Alchemy

ALN4: How Do You Unblock Yourself?

Greetings my fellow Life Alchemists!

Here are 9 things I thought were worthy* to share:
*worthy defined as having the potential to alchemize/transform your life in some positive way if you take action on it.

1. Three Simple & Powerful Tools To Create Breakthroughs In Your Life

  • Morning Pages: This is 3-pages of unfiltered stream-of-consciousness hand-written (with pen or pencil) within 30-minutes of waking.
  • Artist's Date: This is a date by yourself (alone) for yourself (aka your inner child). Anything goes. The guiding rule is "fun!"
  • Walking or Moving Meditation: Take your problem, challenge, life-blocker on a walk (or bike-ride, swim, run, etc). Any repetitive movement will work.

For a more in-depth explanation of these powerful tools watch my video-blog:
 


2. YOUR ALCHEMICAL OPPORTUNITY ⚡️
Try out the tools above. I use them daily/weekly to move through blockers in my own life & to continuously improve upon my commitment to living a life worth living for!

Creative work is play. It is free speculation using the materials of one’s chosen form.
— Stephen Nachmanovitch

3. TOOLS & TECH ⚒
Apple Airpods. I would not quite call myself an audiophile but I am pretty adamant about listening to super high quality sound. I've been a longtime Bose user so I wasn't expecting the Apple Airpods to beat out both my wireless & wired Bose headphones on sound quality. In fact, I was kind of shocked.

Another amazing feature of the Airpods is they actually cancel out much of the wind-noise for the person you are talking to when you use them as a phone-headset. This is a game-changer for me because I have a rule that anytime I can take a phone call while walking I do. I was constantly apologizing for wind. No longer the case thanks to the genius of the Airpods!

4. WOD (Workout Of The Day) 💪🏼
A lot of people have been asking for my daily workouts so I decided to start sharing them on my Instagram Stories. This is version one of me attempting to share my workouts. Let me know what you think! And if you have ideas for ways that I can better share, shoot me a note via emailInstagram or twitter with suggestions!

5. BOOK 📕
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. This book unleashed me in so many ways. The tools that open this newsletter are from Julia. I dreamed of being a blogger for over 10-years even though I had never written for myself. In other words if it wasn't for class or work I had never actually written creatively on my own. I read this book and started a blog within a month or so. It's that powerful.

6. RUN FREE: The Paradox Of Cultivating True Freedom
A recent blog article about freedom & cultivating it in our daily life.

Run Free:

The Paradox of Cultivating True Freedom

7. HOMAGE 🙌🏼
If it isn't obvious by now this ALN's homage goes to Julia Cameron. She transformed my life. And she has transformed the lives of creators across all major life categories (not just artists) including business professionals, entrepreneurs, athletes, spiritual leaders & more.

She's published 40+ books in addition to her other creative work--plays, music, scripts, & more. Start with The Artist's Way. It's a powerful reminder that we are all Artists and it will create major movement in many areas of your life.

I recently had the privilege to learn from her in-person at her workshop at 1440 Multiversity. It truly was a transcendental experience. If you ever get a chance to take a workshop with her or visit 1440 do not miss it! Both are goldmines of life empowerment!

8. LEARNING 🤓
The only person or thing that is blocking us is our self. The ego wants us to blame some "other" person or thing for holding us back or holding us down, but really that is just an illusion designed to keep us stuck. The truth is that the only person that can un-block us is the one who looks back at us in the mirror.

9. READER REQUEST 🙏🏼
I am always looking for new ways to unblock myself. Got some good tools? Please send them my way! One of my greatest joys from my work with Alchemize Life is how much I personally learn & grow from interaction with my brilliant audience. 

Thanks for reading! If you liked this newsletter and want to support it please forward it to a friend!

If you're seeing the newsletter for the first time, you can signup here.

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

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SPECIAL NOTE: Readers often comment that ALN (Alchemize Life Newsletter) is "dense." To graciously clarify: it is designed that way so that you can come back to it again & again whenever you need some empowering energy for your life (until the next issue arrives). I do NOT recommend trying to read & do everything in one day. Take what grabs your attention first and bookmark the html version and pop it open whenever you need some more creative fuel!

Photos by


Nature-Play: Our Key To Connection & Re-Connection

 "If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees." -Rilke

Spending time in nature always re-roots me in my own innate happiness & it creatively re-charges me like nothing else.

Carl Jung, renowned psychologist, realized that he was happiest and his most creative ideas came to him while he was building sand castles.

Later he would have his clients return to doing what they did between the ages of 4-10 as part of his therapy process.

