The Art of Solitude: 7 Lessons For Modern Times

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A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.  ~ A. Schopenhauer

There are supposedly two main characteristics that have helped us stand out in our evolutionary journey; our unique 3D vision and our ability to work in groups.

Many people attribute our social instinct as one of the main reasons for our survival in an environment full of dangerous threats.  Of course, there were a few lone wolves here and there who managed to survive on their own, but the majority felt comfort in being part of a larger social structure.

Within the last century or so, with the discoveries of science and the development of technology, something unique has begun to occur.  Mass fabrication has become possible, and due to the massive developments in media advertising and the discovery of our sense of identity (also known as the Ego), mass consumerism has been born.

Suddenly we’re informed that we all have the opportunity to be unique, to stand out from everyone else in the way we dress, the cars we drive and the houses we live in.  Consumerism has provided a way of expressing our individuality, with more and more inventions coming out that promise us a happier life and lifestyle.

As a stronger sense of self has emerged within us, so too has a greater desire for self-fulfillment.  We live in a time where we crave self-fulfillment as unique individuals.  This is evident from the large numbers of psychologists, gurus and life coaches readily available to us at a click of a button.  However, the more we adopt the solutions provided to us by society of consumption and ambition, the further away we find ourselves from inner-fulfillment at all.

Often we get lost in our search for answers in the external world and we forget that most of the answers can be found internally – if we provide the space for them to manifest themselves.

Now that our sense of self has become so strong, it has made itself more available to allow for its own evolution, or Involution, and personal growth.  I believe we are at the beginning of an evolution of the self that will require immense Solitude to aid it.

It’s a great time for us to live in, and to begin our acceptance of Solitude now will make it a lot easier to be who we are destined to become in the future.

These are seven lessons you can learn when you find the space for Solitude.

1.  Solitude Centers You

How often do you feel that life is living you, rather than you are living life?  In the fast paced society that we live in, we often feel that our lives are controlled by the schedules, commitments and demands in our daily routines.

In conversations with others we touch on the surface of many different topics without allowing ourselves to be completely absorbed by any single one of them.  Solitude provides a strong center, an inner core, that makes your attention feel centered rather than dragged around by different social or environmental stimulations.

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An Expansive Consciousness

Image1by Ernie Fitzpatrick

Most people are simply unaware of how fast and how far we have come as collective consciousness, let alone how fast things are set to exponentially explode in the years ahead. Like the “Frog In The Kettle“, we’re seemingly immune to the increased heat as the water heads to the boiling point. In the last 50-75 years, there have been so many advances is the understanding of human consciousness and a renaissance in the whole Jungian concept of a collective unconsciousness.

We are truly on our way to major and revolutionary jumps in consciousness. Are you game?

What was once on the fringes has now found acceptability. I’m talking about subject and concepts such as: hypnosis psychotherapy, rebirthing, Eastern mysticism, Spiritual shamanism, primal therapy, biofeedback, sensory deprivation, dream state, NDE, OBE, and many more. Who is to say what’s right, what’s wrong. They are all pieces of a very big puzzle.

We have no idea as to what major advances we are about to see in human consciousness. But the NDE (near death experiences) and thanatology advances are opening worlds of possibilities. The cumulative effect of where we’ve been and are headed, will definitely re-define life as we know it in a few short years.

Albert Einstein was a genius in so many ways; however, his view of the universe was so small compared to what we know today. Einstein developed the theory of relativity, but he saw the universe as static, unchanging. His view was that the universe was a large cloud of stars. How many he didn’t speculate.

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First of Its Kind Study Finds Cannabis May Be a “Miracle” Treatment for Autistic Kids

cannabis-autism-696x366Autism could now be added to the lengthy and perpetually-expanding list of afflictions and symptoms treatable with the one product of nature shamefully prohibited by the federal government — the “miracle” palliative, cannabis.

One in every 68 children in the United States is now affected by autism, and the number of kids coping with the developmental disorder has been increasing at an explosive rate in recent years. With onset most common during infancy and early childhood, autism can impact social and communication skills and may cause repetitive or compulsive behaviors, among other manifestations.

Now, fresh evidence again frowns upon U.S. federal prohibition of cannabis — listed as a Schedule I dangerous substance of no potential medical use, alongside heroin — which could be depriving ailing children the chance for treatment, and hope for a better-adjusted future.

In contrast to its staunch U.S. ally, Israel has approached the cannabis plant as the medicinal healer it has more than proven to be — medical marijuana was first approved in Israel decades ago, in 1992, making it one of the first in the world to do so.

