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Consciousness

How To Turn Your Subway Ride Into A Spiritual Practice

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If you live in a big city, unless you drive, you’re probably exposed to the familiarities of riding the subway as often as I am; the screeching rails; the turbulent rumble; the colourful characters; the tired, heavy air as people commute to and fro from within the city; the weary eyes; the inescapable solitude (despite being on public transit!) as people keep to themselves; the sleepy faces; the shifty, awkward glances as people try to avoid eye contact; it’s a very necessary burden for many people.

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Sometimes I ride the subway and wish things could be different; how can I restore Life back into the eyes of these lifeless people?! But then I remember the most transformative epiphany I’ve had to date that completely shifted the trajectory of my life and what I deem to be my “purpose”: you can’t change the world, you can only be the change you want to see in the world.

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I’ve realized that I can’t change the world. I can’t fill these people with Life even if I gave them my own. I can’t give these people vitality; it is they who must conjure it up from within themselves.

Part of my own personal mission is to bring “spirituality” to this world by living and breathing a lifestyle that encompasses the very change I wish to see — a conscious way of living that is aligned with our hearts. Because of this aspiration, I’ve found that turning my subway ride into a deep spiritual practice helps me achieve my goal, one ride at a time. And after reading this article, you’ll be able to help too. I have a couple of techniques I’d like to share with you:

Those Sensations

If you’re familiar with Vipisanna meditation (there are free retreats all over the globe!), you’ll be familiar with meditating on the sensations of the body. Eckhart Tolle calls this “inner body awareness.”

When I’m on the subway—sometimes with my eyes open, and others with my eyes closed—I like to “steal” some time and space from the world for myself by delving deep into my being by focusing on the sensations within my body. Sometimes I’ll shift my awareness to my toes, or I’ll focus on how my hands feel clasping each other, or I’ll do a quick “scan” starting from my toes, slowly making my way up to the crown of my head, making sure to scan through each part of my body.

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This might sound strange to you. You might ask, “Why do this? What’s the point? Why not just sit there and enjoy the ride?” I find if I just sit there, lethargy and apathy for the world will unconsciously creep into me. By maintaining a state of conscious awareness, I am always in control. And I always enjoy the ride when I am the one sitting in the driver’s seat.

Inner body awareness is about getting in touch with yourself at the most intimate level; the experiential one! As Eckhart Tolle remarks, “Is there life in your lips?” It’s also about flexing your awareness muscle. The more you flex it and put it to use, the stronger it will become.

The Here And Now

Like most people riding the subway, I’m headed somewhere. This sense of needing or wanting to be somewhere other than the here and now (the present moment) is what causes a lot of agitation towards our present surroundings. (Which is why so many dislike commuting!)

By learning to equanimously accept the reality of the present moment, we not only become more engaged and CONNECTED with Life, we flex our awareness muscle, and we become masters of our lives. To live consciously is to live masterfully, and to be a master of one’s life is to be able to achieve anything.

We can learn to live in the here and now by focusing fully on our senses. (Not JUST on our sensations.) This is taking inner body awareness and shifting it to outer world awareness. And riding the subway in particular proves to be an interesting place to do so!; there are so many sights to see (and smells and sounds for that matter).

As you move from stop to stop, zone in intensely on the variety of stimuli flooding your senses; see and appreciate things you would normally miss out on; unplug from your earphones and put away your smartphone; listen to the railway; see if you can smell various aromas, like someone’s cologne; touch the cool steel bars, the warm, carpet-like seats; BE THERE FULLY AND BE AWARE OF IT ALL.

Gratitude

We often (because we live in such a fast-paced and demanding world — although that really isn’t an excuse) forget to honor and give thanks for the things we value in life. Now you can use this time to do so.

At each stop, think of something you’re thankful for. During the ride BETWEEN each stop, meditate on the very thing you’re thankful for and open your heart to it, thanking it for its contribution to your life. You’ll arrive at your destination GLOWING.

