The Vote Goes On

The Vote Goes On

Did you vote this past weekend?  Or today? Big voting this time of year.  In fact, it ’s the busiest time of year for voting.  Millions, if not billions, of votes will be caste by the end of the day today and for the next several weeks.  Gotta vote. I hope you got out there and voted.  But wait, midterms were several weeks ago, voting is over, right? 

Midterms did pass several weeks ago and many of us were caught in the frenzy of politics and civic duties.  Election time is generally very intense — divisiveness, issues rallied behind, principles questioned and considered, heated debating, celebrating and commiserating.   

During that time I was engaged in conversations with many people from around the US and the globe. The big question was, “Are you voting?” After listening to the pleas around the importance of participating in democracy (the US is a republic by the way, but really more of an oligarchy).  My response has been, “I vote every time I buy something and so do you.” So then question becomes, “How are you voting?”  This question is for more than people of legal voting age or of American citizenship.  Anytime anyone across the planet buys a product from an American Company, they (you) are casting a vote in the functioning of the American government (and much more than that).  

 

It’s important for us to consider that casting ballots in a box is not the only way we vote.  Perhaps there are other types of voting, which happen more frequently and with greater impact.  Let’s dissect this idea a bit, starting with the word, “vote.”

 

Definition: vote — n., a formal expression of opinion or choice, either positive or negative, made by an individual or bodies of individuals. 

 

With this definition we can move to interesting places, far beyond politics — but first, politics. Policy in the United States is largely influenced by our cash ballots, perhaps in more so than our electoral ballots (corporate money certainly leverages its weight on politicians which effect our legislation.  Some estimates suggest that there could be up to 100,000 lobbyists in the US which is part of a $9 billion dollar annual industry.)  Now is the time to get hip to the game and realize that our dollar votes have just as much impact and that goes beyond policy.

We vote environment with our food and clothing choices.  

We vote health care with our beauty and house cleaning products.  

We vote social based on what the parent company’s (of whatever completely necessary product we buy) agenda is.  

We vote international labor when we buy luxury garments or chocolate.  

We vote animal rights when buying a car or belt.  

We vote American jobs every time we buy something made in the USA.  

And on, and on.

So, how do we take our principles and ethics to our daily cash voting booths?  Must we investigate the integrity of every company?  Must we make sure that whenever we go somewhere we know what campaigns the parent company donates to?  Is it easy to just not think about these things?   

 

As challenging as it is, there are ways that we can match our principles with our dollar votes. Two useful smartphone applications are: Buycott and Good On You.  These apps allow you to align your principles with your cash votes.  They are simple, easy and fast.  If you are concerned about where your money goes (and overwhelmed attempting to research every choice) then these apps are for you.  

 

Equip with these useful apps we can then choose where our money goes and how it is making a national and global impact.  The challenge becomes when we have to change our lifestyle to match our principles. It’s worth the shift; it’s worth the evaluation; it’s worth the change.

 

By taking a step back from Holiday voting (spending) — and sinking into what we stand for, what type of world we want to create and what sort of environment we want to leave for future generations — we can choose wisely and perhaps even ethically.

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and the most important time of the year when it comes to voting.  Caste your ballots wisely.

What Does it Mean to Be a Man?

What Does it Mean to Be a Man?

What does it mean to be a man?

Does it mean doing the best we can – 

all the time, in every moment,

in every situation?

 

Does it mean I have to be strong,

when others are so obviously wrong – 

doing this and doing that,

saying this and talking smack?

 

How is it that I'm supposed to act?

Is it just my opinion or a matter of fact?

When I think this and you think that – 

can we get along, despite our gap?

 

How do I share my feelings – 

my inner turmoil, my reelings and dealings?

Is it ok to laugh or cry

or sit on my hands and wonder why?

 

What about when I’m not doing my best?

How do I compassionately get something off my chest?

Can I scream and shout, moan and pout? 

