Healing

You Must Do The Thing You Think You Cannot Do: A Ride Along Guide To Doing Challenging Things That Will Change Your Life

“I can’t do that. I’m not ready. That’s not who I am.”

Those were the first thoughts that entered my mind. Filled with fear of the unknown my mind tried to convince me to pass on the opportunity.

Without even giving it a chance, my mind said "No." Avoiding adversity & discomfort was its priority.

Fortunately, something in my heart was stirred. A sleeping giant began to awaken from the request.

The Back Story:

The Four Seasons Silicon Valley in Palo Alto reached out to me on Instagram. They were looking to partner with a local online influencer in the fitness/wellness space to spread awareness about the inaugural RBC Gran Fondo Silicon Valley event they were hosting.

A "Gran Fondo" means "Big Ride" in italian and this event would be composed of 1000+ cyclists covering approximately 75-miles & 7000 feet of elevation gain through the lush land of Northern California. The ride would start at the Four Seasons in Palo Alto and then go up & over the Santa Cruz mountains to the Ocean and back.

I was honored by the invitation, but my mind was screaming "You're not a cyclist! You don't even have a proper bike! And you've never done more than 10-15 miles on a bike and you have no training climbing a massive hill! Don't do this! You will look like a fool! You will fail! And what will people think when you do?!"

During my meeting with the hotel staff in charge of the event I wanted to say "No thanks, I'm not a cyclist" but fortunately I kept my mouth shut and told them I would think about it. I left the meeting doubting myself.

That evening I shared the opportunity with my partner. She quietly listened to me rant about how I wasn't a cyclist and how I should turn this opportunity down because it wasn't who I was and it would be too much effort for not enough reward. My limited mind was winning the battle…

Fortunately, my fiancé is a visionary and pretty much always sees infinite possibility when I'm self-sequestering myself in a dark corner. After I had finished explaining to her how I couldn't do it she pointed out a few things I missed.

  1. It's the Four Seasons--one of the most powerful brands worldwide with immaculate & stunning properties in many of the most amazing places across the globe. I'd be foolish not to work with them.

  2. This was an amazing opportunity to grow my positive influence & create a positive impact upon a greater audience by partnering with an awesome company.

  3. My whole message is about empowering people to transform & self-actualize. Here was an opportunity for me to transform & openly share the process with others.

I wasn't fully convinced, but I did decide to sleep on it.

Something awoke while my mind slept that night. The next morning, first thing upon waking, I emailed the Four Seasons and committed to doing the cycling event.

It wasn’t until after officially committing to the Opportunity that the real magic began to happen.

With only 5-days until the event, I didn't even have a bike. At least not one with actual gears that allow you to climb a mountain. I didn't have a helmet or shoes. I definitely didn't have the ever so crucial riding bib--this is the thing you wear to protect your crotch & tailbone from being injured from excessive riding on a hard ass bicycle seat for several hours.

I didn't know how to clip into pedals, change gears, or climb insane hills on a bike.

Yet, the mind is an amazing machine. When you give it clear direction, purpose, a goal & officially make a decision its gears begin to whir and figure it all out.

I started sharing with my work colleagues that I was going to do the event and soon enough I found out that one of my best friends at my company, Henry Edelson, was super interested in doing the event with me as a an avid cyclist. I reached out to the Four Seasons and asked if he could participate with me and they were more than happy to have him join me. Now I had a partner for the journey!

I kept talking about the event with the people in my life and soon discovered that our Head of Culinary at Oh My Green, Deryck, was also a longtime cyclist and one of his favorite things to do was get people into cycling. He also just happened to get back his loaner bike he lends out like a gateway-drug to get people hooked on the sport. He happily let me know I could borrow it and find out if I enjoyed the sport and that if I ended up liking it I could borrow it until I was ready to get my own. He also had extra shoes & a helmet.

On Tuesday, 4 days from the event, Derrick & I linked up and miraculously the bike, shoes & helmet fit perfectly. For those who are unfamiliar with cycling like myself, having the bike fit your body size is absolutely integral to going long distances without ruining your body.

And for the record, the bike wasn't some beater. Nope! It was a few years old Bianchi, the oldest bike company in the world. It wasn't the absolute latest & greatest, but it was the top of the line when it was released. More than good enough for me.

Next up was figuring out my riding uniform. I reached out to the rest of Oh My Green executive team and asked if they would like to sponsor the uniform for me & my colleague so we could represent our company in the event. Our company mission is to "empower people to live healthy & blissful lives" and supporting a local mission-aligned event & two company team members living the mission in real life was right on par with the company's endeavors. Suddenly we were sponsored riders.

I found us super sleek Pedal Mafia riding uniforms at Cognition Cyclery in San Mateo, California through a recommendation of another colleague at another company who was a triathlete. 