Metta

“Metta” means “fat with friendship” in Pali and is a meditation technique used to cultivate loving-kindness.

Loving kindness is important to develop because our world so desperately needs it. And loving-kindness can only come through into this world through YOU.

There are a couple ways to develop loving-kindness, but the way I do it on the subway is to see “through” people—to their spirit—and wish them peace, joy, love.

I make it a point of understanding that we’re all human beings trying to get on in this world the best way we know how; we all want to be happy; we all want to love and experience love; these are universal human traits that we can all resonate with. Let’s realize that and learn to love another. We have more commonalities than differences.

The more you practice Metta, the more you’ll be able to recognize the humanity in others, and the more you do so, the more you’ll be able to openly love others with compassion and loving-kindness.

—————————

I enjoy riding the subway. I’ve learned to turn what would conventionally be a mundane, two-hour commute into a transformative practice. (The goal is to become a source of inspiration that emanates truth instead of being a tired and weary commuter.)

As I ride the rails, I practice, inwardly smiling to myself, burning with an intensity that blazes from within, wishing well to all I ride with. I aspire for people to look at me and wonder, “What’s that kid’s secret?”

By sparking that inquiry, I compel people to search for the answer within them; I set off a chain reaction of change; I change the world by being the change I want to see in the world.

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Consciousness

My Thoughts On “Spiritual Narcissism”

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Narcissism, in a nutshell, is self-absorption to the extent that it will adopt any set of rationale to protect the ego which often includes a degree of self-deception. Is this happening to many in spiritual trends?

  • Reflect On:

    There is authentic being, and then there is self-absorption which pretending to be authenticity, are we aware of the difference?

We humans often have a hard time finding middle ground. We may be drowning in lack of self-worth one moment, and trampling over other’s with our own self indulgence the next as we struggle to find balance. Narcissism is not simply about enjoying selfies in our social media-saturated world, it goes deeper than that.

It appears as liberation but is a trap that can ruin relationships, increase personal suffering, and keep a person from their true spiritual aspirations. Not surprisingly, increased mindfulness and compassion for this tricky human quirk is the best way to heal it.

What is Spiritual Narcissism?

The capacity to become overly self-indulgent is within all of us, and it becomes increasingly dangerous when we confuse it with spirituality. In many ways it is easy to see that all of humanity is dealing with a certain degree of self-absorption while we desecrate forests and oceans, causing plants and animals to go extinct on our material quests. In his famous book, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, Chogyam Trungpa gave a good foundation for westerners to navigate the pitfalls of our materialistic abundance.

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The capacity to become overly self-indulgent is within all of us

We do not have to be ashamed of what we are. As sentient beings we have wonderful backgrounds. These backgrounds may not be particularly enlightened or peaceful or intelligent. Nevertheless, we have soil good enough to cultivate; we can plant anything in it. – Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

There is a difference between ego-self and the deeper universal soul within us, differentiating the two is important. Sadly, we have spiritual philosophies and religions that have been constructed to feed the ego, inflate self-righteousness, and create division while giving justification for all manner of activities including killing, exploitation, and oppression. Ethical conduct, regardless of spirituality, requires honoring the other and the self as one with each deserving to be respected, heard, and seen with compassion.

No matter what the practice or teaching, ego loves to wait in ambush to appropriate spirituality for its own survival and gain. – Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

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There is a difference between ego-self and the deeper universal soul within us

Finding the Antidote to Self-absorption

Narcissism, in a nutshell, is self-absorption to the extent that it will adopt any set of rationale to protect the ego which often includes a degree of self-deception. Ego is an important aspect of our selves, it is part of self-preservation but when it becomes out of balance it actually has the ability to destroy us and harm relationships.

Many spiritual practices seek to increase our ability to witness and bring mindful awareness to ego drives which allow us to master, instead of being enslaved by our ego. When ego gets too big it can be hard to swallow, yet spiritual liberation invites us to expand our sense of self beyond the ego, beyond time and space.

