Meditation

Top Posts Of 2017

It's pretty wild how fast a year can whip on by. 2018 is here!

Many friends & audience members have been asking me where the hell I've been lately. I more or less disappeared from all online platforms since July.

Truth is I've been doing some deep inner work that I plan on sharing at some point, but not quite just yet...

Nonetheless, to close out the year I figured I'd do a highlight reel of some of my best pieces I've composed over the last year. I figure it's a good reminder to myself that I'm just getting started as a blogger/writer.

Plus, I am sure new and old readers alike will discover something new that they can benefit from as all of my creative work is done with the guiding principle of "empowering people to transform & self-actualize."

Some of these are personal favorites and some just got a lot of traction online (and some are both favorites & popular). I've broken them into categories to make it easier for readers to get to a topic they want to read about.

All of these are good articles to use in planning & executing upon your best year yet!

Alchemize Life Top Posts Of 2017:

FitnessHow To Be An Ultra Fit Entrepreneur

This is my overarching philosophy & daily/weekly strategies for being in incredible shape year round.

Meditation: The Four Universal Forms of Meditation

A guide that shows that there are more ways to meditate than just sitting.

Self Knowledge: Rebel With A Cause

I believe that self-knowledge is one of the premier aspects of living an awesome & empowered life. Here is a framework that empowers you to discover how you respond to inner & outer expectations. Super powerful.

Relationships: How To Find Your Twin Flame

We are all looking for love. Here is how I found mine.

Habits: Habit Stacking

We are defined by our habits. Here is how to get more out of the good ones (and the bad ones too).

Life Hack: Physical Alchemy

The body is powerful & wise. Use it to alchemize your life.

Books: Books That Radically Transformed My Life

These are books covering creativity, human potential, money, healing, spirituality & more that have had a huge impact on my life.


Wishing everyone an incredible New Year bursting with love, laughter, family, friends, success, abundance, health, healing, growth, transformation & magic!

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

Run Free: The Paradox of Cultivating True Freedom

Run free.

I've been thinking about freedom & liberation a lot lately.

It's a dense & complex subject. In yogic philosophy it is referred to as Moksha, or freedom from ignorance.

Freedom is one of my highest personal values. In all its infinite forms. Freedom to choose the people we spend our time & energy with. Freedom to choose our work -- what we put our physical, mental, emotional & spiritual energy into. Freedom to express ourselves with power & authenticity.

Ultimately, what I want & choose daily is freedom to live a life that has heart & meaning.

But how can we have this freedom & liberation if we do not know ourselves?

Self-knowledge is the key to liberation. Without it we are lost to ourselves and lost to the world.

And in both cases we are left useless. Useless to ourselves because we are chained to a life that doesn't reflect our true inner desires & values. And in turn we are useless to others because if we cannot serve & lead our Self then how can we ever do that with lasting impact for others?

The answer is we cannot.

Nonetheless, self-knowledge is an ever unfolding lifelong process. It is not something you achieve and then you never have to work on it again. It is an integral part of our daily quest.

And here is the kicker:

If we truly want to cultivate self-knowledge & self-actualization. If we truly want to be free. Then we must create & hold ourselves to empowering boundaries & restraints. This is the paradox of true freedom.

 

It seems so paradoxical that we must have boundaries & restraints to achieve true freedom & liberation. But that is the lay of life. It is constantly brimming with paradox.

We must choose physical activity & emotional development over sloth & hatred. Laziness & unchecked darker emotions are easy. Choosing & cultivating physical & emotional fitness requires restraint from the easy path & boundaries that call forth our highest selves.

How easy is it to lash back in anger when someone says or does something that doesn't sit well with us?

How much easier is it so sit on the couch and watch some TV versus getting out of the house to take a hike, hit the gym or even take a walk around the neighborhood?

Furthermore, it takes powerful boundaries to choose health-affirming substances to put into our bodies & minds in a world that is constantly programming & encouraging us through all media channels to poison ourselves with information, food, alcohol & drugs.

Over-consuming is not freedom when you are left with a body that is too heavy & lacking energy, a mind that is screaming in anxiety, a fearful heart & a dwindling spirit.

We must actively pursue self-study, meditation & prayer. For these to occur we must create containers in which they can flourish. This takes vigilant effort in a world addicted to information & convenience.

