, and that it fulfills us.

Deng Ming Dao

There are several ways to find what is true to you, and what will be most fulfilling.

First, you can try sitting alone with your thoughts, examining your mind – as described earlier – and see what comes about. Even if at first it’s not revealed to you, this practice will offer you other benefits.

Another method, which has served me well in the past, is to put your trust in signs from the Almighty.

For example, several years ago while laying in bed before dozing off, I was watching a YouTube video demonstrating Hoy Chi, a hands-on body-healing treatment vaguely similar to chiropractic adjustment and loosely-related to acupressure that opens up energy (Qi) blockages and thus improves physical health and vitality.

I was watching several videos on practice around that time because I had become attracted to holistic medicine, and was considering pursuit of a role as a holistic healer, i.e., physical therapist, body worker, herbalist, etc.

While the video was playing, the light bulbs on my ceiling fan flickered several times, something that had never happened before, and didn’t occur thereafter.

Sure, I could have chalked it up to mere coincidence, but that fact that I was strongly considering dedicating myself to alternative medicine at that point, I read it as more than happenstance—in my mind, there’s no doubt it was Devine intervention.

A similar incident happened years later, when I was awoke in the middle of the night. I typically wake up at least once in the early hours of the morning to relieve myself, but this time, audio was playing via the YouTube streaming app on my cell.

Though I often listen to lectures or audiobooks on it before drifting asleep, this time, instead of playback stopping at the end of the video, the player was shuffling randomly through my ‘favorites’ playlist.

This video that was playing when I woke was a tutorial on the basics of cranio-sacral therapy I had saved but not yet watched, another holistic healing modality I was intrigued by after first reading about it.

I probably wouldn’t have looked too far into this instance in itself, but considered what had occurred a few years prior with the hoy chi video, and the shared subject matter, in my mind, it was confirmation—my life’s purpose was to help heal.

You don’t need to believe in ‘God’ in the traditional sense in order to receive and heed signs from the universe.

When you know your soul’s purpose, your emotional attachments and linear behaviors fall by the wayside. When you are on the right path, it becomes easy to not fall victim to these impulses and things that don’t serve you.

However, the irony is that you must strip them away one-by-one in order to arrive at your Devine calling.

Stop distracting yourself, look around right where you are, and see what needs to be done. Not what do I want to do, but what is the work that needs to be done? It’s like, “what can I do today that would be of service?”

Look at the life [and opportunities] you were given, look at the people around you, look at the jobs, that present themselves to you and do that job simply and honorably, one day at a time, with a kind of humility.

And then finding that, of trying to be of service, and not really going for recognition, can sometimes lead to what people call success, although that wasn’t what you were aiming for—and it’s all the more beautiful when it’s not what you’re aiming for.

Dr. Anna Lembke

Mindful Intent, Vitality and Improvement

It doesn’t matter how many hours you lay in bed—what matters is how many hours of this laying part you are regenerating.

The more vital you feel, the better you ability to actively create something, create a life you enjoy living. But you can’t do that without the proper methods and character traits.

Shi Heng Yi

This quote is a metaphor suited for many circumstances. But basically, the takeaway it insinuates is that mindful intent is the most importance consideration/quality for optimizing performance and development with any skill, conduct or activity.

That means eliminating distractions, your fixations, and bad habits.

Using the Momentary Method as an Example

“The Three Treasures” or “Intentful Corrections” of qigong – body (or posture), breath, and mind (awareness) – can be used to encapsulate this philosophy.

The first two, body posture or movement and breathing are used to mobilize and send naturally-occurring healing resources throughout the body. This process becomes more efficient and has a more powerful benefit when you can harness the mind and release it into your body, i.e., bringing your awareness to the present, and your internal world.

“The Four Baskets” are comprised of these three along with self-applied massage, which when added to the mix, serves to direct the healing energy to the spots it is needed most.