The goal is to find a balance between the inner experience and the outer reality. How do we embody healthy self-love without becoming an ego-maniac and hurting personal relationships? Meanwhile, self-loathing, and low self-esteem are also manifestations of ego out of balance. Selflessness can often be quite selfish, over-engagement can be as problematic as disengagement socially. Luckily we are here to find this balance through living fully, from making mistakes, and evolving our sense of self-awareness. Healthy self-awareness is the only antidote to self-absorption.

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How do we embody healthy self-love without becoming an ego-maniac?

The Story of Narcissus and Echo

One day Narcissus was walking in the woods when Echo, an Oread (mountain nymph) saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted “Who’s there?”. Echo repeated “Who’s there?”. She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. She was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her. Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, learned of this story and decided to punish Narcissus. She lured him to a pool where he saw his own reflection. He didn’t realize it was only an image and fell in love with it. He eventually recognized that his love could not be reciprocated and committed suicide. -Wikipedia

Since intention is subjective, a person is often understood within their community by their actions or image. This becomes extra tricky in our age of social media and the materialism that has found it’s way into yoga, meditation, and spirituality. It is possible to put on a good act, to fool those around us and ourselves (temporarily).

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Narcissus mesmerized by his own reflection

We can have the latest yoga clothes, read the right books and hang out with all the “cool” people, but if our actions are not grounded in a deeper spiritual practice, basic consideration for others, and respect, it is still hollow. A common analogy is the guy who everyone likes but then goes home kicks his dog, or is rude and unaccountable to his wife.

Deep spirituality makes us more sensitive to the feeling of others, encouraging an open stance of courage where we can drop our protective shields and accept the vulnerability to be seen as we are. Narcissistic sensitivity, however, is focused solely on the subtle nuances one’s own internality, and resists looking at hard, uncomfortable truths that may upset the self image. One who is narcissistically sensitive is easily offended by the “coarseness” of others, seeks to make his environment change to align with the contours of his needs, and gets angry or offended when this does not happen. -The Allure of Narcissistic Spirituality, Huffington Post

How to Identify Narcissistic Behavior

The ability to identify narcissistic behavior in yourself and others is the best way to heal it. It is not your job to diagnose others or tell them they are narcissistic if they are not interested in hearing it or healing it. However, if you draw appropriate boundaries for them you will protect yourself and encourage them to become more mindful. This is a loving and compassionate way to handle narcissism.

Alt text hereThe ability to identify narcissistic behavior in yourself and others is the best way to heal it

It is always healthy to make boundaries and speak your truth in a loving and compassionate way. Whether the narcissist hears it or not is out of your control. Common responses from narcissists will include belittling your feelings, a hollow apology without effort to modify behavior, or ignoring you altogether. Basically, they will use any excuse they can in order to not look at it, or to make the situation your fault. This is your cue to make appropriate boundaries for yourself.

Within yourself be open and receptive when others tell you that you have been inconsiderate of them. Accepting constructive feedback from loved ones is a great way to keep a balance between internal needs and external relationships. This is also how we grow as individuals.

Common traits of narcissism courtesy of BPD Central.

  • Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
Alt text hereLearning to stop keeping all the love for ourselves

Evolving Unhealthy Patterns

Hopefully, this will help you navigate tough interpersonal relationships and also better yourself. It is a beautiful thing that psychology is allowing us to have terms to identify and evolve unhealthy patterns emotionally. As we learn to live in community, we learn many aspects of love. This is how we help ourselves and those around us grow!

I’m republishing,  for the CE audience, this piece I wrote for Uplift Connect.

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Consciousness

New Moon In Libra: Seeking Balance

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We are having a New Moon in Libra on October 16th throughout most of the world and in the morning of the 17th in the East. This is initiating a 29.5 day lunar cycle and new wave of energy for the coming month; however, the astrological configurations mentioned in this article will be more prominent over the following two weeks. This cycle will include a Full Moon in Taurus on October 31st/November 1st.