As USA Today notes, in a recent article titled, Marijuana may be a miracle treatment for children with autism, Israel and just two other countries — Canada and the Netherlands — have government-sponsored medical marijuana programs available to citizens.

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Why The World Hasn’t Changed Yet

We live in exciting and hopeful times. More and more people are beginning to challenge the status quo and care about creating a better world for future generations. We are beginning to understand that change won’t come about by putting all faith on political leaders, but by cultivating and exerting our own power to steer society in a new direction by living differently.

Though understandably enough, many of us are angry. Angry at authorities who continually push for an agenda that destroys the earth and causes suffering across the globe. Angry at the lies we have been fed; designed to make us apathetic to injustice and give our power away.

We march the streets, we shout out against injustice on social media, we follow and scrutinize politicians’ every move… but sometimes at the expense of remembering the most important factor in creating the change we say we want.

The following video serves as a reminder for us all activists and changemakers to keep our eyes on the path and be more effective in our mission of making the world a better place.

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The Healing Darkness

darknesshealing-990x556Author: Soren Dreier

As we each travel the road toward enlightenment, which for many also means breaking free of the Matrix, we often find ourselves in the middle of a pendulum swing between empowerment and disempowerment (mostly experienced as weariness). We also find our nervous systems becoming more and more fragile and in need of rest from the turmoil of this world.

We try to strengthen our connection to the vertical, the Heavens, the God force, the Uni or whatever we each label it.

This world, the Mundane, with its craving for our attention and its need to fish the souls caught up in soulful troubled waters, fits us less and less and so do its distractions. They Morph into every kind of ‘noise’ known and partly unknown to us. The world seems to become louder, uglier to watch and ever uglier to participate in. It just keeps on insisting.

The poles being: We crave Celestial and mundane peace within and are caught up in a world not really designed for us; who still perceive using the heart, compassion, empathy and genuine caring about our fellow beings.

Obviously Main Stream Media is designed not to inform us, but as a fear factory, telling us that everything we disengage from is the real thing about this life and dreams of a world designed for people, love and ‘just leave me alone to go about my business in a way that I see fit’ really can’t be done. It’s a naïve dream. A naïve state of mind. Naïve wishfulness. No it is not.
We are as the frontline of humans trying to toss a coin down the spiritual wishing well of broken dreams and visions of a world in balance, which would include us as being in our own world of balance.

It’s David versus Goliath for all of us. The strategy of winning here is to find exactly where to aim, since every mean of brute force has its Achilles Heel.

Some know where to aim at the Dragon of the United Forces of Destruction, whether it be systems of belief deigned to lure us in when we’re most vulnerable, systems of Big Industry healthcare that neglect to tell us cancer has a cure already, telling us that vitamins and minerals are deadly and if you get cancer struck the only good thing is to be connected to the Machine of Healing via chemical tubes that fuck up our immune systems. Now pass over the CBD and what have we and tell us that we are in charge of our health – not bloody Wall Street and Big Cancer.

What we need to focus on is our spiritual nervous system that has to deal with all of this Mundane ‘noise’ in order to let us enter a room of tranquility and bliss. Seems impossible, but it is within reach, since it is for each of us a question of finding that room amidst the great war of collective suffering and stress.

The New Ice Age is not so much a meteorological term as a psychological – metaphysical phenomena; it is what most of us are trying to melt, sometimes with a hairdryer. A frozen world can be melted; it basically just depends on the number of people trying to warm it up.

As we walk this road, some meditate, some pray, some try to eat healthy (an option that’s rapidly deteriorating), some do movements on yoga mats and those who feel they have the right spiritual praises often find themselves caught up, as I mentioned: In the swing of the Pendulum, bouncing from a state of balance to a place of imbalance.

This very much stresses people spiritually, and that is a contradiction since a state of spirituality, grounded sober spirituality, clearly expects to find everlasting bliss, explanation, the safety of Knowledge and so on… but we still feel fragile and not especially empowered as a state of mind.

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We Are Laughing Hard At The Cosmic Joke; Do You Get It?

18697339_mby Luke Miller | Truth Theory

My understanding is that life is a game, and like any game you can either choose to play it with a light heart, or you can take it so seriously that it ceases to be any fun at all. Now don’t get me wrong, when a group game of monopoly is going on, I am playing to win, but there is a difference between playing to win and the walls of Jericho falling down because you were handed a lesson.

