Happiness

The Joy of Purposeful Work

Whether it’s putting in solid work for my company Oh My Green, working on closing a new exciting deal, or working on a creative project for Alchemize Life there is just so much joy & satisfaction to be found in the journey & process backed by an authentic purpose.

Old me used to be purposeless & so focused on reaching some self-centered specific goal that I would be completely unaware of all the awesomeness that was abundantly surrounding me throughout the entire process of reaching the goal. This purely self-centered focus on the end goal sabotaged my happiness. I had a limiting belief that until I reached the goal I wasn’t good enough & I could not be happy. Even after goal completion, happiness was fleeting as a new goal arose.

Now I realize two important factors: (1) we must have a purpose greater than ourselves & (2) when we have a strong personal mission the process becomes the prize. Putting in good work is a gift. There is boundless fruit in the labor when we approach it with the right mindset.

Once I developed my personal mission of “empowering people to transform” I finally had a mindset that made all work joyful & gratifying as long as it was in line with my mission.

With a strong purpose, all work becomes similar to a super amped sweaty physical workout. You know it’s hard, but going hard is fun, exhilarating & damn satisfying!

With that in mind, I strive for all my work to be purposeful & filled with meaning. And when you live a life on purpose filled with meaning... happiness & satisfaction is a natural byproduct!

So if you find yourself dreading work, unhappy & unfulfilled it may be time to develop a personal mission. If you don’t know what your personal mission is then YOUR MISSION IS TO DISCOVER & DEVELOP YOUR MISSION! This is truly one of the most awesome missions as it empowers you to use everything & all work to explore & refine your purpose. If you accept this mission you will embark on one of the greatest adventures of your life—self-discovery!

And if you already have a strong mission then I’m preaching to the choir. Like me, you probably love putting in the work just as much, if not more, than crushing the goals!

If you have a mission & feel like sharing it in the comments please do so! It is always inspiring for myself & others to hear all the awesomeness people are up to in this world!

END NOTES:

  1. This post was originally an Instagram Post last week, but I thought it was quite fitting to republish on LinkedIn. Give me a follow on IG @justindavidcarl if you would like to be inspired with daily stories of #mindset #motivation #entrepreneurship #fitness & much more!

  2. Some good resources for developing a personal mission: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, Living Forward by Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy, The Fire Starter Conversations by Danielle LaPorte.



More empowering creative work from my Instagram:


The Four Universal Forms of Meditation: Why Sitting Isn't The Only Way To Meditate

Can't stand the thought of sitting for 20 minutes to meditate? 

Can barely fathom sitting still for even 5 minutes?

Does your brain & body hurt just thinking about trying to sit & meditate?

Is your consciousness f***ed?!

Definitely not. Maybe your mind, body & emotions are calling for a different mode of meditation. One that accesses another physical posture other than sitting.

There are other modes of meditation that are just as powerful and harness different, equally important, aspects of human development. 

Even if you have been hardly awake the last few years, chances are that you have noticed that meditation has become popular in our society. If you haven't noticed and are reading this then you are now caught up with the rest of us. :)

Honestly, it seems like there has been an epidemic of meditation in the U.S. in recent years. All of the en vogue celebrities & gurus are touting it, there are numerous meditation apps available, and many companies offer it to their employees as a benefit (mine does).

I think it's awesome that we have reached a point in our society where the emphasis on the development of our consciousness is widely accepted and encouraged. Definitely a tipping point in our evolution as a species in my opinion.

But what if you've tried traditional seated meditation and for whatever reason can't stick to it or cant stand it no matter how many times and types you've tried . . .  ?

According to the late Angeles Arrien, PhD, there are four universal forms or postures of meditation found among almost all societies across the globe and throughout our collective history.

If seated meditation has not been working for you, maybe you are trying too hard or maybe it is time to embrace one of the other ways below. Chances are you already do one or more without even realizing it.

The Four Universal Forms (or Postures) of Meditation:

1. Seated Meditation

According to Arrien, seated meditation accesses WISDOM.  Something all of us could always use more of. 

Seated meditation embodies the Teacher-Archetype.

Think of the great wise teachers throughout our history -- Ghandi, Einstein, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Aristotle, Socrates, etc. All of them spent a lot of time in seated meditation. Within they found deep & profound insight that they in turn shared with the world, elevating all of us to higher states of consciousness and greater ways of being in our shared-world.

For many of us, these figures may appear to be superhuman and beyond our personal relate-ability. This is often due to the fallible thinking of comparing one's place on their journey to the journey of another. This kind of thinking almost always creates self-doubt and leads to stagnation.

I believe we all have something to teach & we all have innate wisdom that we can tap.

I also believe that we often make things way too hard. Especially, seated meditation. I was guilty of this. Making things harder than they need to be is something I constantly have to guard against (see here for insight on how I've began to overcome this life-challenge).

The seated form is what most people think of when they hear the word meditation. And unfortunately many of us think that if we cannot sit cross-legged or in full or half lotus pose then we are not cut out to meditate. I was one of these people up until about 2 years ago.  

Spiritual hipster incarnate... Seated meditation under a tree harnessing inner wisdom.