During those childhood ages I spent all my time outside. Hours upon hours roaming forests, playing along rivers & streams, walking along the ocean, and climbing anything & everything (hills, mountains, trees, buildings, etc.).

Sometimes I just sat in the grass or in a tree looking upon the skylight.

Connecting with nature.  😇

Connecting with nature. 😇

I also spent a ton of time outside riding my bike, jumping on our giant trampoline doing all sorts of flying acrobatic tricks & rollerblading through the urban jungles like a true badass.

But always I was . . .

Exploring. Myself. Mother Earth. Father Sky.

Communing & connecting. With myself. With the Divine.

And despite the chaos that so many of us experience with our family growing up . . .

I was happy.

Even despite my parents divorce and physical abuse from an older brother who was going through much more hardship than me I still regularly found my way back to inner joy through play in nature.

I have returned to this practice in my adulthood. Whenever I feel stressed or unhappy getting outdoors and connecting with nature is an incredibly simple way to reconnect with myself and this beautiful world we live in.

Though I prefer long jaunts through nature hikes and days spent at the beach I more often just take a walk wherever I happen to be.

Neighborhood walks where I breathe in the trees and plants light my mind & heart on fire. Joy & creativity re-ignited.

At times during the hyper-speed of working in Silicon Valley building a Stanford startup I forget this important connection to Gaia.

And when I do forget it isn't long before I am feeling frazzled & fried.

Yet, all it takes to renew & reconnect is a little play outdoors. A brisk walk taking in the plants & trees. An exhilarating bike ride or a blade session. Hiking, the beach, lawn games & acroyoga/yoga in the park. Or even bouncing on my mini fitness trampoline in the sunshine right outside my house. 

Mother Nature. Father Sky. I love you!

Alchemical Learnings:

  1. Nature is a part of our inner child and our inherent joy & creativity.
  2. We can easily reconnect to ourselves and the infinite energy of this world by simply getting outside & letting our child-Self play.
  3. A simple daily morning walk sets the tone for a magical day.  I fall out of this habit despite knowing how great it is for me. Especially when the weather is cold/wet. Nonetheless, I bike to the gym weekly (even in the rain) so I proactively get my outdoor charge no matter what. [So stop being so hard on yourself, Justin.]
  4. Don't make it hard to reconnect if limited on time. Even 5 minutes walking outside wherever one is at the moment (even the office) can work wonders.
  5. Having live plants (flowers, bamboo, succulents, etc) in the work-space & home is a simple life-hack that can keep me connected even when I am unable to get outdoors. Like when I am feeling like too much of a baby to go out in the rain or claiming to be "too busy."
  6. Play outside is like reconnecting with childhood bliss. It's not gone. We just have to remember. Remembering that "actually counts" happens through action. Time to go rollerblade & do outdoor acroyoga & frisbee with my fiancé! Often it’s even more magical when shared with others.

Alchemical Opportunity for the reader:

  1. What did you do between the ages of 4-10? Can you re-instill your childhood practice of play in your life now?
  2. Can you make it a daily habit (aka daily ritual) to just go outside and consciously connect with nature for a few minutes? If a walk sounds like too much, how about a 5-minute sit? Still too much? Smell a flower or stare at a plant.
  3. Go buy yourself some plants and arm your physical space with the power of Gaia. Any that catch your fancy will do. Plenty of studies out there showing how amazing this is for your health & happiness (Google it).
  4. Play outside. Pick whatever comes to mind. Don't make it hard. The key is to take action. Today.

We were conceived in connection & joy. And all we have to do to reconnect to our true Self is reconnect with Mother Earth & Father Sky and play with their healing touch & gaze upon us.

We are all children of this Universe.

Let us remember.

And before I go... How do you play outside? 

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

P.S. If you enjoyed this #SpiritualHipster reflection and want to continue to empower your life in all ways sign up for my NEWSLETTER! We can foster continuous positive growth & transformation by consciously proactively programming our environment to keep feeding it to us (like via email). 😉

Physical Alchemy: Using Your Body to Generate Optimal Energetic States

Emotions will follow your body. Thoughts will follow your emotions. And then an opening for your spirit to shine through will appear. Suddenly, whether you know what you are doing or not, you are ablaze!

This is a super powerful concept.

They say emotion is energy in motion. E-motion.  

One of the easiest way to get your emotions working in the direction you want to go is to move your body in the way it would if those sought after emotions were strongly coursing through your body.

This idea consciously stuck with me ever since my career stint in bartending. Funny enough I was taught this concept by an aspiring actor who was tending bar at night while he pursued his acting career during the day. 

Even more synchronous was the fact the Hollywood nightclub we worked at was named "Mood".