Something else I’ve noticed with my own practice is that just directing the mind and the intention/breath to my inner world greatly heightens efficiency, and thus I can achieve the same improvements and benefits in much less time than if I had let myself be distracted by thoughts or external things in my environment.

The key is eliminating what is detracting from your full immersion in the experience, and thus preventing optimization. These distractions can manifest in the form of material attachments, worry about the future, expectations or clinging to past events, among others.

I’m dedicating another post in this series to attachments (impulses, fixations, and self-identity) so I won’t really talk specifics here.

While it’s difficult for many to remain in the present and not tread on the past or stress over the future, a habitual mindfulness meditation practice will help with that. However, your material attachments and fixations can be leveraged to develop habits that actually serve you.

Eliminating What Doesn’t Serve You (Distractions and Attachments)

Can you change your habits to read the kinds of books you think will serve you best in the long term, the foundational books?

Read what you love until you love to read. So, just fall in love with the idea of reading itself. It’s okay to read the junk stuff—just fall in love with reading. Eventually you’ll get bored of the simple stuff and go to the more interesting stuff. Now I’m reading for the long-term, but I’m not giving up too much of the short-term pleasure.

I love to read enough that I don’t watch tv or watch movies. People start talking to me about shows they’re watching on Netflix, and I just give them a blank look. I don’t watch shows on Netflix because they’re not interesting.

It’s far more interesting to me to go on a walk and be meditative, and I’ll be in a very happy place. Or to read a book, which will be intellectually-stimulating.

And so I think it just boils down to choosing the long-term over the short-term. And all the hacks – the good hacks – help make the long-term choice palatable. Or they help inspire you to keep your eye focused on the long term.

Entreprenuer and investor, Naval Ravikant

You have probably heard the saying, “if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.”

Using this concept, you can adapt your lesser behaviors or to ones that offer you long-term benefits. The key is making slight changes to your activities that gradually result in significant progress.

The quote above by Naval Ravikant uses reading as an example. But it also mentions television, which I’ll use to exemplify this process.

Pretty much as far back as I can remember, I’ve watched 20-45 minutes of tv in bed before dozing off, streamed from my laptop. It was really my only form of mindless entertainment activity of the day, and I used it as a way to decompress.

The programming would range from sitcoms or dramas (always with some comedic element) to MLB baseball or NHL games, depending on the night. Even though I knew this habit was not really benefitting me (sensory stimulation before sleep and blue light exposure) it had become engrained, and I had great difficulty kicking it.

But,I begun to gradually ween myself off of it. I started instead streaming educational videos on YouTube, like lectures or tutorials, that I still found entertaining or inspiring.

Ideally, they would also contain some comedic value, as I knew laughter eases the stress response, tension and anxiety—Bruxism (teeth grinding) at night has been a long-term issue for me.

Some examples of specific content I would watch include lectures by the brilliant and hysterically-comedic neuroendocrinology professor Robert Sopalsky, or discussions and tutorials on qigong and tai chi practices and benefits by (the also humorous) internal arts practitioner and instructor Damo Mitchell.

Over time, I’ve been able to remove the visual stimulation component and blue light exposure altogether, and now most nights I opt for podcast listening or reading.

Occasionally, I’ll treat myself to an episode of the 70s television hit, “Kung Fu,” as this show, unlike most others, calms my flight-or-flight stress response, and the positive message conveyed in many of the episodes often leads to my self-growth.

This process uses mindful intent in the sense it creates a positive call to action for something you want to do, instead of something you’re not compelled to do, but feel you “should.” But, it’s not necessarily beneficial regarding eliminating distractions and improving your immersion.

However, one proven technique for cutting out behaviors or information that create inefficiencies, and thus don’t aid in your development or vitality is using the 80/20 principle.

Applying the Pareto Principle to Improve Vitality

Try to reduce the amount of linear behavior, linear movement that you are doing in this lifetime—meaning investigating something that ultimately comes to a hard stop.

What does this hard stop mean? It means that all the energy you have invested at one point is just going to vanish. This is kind of pointless.