While I was working on the gear I would need for the cycling event I also reached out to Braden Torras of Alpine Northwest, a super talented videographer (among many other things) and Avni of Glass Locket Film, a delightfully gifted photographer, to see if they would be willing to cover the event with high fidelity photo & video. They were both thrilled at the opportunity to work with the Four Seasons in Silicon Valley. I'm still amazed they were both available on such short notice in addition to all of the gear lining up so magically, but like Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

Once you make a decision, the Universe conspires to make it happen.

With only a few days left until the 75-mile ride I had everything I would need to fully participate. I even got in two short 6-8 miles rides on my new-to-me bike to learn how to clip in and change gears before the event.

On Friday night I checked my team into the Four Seasons Hotel in East Palo Alto, registered for the ride, signed a liability waiver, got my race number and had an epic team dinner around a fireplace on the patio of The Quattro Restaurant--the extremely elegant italian restaurant nestled in the corner of the hotel. Nothing like fueling up on a divine dinner with friends & family over the fireplace before a big journey. There was something tribal & mystical about the fireside dinner. A throwback to a time when we would gather next to the heat of the fire under the stars, shares stories & fuel up together for an upcoming journey.

The Ride of a Lifetime:

The morning of the event was magic in its own right. During the spring & summer months I tend to naturally wake up very early, usually 3-5am. I also tend to have incredibly high energy in the beginning of the day. So I was up early as usual, around 4am. My energy was flowing at an all-time high. I wasn't bouncing off walls. No, this energy was like a strong pulsating bass-line pumping throughout my being. Not frenetic, but instead a powerful rumble like thunder in the distance.

I had chosen to sleep in my own bed at home and meet my team at the hotel in the morning so that I could get the best sleep possible. I methodically gathered my gear and greeted the day with my fiance’.

Yoga at the rooftop pool of the Four Seasons Palo Alto. [yoga mat by    Apeiron   ]

Yoga at the rooftop pool of the Four Seasons Palo Alto. [yoga mat by Apeiron]

First on the days agenda was a video/photo shoot at the gorgeous rooftop pool of the Four Seasons. The idea was to capture me preparing for this event as I would normally. And that we did!

My typical daily warm-up includes yoga & intentional movement. Avni captured pictures of me in various poses, while Braden caught me rising with the sun on a drone. It was superbly epic and a very powerful way to start the day.

Next up was changing into my actual riding uniform and lining up for the start of ride with my colleague Henry and capturing all of that on film & video. This is when things started to get real wild.

Henry & I lining up for start of the Gran Fondo.

Henry & I lining up for start of the Gran Fondo.

There were 1000+ riders getting ready to go out for this Big Ride. We were being grouped together in waves and there were numerous countdowns as each group got released.

It was loud, crazy & I loved every minute of it! I could literally feel the anticipation of all the other riders washing over me adding to my own.

While waiting for our wave of riders to get released onto the course, Avni snapped shots & Braden filmed while I double checked I had everything for the ride and scarfed down some of Henry's food. Normally, I fast until noon or later but I figured I better have something in my stomach for the long journey ahead.

The starting gun went off and our group started the course. Henry & I rolled out with some celebratory hoots, hollers & goodbyes to our crew (and of course some expressions of love to the ever supportive fiancé).

As we started out I checked in with myself. I felt good on the bike and mentally told myself "I can do this!" During the first 10 minutes of the ride Henry proceeded to share stories about David Goggins--a navy seal & ultra endurance athlete who has an insane story of how he got into endurance sports. I was both inspired & intimidated by these stories. Henry said Goggin’s story reminded me of him in how he didn't train for his first foray into endurance sports.

The first part of the cycling event went fairly well until we hit our first major intersection with cars and a stop light. We were on a hill in a group of about 60 riders and when the light turned green I panicked getting clipped in, my foot slipped, and I slammed my knee into the pedal. Mild bleeding & pain ensued. We were only 20 minutes into the hours long course. Not the best start, but at least I was still able to continue on.

One thing that really hit me right within those first 10-20 minutes of the ride was how friendly and awesome the community of riders were. RBC Gran Fondo definitely built a special culture with their cycling events. We all chatted as we road together getting to know one another. Funny enough, people could hardly believe this was my first cycling event saying that I "looked like professional cyclist." Nothing like a sweet bike & cycling outfit to help me fake it. Being in fairly good shape from my numerous weekly fitness activities didn't hurt either.

Next up was my first major hill climb--something which I had no practice or training with. Fortunately, I spent some of those first 30 minutes chatting through hill climbing strategy with Henry so at least conceptually I had an understanding of how to use the gears and my body together to climb hardcore inclines. It wasn't long until I had to put theory into practice on the infamous Kings Mountain.

Other riders had shared Henry's climbing philosophy saying things like "don't try to be a hero and blast up the mountain, just get into your lowest gear and put in steady & constant work."

Kings Mountain was a total beast. Miles of climbing through lush Redwood forests. It was epically beautiful with ever increasing stunning views as we continued the ascent. 

