It should cause you to confront it with fierce compassion.

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Photo by Nicolas Häns on Unsplash

What comes to mind when you think of meditation? Is it a monk in an orange robe sitting in silence for hours at a time in some remote monastery at the top of the world? Is it only there, removed from the squalor and troubles of the world, that you think the monk can finally find peace?

While having little else to do other than meditating is surely great for the monk’s practice, it’s not her isolation per se that is important. If isolation brought about enlightenment, we’d all feel at peace when alone with our thoughts. But that doesn’t happen, does it? …


No matter who you are or what you believe, but not in the way you think.

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Photo by Shoeib Abolhassani on Unsplash

I want to preface this article by saying I’m not a religious person. I don’t “believe” in God in the sense that I think there’s some human-like being watching over us and causing this or that to happen. I won’t claim I know this being doesn’t exist, but I do go about my day as if it doesn’t.

I am, however, a spiritual person. What does this mean? To me, it means being curious about the mystery of life, in particular consciousness. …


And what does science tell us about this approach?

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Photo by wilsan u on Unsplash

When things go wrong in our lives, we ask a lot of questions. Will I ever get that promotion? Will I ever find love? Will I ever get into the best shape of my life? Will I ever publish a book? Do my coworkers still like me? Do my teammates not trust me anymore?

These questions bombard our minds. We feverishly ask them over and over, and each time we do we get a little more anxious, stressed, and worried.

Often, you can’t even answer the questions you ask. Their answers lie in the future, within someone else’s mind, or nowhere. So, you speculate — you analyze the situation and come to conclusions without having a lot of firm evidence. But, instead of helping you move forward, your “answers” keep you running in circles. …


But they’re also necessary.

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Does the thought of loving yourself make your skin crawl? Does the idea of having compassion for yourself sound weak and pathetic?

If it does, you’re not alone. Being uncomfortable with self-love and self-compassion seems to be the default for humans.

The most common concern with self-love and self-compassion is that they lead to stagnation and, worse, narcissism. If you love yourself, why would you seek to improve? If you have compassion for yourself, why would you ever try? Wouldn’t you already think you’re perfect?

To avoid these supposed pitfalls, we lean hard into self-hatred. I mean, who doesn’t love a good hit of self-directed ridicule? …


Take a little bit of weight off those shoulders.

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Photo by Siddhant Kumar on Unsplash

You’re busy. I’m busy. Everyone’s busy. Who the hell has time for New Year’s resolutions? But, if you don’t make them, you’ll probably feel guilty for not trying to improve your life. Am I right?

Here’s the thing. If you try to add another god-damn thing to your plate, you might very well be crushed to death. I’ve heard it’s been happening to people lately and it ain’t pretty.

Crushed humans aside, adding more to our lives probably isn’t feasible. I’m certain that, at the end of the day, most of us have unfinished to-do lists. We already feel hopeless, useless, and stressed beyond belief. …


Writing consistently is damn hard, but it can be easier.

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Photo by RetroSupply on Unsplash

January 1, 2021, marks the third anniversary of a New Year’s resolution I made to write 500 words per day for a year. To be honest with you, I didn’t quite make it. But, it was good enough.

At the time, writing consistently was a new thing for me. I’d never had a writing practice of any kind. All I’d written in the previous 10 years were letters on special occasions. I had no idea what to expect.

Well, that’s not quite true. I had read Stephen Pressfield’s Turning Pro, which had given me a taste of what was to come. If you haven’t read his book, I’d highly recommend it. In it, he paints a vivid picture of the battles we must wage within ourselves to follow our passions. …


Is there a better option than changing the names of our brands and institutions?

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Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

Earlier this year, Quaker Oats announced the end of Aunt Jemima. The company said, “Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype” and the removal of the name and logo represents a stride “toward progress on racial equality.”

Shortly thereafter, the Washington Redskins football team announced they would be dropping the word “Redskins” and their logo. Then, the Cleveland Indians baseball team said it would also consider changing its name.

Not to be undone, Princeton University renamed a programme and building formerly named after Woodrow Wilson. …


The problem hasn’t been solved, only postponed.

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The news about Trump is reaching a fever pitch. With retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn — who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI before being pardoned by Trump — making the case for imposing martial law and using the military to re-run elections, things are getting weird.

But, assuming none of these antics work out in Trump’s favor, then what?

If you’re a Democrat, isn’t Biden becoming president like putting a band-aid on a severed artery? …


And, what to do about it.

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Photo by Fares Hamouche on Unsplash

The brain is an incredible machine. Just think of what it does for you. It allows you to effortlessly communicate with your family and friends. It allows you to expertly navigate through your environment, like while running or doing yoga. It allows you to appreciate beautiful music and taste delicious foods.

But, for all the brain does for us, there’s one thing that drives us bananas — our inability to change our habits to reach our goals. And we all have goals, don’t we? …


I am, too.

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Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

Imagine you attended the first session of a psychological experiment on “cognitive training” several weeks ago. Today is the follow-up session. You’ve just arrived and are ushered into a small waiting room. In it, you find two people already seated. There is one empty chair and you sit down.

A minute later, someone on crutches and wearing a boot on her foot enters the room. She notices there are no open seats, lets out a big sigh, and then leans up against the wall, clearly in discomfort.

You quickly glance at the other two people. …

About

Jeff Valdivia

Following my curiosity and hoping it will lead me to wisdom. I write about science, meditation, and spirituality.

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