Guest Post by Keith Claridge
A few weeks ago, I felt the urge to refresh my memory on the Magician archetype. So, I pulled out King Warrior Magician Lover from my bookcase, read the chapter, then ended up re-reading the whole book again!
BUT FIRST A CONFESSION: I’m not the manliest man in the world. I’m a sensitive soul, with quite a strong feminine energy compared to most men. It has its up sides and downsides, like anything in life really.
For someone like me, it’s about getting my balance right by honouring both the masculine and feminine in my life. Veering one way or the other, I start to act up and behave out of character.
There have definitely been times in my life where I’ve strayed too far into my feminine energy, which left me emotional and weak. I lost my sense of grounding and tumbled into depression.
Remembering to honour and tap into my masculinity is important. It's what keeps a man grounded and action focused.
So, that’s where I’m coming from as I share my thoughts with you about King, Warrior, Magician, Lover.
The Four Archetypes Of Masculinity
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover is based on the work of Carl Jung and the archetypes he created. Moore and Gillette talk about the four archetypes of masculinity that are a part of all men. The four of them create a balanced masculinity.
As well as the four positive archetypes (referred to as the Mature masculine archetypes, the book digs into shadow archetypes as well as boy archetypes (referred to as the immature Masculine archetypes).
There are separate detailed chapters on each of the four archetypes as well as examples of behaviour and mindset.
To summarise very simply:
The King is about order and authority
The Warrior is about action
The Magician is about insight
The Lover is about pleasure
Each one of these are as important as the other and complement the other three.
The goal is to develop and live in the mature masculine while having the awareness of when and how we, personally, slip into the shadows.
Understanding what is going on in our souls helps us create an intentional and more powerful life experience.
The book is very well written and a good length at 156 pages. I find some books are often a little too long and feel they could probably be 10-20% shorter. The authors make their points and move on.
Each chapter is descriptive and gives examples from both history and fictional stories.
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover will definitely give you “AHAAA” moments, as you see yourself in the different mature, shadow and immature archetypes.
There is a quote on the cover by Michael J. Meade which reads, “A bold map for traversing the Masculine Psyche” and it definitely is that.
Even though it was written thirty years ago, with the conversations around Masculinity and toxic Masculinity this book is still relevant today.
Masculinity itself is definitely not toxic, in fact it’s powerful and life affirming when we access the four mature archetypes. The toxicity comes when we live within the shadow archetypes.
“True humility, we believe, consists of two things. The first is knowing our limitations. And the second is getting the help we need.” ~ Robert Moore King Warrior Magician Lover
Should You Read it?
In a word ... YES!
It is definitely one of those books you could read every year and get immense value from as you travel through life and face its many challenges. Every time you read it, something different will jump out and speak to you.
Personally, this book helps ground me back into my masculinity and assists me in accessing fully the King, Warrior, Magician and Lover while being aware of the shadow and immature archetypes.
It helps me remember to have order and take authority in my life; to be a man of action and pair it with insight. It reminds me to take pleasure within the life I’m creating.
All men should own this book and read it at least once.
I've often been thought of as a soft touch, too easy for my own good and susceptible to the whims of others purely because of my happy go lucky positive nature. Nothing could be further from the truth. Maintaining a positive attitude and believing tomorrow will be a great day is not a sign of weakness but a skill, one you can develop too.
For those who believe that the easy going types can be manipulated and pushed around will always be in for a shock. As they do not appreciate the persistence, fortitude and strength of character required.
I have a strong affinity to the 'Golden era' of personal development and love nothing more than delving into old works by authors such as Napoleon Hill; and having just reread the following excerpt from The Science of Success I wanted to share it with you. Hope it resonance with you.
What Steps Can You Take To Develop A Positive Mental Attitude? by Napoleon Hill
Determine how great a supply of material riches you require, set up a plan for acquiring it, and then adopt the principle of not too much, not too little by which to govern your future ambition for material things. Greed for an overabundance of material things has destroyed more people than any other cause.
Form the habit of saying or doing something every day which will make another person, or persons feel better. You can do this by a phone call, a kind word in passing, dropping a postal card, or by doing some other kindness for another. A good inspirational book placed in the hand of one who needs it could, for example, work wonders in the life of that person.
Source: PMA Science of Success. Page 225.
Hope you enjoyed the excerpt. There really is no magic formula to get you where you wish to go in life, but, there seems to be more doors which open for you when you are kind to others and believe tomorrow will be another good day.
Although many don’t consciously realize it, sound holds the key to soothing our souls.
The best musicians take us from the peaks of elation to the depths of sorrow. They can fire us up to dance or exercise and lull us into deep states of meditation and healing.
For that reason, a great soundtrack is a perfect compliment to any yoga practice. Whether you’re working to cultivate strength, serenity, or everything in between, the proper playlist will help you to dig deeper and get the most from each asana.
Here are a few of the best playlists on YouTube to aid in either your personal practice or yoga teaching, enjoy...
Relaxing Indian Instrumentals
If you’re in the mood for something authentic, this nearly three-hour long mix of traditional Indian instruments, such as the bansuri flute, will lull you into a quiet state of tranquility. This peaceful soundscape is perfect for establishing stillness within.
Embrace Calm Serenity
Taking influence from all over the East, this playlist offers traditional tunes that will whisk you towards serenity. Embrace your practice as you listen to sounds from Arabia, Tibet, China, and India.
Modern Vinyasa Flow
This playlist presents the grace of traditional music with a groovy modern twist. These spacy, etheric, and almost otherworldly soundscapes presented in this collection will have your mind soaring into introspection from the moment you press play.
For those whose practice is rooted in Hindu philosophy, this mantra music will perfectly accompany your yoga sessions. From the Gayatri Mantra to Om Namah Shivaya, you’ll find everything you need for a devotional practice here.
Indie Yoga Playlist
If you’re a fan of indie and alternative music, this chilled-out collection is the perfect addition to your practice. Find deep relaxation with Balmorhea - The Winter.
Groovy Yoga Beats
For those who desire a more upbeat, sweaty session, this funk-filled collection will have you grooving your way into each new pose. Once you’re stretched out, you’ll be ready for a full-on dance session.
This blog post is brought to you courtesy of one of our content partners,
The Art of Living Retreat Center in the USA.
We hope these playlists are helpful in guiding you towards a more enjoyable practice that is authentic to both your personality and the tradition of yoga!
Want to learn more about the kind of retreats the Art of Living Retreat Center offers? Check out their calendar, or feel free to give them a call at 800-392-6870. They would love to hear from you!
Become the Conqueror of your life
The minute you were born the war was on.
Look around you today, it's still the same.
Mental wars - Physical wars - Financial wars
Battles rage within each …
goodness over evil, democracy verses tyranny, discipline against laziness.
And the weapons you've been forced to defend yourself with …
FEAR - IGNORANCE - BAD HABITS
With these weapons you will perish.
You will drift. You will succumb to your desires and those of others.
YOU will take the course of least resistance and gradually waste YOUR life.
You must confront these battles or be forever at their mercy.
Defend yourself today!
Don't procrastinate, we've all been there.
We start doing less than we're capable of.
We stop creating positive daily habits.
We compromise our own personal philosophy.
Reclaim your guidance system
Improve your attitude
Create unshakeable discipline
Cultivate your mind, body & spirit as one
You can become the conqueror of your life.
It is not too late to change.
You're not laying in a coffin.
Until then, it's never too late!
Get started on your journey, whilst the furnace of change is raging.
