“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” ― John A. Shedd

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I catch myself avoiding some things, things that could be uncomfortable, awkward or even scary.
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Taking risks, accepting change or stepping out of our comfort zone feels dangerous.
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My inner dialogue reminds me, risking or not risking does not change the hour, minute or second we die.
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When my PTSD was at its apex, going out to some events felt very dangerous, a place where triggers could erupt.
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Avoiding, not risking, led to six months of agoraphobia and suffering.
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These were irrationalional, trauma driven judgments that I knew cognitively were false.
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In reality, not risking has many negative consequences.
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Every new endeavor we try has an element of not working, loss, failure or success.
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In a way, we need to be able to tolerate awkward, uncomfortable or scary to live fully.
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Without strenuous challenges, how we will ever know what we are capable of.
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Maybe we are most alive when we challenge our irrational fears, or maybe our rational fears!
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Facing a fear, an awkward situation when we could choose to avoid, brings a great deal of satisfaction.
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Remember back to a challenging time when you endured.
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Feel how alive, aware, energetic your space became.
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Maybe we should take safe risks everyday!

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How does your Mind feel about the day ahead?

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Maybe in the shower or sometime in the morning, the mind scans the day ahead.
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This is an insightful time, a glimpse into how our mind feels about life.
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Be aware of any body sensations connected to your feelings.
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Do you feel open, free, full of opportunity, or is it tense, filled with danger, loss?
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Unlimited opportunity and enthusiasm at one end, gloom and doom at the other end.
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I would bet our self worth is connected to these judgments.
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Before improving, my morning thoughts were filled with possible loss, shame, maybe humiliation, a frightening feeling worse than death.
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Constant criticism from my father made me dependent on approval, external conditions for any self worth.  This admission still brings a small tinge of shame for me.
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This was not a life sentence but took daily practice, trial and error plodding through days of confusion to improve.
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Pay attention to your mind, your feeling about life, your attitude.
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Do you think you can be happy?
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Do you think you deserve to be happy?
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When my disorder (PTSD) exploded, I did not think so.
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It is defined as an irrational disorder.
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The need to develop focus, the ability to let go of these judgments, is essential for healing.
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Why is meditating 30 minutes a day so difficult?

 

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In my mindfulness group, a young man was participating for credit with NAMI as a volunteer. He was going through a divorce and found sitting quietly, almost impossible. I would watch him squirm, checking his watch over and over. That hour was half a day for him.
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It can be the most boring, most irritating, most mundane, most difficult skill to master.
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It can feel mundane, innocuous, a waste of time.
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Goodness, this judgment could not be more wrong.
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Actually, where we place our attention impacts life more than any other practice.
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The mind finds happiness much more often when we let it empty of thought and emotion, momentarily.
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Mindfulness acts like a fast for our digestive system. A fast lets digestive organs rest, cleanse and recover.
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Meditation let’s the mind fast without thought, judgment and emotion for a much needed break.
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So please, try this powerful, life changing, mundane skill.
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Why Meditate: awareness and thoughts

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Matthew Ricard:

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The practice of meditation reveals that when we allow our thoughts to calm down, we are able to remain for a few moments in the nonconceptual experience of pure awareness.
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It is this fundamental aspect of consciousness, free from the veils of confusion, that Buddhism calls the nature of mind.
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Thoughts arise out of pure awareness and dissolve back into it just as waves arise in the ocean and fall back into it without ever becoming anything other than the ocean itself.
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It is essential to realize this if we want to free ourselves from the habitual, automatic patterns of thought that create suffering.
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Identifying the fundamental nature of mind and knowing how to rest in it in a nondual and nonconceptual way is one of the essential conditions for inner peace and liberation from suffering.
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UNMASKING THE DECEPTION OF THE EGO: part three

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The only kind of self confidence the ego can achieve is an artificial one, based on shaky factors, said
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such as power, success, beauty, physical strength, intellectual brilliance, and the opinions of others–all things that are related to our image.
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Genuine self-confidence is something entirely different.
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Paradoxically it is a natural quality of the absence of ego.
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To dispel the illusion of the ego is to free yourself from a fundamental weakness.
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Self-confidence based on non-ego brings a sense of freedom that is not subject to emotional contingencies.
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You experience a lack of vulnerability to the judgments of others and an inner acceptance of whatever circumstances may exist.
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Who is the voice inside ________a dummy?

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That voice inside us that carries an unworthy feeling, a sense of not being good enough, a flawed soul is an imposter.
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All of these judgments emanate from our created ego, the cognitive engine, the “I” that is never equal to anyone, anywhere.
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Think of our ego as a flawed ventriloquist dummy. A made up mannequin we use for identity, our needy, desirous, demon who craves approval and avoids criticism.
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That inner voice judges another “Ego” as always superior or inferior and acts appropriately.
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It is a way of narrating life, using impermanent judgments to navigate our own existence.
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That voice is filled with bias, with worry, doubt, fear, jealousy, intimidation and resentment.
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What is the answer?
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Focus on the breath intently, use a specific intense concentration, then let go of thought and emotion.
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The mind will clear itself of thought and be present, lucid and without the ego’s influence.
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When we are present, in this moment, focused and empty, our mind and body thrives, our intuition flourishes.
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Let your internal guide, your core, your soul navigate life.
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UNMASKING THE DECEPTION OF THE EGO: part two

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Our identification with the ego is fundamentally dysfunctional, because it is out of step with reality.
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We attribute to the ego the qualities of permanence, singularity, and autonomy.
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The ego fragments the world and definitively solidifies the division between self and other, “mine” and “not mine.”
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Because it is based on a mistake, it is constantly threatened by reality, and this gives us a deep and ongoing sense of insecurity.
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Since we are aware of the ego’s vulnerability, we try by all means available to protect and reinforce it.
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As a result we feel aversion toward anything that threatens it and attraction toward anything that feeds it.
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From these impulses of repulsion and attraction, a multitude of conflicting emotions is born.
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