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I’m a life monk: Naming your life philosophy

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Why a “life monk”?

I call myself a life monk because it’s a constant reminder of what matters.

It isn’t about being a life guru or life leader; it’s about being an ever curious, ever humble, ever growing, ever reaching, ever learning, ever seeking little monk whose study is life itself.  Here and now, and finding the best ways for myself.  (Plus lifestudent was already taken by someone amazing).

Giving my life philosophy a title sums up everything for me in a nice little two-word package.  Whenever I’m overwhelmed with the demands and choices of life, reminding myself that I’m a monk of life gently brings me back down to what matters.

Oh right… it’s just all about being curious and humble and growing and seeking.

On more difficult days I go into warrior monk mode and view life’s obstacles as a rigorous training ground.  Life sends out stuff to conquer and I know that the way to do it is to take to it with a strong mind and open heart.

Giving a title to a mindset is a powerful thing.  It could be longer than a title — a mantra, sentence, or summary– or could even just be a simple resounding word that reminds you of everything you want to achieve inside and out.

It could be an image or idea.  It doesn’t have to be publicized and can be secret and sacred if you wish.  It could be borrowed from an already existing title and put a spin on it.  It could be anything.  You could be a life monk too if it feels right.

Just make it your own.  Philosophies and ideas from all the great thinkers and spiritualities in the world exist for us to mix and match to fit our own lives.  We are all unique, so crafting a philosophy is a custom job that is special and bespoke to you.  

Morning Mindset Ritual

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I’ve recently started a new practice to strongly focus my mind upon waking.

I wake up and shake off the effects of any lingering dreams.

Then before I let myself think about anything I need to do that day, I pick up my notebook and read the tabbed pages.

I read my main goals — the big things that I want to ultimately achieve in life.  Then I read the little messages to myself –what I need to think about and mentally focus solidly on to keep me clear, inspired, and resilient.

I read it carefully, as if I’m reading it for the first time, so I can allow it all sink in.  Then I sit silently for a bit and contemplate on these things until I feel it become a part of me, tingling in my veins, marinating my brain.

I make sure that I set my mind straight first.  Only then do I willingly allow myself to get up and mull over what I need to do that day.

I find that dedicating myself to this is remarkably useful because the mind loves to wander into the cracks of reality and come up with funky tales of worry and pessimism, especially first thing in the morning.  It is imperative to get it out of the gutter and purposefully focus it on the things that matter.

Like strong belief in myself and my work.  And acknowledging my own right to have a purpose.  And that my true happiness can be only generated by me.   And to be serious about pursuing life but never take it too seriously.

It’s important to write down the things that matter and remind myself over and over and over.  Because I will be bombarded with messages from ‘everyone else’ upon setting foot into my daily routine.  

It doesn’t all have to be avoided, it just needs to be balanced out with an equally strong mindset.

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Manifesto: How to choose what to stand for

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With eco-friendly everything, vegans, minimalists, off-the-griders, neo-philosophers and activists abound, it’s way too easy to get overwhelmed by the number of ways I can choose to take a stand — not to mention the time, money, and effort it takes to shift a lifestyle.  Yes, I want to be conscious enough to play a good role, but no, I won’t succumb to feeling guilty about causes that don’t first and foremost work best for me.

Everything should make sense first.
Am I truly passionate about it?  Will it fit in with my lifestyle?  Do I want to do it?
Buying a Prius, going vegan, or going off to aid a 3rd-world country are all current “no”’s.
If I’m doing it all for the sake of a cause and not truly for myself will only lead to stress, resentment, and basically a life that isn’t conducive to what I really want to do.  My passions are the field of self improvement and supporting being nice to chickens, because that’s what makes sense to me.
I only buy free-range eggs and hardly eat chicken, but if I’m hungry and am offered a free meal of chicken at my restaurant job that would otherwise go to waste, it only makes sense to eat it.
It may initially sound selfish, but you need to do what works best for you first.  To do otherwise would be robbing yourself and those around you of the innate passions that you could be concentrating on and giving out instead.