Do I need to clearly and calmly speak my truth without a doubt?

 

What about my hair and dress – 

is this a “no” and that a “yes”?

Do these colors match?

Is it my looks that make me a catch?

 

What do I do? Where do I work?

Is it simply not being a jerk?

What about making money – 

or is it more important to be charming and funny?

 

Do I have to be fit,

awake, conscious or observant – 

stand for a cause of planetary rights,

or be a peacemaker when others fight?

 

Is it the way I vote, my opinions or views – 

whether I watch soaps or the news?

Do I need to be a good citizen

or volunteer at a soup kitchen?

And what about God?

Oh my God!

Is it cool if I’m an atheist, theist or spiritual seeker – 

what about just a moral keeper?

 

Does it matter where I shop and what I buy

or gazing at the stars and wondering why?

Is it the way I move or how I walk?

Is it the things I say or how I talk?

 

Do I have to be successful – 

what if I’m pitiful?

Decorated as a national hero

or living as an absolute zero?

 

Does it matter if I can cook a meal

or apprehend someone when they steal?

Do I have to be a conscious civilian

or understand what’s going on within?

 

There are so many ways to be a man – 

to be human.

I’m gonna try them all, 

then let you know where I stand.

 

Slowing Down

Slowing Down

Upon recently returning back to the United States from a 10 day personal cleanse in Canada, I noticed the hurry-up, fast paced lifestyle of the Northeast.  I wondered if this was just an East Coast thing, but then I flashed to many past West Coast experiences where I noticed a similar vibe (perhaps it’s just me).  In some ways it is industrious, productive and motivating. In other ways it is phrenetic, skittish and disorienting.  Across the board many of us could use a bit of slowing down — an integration phase of what we have done during our day, week or month.  

 

Our bodies live in the present moment, but our mind and emotions transcend the boundaries of time and space.  Perhaps that’s what this whole mindfulness thing is about these days: taking inventory of self and noticing what’s going on in the present moment — without judgment. 

 

So why not throw a “good old” 10 ways to slow down list?  If you’re curious about finding ways to pump the breaks or are in need of a reminder then the following list is for you.  

 

10 Ways to Slow Down

 

1) Take a deep breath.  I’m talking big, deep belly breathing in and out through your nose.  Connecting with our breath allows us to pause and connect with our autonomic nervous system.  As our day cruises by we may not even notice our breathing.  Take 3 minutes to connect with your breath and notice the effects. Check out the Tranquility in 9 Breaths Meditation my website: http://www.juliandevoe.com/meditation-bursts/

 

2) Take a walk.  Walking is an evolutionary accomplishment and has tremendous health benefits.  Walking while on a phone call, on a treadmill or taking a spin around your neighborhood can do your body and mind lots of good.

 

3) Go outside and get into nature.  Fresh air!  Ahhhh. Reconnecting with nature — because we ARE nature — is something that helps us to connect with our inner and outer nature, to allow the mind to clear and to meditate without even “knowing” it. Some therapists are recommending grounding, earthing or forest bathing as having tremendous benefits on our health. Now doesn’t that just sound cool?

 

4) Dance — like no one is watching.  Put on one of your favorite tunes and shake what your mama gave ya.  Great for the circulation, lympathetic system, mind and emotions. Let it loose and cut a rug.  Extra credit it for doing it in public.

 

5) Meditate.  Meditation is all the rage these days, and rightfully so.  This practice can be intimidating at first, so take it slow — ha! Start with just a few moments.  It doesn’t have to be sitting cross legged, yogi style, it can be anything that puts you into the zone.  Remember, it’s not necessarily about clearing the mind or having no thought.  At first it can be allowing all your thoughts and ruminations to dump out.  For some inspiration, check out:  http://www.juliandevoe.com/meditation-bursts/

 

6) Make slow movements.  This is the physical practice of slowing down.  Sometimes slowing down can be so obvious and physical that it gets lost in the shuffle.  Making slow motions is incredibly mindful and refreshing.  For some encouragement with slow-motion, check out some of these qigong exercises: http://www.juliandevoe.com/body-bursts

 

7) Put your technology down.  Oh boy, this can be tough, but so rewarding.  When waiting in line or at an appointment, when traveling as a passenger on a car or train and especially at the dinner table, put the phone aside. Allow for the moments of boredom to come in, sometimes they are most imaginative.  Disconnect to really connect empathetically with yourself and your surroundings.

