If one follows what is in one's heart (let's leave out mind for the moment), one ends up with what one truly values and loves in life-and one acts accordingly. One's own private indulgent cyclic habitual reactive subjective transitory feelings are, hopefully, not at the head of that list.
On the high-end spectrum of emotions, which are innately connected to intuition and direct comprehension as well as imagination and creativity, meaning true empathy and knowledge, appreciative realization, transformation and invention, one finds a richer and more voluptuous combination of experience. Unfortunately, to 'get there,' one has to be willing to sacrifice what is known for what is not.
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It's highly refined stuff-holding to one's purpose and focus, but also intuiting the value of being a piece in a larger design and evolution. The balance between these two rhythms is where and when true harmony is achieved and magic happens. Often, just the release of the obsession for personal preferences and to personally gain opens the door.
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If I were to make a list of focus for well-being, I would begin with lifestyle (the totality of one's circumstance and how that is engaged, including job and relationships, and proximity to nature), attending to the physical functions correctly (posture, breathing, exercise, food, rest, etc.), consistent expression of your natural range of qualities, working and playing well and hard, and designing things so that you are doing what compels you. Obviously, you can't give this list out as a prescription for physical problems and diseases, but then again, it is probably the correct prescription. If one were to follow it, any specific problem, even extreme, would almost certainly resolve itself.
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As I've mentioned too often before, we are governed, and specifically our physicality is governed, by fairly strict rules, which are easily observable in nature. We have some freedom to manipulate some of these, but really not by very much. Everyone knows, or at least has the information, about the horrors of ignoring health issues and expecting your body to do what you want it to do with the least investment in it. Another 'authority' telling you what you should do is not the answer.
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Ironically, many of the institutions that run the economy, such as medicine, education, law and even psychology are largely dependent upon failing health. If you add up the amounts of money exchanged in the control, anticipation and reaction to failing health (insurance, pharmaceutical research and products, reactive or compensatory medicine, related legal issues, consultation and therapy for those who are unwilling to improve their physical health and claim or believe the problem is elsewhere, etc.), you end up with an enormous chunk. To keep that moving, we need people to be sick. Then we have the extreme social emphasis placed on the pursuit and maintenance of a lifestyle based on making money at any cost, often at the sacrifice of health, sanity and well-being.
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No one will improve his health significantly without accurately perceiving priorities, knowing clearly what is at stake if those are not attended to and what is to be gained if acted on correctly. That's the basic homework before any change can come about. Then that knowledge has to be transformed into a sustainable motivation.
The typical image of a depressed, lazy and tired person is someone hunched over and inert. Often, the assumption is that if one had more enthusiasm and inspiration, he would then stand up straight and move. In many cases, this equation is backward. But, as with everything related to one's physicality, balance is the key. An overly erect and rigid posture may convey confidence and power to some, but it also causes a subtle accumulation of tension and rigidity on various levels, including psychological and emotional.
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If you, one, loves something or someone, that means that one is willing to, and does, sacrifice for it. That is, one chooses to do and give what is better to the being or thing one loves than to sacrifice the loved one for the personal emotion that is unrelated to or even hinders the giving. In other words, the way to transform an emotion is with a deeper one. This involves discernment and, yes, discipline, which are both frowned upon and seen as emotionless and less important. Which is immaturity, plain and simple, and is the fundamental aspect of human growth from child to adolescence to adult.
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The essential dynamic underlying almost every elite and esoteric physical art is work with the breath, so there's information available. I would only add that it's unfortunate that so much work is done with it, and not much play. Laughter has got to be the single healthiest activity one can perform. Just think how healthy you would be if you could sincerely laugh at that which now oppresses you. I've mentioned before that one good measure of someone's depth of spirituality is how long it takes before they become offended. Imagine laughing hysterically at the criticisms, complaints and impositions you receive. At the least, you'd be breathing well.
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The human body, like the human mind, is best at versatility and adaptability. This is our greatest skill and our greatest chance to unlock natural potential. What that means in terms of physical movement is that a fairly equal amount of time and effort should be allocated to the widest possible range of activity. That includes strength, flexibility, precision and endurance, but it certainly doesn't stop there.
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I look at the idea of rest as rotating one's qualitative focus, not just doing less or changing activity. The role of rest is recovery. If you keep pushing the same quality button (fast or slow, concentrated or dispersed, hard-working or lazy...) for the same component all the time, of course it's going to become depleted, just like if you keep working a single muscle in the same fashion or don't use it at all.
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Recovery through sleep isn't going to happen if the majority of the components of your being aren't getting enough stimulation or resistance to work against. Your brain may be tired after work, but if your body and emotions haven't been challenged through the day, they're going to keep irritating you even if you're asleep. They don't need rest; they need work for real recovery to take place.