Honestly, just looking up at the radical grades gave me shivers, but when I focused on just putting in the work for a few grueling miles I realized, "Holy fuck! I can do this! I can climb massive hills on a bike!"

My strategy to get up this beautiful mountain quickly evolved into just picking a rider or two in front of me and keeping pace with them. I didn't try to pass them up. I just followed along as best I could. I really had no idea how to pace myself so I figured it was better to model other riders who were surely more experienced than me.

When things got really hard, and they did, I would chant to myself, "I am strong. I am worthy." Over and over again I would say these empowering words and magically it seemed to draw forth inner strength I didn't know I had. Up the hill I climbed. And climbed.

Ultimately, I conquered Kings Mountain and made it to the first rest stop. And this is where I made my first major mistake.

Normally, I am a super healthy eater. Massive amounts of vegetables and lean proteins make up the majority of my food consumption. Very little processed junky food. However, at the first rest stop there were some not so healthy options (along with some good healthy options) that included M&M's, cookies, and other sweets chalk full of refined sugar and other manmade ingredients I can't even pronounce, much less have any understanding of what they are or where they came from. Most of the time I avoid stuff like this, but after spending a couple hours climbing a ridiculous hill I figured my body could use all the fuel it could get. "Heck, I still got a few more hours in the saddle and I'll be burning massive calories all day long. I can afford to eat some junk," I thought to myself. I proceeded to gobble down a few handfuls of M&M's and other sugary treats. Within minutes I was sky-high on one of the most addictive drugs ever known to mankind--refined sugar.

This first rest stop was also the beginning of my 2nd major mistake. They were handing out gel packs, the ones endurance athletes use to quickly get sodium and calories into their bodies during long grueling races. These ones also happened to contain a 20mg hit of caffeine. I grabbed about 5 of them and put them into my pocket to help me get through the rest of the ride.

During the climb of Kings Mountain Henry had went ahead at his own pace. As a regular cyclist my beginner pace was a bit slow for him, plus he wanted to see what he had so he pushed on ahead. He waited for me at first rest stop so we could start the next leg of the journey together.

After fueling up our bodies, using the restrooms and doing a little bit of stretching we hit the road again. This is where my 3rd major mistake began. 

At least half of the next leg was downhill. Similar to climbing massive hills on bikes, I haven't ever gone down miles long stretches of downhill road on a bike.

Irregardless of my inexperience, I bombed down the hills on my bike with Henry. We took turns leading. It was goddamn exhilarating! And despite it being fairly scary as a beginner, my adrenaline was pumping so high that it wasn't too hard to overcome the fear and just hyper-focus on scanning the road ahead for upcoming turns and objects on the road that could end my ride (or my life).

There is something about having to be so focused on the task at hand that pushes you into a state of flow. One where time ceases to exist, your Spirit comes alive, and life just feels so grand. Flying down a road on a human-powered mechanical machine at speeds up to 50+ mph definitely did that for me.

I ended up surviving & thriving through my first major downhill traverse on the bike, but when it was time to climb the next hill I hit my first massive roadblock. Within 10-15 seconds of beginning the next hill climb both my quads completely cramped up and my knees locked out. In other words, both my legs were stuck completely straight and I couldn't even bend my knees.

Somehow I managed to get myself to the side of the road without crashing and I laid down. Without having to worry about not crashing my bike I put all my mental energy into attempting to bed my knees. I couldn't do it. My legs were stuck straight. Henry hadn’t even noticed I had fallen behind and was already out of sight.

Amazingly, I didn't panic. Instead I told myself I would be patient and think this through & evaluate my options.

Within moments of analysis I realized why my legs had cramped up so bad. The entire 20-30 minute downhill ride I had ridden in a crouched position with my pedals parallel to one another and both my legs holding up my entire body weight. Essentially, I had held a staggered squat for close to half an hour. Pumped full of adrenaline & overly focused on making it down the hill safely I had managed to do this, but now that the adrenaline had left me and it was time to get back to the slow & steady work of climbing a hill my legs were completely toast.

I later learned that when you are bombing down hills you have to keep your legs moving and take time sitting down on the seat to allow your legs to recover. Otherwise if you hold a sustained staggered squat you will ruin yourself for the next climb.

As I laid there on the side of the road weighing my options I crushed all the water I had on me. I figured at least part of the cramping was due to dehydration. 

Other cyclists who passed me asked if I was okay and if I needed water. This concern & looking out for other cyclists is something that I soon learned is very common among the cycling community.

I explained to them that I had cramped up and was just taking a break waiting for my legs to un-cramp. They half-jokingly said that at least I looked really good lying down on the side of the road--thank you again Oh My Green for the Pedal Mafia uniform! We all laughed as they proceeded on.