Mood was a high volume, drink-slinging environment where you were expected to make 5-10 drinks at a time and the line for drinks was always 4-5 orders deep with patrons impatiently waiting to scream out their particular order over the cacauphony of pumping music and 100s of people getting their club vibes on.

It was intimidating for a beginning bartender to say the least. How the hell was I going to remember how to make all these drinks in such chaos?

Sensing my overwhelm my mentor delivered the sage advice: "Just act like you know what you are doing. Pretend to be confident."

Despite my apprehension and nervousness I gave it a shot.

I stood, moved, smiled, and spoke like a seasoned bartender. It worked like magic.

As I modeled & mirrored the physical behavior of an experienced and confident bartender my anxiety was transformed into excitement. The emotional excitement further bolstered my "confidence act" and before I knew it I was truly feeling confident.

The best part is not even one patron questioned my act. 

After a few nights of this I no longer had to act. I was an experienced & confident bartender.

This empowering concept was taught to me again during the beginning of my Silicon Valley startup career by Jess Lee (then CEO of Polyvore, now partner at Sequoia Capital).

I had the privilege to interview Jess for Stanford Pulse Magazine and the one thing that has stuck with me more than anything else is our conversation around "faking it until you make it." She confided in me that everyone does it in the startup world. She kicked off Polyvore's first sale by pretending she knew what she was doing when their first prospective customer called wanting to advertise them.

Jess wasn't even in charge of sales for Polyvore. They didn't even have a sales department or a revenue model at that time. She just happened to pick up the phone.

We were both laughing as she described how she was literally googling ad terms as the prospect was asking her questions.

That act sure paid off. Polyvore sold to Yahoo! for $230 million in 2015.

Even now in my role as one of the founding team-members of Ohmygreen, a Stanford startup revolutionizing food and wellness at the workplace, there are plenty times when I have no idea what I am doing and I just act like I do. I just focus on acting as if I did know while modeling others who know more than me and ultimately I learn by doing.

This doesn't mean you always act 24/7 when you have no idea what you are doing. You physically act like you know what you are doing when it counts (i.e. in a live sales pitch) and then you use all your resources (team members, communities, books, internet, etc.) to really learn.

The point is to focus on the positive momentum that acting like you know what you are doing can create for you and how this can melt away your fear. By role-playing in a powerful way that physically embodies your ideal state soon enough your emotions and thoughts will follow suit.

Another way to think about this is to pretend you were someone you admire (real or mythical) and physically, mentally, and emotionally act however you believe they would act in the given situation.

This framework was recently brought to light again in my life during a recent podcast interview with Ben Sanford, founder of Tribal Edge. Ben and his organization have strong primal roots so it comes as little surprise that his childhood hero, Tarzan, has had a huge influence on every aspect of his life and business.

To me, this is a very fun and badass way to go around living life & conducting business. In any moment you can choose any favorite superhero in any domain and act as if you were them.  

Obviously, choosing role-models that bring you the successful outcome you desire is key so don't go around using "acts" that sabotage your aim.

Darker or negative states can also be transformed with this framework of Physical Alchemy.

When you are depressed and sad you hold your body a certain way. You speak slowly and softly. You can literally hear the pain in the voice. You even breathe a certain way with shorter, more shallow breathes.  

Common sets of physiological traits accompany pretty much every emotional/mental state.   Imagine in your mind the physical characteristics of someone who is angry. Or someone who is inspired. Can you see the physical difference in your minds eye?

Most often our physical expression mimic our internal state so it can seem paradoxical that you can physiologically act your way into a different state, but once you try it a few times you will discover just how simple and powerful Physical Alchemy can be.

Alchemical Learnings:

  1. Energetic state transformation can easily be achieved through the conscious use of your body. Emotions will follow your body. Thinking will follow your body & emotions.  Unlimited spirit will be unleashed by these aspects working in unison.
  2. Modelling & mirroring are powerful modalities for rapid-learning. It's built into our genetic engineering, something called mirror-neurons.
  3. When in doubt... Act as if* (you knew, you were someone who was an expert/master, you were a mythical superhero, etc.) *Follow this up with actual learning. Close the loop otherwise it will likely catch up to you at some point.
  4. Pretending & acting with your body actually does change your phsyiology. There are scientific studies to prove it too thanks to the work of Amy Cuddy.

Alchemical Resources:

  1. Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins (Chapter 7). Most material by Robbins covers state change and the power of physiology so anything by him is great. He has been my greatest resource for learning about modeling & states.
  2. Your Happy Chemicals by Loretta Graziano Breuning. This is where I first learned about mirror-neurons. Really awesome stuff!
  3. Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are by Amy Cuddy (TED Talk).
  4. Know some other great resources? Please share in the comments and I'll add them here after checking them out.