If you're ignoring a high percentage of the elements of your entire being, and the range of qualities they can naturally engage, there will be no real recovery or progress until you do. The typical relentless worker is just as lazy as the typical indulgent idler; they're both just going through the habitual motions. To break the repetitive pattern, and discover more energy and effectiveness, one simply must stretch out in all directions, rotating focus and application of the qualities that make up one's natural versatility.
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Truth, or mystery basically, seeks the expression of itself. That is, evolution exists to create more mystery, not to answer or end the existing mysteries. This is why with every 'truth' revealed, or every answer given, all that actually occurs is the creation of yet a more complex and mysterious question.
Nothing stands still, even if it looks as though it does. Look at a light in the room you are in right now. It appears to be stationary, while the fact is that millions of rays are moving towards you at the speed of light (299,792,458 kilometres per second). Even in every 'inanimate' object, particles are moving rapidly and constantly. Nothing within or outside of you remains completely still.
The experience of yearning is a composite of Nature's purest impulse in you (the need for radical movement; think of all the analogies in all the religions and philosophies concerning the truth and beauty of light; if you take it literally, that means to become truth, beauty, light, get moving at 299,792,458 kilometres per second) combined with your unique qualities and talents of past/present/future (experiences, potentials, attractions and distractions, imagination, etc.). Simply put: need for radical movement in a definite direction.
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There exists a direct link, or harmony, between the past, the present and the future. This has been misinterpreted, or exaggerated in both directions, either by the assumption that everything is random, or that there is already a predetermined destiny. There is an actual link, and there is a lot of mystery or room to play and invent.
Every brilliant theory in physics, for example, has been proven mainly wrong, except for the most recent ones, which will be. The big players, like Newton and Copernicus, gave us answers that were later proved more wrong than right. What they did-and why they are valued-is direct our attention to more piercing and compelling questions or possibilities. (I'd suggest the same holds true for the big spiritual players, but that's a different letter.)
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As we move through time, we age, with the general speed of everything and the chaos that that produces in us in the form of anxiety, fear, confusion and negotiating an already-existing war, there is little time and space left to adjust to our developing relationship to yearning. In other words, as our needs are met, the question answered, we don't then move on to the next question.
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The experience of frustration comes from the separation we impose between our yearning and our fear. Generally, we yearn for that which we fear, or at least fear the unknown (mystery, and therefore and paradoxically, truth) that will be caused through the pursuit of yearning. The more the separation between these two, yearning and fear, the more frustration if you are conscious, or the more neurosis if you are not (literally, 'I can't stand the frustration, I'm going crazy').
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Like all things organically formed, there does exist a harmony, interrelated patterns, intuitive logic, and purpose, but these are subtle and you can't find them exclusively by emotional or intellectual analysis. At first glance it's all too complex and liquid-like, and our minds and emotions look for control and relief. To know water, you have to get wet; you can't just sit back and analyze its components. So, do try to enjoy the swim, and don't be afraid to just sit back and drink now and then-the water's clean.
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Traditionally, true contemplation involves an act of devotion, wherein self-consciousness is removed by transferring consciousness onto the thing at hand. The better you perceive it, the less you observe yourself doing that. In other words, you could say that, at least for the extended moments of engaging it, you love it more than yourself.
On a psychological and physiological level, the habits of contraction are often caused by the desire to control or acquire, even to acquire generosity or devotion or emptiness. These are subtle and take time to identify and release. Under this is the desire for self-gain or improvement, to win something or better something. Those intentions are healthy enough up to a point, but to really see and engage what you have in front of you, you have to intend that it gains or wins.
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The transitory and random quality of emotions ('Well, that's just the way I feel about it') is deeply connected to, and largely the cause of, random engagement of one's values and priorities. This very randomness and inconsistency is actually the cause of deeper suffering, primarily through the accumulation of addictions and the indulgence in reactions that are disproportionately small in comparison to what is really being sacrificed for them. Curiously-and a major theme in my own work over decades-the casual association of emotions to love is part of the insanity in all this.
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Virtually everyone defines their identity-or constructs their belief of who they are-through their specific combination of desires and suffering. Or, desires obtained (apparent subjective success at the sacrifice of something else), desires unobtained (suffering), and desires still left as questions (to be obtained or not). And... most of the desires, and the suffering, are themselves by-products of others, established by society and the rules of each sect of society.
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Like everyone on the planet, one identifies and looks toward a vision of improvement or refinement, but/and one has to find a way to engage both of those-what is so, and what can be-with an appropriate harmony that is itself the hallmark of wholeness. In essence, we are looking to create a harmony between the existing elements, not a more severe dichotomy between what we want and what we should be doing.