My understanding of why we have to laugh at life is due to the fact that life makes no sense, this is due to something called the divine paradox- which states everything in the material world is duel and in the case of the divine paradox makes complete sense, but no sense at all.

Think about things on a more serious note- we have Donald Trump as the president of the United States, if we had a real choice, would we really want him leading us? Of course not, yet we do have a choice and he is still leading us. He is a manifestation of the cosmic joke, it is funny, but really unfunny at the same time. My understanding of this is we can never make complete sense of the world, as it has 2 types of truth- absolute and relative: Examples:

Absolute truth: The grass is green

Relative truth: What if a color blind animal is looking at it? What if my green and your green differs? The universe is illusory in nature, so does the grass even exist? I could go on, but I am sure you get the gist of things. Here are a few more examples of the divine paradox in motion:

We Are Both Finite and Infinite

We are infinite in our creation, if we create something, that which was created never ceases to have existed, yet it can still be destroyed, making it both finite and infinite.

All we are- exists from a single particle and that particle is infinite in its creations, yet our physical body dies. With that being said our physical body decomposes and gives back to nature, so it continues to be part of the ecosystem.

What we can achieve is infinite in nature, but at the same time has extreme limitations. You can pick from an infinite amount of subjects or even create your own. However you can never fully master a subject.

We Are Both Significant and Insignificant

We are all central to our own worlds, people often use the phrase “you think you are centre of the universe” as a way to highlight someone’s selfishness, however we literally are all central to our own worlds. We matter, we all have the ability to make the world a better place and contribute in the most amazing of ways. What we can achieve in just a single moment of selflessness, has the ability to infinitely ripple through time and on an individual and collective level we are significant.

However, on an individual level we are just a spec in a big city, in a big country in a huge continent, within a gigantic world. The size of the solar system cannot even be comprehended by the logical mind and the universe is debatably infinite.

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A Little Qigong Anyone?

Image1by Steve Stanley

What The Heck Is Qigong?

Qigong is the venerable Chinese art and science of becoming aware of this life’s energy, and learning how to manage it’s flow through a precise choreography of posture, movement, respiratory technique, and meditation.

Theory And Origin Of Qigong:

A living soul acquires qi from the food by eating, from the air by breathing, and from interacting with their surroundings. In the body, qi represents the unseen essential force that sustains a lifetime. A person becomes ill or dies when the amount or category of qi is unbalanced within the body. Qigong practice involves the manipulation and balance of the qi within the practitioner’s body, and it’s interaction with the practitioner’s surroundings. The method and ultimate goal for the practice is dependent on the practitioner.

Historically, the effect of qigong practice has always been subjective. It ranges from a feeling of calmness and peacefulness, to a sense of well being. All through history, remarkable claims have also been produced as a result of qigong practice. The journey towards self-enlightenment can incorporate descriptions of out of body experiences and miraculous powers.

Qigong is like an amazing river fed by four considerable tributaries: shamanism, spirituality, medicine, and martial arts:

1. Shamanism:

In venerable Chinese text, China was often siege by floods and widespread disease resulting from it. Legends say that the emperor cleared the land and diverted the water by dancing a bear dance, and invoking the mystical powers of the constellations. As the waters subsided, folks reasoned that movement and exercise can similarly give rise to the internal rivers to flow more smoothly, clearing the obstructions to health. Chinese Shamans used these exercises and meditations to commune with nature and natural forces and to increase their powers of healing and divination.

2. Spirituality (Taoism and Buddhism):

In Taoism, their intention is to acquire an empty, alert, boundless state of consciousness, with spirit and body in balance. Taoists and qigong practitioners were both looking for a harmony of yin and yang: inside and outside, earthly and spiritual, stillness and activity.
In Buddhism, emphasis is placed on tranquillity, awareness, and diligent practice. Several styles of qigong were developed by Buddhists who needed an exercising and healing system to complement their lengthy seated meditations.

3. Medicine:

Chinese medicine includes acupuncture, herbal remedies, massage, diet, and qigong. Qigong is the preventive and self-healing aspect of Chinese medicine, and was used in the past, as today, to advise patients how to improve their own health.

4. Martial Arts:

Qigong practice can improve performance in the martial arts or any other sport. Chinese martial artists designed, or helped to improve many qigong techniques as they looked for ways to increase speed, stamina, and power, improve balance, flexibility, and coordination, and condition the body against injury.