As I laid there on the side of the road I thought through things. I definitely wanted to continue the journey so the only thing I could do was to see if my legs would actually un-cramp so that I could actually physically continue on. I told myself I would be patient and focus my mind on encouraging my quads to release. Shortly after making this decision one of the first responders who roam around the cycling course was driving by and saw me. He stopped to see if I was okay. Pat was his name and he was part of the RBC Gran Fondo crew. I told him what had happened and he offered me a ride home or some water. I chose the water and told him I really wanted to continue on.

As we were chatting my legs finally let go. My ability to bend my knees returned! I wasn't done yet! I told Pat I was good to go and asked for an additional bottle of water to refill my own.

Then I got back on the saddle and started climbing again.

Gratefully, my legs stayed unstuck. I got back to putting in the diligent work of grinding the mountain out. My will against the hill. Eventually, I caught up to another rider and just used him to set my pace against until I reached the next rest stop. By this time I was just trying survive the journey, all thoughts of being a hero were gone.

At the next rest stop I continued to double down on my previous mistakes--junk food & caffeinated gels. Nonetheless, I was extremely happy with my progress. I had made it over the Santa Cruz Mountains’ punishing 7,000 feet of elevation gain and road down the other side at breakneck speeds and lived to tell the story. Again, this was done with almost no training so the fact that I made it the Ocean from Palo Alto on a bike was a massive personal win already. I truly was surprised that I actually made it this far, especially after almost having to tap out with my legs locking up.

Henry had waited at this rest stop for me. It was at this halfway point that we decided it was best for him to continue on at his own pace and for me to continue on at my own. I was okay with this and definitely wanted to Henry to finish.

After a brief respite which included scarfing down delicious cookies and using the restroom I was back on the horse and headed back to Kings Mountain for another test of my body & willpower.

The next leg of the journey took me through rolling hills out near the Ocean. It was magical cycling through the fields, a tunnel of trees & other serenely beautiful open landscapes. It was a long way to the next rest stop but the number of intense hills was minimal and it was more about cruising along at a good clip. After probably the most peaceful portion of my ride I made it to the next rest stop.

I crushed more food, healthy & junk, refilled my water bottles, grabbed some more caffeinated gel packs, used the restroom and got back on the road yet again.

It was shortly after the third rest stop while I was diligently working my way up yet another hill that I hit a new level in the Quest. As I was methodically pedaling away in the never-ending circular motion of cycling I felt decades long held emotions deep in the wells of my body break open & release. It was raw unprocessed emotions that I had failed to work through and instead stored in my body. As I cycled through these long-forgotten & mysterious emotions I felt waves of energy cascading out from my lower chakras to the edges of all points of my body--head, hands & feet. Tears burst from my eyes while I was wracked by deep sighs & sobs, yet at the same time I was experiencing massive euphoria.


In order to move to each next level of life we must face & embrace the darkness…

In order to move to each next level of life we must face & embrace the darkness…

It was transcendental. One of those rare peak life experiences that remain so vividly burned into your psyche forevermore.

I couldn't tell you how long it lasted, but whatever came up I cycled through it until it was done releasing. One of the deepest emotional, psychological & spiritual cleanses I’ve been through.

Without stopping, I continued to cycle onto & up Kings Mountain. Again.

Going up the other side of Kings Mountain seemed infinitely harder than the first trek up the Mountain. This is likely because I'd already been on my bike for 5+ hours and already climbed so much hill it was hard to even mentally conceptualize adding more the journey. I'd already come so far.

Nonetheless, I told myself I would continue for as long as possible while listening to my body. At the last rest stop the RBC Gran Fondo team had offered me a ride up the infamous Kings Mountain, but wanting to truly test my limits I passed.

I pedaled & pushed my way back up the mountain. Slowly. Methodically. Soaking in the magical Redwoods. Asking them for help. Digging deep into myself. Exploring new terrain internally & externally.

A little bit more. A little further. It was slow going. I was well past any physical exertion threshold I'd approached in this lifetime. Yet, I was still curious where the limit & boundary was. I felt I was finally nearing it. Nearing the place in which I would need to take on help, stop or injure myself.

I probably spent close to two hours trying to tackle the backside of Kings Mountain before I finally gave in. When I reached that point I could tell my knees were at risk of being seriously injured if I kept pushing. I had already been on my bike & pedaling for over 7 hours.

Instead of pushing myself to literal breakdown I decided it was time to take the help offered. I would indeed take a ride up the rest of the Kings Mountain to the last & final rest stop and then cruise down the other side of the mountain back to the Four Seasons in Palo Alto. Heck, I still wanted to finish the Big Ride even if that meant doing it with some assistance.

By this point my videographer, Braden, had become a first-responder. Interestingly enough, he had just taken a course a few weeks prior to do exactly that. Pure coincidence. Or maybe just more magic. I shot him a message and let him know I needed a ride up the mountain.

When he picked me up he informed me that there was another rider somewhere up the road that he had to get to so off we went. Quickly.

Racing up winding roads in a car turned out to be the piece of straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. Before we even got to the next rider I had to ask to pull over so I could throw up.