Don't let it simmer and cool.
Act with the opportunity you have before you and join us on your quest to conquer your life.
You can be what you want to be.
Guest Post by Keith Claridge
JUST BE YOU! can be the worst advice. Why? Most of us don’t really know who we actually are. From what our parents said to us, what the media tells us we should be and a memory of our failings.
Maybe you had parents who empowered you and gave you permission to be yourself. Maybe they always said the right thing. Most of us had parents who were mixed up, trying to be the best parent they could be, and were dealing with their struggles.
They more-than-likely projected their struggles on to you. This means that some of who you think you are is actually what you’re parents were struggling with (and probably their parents).
Some of your attitudes and struggles are not you. They are them.
What’s the Answer?
Working out who you are. Asking the questions, “Who do I want to be?”, “Am I happy with the current version of me?”, “What was I like as a child?”
Do some deep internal work. What are your values? What’s important to you?
Have some fun “trying on different things”.
You can have a period of media silence. Stay away from all forms of media. Partner this with journaling your thoughts. Look for themes that come up. What questions come up for you.
Need a little more motivation and a sense of belonging with like-minded people?
Come join our little corner of the Universe and receive our monthly newsletter, mixing mindset, life and entrepreneurship.
What self-imposed stresses are you dumping on yourself at this moment in time?
And maybe more to the point, why are you being a martyr?
You may not believe it for now, but you really can limit the negative stresses of life if you would only give yourself a flipping break and listen to the person who knows you best, YOU. And what’s more these changes can last.
Okay you might not be in the mood right now to agree, but lets ask a few probing questions and see how you respond.
Are you continuing to do what you’ve always done and expect different results to miraculously appear?
Are you doing work you no longer enjoy but feel compelled to do?
Are you stuck in an unloving relationship that makes you feel like a second class citizen? Why are you putting up with the frosty silence, rejection after rejection and constant put downs? Are you waiting for a sudden glimpse of love to string you along for another week; for now and then it will appear.
It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me anything, I’m just pleased you’re still reading, after all, the mirror says more than enough every time you dare make eye contact with yourself.
Unfortunately you feel alone and even more unfortunate you are not ready to change a damn thing with your life. You will continue to tolerate, endure and hope life will improve eventually.
The new job, or the pay rise and loving relationship will all turn up if you just endure the stress for a few more months, that’s all it will take… just a few more months. Without sounded conceited, we both know the answer.
You know you’re lying to yourself, and that’s fine if it helps, life is a constant battle of tricking that little negative voice in our heads. But we have to be realistic too, and unfortunately the lies mean you haven’t reached rock bottom, yet.
You still feel you have to keep up the pretence of being happy, after all everyone else is right? The continuing barrage of ‘happy selfies and happy couples’ pics on social media prove it!
Let me state the obvious, you really are kidding yourself if you believe denying yourself happiness and enduring a poor quality of life is the key to future happiness. I am living proof that major life changes can work out for the best, though it represents the most painful of experiences you will have to face.
Personally I am a great believer in deferring instant gratification and enduring a little more hardship for a bigger return. But sometimes we simply have to face the truth, and that is, if after years of working at a job, relationship or certain skill you’re still undervalued, unappreciated and incompetent, then it’s time to call it a day!
The sad truth is… you’ve conformed, you’re suffering from ‘have-to-itis’, there I’ve said it, someone had to tell you!
You feel you have to do this you have to do that and you have to endure years of unhappiness.
And so the pattern continues; the stress builds and builds, the debts mount and mount, alcohol feels like a solution and becomes a crutch to lean on; though it eases the pain for another day of conformity. Yet the martyr in you remains justified and resilient.
I started writing this piece to lift your spirits and fill your day with my usual positive vibe, but as I type I seemed to have strayed from my earlier preparation as I feel the nagging pain of those still stuck in a life they feel compelled to live, one where tiptoeing safely to death seems to be the only viable option.
So what is the solution?
I think I hear you mutter under your breath. Well, my diagnosis at this moment in time is… there isn’t one for you. Sorry. But come on did you really I think I can help you find your own truth. Only you know YOU.
Let’s face it, you’ve yet to reach rock bottom and more frustratingly YOU probably enjoy the wanting of a new life far more than having one.
As strange as it may sound you seem to prefer the rush of endorphins – the internal drug cocktail – that is released when you want something, to the set which is released when you achieve something! Which I guess is understandable, as change is bloody scary and your little martyr voice urges you to persist!
Of course there is hope, there always is. But you have to be ready mentally and you have to want it more than anything else in life. And until that moment when you recognise the martyr in you is actually crying out for help, and wants nothing more than to hand over responsibility and ownership of your life back to YOU, things won’t change.
Now maybe you will continue your day as much as you did yesterday and the day before. But lets just say, that maybe together we have scratched a scar that has started itching. And that itch needs a itching, right? Well if that’s the case please reach out to my friend Joe Barnes, author, speaker and life coach, he is far more qualified than me to guide you away from the path of martyrdom and onto freedom. Either dip straight into his book, Escape The System, sign up to his newsletter or join him on FaceBook. Whatever you do please do something today, that’s the key, do it now! You will never know where one little itch can lead
And finally… you're not on this earth to be the torturer of your own mind, you are not here to merely exist, you have as much right as anyone else to be what you want to be.
You are Conqueror of your world. Now listen to your heart.
By Mark Weeks
By Mark Weeks
Legendary sales trainer Tommy Hopkins first talked about The Law of GOYA, which simply stands for ‘Get Off Your Arse’.
Of course it's pretty self-explanatory. But for me in times of lethargy I’ve had to remind myself more than once to take some form of action no matter how small on a daily basis. And though I’ve sometimes let myself down, I’ve always returned to pursue my passion of self-development and helping others to realise their true potential.
As a conqueror of your own mind, you too will have to return to the fray on a daily basis, there are no shortcuts in achieving control of your life. Nothing can be achieved without self-responsibility, discipline and mindfulness to your daily thoughts.
Just find something, every single day that brings you one step closer to your goal and reward yourself for your valiant efforts, no matter how insignificant they may seem.
Without action we are destined to be lead by those who manipulate our thoughts. Without action there is no hope. All you have to do is shoulder the barest fraction of responsibility and the world could be a very different place, just go GOYA and make it your very own Universal Law!
I’ve recently found this short piece by Wilhelm Reich hidden away on my laptop and feel the timing is right to share it with you. Please take a minute to read and reflect on your own accountability.
Listen, Little Man! by Wilhelm Reich
(All links are to AbeBooks )
“It is the fate of great achievements, born from a way of life that sets truth before security, to be gobbled up by you and excreted in the form of shit. For centuries great, brave, lonely men have been telling you what to do. Time and again you have corrupted, diminished and demolished their teachings; time and again you have been captivated by their weakest points, taken not the great truth, but some trifling error as your guiding principle.
This, little man, is what you have done with Christianity, with the doctrine of sovereign people, with socialism, with everything you touch. Why, you ask, do you do this? I don’t believe you really want an answer. When you hear the truth you’ll cry bloody murder, or commit it. … You had your choice between soaring to superhuman heights with Nietzsche and sinking into subhuman depths with Hitler. You shouted Heil! Heil! and chose the subhuman.
You had your choice between Freud’s elucidation of the sexual core of your psychic disorders and his theory of cultural adaptation. You dropped the theory of sexuality and chose his theory of cultural adaptation, which left you hanging in mid-air.