Alchemical Opportunity for the reader:

  1. Next time you find yourself in a situation where you have no idea what to do act as if you knew exactly what to do. Start with the physical presence. How would you move, gesture, speak, and look upon the world if you knew exactly what you were doing? Literally how would you "physically act" if you were a master in this area?
  2. In an energetic or emotional funk?
    • Move! Go do something physical -- walk, run, hike, lift weights, do yoga, go to an exercise class, turn on music and just start dancing. Or jump on a trampoline or go rollerblading (my two personal favorites -- hard to take life too seriously when trampolining or rollerblading).
    • Stand in front of a mirror and smile from ear to ear. Stand how you would stand if you were feeling powerful. This might feel ridiculous but it will break you out of your funk if you do it long enough. Smile big enough for long enough in the mirror and you will laugh. Laughter is powerful medicine for weak states. Or just strike a superman/superhero pose (feet planted shoulder width or wider, elbows out with fists on hips, chin up, and your best "blue steel" piercing gaze of power. Hold this physical state while pretending to be your favorite superhero.
    • Sit or stand up straight and thump your chest while forcefully laughing out loud: "HA HA HA!" [this technique borrowed from David R. Hawkins' Power vs. Force]
    • Partake in a Primal Scream like so... 
    • Take a cold shower. This sounds painful, but if you spend even just a few minutes at the end of your hot shower turning it as cold as possible it can radically change your mental/emotional state for the better. I've literally felt euphoric after doing this.
    • If those all sound too intense, go get a massage (here is a $30 discount to Soothe, my favorite in-home massage company). A massage may not put you in an upbeat energetic state, but it will relax and rejuvenate you so that you can try one of the above the following day.
  3. Before your next important meeting (interview, sales-pitch, speech, etc.) spend 2-minutes doing a power pose.  In the mirror is better, but not necessary. Science shows this will raise your testosterone (confidence, assertiveness, etc.) and lower your cortisol (stress, fear, etc.). Watch this video for the power poses & science.
  4. Award family members & friends money every time they catch you physically slouching. My Dad did this my entire childhood. Every time we caught him in a weak physical posture and reminded him to stand and sit-up straight in an empowering way he gave us a quarter. It was such a fun family habit. Still to this day he is one of the most energetic positive people I know.
  5. Practice the Doorway Drill daily [I learned this here from Jordan Harbinger]
    • Every time you walk through a doorway stand up tall and powerful-like (shoulders back, chest & chin up), put on your most charming smile, and twinkle your eyes. Physically exude charm & confidence.
    • By doing this dozens of times throughout the day you condition your nervous system to instantly jump into powerful physiological state. Then when you need this state for  an important unexpected event it will be readily available.
    • It's easier to keep up than catch up. This simple practice will help keep you in a charming & confident state -- an energetic state everyone enjoys being around.
  6. Fake it until you become it. Choose something you've always wanted to do and just pretend and act until it becomes second nature. Do this for long enough & you will wake up one day realizing that you have become what you were pretending to be.

Ultimately, our body, emotions, mind, and spirit are all linked together. This is both awesome and dangerous. It's awesome when we are in a powerful state of being. It's dangerous when we are in a disempowered state.

Yet, as always, the power to change lies within us.

Armed with this knowledge of how our four major aspects of being are linked we can easily take action using our body to alchemize our overall state into an empowered one of our own conscious making.

Me "acting as if" (aka pretending) I was confident & powerful.  

Me "acting as if" (aka pretending) I was confident & powerful. 

 

Along this same vein is the key to our own inner gold.  By leveraging our physiology in empowering ways for long enough we can become whatever or whoever we want to be.

Use your Physical Alchemy wisely. Your current & future state of "being" depends on it.

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

P.S. A major part of consciously creating an awesome life is to have so many ways to empower yourself that it becomes an art form that you have mastered and can call upon no matter what situation you find yourself in. That is what Alchemize Life is all about. Sign up for my Newsletter to keep adding tools to your toolbox.

P.P.S. One last interesting note about the power pose picture of me above. Noelle (the photographer) literally said to me, "Pretend like you are feeling confident and powerful". At the time I definitely did not feel that way (I felt nervous), but after pretending for that photo I did actually feel confident and powerful. Similar state change story with the photo below (also by Noelle). My dear friend & creative partner Braden was splashing me with ice cold water to get me to loosen up for my first ever underwear shoot with Related Garments. Repetition is the mother of learning & skill . . .

 

A piece on Physical Alchemy would not be complete without a semi-nude photo... :P

A piece on Physical Alchemy would not be complete without a semi-nude photo... :P