Regulate and keep an eye on the amount of time and awareness you are allowing yourself to get lost out there. That means first of all, it’s important that you see it in yourself, which means you don’t turn the view out there and look out. The first thing to do is turn around and see yourself.

Shi Heng Yi

You may have very likely heard of the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule, coined by management consultant Joseph M. Juran and based on the work of Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto.

Another moniker is the “law of the vital few.” In the context of productivity or improvement, it essentially means 80% of results are driven by 20% of effort.

One example is going back and forth between wording in a paragraph, or searching for and editing ‘the perfect quote.’ While these elements do bring value to the article, punctuation and wording aren’t the crucial components—the points being conveyed are, and they can probably be understood without the perfect grammar.

Elimination – Adopt a “Low-Information” diet

One technique under the 80/20 umbrella is ignoring things or (sensory) information that is irrelevant, time-consuming, and not useful. This includes news or television consumption in your free time, and even just over-consuming information or material in your work life or when you are trying to develop a skill or discipline.

Another instance from my blog writing is when I get inspiration from a lecture or podcast I’m listening to. I’ll begin frantically taking notes to use the inspirational passage as an intro quote or a thesis for an articles, and it’s easy for me to lose the forest for the trees.

Often, I’ll continue to type away rapidly even after extracting the critical kernel of insight, for the sake of not wanting to miss anything else significant. In the end though, this is largely wasted time, effort, and energy.

I would have been much better off had I quit when I got the enlightening tidbit, and went back to refining my own thoughts and sharpening the article—which, of course, would have resulted in better development of my writing and increased article output.

It would have also helped me elaborate on the insight, as I wouldn’t be taking in additional non-essential information.

You can also apply this elimination principle to learning in a broader sense, as consuming too much information (sensory stimulation) detracts from immersion in the material, and thus memory consolidation and recall later on.

But, I’ve touched on that plenty already.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, you find these tactics useful for refining your practice, whatever it be. Applying mindful intent – through any method – will help you feel more vital and thus operate more efficiently in many facets of your life—mentally, energetically, and physically.

And whatever benefits arise out of that, are a byproduct. You have the freedom to use them at your discretion.

Movement and (Mental) Longevity – Cognitive and Emotional

Tell me one thing in this universe which remains the same even just for one split second. I haven’t discovered any of this yet.

So that means stagnation – standing still, standing locked, standing blocked – is not an invention of this life. It’s an invention of the human mind.

Things are already flowing, it’s just that we don’t realize where is the flow. It’s because inside, each human has different blockages, different things that make him stagnate, make him stand still.

The flow is already there, life is already happening, you only must allow it and enter into it. And that means remove stagnation, remove blockages.

Shi Yeng Hi

I’ve talked a lot of the benefits or stillness (both physical and mental) in the past. However, being sedentary for too long has detrimental effects. On the flip side, movement can also be used in various ways to benefit the mind.

Movement can open up blockages and release tension stored in muscles/joints from traumas, improve your mood, focus and reaction speed, preserve your nervous system, and even strengthen cognitive functions like memory and learning.

This applies to fine and course movements in the broad sense, but I’m also speaking about movement within our body, i.e., circulation.

General Movement and Mood, Attention and Reaction Time

Your body releases an assortment of neurochemicals when you move it, even in just a general sense—the improvements in mood comes from serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, responsible for things like happiness and wellbeing, motivation, and attention or alertness, respectively.

Here are some findings from a study by neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki’s lab, looking at the benefits of a singular ten-minute walk.

…so what do you get with the one-off? You get is that mood boost, very, very consistent. You get improved prefrontal function [attention], and significant improvements in reaction time. So your cognitive motor response is improved.”

Dr. Wendy Suzuki

So by moving about, all of those hormones are released and result in those mental improvements (neuroplasticity)—even simply just by walking.

However, you can really take it to the next level with power walking, or any other movement you can make to get your heart rate up. With aerobic exercise, a growth factor called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (or BDNF) is also released, which has even more profound effects on the mind.