You had your choice between Jesus and his majestic simplicity and Paul with his celibacy for priests and life-long compulsory marriage for yourself. You chose the celibacy and compulsory marriage and forgot the simplicity of Jesus’ mother, who bore her child for love and love alone. You had your choice between Marx’s insight into the productivity of your living labor power, which alone creates the value of commodities and the idea of the state.
You forgot the living energy of your labor and chose the idea of the state. In the French Revolution, you had your choice between the cruel Robespierre and the great Danton. You chose cruelty and sent greatness and goodness to the guillotine.
In Germany you had your choice between Goring and Himmler on the one hand and Liebknecht, Landau, and Muhsam on the other. You made Himmler your police chief and murdered your great friends. You had your choice between Julius Streicher and Walter Rathenau. You murdered Rathenau. You had your choice between Lodge and Wilson. You murdered Wilson.
You had your choice between the cruel Inquisition and Galileo’s truth. You tortured and humiliated the great Galileo, from whose inventions you are still benefiting, and now, in the twentieth century, you have brought the methods of the Inquisition to a new flowering.
Every one of your acts of smallness and meanness throws light on the boundless wretchedness of the human animal. ‘Why so tragic?’ you ask. ‘Do you feel responsible for all evil?’ With remarks like that you condemn yourself. If, little man among millions, you were to shoulder the barest fraction of your responsibility, the world would be a very different place. Your great friends wouldn’t perish, struck down by your smallness.”
~ Wilhelm Reich, Listen, Little Man!
Maybe it's a little sobering to read, but at the end of the day we are all 'little men' and we all need to take our own personal responsibility.
If you feel you need a little help with accountability and in taking responsibility sign up to my regular newsletter. You'll receive inspirational advice and a steady stream of free downloads to keep you moving forward.
Excerpt from the beginning of Secret of the Ages by Robert Collier, one of my all time favourite books - Mark Weeks:)
“You can do as much as you think you can. But you’ll never accomplish more; If you’re afraid of yourself, young man, there’s little for you in store. For failure comes from the inside first. It’s there if we only knew it.
And you can win, though you face the worst, if you feel that you’re going to do it.”
~ EDGAR A. GUEST
What, in your opinion, is the most significant discovery of this modern age?
The finding of dinosaur eggs on the plains of Mongolia, laid— so scientists assert—some 10,000,000 years ago? The unearthing of the Tomb of Tutankh-Amen, with its matchless specimens of a bygone civilization? The radioactive time clock by which Professor Lane of Tufts College estimates the age of the earth at 1,250,000,000 years? Wireless? The Aeroplane? Man-made thunderbolts?
No—not any of these.
The really significant thing about them is that from all this vast research, from the study of all these bygone ages, men are for the first time beginning to get an understanding of that “Life Principle” which—somehow, some way—was brought to this earth thousands or millions of years ago.
They are beginning to get an inkling of the infinite power it puts in their hands—to glimpse the untold possibilities it opens up.
This is the greatest discovery of modern times—that every man can call upon this “Life Principle” at will, that it is as much the servant of his mind as was ever Aladdin’s fabled “genie-of-the-lamp” of old; that he has but to understand it and work in harmony with it to get from it anything he may need— health or happiness, riches or success.
When you have a purpose and a vision of a better day to come, you're ready to make the changes in your life that you crave. There will never be a perfect day to start a new venture. Today's all you have. Read the following short excerpt by Napoleon Hill, and hopefully you will start taking the action to move forward.
Just what are you waiting for and why are you waiting?
Far too many people spend their entire lives waiting for that glorious day when the perfect opportunity presents itself to them.
Too late, they realize that each day held opportunity for those who sought it out. If you have not formulated a plan for what you would like to accomplish in your life, don’t waste another minute.
When you have Definiteness of Purpose fueled by a burning desire to reach your objectives, nothing can stand in your way.
Don’t wait around waiting for life to happen to you.
When you know what you want and how you expect to earn it, life will agree to your terms, not the other way around.
By Napoleon Hill
If you're struggling to find your purpose or need a little initiative to move your life forward, get in touch with me. Leave a message below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
There is nothing like accountability to get your act together. All the best Mark:)
Sometimes we hear others say, it's okay for so-and-so, they've just been lucky. Or, if I had his luck my life would be so different! If you're as like minded as me, which I guess you are, or you would have left me sitting here by myself:) Then you too will recognise such people.
I'm the first to admit I've been lucky for the best part of my life. And, I think this is the case with most people if they could practice a little more gratitude for what they have in life.
For me the inevitable downward spirals we all face have offered me amazing life lessons and opportunities. All of which has had a tremendous influence on my view of the world. I've seen the best in people and the worst. I've had great teachers and mentors, and very bad ones. I've put too much faith in others to lead the way, when I knew in my heart, I should have made a stand.
So, how can you create your own luck?
Here's a LUCK acronym I created whilst sitting in traffic on the M20 last week to remind you that it's down to you to create your own luck...
Look at everything with fresh eyes. Your strengths, your weaknesses. Where you are today. Where you were 2 years ago. What you want from life. Dig deep and be honest with yourself. Have you made progress in areas of your life? If so, can they be replicated to other areas?
Understand your customer. Never lose focus on their wants. Are you targeting the right audience? It's hard selling pet insurance to those with no pets. Are you networking? Are you speaking to 5 potential customers every day? Nothing stays the same, everything evolves, your potential customers are currently being sweet talked by your competitor.
Confidence. Your confidence will shine through, the same as a lack of confidence in your service, product or self will too. Believe in yourself, smile, shoulders back and walk as if you mean business.
Knowledge. Are you really an expert in your chosen arena? Are you seeking to constantly improve any or all of the following? Your expertise, your personality, your finances, your relationships.
Remember you are responsible for your own luck. No one else will make today count for you.
Until next time, keep conquering YOU!
If you need a little more help in conquering yourself please get in touch or leave a comment.
4 Quick Steps To Responsibility
1. You are the only person in the world responsible for how you feel. It will never be your circumstances or conditions that are the problem, it's how you react to the circumstances or conditions that will always be the real problem.
2. Don't look to blame someone or something for whatever has happened or is happening. Find the solution. You know as well as me that there are some people who spend more time ensuring there is someone to blame in case what they undertake goes wrong. I remember as an apprentice bricklayer being told to find an excuse first, just in case things go wrong, though it was said tongue in cheek by the old bricklayers, the thought never left me. And when I finally become the 'boss', I'd always look to see if there were any excuses to be made and then limit the downside.
3. Your self-responsibility will become stronger in direct relation to eliminating your negative feelings and emotions. Each time a negative emotion pops up within you discard it immediately, how? You can start by saying, 'I am responsible for the way I feel.' Use the language you feel suits you, but say it with force and believe in your words.
4. Stop making excuses. As soon as you stop making excuses you will be on the way to the top as you have taken complete responsibility for yourself.
Sounds too simple? Life is simple, but for some reason too many of us try complicating it.
Try this simple approach and don't lose sight of you.
Till next time, keep on conquering YOU:)
This post is brought to you courtesy of Relaxlikeaboss.com our latest content partner. It's an excerpt from an in-depth look at Mindfulness in all it's glory, so grab a cuppa, ignore every distraction and practice your mindfulness by reading this:)
Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword over the last few years.
But just what is mindfulness and how can you practice it?
In this guide, you'll learn why being mindful matters and how to practice the art of mindfulness.
You'll discover how you can enjoy the rewards of being mindful by integrating it into your everyday life.