Good intentions count for something.
Of course nice thinking doesn’t change anything in the real world, but being aware of where I want to improve is markedly better than never stopping to think about it at all.
I want to minimize more.  I want to do and be more for people.  I don’t want to take shorter showers but dammit I’ll try.
All movements begin with intention, and should life afford me with the chance to kick things into action, I will have at least have a clear starting point.  And when I have an intention I find myself automatically focusing on the tiny ways I can start to work in that direction, because…

The little things count a lot.
The little things help lead to the bigger things.  Donating stuff while moving helped me focus much better on a path of less clutter and frivolous purchases.  A cleaner house makes me less stressed and allows me to do better work.  Better work makes me happier and I am able to concentrate on making a difference.
The little things say a lot more than protesting about the ‘big’ issues.  People can preach all they want on their displeasure of the government, world hunger, war, etc…and then fail to give care and love to those around them who they can directly affect.
It is very important for me to take responsibility for everything I do; to be kind, to not add to the drama, to pick up after myself and help others. I want to be able to successfully take a stand for my own life first before taking on the broader stuff.
Nothing you do with love and kindness in this world, no matter how seemingly small, will be for naught.  The best stances are for the ones you have the most power over, the way you do everyday things in life.

A few good things to remember:
Don’t let anyone try to guilt trip you into something that doesn’t make sense to you, just as you shouldn’t try to pressure others to feel the same way you do.

You can always change your mind and choose to stand for something new.

You’re only human.  Not being able to do everything doesn’t mean you’re not making a notable difference.

Doing good is doing good — no matter what size, who knows about it, and for what cause.

Manifesto: Spiritually Ambiguous

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I’ve always felt like I’ve been seeking something that I couldn’t find, let alone define.

I know I’m not alone in this.

To lay away at night pondering mortality, purpose, happiness…life.  To sit in highschool and zone out on the cover of my marble notebook, hoping that the vortex of blurred spots would reveal to me some big secret, like the hidden Magic Eye pictures.

I think the majority of frustrations stem from a world that glosses over of the stuff that really matters, collaging reality over with lists of societal responsibilities.

You don’t need a label.  You’re a human being with incredible creative capability, whether you know it or not.

Just because there’s no church or group or school of thought that you currently feel at home in doesn’t mean that you’re on your own.  It means that you’re in a major position to realize how much of a part of everything you really are.

We’re all seekers.  We’re all seekers in our own ways, so what we’re searching for as individuals will always be slightly different.  Some of us are at home right away, some of us jump from group to group, some drift along and never find anything that feels right.  Others simply seek less, while some simply seek more.

But we are all seeking, on our own levels.

It isn’t our job to find and commit to a single group.  It’s our job to seek out and find the individual parts that work best for ourselves.  It’s a custom made purpose, a personally crafted spirituality.  Our own unique lifestyle that is built just for us.

I used to think that because I didn’t have a group, I didn’t really have a kind of spirituality.  But then I would sit and look at the stars at night and feel like I completely belonged in the biggest of schemes of things.

Just feel it.  Feel it in the smallest things in everyday life.  Feel it when you’re out alone in nature.  Feel it when you’re staring at the sky in the middle of traffic.

We’re all feeling it, discreetly.  We’re all experiencing, we’re all learning and living and existing.

I don’t know all the answers, or even any answers.  But I know that I’m alive and living with you all right now.

This is where we create what we could never find.  We’re all doing it differently, but we’re doing it together.

I now find it incredibly interesting and exciting to discover and learn what works best for different people.  There is no right or wrong way if it makes you feel like your true self.

Don’t be afraid to seek above & beyond.

 

Monk Musings: Life as an artform

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This is my art.  I previously felt odd calling this art, but it’s my creative expression and it’s my voice, so why not?

Creativity comes in many forms but it all begins with a thought, and sometimes that’s all it takes to make something beautiful.  Even if you don’t produce the typical idea of ‘art’, if your mind is curious and reaching to grow, how you craft your life can be an artform within itself.

The way you choose to live your life is art — your expression is what you present to the world and what you put into yourself.  You are your artistic medium.  You shape and build and embellish who you are.