Cardiovascular Exercise and Neurogenesis, Memory

For the layman like me, growth factors are signaling proteins that stimulate new cell growth. Specifically, BDNF is a molecule that can cause neurogenesis, the creation of neural brain cells.

When released, it goes directly to your hippocampus and it allows brand new brain cells to grow there. The hippocampus is the brain region associated with learning memory formation, consolidation, and retrieval.

In a 2018 study of mice, intermittent running on a wheel triggered neurogenesis – the addition of new neurons – in the hippocampus. However, though there was also improvements in function in other brain regions, like the neocortex, no neurogenesis was seen in these areas.

This seems to due to an indirect relationship between exercise and new neuron growth, meaning it is by way of improvements in cardiovascular function. As far as I’m aware, there’s no direct link between exercise and the creation of new neurons in the brain.

Load Bearing Exercise and Neurogenesis, Memory

In particular, load-bearing exercise – things like dancing, skateboarding, Chen-style tai chi, stair climbing, or even walking – has been shown to improve neurogenesis. These type of activities are shown to enact the release of the hormone osteocalcin.

The stronger the bones, the more osteocalcin they secrete, which then travels to the hippocampus and makes memory and stress-tolerance cells there.

So, by partaking in load-bearing exercise, you stimulates the division of these cells in that region of the brain, strengthening the electrical activity and formation of connections to create and recall new memories.

Movement and Preservation of Brain Matter

It seems there’s a lot of weight behind the saying, “move it or lose it.”

As neuroscience has progressed, we’ve learned that the maintenance of and likely improvements in brain neural circuitry depends on our movements and signals from the body that our brain is still moving.

Neuropsychiatrist and best-selling author, John Ratey, has observed species of ocean-dwelling animals that have very intricate nervous systems. But then these specimens plop down under a rock, stick to it, and don’t move for rest of their lives.

Then, because they’re stationary and not using it, these animals begin to digest a good portion of their nervous system, including the brain. Their body decides, well it seems I don’t need this anymore, and they gobble it up for its nutritional content.

Speaking of body tissues, it’s not just brain matter that is impacted by motion. Fascia that has tightened as a self-protective mechanism from physical or emotional stress (trauma) can be loosened and rearranged through movement.

“The Issue is in the Tissue”

“Ida Rolf, who created Rolfing or structural integration said, “the issues are in the tissues.” And around the spine—the spine is us.

What will sit there in this stagnation? Emotion, material, thoughts, traumas. That’s why people get discharges. The body memory is not what we think it is—it is stored everywhere, and I’ve had those experiences. When a certain emotion is evoked, people start to undulate the spine. So, this can be worked from this direction or from this direction.

Movement expert Ido Portal

We’ve knows for some time that the fascia contains our emotional, traumatic history. Emotional blockages (traumas, stressors) manifest as physical obstructions in body (the jaw, neck and hips in particular), which is something I had posited since I began doing qigong regularly.

Though Ido suggests movement for unlocking these blockages, even just relaxing and breathing into specific areas of my body, decreasing the secretion of cortisol and allowing the fascia to lengthen and loosen (move) has proven to be beneficial to me.

Pure, balanced breathing that utilizes the correct posture engages the muscles and nervous system in a way that helps you tune in to your body and brings awareness to stresses, imbalances and scarring from pent up trauma.

Doing this brings the spots you are holding tension into your consciousness, and you are then able to work out the tension or blockages there with a swift movement of that area or by applying pressure there (self-massage).

The detection and release of these traumas stored in the tissue can be greatly aided using various Qigong principles and practices.

Unique Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi

I would be remiss if I didn’t bring the whole ball of wax back to my true love, as I almost always do. Dynamic qigong practice has its own special place in the realm of movement’s mental (and physical) benefits.