We’ll also run through five quick mindfulness trainings you can practice at home.
What Is Mindfulness?
So in definition, what is mindfulness?
Well, it's basically the practice of being consciously aware in the present moment, without judging your experience.
It’s about being ‘mindful’ of every detail in the here and now.
This helps us reconnect with the simplicity of life, by living in the moment.
By achieving this state of awareness, we can enjoy a sense of peace within.
The beauty of this practice is that it can literally transform the way you experience your life.
You don’t need any special tools to practice it - and just your present moment will do.
As you’ll discover below, mindfulness is scientifically backed to help reduce stress, improve compassion and even help your performance in the workplace.
What Mindfulness Is Not.
You might be worried that mindfulness is just too ‘out there’ for you.
But despite its ties to Buddhism, you don’t need to be religious to practice mindfulness.
And you definitely don’t have to be travelling on some sort of spiritual journey towards enlightenment.
Mindfulness is really just a concentration exercise.
It’s about focusing your mind on the present moment, without worrying about the future or the past.
Plus there’s no right or wrong way to do things when it comes to mindfulness.
There’s absolutely no judgement involved.
Whilst sitting cross-legged or burning incense are often a part of mindful meditation, they’re not required.
Mindfulness is simply a case of experiencing life in the present moment.
The other thing to note is that whilst mindfulness can be incredibly beneficial, it isn’t a quick fix for stress, anxiety or any other negative feeling.
Plus, this doesn’t work for everyone.
You might not enjoy it - or you may prefer other relaxation techniques instead.
You don’t always have to feel good when practicing mindfulness.
In fact, mindfulness helps you work through challenging emotions, so that you can find comfort in them.
Can you remember the last time you relaxed without any distractions?
For most of us, being mindful might seem almost counter intuitive.
We live in a world where we’re constantly bombarded with distractions.
Mobile phones, social media and email notifications have become a natural part of everyday life.
It’s rare that we find a moment for ourselves.
But have you ever considered how this stops you from enjoying the present moment?
And how these distractions may stop you from fully experiencing the simple joys of life?
Whilst it may be difficult at first, practicing the art of mindfulness can significantly improve the way we experience our lives.
Sure, it takes time to hone your skills, but with practice, it’s worth it.
The other thing to note is that no-one ever really masters mindfulness.
It’s an on-going practice - and you never stop learning.
Would you like to read the complete article?
This weeks blog post comes from one of our amazing content partners, The Art of Living Retreat Centre, and wrote by the wonderful Lucia Whalen. When some people hear the word 'spirituality' they have a tendency to think purely in terms of religion, but they really are missing the point. Please read this post and then question the fact that I believe we all have a unique blend of spirituality etched within us, and it has absolutely nothing to do with religion. Here ends my sermon, amen to that. Enjoy, believe and act upon what your heart reveals, Mark Weeks:)
The word “spirituality” means different things for different people. For some, spirituality is associated with religion and is tied to concrete rites and rituals. For others, meaningful activities like swimming, making art, and walking through the woods brings on a spiritual experience. For the most part, though, the word spirituality has become as ambiguous and vague as the word “the,” and is often stigmatized by associations to “hippy-dippy” new-age philosophies, patchouli, dreadlocks, and yoga pants.
Spirituality seems to have become confused with religion, as it is common to now associate as “spiritual” or “not spiritual”. However, at its core, spirituality is a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and is not an ideology to believe or not believe in. Spirituality is, in fact, what gives life a sense of meaning and purpose.
Practicing spirituality has scientifically-validated benefits, making it important for each and every person, not just yogis in the Himalayas. If you find yourself skeptical about the necessity of spirituality, check out these 10 reasons why spirituality matters for the average Jo(sephine):
1. Be Present
The spiritual life is based in the present moment, as the present moment is the only real moment; the past and future are concepts in the mind. When living with our minds in the present moment, we function with greater focus, clarity, and spontaneity. We also feel greater levels of joy, as happiness is only accessible in the here and now.
2. Get Smart
Studies show that many spiritual practices, especially meditation, result in increased grey matter area in the brain. Among its many benefits, regular meditation leads to increased cognition, improved focus, attention, and ability to perform under stress, and higher levels of emotional intelligence, all of which contribute to enhanced work performance.
3. Be Healthy
Most spiritual paths and religious traditions recommend abstaining from behaviors and substances that are detrimental to health, such as drinking, smoking, using drugs, committing crimes, and harming others. Many paths, such as Ayurveda and Buddhism, even make dietary recommendations, which can lead to a lower body weight and lessened risk for chronic health problems.
4. Let Go of Grudges
A basic tenet of most spiritual paths and traditions is forgiveness. When we forgive ourselves and others, we are able to let go of blame, negative feelings, and anything else holding us back from moving forward in our lives. In fact, studies now show the positive health benefits of forgiveness, which include lowered risk of heart attack, lowered blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, and reduced levels of pain, depression, anxiety, and stress.
5. Bounce Back Faster
Studies show that people who feel a sense of spirituality have greater resilience to hardships. Those with a spiritual outlook have an easier time moving through challenges by finding meaning in difficult situations. High resiliency is also a trait associated with the most successful people in the world.
6. Make Better Decisions
Decision-making is an area that many people struggle with. By simply identifying a set of values that we feel aligned with, we can make decisions that help us feel connected to the greater whole and with a sense of purpose. Spiritual paths also tend to support the development of faith and trust, which helps with stress-reduction in times of uncertain decision-making.
7. Enjoy Amazing Relationships
Research in social science demonstrates that humans are neuroscientifically hardwired for connection, and that connection is what brings meaning to life. Interconnectedness, which is at the core of spirituality, helps us to recognize the shared human experience and feel compassion for others. And when we feel compassion, we enjoy the company of others more and find it easier to find common ground.
8. Release Stress and Anxiety
When we feel a sense of connection to a higher power, we experience mental and emotional freedom. Personal spiritual practices, such as yoga, meditation, running, gardening, and other meaningful activities, are all correlated with lower levels of stress and tension.
9. Enhance Creativity
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “True art takes note not merely of form but also of what lies behind.” Many of the great artists in history attribute their creations to a higher power. When we are relaxed and in the present moment we can more easily experience the state of flow, which leads to more spontaneous ideas and greater levels of creativity.
10. Be Happily Alone
In our modern day culture, it is all too easy to never be alone. If you walk into any restaurant or cafe and look for the people sitting by themselves, chances are they will be absentmindedly eating their food while scrolling through Instagram and sending snapchats to people in other locations. People in this day and age find it difficult and even painful to be alone, both metaphorically and physically. However, when armed with spirituality, being alone is a gift, offering an opportunity to look inward and know oneself. Because, as almost all spiritual traditions teach, our Self is all we truly have. Spirituality teaches us how to ENJOY being alone, so that we can truly enjoy being with others.
Creating Mindfulness Experiences for Adolescents
Even though these adolescents’ educational contexts are very different, a couple of things are true for all of them. The adolescent years are challenging, confusing, and filled with changes to the body, their brain, and relationships. Adolescence is a tumultuous time of our lives!
Let’s also not forget about technology and the impact it’s having on our children. Most of us can probably remember what it was like to be bored when we were young and not have a screen readily available.
Our parents would tell us to figure it out, go outside, go play. Or they would assign us a chore to make sure we didn’t stay bored. These moments of boredom often led to free play, which is critical in child development.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics free play helps children develop their imagination, curiosity, and healthy relationships with the children around them and their parents.