 

8) Read.  Grab a good old book and turn some pages.  This is a great thing to do especially before bed.  It will help to create wrinkles (the good kind) in your brain, which will keep you sharp and open your imagination.

 

9) Journal/Doodle.  Putting pen to paper is an age old (well, at least since the invention of pen and paper) technique that can be incredibly cathartic.  Journaling can help us witness ourselves and our experiences. Doodling helps us to activate the right side of our brain in new and fun ways.  Doodling can even help us concentrate.

 

10) Take a nap.  Besides sleep this is one of the ultimate acts of slowing down.  In the hectic, fast passed, keep up, caffeine filled world, rest can be hard to come by.  It is crucial for feeling energized, attentive and joyful.  Studies showing that we are more productive when we take time to nap.  For more information on napping, check out this Harvard article: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/napping-may-not-be-such-a-no-no

 

 

The Real World

The Real World

What is the “real world?”  And I’m not talking about the MTV show.  Where is it?  What’s it like?  Who lives there? Can I get a map?

The idea of the “real world” gets thrown around in many different arenas: around the time of graduating high school or university, after a vacation, leaving a workshop, retreat or even after a long weekend.  Despite its obviously faulty characteristics, we all have a relative sense of what that refers to: work, obligations, bills, things to do, responsibilities, tasks and more.  Why is that I wonder?  Why does that have to be the “real world”?  And why does that stuff necessarily have to be a drag? Since when did we collectively and respectively buy into a notion where the world that’s “real” sucks for most people — or at a minimum the “real world” requires a long sigh and open mouthed exhalation.

The reality of the “real world” is that we have bought into a bunch of bologna that imposes a strange and rather confused concept of what reality is. There is a lot of cool stuff in the “real world” if you ask me. I marvel at human genius and creativity, innovation and technology, art and architecture, history and science, physical accomplishment and spiritual insight. Many of these things in the real world are amazing and exciting.  It is pretty cool.  So, why does the real world get such a bad rap?  

To me, the “real world” is the world I’m in — wherever, however, whenever and with whomever.  It’s when I’m on retreat, at work, on vacation, paying bills, in school, taking out the garbage or being bored.  To me it’s all the time, all my experiences internal and external. And it’s enough. Totally and completely enough and fulfilling. Not all the time is it fun or enjoyable, but that’s one of the neat parts of the human experience is that we get to have a vast spectrum of experiences.  Besides, is what I’m doing fake or phony based on some dreary view of the world.  We’ve, for better or worse, created a glum mentality that manifests itself as is.  We fuel it and it fuels us.

How do we shift this mentality? Can we? Is it worth it? Do we have to be addicted to crafting the banality of real?

Our “real world” is a collection of all the choices we have made to bring us into the present moment — not because we “have to,” “must,” or “ought to,” but because we have chosen our path.  By stepping out of a victim consciousness, passive person mentality, we can open into the place of empowered and sovereign living.

In the quantum mechanical universe, everything is sheer potentiality and it is our awareness that manifests that potentiality into being. We play an active role in grabbing our reality, so why not charge one of the potentialities that is going to make our “real world” incredibly awesome? 

In order to re-shape our “real world,” we have to realize that we must generate new definitions, new habits (mentally and physically) and new real-isms.  This way when we say “real world” everyone smiles, laughs, pumps their fists and looks forward to it. So, onward we march into the realest of the real. Tally-ho!