This New Moon occurs days after we have reached the halfway point of Mars’ retrograde in Aries which concludes mid-November. It is also days after Mercury began its retrograde which is currently in Scorpio and moving backwards into Libra before it moves forward again post November 3rd. Both of these planets being retrograde at the same time reflects a period of significant adjustments pertaining to how we express these planets, the signs they are in, and how they are configured to our individual astrological blueprints (natal chart).

Generally Mars retrogrades are a period in which the circumstances, developments, and our inner guidance is helping to facilitate a shift in how we apply ourselves and take action in specific areas of our lives. This is something that happens approximately every two years, which is less frequent and usually more significant than Mercury’s retrogrades. I wrote separate articles for each of them, you can read more about Mars Retrograde here and Mercury Retrograde here.

Libra season began on September 22nd/23rd, just over three weeks prior to this Lunation, and will end on October 22nd/23rd when Scorpio season begins. However, this New Moon (along with other planets) will still carry some of its Libra themes into the first week of Scorpio season prior to the Full Moon.

This is a good period of working with and co-creating with the energies of this sign. As an Air sign, Libra is socially and mentally oriented. Ruled by Venus, it is associated with relating, relationships, charm, harmony, compromising, art, creativity, and aesthetics. There is a big focus on others. Libra is also diplomatic as it seeks to find balance, equality, fairness, and common ground.

Negatively, Libra can be overly codependent, passive aggressive, superficial, insincere,  indecisive, vain, and judgemental. Although this sign is about politeness and harmony, retaliation can be triggered when imbalance and unfairness is perceived. Libra is also associated with people-pleasing which can have either positive or negative implications.

New Moon Aligned With Spica, In A Hard T-Square Pattern

This New Moon has an interesting mix of energies. It is tightly aligned with the fixed star Spica which is known to be the most benefic and fortunate star. However, it can be tricky to interpret how a star’s energy can manifest, especially in this case considering other astrological factors that are quite different.

Like Libra, Spica is connected to art and creativity, but also has spiritual, scientific, and inventive qualities. It is associated with harvest season and represents the ‘gifts of harvest’, both metaphorically and literally. However, it can also reflect unfruitfulness (depending on other variables) and injustice to innocence according to legendary astrologer Vivian Robson.

This New Moon is opposite Mars Retrograde in Aries which are both in a T-square with Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn in Capricorn. The Sun has been in an opposition with Mars in the week before this New Moon (peaking on the 13th/14th) which has been a significant part of the Mars retrograde process in influencing how we assert ourselves.

However, this energy is also configured into this New Moon and can play out as conflicts (internally or externally with others), impulsiveness, aggression, anger, competitiveness, or sexual tension. Mars in Aries wants to assert individuality, ego, personal needs, and self identity while the New Moon in Libra is looking for consideration, common ground, diplomacy, equality, and fairness.

This opposition in a square to Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn in Capricorn can reflect power struggles, obstacles, and issues pertaining to beliefs, opinions, and perspectives. Saturn has the most power as it is strongly placed in its home sign (ruling Jupiter and Pluto) as the Sun and Moon are also moving towards a square (strong on the 18th/19th) with it while separating from the aspects to the other planets in this configuration. This calls for a need to be realistic, cautious, practical, disciplined, structured, or orderly. The combination of this and all the retrograde energy can call for some sort of refinement.

Venus Opposing Neptune, Trine Planets In Capricorn, and Square The Lunar Nodes

The ruler of this New Moon, Venus, has been in Virgo in the previous two weeks and will be there until October 27th/28th. Venus ruled areas of values, love, relationships, friends, social life, pleasures, money, aesthetics, beauty, art, taste, sensuality, desires, and attractiveness can be expressed in ways that are practical, conscientious, discerning, picky, detailed, organized, analytical, health oriented, productive, efficient, adaptable, or fault finding/surfacing.