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Carl Sagan’s Profound Essay On Why Cannabis Consciousness is Desperately Needed in This Mad and Dangerous World

carl-sagan-essay-mr.x-marijuanna-1200x600“Cannabis brings us an awareness that we spend a lifetime being trained to overlook and forget and put out of our minds.”

— Carl Sagan

Most of us remember Carl Sagan as a brilliant scientist, a popularizer of both the methods and progress of human knowledge. Some know him as an advocate of space exploration and peace on earth. Some will even recognize his brilliant work in the science fiction community, as a writer himself, and as a commentator on sci-fi authors such as Arthur C. Clarke.

Carl Sagan, 1994. Photo Credit: Johann Heupel (Flickr Commons
Carl Sagan, 1994. Photo Credit: Johann Heupel (Flickr Commons

Few, however, know that he wrote an absolutely thrilling and insightful essay on the merits of the psychoactive properties of the cannabis plant.

Writing under the pseudonym ‘Mr. X’ (due to the political sensitivity of coming out as a smoker), Carl starts out by going into the well-known sensory enhancements bestowed by cannabis, most notably those which occur during sex, while listening to music, and while savoring art.

While these qualities are important and valuable in themselves, the true magic of an altered state of consciousness lies in its paradigm-shifting potential, as Sagan eloquently explains

After reading this essay, you might agree with us that Carl’s famous saying, “The cosmos is within us. We are starstuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.” was first thought of when he was rather high.

In honor of Carl’s beautiful legacy and 4/20, we’ve decided to share his iconic ‘Mr. X’ essay in full below. Savor this magnificent explanation of the cannabis experience from one of the greatest minds of the 20th century.

[Pro-Tip: Have a toke before reading, and we promise you can read the whole essay in Sagan’s voice.]

Dr. Sagan’s Profound ‘Mr. X’ Essay

It all began about ten years ago. I had reached a considerably more relaxed period in my life – a time when I had come to feel that there was more to living than science, a time of awakening of my social consciousness and amiability, a time when I was open to new experiences. I had become friendly with a group of people who occasionally smoked cannabis, irregularly, but with evident pleasure. Initially I was unwilling to partake, but the apparent euphoria that cannabis produced and the fact that there was no physiological addiction to the plant eventually persuaded me to try. My initial experiences were entirely disappointing; there was no effect at all, and I began to entertain a variety of hypotheses about cannabis being a placebo which worked by expectation and hyperventilation rather than by chemistry. After about five or six unsuccessful attempts, however, it happened.

I was lying on my back in a friend’s living room idly examining the pattern of shadows on the ceiling cast by a potted plant (not cannabis!). I suddenly realized that I was examining an intricately detailed miniature Volkswagen, distinctly outlined by the shadows. I was very skeptical at this perception, and tried to find inconsistencies between Volkswagens and what I viewed on the ceiling. But it was all there, down to hubcaps, license plate, chrome, and even the small handle used for opening the trunk. When I closed my eyes, I was stunned to find that there was a movie going on the inside of my eyelids. Flash . . . a simple country scene with red farmhouse, a blue sky, white clouds, yellow path meandering over green hills to the horizon. . . Flash . . . same scene, orange house, brown sky, red clouds, yellow path, violet fields . . . Flash . . . Flash . . . Flash. The flashes came about once a heartbeat. Each flash brought the same simple scene into view, but each time with a different set of colors . . . exquisitely deep hues, and astonishingly harmonious in their juxtaposition. Since then I have smoked occasionally and enjoyed it thoroughly. It amplifies torpid sensibilities and produces what to me are even more interesting effects, as I will explain shortly.

I can remember another early visual experience with cannabis, in which I viewed a candle flame and discovered in the heart of the flame, standing with magnificent indifference, the black-hatted and -cloaked Spanish gentleman who appears on the label of the Sandeman sherry bottle. Looking at fires when high, by the way, especially through one of those prism kaleidoscopes which image their surroundings, is an extraordinarily moving and beautiful experience.

I want to explain that at no time did I think these things ‘really’ were out there. I knew there was no Volkswagen on the ceiling and there was no Sandeman salamander man in the flame. I don’t feel any contradiction in these experiences. There’s a part of me making, creating the perceptions which in everyday life would be bizarre; there’s another part of me which is a kind of observer. About half of the pleasure comes from the observer-part appreciating the work of the creator-part. I smile, or sometimes even laugh out loud at the pictures on the insides of my eyelids. In this sense, I suppose cannabis is psychotomimetic, but I find none of the panic or terror that accompanies some psychoses. Possibly this is because I know it’s my own trip, and that I can come down rapidly any time I want to.