 

 

A Date With Hatred

A Date With Hatred

In the yoga, growth and development, wellness, new age communities there are many dialogues about compassion, love, happiness, understanding, acceptance and peace — all the feel good emotions, all the things that we aspire to be.  All of those feeling states that we obtain when we climb the rungs of the enlightenment ladder.  Karma cleared, time to levitate.  Purge to merge.  Gimme some of that!  In with the “good” and out with the “bad.” 

 

What if that isn’t always the case?  Are we supposed to shift what we are experiencing toward another emotion when things bubble up inside?  Are we supposed to deny what we are feeling?  Do we stuff it away and deal with it later?  What’s the course of action when rage overcomes us, envy consumes us or hatred becomes our walking partner?

 

Acceptance is one of those things that is talked about when we look at an unfair situation, someone going through a growth process or perhaps just watching the news.  Does this mean we need to accept our anger, fear and hatred as well?  How does all this work?

 

For a long time, I have tried to lead a “good” life.  I’ve tried to be compassionate when others are being difficult.  I’ve worked on being happy, instead of envious, when others make accomplishments.  I like to think I lead with love in most situations, but, sometimes I’m tired and cranky.  How do I then lead an authentic life when I’m feeling a bit shitty? 

 

Without realizing it, I was stuffing the “bad” emotions.  Things like hate, rage, fear, envy, jealousy, sadness, and who knows what other “bad” emotions to be named later.  I would suppress or block them.  Bottle ‘em up good & tight and not take the lid off.  I would just tell myself I’m not supposed to feel like that or be like that or think that way.  I would twist my mind and heart into a space of forced goodness.  Somehow this didn’t feel right.  This wasn’t authentic.  I was in denial.

 

I didn’t think it was ok to have a temper tantrum as an adult.  I’m not supposed to kick and shout because I’m a yogi.  I’m meant to be chill and a pillar of support, even though at times I’m hot and unstable.  Because I lead a spiritual life, does that mean I’m meant to feel good all the time?

 

Acceptance came up huge somewhere along my journey when one day I allowed myself to be mad.  I allowed myself to be depressed the next. Soon after, I felt hatred again and I was ok with that too.

 

The inquiry into the human experience took an interesting turn.  It was no longer about purification or being something other than what I was at the time.  “Don’t hate,” someone told me once when I was ranting about the devastation in the environment.  Well, why not?  I was pissed. In that moment (and others along the way) I began to accept myself and what I was experiencing.  Hatred was bubbling up when I walked down the street and saw trash everywhere.  Rage surfaced when I saw a society that had been corrupted by greed and avarice. Depression joined in when I thought I was hopeless and couldn’t do anything about it.

 

I was running emotionally amuck and, this time, I didn’t force myself to change because of some chilled out spiritual dude I had listened to on Youtube.  This time, I danced in the intimacy of what I was feeling. I engaged with the parts that were enflamed with emotion.  I accepted my sensations and asked myself, “what can I do about it?”

 

The relationship with myself shifted when I opened up the inquiry of hatred.  What is it?  Where does it come from?  Why had I labeled it bad?  If I was truly honest with myself, then that’s what I was feeling — oh shit, does that mean I’m bad?  What does all this mean now?  Must I confront hatred and find out what it’s all about?  

 

In a sense, that’s what I did.  I remember the shamans I worked with in the Amazon and their perspective was that everything is Spirit.  All you have to do is talk to it, like a person, and it will inform you about itself. So, that is exactly what I did.

 

I dropped into a quiet meditative like state and invoked the spirit of Hatred.  Hatred appeared not in the form of a crotchety old man, or rough and tumbly gangster, but a beautiful, goddess-like spirit.  I was surprised at this initial interaction.  Naturally, like anyone in that situation, I invited her for tea.

 

“So, tell me about yourself,” as I sipped my herbal elixir.