At the time of this New Moon, Venus is moving towards an opposition to Neptune and trine to Jupiter which have been in a sextile over the previous weeks. This energy is strong from October 18th-19th and can be good for creative or artistic efforts as well as social interactions that have spiritual, compassionate, broad, or philosophical themes. It can also reflect expansiveness, growth, morals, optimism, idealism, along with confusion, deception, escapism, and delusion affecting Venus areas of life (as mentioned in above paragraph).

Mars retrograde will also be in a square with Jupiter at that time which could also reflect conflicts around beliefs, opinions, and judgements. Excessiveness, overconfidence, and spreading ourselves out too much can also play out. Mercury retrograde will be moving towards an opposition to Uranus (peaks 19th/20th) which can make it harder to focus and can bring disruption, changes to plans, and perhaps communication problems.

Venus approaches a square to the Lunar Nodes on October 20th/21st. We may be reflecting on the past and future, or perhaps at a crossroads, when it comes to relationships and values. Venus is then in a trine with Pluto (October 21st/22nd) which can bring an empowering, deep, intense, or insightful energy to things associated with Venus. Following this, it moves to a trine with Saturn (October 24th/25th) which can have a committing, strengthening, supportive, responsible, practical, or stabilizing effect on these areas.

Making Intentions & Things To Consider

What can you do to improve how you relate with others? Is there a need to compromise, find common ground, or achieve fairness and equality? What has come up for you in the week leading up to this New Moon? Should you change the way you assert your needs or individuality? Are circumstances in your life pushing you to think differently about something? What can you learn from any obstacles that have been coming up in your life? Is there anything that needs to be restrained?

These are just some examples of what to consider or focus your intentions on at this time. However, it is good to reflect on anything else that is coming up for you. It is generally best to make any intentions within the first 24 hours following a New Moon. The exact moment it will occur is 7:31pm Universal Time on October 16th. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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I’m currently doing a DISCOUNT with 20-30% off personal readings.  Gain more astrological insight into what is going on in your life and have a better understanding of your individual potentials. Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for the discounted rate.

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Consciousness

A Guided Meditation To Help Overcome Panic and Anxiety

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    2020 has been filled with more social isolation than most of us would ideally like, and anxiety and panic (among many other mental health challenges) are on the rise.

  • Reflect On:

    How well do you cope with anxiety when it strikes? How often do you meditate to help keep your mind at bay and in a healthy place?

2020 has certainly been quite the year for most of us. From outbreaks to lockdowns to tragedies it should come as no surprise that an increasing number of us find ourselves battling panic and anxiety -and unfortunately in many cases without the in-person support and love of other people.

As most of us prepare for what is likely to be a winter filled with more social isolation than we’d ideally like, I decided to put together a 17 minute guided meditation designed to help overcome both panic and anxiety.

As a former severe anxiety sufferer, I know just how crippling anxiety can be, and it’s often in situations where we are left to ourselves that it can be the most challenging to overcome.

This meditation takes you through a bit of an unconventional yet powerful visualization designed to equip you with a healthier mindset to help beat both panic and anxiety.

While the circumstances of 2020 so far may be less than ideal, when it comes to panic and anxiety I encourage you to look at it as an opportunity to truly master them. If you can find a way to prevent your mind from going down a rabbit hole of unhealthy thoughts amidst this chaos, think of how simple it will feel to accomplish once the world restores itself to some form of normalcy or at least less friction than what currently exists.

While this technique certainly is powerful, it’s definitely not the only thing that I had to equip myself with on my journey to becoming anxiety-free. If you’re ready to put the necessary work in to properly conquer your anxiety for good, I encourage you to check out my online course The Hack Anxiety Toolbox on Udemy. The course is filled with over 3 hours of on-demand video and 20 downloadable resources that all share everything I used to successfully conquer my own anxiety. Take the first lesson for free and get lifetime access to the course for only $12.99 USD ($82 off the regular price) by going to THIS LINK before November 14th, 2020.

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Collective Evolution is one of the world's fastest-growing conscious media and education companies providing news and tools to raise collective consciousness. Get inside access to Collective Evolution by becoming a member of CETV.

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