The previous mistakes of inhaling junk food & caffeinated gels combined with pushing my body far beyond any previous physical thresholds all mixed together into a very unstable vessel. My whole self was primed to ignite. A rollercoaster-like car ride pushed me over the edge.

Out it all came. Over the next 3-hours or so. I was throwing up so much & feeling so nauseous that there was no way that I could even ride down the other side of Kings Mountain and cruise on back to the Four Seasons. Instead I had to head back to the hotel in the car with several stops along the way.

My ego died. I would not finish this Big Ride.

On a spiritual side note, one of the stops included me throwing up right next to a Coyote carcass. Coyote is known as the trickster God and he's known for tricking people into healing, growth & transformation. He definitely played me like a puppet. Despite normally abhorring the process of purging by way of vomiting there was something cleansing about this time.

It was like I was releasing all that deeply buried emotional junk that was crystalized into my body that I had just recently broken up through seemingly endless cycling. Now that it was no longer lodged like an icecap deep within my body it was time to fully get rid of the waste. It had been processed and it was time to cleanse the system.

When I got back to the Four Seasons I was so grateful for a super plush bed. Riding for 7+ hours had taken its toll and laying down on a giant cushy mattress with my fiancé was pure heaven. 

After a couple more visits to the bathroom & a couple hours of rest I was ready to eat. The hotel room service was to die for! It was also from the Quattro kitchen. So good in fact that I ordered it twice that night! After all the purging and wild amount of calories I burnt it was time for a serious refuel and the Four Seasons did me right! 

I spent the evening refueling, resting & integrating the powerful journey with my fiancé. It was by far the most epic adventure I’d had in years. And definitely one of the most life-changing. Second only to my Vision Quest I did for my birthday in 2017.

Surprisingly, the next day I felt amazing! To the point of getting on a stationary bike on the rooftop pool of the hotel, doing yoga, then later doing a CrossFit style workout with Henry and even playing 1-2 hours of Spikeball. I felt strong & incredibly alive!

And even though I didn’t finish the Gran Fondo it ended up being even better. It was the start of my life as a Cyclist. Since the Big Ride I’ve ridden all over Bay Area, Tahoe, Monterey, Pebble Beach, Joshua Tree and the territory I cover & explore on bike continues to expand.

I would say still to this day as I am writing this memoir of the experience I am still processing & integrating the lessons and undergoing the unfoldment that was catalyzed by it. Such a powerful quest! One thing is for certain, Eleanor Roosevelt was really onto something when she said:

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.




In addition to that enlightening quote that I finally really understand at a fundamental level, here are some key take-aways galvanized by my Big Ride:

How To Approach Hard Things That Will Change Your Life:

  1. Look for the hidden jewels that can be mined from the challenge (hard thing). In just about any challenge (opportunity) there are numerous prizes to be won if you take the time to look and make the conscious effort to uncover them.

  2. Ask empowering questions. Ask yourself the question "What is one thing I could do at this time in my life that would change my life for the better forever (whether I feel ready or not)?" Answering a powerful question like that will always move you forward in life.

  3. Leverage the empowering people in your life. Share the challenge (opportunity) with a trusted other who will empower you to say "Yes!" even when your mind wants to say, "No." Then keep sharing with others who respond with excitement. They may just have exactly what you need to make it all come together.

  4. Just say, "YES!" and figure out the details along the way. This means officially committing. Accept the invitation. Pay the admittance fee. Purchase the ticket. Apply for the job, sign up for the class, competition, workshop, etc.

Things That Really Move The Needle Of Your Life Forward Tend To Be Hard & Challenging:

  1. If they were easy everyone would do them all the time and we would all be humming along at a good clip all the time. It is the Quests we accept & take on, the ones filled with adversity & adventure, that challenge our entire being & remake us anew.

  2. They will often come in disguise. Something you've never done before. Something you think you could never do. Something that scares the shit out of you.

  3. They will push you outside of your comfort zone. Often times, way outside your comfort zone.

  4. They will induce fear. This is a good thing. It means it will change your life whether you are ready or not.

  5. You will likely fail the first time. Maybe the first several times. Again, if it were easy it probably wouldn’t catalyze much healing, growth & transformation.

  6. Release yourself from the outcome. Choose the adventure. Go all in. Play full out. And allow the experience (whatever it is) to transform you.

  7. Trust the unfolding of the journey AND take massive action at the same.

  8. It's not always about finishing. Often times it's much more about beginning a new chapter in one's life.

My New Chapter:

It’s taken me nearly 3 months, an entire season, to process this Epic Journey and get it down on virtual paper (this blog). However, I definitely haven’t been idle.

Not too long after the Gran Fondo I realized that my next chapter of life included more outdoor physical quests. Never had I felt so alive, so focused, so excited and so god damn happy & grateful! Both leading up to the Gran Fondo, during it, and a lasting effervescent glow has stuck with me ever since. I wanted more of this!