 

That was all she needed to hear and off she went. “I’m a bit saddened these days because people seem to misunderstand me.  They think I’m something that is bad and that I’m supposed to be locked away and never to be experienced.  Fortunately, I appear anyway and will continue until people see the power and creativity in what I have to offer.  As much as we think we can bottle things up, stuff ‘em down never to return again, we can’t. These parts and things and feelings dwell in our subconscious and fuel our decisions whether we like it or not. It’s like walking around with an internal, festering swamp.  Best to use those (my) waters for irrigation instead of stinky stagnation.”

 

I was perplexed but intrigued.  She went on, “Love gets all the credit, but I’m the other side of the coin, the shadow image — you could even say that Love is my shadow. I am equally as important and just as cool, if I do say so myself.  See, Love is an attractive power.  It brings things closer.  It is a connection to something in a joyful way.  I’m merely the opposite.  I’m the repulsive power, the one that stands guard while Love mingles about making friends. I am the one that keeps you safe when something is not ok.

 

“I act as that thing that indicates something is off or undesirable.  Essentially, I can keep the nasty stuff away.  I’m neither good nor bad, I just am, and I allow you to make choices as you go about your day.  It’s simple really: Love is the “yes, I want that” and I am the “No, that’s not for me.” Push, pull.  Give, take. Up, down.  Yin Yang.  So on and so forth.  By granting yourself the ability to feel something so deeply, with such distaste, you can more fully and authentically connect to the things you do want.  Peaks and valleys, my friend.”

 

I was fascinated and become a bit enchanted.  “Go on.” I said and we each sipped our tea.

 

“Without me some of the most amazing art, some of the most amazing music and some of the world’s revolutions wouldn’t exist.”

 

I thought of what I felt like every time I saw trash on the ground.  Once I accepted her, Madame Hatred that is, I began picking up the garbage and making art.  It was her all along!  She was the one that helped me generate this work, which has helped to inform others about waste on our planet.  Wow, how cool is that?

 

“Once understood, I can be a very powerful generative force.  A force that can change the world, in positive ways — if I’m allowed. I help foster feelings of love, connection, community and togetherness.  It is through me that these things find their colors.  Without a sense of not liking something — a deep sense of not liking something — things wouldn’t necessarily get done.  And, if you can’t authentically say “No,” to something, how can you authentically, whole-heartedly say “Yes,” to something?  It’s when people embrace this notion that the world can change.  You’re allowed to love me just the way you love Love.  You’re allowed to feel me, express me and dwell in me. That’s totally ok, nothing wrong with that.  Besides you’re going to anyway, might as well at least admit it.

 

“Part of that admission, that recognition is that everything has an asset and everything a peril, everything a yin and yang, everything an advantage and disadvantage.  It is a matter of perspective onto which side we view. And also, which side we think we are utilizing.  Even the “good” stuff has parts that are not always that “great.”

 

She was making a lot of sense.  “But, what about the people that say they hate something?  Sometimes, I would say that and people would look at me funny.”

 

“Did you really mean it though?  Oh Lord! Were you using my name in vain?  They don’t actually hate something they dislike it strongly.  There is a difference.

 

“When people experience me full on, I can be overwhelming.  I often lead to action.  I often create change, motivate and generate amazing things.  Some people have consumed too much of me and fly off the handle and do crazy things, that is certainly true.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

 

“When we actually step into an intimate relationship, you can see that in many ways I am just like fire.  I can be used to light the way, warm your body or cook things.  I can also scorch, terrorize and destroy.  If you’ve become consumed by me, then I can rule you.  If you beat me down and deny my existence, then I can rule you.  If you accept me for who I am and how I can be of service then we will create beautiful and amazing things together.”

 

I couldn’t help but agree.