Whether we think the advent of technology is good or bad, it is here to stay and it is rewiring our children’s minds. Many have a harder time focusing their attention and developing relationships outside of their digital persona.
The developing brains of adolescents
Myths of adolescence
1. Raging hormones cause teenagers to “go mad” or “lose their minds.”
According to Siegel hormones do increase, but these levels then stay consistent throughout much of adulthood. Its not the hormones that are causing behavior changes. What adolescents experience is primarily the result of natural and needed changes in their developing brains.
2. Teens are immature and need to grow up.
The risk-taking tendencies, impulsiveness, and high emotional sensitivity of teens is not a sign of immaturity but rather an outcome of exactly what they are supposed to be doing during this developmental stage—testing boundaries, creating their own view of the world, and preparing for life beyond the family home and school community.
3. Growing up requires moving from dependence on adults to total independence from them.
The healthy move to adulthood is toward interdependence, not complete do-it-yourself isolation. Giving care and receiving help from others is the model we should be supporting.
Pause, take a couple of breaths, and reflect on your own middle or high school experience. I’m sure you can understand why adolescents struggle during this time of their lives especially if the adults around them fundamentally misunderstand them. Remembering our own experience can help us be more understanding and compassionate in the interactions we have with teens.
Hope you find it as encouraging as I did.
The Doubts and Fears that Hold Us Back (and What to do About Them)
written by Bryan Hutchinson
Let’s have a moment of honesty.
Do you have doubts and fears that hold you back?
What if you could legitimately do something about them and achieve your goals and live out your dreams? Would you do it?
The answer, for most of us, is probably not.
The problem is that doubts and fears don’t just hold us back from doing things we want to do with all of our hearts, like writing a book, or publish in public, or telling our most intimate stories, – doubts and fears hold us back from even attempting to overcome them.
In fact, they cause even the easiest ways of circumventing them seem challenging, if not downright impossible.
The good news is that you can do it.
I used to be afraid of heights, very afraid. My therapist tried for years to get me to go on a guided hike up a certain mountain trail to face my fear. I would not do it. Hell to the no!
I told myself it was ridiculous, it wasn’t worth it, and the guided hike cost way too much. (It could have cost 25 cents and it would have been too much.)
But that wasn’t what was really stopping me. A few hundred bucks were not the big deal. No, it was fear taking control. It had a grip on me so tightly that even the mere suggestion of defeating it was threatening. I got cold sweats just thinking about the mere possibility of that hike.
It changed my life.
Somehow, I finally went and I’ve never missed a dollar of what it cost or missed any of the time doing something else. That had just been my fear rationalizing itself.
The hike turned out to be nothing less than majestic.
When I reached the Castle Eltz I was so proud of myself. The castle itself is in a Valley, but to walk there you must travel via a wide path on a mountain side, at the edge of a cliff, with a raging river below. Yep.
I was never in real danger (I hope), but it was one of the most difficult, yet rewarding walks, ever.
The moral of this story is that when something you know full well what will help you overcome your doubts and fears, but “reasons” rise up in your mind that vehemently talk you out of doing it, be it cost, time, or telling yourself you’re not good enough, or -pick something- you might want to do it anyway.
You. Are. Good. Enough.
1) Money. I give away eBooks and I’ve given away online courses that people have downloaded or joined and didn’t use. So cost wasn’t really a factor. In fact, people who pay so far seem to be the most likely to actually do something. Nobody likes to let what they spend to go to waste, but mentally, free is worth what it costs.
2) Time. There’s never enough time to do anything, until there is. It’s true, for some stuff you will need to set time aside for it. There are so many other things which beg for your attention and your time, but once you use your time to overcome whatever’s holding you back, later you’ll realize it’s the best time you ever spent.
3) It’s too hard. Is it really? Life is usually more difficult when we allow our doubts and fears to control us or what we want. It will always seem too hard, but you’re probably already facing your hardest challenges because of big D and big F. In fact, doing the work to overcome them will usually make things far easier in the long run.
You know, currently I’m offering a journaling course and I’ve received so many messages from people who want to take it, but it costs too much, or they don’t have the time, or something else is keeping them from taking the course.
That’s okay. They shouldn’t force themselves to do anything.
It took my therapist two years, TWO YEARS, to get me to start a positive journal. Of course, it cost me thousands of dollars in therapy, but to actually sit down and write my personal truths, oh, hell no! It wasn’t happening. Until it did. What a relief.
My life changed, dramatically.
I know, the outcomes all seem so ridiculously positive when you finally go against your doubts and fears and win, but what if it’s true?
Face your fears, I was told. What utter BS. Until I did. It didn’t entirely cure me the first try, but I’ve visited more and more castles over the years and those things are rarely down low, and some are even haunted (but that’s another story).
What if it is our doubts and fears that keep us from doing what could actually work to free ourselves from them?
We still probably wouldn’t do it.
In my memoir I wrote, when the student was ready the master appeared. Yeah, I stole that line, but only because it’s true. So, allow me to pass this on, when something feels absolutely right to you and internally you know, really know, it will help, don’t let doubt or fear talk you out of it. Do it. Do it with all of your heart.
The walk to Castle Eltz was the master over my fear of heights and subsequent walks. It’s a work in progress, but I’m doing it. The adventures I would’ve missed had I not faced my fear, and I’ve got to tell you, the views – wow!
My positive journal was the master which helped me make sense of my life and gave me an outlet for my writing when I didn’t have one. I never wrote every day until I started guided journaling. Since then I’ve published nearly a dozen books. Who knew?! You would not be reading this had I not start my positive journal.
What have you got to lose?
A couple bucks, a little bit of time, or something else you think you could never get back? That’s what doubt and fear want you to believe.
Instead, ask yourself:
What will I gain?
Such as: Freedom, tenacity, striving to achieve your goals, writing in public, publishing your words, making a living from your art… traveling to Bavaria to see the Disney castle. Oh, sorry, that last one is my stretch goal (Neuschwanstein).
Indeed, what do you have to gain? A heck of a lot. Right? Think about it.
I’m sure it’s a lot more than you could ever really lose; because here’s what doubt and fear don’t want you to know: you have to gain something before you could ever lose it–they just want you to think you’re going to lose in advance.
That’s pretty messed up if you ask me. But they don’t play fair and we shouldn’t expect them to.
Do it anyway. Whatever it is.
Take your dreams seriously and live out each day to your fullest potential!
Do it, because you can.
If you have any questions about The Art of Positive Journaling, feel free to email me or comment below.
Have you stood up to your doubts and fears? How’s it going? If you haven’t yet, are you ready to start looking for ways to face them?
Of course, but it does highlight the fact that within the human spirit lies unfathomable hate and selfless love. I believe these traits are within us all; the horrors of the 20th century reveal I'm not exaggerating the darkness that envelopes the human condition.
Yet, without this need human kind would not have flourished, it's also the downfall of many a great man too.
And that need is … DESIRE.
Over the past year I've given a lot of time and study to this one topic. And, in my latest fictional book Code of the Conqueror – The Journey, I have introduced how becoming awake to The Six Great Desires of life can propel your happiness and sense of wellbeing or, lead to a life spiralling out of control.
Unfortunately, our desires represent an inner conflict that will never be won. There is no end. The same is true of everyone you encounter too.
But these internal desires must be tamed and understood to achieve a fulfilled life. This is the starting point of my Code of the Conqueror. Without these essential lessons you will forever falter in your quest, to both find and master your true self.