While my early perceptions were all visual, and curiously lacking in images of human beings, both of these items have changed over the intervening years. I find that today a single joint is enough to get me high. I test whether I’m high by closing my eyes and looking for the flashes. They come long before there are any alterations in my visual or other perceptions. I would guess this is a signal-to-noise problem, the visual noise level being very low with my eyes closed. Another interesting information-theoretical aspects is the prevalence – at least in my flashed images – of cartoons: just the outlines of figures, caricatures, not photographs. I think this is simply a matter of information compression; it would be impossible to grasp the total content of an image with the information content of an ordinary photograph, say 108 bits, in the fraction of a second which a flash occupies. And the flash experience is designed, if I may use that word, for instant appreciation. The artist and viewer are one. This is not to say that the images are not marvelously detailed and complex. I recently had an image in which two people were talking, and the words they were saying would form and disappear in yellow above their heads, at about a sentence per heartbeat. In this way it was possible to follow the conversation. At the same time an occasional word would appear in red letters among the yellows above their heads, perfectly in context with the conversation; but if one remembered these red words, they would enunciate a quite different set of statements, penetratingly critical of the conversation. The entire image set which I’ve outlined here, with I would say at least 100 yellow words and something like 10 red words, occurred in something under a minute.

The cannabis experience has greatly improved my appreciation for art, a subject which I had never much appreciated before. The understanding of the intent of the artist which I can achieve when high sometimes carries over to when I’m down. This is one of many human frontiers which cannabis has helped me traverse. There also have been some art-related insights – I don’t know whether they are true or false, but they were fun to formulate. For example, I have spent some time high looking at the work of the Belgian surrealist Yves Tanguey. Some years later, I emerged from a long swim in the Caribbean and sank exhausted onto a beach formed from the erosion of a nearby coral reef. In idly examining the arcuate pastel-colored coral fragments which made up the beach, I saw before me a vast Tanguey painting. Perhaps Tanguey visited such a beach in his childhood.

A very similar improvement in my appreciation of music has occurred with cannabis. For the first time I have been able to hear the separate parts of a three-part harmony and the richness of the counterpoint. I have since discovered that professional musicians can quite easily keep many separate parts going simultaneously in their heads, but this was the first time for me. Again, the learning experience when high has at least to some extent carried over when I’m down. The enjoyment of food is amplified; tastes and aromas emerge that for some reason we ordinarily seem to be too busy to notice. I am able to give my full attention to the sensation. A potato will have a texture, a body, and taste like that of other potatoes, but much more so. Cannabis also enhances the enjoyment of sex – on the one hand it gives an exquisite sensitivity, but on the other hand it postpones orgasm: in part by distracting me with the profusion of image passing before my eyes. The actual duration of orgasm seems to lengthen greatly, but this may be the usual experience of time expansion which comes with cannabis smoking.

I do not consider myself a religious person in the usual sense, but there is a religious aspect to some highs. The heightened sensitivity in all areas gives me a feeling of communion with my surroundings, both animate and inanimate. Sometimes a kind of existential perception of the absurd comes over me and I see with awful certainty the hypocrisies and posturing of myself and my fellow men. And at other times, there is a different sense of the absurd, a playful and whimsical awareness. Both of these senses of the absurd can be communicated, and some of the most rewarding highs I’ve had have been in sharing talk and perceptions and humor. Cannabis brings us an awareness that we spend a lifetime being trained to overlook and forget and put out of our minds. A sense of what the world is really like can be maddening; cannabis has brought me some feelings for what it is like to be crazy, and how we use that word ‘crazy’ to avoid thinking about things that are too painful for us. In the Soviet Union political dissidents are routinely placed in insane asylums. The same kind of thing, a little more subtle perhaps, occurs here: ‘did you hear what Lenny Bruce said yesterday? He must be crazy.’ When high on cannabis I discovered that there’s somebody inside in those people we call mad.

When I’m high I can penetrate into the past, recall childhood memories, friends, relatives, playthings, streets, smells, sounds, and tastes from a vanished era. I can reconstruct the actual occurrences in childhood events only half understood at the time. Many but not all my cannabis trips have somewhere in them a symbolism significant to me which I won’t attempt to describe here, a kind of mandala embossed on the high. Free-associating to this mandala, both visually and as plays on words, has produced a very rich array of insights.

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