As I was getting to, some techniques – self-massage, acupressure, body practice (moving or standing), breath practice, and even just the inner-smile (mind practice) have helped be alleviate emotional blockages that manifest as structural tension (stress) in the joints and muscles. Unfortunately, I’m blanking on specific examples at the moment.

It may sound crazy, but I swear there’s been times when I cracked my body somewhere, most often while massaging it, and a vivid image from a distant memory (likely a past trauma) flashed in my mind at that exact moment.

These improvements in affect and wellbeing by way of releasing deep-seated trauma is absolutely one of the most powerful benefits of qigong I experience. Body awareness and self-massage allow me to quite literally “lift the weight of the world from my shoulders,” as well as my own weight I’ve evidently been carrying for years.

Though I’ve already mentioned the boon to serotonin signaling from general movement, in a study of cats, circulating levels of the hormone were increased through repetitive motion (grooming) when coupled with deep breathing.

Well, what do you think qigong is?—most times, it’s repetitive motion.

But beyond a mood boost and improved attention and brain processing speed, it also offers many other benefits that don’t apply to general movement or cardiovascular exercise.

For example, another unique advantage of tai chi and qigong is that they utilize the quads and hip flexors, muscles not typically activated in running or other aerobic exercise. These muscles are the body’s stabilizers and brakes.

And though this is a physical benefit, rather than a mental one, I think I’ve sufficiently outlined above the connection between the body and the mind—at least in terms of osteocalcin secretion, and the corresponding improvements in memory.

Though general movement doesn’t create that neurogenesis (new cell growth) we discussed in the prefrontal/neocortex, it can result in neuroplasticity in those areas—the strengthening or rewiring of synaptic connections between neurons, when the brain is reconstructed to function in some new way.

However, studies have shown qigong practitioners have a better connection between the hippocampus (memory/storage region) and PFC (thinking region) than non-practitioners. 

Finally, qigong and tai chi, acupuncture, acupressure, cupping and topical herbal medicine all enhances blood flow (circulation) and bio-magnetic electric energy flow—i.e., internal movement.

The human body is a miraculous thing. It really want to return to harmony, to heal. We just need to stop obstructing its movement by letting go of the blockages and tension we have from worries, traumas and attachments.

The Keys to Life for Improved Mood, Creativity and Cognition

I discussed in a recent post how social interaction or close companionship and engaging in a pastime that brings you joy and allows an outlet for frustration can greatly improve mental wellbeing and immune function when stress, anxiety, depression or social phobia set in.

While who and what you interact with – and to what degree – plays a huge role in modulating one’s affect, so does mental quality—your impulses, thoughts, and beliefs. This statement isn’t exactly a revelation, but certainly something many are aware of but not too knowledgable on, and could benefit by learning more about.

So, my aim here is to present internal measures for beating these mental conditions, instead of environmental considerations.

The inspiration for this post came from an interview I heard (like it so often does) with Qigong educator, practitioner and former Alan Watts collaborator, Ken Cohen. In it, he describes the four keys to life that were proclaimed to him by the Qigong master he studied for years under in China.

The Keys to Life

According to Ken, the “four keys to lifeare:

I discussed in a recent post how social interaction or close companionship and engaging in a pastime that brings you joy and allows an outlet for frustration can greatly improve mental wellbeing and immune function when stress, anxiety, depression or social phobia set in.

While who and what you interact with – and to what degree – plays a huge role in modulating one’s affect, so does mental quality—your impulses, thoughts, and beliefs. This statement isn’t exactly a revelation, but certainly something many are aware of but not too knowledgable on, and could benefit by learning more about.

So, my aim here is to present internal measures (personal qualities) for beating these mental conditions, instead of external, environmental considerations.

The inspiration for this post came from an interview I heard (like it so often does) with Qigong educator, practitioner and former Alan Watts collaborator, Ken Cohen. In it, he describes the four keys to life that were proclaimed to him by the Qigong master he studied for years under in China.