In my opinion desires are the true drivers that emotionally charge our lives and must be the first subject to be handled if you're serious about improving any aspect of your life.
There comes a time in life when you must confront your inner voices or be forever at their mercy. That time is now.
The Six Great Desires
Within each desire there will always be a light and dark side, a yin and yang, you could say. This simply illustrates how we all choose to emotionalise our desires. Yes, it is a choice, like everything else that happens in your life, it's down to you.
No one has ever craved less power, they may wish for less responsibility but not at the sake of power. We must also remain vigilant of how others try to manipulate us. From the media, to our family and friends. Power resides in even the most unassuming circumstances. Stay observant.
Without action there is nothing. We must desire some form of action or life is pointless. But the desire for action without giving clear thought to its outcome can soon lead to self-destruction.
To be loved and to love is the greatest need of mankind. But far too often we become too agreeable and allow ourselves to be treated wrongly, simply to keep the peace. When we desire good relationships, yet put up with bullying, fakeness and narrow-mindedness, we are heading for a stormy landing. Too often we settle for less than we deserve.
No one knows everything. Submerged in our own importance, we can often see no further than the end of our nose. Only through proper knowledge and training can we open ourselves to the perspectives and wisdom of those who have gone before us. We must continually improve our minds.
Times of lust do not last long, they pass quickly. Nothing in this world can be long enjoyed, yet the harm will stay within. If you are diligent and loving, you may do whatever you wish, but a life out of balance can quickly manifest itself into pure lust and continue forever. Most ignore the lesson.
Have you ever desired less energy? I guess you haven't. No one ever has. After all, energy is the life force of man. There has never been a true leader of men who has lacked energy—at least not in the beginning of their rise to power. The problems stem from excessive energy and overly optimistic attitude, which leads to reaching further and further down a rabbit hole. For what? Many never know, but energy creates momentum which must be tamed, as with all desires.
Through Code of the Conqueror - The Journey, I echo many of the teachings of the Buddha, and he valued the notion of ridding ourselves of all desires. Which if you are in a mountain retreat away from civilisation, then maybe many desires can be lessened through meditation and solitude. For us mere mortals though, desire represents a double-edged sword, that will always present in itself in one form or another.
But I feel there is one paragraph from the teachings of the Buddha we should end with, and that is, 'Man's own mind lures him into evil ways, not his enemy or friend. The one who protects his mind from jealousy, greed, anger and infatuation, is the one who enjoys real and lasting peace.'
Until next time, stay true to you and choose your desires wisely.
Writer, dreamer and ragged trousered entrepreneur.
Just carry on as normal, so the powers boom.
Yet, off we go to fight, so young and raw.
Thus, begun my story of the Great War.
To hell with King & country,
Ain't done nothing for me.
Cousins of cousins argue,
They aren't my family.
To hell with King and country.
Home of the brave and free.
Assembling guns, humping bags,
Digging trenches and poncing fags.
To hell with King & country.
Let'em live beside me.
Through burning eyes, comes the first attack.
Shells bursting all around, yet stoically we hold'em back.
To hell with King & country.
How can I let my faith see?
In Flanders mud I tried my best.
Where now, my battered body rests.
We died for king and country.
Why? Who knows completely.
But, they said in war victory lies.
Whilst ignoring sixteen million goodbyes.
By Mark Weeks
'Your energy will not last forever.
The time will come soon enough for you to take your last breath.
And when the time does arrive, be not like those whose
hearts are filled with dread and fear.'
~ Yelu Bao-Zhi
'You have never conquered anything before,' Fear said scornfully.
'So, it will never be done in the future.'
'You are far too brash,' bellowed Anger. 'There are names for those such as yourself.'
'Maybe.' I said calmly.
'The place for those with your upbringing must always remain the same, otherwise—'
'I lived my life long before you all entered it!'
'You were young and reckless back then. You didn't know what you were doing,' Reason added knowingly.
'Maybe, but I've never lost my child's heart.'
Sniggering to themselves, Fear, Anger and Reason turn to Father Time, who raises a mirror to my face.
'Look!' Shouted Reason. 'So, you think you are still young? Your time has come and gone, you didn't make the most of your life. You are closer to death than birth you fool.'
Anxiety appeared from nowhere and pointed to the dark looming clouds. 'Now there's a storm coming, and you cannot withstand its ferocity. You know in your heart how your story ends.'
'Yes, I do,' I whisper. 'I am the storm.'
I awoke suddenly in a cold sweat. I'd never had such a vivid dream before and trembled slightly from the adrenaline rush. Was it really me confronting my negative emotions, or was it a character of my imagination?
Daylight filtered through the gap in the ill-fitted curtains and I looked over to Zhi, who still lay asleep. I quickly checked the time and saw we had both overslept. I would have to speak later of my dream.
About Code of the Conqueror - The Journey.
UNLEASH THE CONQUEROR WITHIN YOU!
Welcome to the world of Zhi, ancestor of Genghis Khan's chief adviser, as seen through the eyes of the hapless entrepreneur Alex, as he treks the Great Wall of China.
Through humour, humility and stories of the Mongolian Empire, Zhi opens Alex's eyes to the Six Great Desires.
If you're looking to change direction with your life and remobilize your ‘mojo’ this book holds the key.
The Code of the Conqueror – The Journey is filled with ancient and modern wisdom, inspiring maxims, and proverbs that will keep you returning time and time again to guide you towards success and overall wellbeing.
Desire is inevitable. Surrender is optional.
Zhi's teachings reveal what every slightly worn out adult already knows, life is littered with temptation and suffering, yet still we go on as before, hoping our lives will change by doing the same thing over and over. Why is this?
'To this point, you have been willing to change everything except yourself but change you must. Either I help you open your eyes or time will, and this I can promise … time will not be so gentle.' ~ Zhi
Are you ready to follow the mystical life of Zhi, as he unravels the first part of the Code of the Conqueror?
Conqueror's Pledge ...
Strive for excellence, control your desires, discipline your mind, speak the truth and exceed yourself. Respect your mother & father. Respect yourself. Savour friendships.
These principles will help you to conquer yourself, make you stronger, give you hope and create momentum for personal greatness.
Get your copy today and Unleash your Inner Conqueror.
What if, I could write a book that inspires men to become better versions of themselves? What if, I could write a book that teaches as much as it delights? What if, I could become a best-selling author at the ripe old age of 51? What if, an old bricklayer could do a better job than most internet 'gurus' in encouraging others to dare to dream. (As you can see, I can keep myself amused for hours!:))
So, one warm January morning in the Maldives, where else is there to be in January! I set about composing the outline of The Code of the Conqueror. This quickly formed into Book 1 - The Journey. From there, I stumbled along, gained some positive feedback and hit the inevitable plateaus. Then, I finally finished and the editing started! And, then the re-writing started!!
But, I got there in the end. I have so much admiration for those who write 400-500 page novels. So now what? Now the 'what if's' kick in, there's plenty of marketing to do, and much to learn. But, I'm happy to have got this far and have a book I can take on holiday, one that contains nuggets of wisdom for every day life and, little known historical facts of the Mongolian Empire.
Though I do have one burning question, 'what if' you click the link below and preview Code of the Conqueror - The Journey on Amazon, and found you love it as much as me?
But the difficulty is to think of it again.'
