Looking out rather than in.

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Photo by Andrew Tanglao on Unsplash

Albert Einstein is said to have observed: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Nowhere is this more apparent than in the general approach most humans take to living their lives.

Whoa. That sounds incredibly broad and big. Agreed. Let’s see if I can chew the huge hunk I just bit off…

My basic point is that most people live their lives by looking out to the world to do and get things that they think will make them feel happy inside. For example:

-Look out into the world for a…

Music and dogs.

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Photo by Mike Giles on Unsplash

Most mindfulness practices, while enormously helpful and healthy, can seem a bit dry. “When you feel tense or stressed in your day, place attention on your breathing…”

Here are two practices that are anything but dry. One deals with music, the other with dogs.

1. Music Meditation

This isn’t meditating with music playing in the background. Quite the contrary. The music is the meditation.

What you do is find one to three songs that you absolutely love and have some meaning to you. …

Consider Amping Up The Silliness

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Photo by Will Myers on Unsplash

I realized recently that I write a lot of articles that could be deemed “serious.” Subjects like mindfulness, the egoic self, listening to the mysterious voice inside for guidance, pieces about Ram Dass and Eckhart Tolle’s teachings.

Many readers may logically deduce from that that I take life uber seriously.

I don’t.

Why don’t I take life too seriously? In one sense, I wasn’t given a choice. I had some pretty awful, multi-year depression in college and my twenties. Once I started feeling better, my macro inner dialog became:

“Well, we can continue taking everything really seriously and feel heavy-in-the-head…

An Answer For All To Consider

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Photo by Federico Fioravanti on Unsplash

For many people, “What should I do with my life?” is the most perplexing question they face. This is especially so in America where the culture demands certainty, purpose and ambition from its membership.

The fundamental problem is that the place most of us go to supply the answer to this monumental question is the egoic, conditioned self. And the ego has no clue what your true path is.

The mind is a computer

Why? Because the ego is like a computer. It stores all the experiences of our lives, especially those from our formative years, just as computers store…

Read it. It Will Blow Your Mind.

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Photo by Peter Thomas on Unsplash

Ram Dass wrote Be Here Now in 1971. It was an immediate phenomenon, giving those on the spiritual path an actual path to travel. It’s known as one of the most influential spiritual books ever written.

After reading it recently for the first time, I now know why. It continually blew me away.

The book is comprised of three discrete sections: A short description of Ram Dass’s life journey, a compendium of what I can only describe as wacky, insightful spiritual observations accompanied by illustrations and, lastly, a specific manual for traveling the spiritual path. …

And what you can learn from it.

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Photo by Sidney Severin on Unsplash

I had a colonoscopy yesterday. For you millennials reading this who may not know what that is, let’s get the TMI out of the way right now. A colonoscopy is a procedure where a gastroenterologist sticks a tube with a camera on it (colonoscope) up your butt and examines the entirety of your colon, about five feet in total. What they are looking for are polyps, small growths which can become cancerous over time.

My guy didn’t find anything yesterday which means I don’t have to do it again for ten years. Yeeeehawwwww!

Once you’re in, it’s over

But the…

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Photo by Anna Kaminova on Unsplash

Are you stubborn? Of course you are. Maybe not as much as a mule, but we all are to some degree. That’s the bad news. The good news is we can use it to grow. I’ll show you how.

First, what is it to be stubborn? Some examples:

You made dinner so your spouse was supposed to clean the kitchen. But they had to work overtime so they didn’t think they should have to. Four days later a Mt. Everest of dishes has piled up with both of you standing your ground. That’s stubbornness.

You’re in a political argument and…

It’s a Win-Win

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Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

My main form of exercise for decades was running and playing tennis. Unfortunately, that resulted in three surgeries, two hip and one achilles tear, and a ton of calf muscle pulls and back spasms.

So about five years ago I jettisoned running and cut down on the tennis in favor of the joint-friendly road biking and swimming as my go-to cardio workouts. …

1 Novel, 1 Biography, and 1 Poem

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Photo by Airam Dato-on on Unsplash

The novel, The Grapes of Wrath, you’ve probably heard of. The biography, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, and the poem, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, maybe not. All three are powerful, compelling and enduring explorations of the human condition, the one criterion all classics must meet. All three touched me to my core.

Because I want you to read all three I won’t spoil them by going into detail on the stories. Instead, I’ll explore my favorite scene/story/stanza to give you a flavor for what lies within.

Without further adieu…

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

My connection…

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Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

I was listening to an Eckhart Tolle talk the other day when he said something that made my ears prick up. He said:

“If I had to recommend a daily spiritual practice for you for the next year, something that would bring about a huge boost in consciousness in you, it would be doing this simple thing…”

And what is that one thing Eckhart recommends?

“Be aware of your breathing.”

That’s it. Whenever you can during your day and evening, simply notice your breathing. Doing just that will bring your attention into the moment. And since the present moment is…

David Gerken

Meditation and Mindfulness teacher. Dad of three precious kids. Former Washington, DC political aide and Writer for THE WEST WING. Follow me at davidgerken.net.

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