The Keys to Life

According to Ken, the “four keys to lifeare:

  • Simplicity (singular focus)
  • Adaptability (non-attachment)
  • Acceptance (letting go of expectations)
  • Child-like sense of wonder—the ability to see the world with fresh eyes; non-conceptualization (mindfulness)

And one of my own is:

  • A sense of control of one’s life

Allow me to explain each more in depth to give you an idea of their significance and what you can do to attain these states.


The first, simplicity, is fairly straightforward. I’ve found from personal experience that taking on too many mental complexities – thoughts, fixations, and expectations, or undertaking too much – can absolutely cause stress, anxiety and depression.

For example, the time I’m on the clock is tracked in my job as a blog post editor. The tracking software captures a screenshot of my laptop screen randomly during each of the six ten-minute intervals every hour, thus keeping me on my toes.

Therefore, I’m often stressing when I leave my desk to do something like step outside briefly for a reset in the fresh air and sunshine or use the restroom (number two) because I don’t want consecutive screenshots with the same image to be captured several minutes apart. That would force me to delete the image, and thus lose that accounted for time.

Also, I often just feel like I am racing against the clock.

In addition, though I know I probably shouldn’t, I’ll switch between tabs to do non-work related things as they pop into my head, be it checking the weather for later the day, or switching the music. Doing this also causes stress, since I know I’m taking a gamble that the software will snap a photo while my screen is displaying something non-pertinent to work.

Speaking of music, it’s easy for me to get hung up on what I should listen to next. And often when I make a selection, I realized quickly how ill-suited it is for that moment. A fast pace, too many vocals or experimental instrumentation are all things that can mess with my concentration and heighten my stress level while trying to proofread.

All of these fixations, undertakings and complications clearly create a lack of simplicity—and it could probably go without saying that this conduct is obviously pretty anxiety and stress-inducing.

So, a singular focus while carrying out your tasks or just going about your day is the ideal approach. What’s more simplicity allows you mental clarity, and thus the ability to have your own original, creative thoughts.

Just overthinking things in general can contribute to the stress response, and that generally results from having too many things (that you care about) complicating your mind.

Adaptability (Non-Attachment)

The typical lack of wifi strength in my apartment also complicates things. There are frequent (usually daily) occurrences when web pages I’m trying to view or the functions I need to use in the WordPress editor won’t load.

These frustrations contribute to a lot of stress in themselves, in addition to requiring factoring how much time I should log per post, accounting for the substantial downtime.

Though the optimal thing to do in this situation would be to take initiative and find a new spot to live, I love my circumstance other than the sub-par wifi. Short of moving, the second best route would be to adapt to the demands of environment.

Instead of getting aggravated in each instance when the wifi won’t cooperate, I should accept the situation, and quickly consider other ways to allocate my time. Though I had a plan for how my day would play out, complications arise—and it’s not like there aren’t other things not requiring Internet access that I intended to do on any given day.

Again, just asking myself, what is it I can do right now in the present moment…not what did I want or intend to do, but instead what needs to be done?

Bringing my awareness to the present moment, taking inventory of the tasks in front of me, and selecting and tackling one or several things will free up cognitive capacity regarding my mental to-do list (this gets back to simplicity), and the proactivity instead of just sitting there pouting usually helps me feel accomplished.

Besides, the universe is constantly in flux, and all situations eventually end—the wifi will improve. And when it does, I will be in that much better a position to focus since I knocked out several preoccupations swirling around my head.

On top of how expectations or a clearly-defined schedule just complicates your mind, in my case, depression can result if and when they don’t come to fruition.

So when things don’t precisely play out like you envisioned, in addition to adapting, you must come to terms with how things play out, and let go of your frustrations.


Acceptance and adaptability are pretty closely-related. They both have to do with clinging, be it to a belief, circumstance, or expectation. But, while adaptability has to do with changing your course to meet different environmental considerations, acceptance is about embracing that reorientation.

In addition, while adaptability is seen as reacting to changes in your environment, acceptance comes in both internal and external senses, i.e., self-acceptance and acceptance of a circumstance.