So, I went searching for my next Quest. And I found it—The Super Bowl of obstacle course racing. 13-15 miles with 30-35 obstacles & 4000+ elevation gain in Squaw Valley, California where they held the 1960 Winter Olympics.

I signed up, spent 2.5 months preparing & training for it. And just last weekend I completed my very first Obstacle Course Race. It was yet another life-changing event. So much so that a day after the Race I signed up for my next one at the end of the month.

There is so much gold to mine from these epic outdoor quests and I may have to write a few more blog posts about it, but for now…

I just want to send out a massive shoutout filled with love & immense gratitude to The Four Seasons Palo Alto & RBC Gran Fondo for this grand opportunity in disguise!

Ya’ll literally changed the trajectory of my entire life and acted as a major catalyst & demarkation for A WHOLE NEW ME!

I look forward to seeing you next year and actually finishing the Big Ride you got me started on. And who knows, maybe I’ll even train for it! ;)

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl

P.S. For the READER — What’s your next Quest?

Where it all started… The entrance to the Four Seasons Palo Alto & the start of the RBC Gran Fondo Silicon Valley 75-mile ride.

Where it all started… The entrance to the Four Seasons Palo Alto & the start of the RBC Gran Fondo Silicon Valley 75-mile ride.


Related Micro-Blogs on Instagram: 

An Interview covering the experience on Paula Pant's Afford Anything Podcast:



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 🌒

--
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


How To Find Your Twin Flame 🔥 🔥

Want to transform your life & find "the one"?

You know which one. The one you think will make your life complete. The one you dream of spending the rest of your life with.

Before you can truly find & deeply know "the one" you must . . .

FIRST: learn to love, approve of & accept yourself.

This is a practice you will have to build & invest in throughout your entire life.

It is not something you get to do once & then it magically continues to work on its own.

That would be like working out at the gym & eating healthfully for one day and expecting to be fit & healthy for the rest of the year.

Anything worth having takes continuous energetic investment.

Once you have a healthy level of self love, approval & acceptance open yourself to a partner that calls forth the highest vision that lives deep within your heart & Spirit.

This is a secret to radically hypergrowth your own apotheosis.

Alone we can be strong, grow, heal & transform.

But together we get to do it at an even faster clip.

And with another we get to be VULNERABLE.

This is where true power to transform lies.

It is the magical dark & scary cavern that holds the greatest of treasures.

And if we have the courage to face & embrace our inner darkness...

Truly profound & permanent healing, positive change & transformation becomes available.

Rarely can this journey be done alone.

We live, grow, heal & transform through the PEOPLE in our lives.

It is through #vulnerability with others that we get to access our deepest capacity to self-heal.

Plus, we get to learn how to powerfully be there for another even when it isn't easy & convenient.

This alone builds incredible character and reinforces our own ability to love & accept ourself even when it is incredibly difficult.

By being vulnerable you give others PERMISSION to do the same.

And in that shared safe-space the fire of transformation is lovingly ablaze.

This is who I share my Spirit-Fire with.

I call her my Priestess & my Phoenix.

She is both my heart-fire & the Goddess who beckons me powerfully forth along my HIGHEST PATH in life.

I had to learn to love myself before I could truly SEE her.

But when I did she blossomed in my life like lighting & I've been radically transformed for the better ever since.

For HER. I am forever & deeply grateful.

Have you learned to love, approve of & accept yourself?

If not, do not expect to find lasting solace in another.


Alchemical Resources:

  • "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise L. Hay. This is the book that I used as a guide to learn how to truly love myself. It changed my life. Get the gift edition with colorful pictures -- I swear they heal your inner child as you view them.
  • Here is a video-blog where I get vulnerable and go deep into how I discovered my Twin Flame by learning to love myself:

Alchemical Opportunity for the Reader:

  1. Develop your own daily practice of self-love. Make it easy. And make it the first thing you do upon waking. Here is what I do:
    1. Stand in front of the mirror.
    2. Look myself in the eye.
    3. And say: "I love myself. I approve of myself. I accept myself. I am grateful for myself."
    4. Special note: This simple self-love practice seems easy enough, but don't be surprised if you find yourself feeling ashamed, stupid, foolish, crying & other darker emotions. I had to persistently say these affirmations daily for several months & work through a lot of self-hate & self-cruelty before I could powerfully make these statements and actually believe them without crying or wanting to ridicule myself. In short, be prepared for your "stuff" to come up as you do these standing in-the-mirror affirmations.
  2. Have some other awesome self-love practices, rituals, & habits? Share them in the comments below so others can benefit from the powerful work you have done in your life! 💓 Together we heal & alchemize so much faster! 🙌🏼

We must love ourselves first before we can TRULY love another.

Start with your own heart.

Then the Universe will deliver another that beats in synchronicity with your own creating the most beautiful harmony that is so much greater than the sum of the two parts.