Spiritual hipster incarnate... Seated meditation under a tree harnessing inner wisdom.

Many people can't sit crossed legged, in lotus, or upon their shins in the traditional Japanese sitting posture "seiza" (see picture above) for more than a few minutes without experiencing mild-to-major discomfort (myself included unless I have been practicing yoga regularly).

Fortunately, I discovered that sitting in some "proper" way is just societal conditioning & the over-marketing of how meditation "should" look. This was spawned from our idolization of those monastic people who spend all day doing yoga, martial arts and seated meditation. People who have deliberately physically trained their body to sit for long periods of time in "traditional" seated meditation postures.

In truth, if you can sit in a regular chair or couch or can sit upon a bed with your back against the headrest and your legs stretched straight out in front of you (my preferred way) then you can do seated meditation. The key to seated meditation is to keep your spine & neck straight, but relaxed. Almost everyone can find a sitting position that personally works for them that achieves proper spinal alignment.

 

2. Lying Meditation

This is another important posture of meditation that we often forget about. Or we don't realize that it is an awesome way of meditating because we associate it with sleeping.

And in our society if it is too easy or not difficult enough then we faultily think that we are doing it wrong or that it isn't working.

Lying meditation is all about HEALING & LOVE, keeping with Arrien's framework. Intuitively, this makes a lot of sense. It is what most of us do naturally when we feel physically unwell. It is also what we do with our loved ones to cultivate love. Also known as snuggling or cuddling.  

This form of meditation is part of the the Healer-Archetype

Shavasana or "corpse pose" in yoga is a lying meditation most yoga classes use to integrate the session at the end while cultivating healing & recovery.

Shavasana or "corpse pose" in yoga is a lying meditation most yoga classes use to integrate the session at the end while cultivating healing & recovery.

We can use this posture of meditation to heal beyond just the physical aspect of our nature. Mental, emotional, and spiritual healing can be accessed and accelerated in this position.

Shivasana, aka corpse pose, is used in most yoga classes and is probably the most common form of lying meditation.

Lying massages of all types can also be used to meditate. I've personally experienced many transcendental moments during a great massage.

Another, more advanced, but fairly accessible modern day version of this lying form of meditation is Holotropic Breathwork, pioneered by Stan Grof.

"Holotropic Breathwork is a powerful approach to self-exploration and healing that integrates insights from modern consciousness research, anthropology, various depth psychologies, transpersonal psychology, Eastern spiritual practices, and mystical traditions of the world. The name Holotropic means literally "moving toward wholeness" (from the Greek "holos"=whole and "trepein"=moving in the direction of something).

The process itself uses very simple means: it combines accelerated breathing with evocative music in a special set and setting. With the eyes closed and lying on a mat, each person uses their own breath and the music in the room to enter a non-ordinary state of consciousness. This state activates the natural inner healing process of the individual's psyche, bringing him or her a particular set of internal experiences. With the inner healing intelligence guiding the process, the quality and content brought forth is unique to each person and for that particular time and place. While recurring themes are common, no two sessions are ever alike."

To date I've undergone two Breathworks and both times had incredibly healing and transformative experiences. I was blessed because my Mom is trained in this particular healing modality. [Send her an email if you live in WA and are interested otherwise see here for worldwide Breathwork events]

This type of lying meditation may sound a bit out there, but it's growing in acceptance. Founder & CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, speaks openly about Breathwork's transformative power in The New Yorker.

Ayahuasca, LSD & magic mushrooms have grown in popularity among the in-crowds the last few years in our ongoing humankind search for healing & meaning. Breathwork is an awesome way to discover this and reach similar (or better) altered states of consciousness without taking drugs. Unlike drugs, there are no negative side-effects with Breathwork.

 

3. Standing Meditation

Standing meditation is rarely openly discussed in our current culture, yet it is incredibly powerful.

In a way, standing meditation has been repackaged into "power-poses" and standing affirmations. Two ideas that are talked about more often in our society.

I like to picture myself in a powerful superman silhouette upon a sky-scraper looking upon the city with the wind holding my cape afloat.

Or sometimes I picture myself upon the ledge of an Arizona red-rock cliff with the camera doing a 360-degree pan.

And sometimes I stand in a classic Wolverine pose in front of the mirror and just harness wild-beast energy.

Standing meditation accesses PRESENCE and cultivates our ability to honor boundaries and limits, as stated by Arrien.

This is the meditation of the Warrior-Archetype. Something that has always been programmed into our consciousness.  

Throughout history and all civilizations we as a human species capture this warrior energy in our pictures, paintings, and statues of powerful humans in powerful poses.

Heroic statues stand guard around the globe. They often mark the entryway to our homes, institutions, various sacred areas, and even our country (statue of liberty).

Standing meditation overlooking Silicon Valley.

Standing meditation overlooking Silicon Valley.

 

4. Walking (or Moving) Meditation

Walking and moving meditation accesses INNER CREATIVITY (VISION) and it harnesses the Visionary-Archetype.  