It’s letting go of the beliefs and expectations you have for yourself, your situation and outcomes. Fixations with goals, living up to your ideal self or over material things in your environment all can contribute to stress and anxiety on their own.

But when you don’t attain them, or factors outside of your control change your circumstance – and several aspects of which you were attached to – it’s easy to fall into depression.

A reliance on a learned self-identity and future expectations or taking for granted your situation as permanent narrows the perception of possible realities and outcomes, and thus one’s range of potential suitable reactions.

It contributes to a passive mindset, and can create complacency—and as a byproduct, the likelihood of attaining desired traits, circumstances, and outcomes diminishes, as does the chance of avoiding undesirable ones.

For example, the negative expectation that you’ll fail an exam could increase the chance of it happening (self-fulfilling prophecy).

This tendency towards an over-reliance on previously learned categories can be describes as mindlessness. Which, in other words, is the false assumption that things remain stable.

A Child-like Sense of Wonder (Open-Mindfulness)

On the other hand, ‘the wonder of childhood’ is synonymous with “mindfulness without meditation.” In this context, mindfulness is defined as the act of noticing new things, a process that promotes flexibility in responding to the demands of your environment (adaptability).

In this sense, it differs a bit from the Eastern concept of mindfulness centered around various forms of meditation. It still focuses on being present moment-focused, but instead of internal awareness, it is process of drawing novel distinctions about your surroundings through your total immersion in them.

It is in direct contrast to the version of mindlessness described in the section above, in which someone relies on learned concepts, repetition, and the idea of permanence. All of which may have remained constant and worked in the past, but do not account for the potential of changing contextual demands.

Consider a child. Free from years of compounded learned concepts and beliefs, they are able to view the world with fresh eyes each moment anew. They have a natural innocence that allows them to act spontaneously in accordance with the situation, as they have not yet been inundated by society’s code of conduct and its constraints.

Unburdened by memories or expectations, they can thus be fully connected with ever-unfolding, present environment, and conduct themselves through unfiltered reactions.

When mindful, individuals are aware that everything is in flux, and as a result, can respond spontaneously to environmental changes. Its essence is awareness that one’s external world could change or has changed, and adapting accordingly.

For example, a mindful person giving a lecture would adapt the contents of a presentation to the audience’s needs. If the audience appears confused, the presenter would simplify the content instead of proceeding as planned.

With this form of mindfulness, each instant is an opportunity for a fresh reaction. Possessing this quality empowers the individual by allowing them the perception of control over an ever-changing reality.

Therefore, they can act from a framework of continually-emerging possibilities.

A Sense of Control Over One’s Life

A sense of control can be understood through the lens of the mindfulness (or mindlessness) described in the previous section. The assumption of permanence and reliance on learned concepts can contribute to feelings of powerlessness, i.e., the inability to change your circumstance or personality traits.

The view that reality is stable and unchangeable may drive someone into a sense of hopelessness, which hinders the perception of control. This perceived lack of control often results in learned helplessness, in which an individual gives up trying to change (themselves or their environment) altogether.

In this case, beliefs founded in the past are carried into the present, even though the circumstance may have changed. Theses states of mind tend to cause you to overlook real opportunities for relief or change.

From a mindful perspective, there’s no telling the future, as the present is ever-changing. This makes prediction impossible and unfruitful.

By not relying on the past assumption that a situation is inescapable, you can allow yourself autonomy to act. Therefore, uncertainty can be a resource, reminding one to stay present moment-focused.

One way to improve your sense of control over your life is by removing this false perception of stability. Specifically, try questioning the certainty that something will or will not happen.

For example, come up with three reasons why your assumed outcome may not result. Playing with and accepting uncertainty will strengthen mindfulness and your sense of control, and in turn your affect.

In addition, just being aware that your perspective can actively change is one technique to increase perceived control, and in turn, well-being.

Best of luck, and remember to be mindful 🙂

– CC