This is how you DISCOVER your #TwinFlame.🔥🔥

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

 

Photo by  Noelle  | Socks & Briefs by  Related Garments

Photo by Noelle | Socks & Briefs by Related Garments

Books That Radically Transformed My Life

Reading is one of the things that brings me the most joy in life.

Reading also happens to be one of the most transformational growth-inducing activities I do daily.

I've been thinking about putting together a list of books that have radically transformed my life for the better for a long time.

I finally realized that I may as well start because I will never be done. And I can always come back & update this as I see fit.

Special note: This is a living-resource that I will continuously curate so don't feel the need to go through all of these as fast as possible. Just pick one book that catches your mind's-eye, take your time with it and come back here for the next one when you're ready!

So, without further ado, here are...

Books That Have Radically Alchemized (Transformed) My Life:

Creativity

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron is one of my biggest mentors. This book was groundbreaking & truly life-changing. It unleashed me as an artist, creative & writer. It taught me to fall in love with journaling--one of the most empowering transformational tools I have in my repertoire. It also linked creativity as a pathway for spiritual communion. This paradigm radically alchemized my life in infinite ways.

The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Goden

Seth Goden is a brilliant writer & thinker. This book unbound me from own creative suppression. It gave me permission to create & share and naturally allow an audience to form around my creative work.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing & Life by Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. This book makes me laugh, cry, reel with delight, soar in intellectual & emotional brilliance & so much more. Her writing makes me desperately want to write. Inspiring and great life advice even if one has no interest in writing.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

Mason Currey showed me that art & creativity and the work that goes into producing it comes in all shapes, forms, sizes, colors, shades & walks-of-life. There is no one right way. There is a way that works for you. Our job is to find & harness our unique ways that empower our personal creative process.

Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things No One Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

This book gave me permission to "steal" the work of others, combine it with other works in all fields & topics, and alchemize it all together to make it my own. Short. Fun. Powerful. Read this.

Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon taught me that it is not only okay but actually an integral part of the creative process to show your work even as your are developing it (aka before it's "done"). He empowered me to stop hiding my vulnerability & instead use it as a strength & pathway forward.


Human Potential, Personal Development & Money

Awaken The Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

First read this as a teenager. Radically transformed my life for the better. Went from loaner & playground bully to powerful social force for achievement as well as leader in all areas of life (school, sports, family, etc). It truly unlocked my potential. Aided me getting to Stanford University & beyond. Re-reading again in my 30s and diligently studying & applying. Having same effect it did when I was teenager.

Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins

Same case as above with Awaken The Giant Within.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons In Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Foundational. We are our habits. Everyone should read. Also recommend the teenager version written by the author's son.

Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister & John Tierney

This book gave me an obsession with habits. Game-changer. Amazing parenting advice as well. 

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

One of my favorite books on habits & optimal conscious habit-design for your unique temperament. 

Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Probably one of the most timeless & popular success books ever written. There is a reason it's on so many incredibly successful people's must-read book-lists.

The Master-Key To Riches by Napoleon Hill

This is a lesser known gem by Napoleon Hill. Short & straightforward, yet you could study it daily for the rest of your life.

The Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives by Dan Millman

Dan Millman and this book made me realize & finally "see" the woman of my dreams. For this I will be forever deeply grateful. It also happens to be a life-changing book in many other ways.

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere & Join The New Rich by Tim Ferriss

I read this when it first came out in 2007. I instantly thought to myself "Finally! I understand who I want to become!" My vision was similar to Tim Ferriss with the human potential & positive transformation leadership, but with my own alchemical fashion-forward spiritual-hipster twist! Ten years later I am finally living that vision. Forever my deepest gratitude to you, Tim Ferriss for helping me understand, see & live my own personal vision.

Psycho-Cybernetics Maxwell Waltz

Read this at a super young age (thanks Dad!). Awesome book about harnessing your subconscious & building self-esteem.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Incredibly dense book. I don't agree with everything in it (in the sense of actually using the power to my advantage), but I can see how some people operate from some of these more questionable power-paradigms. That said, I strongly believe that having knowledge & awareness around power-dynamics is paramount to creating & protecting the life you do want to live.

Creating Money: Attracting Abundance by Sanaya Roman & Duane Packer

This book finally gave me the spiritual-connection to money that I had been seeking for so long.

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Classic. Another book that is on many super-performers must-read lists. No matter what field of business you are in this will be of the utmost service to your life-journey.

Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success by Carol S. Dweck

For a "recovering-perfectionist" like myself this book was life-transforming. I recommend this book to all students (those in formal schooling like high-school & college as well a life-students) and anyone who has kids or ever wants to have kids. This book teaches you how to learn & grow. It teaches you how to cultivate a learning/growth-mindset in your children. Powerful stuff.

Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

This book gifted me with one of my core-values: grit (defined as passion & perseverance). A great companion to Mindset (above).