It requires a powerful stand to turn within when we live in a world that is constantly pulling for our outward focus. Yet we must do it if we are to grow our mental & spiritual capacity.

Powerful boundaries & restraints that are consciously & proactively built into our life to foster ever deepening self-knowledge will set us free.

Self-dominion is the true path to freedom, liberation & self-actualization.

As we find our Self. We find our place in the world. As we serve our Self. We serve the world & its people.

And that is freedom running at full speed.


Some of my current constraints, restraints & boundaries that empower my true freedom:

  • Food Journaling: I log my food every day for everything I consume and have been doing so since September of 2013. How it empowers my freedom:

    • It encourages me to be mindful of what and how much I am eating while still allowing me to enjoy all foods (including ice cream, cookies, pizza, etc.)

    • This practice has lead me to be in the best shape of my life year-round. Being able to take my shirt off and feel good in body is one of the most liberating feelings.

    • This constraint frees me from using food like a drug (which I did for most of my life) and it keeps me from abusing my body with over-consumption.

    • Feel free to add me as a friend on MyFitnessPal if you want to see what I eat (my food diary is public).

  • Meditation: I have been meditating every day and have been since April of 2015 without missing single a day. How it empowers my freedom:

    • Meditation has been used throughout all time and all civilizations to cultivate self-knowledge. It is one of the tried & true paths to Self liberation. More on meditation here.

    • My meditation practice is the foundation & platform upon which I build my entire life. Each day of meditation makes the foundation a little wider and a little deeper.  You can't build a skyscraper that reaches the stars without an incredibly strong foundation. In truth, you can't even build a solid & reliable 1-story house without a foundation.

  • Sobriety: I have been sober from marijuana & other harder drugs since February of 2013 and sober from alcohol since September of 2014. How it empowers my freedom:

    • For over a decade I was a slave to alcohol. My entire life revolved around the consumption of it. This led to even deeper enslavement to marijuana, adderrall & worse for over 5-years. During my addiction I thought I was free, but in truth I was chained to a life that required substances for me to be even be remotely happy or excited about life.

    • It took me a few years to remember how to have fun without drugs & alcohol but I finally woke up! And I feel like a kid again! As a child everything was magical and I had so much fun living life with a sense of wonder and I didn't need any drugs to get into that blissful state. I've rediscovered that super-power and I'm literally constantly high on life! This is ultimate freedom to me!

    • Vibing with my sobriety & high on life existence...? Here's a live video I filmed recently about it!

  • Physical Training: I am predominantly a bodybuilder & yogi but I also walk, hike, bike, rollerblade & trampoline weekly along with other forms of movement (swimming, frisbee, fitness classes, massage, etc.). How this empowers my freedom:

    • This is self-knowledge at the primal level. Knowing your body is knowing your Self. This daily practice removes ignorance & encourages connection to Self.

    • Training my body trains my mind, emotions and even my spirit. Being fit in all major life areas is a high form of liberation.

  • Reading/Listening: Every day I read & listen to empowering knowledge. How this empowers my freedom:

    • You are what you consume. If you consume empowering material you become empowered. If you consume garbage your life becomes garbage.

    • This practice is one of my major keys that keeps me constantly healing, growing & transforming.

  • Creating/Sharing In Service: Everyday I try to create something that will empower another life. Whether it's a blog post, a video, Facebook update, Instagram or creating an experience in-person with someone I always try to live from the guiding question: "Is what I am doing empowering & of service to others?" How this empowers my freedom:

    • Being of service in a way that I am authentically & personally passionate about is easily one of the best ways to get high on life for me. Each time I do it I am filled with an incredible energy & sense of satisfaction that I cannot seem to get any other way.

Alchemical Opportunity For The Reader:

What are the constraints, restraints & boundaries that you can proactively create & cultivate in your life now to truly give you the life of freedom you desire & deserve?

Leave me a comment below, send me an email or tweet me with your answer!

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒


END NOTES:

  1. Originally this was an Instagram post that ended up being too long so I only posted part of it. It was inspired by one of my amazing yoga teachers, Hana Raftery, after receiving her class/teaching focused on Moksha on Independence Day (July 4th).
  2. Photos by Noelle Johnson.

 

    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! 🙏🏼