 

“Thank you for the tea, I must be off.  I’m meeting my friends Fear, Envy, Love and Courage.  Remember: explore me whenever you want.  I’m here for you when you need me, or when I just pop up.  Remember the qualities of deep repulsion toward something. Not only can that keep you safe, but it can empower you to make strong decisions, decisions that could even change the world.  And perhaps you’ll understand others a little bit better too.  Oh, right Compassion and Misery will be joining us as well.  Until next time…”

 

I was stunned at the conversation.  I felt refreshed and a bit more informed.  It seemed as though I had made a new friend.  Who would have thought I could appreciate, understand and accept Hatred in a totally new way?  Sweet.

Screens

Screens

I loves me some screens.

I could eat screens 

for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

And for dessert 

Screens are better than ice cream

With whip cream 

And pralines.                                                                             

In fact, my food(?) tastes delicious

Because it's healthy and nutritious

When you add a little screen.

Spice my dishes

With instant wishes

Presented

In the glow

Of my show.

 

I never travel anywhere without a portable screen

Just in case the places I go don't have them.

Thankfully

Most places do.

So I can glue 

My mind

My attention 

My face

To this interface.

 

I'm happy that libraries and restaurants, 

Ballparks and arenas,

Rings and rinks,

Even over bathroom sinks,

Toilets and urinals,

Malls and shops, 

Promenades and parking lots, 

Cars and trains,

Taxis and planes,

Kitchens and bedrooms,

Offices, reck rooms, play rooms, dens, family rooms, living rooms and tv rooms

All

Now

Have the presence of a screen.

 

I'm so happy they are ubiquitous 

Now that mind-focus is fragmented 

And fractured

Bent and split 

Down to the minute

I can gobble up more

To restore my

Bore

With scores and stores

Of screens galores.

My digital destiny

Is written with ones and zeros

By cartoon superheroes.

 

Wait, 

hang on, 

just a moment

my show is almost through

Then I'll need to text you

About:

         YouTube

         Boob Tube

         Time Tube

         Trance Tube

         Tubular tube

         Vegetable tuber

Propaganda propeller 

Planting seeds 

In my thoughts and dreams.

 

I can be social with multiple people

Through media by

          Typing

          Tweeting

          Texting

          Posting

          Tagging

          Sharing 

          Friending 

          Following

          Liking

          Emojing (poop is my favorite)

          Giffing 

          Snapping

          Graming 

And slamming the 'line'

With stuff, stuff and more stuff.

 

Hang on.

Just a minute.

Let me get this.

Oh, I'm sorry I bumped into you.

How long have you been standing there?

Is our dinner here yet?

Check this out?

Did you see this post?

 

I love being loaded 

Blasted and bombarded retarded

By my connectedness.

Inspired by instant access to information

I can laze and daze 

Knowing I can get my fix 

My boost

My endorphin rush 

My hit

— who needs

           Hugs

           Imagination

           Creativity

           Nature

           Sunlight 

           Empathy

                         Touch —

When I can gobble my vita-screen

My nutrition network

My tasty technology 

My enlivened internet 

By scanning or scrolling

Stalking or patrolling

My bytes, bits, pixels.

My date with data.

 

Screens, 

I bow to you.

I keep my head down

To avoid interaction 

To maintain my contraction.

My neck

Is now designed 

To align

With the sweet divine

Digital bliss fountain.

It's and evolutionary advantage 

I will pass along to my offspring.

They will mimic 

My magnificent marveling.

My multi-screening

Multi-faced 

Interfacing devices

To multiply my multi-tasking —

After all 

I am multi-dimensionally

Functioning.

 I'm a

        Tapped in

        Plugged in

        Dialed in

        In in 

        Updated 

        2.0 

        Wifi zoned

        Free roaming

        Wide ranging

        Fiber optically fabulous 

Humanoid

With my

        Chargers 

        And drives

        And memory 

        And data. 

Where's my charger?

Where's my chord?

I better get this off

So it's all stored

As a record

That I was here 

On this screen as it appears.