Having just completed the first book in the Code of the Conqueror series - titled The Journey I have delved far deeper in my own psyche and though uncomfortable as it was, I have slowly came to the realisation I am returning to the man I once was. And, though I can dress my fictional characters in a variety of pleasant and unpleasant characteristics, there are tell-tale signs to my perspective and philosophy of life.
For years I tried my best to live my life dictated by others whims, in the hope of keeping the peace. And, being an agreeable type of guy, too agreeable in fact, time started to erode my dreams and desires. So what, you might question, that's what life does to us all. No. It's not what life has to do. The essence of life is to live it to the best of your ability and be the best person you can be for you, period. You have to be kind to yourself before you can be kind to others. You have to have the gumption to stand naked in front of the mirror and not despise yourself. As imperfect as you maybe today, you have to have the courage to move forward and set small goals.
We all have it within us to be better people tomorrow than we were today. The problem is, we are our worst critics and not our best friends. So, change you must:). And, the good news is, everything has been said and done a million times before, but as Goethe said many moons ago, the difficulty is to think of it again!
Don't overcomplicate your life, there are enough marketers out there trying to dictate what you should be doing and buying as it is. Listen to yourself, history leaves clues. And, the history of one man is the history of all.
Return to your own truth, whilst you still have time.
Never return, never return.
Never return to the haunts of your youth.
Keep to the path, remain stern,
Even memory distorts the truth.
Never return, never return,
Never succumb to their tireless glare.
Keep to the track, always learn,
They will never meet you there.
Never return, never return,
Claim your destiny.
Cross the bridges, let them burn,
Now let your faith see.
Never return, never return,
Never become your glorious past.
Keep to your path, never adjourn,
Treat every day as your last.
Never return, never return,
Now tame your heart’s desires.
Lest they burn,
Extinguish the damned fires.
Never fall into the lion’s lair.
Keep firm, remain stern,
Your life beckons, if you dare.
By Mark Weeks
Inspired by the works of Felix Dennis 1947 – 2014
English publisher, poet, spoken-word performer and philanthropist.
It's fair to say I lost my mojo for a long, long time; with personal issues at the forefront. But, I persevered and believed I could create something which can inspire others to keep moving forward in their journey through this sometimes chaotic and troubled world. After all, the history of one man, is the history of all!
I hope you enjoy this sneek preview. And, your feedback will be much appreciated
A 21st Century Crusade for Self-Mastery
First Published In Great Britain 2018 by Azuni Book World Ltd ©
Copyright © Mark Weeks All rights reserved 2018
The Journey introduces you to the hapless Alex and the ideology behind Code of the Conqueror, my complete guide to personal transformation.
With inspiring ancient maxims, proverbs and aphorisms, this book provides wisdom and practical advice for everyday life. It conveys the human condition through the eyes of desire and tackles the unending complexity of change, happiness, suffering and loss. This book also offers direction on learning how to cope with anger, fear and love.
Encompassing a work of fiction, it combines both Eastern & Western self-leadership philosophies - including the teachings of Genghis Khans chief adviser, Yelu Chucai.
There comes a time in life when you must confront your inner voices
or be forever at their mercy. That time is now.
Whether you shall turn out to be the conqueror of your own life, or relinquish your power to another, the following pages must surely show. I already know they will amplify your inner world for better or for worse. You must confront your own personal truths. Sure, they can be delayed or ignored for a while, but eventually all will be revealed to you. You can't run away from your inner being forever. Wherever you go, you will still be there.
Allow me, Alex, to explain how I have become an authority on confronting those dreaded inner voices.
In the nine months leading to the publication of this book, an extraordinary series of events took place in my life, which finally shook me out of my self-imposed lethargy. It began while I was trekking the Great Wall of China, alongside a unit of Royal Marines, during which, I had a chance encounter. The adventures that followed transformed my life and, revealed my inner truths in all their naked glory. Being a stubborn son of a bitch, I fought against the inevitable but eventually, I began to take stock of my life and have somehow turned myself around. Believe me, it feels good.
Many of us reach critical points in our lives when our mental strength is tested to its limit, leaving us with little hope and a life spiralling out of control. Be it through toxic relationships, dead end jobs or the grief of losing a loved one. Sometimes, dare I say, we can't even tell what sent us on a downward spiral in the first place. Yet life conspires to keep us shut in, confines us, buries us alive, and seems to place a barrier between us and others.
Could it simply be our imagination's macabre sense of humour? Do we simply accept that life will always be this way? What can free us from such captivity?
Before my chance encounter on the Great Wall, one of the wonders of the world, I didn't know any of the answers and, to be truthful, I still don't have them all figured out, but I'm making continual progress to live a better life and, in the process to help others do the same. Before my personal transformation, I alienated so many good friends and loved ones, out of anger, lust, selfishness and pure greed. I felt there had to be a turning point, but damned if I could find it. Oscar Wilde noted, 'Each man kills the thing he loves,' and I feel this is pitifully true.
Before my trek to China, I had been struggling to establish myself as a self-help copy writer, I knew deep down I could help others overcome their fears and free themselves mentally. But there I was the most tortured soul of all.
Maybe it's the mere possibility of getting what we have desired for years that fills the human spirit with guilt and dread, the feeling that says, 'Why should you succeed, when others work harder, yet have less to show for their efforts.’ But I had this and a head full of other excuses to explain my lack of success.
My fits of depression, frustration and anger finally led to the failure of my marriage. I hadn’t spoken to my father for three years too, but he died of cancer, before I had the opportunity to make amends. It was too late; we always were both stubborn.
I refused help from anyone and simply shut myself away in my solitary home office.
I turned to my work with a vengeance, accepted copywriting jobs by the dozen and drove myself hard. Surviving on pastries, cigarettes and espressos during the day, with a heady mix of brandy most nights; convinced it helped with my creativity. But at fifty-three when was enough, enough? My ex-wife’s accusatory words would return to goad me, ‘When are you going to get a ‘proper job’?’
My overly aggressive approach to life and endurance to work though never waned. But I had begun piling on the pounds and my cute laughter lines from the past were in hysterics. My doctor warned of impending heart problems if I didn't cut out smoking, drinking and sedentary lifestyle. It wasn’t a wake-up call, in fact, I didn’t care one way or another.
Around this time an old friend finally persuaded me to join him on a charity walk. He sold it to me by saying we will do it in memory of those we had lost of cancer. With my weight ballooning and my social skills down the toilet, my friend didn’t take long to shame me into it, and I agreed to at least make the attempt. After all, what did I have to lose, but a few kilos of blubber?
As I said, the decision became the turning point of my life. Through the empowering lessons that follow, I was finally able to accept that everything in my life was fuelled by one thing only - my desires.
The same is true for you, and everyone you encounter for that matter. It's an inner conflict that will never be won. But to achieve a fulfilled life these internal desires must be tamed and understood. This is the starting point of the Code of the Conqueror. Without these essential lessons you will forever falter in your quest to find and master your true self.
I've heard it said before that no amount of reasoning is going to help a person see the way he does not want to see. But whatever challenges you face you must see things from a different perspective, and then take decisive action. There is no other way if you truly want a better life.
Let's move on, I have much to share with you -
Can you imagine getting up at dawn and seeing the sun rise whilst the rest of the world sleeps? This is how I have felt every day since my adventure, and it all began with Zhi, the most annoying man I’ve ever met.
'I was like a sleeping man when you came to me.
I was sitting in sadness aforetime and you roused me.'
~ Genghis Khan 1.
A soft warm breeze encircled the crumbling watchtower carrying the feint scent of pine mixed with the fragrant smoke of the morning camp fires. As I looked out from the tower I felt calmer than I had in months.