So we are all artists in some shape or form, and like all talents we have the capacity to infinitely grow and develop our skill.

The fact that you’re alive and curious right now is a sign that you are worthy and able.  It’s up to you to decide to harness and hone that capability and become the best you can at your craft.

The life experience 101

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One thing I knew for sure while growing up was that school wasn’t teaching me anything about living.  Their prep for the ‘real world’ was akin to dressing me up in ninja clothes, teaching me the history of ninjas, studying ninja goals and logistics, then sending me out on a mission without knowing how to properly scale a wall or face an enemy.

An engaging life isn’t for mere dabblers–it packs a punch and if I don’t have some warrior skills in my mental repertoire, a passing jab could become a near-fatal blow.  When I’m frustrated and knocked down my life experience goes down. Love and work levels are lower quality, which lead to further the self-sustaining cycle of melancholy.

A defining quote that keeps me thinking: “A happy life is just a string of happy moments”.

If this is the make up of my life, it is absolutely imperative that I put the time and effort and passion into improving myself.  Life can throw it’s sneak attacks and I will train and dedicate myself to understanding and overcoming each obstacle.

Do life well.  Do life smart, strong, and happy.

This is my mission.

Part of this mission is to realize that I am often one of my biggest obstacles. Sneaky mental blocks that adamantly state reasons for immediate surrender — that it’s too late, that it won’t work, that this is a waste of time and energy, that I can’t do it.  Lies! All lies.   Lies that sound like reasonable truths until I remember that it’s up to me to agree with myself or not.

So I’m choosing the way of full responsibility.  I care about my experience here on Earth more than anything.  I care about how this experience impacts my self and those around me.  I care about leading a life without regret and knowing that I took to it like a warrior monk on a mission.  Nothing can keep me from this but myself — all other perceived obstacles are just excuses.

I spent the first half of my life wishing for something to teach me how to do all this, to run my own mission and train at life; the second half has been a rambunctious relentless pursuit to figure it out and I’m still in the thick of it.  But I want to share it here for anyone who has been seeking and craving such a thing.

The life experience.  It’s happening since birth and it’s happening now and it will end one day.  The truth is happier humans create happier experiences for other humans which add that much more happiness to the world.  And happier people love more, give more, create more, live more.  

It is anything but a selfish thing to do.  

It is our sole responsibility.

Manifesto: The truths I want to show you

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I want to show you that the lofty life can be achieved through a multitude of means all your own.  I want to show you that the only thing one “should” do is to take full responsibility over what we want to experience.  It’s not about just “putting it out into the universe”, it’s about taking control over everything you choose to think, feel, and put out there.

I want to show you that the bad habits and things we think we can’t change about ourselves can be changed in amazing ways.  I want to show you that the lifestyle you think you need to have in order to feel good is very attainable.  I want to show you how amazing it feels to feel free to fully express yourself, live in the moment, build a close relationship with yourself everyday and learn staggering resilience.

I want to show you that things can and will go wrong, and that they mean nothing about your ability as a human or an artist.  I want to show you how getting to know how you operate and why is the best thing you can ever do for yourself, and I want you to experience that extra edge and freedom and strength it brings.

I want to show you how much you can overcome, how “too late” is only in your mind, and “it will never work–I’m not good enough” is just a thought we keep thinking.  I want to prove that thriving is something anyone can do, with any bank account balance and any level in life.

I want to show that you can start from anywhere.  I want to show you that contrasts and contradictions and imperfections are absolutely beautiful.  I want to show you that the only voice you really really really need to listen to is your own, because this is your life and no one else can live it as truthfully or rightfully as you can.

But in order to to all that I must prove it to myself.  I must fully practice all that I preach.  I must experience and express that strong vulnerability, the freedom of being unafraid of being incomplete.  I must express that although my life revolves around reading and pursuing self improvement, I am not a perfection-seeking, finger-pointing, purity-chasing wannabe guru who can only allow herself positivity and elation at all times.

I am a life monk because I am always the student.  I am always the one trying to learn more, knowing that the point at which one thinks they know everything is the point that they have come to know nothing.

Thus this is where I show myself how to show you.