The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph by Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday taught me to "follow the process, not the prize." This led me to fall in love with the journey of writing, blogging, business-building, etc. It is also an essential book to pick-up & re-read whenever one is feeling blocked by an obstacle.

A Guide To The Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

A practical guide to the life philosophy of Stoicism and how to apply it in our modern world. The amount of joy I've experienced on a regular basis after reading this book & incorporating the lessons within it has been nothing short of AMAZING! If you read nothing else, just read the part about Negative Visualization. It will change your life for the better!

The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide To Creating Success On Your Own Terms by Danielle LaPorte

This book really helped me get clear on what success really deeply means to me personally (versus being lost to yourself by defining success on other people’s/society’s terms). Great book that leads one to greater Self-Knowledge which is crucial to living a life worth living for!


Healing, Intuition & Spiritual

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay

If I could only give others one book for the rest of my life this would probably be it. It taught me to truly love myself. Get the gift addition (I swear the artistic & colorful pictures empower the healing process).

Prayers to the great creator by Julia cameron

This is a book of prayers & declarations for a meaningful life. My Spirit is stirred just about every time I pick up this book & read from it aloud or in my head.

The Four-Fold Way: Walking The Paths Of The Warrior, Teacher, Healer & Visionary by Angeles Arrien

Life-changing tools & easy-to-read guidebook on harnessing & building within these four archetypes (warrior, teacher, healer & visionary). I grew up with this book thanks to my Mom. It holds a special place in my heart.

The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele

Incredibly applicable way to live the philosophy of Yoga in modern-life. Super easy & fun read too.

Voyager Tarot: Way of The Great Oracle by James Wanless (plus Voyager Tarot Deck)

I've been practicing Tarot since 2009 to cultivate my own intuition & build deep self-knowledge. This is my favorite Tarot Deck & its in-depth companion guide.

The Tarot Handbook: Practical Applications of Ancient Visual Symbols by Angeles Arrien (plus Thoth Tarot Deck)

This is my favorite book on Tarot which is based on Aleister Crowley's Thoth Deck, my other favorite Tarot deck.

Animal Spirit Guides: An Easy-to-Use Handbook For Identifying & Understanding Your Power Animals & Animal Spirit Helpers by Steven D. Farmer Ph.D.

Spiritual Hipster incarnate. Yes I am! I traverse this magical world with my pack of Power Animals by my side. My family & friends call me "Dragon" and there is very deep meaning behind this. Want to discover your own power animal and/or develop your own totem animal pack? Read this book.

The Book Of Stones: Who They Are & What They Teach by Robert Simmons & Naisha Ashian

A key part of being a Spiritual Hipster is working with gemstones. I've studied this book in-depth for years and know I will constantly go back to it for the rest of my life. Check it out if you've ever felt the energetic call of the enigmatic crystal-allies.

Women Food & God: An Unexpected Path To Almost Anything by Geneen Roth

For much of my life I abused food like a drug. As a result I had an incredibly damaging relationship with both food & my body. This book was an integral part of the healing process. It was written for women, but if you have any food-issues this book will hit-home.

Awakening Spirits: A Native American Path To Inner Peace, Healing & Spiritual Growth by Tom Brown, Jr.

This book inspired me to go on a Vision Quest -- one of the most powerful transformational experiences I've ever undergone. The experience of the quest still continues to unfold its awesome power in my life every day. It also includes the teaching of a very powerful & easy-to-do meditation.


Fiction, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

My favorite Fantasy series of all time. Bar none.

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

My favorite Dragon-themed fantasy series. Dragon is my main power animal so this series holds a special place in my heart. There are also Elves. Another magical soft-spot of mine.

The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

Probably my second favorite fantasy series. It's not finished yet (only two books so far).

Redwall by Brian Jacques

This was the fantasy book that started my lifelong love-affair with fantasy (my favorite form of pleasure reading). I still vividly remember reading this during a childhood multi-day river-rafting/camping trip.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This book taught me to trust the journey and process even when what I am currently doing in life doesn't seem to be leading me where I am supposed to go. It is, it's just in disguise patiently waiting for me to understand, become aware & embrace the journey.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

My favorite Sci-Fi book and the book that caused me to fall in love with Sci-Fi. Ender's Shadow is just as good. I like most whichever I've most recently read.

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

I made fun of my mom & younger brother for about a year for reading "children's books" (how I ignorantly categorized the Harry Potter books). Then I finally began one and I was hooked. Read the first 3-4 books in about a week. That's how good it was. It also happens to be one of the few fiction series I've read in entirety more than once.


And that's it!  For now... 🤓 📚 🙌🏼

Do you have any books that radically changed your life that are not on this list? If so, please share! Leave me a comment (scroll all the way down), email me, or send me a tweet with your suggestion! 🙏🏼

I am always on the lookout for Life-Alchemizing books and I would love to add your favorite to this list after falling in love with it myself!

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

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). 😉