To my right lay Beijing and a little further the Yellow Sea. And, to the left the ever-mesmerising snake like wall climbing towards the faded horizon, embedded within lush forests and verdant valleys; a few still holding the morning mist in their grasp, so easily the scene of camouflaged forces ready to lay siege to this fantasy land.
As I allowed the stillness of the morning to soak into me I can vividly recall the first words the old man had spoken. I was trying in vain to read in peace and become aware of him watching over me. At the time I had no idea how his thoughts would impact on my existence.
'Words are a thing of beauty,' he said. 'Each is like a magical powder that, when combined with other words, create powerful potions, transforming even the most stubborn minds with imaginations that know no bounds. Yet, so many people choose to ignore such wisdom, continuing to live their lives in the grey twilight which knows neither victory, or defeat.'
As intrusive as the stranger was, he had unknowingly stirred my imagination and also my greatest passion - the power of words. I didn’t wish to be rude and simply smiled, making brief eye contact before I returned to my book, searching for my last sentence. The old man eased himself down onto the rock beside me and without taking the slightest hint from my body language continued talking in broken English.
'Your body and mind must advance as one unit my friend,' he stated.
'What?' I asked rather more abruptly than intended.
'You too tense, you not focused.'
'That may have something to do with you jabbering on and irritating the hell out of me. Why don't you get lost and annoy someone else? Camp breaks in fifteen and we won't stop for two hours, give me a friggin rest.'
Without saying another word, he lifted himself up with the aid of his cane and slowly walked away. Feeling irritated I continued reading, grateful for what I saw as some well-deserved quiet time.
Maybe it's true, the teachers of our lives only become so when the pupil is ready to listen. And, at that moment in time I was far from ready. But now, ten days after our first encounter and in a sombre, more reflective mood, I undid the buckle on my worn brown satchel. Took out my notebook containing the old man’s words of wisdom, and read randomly where the page fell open.
''Some people may snatch a secret from the depths of their hearts and souls that will drive them to find their true selves. But most will continue to wonder… wish… and dream. And then one day will awaken with a shock to find themselves standing in the same spot where they had dreamed as young men and women. Only now, they have lost sight of their dreams and will wonder why life has come to be.''
I’d scribbled notes frantically over the previous week, in an attempt to absorb the teachings of the old man. Yes, I had been given a second opportunity, and heaven knows why he chose me, but this time I grasped it with both hands.
Mark Weeks has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
Better life. Better leadership. A better world. Enjoy today's thoughts & take-aways.
What you do daily is a powerful indicator of your primary values. And where you focus -- over time -- drives your lifetime performance and feeling of achievement. Reality, though, is that too often we just don't stop to think about where our time and attention are going.
So this issue of the Leader's Digest is a practice of renewal. It's a chance to refresh and reconnect with what truly matters, to you. Fresh focus, to initiate new beginnings.
To help you make April count! Your Meaningful Vision, Fulfilled.
“Make something happen that wasn’t going to happen anyway.” -Unknown
Do it for yourself. And... or... do it with those who look to you for guidance or influence. It's good leadership.
2 Easy Steps
First, I'm sharing a quick but pretty profound practice, to help you get clear (or clearer) on priority. It’ll help you (re-)focus on what’s important. It's repeatable, too.
Then, since April has 30 days, it’s a perfect time to complete a 30-day challenge, don’t you think? It’s not ‘my’ challenge or agenda. It’s choosing YOURS. It’s a wonderful way to make every day count this month – AND to “make something happen that wasn’t going to happen anyway.”
So, get started. Have fun. Make it great. It’s a wonderful way to energize possibilities and be a contribution.
Here it is: a 2-step framework, a simple practice, to make the most of your time and life.
1. Focus on what’s important
Performance does not reside in end results; it happens in ensuring that every act is a result in itself. It starts with being mindful of where you're putting your attention and focus.
Begin by considering seven dimensions of life. Think of them as inner drivers that we each experience (consciously or unconsciously). All the time.
7 Dimensions of Life·
. Spirit/Joy: this means inner enthusiasm. Your attitude and vibe. Your sense of connectedness to something greater than you. Irrespective and independent of religion or belief systems, spirit is that animating force we all have; who we are ‘at source’. It is your intangible wellbeing.
· Talent Development: refers to our human desire to grow, to learn, to try new things. Whether formal or informal, talent development is about immersing in change and evolution.
· Career/Vocation: is about your ‘work’ – whether paid or unpaid, formal or hobby. It's your contribution in the world. This is a dimension that is often splintered into what we do for money vs. what we do as an expression. Those who are able to reconcile the two often say, “When you do what you love, you never work another day in your life.”
· Finances & Wealth: is about financial wellbeing. It's the attention paid to how much wealth you have and how well you're managing it.
· Family: does not necessarily mean blood relatives. Instead this refers to your inner circle – your family, your ‘tribe’, those who are your family of choice.
· Community/Circles of Influence: refers to your connections and friendships. It includes your extended reach or community. This could be in-person and/or virtual.
· Health & Wellbeing: is your tangible wellbeing: your physical health, wellness and beauty.
While we may put different labels to them (or we may wish to split some into subparts), the 7 dimensions pertain to us all. The following illustration shows that all 7 are in play – always; all the time. It is a circle.
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
'Did he who made the Lamb make thee?'
Blake thought each man must first see and then resolve the contrary of existence and life. And therefore, 'The Tyger' presents a poem of triumphant human awareness. After all, we all have our own 'tyger' and 'lamb' within us. It's the one we feed the most that will win the day!
richer, quicker or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists.
Seek nothing outside of yourself.'
~ Miyamoto Musashi, 1584-1645
A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy.
Your task then is to simply search for those who inspire you and then determine if their principles and systems can be applied, moulded and refined within your life. Sounds simple, right? And if it were that simple why are there still so many disillusioned and frustrated people out there searching for the 'holy grail' of happiness? The answer in three words... lack of discipline.
That's all it is. The need to discipline your mind, body & spirit. Without it you will simply drown in the endless drivel and distractions of life and the media's ceaseless desire to entertain us and extract our hard earned money. I know I sound a little sceptical, but as I've mentioned before, when you reach the ripe old age of fifty you see the same cycles of life repeating themselves, and I'm hell bent on preventing you making the same mistakes I had made.
2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
6. Do not regret what you have done.
7. Never be jealous.
8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.
10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
11. In all things have no preferences.
12. Be indifferent to where you live.
13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
17. Do not fear death.
18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.
21. Never stray from the Way.
~ Miyamoto Musashi
“If you do not control the enemy, the enemy will control you”
― Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy
Musashi spent many years studying Buddhism and swordsmanship. He was an accomplished artist, sculptor, and calligrapher. Records also show that he had architectural skills. Also, he seems to have had a rather straightforward approach to combat, with no additional frills or aesthetic considerations. This was probably due to his real-life combat experience; although in his later life, Musashi followed the more artistic side of bushidō. He made various Zen brush paintings, calligraphy, and sculpted wood and metal. Even in The Book of Five Rings he emphasizes that samurai should understand other professions as well. It should be understood that Musashi's writings were very ambiguous, and translating them into English makes them even more so; that is why so many different translations of The Book of Five Rings can be found. To gain further insight into Musashi's principles and personality, one could read his other works, such as Dokkodo and Hyoho Shiji ni Kajo.
Learn more about Miyamoto Musashi at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miyamoto_Musashi