It should come as no surprise that many of mankind's most visionary artists, writers, scientists, and thinkers had a daily practice of moving meditation. Many of them were habitual walkers.

Mason Curry covers many of these famous minds and their daily moving meditations in his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.

Moving meditation can also come in the form of cooking, cleaning, swimming and various physical sports.

I even think driving can be a moving meditation. Not stuck-in-traffic-driving, but the kind where you are cruising along.

Same goes for bathing in the shower, a place where ideas seem to flow through our bodies like the water cascading over us.

There is something magical about moving and letting your mind unwind itself.  Whether it's working through a current problem and finding a creative solution or ideating for all areas of life there is something naturally powerful about meditative movement.

Whether by conscious design or happenstance we have all had this experience and as Arien states, " When our body is moving & open, we become vehicles for creative problem-solving."

Many cultures use this type of moving-meditation to reclaim one's authentic Self.  Aboriginals of Australia have their "walkabouts" and Native Americans use "vision quests". Even in our modern day, people of many first world countries go "backbacking" through Europe or road trip through America to rediscover themselves.

Through movement we can remember who we are and why we came here.

No matter the type of preferred movement we can all get into altered states of consciousness. The trick is to notice which ones work especially well for you in your life as it is right now.

If you have the time & resources to go on vision quest, walkabout, backpack, road-trip, etc.  Go take a journey that reconnects you with your Self.

If an extended meditation of that type doesn't fit your life how can you cultivate moving meditation in your life today?  It's fairly easy if you don't make it harder than it needs to be.

I go on walks and ride my bike daily. I body-build and practice yoga weekly as well--two more awesome moving meditations.

Friends of mine practice martial arts like kung fu & tai-chi.

My fiance goes to SoulCycle and has regular "spiritual experiences" and emotional breakthroughs during class. 

Runners & marathoners are classic modern moving-meditators.

My fiance & I rollerblade together. Another favorite moving meditation of mine. It feels like flying to me and my mind always feels free & expansive as I journey through urban landscapes.

Hiking through nature is another personal favorite moving meditation. Whether in the foothills, through a park, deep in the mountains, or along a beach. [Side Tangent: Nature is an especially powerful amplifier and cultivator of all types of meditation.]

Moving meditation empowers me to remember what has heart & meaning to me in my life. It helps me remember who I really am and always provides creative answers that are endowed with personal integrity. Answers that help me move through whatever beguiling situations I find myself in during the course of my time here.

My walking meditation includes looking like a badass . . .  😎😜

My walking meditation includes looking like a badass . . . 😎😜

Alchemical Learnings:

  1. Meditation is a natural phenomenon that everyone experiences.
  2. The key to regular meditation is doing it in a way that truly works for you.
  3. We can consciously harness different types of meditation to access different archetypes & powers. In review:
    1. Seated Meditation: Archetype = Teacher, Power = Wisdom
    2. Lying Meditation: Archetype = Healer, Power = Love & Healing
    3. Standing Meditation: Archetype = Warrior, Power = Presence & Boundaries
    4. Walking (Moving) Meditation: Archetype = Visionary, Power = Inner Vision (Creativity)

Alchemical Resources:

  1. The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, & Visionary by Angeles Arrien, PhD.
  2. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey.
  3. Awakening Spirits: A Native American Path to Inner Peace, Healing, & Spiritual Growth by Tom Brown Jr.
  4. Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom by Rich Hanson, PhD with Richard Mendius, MD.
  5. Have some other awesome meditation related resources? Please reference them in comments, email me, or tweet me! 🙏🏼

Alchemical Opportunity for the reader:

  1. Consciously identify the types of meditation you already naturally do in your life. Notice which of the Four Universal Forms of Meditation they fall under.
  2. Choose one of the Four Universal Forms of Meditation that you currently do not practice and find an easy & fun way to add it into your life as it is now. [more on choosing easy & fun here]
  3. If seated meditation has been difficult for you try it in news ways:
    • Use a personally comfortable sitting position.
    • Try out different types of seated meditation. I.E. Breath-based, guided, body-scan, mantra-based, chanting, listening to binaural beats, etc.
    • Try using an app like Headspace.
  4. Want to go deeper? Try a breathwork, go on a vision quest, partake in a weekend meditation or yoga retreat, take a road-trip, or even go backpacking through a part of the world that has been silently calling to you.
“As gold purified in a furnace loses its impurities and achieves its own true nature, the mind gets rid of the impurities of the attributes of delusion, attachment and purity through meditation and attains Reality.” – Adi Shankara

Developing our consciousness is a worthy cause for all of us. It empowers our lives in so many ways and there is a huge growing body of scientific evidence that supports the positive effects of meditation on all areas of life.

But more importantly, meditation does not have to be hard. It is something all of us can do. If we take a little conscious energy to explore we can find ways to meditate that suit us particularly well. And in doing so we can return to our Self, mine our inner gold, and be of the highest benefit to everyone we come into connection with. Including ourselves.

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

P.S. My mission is to empower people & organizations to transform & self-actualize. Meditation & consciousness development is a huge part of that. If you enjoyed this article please share it! 🙏🏼

 

 

 

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). 😉